Trailer unable to unhitch on steep hill

Submitted: Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 06:56
ThreadID: 142521 Views:1740 Replies:11 FollowUps:28
Hey guys just picked up a new boat and really struggling to unhitch it off my trailer as my driveway is super steep. My car is on the steep decline whilst the boat trailer is on the flat (in the garage) making it almost impossible to unhitch do the opposing forces. Has anyone encountered this problem and any tips to overcome? Cheers
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Reply By: Michael H9 - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 08:17

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 08:17
Have you tried chocking the wheels on the trailer and nudging the car a fraction to take the strain off?
AnswerID: 637794

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 08:31

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 08:31
Agree, the issue is the ball has side pressure in the coupling stopping it from releasing
You need to take the lateral load off the ball.
Depending how steep your driveway is you might want to consider having a tether in the form of a strap or chain bolted to the driveway that you can connect to the trailer / axle to stop it running away on you.
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Reply By: RMD - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 08:44

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 08:44
If the ball really doesn't want to release because of neck binding on coupling, undo the ball nut and remove the ball from the towbar. Obviously, you have to have no pressure on either to release. OR run the rear wheels of vehicle up on a ramp/timber or similar to raise the rear as you get to position . That lessens the coupling angle.

Use screw jack to raise A frame and take pressure ball pressure off the vehicle.

Make a lanyard/chain to secure boat trailer to property, ie, D bolted to driveway at suitable point, when in position and it is held there. Jiggle vehicle to release ball coupling.
OR
Buy a small 12v winch or hand winch and drag the boat from the road, then it can hang on the cable when not used.
Plenty of options.
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Reply By: Member - Soft-Trailer - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 09:38

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 09:38
Agree with RMD. I think the best solution here is to get a cheapo winch and put that in your garage. It'll come in useful for other things too.

Or, you could hook it up to the back of your boat trailer, so long as it's a sealed/ waterproof one. Possibly just a mechanical one you can douse with grease.
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Follow Up By: Matt J7 - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 11:08

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 11:08
Thanks for your reply mate unfortunately I live up a right away about 30m and is not straight so not sure if a winch will be suitable
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Reply By: Ken O3 - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 10:51

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 10:51
Rather than stuff around with winches why not change to an off road type fully articulated hitch. Ball couplings can be a pain even with small angular misalignments.
AnswerID: 637798

Follow Up By: Matt J7 - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 10:59

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 10:59
Thanks for your reply mate, yes a winch would not be suitable as I live up a right away that is 30m and is not dead straight.

A mate has mentioned an off road coupling. Just had a look at a McHitch. I’m not too familiar with off road couplings but would this allow to be unhooked at different angles (ie boat in garage on the flat and car down a very steep driveway with ease? )

If so I think that will definitely solve my problem!!
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Follow Up By: Ken O3 - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 12:10

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 12:10
From what caravanners say about the McHitch I believe it would. There are other types though that don't extend the effective hitch length, DO35 for example. Several others too if you have a google for hitches.
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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 13:47

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 13:47
I have a McHitch on my camper trailer. It works fine for my purposes but they are a bit finicky about taking the pressure off the coupling to get the pin through, (you use the jockey wheel to achieve this) so I would not recommend one in your circumstances. If you have a low ball weight it might be a different matter? For information, my driveway has a slight incline, perhaps 15-20cm over about 5m and it's not a problem but a steeper slope would be different. I've never used or seen one but there is an Alko off-road coupling that utilises a standard ball that might suit as well as DO35 and others.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 14:18

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 14:18
"I have a McHitch on my camper trailer. It works fine for my purposes but they are a bit finicky about taking the pressure off the coupling to get the pin through, (you use the jockey wheel to achieve this) so I would not recommend one in your circumstances."

I too have a McHitch Autoupler on my hybrid. Yes, the pin can get loaded up and be jammed, but it's easy to resolve. Just wind the jockey wheel while trying to wiggle the pin. When it wiggles, it's free.
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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 14:35

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 14:35
I agree it can be easy to unload the coupling but the more complicated the situation the fiddly it gets. I have both a slight slope and an angle. If the wheels are up against the chocks and you can't wriggle the trailer side to side it can be difficult. Hitching in the driveway can take 5 mins or 30 mins of frustration moving and realigning the tug depending on the exact positioning +/- 20 cm of the trailer gate and tug.
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Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 13:11

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 13:11
.
I think some responders have the wrong understanding of Matt's problem. He says.... "My car is on the steep decline whilst the boat trailer is on the flat in the garage."
It is not that the boat is pushing down on the car. So a tether or winch is not of use.
The problem is that the angular relationship of the coupling prevents disengagement and some have realised that by recommending replacement with a different coupling style.
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Matt J7 - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 13:48

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 13:48
Thanks Allan yes I think a few have misinterpreted what I meant (I admit it’s hard to explain my issue online).

Under your understanding do you think an off-road hitch would solve my issue?
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Follow Up By: RMD - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 13:49

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 13:49
It is strange he shows the opposite in his picture of the problem. The car on flat and trailer on slope BUT he says the trailer is flat and car on slope. What do we believe? Why would he NOT show the real situation as in text? He says he lives on a "right away" I presume he means "Right Of Way" so he can't block that with his rig. I had Red Herrings for lunch. IF actually in the garage he can simply reverse the trailer onto a ramp of sorts, ie, raising wheels of trailer and A frame angle, so it reduces the ball/coupling binding. If it is just weight involved and no mechanical interference, then a scissor jack to take the weight off the ball.


I reckon here are only two good days owning a boat, the day you buy it and the day you sell it.
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Follow Up By: Matt J7 - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 15:26

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 15:26
Thanks for ur input RMD
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 15:41

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 15:41
.
Sorry Matt, I have no experience with couplings other than the ball-and-cup type. But I am aware that they can be difficult to disengage when at an extreme angle to each other.
I am aware that the AL-KO off-road coupling utilises the ball-and-cup system but has the ball in a gimbal arrangement which should overcome your problem....... provided that there was no lateral strain on the coupling when disengaging.
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 15:56

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 15:56
.
I think this is what Matt meant to display..... right Matt?
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Matt J7 - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:41

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:41
Thanks mate that is the correct image
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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 13:59

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 13:59
Chock the wheels of the trailer very well. Then use the jockey wheel to raise the hitch 60 - 70 mm. With the hitch up and the trailer secured, put your foot hard on the brakes and slip the tug out of gear. Then just slacken the brakes a little to let the tug go forward a little. As you do that the ball should slip out of the coupling. On the other hand, if the tug is pulling against the coupling, reversing the tug towards the trailer frees the ball from the coupling.

I use this trick frequently when my tug is on a slope and the ball is pulling or pushing against the coupling. It only takes a few millimetres of movement to unlock the coupling from the tug.



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Follow Up By: Matt J7 - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:45

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:45
Thanks mate that is great advice just out of interest. Is your boat/trailer on a flat and your car on a slope when you try this?
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 19:54

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 19:54
"Is your boat/trailer on a flat and your car on a slope when you try this?"

I have a caravan. I park it in a variety of parks. There is also a variety of situations, mostly the van is on level sites with a slope up or down from the site. That is why I said you may have to move the tug in either direction depending on whether the ball is caught on the front or the rear of the coupling. When you have the coupling raised sufficiently the ball drop out when you nudge the tug in the correct direction.
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Reply By: Erad - Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 22:42

Sunday, Sep 05, 2021 at 22:42
Have you thought of putting a pulley further up the garage area, uncouple the trailer on the flat and then tie the trailer with the rope, pass the rope over the pulley and use your car as a winch to drag the boat up backwards? The pulley will control the direction of movement of the trailer. This will work OK to uncouple the rig, as well as coupling it up again.
AnswerID: 637810

Follow Up By: Matt J7 - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:46

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:46
No I haven’t mate. It’s a super steep and long driveway so not sure if it’s feasible
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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 08:50

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 08:50
Hi Matt,

Given all the previous responses, I would suggest a Poly Block coupling such as a “Tregg” coupling might be more suitable. The McHitch Auto Coupling is a good bit of kit, (I have one on my 2.7 Tonne Off Road Van), but can be difficult to connect/disconnect if the approach and departure angles are too great. I used to have a Tregg Coupling on my Kimberley Kamper, and the same on my Goldstream RV wind up off road van, but opted for the McHitch Auto Coupler for my current van. I do not have the same problem that you have with the extreme angle for connect/disconnect, so it suits me fine.

Macca.
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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 12:34

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 12:34
I wouldn't recommend a Tregg unless the trailer is light enough to be manhandled/repositioned on the slope, as backing the hitch onto the polyblock at an angle could be a problem. For the uninitiated this involves a C shaped receiver on the tongue that has to receive the polyblock on the A frame. The original McHitch gives much more flexibility in positioning the coupling components.
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Follow Up By: Matt J7 - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:37

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:37
Really mate? Got a few people saying the Mc Hitch is easy to connect and disconnect at different angles such as my situation?
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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:54

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:54
Yep I was recommending a McHitch but not a Tregg. Note there is a difference between the original McHitch and the new Auto-coupler. Check out their website.
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Tuesday, Sep 07, 2021 at 07:48

Tuesday, Sep 07, 2021 at 07:48
The “original” McHitch coupling is similar to a DO35, in that it is a “drop on” coupling. Both the DO35 & McHitch drop on couplings offer a fair amount of up & down swivel movement which may give you the required amount of free play to prevent it from “locking up”.

A Polly Block coupling will also give you a similar amount of free play. Yes, you do have to line up the “C” receiver, but depending on the size and weight of the boat, that should not be too difficult. What does your boat weigh Matt?

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Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Friday, Sep 10, 2021 at 06:06

Friday, Sep 10, 2021 at 06:06
Poly blocks in 2 dimensions are a complete PITA. As the car moves the block has to be wound up or down and twisted to follow. You can watch yourself approach a poly block with a reverse camera, then the heartbreak starts. Getting in and out to get the heights right and the handbrake balanced. Something simple like an off-road ball hitch is all he needs, that he can reverse under in one go and he won’t have to stuff around changing receivers either. Hyland, alko, Ark etc all make them.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Sep 10, 2021 at 12:32

Friday, Sep 10, 2021 at 12:32
I had a Hyland on a CT years ago - it was great.

But I though they had folded. Are they still around?
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Follow Up By: Gbc.. - Friday, Sep 10, 2021 at 12:54

Friday, Sep 10, 2021 at 12:54
Yes the original company folded but I think it was alko who grabbed the design and continued it? They are definitely still available new.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Friday, Sep 10, 2021 at 12:54

Friday, Sep 10, 2021 at 12:54
Hyland is out of production. However, Al-Ko has taken the design over and improved on it.


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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 14:13

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 14:13
X2 against the Tregg for this situation
I've had two CT including a KK with Tregg hitches. If the boat and trailer weigh more than 1T, there is no way you will pull the pin out if there is any lateral strain on the hitch
That's about the only downside I found with Tregg hitches.
On a slope you have to arrange the trailer and vehicle such that there's almost no strain on the tow assembly. That's easily done on a level surface, but not a slope. Our Hybrid van has a DO35 hitch which is much easier to work with when the vehicle and trailer are on a slope.
AnswerID: 637817

Reply By: Keir & Marg - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 15:32

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 15:32
Hi Matt,
We have exactly your situation where our van is parked on the flat but the tug is on a sloped driveway after reversing the van into its parking spot. We have a McHitch and it works perfectly - dead easy when unhitching or hitching. I have a circle marked on the moving bit of the jockey wheel and just wind the jockey to this position. As long as the hitch is in compression (ie the weight of the vehicle is NOT pulling on the hitch, its just a matter of removing the main pin, lifting the handle and then driving away. Hitching back up is simple providing the nose of the McHitch is angled downwards to match the angle of the receiver on the car. I just reverse using the camera on the tailgate and 99 times out of 100 the McHitch just locks in and we're done. Just occasionally, it requires a small juggle up or down on the jockey wheel, usually because I've unhitched with an empty fuel tank and am re-hitching with a full tank in anticipation of a decent road trip ahead. We love the McHitch because it's also dead silent. If your boat trailer is less than 2 tonnes or you also have a box trailer, I have an almost brand new 2T McHitch trailer coupling in the garage for sale at half price if you want to save some money. If your boat and trailer is more than this, you'll need a 3.5T trailer hitch. The car side of the McHitch is the same in both cases. Hope that helps. Keir
AnswerID: 637818

Follow Up By: Matt J7 - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:48

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:48
Thanks so much for your reply mate how can I contact you further?
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Follow Up By: Matt J7 - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:49

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 18:49
You mentioned as long as the car isn’t pulling on the hitch it is easy. Does this mean your tug is on the same level as the trailer?
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 19:57

Monday, Sep 06, 2021 at 19:57
If you become a member there is a private messing that members can use among themselves.
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Follow Up By: Keir & Marg - Tuesday, Sep 07, 2021 at 08:50

Tuesday, Sep 07, 2021 at 08:50
Hi Matt,
I have exactly the situation of the trailer on the level and the car on a downward slope. Once you have reversed the trailer into position, it's essential to put the trailer brake on, then push against the trailer with the car in reverse, then put the car handbrake on firmly. This ensures that weight of the car is not
hanging on the coupling so that it can be disengaged.
You can contact me on malpoakes@internode.on.net and then I'll give you my phone number.
Cheers, Keir
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Reply By: Michael H9 - Friday, Sep 10, 2021 at 19:52

Friday, Sep 10, 2021 at 19:52
I use one of the Alko off road ball joint hitches so that I can tow my box trailer as well without stuffing around changing the tow ball out. It would probably help you unhitch.

https://alko.com.au/product/solutions/couplings/off-road-ball-coupling/

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