New trailer popped off

Discussion in 'Tow Vehicles, Hitch & Towing' started by Sneezer, Nov 17, 2021.

  1. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    Our scout troop went camping this last weekend. On the way back they had an issue on the highway - trailer came off the ball. This is a larger dual axle box trailer, electric brakes with a BT controller hooked to an app for the TV driver to use. The trailer is new, and used a 2 5/16" ball (larger than the old 2" that the previous smaller trailer used.

    They were able to get it stopped, but not after apparently pulling it for some distance just with the chains - the front landing pad was completely ground through, and both safety chains ground through a link and heavily damaged others. The attachment loop on the tongue was also ground down about halfway through.

    I got the call that they had a mishap, but an officer came by and helped them get it back on the ball. They limped it over to a truck stop, and had the nearby truck repair place help them out. New set of chains, and no issues with the coupler, so off they went.

    At first I thought they had the wrong ball on - they said they hit a pretty big dip in a construction zone when things went sideways on them. However, that was not the case - correct size ball. Next I figured the coupler was out of adjustment since some have a nut that can get out of spec. Looking at the coupler last night - no adjuster was there - simple on/off. The locking tab was also padlocked in place, so it could not have come loose either. Drivers all swore it was coupled correctly when they left camp.

    When they got ready to leave the truckstop they checked again by lowering the jack, and were unable to pop it off the ball. I also messed with it using the same hitch - locked in place pretty solid.

    Took a real close look at the ball, and noticed a distinct line near the top 1/3 of the ball on the front. On closer inspection, that line matched up exactly to a coupler that was sitting on top of the ball and locked in place. After discussing with the drivers, turns out they reloaded the trailer before hooking up to the TV. With the increased TW due to a loaded trailer I think someone bumped the coupler latch closed, and with the weight on the ball it gave the quick impression that it was coupled, and no one checked closer. They likely pulled out of camp with it like that, and given the grinding damage to the chain and trailer foot I suspect it came off the ball much eariler, and no one noticed it.

    I am going to have to go back to check the emergency battery - no one felt the brakes engage when it was off the ball, and the emergency brake cable was missing, pulled out of the housing on the tongue. Hopefully the brakes are OK and not burned up. Already looking at a new tongue jack, foot and welding new safety chain points onto the tongue, plus repairing the emergency brake switch.

    Double check those hitches boys and girls! This happened to a seasoned driver who towed his own personal boat trailer and utility trailer as well. We got lucky on this one, could have been much worse. He only suffered a messed up bumper as he had to use his suburban to slow the trailer, which bent up the tongue jack some in the process.
     
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  2. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    That must have been so scary for them and the boys. Thankfully no serious damage and no one injured. I’d be curious to find out what happened to the break-a-way since it didn’t appear to engage.
     
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  3. Dan Wilson

    Dan Wilson Active Member

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    Makes me wonder about the reliability of the emergency braking systems.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2021
  4. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Un-Supported Member

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    From what I've seen on the road, the majority of emergency brake cables are not connected correctly. Sometimes there in no lanyard or it is wrapped around the tongue, the lanyard is too long to pull when the trailer is disconnected and pulled by the chains, or the lanyard is woven through a safety chain so it breaks before pulling the pin. The emergency switch is mounted incorrectly where it can not pivot on the mounting bolt.
     
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  5. Martin Calderwood

    Martin Calderwood New Member

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    Always always check to make sure the latch is totally open when hitch is put over the ball, before latching reach up with your fingers to verify the latch is loose and below the ball before latching it.

    Another verification EVERY time you get in your vehicle is to make sure someone hasn’t pulled the clip off the pin!

    My good friend Robby Gordon lost his trailer and race car due to a homeless person pulling the pin clip while they were in a diner on the way to Baja and the pin fell out and broke loose on the fwy.

    Always always double check hitches, 30 seconds of safety can save lives and personal property.
     
  6. Martin Calderwood

    Martin Calderwood New Member

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    Trailer safety is almost always overlooked, but that small amount of time taken to verify is so well worth it, especially when leaving on a vacation!
     
  7. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I would never reach into a coupler unless there was nothing underneath it. If it falls for whatever reason, you will be known as lefty. Plus there is really no need. Lower on the ball. Lock the coupler. Then raise the toung, if the TV rises with it your good and locked in. Simple way to check. On a lot of the toungs you can see if the slide peice is up or not from the top.
     
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  8. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Un-Supported Member

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    I have reached into a coupler and found a wasp nest.
     
  9. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    People reach into them and rock them when the jack is lowered and the ball isnt seated corectly, I dont want anyone to loose their fingers.
     
  10. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    Saw this just yesterday. He was stopped at a truck stop and had out of state tags, so I can assume it wasn't a local tow.
    20211116_153952.jpg


    The receiver was bent down on the TV. He had no lights hooked up. The safety chains had the slack taken out with a bolt. The lower ball on the hitch and tongue jack were about 3" off the road.
     
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  11. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    We do double check that the ball is secure, so far, we have never had one not seat well.
    I learned to do a hands-on, not just visual, check before getting back on the road at every stop. I do check the hub temp by hand when we stop, but everything else before we start again. I had someone loosen the sway bar at a stop a few years ago, a truck was pulling away from near my trailer as I walked back from a store. I didn't think much of it at the time, but later realized the sway bar was not tightened, it looked fine but was not once I got hands-on. I don't know it it was the start of an attempt to steak the trailer or vandalism. The draw bar and coupler have locked pins, I know some prefer not to use those in case they need to detach quickly, but we prefer them.
     
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  12. Dan Wilson

    Dan Wilson Active Member

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    A teachable moment. Maybe someone can post some photos of correct connections.
     
  13. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Sneezer, thanks for the post.
    In our case (the wife and I) there are only ever the same two folks fussing with the coupler. And since it sometimes is not in the easy position - there is often an extra amount of pushing or pulling and lots of eyeballing to confirm that not only is the coupler down and locked - but that its in the right position. Now that we have an extended high ball, it will be easier to "eyeball" the state of affairs.
     
  14. generok

    generok Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    SO glad none of the Troop members were injured and the trailer and TV were not destroyed.

    I can only imagine the sinking feeling in that driver's stomach when they looked back and things were cattywampus back there!
     
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  15. Patrick w

    Patrick w Active Member

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    Usually not a bad idea to give it a good brake/acceleration after pulling out, then re checking. The forces are usually good to kinda push things around.
     
  16. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    I get down on my knees and look up in the coupler to make sure the jaw is where it's supposed to be.
     
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  17. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

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    Glad no one was hurt.

    I always crank the front jack back down after locking the hitch onto the ball to make sure it's truly secure. It's so easy to get complacent and skip important safety checks.

    My first trip out this year, I was less than a block from home, reviewing my safety checks in my head, when I realized that I had not put the lock pin in through the receiver latch. I pulled over, put the TV in reverse so I could get a quick view from the back-up camera, and yup, no pin. So I jumped out, installed the pin, and got back on the road.
     
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  18. theseus

    theseus Living the Darkside...

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    I always do this as well since I had my Palomino come off the ball at the end of my neighborhood.

    Now with my WDH, it's just part of the hookup process.
     
  19. David Blackwell

    David Blackwell Active Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    @Sneezer - I would also like to add my appreciation for your post. Thank you. Safety is always the first and highest priority.

    @WrkrBee - Your post also struck a hot button with me. It never occurred to me that the triggering event for the emergency braking system should be the separation of the hitch from the ball. I have always "assumed" that it was meant to be a fail-safe in the event the chains detach from the tow vehicle.

    I think I found my answer - yes, I've been doing it wrong. Now the question is "what else am I doing wrong?".

    YouTube: How to Connect a Trailer Breakaway Cable
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2021
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  20. davido

    davido Well-Known Member

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    But the breakaway brakes are supposed to deploy at a full break-away -- ball AND chains.

    I don't think that I would want a sudden braking force when I'm still connected to the trailer. My understanding is the breakaway brakes should fire off when the trailer becomes totally free of the tow vehicle. That being the case, the length of the breakaway cable should be long enough to connect to an appropriate point on the tow vehicle, and to not drag on the ground, and should not bind and pull in turns.
     
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