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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Proper use of safety chains (was Progressive insurance 
	comprehensive  claim)
Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 07 May 2002 05:16:00 -0400

On Sun, 05 May 2002 05:56:18 -0400, Lon VanOstran <> wrote:

>> A hitch failure will almost surely cause *some* damage to the tow
>> vehicle anyway -- but a heck of a lot less than what it might do to
>> some other vehicle if it went completely out of control, such as in a
>> locked-wheel skid at that speed. No telling which way that sucker
>> might slide -- not necessarily straight ahead, especially if one wheel
>> happens to brake harder than the other. Could jerk the tow vehicle
>> around with it...
>> I'm open to being proven wrong, though...
>> GB in NC
>I disagree. If a heavy trailer comes unhitched, there is going to be
>back and forth swinging. It flat has to happen. Your only hope of
>maintaining control is if the brakes come on and put LOTS of pressure on
>the chains *pulling backwards*. I would want that sucker to STOP ASAP.

Bullshit!  After having lost the hitch several times and the hitch AND chain
on one occasion (I was rather fast and loose with this stuff during my early
racing days when I'd tow anything with anything that would actually fit), I
can positively tell you that you are ABSOLUTELY WRONG.

If you maintain your cool and don't panic, the trailer can be brought up
against the tow vehicle by careful application of the tow brakes.  That
accomplished, all that remains is to come to a halt while keeping the trailer
behind you.  This is NOT difficult and assuming some sort of reasonable tongue
loading, there is no unusual instability.  The only time I had a bit of a
white knuckle experience was when I was towing a race car trailer with an El
Camino and the ball ripped out of the bumper hitch in mid-turn.  I still got
stopped with no bent metal but I did need a moment to get the blood pressure

>Lon, who thinks those who believe their is any but the most miraculous
>hope of maintaining control in such a situation are NUTS.

And those who give advice without experience are idiots.  The LAST thing I'd
want is a ballistic trailer separated from my tow vehicle.  Friend of mine had
that happen with a small utility trailer and said trailer center-punched a
pedestrian.  The guy lived to file a NASTY suit.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Proper use of safety chains (was Progressive insurance 
	comprehensive  claim)
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 04 May 2002 20:05:27 -0400

On Sat, 04 May 2002 22:57:16 GMT, MVolz <> wrote:

>Of course, you know that even if the trailer comes lose the break-away switch is
>supposed to apply full battery power to the trailer brakes and stop it. And the
>break-away wire should should always be fairly tight, not dragging. And should be
>checked periodically, very easy to do.

NO!  Tripping the emergency brakes with the safety chains still intact and
functioning is likely to break them, making an unpleasant situation MUCH
worse.  The safety brake trip wire should be set so that it does NOT trip
unless the safety chains part.

If the safety chains are properly connected and remain intact, bringing the
rig to a controlled stop is no big deal, involving little more than careful
use of the brakes to avoid repeatedly smashing the tongue against the tow
vehicle.  The LAST thing someone wants in that situation is for the emergency
brake to trigger and lock up the trailer wheels!!!


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Are safety chains worthless on a 10,900 pound trailer?
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 19 Apr 2003 18:23:26 -0400

The safety chains aren't there in case of an accident.  They're there in case
the hitch comes off the ball/pin/receiver or there is some other failure of
the vehicle/trailer connection during normal operation.  The safety chains
enable you to bring the combo to a safe halt.

Had that experience a couple of times.  One time I was towing a fairly large
utility trailer between Tn and Pa.  It had one of those lever type hitches
where the guts of the hits are retained by a big nut.  The nut came loose and
the guts fell out.  It is my habit to criss-cross the chains under the trailer
tongue and to twist them until they are tight in a full lock turn.  This was
so stable that I didn't even notice it and towed happily along until the next
gas stop.  No place to get a new hitch in the middle of the night so I just
cinched the chains up a little more, clamped a big-*ssed vice grip on the
hitch and ball and proceeded.  No further troubles.


On 19 Apr 2003 20:35:49 GMT, Brian Elfert <> wrote:

>My travel trailer has a GVWR of 10,900 pounds with a loaded weight of
>8,000 pounds.
>The safety chains are made of chain with a working load limit of around
>2000 pounds.
>How the heck would these chains help in an accident?  Wouldn't they just
>snap immediately?  If the chains didn't snap, the bolts holding the
>chains to the tongue would probably shear off.
>Brian Elfert

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