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Topic: Safety chains crossed?

Posted By: 2wacky on 09/30/10 04:57pm

I've used trailers for many years and have always crossed the safety chains over each other under the hitch. Today I picked up a new trailer for my ATV and the trailer dealer told me that safety chains should not be crossed over each other, i.e. right chain connects to the right side of the tow vehicle and left. I've never heard of such a thing. What do the safety experts recommend? There was no reference in the searches I did for this forum. Is it possible that it does not matter?
Best regards,
Larry


Door. "Something a dog is always on the wrong side of." Mark Twain

KEØM



Posted By: crickeydog on 09/30/10 05:02pm

I've alway's crossed my safety chains so assuming the tongue becomes disattached from the ball, the tongue of the trailer should fall onto the crossed chains and avoid contact with the ground. If the chains aren't crossed, the tongue will simply fall between the chains striking the ground.

Happy camping!!! See y'all down the road!!!


USAF RETIRED 1992 "EITHER LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET OUTTA THE WAY":
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PULL DOG:
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Posted By: downtheroad on 09/30/10 05:15pm

There is probably some law somewhere that covers this...there always is...
but, my grandfather crossed his, my dad crossed his, so I cross mine.
That's good enough for me.


"If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."
GMC Duramax LBZ
Komfort
Reese Dual Cam HP
Our Rig Picture...CLICK HERE




Posted By: SooperDaddy on 09/30/10 05:04pm

The basic reason for crossing the chains falls back to a number of decades in the past, when a person towing his Travel-Aire trailer with his Buick Electra would have the tow hitch break. The crossed chains would keep the trailer tongue from dragging on the road, possibly causing damage to the trailer. Then you would slow to a stop.

I doubt you need to do so anymore...on the other hand..why not! Cheap insurance against hitch failure....


My posts shouldn't be taken for factual data, and are purely fictional, for entertainment purposes, should not be constituted as related to scientific, technical, engineering, legal, religious, spiritual, or practical advice. After all it's FREE! Amen.



Posted By: fla-gypsy on 09/30/10 05:16pm

I will keep crossing mine


This member is not responsible for opinions that are inaccurate due to faulty information provided by the original poster. Use them at your own discretion.

09 SuperDuty Crew Cab 6.8L/4.10(The Black Pearl)
06 Keystone Hornet 29 RLS/(The Cracker Cabana)


Posted By: RRyall on 09/30/10 05:11pm

IMO they should be crossed to cradle the tongue should it become dislodged. Also,it helps to keep the sway to a minimum under the same circumstances.


Posted By: rvten on 09/30/10 05:17pm

Cross


Tom & Bonnie
Crossville, TN.
Aspect 29H 2008 Type C
Ford Flex SEL 2010
There is NO B+



Posted By: Drbolasky on 09/30/10 06:45pm

Crossed. It just makes sense and it is easy to do.


Doug, Linda, Audrey (USN) & Andrew
2008 Sequoia SR-5, 5.7 L, 2000 Coachmen Futura 2790TB Bunkhouse, Dexter E-Z Flex Suspension, Reese W.D. Hitch/Dual Cam Sway Control, Prodigy Brake Controller, McKesh Mirrors




Posted By: robsouth on 09/30/10 05:48pm

OldMan5 wrote:

In some states the road laws state the safety chains must be crossed. OldMan5


Is that something you heard, or can you post the site reference to the states that "road laws state" that the safety chains be crossed?


"Sometimes I just sit and think. Sometimes I just sit." "Great minds like a think."


Posted By: enblethen on 09/30/10 06:24pm

In Washington they must be crossed.
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=204-70-070


Bud
USAF Retired
Suzuki XL7 pushing Pace Arrow




Posted By: LarryJM on 09/30/10 06:00pm

robsouth wrote:

OldMan5 wrote:

In some states the road laws state the safety chains must be crossed. OldMan5


Is that something you heard, or can you post the site reference to the states that "road laws state" that the safety chains be crossed?


Simple go HERE which is an actual CA DMV site sponsered by the CA GOV and most other states have similar statutes/requirements somewhere in their law/reg.

Safety chains are required for travel trailers. Safety chains are not required for fifth-wheel trailers. The purpose of safety chains is to prevent the trailer from separating from the tow vehicle in event of hitch failure such as a hitch ball that has loosened. The chains should be crossed in an "X" fashion below the ball mount, with enough slack that they do not restrict turning or allow the coupler to hit the ground


Enough said ... CROSS THEM end of discussion. NO STATE WILL SAY NOT TO CROSS THEM.

Larry


2001 standard box 7.3L E-350 PSD Van with 4.10 rear and 2007 Holiday Rambler Aluma-Lite 8306S Been RV'ing since 1974.
RAINKAP INSTALL////ETERNABOND INSTALL



Posted By: LarryJM on 09/30/10 05:27pm

fordsooperdooty wrote:

The basic reason for crossing the chains falls back to a number of decades in the past, when a person towing his Travel-Aire trailer with his Buick Electra would have the tow hitch break. The crossed chains would keep the trailer tongue from dragging on the road, possibly causing damage to the trailer. Then you would slow to a stop.

I doubt you need to do so anymore...on the other hand..why not! Cheap insurance against hitch failure....


Well maybe so or maybe not and there are two camps on these safety chains and the breakaway cable length and when it should activate. Some believe the breakaway switch should only close then the chains break and other believe the switch should be activated while the chains are still attached.

I'm in the camp of crossing the chains and having the breakaway switch activate before the chains break. Crossing the chains can only help in trying to keep the tongue from hitting the pavement it the chains are stretch taught and since each safety chain is rated at the GVWR of the trailer I want all the force on those chains I can get in an emergency when thing's go south with the max breaking on the TT since I think I will have my hands full just keeping the TV hopefully under control. HERE is a pretty good discussion of this from a couple of years ago.

IMHO the secret is getting those safety chains short enough to allow turning and not too long or they will be useless again IMHO.

Larry


Posted By: OldMan5 on 09/30/10 05:24pm

In some states the road laws state the safety chains must be crossed.
I always have crossed them for the cradeling effect & stability that is caused by the chains pulling against each other when under load.

my 2 cents

OldMan5


2007 Fleetwood Niagara (AKA the ChuckWagon)
EU2000 Honda
1989 E150 Ford van (Restored)
We've been tent camping for 30yrs----This is a nice change


Posted By: Thomas/NH on 09/30/10 05:23pm

The point where my chains attach to the trailer tongue is a welded steel loop on the bottom, so crossing the chains would serve no purpose. When I look at the hitch, the weakest point appears to be the truck receiver as it has the most stress points. The chain attachment point to the truck is right at the receiver. There is also the WD set up and its integrity to be considered as well.


Posted By: djgarcia on 09/30/10 09:59pm

In Washington they must be crossed.
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=204-70-070

Same in Calif. CHP will give you a ticket if chains are not crossed


Dick
djgarcia1939@gmail.com




Posted By: mowermech on 09/30/10 07:32pm

As an experiment in "why cross safety chains or cables", try this:
Hook the chains or cables up without crossing them, then make a sharp turn in either direction, until the tow vehicle is as close as possible to 90 degrees to the trailer. Stop, get out, and look at the chains.
Now, straighten out, cross the chains, and do the same thing. Look at the chains.
See the difference?
THAT is one of the main reasons for crossing the chains!


CM1, USN (RET)
2002 Fleetwood Southwind 32V, Ford V10
Toad 1: '06 PT Cruiser, Kar Kaddy dolly
Toy (and Toad 2): 2001 Dodge QC SWB, 360 Magnum, Auto, 4X4
"When seconds count, help is only minutes away!"


Posted By: JIMNLIN on 09/30/10 06:46pm

DOT/NHTSA 393.71 regs says this about safety chains or cables.

(ii) If chains or cables are used as the
safety device, they shall be crossed and
attached to the vehicles near the
points of bumper attachments to the
chassis of the vehicles. The length of
chain used shall be no more than necessary
to permit free turning of the vehicles.
The chains shall be attached to
the tow-bar at the point of crossing or
as close to that point as is practicable.
(iii) A safety device other than safety
chains or cables must provide strength,
security of attachment, and directional
stability equal to, or greater than, that
provided by safety chains or cables installed
in accordance with paragraph
(h)(10)(ii) of this section. A safety device
other than safety chains or cables
must be designed, constructed, and installed
so that, if the tow-bar fails or
becomes disconnected, the tow-bar will
not drop to the ground.


"good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment" ............ Will Rogers

'03 2500 QC Dodge/Cummins HO 3.73 6 speed manual Jacobs Westach
'97 Park Avanue 28' 5er 11200 two slides


Posted By: 4aSong on 09/30/10 09:05pm

Ours has the same setup as Thomas/NH which is one central point of connection. Maybe someone can explain why manufactures attach the Chains at one welded steel loop on the bottom so crossing the chains would serve no purpose. If the law in some states say they must be crossed then how is this done ?.
One other item of concern is that I was taught that twisting the chain will weaken the links, is this not true.


Mike and Nancy

Tundra TRD V8 4WD
Lance Model 1985 - The Kramalot Inn
EU2000i * Prodigy * McKesh * Trek


Posted By: mcgillagorilla on 09/30/10 10:50pm

mine are always crossed


bob mcgill


Posted By: JBarca on 09/30/10 09:21pm

KEØM wrote:



Today I picked up a new trailer for my ATV and the trailer dealer told me that safety chains should not be crossed over each other, i.e. right chain connects to the right side of the tow vehicle and left. I've never heard of such a thing. What do the safety experts recommend? There was no reference in the searches I did for this forum. Is it possible that it does not matter?
Best regards,
Larry


Hi Larry

It does matter. Your dealer has his facts mixed up.

Even on TT's that have a common tie point for both chains, crossing helps steer the trailer better behind the TV dragging on the ground in the event of separation. If they are not crossed, the trailer can thrash further left to right then to pull more on center.

There are also regulations that each safety chain or cable be capable of holding the entire GVWR of the trailer.

And while many WD hitches prevent the crossed chains from catching the tongue before it hits the ground, still cross the chains so the TV drags the TT in line with the truck.

I know it is part of the state laws, can't find Ohio handy right now but I know it is there as I found it a while ago searching for something else.

Have your dealer show you the reason why he does not want them crossed and how to get around the local state laws.

Hope this helps guide you in your decision.

John


John & Cindy

2005 Ford F350 Super Duty, 4x4; 6.8L V10 with 4.10
CC, SB, Lariat & FX4 package
21,000 GCWR, 11,000 GVWR
Ford Tow Command
1,700# Reese HP hitch & HP Dual Cam
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2004 Sunline Solaris T310SR
(I wish we were camping!)



Posted By: enblethen on 10/01/10 07:18am

4aSong:
Yes, twisting the chains or tiing in knots will weaken the chain. It puts side pressure on the links that are designed to pull


Posted By: coolbreeze01 on 10/01/10 09:13am

Crossed safety chains required by law in most states, plain common sense in the rest.


2008 Dodge 3500 With a Really Strong Tractor Motor...........
LB, SRW, 4X4, 6-Speed Auto, 3.73, Prodigy P3, Blue Ox Sway Pro........
2014 Sandsport 26FBSL


Posted By: 2wacky on 10/01/10 05:18am

Thanks everybody. That helps. I've always crossed them and you have convinced me to keep doing it that way.
Best regards,
Larry


Posted By: rickgu on 09/30/10 08:20pm

My friend at work went to pick up a new motorcycle in south texas and got pulled over by a state trooper and was given a warning to cross his chains or he would be ticketed. It makes sense to cross them anyway.


2003 1500HD 6.0 L 3.73
2007 Jayco Jayflight 27.5 BHS


Posted By: Lobo2 on 09/30/10 08:35pm

I too have been crossing trailer chains for a many, many years and from the replies it looks like your dealer either has things backwards or he needs to be in some other business. FWIW, many dealers these days fall into the latter category.


Posted By: MarkND on 10/01/10 10:20am

Wow! I think this is one of the first topics I've seen on this board where everyone is in agreement.

Mark


Mark & Melanie
2010 Dodge Ram 2500 Crew Cab 4X4 CTD
Flagstaff 26RGS
USAF Retired



Posted By: Tom_Diane on 10/01/10 06:23am

I was told years ago that crossing the chains was the way togo because if you became disconnected, thecrossed chains would keep you camper in a straight line and not drag the back end of the TV in to the ditch or into oncoming traffic crossed as opposed to straight across which would allow some serious swinging. Cant prove either theory or disprove but crossing them makes moer sense to me.


Posted By: Mr_MrsSchlepprock250 on 09/30/10 08:05pm

I always cross my chains,I also twist the chains to shorten them enough to turn,still be effective,while not dragging the ground.


Phil&April
'99F-250Superduty4x4/CrewCab/7.3
'04Tahoe4x4/5.3
Sierra/Forest River 30'TT
We used to have Johnny Cash and Bob Hope,now we have no cash and no hope.


Posted By: towrig on 09/30/10 10:40pm

It is law in Texas to cross the chains. If not crossed a ticket most likley will be issued, or at least a warning.

State and Federal Regulations relating to Trailers and Towed Equipment


393.71
Safety Chains – If safety chains are used as a safety device, they shall be crossed, and attached to the tow-bar at the point of crossing or as close to that point as practical. (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Handbook)


2002 Dodge Ram Cummins Diesel/Quad Cab/ Short Wheel Base
2004 Laredo 27RL 5er
3rd 5er, 5th truck but 1st diesel and love it


Posted By: ghekiere1 on 09/30/10 09:25pm

either way if you lose a trailer******is going to happen the chains will probably break and all heck is going to break lose. I cross mine just for the simple reason that there might be some hope for me!!!


1997 2500 Power Wagon 8.0 Liter V-10 Long Box
Prodigy P3 Brake Controller
2010 Starcraft Autumn Ridge 297 BHS



Posted By: BarneyS on 10/25/10 06:11pm

Although I subscribe to the crossed chains argument, Michigan evidently does not require it. Here is a link to the pertinent section of the Michigan Vehicle Code.
Michigan Towing law
Barney


2004 Sunnybrook Titan 30FKS TT
Hensley "Arrow" 1400# hitch
2002 Ford F250 Super Duty, 7.3L PSD
Visit our website here



Posted By: BarneyS on 10/25/10 05:38pm

LarryJM wrote:

... I ain't even thinking of looking in my mirrors at the trailer since that might scare me even more and I can't do anything to change that anyway.

Larry

Bet you would at least try a peek!
Barney


Posted By: twaldher on 10/21/10 10:13pm

LarryJM wrote:

Well maybe so or maybe not and there are two camps on these safety chains and the breakaway cable length and when it should activate. Some believe the breakaway switch should only close then the chains break and other believe the switch should be activated while the chains are still attached.



Larry


My runaway trailer story.

I was cruising down I-5 in seattle, going up hill with my 2500lb 16' flat bed trailer. I was hitting the concrete dividers every 50' or however far apart they are and somehow the trailer came unhitched.

I hit the brakes, the trailer brakes activated and sent the tongue of the trailer about 4' in the air, left off the brakes and it dropped back down. I did this about 2 times before I reached down and turned the adjuster all the way down on the controller so the brakes wouldn't activate.

Final maneuver was hammer the trucks brakes once the trailer tongue was down, the trailer slid under the truck and I managed to keep it under control to mostly get out of the highway. (this all happened on an unlit bend at 11pm.)

The hill was steep enough that my tire chock couldn't stop the trailer from rolling backwards. I had to chain the trailer off to the guardrail, let it roll back. Unhook the one remaining hooked up safety chain (3/8" links and large hook w/ clip), then hi-lift the trailer back up because the trailer jack got fubar'd, get it back on the truck so I could get out of there. that whole operation took maybe 5 minutes... 5 VERY LONG minutes with semi-trailers passing double wide by in the 1.5 lanes that were left closest to me.

Lessons learned:

1) self locking couplers - don't trust them, always always pin them. I can only figure the bouncing down the highway somehow unhooked it.

2) check your breakaway batteries and make sure they have a charge when not hooked up to the trailer. Mine didn't, and that ended up saving me.

3) make your break away longer than your safety chains.

4) when putting the safety hooks on, don't put them on open end first, hook them on from underneath. One of my chains came loose even with the safety clip.

5) My stinger is actually the last thing to go. It was long enough to allow the TV to maneuver back under the trailer with the hazards on the trailer still flashing away powered by the TV.


1998 Chevy Crew Cab 4500 4x4 454, Auto, 4.10 Gears
2003 Nomad M-308 (30', bunks, 14' slide)
Prodigy P3 Brake Controller



Posted By: Slowmover on 10/20/10 07:54pm

Chains, etc:

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/Cars/problems/Equipment/towing/Towing.pdf

And a handy Ron Gratz quote:

". . and a breakaway switch, located on the tongue of the trailer, to activate the trailer brakes in the event the trailer separates from the tow vehicle." Please note the phrase, "in the event the trailer separates from the tow vehicle", is identical in both quotes. In the first quote, the safety chains are still attached. Therefore, the second quote must also pertain to the chains being attached.

The NTHSA/DOT definition is consistent with the California DMV definition. Separation, detachment, breakaway, or whatever you want to call it, happens when the trailer is no longer connected to the tow vehicle via the hitch system. There is no stipulation that the safety chains must become detached. In fact, the NHTSA/DOT defines separation as having occurred when the chains are still attached.

The safety chains and breakaway switch must work in concert, NOT separately as some would have it.

(maybe this interpretation has been superceded, but it is still the best one I've come across).


No, while some want to quibble over chains/switch, real men argue over chain attachment points: receiver or frame?

.


1990 35' SILVER STREAK Sterling, 9k GVWR
2004 DODGE 305/555 ISB, QC SRW LB NV-5600, 9k GVWR
Hensley Arrow; 15-cpm solo, 25-cpm towing


Posted By: dave54 on 10/02/10 08:08pm

LarryJM wrote:

robsouth wrote:

OldMan5 wrote:

In some states the road laws state the safety chains must be crossed. OldMan5


Is that something you heard, or can you post the site reference to the states that "road laws state" that the safety chains be crossed?


Simple go HERE which is an actual CA DMV site sponsered by the CA GOV and most other states have similar statutes/requirements somewhere in their law/reg.

Safety chains are required for travel trailers. Safety chains are not required for fifth-wheel trailers. The purpose of safety chains is to prevent the trailer from separating from the tow vehicle in event of hitch failure such as a hitch ball that has loosened. The chains should be crossed in an "X" fashion below the ball mount, with enough slack that they do not restrict turning or allow the coupler to hit the ground


Enough said ... CROSS THEM end of discussion. NO STATE WILL SAY NOT TO CROSS THEM.

Larry


The actual text of the law in the CA vehicle code only requires only to be fastened in such a manner to prevent the tongue from contacting the ground if the hitch disconnects. Crossing is not specifically required. I suspect most states have similar wording.

On my rig the two chains fasten at a single point under the tongue, so crossing is useless. My WD bars will prevent the tongue from hitting, so I am in compliance with the law uncrossed according to the CHP. There are many different types and manufacturers of hitching systems. Not all of them even allow crossing chains.


=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=
So many campsites, so little time...
~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~=~


Posted By: dodge guy on 03/31/11 05:50pm

I didn`t look back at the other pages and I`m sure it was covered...maybe even by me!, but on some trailers crossing them will not make one bit of difference. unless they are mounted on each frame rail at least 3-4" apart crossing them does nothing.


Wife Kim
Son Brandon 13yrs
Daughter Marissa 12yrs
Dog Shadow R.I.P.

07 Cherokee 32B
02 Excursion 4X4 V-10 4.30 gear 5Star tuner Y-pipe mod Hellwig sway bar
Reese DualCam, Prodigy brake controller

A bad day of camping is
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Posted By: JBarca on 10/25/10 04:08pm

twaldher wrote:

LarryJM wrote:

Well maybe so or maybe not and there are two camps on these safety chains and the breakaway cable length and when it should activate. Some believe the breakaway switch should only close then the chains break and other believe the switch should be activated while the chains are still attached.



Larry


My runaway trailer story.

I was cruising down I-5 in seattle, going up hill with my 2500lb 16' flat bed trailer. I was hitting the concrete dividers every 50' or however far apart they are and somehow the trailer came unhitched.

I hit the brakes, the trailer brakes activated and sent the tongue of the trailer about 4' in the air, left off the brakes and it dropped back down. I did this about 2 times before I reached down and turned the adjuster all the way down on the controller so the brakes wouldn't activate.

Final maneuver was hammer the trucks brakes once the trailer tongue was down, the trailer slid under the truck and I managed to keep it under control to mostly get out of the highway. (this all happened on an unlit bend at 11pm.)

The hill was steep enough that my tire chock couldn't stop the trailer from rolling backwards. I had to chain the trailer off to the guardrail, let it roll back. Unhook the one remaining hooked up safety chain (3/8" links and large hook w/ clip), then hi-lift the trailer back up because the trailer jack got fubar'd, get it back on the truck so I could get out of there. that whole operation took maybe 5 minutes... 5 VERY LONG minutes with semi-trailers passing double wide by in the 1.5 lanes that were left closest to me.

Lessons learned:

1) self locking couplers - don't trust them, always always pin them. I can only figure the bouncing down the highway somehow unhooked it.

2) check your breakaway batteries and make sure they have a charge when not hooked up to the trailer. Mine didn't, and that ended up saving me.

3) make your break away longer than your safety chains.


4) when putting the safety hooks on, don't put them on open end first, hook them on from underneath. One of my chains came loose even with the safety clip.

5) My stinger is actually the last thing to go. It was long enough to allow the TV to maneuver back under the trailer with the hazards on the trailer still flashing away powered by the TV.


Hi twaldher

First off, thank you for sharing your very unfortunate event with us. I for one am glad your came out OK and no one was hurt.

Second I’m not posting here to start a conflict, but to pass along some things that came out in your note and how they can apply to towing a TT which may put a different light on this then an open flat bed trailer.

I do not know if your open trailer was loaded, what the tongue weight was but you did say it weighed 2500#. And 2500# is a big hammer none the less.

I only have one differing opinion with your number 3 item I highlight in blue. Your other suggestions I totally agree with. Your trip that day and your trailer setup was a hand full and I would have to think harder and longer on if it would change my point of view for towing a TT verses an open flat bed trailer.

I believe LarryJM was referring to a TT and in this case I am referring to a TT. Since I myself have wrestled with this same decision, I have come to the conclusion that on my TT, I for sure want the breakaway switch to pull before the chains reach the end. Now why do I say this.

I actually called my TT manufacture when they where still in business… to ask this question as my prior TT had coiled cables verses chains. They told me they want the breakaway to pull before reaching the end of the coiled cables. Their reason was they want to avoid the TT hitting the back of the truck and possibly pushing it out of control.

So I heard that and researched some more. A common reason given by some to not pull the breakaway is that it will apply full braking power to the TT brakes and cause a wheel lockup. Well that depends. According to both Dexter and Alko pending loading of the trailer and the speed it is going the brakes may not lock and that is considered acceptable. In my case I have TT rated for 10,000# GVWR loaded to 9,200#. I know much above 30 mph they are not going to lock as these electric drum brakes are not powerfull enough at close to full loading of the TT to lock up. They will brake like heck, but not lock. They are size upon a formula to stop a certain load within a certain distance. Now if this was an open flat bed trailer sized for 10,000# and empty it weighed say 3,500#, then yes the brakes very well could lock up at higher speeds.

The next thing is many breakaway switches I have seen, including the Bargmen I have, have about a 6 foot piece of no 14 awg wire on it. My brake controller has a no 10 awg and so is the line all the way to the brakes themselves. With the voltage drop in that 14 awg wire I may be able to get more power thru my brake controller back to the coils. So locking may not come any way.

The biggest thing that changed my mind was, well think of about it this way. If the breakaway did not try to activate the brakes and the trailer uncoupled now I have this beast behind me that can thrash left to right and without too much thought, yank the 7 wire cable out and now any attempt in the truck to stop it is gone. As you stated even going up hill the trailer hit the truck. Now if I put my 9,200# TT in there with 2, 30# LP tanks on the front and think about, if that TT hits the truck with very much force what is going to happen to those LP tanks sandwiched in the middle? What if I am going down hill?? that is really bad....

After thinking thru all this I myself for my TT came to the conclusion to yank the breakaway before the chains reach full extension. There are too many conditions that can happen and think I can control them from a manual lever in the truck. I will have to think more on if my 15% tongue weight (1,400#) TT going up hill would pop up like yours did. That I have to think harder on.

Any uncoupling is a bad thing. There is no win/win scenario, only levels of how bad can it be. We just have to sort out for ourselves which is the worst evil and odds you are going to deal with if it ever happens. And as a fellow camper I hope it never happens to anyone. You are right, prevention is our best defense to never get in this situation in the 1st place.

Again thanks for sharing your towing event. It makes us all think though this, what would I do?

John


Posted By: JBarca on 03/31/11 08:33pm

dodge guy wrote:

I didn`t look back at the other pages and I`m sure it was covered...maybe even by me!, but on some trailers crossing them will not make one bit of difference. unless they are mounted on each frame rail at least 3-4" apart crossing them does nothing.


Hi Dodge guy

It is true that on many WD hitches the connection is way to long to "catch" the tongue like on a short coupled weight carrying hitch setup. Utility trailer, boat etc.

And folks towing with a low to the ground van with a hi rise hitch shank even have it tuffer.

But, even with these long shank hitches, crossing the chains still helps. While the tongue is going to hit... the crossing "helps" keep the trailer in line as you are pulling it. If you do not cross them then once it hits the ground it can even faster start thrashing around as it is not being pulled on center like crossed chains do.

I proved mine will not catch the tongue ( and created posts about it) from hitting as folks swore that is the reason to cross but I have not located anyone yet with a picture showing how on a WD hitch it will catch the tongue. They may be out there but it is not a large population. While mine will hit, I still on purpose cross the chains.

Hope this helps explain the other point of view and why.

John


Posted By: JBarca on 03/31/11 08:36pm

Mafman wrote:



Great story by twaldher, and I must add, good points by John.

This brings to mind a similar although much less harrowing experience several years ago, while towing a regular home-made, single-axle utility trailer my dad built from scratch. A square deal about 9 by 9, deck over the wheels with a high centre of gravity, sturdy and safe when loaded properly... In this particular case, this thing was carrying gear for a fishing expedition, complete with 14 foot aluminum skiff loaded hull-up, ends hanging off front and back, no real attention to tongue weight/proper balancing, no trailer brakes, and two chains welded to the tongue and attached to the TV using a couple zinc add-a-links. Not crossed. Please spare me the scoldings, I KNOW...

Cruising in town after fueling up, going back home to pick up dad, i notice two pedestrians litterally jump the curb to safety onto someone's front lawn. At this point I catch a glimpse of the boat as it wails into the air, and the thump of the tongue as it kisses the tailgate of dad's grand cherokee. Twice. At this point I've slowed down (I wasn't going much more than 20 mph in this residential area - thank GOD) enough that the tongue hit the ground and slid underneat the TV. In the time between it doing the nose-up dance to the point it hit the ground, this thing had swerved quite dramatically left (i could see the whole front quarter side of the boat in the driver's side mirror, then went off to the right as I gently (i think) hit the brakes a second time and then hit the ground.

The lessons i've learned are this:

Indeed there will be some serious thrashing about before the dust even begins to settle - and at 20 mph it was something to behold - i can only imagine a 6 - 7k lb beheamoth doing the same thing going down the freeway at 55. That being said, I absolutely want those trailer brakes engaging as this thing comes crashing down the highway.

Secondly, had I hit anything in the road with that tonguem the chains would have surely broke and that thing would have gone free all over the place. So, I absolutely want the cradle-effect to catch that tongue and keep it from slamming onto the pavement.

Nuf said.


Hi Mafman

Thank you for posting the ride of your life. Hearing it from the cockpit helps drive this point home. Thanks for sharing and I hope it never happens to you or anyone else again.

John


Posted By: JBarca on 10/02/10 08:21pm

dave54 wrote:



On my rig the two chains fasten at a single point under the tongue, so crossing is useless. My WD bars will prevent the tongue from hitting, so I am in compliance with the law uncrossed according to the CHP. There are many different types and manufacturers of hitching systems. Not all of them even allow crossing chains.


Hi Dave

The single point hook up still benefits from crossing even if you end up dragging the trailer. It will tack more to the center of the truck behind you. See the post with pics a few replies up from here

Now you where stating "I think" that you some how have created a situation using a WD hitch that will not allow the hitch to “not” hit the ground due to the chains being able to hold it. Did I understand that correct?

If I did, can you show us how you managed to do that? Something must be special about your setup and want to learn what it is. See this reply above where I show the issue in trying to obtain a "catch" and if you follow my link I have tons of pic’s in the post showing how it will not “catch”. here
Thanks

John


Posted By: JBarca on 10/13/10 07:02pm

taylorfamilyford wrote:

IS that a piece or rebar holding the chains inside of the trailer in the first picture??


It very well could be. It is what the factory used. If you look up rebar for mechanical properties it is tougher then plain mild steel. They may have selected it as a cheaper alternative to high carbon steel.


Posted By: JBarca on 10/02/10 05:19pm

tatest wrote:

If the chains are attached to a single point on the trailer tongue, there is no way to tell whether or not they are crossed.


Well, actually there is. See here. It makes a difference. The trailer will pull more straight as it is dragging then if they are not crossed.








Posted By: JBarca on 10/02/10 07:32pm

Since we are talking about crossed chains, I see we have here much talk about that the crossed chain is there to catch the tongue if it comes off the ball.

This is very true when towing trailers in a weight carrying mode as the ball coupler is very close to the TV. Many combo's of trailer and TV can be made to accomplish the "catch" in non WD mode.

Now moving into the WD hitch of towing like we do on TT's it gets a lot more complex to create the "catch". Now I am from the camp who crosses their chains and I'm on a single point of attachment. And also that the breakaway needs to pull out before the chains reach full extension too. As pointed out in this post, the chain crossing is still needed even if you can not "catch" the tongue because the trailer will track better in line verses being pulled off center creating more chaos. And any decoupling is bad....but not crossing the chains makes it even worse.

However I have not yet seen a WD hitch setup on a TT that can actually "catch" the tongue. I'm sure there are some out there and if so please post a pic of how you managed to do this so we can all learn how. The combination of WD shank, high ball coupler and different receiver heights makes it complex to accomplish the "catch".

In this post I show how on my rig the tongue will hit the ground. Now it may skip along but there will be a few bumps along the way.

WD Hitch Safety Chains Hook Up (Pic's)

Safe towing to all and hope this helps

John


Posted By: tatest on 10/02/10 01:56pm

If the chains are attached to a single point on the trailer tongue, there is no way to tell whether or not they are crossed.


Tom Test
Itasca Spirit 29B



Posted By: taylorfamilyford on 10/18/10 08:52pm

I am sure the rebar is strong enough, just caught my eye....

Happy RVing....


Posted By: taylorfamilyford on 10/12/10 09:59pm

JBarca wrote:

tatest wrote:

If the chains are attached to a single point on the trailer tongue, there is no way to tell whether or not they are crossed.


Well, actually there is. See here. It makes a difference. The trailer will pull more straight as it is dragging then if they are not crossed.








Posted By: taylorfamilyford on 10/12/10 10:00pm

IS that a piece or rebar holding the chains inside of the trailer in the first picture??


Posted By: coolbreeze01 on 10/02/10 06:21pm

Good pics. No one should die of thirst


Posted By: roster2 on 10/02/10 07:38pm

downtheroad is right, there is a law to cover this, at least in Texas and Oklahoma.


2012 Montana 3402RL
2015 GMC 3500 Duramax/Allison
Bob-USAF (Ret) Barbara-Retired DeCA
Chaplain, Christian Resort Ministries, Int'l
No pets, just two beautiful granddaughters


Posted By: ArkieVet on 10/02/10 08:50am

If the chains are not crossed then you might as well not have them at all. Holding the trailer tongue up prevents it from slamming into a pothole, uneven surface, etc. and causing a serious accident. That is as well as the chains preventing the trailer from careening to who-knows-where, and into who-knows-what/who.


Retired U.S. Army SFC ('67 - '88)
(Infantry, AG Corps)
Nam Vet - Infantry (68-69-70 & 71-72)
2009 F350 Crew Cab Dually PSD Tow Boss
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KC5UCN



Posted By: vic46 on 10/01/10 10:51am

Quote from Government of Alberta, Transportation web site:

"If you have a ball-and-socket hitch, you will also need safety chains as a secondary means of attachment. Chains should be crossed under the tongue of the trailer and correctly fastened. This applies to all trailers except fifth-wheel trailers."

The site reference below is not a legislative reference however,
the intent seems fairly clear and straight forward to me.

site address: http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/2182.htm

* This post was edited 10/03/10 12:41pm by vic46 *


Never argue with an idiot. You will be dragged down to their level and then beaten with experience.



Posted By: LarryJM on 10/02/10 06:09pm

Like JBarca I also disagree and below are the actual pics of my current setup ...

This shows how the crossed chains and much closer to the center of the coupler.



This shows how much the crossed chains might ride up along the coupler and this is putting tension on them at a height higher than normal.



The problem with not crossing them even with a common attachment point is you end up with the following ...
This shows the uncrossed chains and because they are uncrossed on one will be centered in the attachment "V" with the other to one or the other side of the "V" and now the chains are slightly different lengths to the trailer and sum of the two tensions will be to the left of the trailers centerline and not absolutely straight.



and



This results when the wt. of the tongue is put on this the two chains will separate and you will end up with something like the following that will allow the tongue to drop down lower and possibly hit the pavement. This will result in one chain centred with other riding up in on the coupler and you will end up with the following which IMHO is not good.



End point is cross them and make the only short enough for turning and many I have seen are WAY TOO LONG to be effective. Here is what mine actually look like and I actually can't unhook them if I raise the ball to remove the Equal-i-zer bars. I have to remove the bars and then lower the tongue enough to get enough slack to get the chains off and then raise the ball a second time to fully disconnect.



Larry


Posted By: LarryJM on 04/01/11 04:18am

JBarca wrote:

dodge guy wrote:

I didn`t look back at the other pages and I`m sure it was covered...maybe even by me!, but on some trailers crossing them will not make one bit of difference. unless they are mounted on each frame rail at least 3-4" apart crossing them does nothing.


Hi Dodge guy

It is true that on many WD hitches the connection is way to long to "catch" the tongue like on a short coupled weight carrying hitch setup. Utility trailer, boat etc.

And folks towing with a low to the ground van with a hi rise hitch shank even have it tuffer.

But, even with these long shank hitches, crossing the chains still helps. While the tongue is going to hit... the crossing "helps" keep the trailer in line as you are pulling it. If you do not cross them then once it hits the ground it can even faster start thrashing around as it is not being pulled on center like crossed chains do.

I proved mine will not catch the tongue ( and created posts about it) from hitting as folks swore that is the reason to cross but I have not located anyone yet with a picture showing how on a WD hitch it will catch the tongue. They may be out there but it is not a large population. While mine will hit, I still on purpose cross the chains.

Hope this helps explain the other point of view and why.

John


John,

IIRC your pics of your tongue hitting the ground left off one very important aspect and that is the tension on the chains created by the full braking of the trailer will effectively try and lift the tongue up off of the pavement. Now how much that is and will that prevent the tongue from ever contacting the ground is probably still an unknown, but any contact will or should IMO be much less than not having that full braking on the trailer. I would WAG that there is probably around 1 1/2 times the wt. of the trailer in the chain tension in a breakaway condition where the trailer brakes are fully engaged.

The only practical experience I have is from the marine side where in a past life I spent a couple of years on an ATF (a ocean going fleet tug boat used by the Navy). We did many open ocean tows of everything from cruisers to floating drydock sections (big boxes like 80' high x 80' wide x 120' long) and we always used a big chain bridle (basically a hugh "Y") to connect the tow to the 2" towing cable on the ship. Entering or leaving port and when in restricted waters we would only have like 30' of tow cable out and that chain bridle that easily weighed more tons that I could guess would be straight out between the tow and the ship because of the tension between the two vessels. We even had to be a little careful when in open waters where we deployed a certain amount of the 2000' of that 2' main tow cable because until we got enough cable out we could still have the cable and the 50 to 100' of the long arm of the chain bridle "jump" out of the water. This same tensioning and uplifting should be similar in how the safety chains under tension should help lift the trailer tongue up off the pavement.

Larry

* This post was edited 04/01/11 04:24am by LarryJM *


Posted By: LarryJM on 10/25/10 05:57pm

BarneyS wrote:

LarryJM wrote:

... I ain't even thinking of looking in my mirrors at the trailer since that might scare me even more and I can't do anything to change that anyway.

Larry

Bet you would at least try a peek!
Barney


Can't argue with that, but hopefully I will so busy trying to not wreck the TV I won't even consider that. This is why I say I practice this often at least mentally since instinctively you will want to do something different so I'm trying to train me for this very scary event should it ever happen.

Larry


Posted By: LarryJM on 10/25/10 05:06pm

JBarca wrote:

twaldher wrote:

LarryJM wrote:

Well maybe so or maybe not and there are two camps on these safety chains and the breakaway cable length and when it should activate. Some believe the breakaway switch should only close then the chains break and other believe the switch should be activated while the chains are still attached.



Larry


My runaway trailer story.

I was cruising down I-5 in seattle, going up hill with my 2500lb 16' flat bed trailer. I was hitting the concrete dividers every 50' or however far apart they are and somehow the trailer came unhitched.

I hit the brakes, the trailer brakes activated and sent the tongue of the trailer about 4' in the air, left off the brakes and it dropped back down. I did this about 2 times before I reached down and turned the adjuster all the way down on the controller so the brakes wouldn't activate.

Final maneuver was hammer the trucks brakes once the trailer tongue was down, the trailer slid under the truck and I managed to keep it under control to mostly get out of the highway. (this all happened on an unlit bend at 11pm.)

The hill was steep enough that my tire chock couldn't stop the trailer from rolling backwards. I had to chain the trailer off to the guardrail, let it roll back. Unhook the one remaining hooked up safety chain (3/8" links and large hook w/ clip), then hi-lift the trailer back up because the trailer jack got fubar'd, get it back on the truck so I could get out of there. that whole operation took maybe 5 minutes... 5 VERY LONG minutes with semi-trailers passing double wide by in the 1.5 lanes that were left closest to me.

Lessons learned:

1) self locking couplers - don't trust them, always always pin them. I can only figure the bouncing down the highway somehow unhooked it.

2) check your breakaway batteries and make sure they have a charge when not hooked up to the trailer. Mine didn't, and that ended up saving me.

3) make your break away longer than your safety chains.


4) when putting the safety hooks on, don't put them on open end first, hook them on from underneath. One of my chains came loose even with the safety clip.

5) My stinger is actually the last thing to go. It was long enough to allow the TV to maneuver back under the trailer with the hazards on the trailer still flashing away powered by the TV.


Hi twaldher

First off, thank you for sharing your very unfortunate event with us. I for one am glad your came out OK and no one was hurt.

Second I’m not posting here to start a conflict, but to pass along some things that came out in your note and how they can apply to towing a TT which may put a different light on this then an open flat bed trailer.

I do not know if your open trailer was loaded, what the tongue weight was but you did say it weighed 2500#. And 2500# is a big hammer none the less.

I only have one differing opinion with your number 3 item I highlight in blue. Your other suggestions I totally agree with. Your trip that day and your trailer setup was a hand full and I would have to think harder and longer on if it would change my point of view for towing a TT verses an open flat bed trailer.

I believe LarryJM was referring to a TT and in this case I am referring to a TT. Since I myself have wrestled with this same decision, I have come to the conclusion that on my TT, I for sure want the breakaway switch to pull before the chains reach the end. Now why do I say this.

I actually called my TT manufacture when they where still in business… to ask this question as my prior TT had coiled cables verses chains. They told me they want the breakaway to pull before reaching the end of the coiled cables. Their reason was they want to avoid the TT hitting the back of the truck and possibly pushing it out of control.

So I heard that and researched some more. A common reason given by some to not pull the breakaway is that it will apply full braking power to the TT brakes and cause a wheel lockup. Well that depends. According to both Dexter and Alko pending loading of the trailer and the speed it is going the brakes may not lock and that is considered acceptable. In my case I have TT rated for 10,000# GVWR loaded to 9,200#. I know much above 30 mph they are not going to lock as these electric drum brakes are not powerfull enough at close to full loading of the TT to lock up. They will brake like heck, but not lock. They are size upon a formula to stop a certain load within a certain distance. Now if this was an open flat bed trailer sized for 10,000# and empty it weighed say 3,500#, then yes the brakes very well could lock up at higher speeds.

The next thing is many breakaway switches I have seen, including the Bargmen I have, have about a 6 foot piece of no 14 awg wire on it. My brake controller has a no 10 awg and so is the line all the way to the brakes themselves. With the voltage drop in that 14 awg wire I may be able to get more power thru my brake controller back to the coils. So locking may not come any way.

The biggest thing that changed my mind was, well think of about it this way. If the breakaway did not try to activate the brakes and the trailer uncoupled now I have this beast behind me that can thrash left to right and without too much thought, yank the 7 wire cable out and now any attempt in the truck to stop it is gone. As you stated even going up hill the trailer hit the truck. Now if I put my 9,200# TT in there with 2, 30# LP tanks on the front and think about, if that TT hits the truck with very much force what is going to happen to those LP tanks sandwiched in the middle? What if I am going down hill?? that is really bad....

After thinking thru all this I myself for my TT came to the conclusion to yank the breakaway before the chains reach full extension. There are too many conditions that can happen and think I can control them from a manual lever in the truck. I will have to think more on if my 15% tongue weight (1,400#) TT going up hill would pop up like yours did. That I have to think harder on.

Any uncoupling is a bad thing. There is no win/win scenario, only levels of how bad can it be. We just have to sort out for ourselves which is the worst evil and odds you are going to deal with if it ever happens. And as a fellow camper I hope it never happens to anyone. You are right, prevention is our best defense to never get in this situation in the 1st place.

Again thanks for sharing your towing event. It makes us all think though this, what would I do?

John


Great Post John and I like you have thought a lot about this and practice what to do if it ever happens and that is basically not worry about what that TT is doing behind me, but use all my driving skills to keep the TV in control and that includes both hands on the steering wheel and both feet off anything but the floor and just HANG ON and hope for the best. I ain't even thinking of looking in my mirrors at the trailer since that might scare me even more and I can't do anything to change that anyway.

Larry


Posted By: LarryJM on 03/31/11 06:04pm

dodge guy wrote:

I didn`t look back at the other pages and I`m sure it was covered...maybe even by me!, but on some trailers crossing them will not make one bit of difference. unless they are mounted on each frame rail at least 3-4" apart crossing them does nothing.


Not true at all ...

Larry


Posted By: 67Airstreamer on 10/21/10 03:12pm

Reference the "real men" discussion in the 68Monaco440HP post just above, since I have a chain that is too long for what's normally needed, I hook it to two points on my TV: one at the regular loops on the hitch as the primary break-away prevention, and the second to my frame-attached bumper as a secondary salvation measure. It didn't cost anything to utilize the extra-long chain for some good purpose, and it provides independent attachment points to both the hitch and the frame.


Posted By: 67Airstreamer on 10/19/10 04:50am

My hitch is too long for crossed chains to catch the trailer tongue in the event of hitch failure. I cross them anyway as per convention.


Posted By: Mafman on 03/31/11 04:24pm

JBarca wrote:

twaldher wrote:

LarryJM wrote:

Well maybe so or maybe not and there are two camps on these safety chains and the breakaway cable length and when it should activate. Some believe the breakaway switch should only close then the chains break and other believe the switch should be activated while the chains are still attached.



Larry


My runaway trailer story.

I was cruising down I-5 in seattle, going up hill with my 2500lb 16' flat bed trailer. I was hitting the concrete dividers every 50' or however far apart they are and somehow the trailer came unhitched.

I hit the brakes, the trailer brakes activated and sent the tongue of the trailer about 4' in the air, left off the brakes and it dropped back down. I did this about 2 times before I reached down and turned the adjuster all the way down on the controller so the brakes wouldn't activate.

Final maneuver was hammer the trucks brakes once the trailer tongue was down, the trailer slid under the truck and I managed to keep it under control to mostly get out of the highway. (this all happened on an unlit bend at 11pm.)

The hill was steep enough that my tire chock couldn't stop the trailer from rolling backwards. I had to chain the trailer off to the guardrail, let it roll back. Unhook the one remaining hooked up safety chain (3/8" links and large hook w/ clip), then hi-lift the trailer back up because the trailer jack got fubar'd, get it back on the truck so I could get out of there. that whole operation took maybe 5 minutes... 5 VERY LONG minutes with semi-trailers passing double wide by in the 1.5 lanes that were left closest to me.

Lessons learned:

1) self locking couplers - don't trust them, always always pin them. I can only figure the bouncing down the highway somehow unhooked it.

2) check your breakaway batteries and make sure they have a charge when not hooked up to the trailer. Mine didn't, and that ended up saving me.

3) make your break away longer than your safety chains.


4) when putting the safety hooks on, don't put them on open end first, hook them on from underneath. One of my chains came loose even with the safety clip.

5) My stinger is actually the last thing to go. It was long enough to allow the TV to maneuver back under the trailer with the hazards on the trailer still flashing away powered by the TV.


Hi twaldher

First off, thank you for sharing your very unfortunate event with us. I for one am glad your came out OK and no one was hurt.

Second I’m not posting here to start a conflict, but to pass along some things that came out in your note and how they can apply to towing a TT which may put a different light on this then an open flat bed trailer.

I do not know if your open trailer was loaded, what the tongue weight was but you did say it weighed 2500#. And 2500# is a big hammer none the less.

I only have one differing opinion with your number 3 item I highlight in blue. Your other suggestions I totally agree with. Your trip that day and your trailer setup was a hand full and I would have to think harder and longer on if it would change my point of view for towing a TT verses an open flat bed trailer.

I believe LarryJM was referring to a TT and in this case I am referring to a TT. Since I myself have wrestled with this same decision, I have come to the conclusion that on my TT, I for sure want the breakaway switch to pull before the chains reach the end. Now why do I say this.

I actually called my TT manufacture when they where still in business… to ask this question as my prior TT had coiled cables verses chains. They told me they want the breakaway to pull before reaching the end of the coiled cables. Their reason was they want to avoid the TT hitting the back of the truck and possibly pushing it out of control.

So I heard that and researched some more. A common reason given by some to not pull the breakaway is that it will apply full braking power to the TT brakes and cause a wheel lockup. Well that depends. According to both Dexter and Alko pending loading of the trailer and the speed it is going the brakes may not lock and that is considered acceptable. In my case I have TT rated for 10,000# GVWR loaded to 9,200#. I know much above 30 mph they are not going to lock as these electric drum brakes are not powerfull enough at close to full loading of the TT to lock up. They will brake like heck, but not lock. They are size upon a formula to stop a certain load within a certain distance. Now if this was an open flat bed trailer sized for 10,000# and empty it weighed say 3,500#, then yes the brakes very well could lock up at higher speeds.

The next thing is many breakaway switches I have seen, including the Bargmen I have, have about a 6 foot piece of no 14 awg wire on it. My brake controller has a no 10 awg and so is the line all the way to the brakes themselves. With the voltage drop in that 14 awg wire I may be able to get more power thru my brake controller back to the coils. So locking may not come any way.

The biggest thing that changed my mind was, well think of about it this way. If the breakaway did not try to activate the brakes and the trailer uncoupled now I have this beast behind me that can thrash left to right and without too much thought, yank the 7 wire cable out and now any attempt in the truck to stop it is gone. As you stated even going up hill the trailer hit the truck. Now if I put my 9,200# TT in there with 2, 30# LP tanks on the front and think about, if that TT hits the truck with very much force what is going to happen to those LP tanks sandwiched in the middle? What if I am going down hill?? that is really bad....

After thinking thru all this I myself for my TT came to the conclusion to yank the breakaway before the chains reach full extension. There are too many conditions that can happen and think I can control them from a manual lever in the truck. I will have to think more on if my 15% tongue weight (1,400#) TT going up hill would pop up like yours did. That I have to think harder on.

Any uncoupling is a bad thing. There is no win/win scenario, only levels of how bad can it be. We just have to sort out for ourselves which is the worst evil and odds you are going to deal with if it ever happens. And as a fellow camper I hope it never happens to anyone. You are right, prevention is our best defense to never get in this situation in the 1st place.

Again thanks for sharing your towing event. It makes us all think though this, what would I do?

John


Great story by twaldher, and I must add, good points by John.

This brings to mind a similar although much less harrowing experience several years ago, while towing a regular home-made, single-axle utility trailer my dad built from scratch. A square deal about 9 by 9, deck over the wheels with a high centre of gravity, sturdy and safe when loaded properly... In this particular case, this thing was carrying gear for a fishing expedition, complete with 14 foot aluminum skiff loaded hull-up, ends hanging off front and back, no real attention to tongue weight/proper balancing, no trailer brakes, and two chains welded to the tongue and attached to the TV using a couple zinc add-a-links. Not crossed. Please spare me the scoldings, I KNOW...

Cruising in town after fueling up, going back home to pick up dad, i notice two pedestrians litterally jump the curb to safety onto someone's front lawn. At this point I catch a glimpse of the boat as it wails into the air, and the thump of the tongue as it kisses the tailgate of dad's grand cherokee. Twice. At this point I've slowed down (I wasn't going much more than 20 mph in this residential area - thank GOD) enough that the tongue hit the ground and slid underneat the TV. In the time between it doing the nose-up dance to the point it hit the ground, this thing had swerved quite dramatically left (i could see the whole front quarter side of the boat in the driver's side mirror, then went off to the right as I gently (i think) hit the brakes a second time and then hit the ground.

The lessons i've learned are this:

Indeed there will be some serious thrashing about before the dust even begins to settle - and at 20 mph it was something to behold - i can only imagine a 6 - 7k lb beheamoth doing the same thing going down the freeway at 55. That being said, I absolutely want those trailer brakes engaging as this thing comes crashing down the highway.

Secondly, had I hit anything in the road with that tonguem the chains would have surely broke and that thing would have gone free all over the place. So, I absolutely want the cradle-effect to catch that tongue and keep it from slamming onto the pavement.

Nuf said.

* This post was edited 03/31/11 05:58pm by an administrator/moderator *


2013 Avenger 28BHS
2009 Puma 19FS
2012 GMC 2500 6.0L- 3:73
2009 GMC Sierra 5.3L - 3:42
EAZ Lift - proStar Ultra
DW, 2 DKs


Posted By: Deepwoods26 on 10/23/10 12:44pm

Many years ago (I'm 64 now) I was riding with my dad in a '52 Ford PU towing a HD tandem axle trailer loaded w/ shelled corn on our way to the mill. We had a two inch ball that broke cleanly off at the base and dropped the trailer tongue to the crossed chains. We had trailer brakes (they didn't work - but in those days the local cops looked the other way for farmers) we had been running about 50 or 55 MPH and it took forever to stop the load. Happily those crossed chains saved the day, although they allowed the coupler to kiss the pavement a couple times nothing was broken and no damage was done. We were on our way again after another farmer loaned us a 2" ball. Note: Dad had the trailer brakes fixed later that week. It could have been a disaster.


The Glaciers may of carved Michigan's Upper Peninsula, but only God could of made the beauty found there.



Posted By: enginemasterguru on 10/18/10 08:45pm

That re-bar caught my eye, too. I'd at least want a larger piece. BTW, I've always crossed the chains. My trailer has separate attachments for each chain, too.


Posted By: scottsnider on 10/13/10 06:43am

Cross the chains and I added an extra smaller chain for that added feeling of security.


Posted By: LAdams on 04/01/11 09:17pm

I don't have a "a dog in this fight" but I will comment on my setup... I still cross chains from force of habit, but with my current trailer it really doesn't make any difference because of the way the chains are attached to the TT A-frame...

I guess I should spend a bit more time with that issue but it hasn't been real high on my prioroty list - maybe this summer...

Les


2000 Ford F-250SD, XLT, 4X4 Off Road, SuperCab
w/ 6.8L (415 C.I.) V-10/3:73LS/4R100
Banks Power Pack w/Trans Command & OttoMind
Sold Trailer - not RV'ing at this point in time



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HOME MADE WHEEL CHOCKS


Posted By: LAdams on 04/02/11 09:52am

Hey John,

Yeah, perfect example of how my TT looks... I still cross chains but it could be better... We can discuss later on


Posted By: P Kennedy on 04/02/11 12:10am

One of the biggest misconceptions posted is the "breakaway" switch is to work in unison with the safety chains, the chains are you 1st line of defense in the case of the trailer coming off of the ball and yes they should be adjusted to be able to carry the trailer tongue off of the road. In some cases the mounting positions and chain size is questionable as to whether they are able to do the job. The breakaway switch is like maxi brakes on a tractor trailer where if the trailer comes unhooked from the tractor the trailer brakes will come on and stop the trailer from careening into traffic aimlessly across the roadway. If the trailer is set up like in the pictures where the chains are too close to the center they should be welded to the outside of the tongue in the same position which creates a true safety basket. 2 pieces of 5/16ths grade C70/A80 DOT securement chain will properly installed support any weight that a tag along trailer weighs. This system works after having a gravel pup trailer break a hitch fully loaded and safely come to a stop with the safety chains holding the trailer centered within 6" of center of the broken hitch. If the tongue should drop and dig into the pavement between the uncrossed chains be prepared for a very uncomfortable and abrupt stop. Do not expect to hook back up and carry on there will be tongue damage. NEVER trust a salesman at an RV dealer for this information, be pro-active and go to a truck stop or trucking yard and look at a set of doubles/triples or a pup trailer rigging. They are DOT approved every inspection! By the way pictures are always appreciated, thanks.


2007 Triple E 305RL
2007 Dodge C&C 9' Falcan Deck


Posted By: P Kennedy on 04/02/11 04:34pm

You are not being a wise acre as per say but in the case of the WD hitch unit the WD bars would also have to become disconnected to drop down to the ground. Your assessment is correct and the picture is accurate showing the distance is too far to be cradled in the safety chains but like your picture shows the WD assembly is already supporting a portion of the weight. On a normal non WD hitch the chains if properly placed and crossed will cradle the tongue. Even with the WD hitch crossed chains offer the same advantage in a turn where the chain can never become too short too bind but lengthens itself proportionatly as the radius changes. Good educational discussion and issues, sorry I dont have the same ability to supply pictures for different situations. I still prefer my safety chains properly welded to the outside of the tongue a little further back from the position in the picture on your red vertical measurement line.


Posted By: mowermech on 04/02/11 06:43am

Seems to me the bottom line is, do everything in your power to ensure that your trailer does NOT come loose!
I have been extremely lucky, I guess. I have never had anything on a hitch break, I have never had a trailer jump off the ball (yes, I HAVE driven I-5 between Seattle and Tacoma, towing a car hauler trailer!), I have never had any of the horrific incidents described here.
But then, I have only towed trailers with pintle/lunette hitches, receiver type ball hitches, gooseneck hitches, and fifth wheel hitches.


Posted By: Fisherguy on 04/04/11 08:06am

Have people actually broken shanks or had the receiver fall apart?


06 Dodge Ram 3500 Cummins 6 spd std with a few goodies.

2007 Komfort 274TS, SteadyFast stabilizers, Trimetric 2025RV, PD9280, Honda EU2000i, Xantrex SW600, shocks and EZ-Flex suspension, Reese Strait-Line



Posted By: Fisherguy on 04/04/11 09:50am

Wow, that would be scary.

BTW, on that page they show a double clevis for making the chain longer, where can a person get something like that? My safety chains are a little on the short side, are those threaded link things strong enough to add some chain or is the double clevis a good idea?




Posted By: Fisherguy on 04/04/11 11:09am

Okay, my trailer has a GVW of 10k pounds, so the quick links would be a bad idea, right?


Posted By: Fisherguy on 04/04/11 06:15pm

If I had a welder, sure, I'd just get new chains, but I don't and this double clevis thing looks a lot stronger than the threaded link option.


Posted By: Ron Gratz on 04/04/11 05:50pm

Fisherguy wrote:

Have people actually broken shanks or had the receiver fall apart?
Ron Gratz wrote:

Yes. Take a look at this webpage -- scroll down to the "Experiences" section near the bottom of the page.

On Edit: The photo of the failed ProPride adjustable drawbar and the associated narrative have been removed from the restcure.ca website.

Fortunately, the owner was only 300 metres from home when the ProPride adjustable drawbar failed.
Fisherguy wrote:

Wow, that would be scary.
Yes, but it could have been far worse. The failure happened about 300 yards from home at the end of a 11,500 km trip. The speed at the time of failure probably was relatively low. Imagine what might have happened if the adjustable drawbar failure happened as they were descending from one of the narrow mountain passes.

IMO, the possibility of drawbar failure is an excellent reason for having the safety chains crossed and the breakaway cable attached so the TT brakes activate automatically as soon as possible.

The following is a photo posted on this Forum not too long ago. This type of hitch uses the adjustable drawbar shown in the restcure.ca photo posted previously.



The adjustable drawbar show in the restcure.ca photo failed at the bottom of the vertical 2x2 steelbar below and just to the rear of the two bottom bolts which attach the vertical bar to the steel side plates. Everything rearward of the vertical bar would have headed for the pavement.

For this type of hitch, it might not make any difference whether the safety chains are crossed. The chains are going to end up under or around the hitch head. Since the front part of this hitch head can move side-to-side relative to the ball, it's very hard to predict what might happen if it hits the pavement.

The above photo also shows how long the safety chains must be for this type of hitch. There is little chance that those chains could have kept the hitch head from hitting the pavement -- unless the breakaway system had activated immediately causing the TT brakes to tension the chains enough to lift the front of the tongue.

Yes, hitch and drawbar failures can and do happen. All it takes is a bad weld design and/or a bad welding procedure. The safety chains do have a purpose. And, IMO, it helps to have them crossed.

Ron

* This post was edited 09/27/11 09:15am by Ron Gratz *


Posted By: Ron Gratz on 04/04/11 09:28am

Fisherguy wrote:

Have people actually broken shanks or had the receiver fall apart?
Yes.

Take a look at this webpage -- scroll down to the "Experiences" section near the bottom of the page.

Fortunately, the owner was only 300 metres from home when the ProPride adjustable drawbar failed.

Ron


Posted By: Ron Gratz on 04/02/11 07:43pm

P Kennedy wrote:

You are not being a wise acre as per say but in the case of the WD hitch unit the WD bars would also have to become disconnected to drop down to the ground.---
What do the WD bars have to do with whether the tongue will drop to the pavement?

Take a closer look at John Barca's WD hitch. It is a Reese Dual Cam. As soon as the TT moves rearward about two inches relative to the hitch head, the rear end of the WD bar will be pulled off the cam and no longer will have any connection to the TT's A-frame.

Quote:

---Your assessment is correct and the picture is accurate showing the distance is too far to be cradled in the safety chains but like your picture shows the WD assembly is already supporting a portion of the weight.---
Which picture? How is the WD assembly supporting a portion of the weight? Even if the WD bar somehow remains on the cam, the bar will be pushing down on the cam until the cam drops low enough to relieve the load on the bar.

Quote:

---On a normal non WD hitch the chains if properly placed and crossed will cradle the tongue.---
Perhaps. But, the vast majority of our members do use a WD hitch. And, I've never seen a photo of a WD setup where the safety chains were long enough for turning, but short enough to keep the tongue from hitting the pavement in event of failure of the primary connection between TV and TT. Maybe on a gravel pup with a pintle hitch -- but not a TT with a WD hitch.

Ron


Posted By: Ron Gratz on 04/01/11 05:41pm

LarryJM wrote:

IIRC your pics of your tongue hitting the ground left off one very important aspect and that is the tension on the chains created by the full braking of the trailer will effectively try and lift the tongue up off of the pavement. Now how much that is and will that prevent the tongue from ever contacting the ground is probably still an unknown, but any contact will or should IMO be much less than not having that full braking on the trailer. I would WAG that there is probably around 1 1/2 times the wt. of the trailer in the chain tension in a breakaway condition where the trailer brakes are fully engaged.
Larry, I think your WAG is a bit high -- but I agree with your general premise.

If the breakaway switch activates and the TT brakes are applied at just below lockup torque, the TT tires should be able to generate a friction force equal to about 0.8 (perhaps a little high, but makes the arithmetic easy) times the weight of the TT. Assuming the TV brakes are not applied, the TT tires' friction force will act to decelerate both the TV and TT since we assume they still are connected via the safety chains.

Assume the TV weighs 10,000# and the TV weighs 6,000#. The 8,000# TT tire friction force would decelerate the TV/TT combo at 8000/(10000+6000) = 0.5G. The combined tension of the two safety chains would need to be 3,000# to decelerate the 6,000# TV at 0.5G. So, for this example, the tension per chain would be 1,500#.

If we assume the tongue weight of the TT is 900#, the chains must exert a vertical force of 900# to keep the tongue from hitting the pavement and also exert a horizontal force of 3,000# to decelerate the TV. The resultant combined tension in the two chains would be about 3130# and the taut chains would be at an angle of about 73 degrees from vertical.

So, if the TT brakes are applied fast enough, the tension in the chains might keep the tongue from hitting the pavement. However, a free-falling tongue is likely to hit the pavement in about 0.5 seconds after separation of the primary connection. I doubt that any driver can react fast enough to activate the TT's brakes manually before contact. I think the only hope is to have the breakaway cable short enough to activate the brakes before the tongue hits.

Ron


Posted By: JBarca on 04/01/11 10:36pm

LAdams wrote:

I don't have a "a dog in this fight" but I will comment on my setup... I still cross chains from force of habit, but with my current trailer it really doesn't make any difference because of the way the chains are attached to the TT A-frame...

Les


Les,

Even with the chains at one common point in the center of the A frame like this pic, it still helps drag the camper on center better if the chains are crossed. Crossed verses uncrossed still comes out better.







Think about it. What is different if they are crossed verses uncrossed? There is a difference.

John


Posted By: JBarca on 04/02/11 12:00pm

P Kennedy wrote:

One of the biggest misconceptions posted is the "breakaway" switch is to work in unison with the safety chains, the chains are you 1st line of defense in the case of the trailer coming off of the ball and yes they should be adjusted to be able to carry the trailer tongue off of the road.


Hi P

Just asking and not trying to be a wise acre. I understand what you are saying, but have you been able to accomplish having a trailer tongue supported by the TV and not hit the road using a WD hitch where you did not have to cut up the hitch to do this?

If so please explain so I can try to do this. See this picture.


The best I can do is to not have the chain bind in a turn and not drag on the gound. The WD Shank length and WD hitch relationship to the vertical height makes it not possible to hold up the tongue if the tongue comes off the ball.

What did I miss?


Posted By: JBarca on 04/02/11 09:27pm

P Kennedy wrote:



Snip..

in the case of the WD hitch unit the WD bars would also have to become disconnected to drop down to the ground. Your assessment is correct and the picture is accurate showing the distance is too far to be cradled in the safety chains but like your picture shows the WD assembly is already supporting a portion of the weight.


On a normal non WD hitch the chains if properly placed and crossed will cradle the tongue. Even with the WD hitch crossed chains offer the same advantage in a turn where the chain can never become too short too bind but lengthens itself proportionatly as the radius changes. Good educational discussion and issues,

I still prefer my safety chains properly welded to the outside of the tongue a little further back from the position in the picture on your red vertical measurement line.


Hi P,

I do agree with you that I would of preferred to have each chain independate to the frame. It provides 2 points of attachment in the event of a failure. I even quized my TT maunfacture about this common connection and they told me they have tested the joint to the full rating of the camper, both the weld and the rod. So I have left it. A large number if TT's now a days are built like this. It seems to be the way the RV industry does it now a days. They do not seem to do it like they use to years ago, independant.

I can't figure out why your stating the the WD hitch is going to help not drop the tongue. We have not talked about the mode of failure, it could be the pin box seperates from the reciever, ( we have seen it here before) the shank breaks, the hitch head cracks. Have seen those happend too. Have not yet seen the tow ball crack.

If the tow ball some how jumped off the ball or teh ball cracked, on my WD hitch the bars would quickly release right off the cams as the truck pulls the hitch out from the TT until the chains go taught. I can't see the WD hitch doing much holding up. What did I miss?

Even on a more standard WD hitch where the chains are bolted to the WD bars I can't see the WD bars holding the tongue. How did you come to this conclusion?

Thanks

John


Posted By: JBarca on 04/01/11 08:34pm

LarryJM wrote:



IIRC your pics of your tongue hitting the ground left off one very important aspect and that is the tension on the chains created by the full braking of the trailer will effectively try and lift the tongue up off of the pavement. Now how much that is and will that prevent the tongue from ever contacting the ground is probably still an unknown, but any contact will or should IMO be much less than not having that full braking on the trailer. I would WAG that there is probably around 1 1/2 times the wt. of the trailer in the chain tension in a breakaway condition where the trailer brakes are fully engaged.



Hi Larry

My post was talking more to that on a WD hitch setup, many chain sets on a WD hitch will not "catch" the tongue.

Your point about the chains crossed will help softening the blow of hitting, that I fully agree with. Here is how I have thought thru this.

Using my own TT as an example, I have an axle weight of 7,680# with a tongue weight of 1,400# when I'm not hauling fresh water. I know on my TT weight pulling the breakaway switch is not going to lock up the wheels if I am doing much over maybe 20 mph. I have tested this fact and it plain will not happen. Now I did not test it with the breakaway going 20mph, I tested it with the brake controller that can put more power to the brakes then the breakaway can. When one installs new brakes shoes you need to burnish the new shoes in by doing a series of full braking at slow speed to heat them up and make them slip and seat themselves. I did this test now 2 years ago when I upgraded to self-adjusting brakes and no 10 awg wire direct to each brake coil.

Now for discussion let us say someone had a breakaway switch better then 98% of the standard ones out there including mine. In addition, they could actually apply full power at the brake coils and they had over sized brakes for the camper. And that locked up the tires. On dry concrete rubber has a coefficient of friction of 0.45 to 0.85.

If I drug a locked up braked TT, that is 7,680# x .45 = 3,456# dragging force and the TT is then skidding. Using 7,680# x .85 = 6,528# dragging when skidding. Again to note, this does not take into account all the dynamic things of impact that are going on.

So that high a force would for sure help cushion the blow of the tongue hitting the ground. But then again my brakes will not lockup and they are not designed to either with my loads as high as they are. Both Dexter and Alko even declare this. Our TT brakes are not designed for lock up, they are design to decelerate a certain load in a certain amount of time.

The cushion effect while it for sure helps, once I finally have figured out what the heck is going on behind me I try and slow down the truck. The second (maybe even less then 1 second) the truck is going slower then the TT, the chains are going slack and my nice 3,500# Atwood tongue jack just turned into a ski. I let off the TV brakes and the TT braking cushion kicks back in and maybe the tongue goes up slightly again.

Depending on how long this total chaos went on for, those poor electric brakes are starting to go into brake fade and soon the braking power starts to drop quickly and back down the tongue comes again. By now I need a new tongue jack for sure...

The crossed chain cushion effect for sure helps and I need all the help I can get... but sooner or later by the time I stop this tiger I have by the tail, my jack foot may end up being totally destroyed and I hope that is all that was messed up. And I really hope there are no potholes in the middle of the mess....

I agree, cross the chains, get the most benefit you can from them given the situation and have the breakaway pull out before the chains go tight.

I hope no one ever has to prove this out... Prevention and checking your hitch equipment every trip is good start to never having this happen.

* This post was edited 04/01/11 08:40pm by JBarca *


Posted By: LarryJM on 04/04/11 06:08pm

janechucknicodemus wrote:

Fisherguy wrote:

Wow, that would be scary.

BTW, on that page they show a double clevis for making the chain longer, where can a person get something like that? My safety chains are a little on the short side, are those threaded link things strong enough to add some chain or is the double clevis a good idea?



NO NO buy good longer chains. Don't be cheep like some , it is dangerous, you won't see a heavy haul trucker get away with that mess. Those Gov't boys would drag him round the block.
Spend the money and save a life.
My 20.00


I strongly disagree as long as the double clevis link has the proper ratings.

Larry


Posted By: LarryJM on 04/04/11 11:32am

Fisherguy wrote:

Okay, my trailer has a GVW of 10k pounds, so the quick links would be a bad idea, right?


Well according to THIS the strength rating of each length of safety chain or it's equilivant and its attachments shall be equal to or exceed in minimum breaking force of the G VWR of the trailer. Also, the strength test of a length of chain or equivalent and its attaching means when the minimum load specified for the breaking force is appled, such load shall be maintained for a minimum of 1 minute.

In general the breaking strength of a chain is about 3 to 4X the safe working load.

I don't have a DOT or FMVSS reference to that Pealess document, but would think they would know what is required.

Larry


Posted By: LarryJM on 04/04/11 10:23am

Fisherguy wrote:

Wow, that would be scary.

BTW, on that page they show a double clevis for making the chain longer, where can a person get something like that? My safety chains are a little on the short side, are those threaded link things strong enough to add some chain or is the double clevis a good idea?



I extended my safety chains about 3" by using two 1/2" quick links attached to each side of my receiver. They have like a 3,300lb working strength and my trailer GVWR is 7500lbs so two gives me about 6,600 working and close to 19K breaking strength for each of my safety chains. Thus the weak link is still the original safety chains.

Larry


Posted By: LarryJM on 04/01/11 06:12pm

Ron Gratz wrote:

LarryJM wrote:

IIRC your pics of your tongue hitting the ground left off one very important aspect and that is the tension on the chains created by the full braking of the trailer will effectively try and lift the tongue up off of the pavement. Now how much that is and will that prevent the tongue from ever contacting the ground is probably still an unknown, but any contact will or should IMO be much less than not having that full braking on the trailer. I would WAG that there is probably around 1 1/2 times the wt. of the trailer in the chain tension in a breakaway condition where the trailer brakes are fully engaged.
Larry, I think your WAG is a bit high -- but I agree with your general premise.

If the breakaway switch activates and the TT brakes are applied at just below lockup torque, the TT tires should be able to generate a friction force equal to about 0.8 (perhaps a little high, but makes the arithmetic easy) times the weight of the TT. Assuming the TV brakes are not applied, the TT tires' friction force will act to decelerate both the TV and TT since we assume they still are connected via the safety chains.

Assume the TV weighs 10,000# and the TV weighs 6,000#. The 8,000# TT tire friction force would decelerate the TV/TT combo at 8000/(10000+6000) = 0.5G. The combined tension of the two safety chains would need to be 3,000# to decelerate the 6,000# TV at 0.5G. So, for this example, the tension per chain would be 1,500#.

If we assume the tongue weight of the TT is 900#, the chains must exert a vertical force of 900# to keep the tongue from hitting the pavement and also exert a horizontal force of 3,000# to decelerate the TV. The resultant combined tension in the two chains would be about 3130# and the taut chains would be at an angle of about 73 degrees from vertical.

So, if the TT brakes are applied fast enough, the tension in the chains might keep the tongue from hitting the pavement. However, a free-falling tongue is likely to hit the pavement in about 0.5 seconds after separation of the primary connection. I doubt that any driver can react fast enough to activate the TT's brakes manually before contact. I think the only hope is to have the breakaway cable short enough to activate the brakes before the tongue hits.

Ron


I'm not going to challenge you to a fight with a knife when you have a 357 magnum and my only point was that crossing the chains might not totally prevent contact with the pavement, but they should lessen the force that the tongue hits the pavement. Each situation will be unique so we are all "arm chair" guessing at what might happen.

I will continue to cross mine like I have for the last 27 years from my single point connection on the tongue and only hope I can never give a first hand experience of a trailer separation if I live to post about it. And like JBarca am in the camp of having my trailer brakes applied before the chains are extended full length and in no way advocate messing with applying TT brakes manually in a disconnect scenario.


Larry

* This post was edited 04/01/11 07:29pm by LarryJM *


Posted By: janechucknicodemus on 04/04/11 05:56pm

Fisherguy wrote:

Wow, that would be scary.

BTW, on that page they show a double clevis for making the chain longer, where can a person get something like that? My safety chains are a little on the short side, are those threaded link things strong enough to add some chain or is the double clevis a good idea?



NO NO buy good longer chains. Don't be cheep like some , it is dangerous, you won't see a heavy haul trucker get away with that mess. Those Gov't boys would drag him round the block.
Spend the money and save a life.
My 20.00


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