Trailer becomming unhitched @ 85k - Surviving the wild ride

Another trap for trailer towers to be aware of :-)

This morning towing the boat back from Cooktown I hit another one of the many road bumps up in that neck of the woods near Black Mountains and the trailer popped of the tow-ball at 85k. Well the ride from hell began with a jerk and then the sways. Not to bad as I backed off gently, but the road was narrow and the cutting table drains very wet. The inside duels left the road surface on about the third sway and hit the mud in the drains, the sways changed to violent jerks with the boat now dancing dangerously from one set of duals to the other throwing one side in the air at each time. Absolutely no way to steer the car now just had to point it down the middle of the tar and applied a little power to try to gain some control, slowly now come to a halt with the chains holding the hitch above the road.

Whew - ride over.........lucky pointers here - 1) Crossed safety chains, 2) a good tie down strap on the rear of the boat and 3) a good turnbuckle on the front of the boat. Still do not know how both the car and the boat or either one of them did not turn over - it was very close.

Now sitting in a cutting on a blind corner, got the trailer back on the ball and found a place to pull over to determine the damage. Cause was easy to determine - the hitch was still locked down in place. The adjuster screw lock nut had worked loose and the adjuster bolt had started to unwind and when the last bump was hit it had unwound enough to let the hitch pop off the ball. Go figure that, it was only a couple of turns?

Trailer needs numerous repairs, as the boat was thrown side to side it somehow managed to remove all the Teflon slides and destroyed the winch post, springs broken on both sides. The boat hopefully only suffered some small dents on the bottom of the two outside tri keels and the car - well its a get out of goal free card I think.

Take my word for it, that is one ride you do not want to go on - go check the adjustment on your tow hitch before your next trip :-)

I would have to say I got out of that rather lightly in the end and BOAT will live up to its name (Bring Out Another Thousand) :-) (Whats worse is - Just spent a lot of $ doing the trailer up underneath)

Cheers Tony

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Reply By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 17:17

Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 17:17
Ouch Tony !!! Glad to hear you got out of it with minor damage - could have been a lot worse if the boat had got loose or car rolled.

Probably highlights now why many regulars only trust TREG hitches now - too much chance of towballs going wrong...

AnswerID: 411838

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 17:21

Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 17:21
Scott - Yes good to get out of it with minor repairs - Always used TREG Hitches with work towing.

Might consider them for boat towing now as well :-)

Also lucky Cooktown Road did not have a lot of traffic at the wrong time.

Cheers Tony
FollowupID: 681862

Follow Up By: Member - Teege (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 17:52

Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 17:52
I went through a similar ride when the suspension on my Jayco camper disintegrated. The camper bounced from front corner to front corner. I am convinced that the Treg coupling was the difference between a huge disaster and only writing off the camper. You are one of the few people who can say what it is like to look in the rear view mirror and watch your trailer bounce from side to side. Not a good experience - but at least you survived.

FollowupID: 681869

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 18:08

Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 18:08
Teege - That sounds like a ride experience that I would not like to share. The tow bar on your car must have taken quite some strain.

Cheers Tony
FollowupID: 681872

Reply By: Member - DAZA (QLD) - Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 17:58

Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 17:58
G/Day Tony

Your boat trailer drama reminded me when my son and his family were heading over to Broome towing a Tandem Wheel Camper Trailer with a Telescopic /Hinged
boat loader on top of the trailer, the hold down clamps snapped off and the boat flipped over still attached to the loader and was dragging the Keel along the bitumen road, his wife was driving at the time doing 100kph, with a couple of vehicles behind them, and one comming towards them in the distance, she managed to pull the 4by and the trailer up without any major problems, I reckon she had to change her nickers after that little episode lol lol.

AnswerID: 411845

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 18:06

Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 18:06
Dazza - Not the best place to give your boat a test run :-)

All in all its good to get out of it without someone getting hurt, especially someone coming the other way or behind you.

Cheers Tony
FollowupID: 681871

Reply By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 19:31

Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 19:31
Glad you are intact. My new camper has a ball and I have been meaning to adjust it carefully and hadn't got around to it. Following your heads up, I will do it tomorrow.
Previous trailer had a tregg and I will replace the ball soon as well. The treg certainly towed smoother, as well as more securely.
AnswerID: 411868

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 19:40

Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 19:40
Thanks for that - You have made the thread a success :-)
FollowupID: 681885

Reply By: GerryP - Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 20:14

Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 20:14
Wow Tony, I'm sure glad it all turned out relatively positive in the end - it sure could have been a heck of a lot worse.

Just on the coupling though, I was under the impression that the adjuster was there basically to take out the slack and prevent rattles. The adjuster simply screws down onto the ball, thus minimising clearance. When the handle is in the down position, the 'fork' should grip under the base of the ball preventing it from coming out. We all remember the old couplings, before adjusters came to be, and how they would rattle around. However, they didn't pop off (unless they were worn out of course), so it makes me wonder whether there is a problem with your coupling?

I should also add that when I picked up my new caravan last year, the coupling adjuster was totally loose, which I didn't realise until I got it home. It didn't look or feel like coming adrift though.

I would definitely get the coupling checked out Tony, even if it's only to be 100% sure.

AnswerID: 411873

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 15:39

Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 15:39
Gerry - Ta for that - I never really thought about it to be honest.

Have just assumed it helped with correct fitting adjustment by allowing altering of the fork clearance. Will have to go study the setup to see if the screw would indeed help with the fitting.

If not then the only answer is that it is worn and now u/s.

I have towed over these roads quite a bit without an issue, why it came off then...well? The only thing I could see was the loose adjuster and I towed the boat 30k back to Cooktown after tightening it. Funny thing is the trouble I had getting it off the ball the night before when it was on a bit of a slope.

Cheers Tony
FollowupID: 681966

Reply By: Nutta - Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 22:04

Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 22:04
I always tow my boat and trailer with a trailer lock that fits over the hitch with a padlock.
Got into that habit when leaving the trailer at boat ramps.
This wouldnt be illegal by any chance would it?
AnswerID: 411883

Follow Up By: Nutta - Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 22:48

Tuesday, Apr 06, 2010 at 22:48
That was meant to be caravan and boat.
FollowupID: 681904

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 15:41

Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 15:41
Nutta - I actually did that for a while and then got if I had continued with this practice all would still be good today :-)

I see no reason why it would be illegal and I will add it to my must do list again. After all it is added security and I see no harm in that.

Cheers TONY
FollowupID: 681968

Follow Up By: Nutta - Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 18:54

Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 18:54
Glad its not just me, i've got about 20 or 30 lock keys, i'm a bit of a security nut, too many opportunists aorund these days!
FollowupID: 681997

Reply By: Member - Old Girl (QLD) - Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 06:49

Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 06:49
When our camper went for a ride on the wild side up on the Savannah I swear it was the treg that saved us. We swear by crossing the chains but in this case the camper bounced while upside down and landed back on its wheels. The chains had then done a full turn around the hitch. The cruiser had the turning circle of a semi he had to drive through the bush to get back to the creek crossing to lift the top back onto the twisted trailer and get all our camping gear off the track. With a bit of panel beating at Cape Crawford I think, we towed it back to Toowoomba.
AnswerID: 411900

Reply By: fugwurgin - Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 09:24

Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 09:24
would someone like to explain how to adjust the adjuster bolt properly? i have a camper trailer and noticed the bolt was very loose, i just screwed the bolt tight then tighted the lock nut (whilst the it was on the towball) is this all you have to do? can it be too tight? i understand how the adjuster works and what it does but just not sure what the correct way to have it adjusted?
any feedback would be appreciated.
AnswerID: 411916

Follow Up By: Tonyfish#58 - Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 15:58

Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 15:58
fugwurgin - You will find if you have done it too tight it is quite hard to put on and take off the hitch.

I used to wind it down until it started to tighten and then back it off a couple of turns. I would then give it all a jiggle to check the clearances and then check the remove and replace aspects.

If you have had no troubles then it must all be OK :-)

My father always had grease on his towball - I am a bit slack and never gone that far - stands to reason you should have some lubrication to prevent wear. The old 3/4 tennis ball kept the grease at bay.

Cheers Tony
FollowupID: 681972

Reply By: fugwurgin - Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 16:58

Wednesday, Apr 07, 2010 at 16:58
thanks for that tony. am due to hook it up again saturday so will do as you said. might even slap some grease on it too.
AnswerID: 411980

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