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Open Roads Forum  >  Fifth-Wheels

 > 5th Wheel Hitch Failure Question

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daamac

Texas

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Posted: 09/03/02 07:12pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Does anyone know of a documented case of a 5th wheel hitch failing due to a mechanical failure of the hitch? If so, what happened?

Thanks,

David


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packnrat

Stockton, CA. U S A

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Posted: 09/03/02 09:11pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

i have not seen any reports about a hitch failing.

i drive a commerical rig, and there the only trouble i have ever herd about is were the lock jaws do not work at all...they stay open or stay closed never any other way.

have seen bad accedents and the jaws stay locked up on the pin,
this system is the same on as your fifth wheel,

so i do put my life on the line and say you will destroy your truck and traller first.

just check it every so offen and keep the "junk" out of it and it will work very good for many a year.


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skipper

Louisville KY USA

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Posted: 09/03/02 11:14pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

heard of the little keeper spring clips rusting out and pivot pin droping down causig jaws to hang up not closing all the way ,salution check greas replace if rusty reese hitch the clips are down in a recess greas and paint over with spray paing to check wipe paint and greas off check and regreas and paint before putting in service .
Skipper


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wittmeba

Virginia

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Posted: 09/04/02 06:54am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have an opinion

The hitches seem to be built pretty good.

What I have read about those that have dropped their 5th wheels onto the bed rails is they didnt hitch up correctly - the lower the pin from above the hitch plate onto the jaws. The jaws never wrap around the king pin.

This adds an additional concern for me. I doubt if the jaws and the pivot point was designed to take this pressure (king pin on the top of the jaws) and I suspect this has in some cases damaged the hitch locking mechanisms and possibly breakage of internal components.

Even those that claim they open the jaws first, then lower the king pin into the jaws is questionable. All you need is a little contact and I suspect you could twist/break the jaws or the pivot.

Perhaps describing the proper hitching process would be better explained to 'connect like a train coupler' - you push the king pin into the jaws from an even plane - the king pin plate and hitch plate 'kiss' at connection.

Just my opinion...


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fppf

Buffalo, NY, USA

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Posted: 09/04/02 07:23am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The reese jaws are NOT the same as a semi.
This is why I refuse to replace my semi plate for a air ride hitch. I'm going to great pains to keep my tractor hitch. I think its safer plus I want to still be able to move semi trailers. I do beleave that the reese hitch is safe but it leaves greater room for error in hitching. There are more operations needed to hitch. I think the biggest error is "lowering the king pin into the hitch" this is the worst thing that can be done. I also see a lot of people at camp sites hitching. They really don't have the trailer down fare enough. When you back under your trailer it should push the truck down a little. This way pressure is applied while hitching. The secound thing is very few people "Hit the Pin". They back up just enough to see the handle move out and back in. When this is done its possible to not have the king pin in the jaws all the way. I'm not saying slam into your trailer like a semi does. A good little tap is enough. I have seen a lot of bad wrecks, I drive tow trucks. I have only seen 1 time when a semi lost a trailer. Don't know if the driver hitch wrong or the hitch failed. Never found out. The rig did drive over 200 miles before loseing the trailer. I have seen many roll overs and not once did the hitch fail. I have seen a roll over so bad it bent the plate on the hitch but it did not uncouple. The hitch still worked fine when uncoupled the trailer after recovery. If you want to see a semi hitch work check out www.fifthwheel.com. Fontaine has some neat animations of there hitch.


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HOGFAN

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Posted: 09/04/02 07:30am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have had a hitch fail! The cause was a weld around one of the pivot pins that did not penetrate and only had a small area of contact. The manufacturer examined the hitch and was able to see the defect easily. They paid for the cost of repairs and replaced the hitch. Fortunately this failure occurred just as I was leaving a State Park and we were only going 15 miles per hour. I still use that manufacturers hitch and have no problem with them. They acted responsibly and took care of the problem. We were lucky.


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Ktharg

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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Posted: 09/04/02 07:51am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My fifth hitch is a DSP (made in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada http://www.dsphitches.com) with a slide bar that passes behind the king pin - no jaws at all. You can see and hear when the bar slams closed. There is no way possible you could mess this one up

My question - is the "slide bar" set up a better set up than the "jaw" set up ?? I avoided the reese hitch mainly because of the "rumours" I had heard about the jaws. Opinions ??

fppf

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Posted: 09/04/02 08:06am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yes I think the slide bar is better.
This is how the semi hitch's work.
The fontaine actually has 2 slide bars in there no slack design.
The first holds the king pin the secound pushes on the first to remove any slack. No clunking when starting and stoping.

wittmeba

Virginia

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Posted: 09/04/02 08:37am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

===
My question - is the "slide bar" set up a better set up than the "jaw" set up ?? I avoided the reese hitch mainly because of the "rumours" I had heard about the jaws. Opinions ??
===

I have the Reese 16K model.

I sent away for the SuperGlide auto-slider video and they spoke about both the Reese jaws and the slider bar - of course theirs is different so none of the others are a good - and honestly - the SuperGlide technique is probably better.

They had a picture of a Reese, very well worn, space between the jaws as their example.

They indicated the bar type had contact in one very small point as the bar is straight and king pin is round.

Personally the SuperGlide versions looks better - it is like a 'J' hook that couples the king pin after connecting. Dont know if you could mess that up or not.

The bar seems second best as I have read fewer problems with it than the Reese jaws - perhaps due to quantity of each in the real world - dont know and no intentions of doing any survey.

I like my Reese and know how to use it - perhaps that helps too.

*This Message was edited on 04-Sep-02 08:39 AM by wittmeba*


LLeopold

Camarillo, CA USA

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Posted: 09/04/02 11:29am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The jaws were part of the reason I went to the Husky hitch rather than the Reese. Both make excellent hitches and the materials used look to be in the same class.

The Reese uses a "gate" style with the two jaws meeting in the center around the king pin. While Reese claims that the reason for this is to "provide maximum contact area around the king pin to reduce king pin wear" I felt that over the long term, the place where the jaws meet could eventually wear, and that the weakest point in the system was at that meeting point, exactly where the king pin would pull against when towing. That said, however, that I've never heard of one failing, other than by pilot error when hitching up.

The Husky, on the other hand, has one claw which wraps completely around the king pin. The claw, when closed, is completely within the hitch housing resulting in the king pin being completely "captured" with no way to come out. Secondly, there is an indicator, kind of like the "pop out" indicator on a turkey, that appears when the king pin is properly positioned in the hitch. There were a couple of times where I thought I was properly hitched, the indicator showed otherwise, and sure enough, upon close inspection was not as fully hitched as I could have been (i.e. the claw was not fully in the closed position even though it was completely wrapped around the king pin). Again, if there would be any failure, it would be because the driver did not pay enough attention when hitching up.

Hope this helps.

*This Message was edited on 04-Sep-02 11:31 AM by LLeopold*



Lou Leopold
2001 Dodge Ram 2500 Diesel Quad, SWB, 3.55:1, Rhino Lining
2000 25' Mallard M-23 5M 5th Wheel
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And I continue to tent camp!


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