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Old 12-09-2012, 05:06 PM   #1
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How not to tow

Let me start this off by saying this isn't humor, this isn't a joke, and i'm extremely lucky lots of people weren't hurt or worse today.

Earlier this afternoon, I was delivering some furniture for my mother on a 12' flatbed trailer. I hooked everything up to my tacoma, checked lights, straps, chains, the whole nine yards. I pulled the load successfully about half an hour to the house where the furniture was going, helped unload it, and then started back. When I was about 10 minutes from my house, the now unloaded and extremely light trailer began to sway behind me. I have towed small trailers before, so as before, I eased into the gas to attempt to straighten the trailer. Doing so did not help, and the trailer continued bucking behind me. (I was driving on a 4 lane highway with a central turn lane.) As I realized that my tactic was not going to work, I let off both pedals and eased into the middle lane, hoping to slow it down by it pressing against my truck and hopefully not damaging anything. Before I could react to it, the trailer bucked itself off of my hitch and slid to my left, across 3 lanes of traffic, before jumping the curb and safely coming to rest off the road and out of traffic. the trailer was pretty banged up, and the hitch was not usable. My dad and I later chained it up to his silverado and (very slowly) made it back to the house. When I looked back on the situation, I realized that I had made a mistake that had very nearly cost me and others. I had forgotten to put a holding pin in the latch that holds the trailer to the ball, and when the trailer began bucking, it simply removed itself from my hitch, and the chains holding it on were able to bounce off. I made mistakes today, this much is true. I am, however, fortunate that the only harm done was to the trailer.


The moral of the story is that even a light trailer can be trouble, and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS make sure that the connection between your truck and trailer is locked, pinned, and securely chained.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:12 PM   #2
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glad the damage isn't worse...

The failure of the hitch is secondary to why the trailer started to go out of control...
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hetkind View Post
glad the damage isn't worse...

The failure of the hitch is secondary to why the trailer started to go out of control...
Yes, but had I set up the hitch correctly, I wouldn't have lost the trailer. I'm still not sure as to why the trailer began to lose control. I was coming down a slight hill toward an intersection, and I assume that braking with a very light trailer caused it.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:18 PM   #5
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In my experience, without the latch pin in place, the trailer tongue will lift off the hitch the minute some weight is applied on the rear of the trailer (say, when loading). Surprised your trailer stayed put for as long as it did.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenLyns View Post
In my experience, without the latch pin in place, the trailer tongue will lift off the hitch the minute some weight is applied on the rear of the trailer (say, when loading). Surprised your trailer stayed put for as long as it did.
The latch was in place, and you could place weight on the rear of the trailer without it lifting off. I just didn't put a pin in place to hold it there, and it was able to shake itself loose.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:22 PM   #7
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Cory, thanks for telling your story. Took some courage to throw that out there knowing you might get a ration of poo for saying so.

I'm thankful no one was hurt and that you were able to educate others through your mistake.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:23 PM   #8
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Thank the Lords it didn't happen when loaded. Many, many moons ago, I left the hitch unlocked to the ball,of course it came off in traffic, but my chains held as I pulled off with trailer banging away at my first gen Tacoma. Ever since then, I always check things when ever I stop for anything when towing.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:28 PM   #10
Babytruck, babytruck...I've got a babytruck :)
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Thanks for sharing this as a reminder to double check everything. Glad nobody got hurt.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithB View Post
I wonder if it was already unhitched when you noticed it swaying and bucking. I've seen someone on the highway pulling a trailer with only the chains and it was all over the place and he didn't even notice.
Yeah this most likely. The safety chains held on as long as they could.
Thanks for the post Cory and I'm glad everything worked out and your ok. Tough lesson but you show great integrity swallowing a lil pride so we all will think twice next time.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:43 PM   #13
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Speeding up probaly only made things worse, just letting off the gas slowly may have helped as to much speed is usually the culprit of an out of control trailer. Sounds like a tongue weight issue. Have you pulled it before without any problem.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:48 PM   #14
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Because of the stories I have heard similar to these, I have learned that when towing I use either padlocs, or a clevis to secure the safety chains. Nothing worse than seeing a trailer come loose. I had a friend who didn't have his ball tightened up right, and had secured everything else just fine, but his ball nut fell off and the ball came out of his bumper. We had to replace over 50 feet of chain link fence when I got there to help get the trailer untangled from the fence.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:52 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OffroadToy View Post
You said the safty chains "bounced" off? Sounds like they wern't secured right.
They were the kind that at the end had only a hook, instead of a carabiner type connection. I'm really not sure how it happened, but I never found the chains. They weren't connected to the trailer, and they weren't on my truck...


Quote:
Originally Posted by TACO TX View Post
Speeding up probaly only made things worse, just letting off the gas slowly may have helped as to much speed is usually the culprit of an out of control trailer. Sounds like a tongue weight issue. Have you pulled it before without any problem.
The reason I sped up is because my dad has told me that a trailer that starts to fishtail does so as a result of going faster than the truck. He says that giving it a little gas pulls the trailer into line. And yes, I've pulled that exact trailer several times, loaded and unloaded, and it's never fishtailed, jumped, done anything out of the ordinary.
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:25 PM   #17
The dog did it...I swear!
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Glad nobody got hurt. I tow a boat and have seen it begin to fishtale a couple times in the side mirror. I just slow down a bit and it evens out pretty quick. Just a reminder... get some quality chain with hooks that snap shut, and allways criss-cross them.
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:26 PM   #18
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Balane and weight distribution are factors of a swaying trailer. Generaly tongue weight on an empty trailer will cause it. Maybe the amount or lack of drop has the trailer un balanced. Just glad nothing was to damaged and everyone is ok.
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Old 12-09-2012, 10:51 PM   #19
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Glad everyone was OK. I tend to agree that the coupler had probably come unlatched from the ball, which caused the swaying / bucking. I KNOW you will be putting a padlock / hitch pin into the coupler latch in the future, thanks for posting your experience so others can learn from it too. Also, are you certain you matched ball and coupler sizes? 1 7/8 ball in a 2" coupler is a recipe for disaster too.

Towing a trailer is the one thing in life you don't want to go off with out a hitch.
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