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...good idea to check that your 5th wheel disconnect pin hasn't been messed with when your rig is unattended. Heard a horror story of punks pulling disconnect pins in a parking lot and setting back to watch the damage as the owner pulled out!!!!!
Some hitches have lockable handles or you can easily mod.

Also...was talking about damage to the underside of a 5er with old timer and he told me he pulled into a spot for the weekend and extended his landing legs and pulled the disconnect pin. Dear wife decided she wanted the spot accross the street so being pissed off, he retracted the legs and went to pull accross the street. The damage to his truck and 5er was readily apparent and embarrasing for him.
Morale of the story....don't get distracted, check all connections as if it was the first time you hooked up.
 

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...good idea to check that your 5th wheel disconnect pin hasn't been messed with when your rig is unattended. Heard a horror story of punks pulling disconnect pins in a parking lot and setting back to watch the damage as the owner pulled out!!!!!
Some hitches have lockable handles or you can easily mod.

Great point Airborne....luckily my Reese 16k has a provision to lock the release handle. Just gotta always install the lock :)
 

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I inspected a hitch on a truck and decided the best thing to do....
One thing I did today was remove the entire hitch assembly and derust it. It's been a hitch for 10 years running but she was deeply pitted. There was no primer and only a "Reese" paint job. I know how easy it can be to forget a hitch but do an inspection. Rust had a way eating the hell out of this one.
 

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You guys covered everything I can think of and do every time I hook-up. Only thing I can add is to cover your tires when not in use. I use the white covers available at any r/v store. Cardboard or plywood can also work, not only on your r/v but also the utility trailer you use on the odd ocasion. Great post keep it going.
 

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Hey Guys

Just wanted to add (all good information but did not see) check to make sure your break away system if you have it is working. Your break away chain or cable should be attached to the vehicle and not the tow chains. Also with this if your break away has a separate battery, is it in good shape and does it have a charge in it..?

From the trucking side we always do a walk around to check tires, chains, lights, connections, etc...everyone checks what they have for a list in their own head. Just wondering how many other actually stop at the brake check BEFORE you go down those long steep hills..?

Puff
 

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Very complete thread!

Here's how I kind of do things, granted, I have a Class B CDL, so I kind of have the mind set of safety (I drive school bus....). I also drive my own semi-truck for the farm (no class A needed for farm use). I don't have any weight distributing hitches, so I can't say what to inspect/proper install.... (trying to think of everything vs when ya are out there are two different things :p:)

Electrical
-brake lights
-tail lights
-turn signals
-markers
-break away battery charge (if electric brakes)- need volt tester
-check wiring coupler/plug for damage (ie dragging/cracks)

Coupler/trailer tongue area
-ball coupler lubrication
-coupler mounted (ball type secure, no broken welds or loose bolts)
-ball on receiver tight
-correct ball size, rating & receiver
-coupler locks securely
-safety chains mounted/secure to trailer-no drag marks
-chain hooks look good
-battery break away switch wired, safety cable routed and hooked to vehicle
-coupler lock (be it a bolt, pin, or pad lock)
-check for cracks in frame
-check receiver hitch on truck! (mounting bolts tight?)

Suspension/Axles, etc
-fenders mounted, nothing loose
-tires inflated to sidewall recommendation
-tires the correct LOAD rating for what you are using!!!
-tires have no cracks in sidewall
-rims lug nuts tight (non missing)
-grease hub (if fitted)
-U bolts tight
-spring hangers bolts tight
-tread wear patters- indicate in issue
-springs have no cracks (ie look for lines of rust), have not shifted
-if Tor-Flex (aka rubber suspension), look for "leaning" of trailer
-electric brake wiring secure under trailer/axle

Load
-no loose parts of load that can blow off
-load secured w/ correct rated hardware
-strap to secure over load, 1 for every 10 feet of length of load, if not more

(Electric) trailer brakes
-manually active controller to stop combination (also verify's strength of hookup.) Can your trailer brakes stop the pulling vehicle at low speed?
- check & adjust controller response to load of vehicle prior to leaving
- test/adjust once brakes warm

Other
If you can, before leaving on (long) trip (if it is trailer you don't use all the time), drive around for 5 miles, go back home, check everything including:

-tire temperature
-hub temperature (hot hub= bad bearing)

Stuff to have with you- (stuff I take *)
-spare tire for trailer*
-bottle jack stubby enough to fit under trailer axle/frame*
-wood blocks (for tire chalk and to lift up bottle jack if too short)*
-tire "star" or 12V impact or breaker bar w/ correct sockets (some tire stars are not deep enough for long studs)*
- length of chain to chain up bad tire/axle (ya know the trick, jack up axle, way up- wrap chain over axle and hook to frame...when ya let it down, axle/tire does not touch ground)*
-extra trailer wheel bearings/grease
-12V tire infiltrator & gauge*


Why do I feel like this was a test.....


Oh, when driving, KNOW YOUR VEHICLE!!!! Leave enough distance between you and the one in front. If someone pulls in, back off leave enough room in case you have to do and E-stop....
 

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i always check my lights as trailers are notorous for light failure. i agree with checking the nut on the bottom of the ball as i also had the same experience with one coming loose. i also after hooking the trailer on the ball, crank the trailer jack down to see if it starts lifting up the truck to be sure it latched on the ball. also check trailer emergency brake battery and make sure the cable is hooked to the rear of the truck. be sure jack is all the way up and safety chains are not to close to the road.
 

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GReat Thread.!

keep er going boys..!

theo
 

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Chock wheels whenever hitching up or unhitching.
Jim
 

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i Always let ppl know that im doing the checklist and not to come around to talk to me or say anything till im done. Distraction is one of the main issues of missing something and something happening because of one little forgotten chain or strap or wire. Silence is the best friend of safety checks
 

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Hi folks - just joined the group after buying my first diesel. Quite a learning curve. This string has quite a history and very good info but I thought of a a couple of things to add.

LT vs ST tires: there is a difference in the way they are made and tires on trailers tend to carry a higher percentage of the rated weight. As others have noted, pressure should be checked often and pressurized to trailer recommendation. I found an interesting article at http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=219.

WD hitches: I measured the unloaded distance from the top of the tires to the top of the wheel wells on my tow vehicle, then loaded the trailer and pulled it a few feet and remeasured. The drop should be even front and rear. My previous tow vehicle was a Honda Ridgeline. I tried less less spring tension (unloaded the front) and then got into a spring monsoon with a horrendous headwind and standing water. It was a handful, wandering all over the road. I stopped and added the tension back in and the problem was solved (gas mileage still sucked tho). You'd think a light trailer wouldn't affect a HD truck but it's a long distance from the rear tires to the hitch point which will act as a lever to lift the front of the truck.

Last thing from experience - weigh your trailer. Cool things you buy from camping world (like those pink flamingos) all add weight.

Several people mentioned checklists, I found a customizable trailer checklist app for my i-phone. Even with the checklist, I got distracted and saw the trailer door flapping open as I pulled out of the RV park.

Kelly
 

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where did you get the app?
 

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At the apple App Store. The "rv checklist" by Dan Senatro. I'm guessing android or MS phones would have something similar.
 

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If inappropriate I apologize; our turnover ball hitch installers didn't install the U-bolts beside the ball. They say NC doesn't require them. I live in SC. What about traveling in other states. What about the fact that I have no safety chains on this gooseneck 5th wheel. I just want to be safe. We do walk around, test brake/turn/caution lights....and if tailgate on truck is up LOL.
 

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If inappropriate I apologize; our turnover ball hitch installers didn't install the U-bolts beside the ball. They say NC doesn't require them. I live in SC. What about traveling in other states. What about the fact that I have no safety chains on this gooseneck 5th wheel. I just want to be safe. We do walk around, test brake/turn/caution lights....and if tailgate on truck is up LOL.
Interesting. I would "insist" to have it done. If the "kit" by the manufacturers had it, then they were just lazy.... in my opinion.

edit-
There is a local farm shop here in my state, they build "hitches" for "everything". Other then when putting semi truck 5th wheel hitches, EVERYTHING has loops for safety chains....
 

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Great thread. Shame it has not been bumped in a while. Ill add. When towing, if ANYTHING does not sound or feel right, STOP and check it out. The side of the road is where you want to find and solve a problem, not after the problem has caused a failure at highway speeds. SLOW DOWN when pulling. Safe travel speed is 10 to 15 mph minimum slower than the flow of 4 wheel traffic when pulling a trailer. Your rig will not stop or steer the same with a trailer. Be aware of the speed ratings and load ratings on your tires and remember that 65 in your tow vehicle with large tires can feel like 90 on 15 inch trailer tires.

A word on tie downs. If you use ratchet straps in an over the cargo configuration, make sure to put the binder on the passenger side of the vehicle. If you have to stop and tighten a strap in transit, the grass on the shoulder is much safer than the emergency lane to stand in while doing so.
 

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The hitch on my boat has a place for a lockpin, I use a lock. This prevents the trailer from unhitching off the ball. Roads here in the Kootenays (BC) are beat to hell and I have been glad things are locked down when I hit a bad spot in the road like a pothole, uneven pavement, etc.

Definitely want to cross the chains, if the hitch does come off it should be suspended from hitting the road and making one hell of a sparky mess on the highway.

Also like to spray the electrical connectors (male/female) with silicone spray at the beginning of the season. Have some simple tools and spare bulbs in case you have one go on you. Talking to Johnny Law is no fun after boating, especially over a simple signal light that is not functioning.

Give yourself lots of time and patience when hauling a load. Braking and coming to a complete stop can be as much has 50-100 meters! (150'-300'). I have cursed many vehicles that abruptly cut in front of me hauling the boat. Dummies on their bicycles were almost "Sharing The Road" when they drive erratically side by side. Nothing against bicycles on the road, but they are better off on a trail in my humble opinion. Every year a few bicycles get launched into rocky ditches or down steep banks, even a few deaths. They also have to huff Ruby's Spicy Low Sulphur Exhaust. It's a one way trip for those diesel particles into the lungs.

Be defensive as possible and expect the unexpected! Scan ahead of you and look from side to side and concentrate on the road. Safe travels amigos!
 

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I printed out and laminated a check list for "pre-travel" and for "setting up" your trailer once you arrive. This can help with you possibly forgetting something very important. I cannot stress enough to make sure sure trailer tires are in good condition, especially if your rig sits outside in the elements. Tires rot, get flat spots, and can ruin your trip instantly. I learned from experience, when an otherwise new appearing 2 year old 5th. wheel tire, decided to come undone just 20 minutes into our trip. The tread separated, whipping around inside of the wheel housing, and tore up the lower rear portion of my 5th. wheel, which caused $3000.00 in damage. On a walk just yesterday and my neighbors 5th. wheel had the exact thing happen to it.
 
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Bartman, I had the same thing happen to me. 2-yrs ago, but cost $6k to repair(thanks for good insurance). Tires are checked every time I go out.
I didn't see this, in this thread, but I have my trailer height measurement # written down. Always be aware of those pesky overhangs and pay attention to the heights.
 
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