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Thread: Trailer Hitch Failure

  1. #1
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    Trailer Hitch Failure

    Anyone have a hitch let go and catch on the safety chains?

    How did that go?

  2. #2
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    Oct 2015
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    I can share what happens when the driver doesn't bother to attach the safety chains...lol. Just a few months ago I was sitting at a four way intersection when a guy pulling a 40+ foot center-console went to make a right turn and the trailer and boat decided it wanted to go straight. Luckily it had started to turn before coming loose and skid right across the intersection missing me by mere inches. Talk about a helpless feeling as there was a car to my right and I had no where to go except jumping aboard. Turns out it was a brand new boat the guy had picked up after a potential client had taken it for a test drive. He was just going around the block and didn't bother to fasten the safety chains. Apparently he didn't bother to affix the hitch either!!!
    Last edited by David Lageman; 05-26-2021 at 3:41 PM.
    A wannabe woodworker!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bender View Post
    Anyone have a hitch let go and catch on the safety chains?

    How did that go?
    Just curious, what was the reason for the failure? Did the coupler on the trailer break, the catch come lose, failure of the hitch at the vehicle? Did something bounce loose on a bumpy road?

    I haul trailers a lot - this week I pulled one 1000 miles to pick up some equipment. I would like to learn from this.

    I use locks on the coupler and receiver and usually an extra steel cable. My big trailers all have electric breaks with battery-operated breakaway boxes that can prevent some disasters when pulling heavy loads.
    Not much scarier than a trailer failure with a load. Last summer I had one of the four tires blow out when hauling 150 bales of hay, on the interstate at the worst possible place to get off the road. Took me hours to fix it and get moving again. I bought all new tires the next day.

    JKJ

  4. #4
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    Make sure you dont drag those chains or when the ball pops they dont work so well. The Worst I did was leave the Jack down. The first speed bump let me know.

    I do know a guy whos boat passed him on a down hill. He said it was pretty surprising seeing a boat that looks just like yours with no one towing it pass you

  5. #5
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    Oct 2006
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    I forgot to latch the coupler on my trailer and went down the freeway about 20 miles that way. The coupler came off when I was exiting the freeway. The chains kept it behind me. The tongue went under my vehicle (no damage) when I stopped at the top of the ramp. I knew something happened and I got out and was able to get the trailer reconnected.

  6. #6
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    My dad borrowed my van to tow his boat, probably about 1980. He must not have secured the ball on the hitch properly. While crossing the drawbridge in Manistee he hit a bump and the hitch came off the ball. Saved by the safety chains. Plus I had fabbed a step below the receiver made from 4" channel. As he braked the winch support hit the step leaving a long lasting dent.
    NOW you tell me...

  7. #7
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    Curious why you’re asking?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bender View Post
    Anyone have a hitch let go and catch on the safety chains?

    How did that go?
    Assuming the chains are crossed and not too long, the trailer hitch is supposed to land in the Vee between the chains and prevent the hitch from hitting the ground. The brake safety cable is supposed to pull the brake pin and set the brakes on the trailer, while the driver slows to a stop without using the vehicle brakes while pulling to the side of the road. You see a lot of trailers that are not hooked up correctly with either no chains, chains that are too long, or not crossed.

    Chains do work as evidenced below.
    Capture.JPG
    Lee Schierer
    Captain USNR(Ret)

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  9. #9
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    Like John, I pull a trailer sometimes and want to learn from others' incidents.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bender View Post
    Like John, I pull a trailer sometimes and want to learn from others' incidents.

    I have a simple rule. The DRIVER HITCHES the trailer! This way if there is a problem, no matter what, it's the driver's fault! No pinning the blame on someone else. Always add a latch pin or lock to coupler bail.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Wrenn View Post
    I have a simple rule. The DRIVER HITCHES the trailer! This way if there is a problem, no matter what, it's the driver's fault! No pinning the blame on someone else. Always add a latch pin or lock to coupler bail.
    A classic rule for life. Or at least trailers! I'm going with both.

  12. #12
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    Modesto, CA, USA
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    Rented a uhaul trailer recently. They hooked it up and took pictures to verify correctness in case of accident. used serial numbered zip ties to prevent me from unhitching and rehitching.
    I saw a picture. Hook chains to the hitch bar on the vehicle. not the ones welded to the bar that holds the ball. The ball mount weld snapped off the bar. chains were attached to the removable ball mount portion and stayed with that half.
    Bill D

  13. #13
    have a reese heavy duty adjustable and load equalizers. Never tow without that even on single wheel trailers the equalizers still on. No issues in forever. 92 wallywagon most of the time tow vehicle.

    Driving to LA once drove past a nice pickup and house trailer. Windy day driving was annoying. Stopped to get some stuff., Back on the road came up the pickup, it was upside down flat to the hood, air bags out the windows. House trailer was on its side off the side of the road steep and down. I guess the wind flipped the house trailer and that flipped the pickup. No sign of humans, worst towing accident ive ever seen.

    have the ones for side to side sway as well but havent tried them so far. Never had a thing come loose dont see how it would be possible, crossed chains below it as well with locking ends.

    P1250242A.jpg
    Last edited by Warren Lake; 05-26-2021 at 10:45 PM.

  14. #14
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    I once was jarred awake on my couch by an awful screeching sound. The living room window was about 20 feet from Main St. in the town where I lived. I peeked out the curtains to see a guy pulling a trailer loaded with a backhoe...by the chains. The jack was scraping along the ground. He got stopped safely, but as memory serves, he did not have the chains crossed.

    I had my own experience with a trailer coming loose. I borrowed a large, tandem-axle flatbed to haul some stuff off a job. I pulled into the driveway across the street to get the trailer lined up with the driveway of my customer. The driveway into which I pulled had a very short, but somewhat steep section by the road. I heard a little thump, but didn’t think much of it. Then I started backing up, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t go anywhere—neither forward, nor backward. I get out to find that the thump was the hitch coming off the ball, and I had backed onto the tongue of the trailer, raising my rear (drive) wheels off the ground, with the trailer blocking the road. Luckily, the trailer was empty, so I jacked up the rear of the truck and shoved the trailer out from underneath manually (probably had help). Lesson learned to check the hitch...
    Jason

    "Don't get stuck on stupid." --Lt. Gen. Russel Honore


  15. #15
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    I have not had an incident where something I was towing came loose, but I'm also very anal about the process of attaching my trailer which includes reinstalling the lock once the ball is engaged and crossed safety chains that are the correct length. (many folks have chains that are too long and close to dragging and I've seen way too many people towing lately without even a simple locking pin to insure that the hitch can't get bounced open and release from the ball)
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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