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In light of the recent "Two killed when trailer comes loose" thread I thought it might be a nice idea to build a list of items we can compile into a safety check list. I am going to start with just a couple of items to get the flow going. By no means are these couple of items all I do I just wanted to get the list rolling and see what others add. Thought it would be good to not only include them item but if possible the reason.
1) Attach and CROSS safety chains – they are crossed so they catch the tongue in case of a disconnect.
2) Stop in the first mile and recheck the connections – often I find coupler will bind when dropping it on the hitch and think it is best to recheck it after a short distance to make sure it has indeed connected correctly.
Please add your items, perhaps when we have a complete list we can make the list a sticky.
 

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In light of the recent "Two killed when trailer comes loose" thread I thought it might be a nice idea to build a list of items we can compile into a safety check list. I am going to start with just a couple of items to get the flow going. By no means are these couple of items all I do I just wanted to get the list rolling and see what others add. Thought it would be good to not only include them item but if possible the reason.
1) Attach and CROSS safety chains – they are crossed so they catch the tongue in case of a disconnect.
2) Stop in the first mile and recheck the connections – often I find coupler will bind when dropping it on the hitch and think it is best to recheck it after a short distance to make sure it has indeed connected correctly.
Please add your items, perhaps when we have a complete list we can make the list a sticky.
I always check brake lights, emergency blinkers and turn signals.

Good tip on crossed safety chains.
 

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I have heard conflicting theories on crossing the chains
 

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One thing I've always wondered, this being a safety thread and all, is how to set up the weight distributing hitch properly. I was taught to hook up the trailer, latch it, then lift the weight off the truck by the tongue jack so it sets level , hook up the weight distributing bars, then lower the weight onto the the truck and trailer so it loads the weight evenly across both vehicles. Is this how you all do it? Seems to work for me just fine...
 

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Something to do with them binding or pinching on each other if the hitch comes undone and jerks them hard. I guess it can cause too much stress on a chain link if they are twisted or something like that. I really don’t know for sure on any of it since I have never had a hitch come undone nor do I have a degree in Physics or Engineering.
 

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Never ever ever trust someone else to hook up your load. Even if it's a 30 year veteran who has towed everything under the sun. Always walk around your trailer and check your connection before starting out again everytime you leave your vehicle unattended.
 
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I do a visual check of my hitch/tires and test brakes prior leaving a stop/rest- whether my rig is left unattended or not.

Upon reaching a stop I check my wheels for heat (just to the touch) to hopefully avoid a bearing failure.

These little checks have served me well and take little to no time.
 

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check for a tight electrical plug connection. Make sure nothing will cause it to come loose (bed mat, stuff in bed, cord to tight coming from trailer, etc..)
 

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Check the nut on the bottom of the ball. I had one back off about half way eventhough I had been using it for years, it had a lock washer, and a coating of rust.

I was wondering where the clunk was coming from when hitting a bump.

Inspect your trailer tires closely between the treads. Seems like during storage they will start to crack there sometimes and can lead to tire failure.
 
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One thing I've always wondered, this being a safety thread and all, is how to set up the weight distributing hitch properly. I was taught to hook up the trailer, latch it, then lift the weight off the truck by the tongue jack so it sets level , hook up the weight distributing bars, then lower the weight onto the the truck and trailer so it loads the weight evenly across both vehicles. Is this how you all do it? Seems to work for me just fine...
works for me the last 5 years I've had a Travel Trailer!! I have a routine I do everytime I hook up, basically after I've hooked up & completed a light check I walk around the trailer to make sure everything is closed & locked, double check all of my pins are in for the wd bars & sway control, chains & breakaway switch wire aren't bindin, then test the IBC manually after I've pulled out of my storage space but while still in the storage yard. Go throught the same thing pulling out of the campground with the addition of checking to make sure the antennae is down and everything around the trailer is picked up...
 
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One thing I've always wondered, this being a safety thread and all, is how to set up the weight distributing hitch properly. I was taught to hook up the trailer, latch it, then lift the weight off the truck by the tongue jack so it sets level , hook up the weight distributing bars, then lower the weight onto the the truck and trailer so it loads the weight evenly across both vehicles. Is this how you all do it? Seems to work for me just fine...
Yep. I actually slightly lift the rear of the truck with the trailer jack before clamping the chains to the frame of the trailer. No bar needed doing it that way.
 

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The crossing of safety chains is a no brainer - it's designed to cradle the hitch in case of disconnection and avoid having it hit the ground and dig in...which will have a predictable result. Suggesting that it can over-stress the chains or anything is hogwash - the chains should be strong enough to handle anything thrown at them in an emergency since they are afterall there solely for an emergency! If there's any question whatsoever that they won't hold the weight of the trailer no matter how they're placed then GET A BIGGER CHAIN.

FWIW, it's actually law in various provinces/states that the chains are crossed.

That aside, the most essential (and often overlooked) thing to do is the basic walkaround - put the clearance and hazard lights on and take a trip around your setup - look high (antenna down, vents closed, etc), look low (dragging safety chains, low tires, etc) and check all the lights! If possible, have someone in your cab step on the brake pedal as well to check function of the stop lights - hazard lights will tell you if the bulbs are working, but it won't tell you if your brake light switch is working.

Personally, between home (or the CG) and the highway I always make another stop, often at the beginning of the onramp and do another quick walkaround to make sure everything is road-ready one last time.
 
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i like seeing people take ~5 mintues to do a walk around on their rigs.

lazy and complacent get people hurt/killed.

on TT and GN dont forget to put some grease on the coupling... this will help prevent you balls to loosen and your rig to become "darty" when changeing lanes form metal on metal in the hitch coupling.

when i was driving/hauling stuff i have a little IR tmep gun shoot each tire.. if there was more then 10-15* diff between side to side i start looking more closely.

crossing safety chains.. if they are not peiced togehter they will never catch and pull each other.. they alos should be strong enough to indiviually carry your tongue wieght... same with you hooks.. no point in haveing a 2000lb test chain with a 500lb hook holding it on. one should have enough chain to be able to jackknife then trailer with out pulling the chains taunght.. and stay 3-4" off the ground so they are not draging nor get dragged
 

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Another commonly overlooked thing is to ensure your breakaway cable is not only well clear of the ground so that it doesn't catch road debris (and accidentally get triggered) but is connected independent of the hitch or receiver - it should be attached somewhere to the truck where if total hitch failure occurred (taking the hitch and receiver completely off the truck) it will still be triggered.

You'd be surprised how often people leave the breakaway virtually dragging on the ground (just begging to be pulled out by hitting something on the highway) or have it wrapped around the hitch ball or attached somewhere that if the trailer became detached, it wouldn't even do it's job.
 
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This is a list I started for another fourm, it is mainly directed at bumper pull although it still applies to 5th,gooseneck, and w/d just a bit more to check for.
*Make sure the hitch, reciever, and ball are all rated for the weight of the trailer being pulled.
*Make sure the nut on the bottom of the ball is still tight.
*Make sure all the trailer lights are working, if applicable that the reflective saftey tape has not come off. (Reflective tape is required by law on some trailers )
*When hooking up, if you have help make sure you check everything yourself. Nice to have help but sometimes to many people leads to "I thought you got that"
*Make sure the chains are crossed under the hitch. (if the tounge falls off the ball the chains will craddle the tounge so you can somewhat safely stop it)
*Make sure the trailer is locked on the ball.
*Make sure the trailer brakes are working correctly, to include the controler.
*Make sure the tires are in good condition, meet the load rating of the trailer, and are all the same size. (not dry rotted, at proper PSI), 5 to 6 years seems to be a good interval for new tires to get good use and avoid blowouts.
*Make sure the bearings are greased and in good condition, along with having the caps and seals to keep dirt out and the grease in.
*Make sure load is properly tied down. (if a car or something similar the straps/chains should be at a 45 degree angle "they do not need to be in an x either way is fine")
*Make sure your chains/straps have the proper load rating for the load on the trailer.
*Periodically check the hitch and trailer frame for cracks, if you have a winch or other equipment check the mounting points also.
*Make sure the load on the trailer does not exceed the GVWR of the trailer. (for instance my GVWR is 10,000 pounds, however because my trailer weights 1,500 pounds I can only put 8,500 pounds on it. 1,500 + 8,500 = 10,000)
*Tounge weight should be between 10% to 15% total trailer weight. (10,000 pound trailer should have between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds on the ball, if you are unsure you can take your truck/trailer to a local scale)
*When you hook up or unhook a trailer do the complete hook up or unhook. (This prevents the trailer from falling off/lights not being hooked up ect..)
*When you hook up the brake away cable do not attach it to the frame. (if the hitch breaks the cable will go with it and will do nothing)
*When you are ready to go, pull the "pin" out on the breakaway box and try to drive forward. (if the trailer tires roll your battery/wires are bad, if it will not move or drags, put the pin back your good to go)
*Make sure the tounge jack is in the up position.
*Make sure the lugnuts are tight.
*Periodically charge the brakeaway battery. (regularly used trailers are not much of an issue but sesonal or little used trailers will lose the charge and the battery will go bad)

Along with this I thought I would add a list of tools/parts that may be useful to have.
*Spare tire and tools needed to change a tire. (jack/ramp, lug wrench)
*Some wire and a wiring kit. (to repaire lights and wires)
*Light bulbs. (to replace burnt out bulbs)
*Chock block(s)
*Extra straps/chains. (more of a problem with straps, but they get old/cut)
*Lock for the trailer tounge.
*Small tool kit. (some wrenchs, screw drivers, sockets. More or less what is needed to replace bulbs, fix wires, or any other items on your trailer to keep it roadworthy)
 

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I am definitely not as experienced or knowledgeable as the other posters, but one thing I do is use some sort of rubber treatment on the tires every chance I get to prevent dry rot. I also do the walk around and cross the chains. I pull a 10k enclosed about once a week.
 

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I am definitely not as experienced or knowledgeable as the other posters, but one thing I do is use some sort of rubber treatment on the tires every chance I get to prevent dry rot. I also do the walk around and cross the chains. I pull a 10k enclosed about once a week.
easiest way is prevent the sun form hitting the tires then UV ray dry out then rubber the quickest. when sittign for extened periods of time
 

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Could someone show pics of saftey chains crossed with a WD system. I have wondered which way is proper. I have always crossed them with boats and such but with the WD set up I am not sure.
 

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Could someone show pics of saftey chains crossed with a WD system. I have wondered which way is proper. I have always crossed them with boats and such but with the WD set up I am not sure.
under the tongue like you would a trailer with out the WD system..
if then coupling goes the WD bars are going straight out to the side and the tongue will fall verticly down.
 
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