Trailer came off the hitch

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I filled a trailer with some scrap metal to take to the junk yard. It was a heavy load. I drove it 12 miles to another farm to get more scrap. Then drove home. The next day I was taking the load to the junk yard and began driving down my roadway. Thats when the trailer came right off the ball. Luckily this was my own private roadway and the safety chains held it, so there was no damage except a few things that fell out the rear. The trailer seems to be heavy to the rear, and the load was obviously more heavy in the rear, but still, it was the proper size ball and it was latched down all the way with a bolt in the lever hole to lock it down.
I recently had to loosen that nut under the hitch because I could not get it on the ball. I re-tightened it to approximately the same 1/4" from the end of the threads. Nothing broke inside the hitch, it just popped off the ball. Why would this happen? Do those nuts need to be a specific tightness using a torque wrench? If so, how do I find out the proper method to tighten it? I dont want this to happen again. I was lucky this time since it happened off the highways. This really has me puzzled since it was driven 12 miles on the highway with the same load.
I should mention that I was backing it up to toss on one last piece of scrap, when it popped off the ball. (whether that matters or not).
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Sounds like a couple problems. First. Never have more weight on the back of a trailer than on the front. In fact, I want the tongue on my trailer to weight at least 100 - 150 pounds. If you have more weight in the back, the trailer is libel to severely fish-tail when on the road. You may be lucky that it came unhooked in your driveway. A badly fish-tailing trailer can flip a vehicle.
Second, your hitch may be too loose. You said you adjusted it to get it on the ball. Something was wrong - perhaps it wasn't lined up perfectly, I don't know. With the trailer empty, adjust the trailer hitch to just barely go over the ball, and then close the hitch to make sure it isn't too tight.
Bob-tx
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On Sat, 2 Jul 2011 04:10:43 -0500, Bob-tx wrote:

The hitch could also be worn out or bent out of shape.
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On 7/2/2011 10:49 PM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

At roughly 6mils/in/F for thermal expansion/contraction, 100F dT would lead to roughly 1 mil change in dimension for a 2"D ball. Not likely that was the root cause of losing a hitch connection (assuming the comment wasn't simply the sidebar subthread meaning... :) )
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On 7/7/2011 1:42 PM, dpb wrote: ...

Dang, ... the above is, of course, "roughly 0.006 mils/in/F" or 6E-6/in/in/F
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On Fri, 01 Jul 2011 23:36:52 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

trailer tail heavy.. Your hitch may be worn out, on top of it all.
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If the hitch came right up off the ball, there could be several things wrong.
First, and most importantly, the trailer was loaded tail heavy. This can cause VIOLENT! oscillation transferring to the tow vehicle. I have personally seen two vehicle/trailer crashes where the trailer just goes berserk, and eventually causes the vehicle to crash.
Now, if the hitch could come up off the ball, there's something wrong with the hitch, the ball, or both. The hitch should grip the ball tightly enough to hold it there. Either the hitch is worn, the ball is too small, or both.
You need to read up on trailer hitches, because you are not only a danger to yourself, but to me, and others. You obviously don't know how to load a trailer, or tow it, or what you're looking at when looking at a connection.
Your name is not Mayhem, is it?
Steve
Heart surgery pending? www.heartsurgerysurvivalguide.com Heart Surgery Survival Guide
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I was a passenger in such a setup on my way with friends to go camping in the Zoar Valley, NY. It's a pretty damn scary feeling. It was a rebuilt bread truck named Ezekiel with over 250K miles driven by my roommate's GF who had little driving experience and no trailer experience. At 50 mph a very slight swinging started and then it turned into the truck rocking violently from side to side. Could have easily been a tragedy EXCEPT that the hitch-up was bad/weak and the trailer eventually just broke free. All happened in seconds. Very, very scary seconds. Happened about as fast as a badly imbalanced washing machine load takes to sound like it's going to self-destruct. The lesson learned was to always rent a U-Haul van when I needed to haul something and never a trailer.
-- Bobby G.
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snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

It's scary.
Once, when I was in the Marine Division of the Sheriff's Office, we attached a boat to a pickup and scooted off to the boat ramp to answer a distress call. I jumped out of the truck as the driver made a U-turn to back the boat in the water.
No boat!
Discussing it for a moment, we were sure: a) We attached the trailer to the truck, and b) We were in the right truck. That left c) The boat came loose.
Heading back down the road, our heads were full of visions of a boat and trailer running head-on into a station wagon with 15 Mexicans and their children on the way to a Christening! At 50 miles per hour! Each.
Sure enough, about three miles down the road we found the boat and trailer parked quietly in a gently-sloping ditch (it was a 4-wheel trailer.
Fortunately, in about three minutes, a power company line truck came ambling down the road. We stopped him and, with his winch and chain, managed to extract the boat from the ditch, get it hooked back up, and on our way.
Never did make the rescue to which we were assigned. I think the people drowned or something, but we were okay.
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wrote:

OMG!!! The two stooges!!! LOL!!! Tell us again about how smart you are. You are one dumb SOB, the other dumb one was the driver.
Never mind about playing a moron on the internet, you pretty much confirmed you're a moron with this response.
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Bob F wrote:

Neither of us attached the boat. That was the job of the jail trustees working in the shop. If you can't trust a trustee, well, there you are.
It wasn't all a failure - we learned a valuable lesson: Always carry a chain or substantial rope in the truck. You can't depend on a power company truck just passing by.
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I have about 50' of HEAVY chain, and have had comments from people about overkill. But not from people I have pulled out of the ditch. Rope is okay if that is all you got. It is subject to all sorts of degrading from use, weather, heat/freeze/thaw cycles, UV sunlight, abrasion, stretching, etc. The nylon straps with hooks are good.
Advice: Buy the biggest heaviest longest one you can afford. The short ones are no good if the disabled vehicle is very far from the roadway. Carry both, and get the big hooks. On chain, have one grab hook and one slip hook. A grab hook will latch onto one link of chain. A slip will move along a chain. Different applications. The nylon straps are good for those little tin can cars with lots of plastic.
Final caveat: Don't hook up to the bumper. They will pull off.
Last and final caution, don't jerk on the chain/strap. Easy, easy, easy pulling.
DAMHIKT.
Steve
Heart surgery pending? www.heartsurgerysurvivalguide.com Heart Surgery Survival Guide
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wrote

When the Air Florida flight crashed into the nearly frozen over Potomac River some years ago, NOT ONE of the police cars from the various agencies responding had a goddamn rope to throw to the few survivors splashing around and drowning. One of America's true heros, Lenny Skutnik dove into the icy water to save them as the "Uh Oh" squad stood around gawking.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenny_Skutnik
"During the rescue operation of passengers from the crashed plane, one passenger, Priscilla Tirado, was too weak to grab the line dropped from a helicopter. Hundreds of people were watching, including emergency services personnel. Skutnik saw the situation, and stripped off his coat and boots and, in short sleeves, dove into the icy water and swam the 30 feet out to assist her. He succeeded in getting Tirado to the river shore, from where Tirado was subsequently taken to hospital, saving her life."
That's the kind of American we should remember this Fourth of July.
-- Bobby G.
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Should they? How many times a year/day/month does a policeman need a rope? Do you carry one in your car?
Certainly a rescue unit should have ropes.
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wrote

1) Yes. 2) Maybe never, maybe to save a kid who fell through broken ice. 3) Yes. I'll point out that they all had guns but I can assure you that many of them had never fired them in the line of duty. That's more rare than most people think. Should they stop carrying guns? That's where the "need" logic leads.

No one had ropes at the Air Florida crash except the rescue choppers. Park police, State police, Pentagon Protective Services, etc. Not one stinkin' rope among them. Even a dinky, not very strong poly rope should be in the kit of anyone who is likely to be a first responder. No citizen should have to risk his bloody life because not one of the dozens of cops around had a damn rope in the spacious trunks of their huge Crown Vics.
-- Bobby G.
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On 7/3/2011 7:42 PM, Robert Green wrote:

Just Crown vics? Lots of cops around here drive around in fluffed up trucks carrying nothing but themselves. About 5 years ago the Feds were still throwing boxes of money on the front step of every police department for "anti-terrorism". My buddy is the chief of a medium size city and he said he could basically do what he wanted with the money. Many chiefs bought fluffed up trucks (if you ever watch any of the crime shows if 7 officers respond there are 7 single occupant big black fluffed trucks racing to the crime scene). He doesn't go for silly stuff so in at least his department no one drives a fluffed up truck.
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wrote:

times. Never know when I'll need to tie on a "find" to get it home.
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I carry one to bring home treasure. I guess one COULD use it for rescue.........
And I'll stop and block traffic to fetch a chain or a nice hank of rope on the freeway, too.
Steve
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Good idea. It doesn't take up very much trunk space and can usually be tucked away without ever getting in the way. I wonder if the local police mandated a rope be carried after the Air Florida crash?. They were roundly criticized for standing around on the riverbank doing nothing. Sadly I'd bet that if the same thing happened, it would play out in the same way.
-- Bobby G.
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

I carry a 100ft rope (probably around 400lb test) and a level 1 first aid kit. It drives my wife nuts, but it may come in hand one day.
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