Jump to content

5Th wheel hitch lets loose of trailer, Has anyone had it happen?


delawaretraveler

Recommended Posts

I recently had my 5th wheel at a campground, hooked up the unit, backup 100 feet, pulled forward and drove the unit 35 miles. turning at lights, up and down small hills and rises in pavement. Got to my next parking space, back it in to my space, pulled forward to straighten up and the hitch let loose of the camper. fell on the bed of the truck. $3500 damage to truck, minor fiberglass damage to camper. I'm not sure I can trust this hitch OR did I do something wrong. Anybody have any ideas. I'd hate to buy a new fifth hitch if not faulty. Its a drawtite 16k hitch if that helps

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • I would take the hitch to the local sales outlet and have a qualified person check it out.
  • If they say it is ok then I would paint the part of the release handle that retracts into the hitch. If the jaws don't lock some of the painted release handle will still be exposed....Red, yellow, orange..eg
  • Are you using one of the white plastic discs instead of grease on your hitch. There are two thicknesses I know about and the thicker one won't leave enough room to fit the jaws around on my rig. But the red on the handle would still show.
  • When you hook up, do a tug test. Trailer wheels are still chocked or use the manual trailer brake control to lock the brakes, raise the landing gear 3 or 4 inches and try pulling ahead a couple of times. If it's not hooked up properly, it doesn't have far to drop so no damage to the truck.

 

Right now It is 1137 Eastern time, I'm Pacific time so all the Easterners are in bed except for you who is probably fuming about now.

 

You have to make sure the jaws are locked and the release pin has retracted fully and do a tug test.

 

I shudder to think of what could have happened if this had happened on the road.

 

I just got into Calgary and will be returning to Victoria tomorrow late pm.

 

If you want me to send a pic of what I did to paint the release lever, let me know.

 

I'll be up for a couple of hrs yet.

 

 

Roger

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over on another forum, and I can't remember which one or how long ago, but thinking it was RV.net, there was a discussion about the exact same circumstances that happened to you. The catch here was that the hitch was properly latched and locked.

In a nutshell, what they figured happened was the force of backing up while turning caused the truck and trailer to be on different planes- not level to one another. Like backing uphill thru a turn. The force applied to the pin let it "roll" over the locking bar. While backing up, the force of the reverse motion, and the pin weight would keep your RV in the capture area of the hitch, but riding above the locking mechanism.

Does your hitch have wrap-around jaws, or does it have a bar that slides across?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Assuming that all the normal items are always done:

  1. Visually check the jaws to be sure they "look" like they are completely locked from the open end. Learn exactly what that should look like.
  2. Drop in a pin lock in the handle so no pranksters or mechanical stresses can release the locking handle
  3. Be sure that all internal jaws and mechanisms of the hitch and pin are well lubricated with the proper type of grease.
  4. Tug test after hitching; holding brakes on with brake controller manual brake button and legs lifted only an inch or two off the ground

Over the past 10 years I have seen posts by people with double jawed hitches having similar things happen. It was a primary reason that I bought a hitch in 2004 with a rotating-slot jaw and a blocking slide after-lock dead-block. The hitch will tear out of the truck before that can accidentally let go.

 

Having said that, I also dropped mine on the truck bed due to being in a hurry to hook up and distracted by an approaching tornado storm and a looky-loo with questions. I just forgot to actually close down the lock handle. My Bad.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Allow me to offer the following suggestion for everyone's review and comments. Some years ago during an evening discussion around the camp fire this very topic came up and someone suggested doing the "3P" test instead of the "Pull" test. When asked what the 3P test was it was explained that a standard Pull test is done against a stationary king pin, then a Push test is done in reverse against the stationary pin and finally a second Pull test is done to see if the king pin is indeed locked. The explanation given was that with some hitches the jaws can appear closed around the king pin but not be locked. Furthermore simply pulling forward as in the Pull test may not open the unlocked jaws. The Push test backwards supposedly will open the closed but not locked jaws so with the second forward Pull the king pin will be released from the hitch. Those of you who know much more about hitches and their locking mechanisms may be able to verify if this is indeed true. I have been doing this for years and find it adds virtually no additional effort over and above a standard Pull test. Would this have prevented the OPs unfortunate event, don't know but it doesn't seem to have much down side to doing either a traditional Pull test or the modified 3P test. Best wishes, Jay

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Definitely a better test. Just always be sure that the RV legs are not bearing any weight. Bending the front legs is wayyyyy too common because so few people are ever told to be sure the wheels are solidly chocked in both directions, the trailer brakes are manually applied before hitching or unhitching. Whenever testing be sure that there are no RV legs supporting any weight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the things I added to our hitch is a Blue Ox bed saver. It bolts to the back of the hitch and will catch the pin and keep the trailer off the bed. I am adamant about the pull test check visually looking at the jaw, but still added the saver for the day I make a mistake. Our 25k Reece has a flag that pops out and allows you to put in a safety pin when the jay is locked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

WOW thanks for all the suggestions. I didn't do the tug test... and I am a trucker...what a fool. As soon as the truck is out of the shop, I'm having it checked out and starting a new ritual. Writing it down and sticking it to the dash board... three tugs.. forward, back and than forward.. Thanks a bunch guys

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the things I added to our hitch is a Blue Ox bed saver. It bolts to the back of the hitch and will catch the pin and keep the trailer off the bed. I am adamant about the pull test check visually looking at the jaw, but still added the saver for the day I make a mistake. Our 25k Reece has a flag that pops out and allows you to put in a safety pin when the jay is locked.

 

One thing to consider about that, if you ever have a trailer fire and need to dump it in a hurry by driving out from under it, that bed saver will become your worst nightmare....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You didnt properly hitch the trailer. You were probably high hitched. When you think you are hitched walk around behind the TV and look at the hitch to make sure the jaws are locked behind the hitch pin or the bar is behind the hitch pin. Otherwise its like flipping a coin to see if you are hitched. It isnt necessary to do a pull test if you look.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A pull test is always necessary, particularly in the case of double Jawed hitches and those with a separate locking handle. If you truly trust believing is only seeing, you fall into the second category of RV 5th wheel tow heads.. those that have not had it happen to them, .... yet. Even the big truck driving training schools drill GOAL then do a tug-test before releasing the trailer brakes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry folks, but I fail to see how a "tug" test or "pull" test would have prevented this incident. Don't get me wrong, I believe in the tug test, I do it each time I hook up. However, this guy drove for 35 miles, up and down hills, across uneven pavement before this happened. Every time he stopped, that's the equivalent of putting the rig into reverse, as far as the hitch is concerned. Every bump he hit would be another tug test. That's a pretty strenuous overall tug test.

 

Something else is going on here. I would suspect the hitch until giving it a good check over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For clarification, I didn't mean to imply that this incident was the result of the OP's failure to do a Pull test. In the last sentence of my post I stated that doing a Pull test may not have made any difference. I was simply offering a more detailed version of the Pull test for consideration on the assumption that it might have the potential to detect the closed but not locked condition that apparently can occur with some hitch designs and might go undetected with a simple Pull test. I don't know that a Pull-Push-Pull test is better than a simple Pull test for detecting hitching errors. But there appears to be no significant down side to doing so. Someone with significant knowledge of hitch design (Henry) might be able to enlighten us on this topic and the value of pull testing. Best Wishes, Jay

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One thing to consider about that, if you ever have a trailer fire and need to dump it in a hurry by driving out from under it, that bed saver will become your worst nightmare....

Unless you want to drop the trailer on the truck and destroy the bed, you still have to put the front legs down to get away. Additionally with Murphy's rule in effect I would probably mess up the hook up before I encounter a fire going down the road.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Before I bought my B&W hitch I had a Curt with the slide bar in it. There was no way to lock the hitch. It was just spring loaded. Every time I would go around a corner it would back the slide bar out a tiny bit to the point where it would slip past and get caught sideways. The first time it happened I thpought I may have hooked up wrong. The second time It happened I new something was fishy. I had one of the boys ride in the back seat and watch it while we went for a ride. Sure enought it was backing itself out. After that I put a ratchet strap on the handle to get through the rest of the season. I took a torch to it after the season was over so nobody else would ever get hold of that POS and kill someone. I love my B&W now. Best money I have spent so far.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  1. Several years ago while my wife and I were hitching up a lady from another site came and was talking to use while hitching up. We let the lady distract us while we were hitching and I did not pay attention to what I was doing and did not lock the jaws around the hitch and dropped it on the truck. Lesson learned don't become distracted while hitching. My fault for not concentrating on the task at hand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Hmm...when I had my fiver my truck came with a DSP 16000 lb hitch that had a heavy bar that slammed all the way across behind the fiver pin. Then I would put a safety pin through a hole and a another small pin to hold that pin in place. I always did a visual to make sure I was not high hitched . Never once did I do a pull test. If that bar was not in place properly I would not be able to lock it. If it was locked there was not going to be a failure.

 

I really trusted that hitch and was glad I didnt have one of those two jaw types. With the 2 jaw types that close around the pin I would have definitely done the 3 pull test.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

RVers Online University

campgroundviews.com

Our program provides accurate individual wheel weights for your RV, toad, and tow vehicle, and will help you trim the pounds if you need to.

RV Cable Grip

All the water you need...No matter where you go

Country Thunder Iowa

Nomad Internet

Rv Share

Dish For My RV.

RV Air.

Find out more or sign up for Escapees RV'ers Bootcamp.

Advertise your product or service here.

The Rvers- Now Streaming

RVTravel.com Logo



×
×
  • Create New...