Re: OT - Unbraked trailer safety requirements *Secondary Couplings*

Kevin wrote:

Kevin,
Quoted from Indespension catalogue (8th edition 2001)
Secondary Couplings
Legislation is currently being drafted and the following is the most likely outcome. . . . The legislation applies to all trailers manufactured after 1 January 1997. It does not apply to older trailers. Its' purpose is to prevent a trailer coming detached from the towing vehicle, should the principle connections fail for any reason.
Braked trailers up to 3500 Kg must be fitted with a breakaway cable. The purpose of the breakaway cable is to apply the brakes if the trailer becomes detached.
Unbraked trailers up to 750 Kg must be fitted with a secondary coupling method. This is a coupling device installed such that in the event of separation of the main coupling between the trailer and the towing vehicle, the trailer remains attached to the towing vehicle preventing the nose of the drawbar touching the ground and providing some residual steering action on the trailer.
Unquote
This doesn't provide obvious answers to your question, especially regarding what you attach your breakaway device to. The point is that it should (must?) not share the same fixing as the ball hitch or be looped around the swan neck of the hitch.
Remember that the breakaway cable on a braked trailer or caravan is designed to apply the brakes, not support the weight of the trailer, so the typical attachment point - a curly loop of perhaps 3 mm rod called a pig tail - does not need to be at all robust. In fact it is highly unlikely to be strong enough to support the loads exerted by your fully laden trailer swinging off the end of a piece of chain.
Although the Indespension quote talks about post-1997 trailers requiring the secondary coupling I would think very hard about why you don't require one on your trailer, especially as the hitch may be worn. A friend lost a fully laden unbraked trailer off the back of his Landrover due to a worn hitch. The errant trailer did a lot of very expensive damage to another car, costing Andy his NCD. I have a very elderly trailer which was a give-away price at 20. Apart from refurbishing the braking system, I am faced with replacing the overrun hitch with a newer model along with all manner of adapter plates because the body of the hitch is so worn that there is about 3 mm of float in the shaft, the spring is so tired that the empty trailer locks the brakes and there is about 2 mm of float in the ball socket! This will set me back about 100. I think it's still worth the effort - just!
Indespension ( http://www.indespension.co.uk/trailers.htm ) are very helpful. Towsure ( http://www.towsure.co.uk/ ) are less knowledgeable but their stuff can be cheaper. Trident Trailers in Tunbridge Wells, Kent are also helpful.
One last tip: if you can't remove the tailgate from you new toy I suggest that you buy a pair of lift-off hinges from Towsure and convert it so you can - makes life soooo much easier when scraping stuff out at the tip.
Best of luck
Richard
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