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Old 08-01-2010, 07:42 PM   #1
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HARD TIME unhitching..need some help.

Fellow Sunliner, maybe I could get some words of experience on the problem I had today unhitching. My campsite was down hill sloping for both the trailer and truck. I secured the trailer with chocks after doing the left/right leveling. I took off the WD bars/chains etc. But so help me I could not get the ball to drop out of the receiver. I could see it was slightly biased but owing to the slope I was unable to gain the tiny advantage enough to have the ball drop out as usual. I tried repeatedly but it took a real long time to finally get it apart...there HAS TO BE and better way...have you got one for me?? Frustrated is a mind version of what I felt today.

As an additional bit of reference once I had the sunny level fore/aft the tongue jack was complete retracted to achieve level...hows that for a down hill campsite

Bob
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:27 PM   #2
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Howdy Bob,

Good to see you back on the board posting. If I understand your "bind" correctly, what you needed to do once completely set up and the hitch latch released was to either back your truck up just a tad or pull it forward just a tad. If truck & trailer were sloped towards the read you would have needed to back the truck up a tad, if sloped forward, pull the truck forward just a tad. This takes the pressure off the connection and usually allows the ball to release. You don't need to move the truck much, just a tad to get ot off the bind.

Hope this explains it well enuff.

Kitty
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodoleBob View Post
.... I tried repeatedly but it took a real long time to finally get it apart...there HAS TO BE and better way....
That was what I was thinking 2 weeks ago at one of the campgrounds I went to in Maine. (well, my actual thoughts are not able to be posted here in a family setting ) With the wheels chocked good you can sometimes move the tow vehicle forward and back an inch or two to get the ball away from the lip in the coupler. I had to "mess" with it for about 5 minutes before I could even raise the release lever. The next 2 campgrounds we went to I had no problem.
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:57 PM   #4
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Hi Kitty...nice to talk to you once again...yes you understand the bind correctly BUT the actually slight movement was about impossible for me to make...remember now I was on a sloped area and pulling ahead the slight amount was NOT so simple to do for me....or it wouldn't have taken me so loooong to do it...phew. I'm looking for a way to avoid this delemma in the future..or maybe avoiding such a lousy campsite is the answer...this one was reserved site unseen a month ago.

Gene...interesting you should mention Maine since that's where I'm writing this from now...I know this is a fairly common issue for ball type hitches but geeez this one wasn't even fair...again I ask for specific ways to perhaps prevent this or get out of it when it gets this extreme.

Thanks

Bob
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:20 PM   #5
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Hi Bob

I know your issue and have experienced it. See here, same problem, different campsite and different direction of slope.



The problem: (in my case above) TT is chocked to prevent rolling, truck was up hill from TT, the truck was in park with gravity pushing truck back towards TT and took all the play out of the parking gear. The TT and tow ball on the TV are pushed tight together.

The problem: (I think this is what you have) TT and Truck hitched and both on a down hill lean. TT wheels chocked, truck in park and the truck is rolled against the parking gear, truck and TT in tension or compression at the ball coupler.

Both my situation and yours have the same issue. The TT is chocked so it will not roll away, the truck is in park jammed against the parking gear and the tow ball in the ball coupler is pushed all the way to the latch side or the ball coupler front.

The reality is, to unhook even on level ground either the TV or the TT have to move unless the stars have exactly aligned and your dead center in the ball coupler. On level ground, the TT wheels are chocked, the TT is not going any where. When you raise the tongue jack the truck actually eases forward or back in the play of the parking gear of the transmission and the ball coupler will force itself off with the jack lifting or you have loose chocks and the TT wiggles. I have homemade wedge type 4 x 4's between the tires and the TT is not moving.

If neither the TT or the TV can move at all, you have to be dead exact in the middle of the play of the ball coupler release point. And that release point may only be 1/16” So try getting that exactly in place…..

When the truck and TT are in tension or compression against each other when unhooking it is going to fight you like frustration central. And there is danger involved depending on what wild idea one try’s to get it unhooked.

In my case I had the tongue jack up so high trying to get the thing to unhitch I was about ready to almost lift the back of the truck off the ground. Nope this is not going to do work as how in the world do I ever get it hooked back up??? And there is no way I was going to have my wife or me in the middle of the TT as one of use rocked the truck in and out of gear. After great disgust, I used the tongue jack to level out the camper and left it hitched to the truck. We where only there 1 night thank goodness.

I do not know of a simple way out of this issue. It has only ever happened to me once and it was the TV or TT where under tension or compression when trying to unhitch.

The only thing that comes to mind after thinking back on this is, chock the TT wheels, pull the truck slightly ahead or back pending the problem of the campsite. The tow ball play in the coupler is then on the opposite end of gravity pushing the truck against the parking gear. Put the truck in park, hold you foot on the brake, to not roll the truck/tow ball against the TT and shut the engine off. Keep the foot hard on the brake as the power boost is going to bleed off. This might help get it off as the play in the coupler is now more in your favor. I really caution doing this and is done under one’s own risk and has to be understood to the conditions of the camp site. Make sure the truck is in park as this prevents the truck from rolling away or into something if something does not go according to plan. You are basically trying holding the truck in the right position of the parking gear play.

Remember, unhooking this hard may also create hooking back up to be this hard pending the situation. Best is to find a more level campsite once one has experienced this…. I know I will never forget.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 08-01-2010, 11:55 PM   #6
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I have been in a similar situation while trying to unhitch a heavy equipment trailer and usually have great success by chocking the trailer wheels then gently nudging (moving) the tow vehicle foreward or backward, depending on the direction of the slope that is causing binding issues, then I set the parking brake, making sure it is fully engaged.

It can be tricky and takes both feet working the gas and brake to get it just right. Sometimes it may take several tries and you have to be very subtle while moving the tow vehicle because it only takes a fraction of an inch to make or break your chances of getting it in just the right position to allow them to separate freely.

As a word of caution, you have to be very careful not to release the hitch ball lock if the tow vehicle and the trailer are in a bind because there is a possibility that the trailer can jump off the ball and go in any direction as the tension between the two is released. As an added precaution, I usually like to leave the safety chains connected until I am certain that the trailer is fully separated from the tow vehicle.

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-02-2010, 07:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
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... I do not know of a simple way out of this issue. It has only ever happened to me once and it was the TV or TT where under tension or compression when trying to unhitch....

John
I do! Pull the pin on the drawbar, drive TV forward pulling drawbar out of the receiver. Once clear, the ball falls out of the coupler.

Teach
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Old 08-02-2010, 08:34 AM   #8
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Teach...the option of pulling the pin is not going to work in such a binding situation unfortunately. The pin is as tightly bound in as if it was welded in place....I know this because I did give it a try although I'd much prefer not taking that approach.

Hi John...I'm glad you replied with a similar predicament. How annoying that was and you can also attest to the frustration. I don't have the luxury, if we can call it that, of leaving the trailer connected though. Trust me when I say there are several dangers present in this situation and several dynamics working against ones efforts to simply unhook.

The trailer was chocked with those same style chocks binding between the both tires on both sides, and I could tell it wanted to roll by it's reaction once it was free of the retention by the ball/truck combination. It was a bit unnerving frankly.

This was definitely not the usual stuck ball in coupler ordeal. But if you had trouble doing it with all your trailering experience then anybody would have I bet.

Next time I will either avoid such a site or just continue to try finessing the position even though the truck does not want to cooperate in this jammed up configuration...no easy win I guess.

Bob


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Old 08-02-2010, 10:36 AM   #9
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I've got an idea...just get rear air bags on your TV with an on-board compressor. Even if you don't use them when you tow, just raise up the air bags, raise the jack to compensate, and it should give that extra height to get it off.

I think this would work for a situation like John had, but it wouldn't work with the front of the TV downhill, unless of course you got front bags too.

Jon
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Old 08-02-2010, 01:17 PM   #10
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OH have I been in this situation. FIRST, I'd like to pass on something that the transmission man told me many years ago when I broke a tooth off my tranny. Whenever, whether towing or not you should ALWAYS set the parking break BEFORE you remove your foot from the service brake. WHY? well when you don't you always get that tiny little bit of forward or backward movement as you car settles into place. What is happening with that tiny little bit of movement in your transmission is it is moving slightly and comes to rest on one of the teeth on a gear in your tranny. NOW, this small tooth is what is holding your vehicle in place. BUT, "IF" you set your "parking" brake before you remove your foot from the service brake, your parking brake is now holding your car in place and all pressure is removed from your transmission.

OK, back to being stuck. By using the above method, if you can move slightly forward or backward (I mean just a tad to release the pressure on the ball, shift into park, SET YOUR PARKING BRAKE, then remove your foot from the service brake. Your vehicle SHOULD NOT move, and hopefully you can now release the ball.

Clear as mud ya say. Well, next time your out in your vehicle towing or not, try what I said and you will notice how your vehicle no longer moves that little bit as it no longer can move to settle on that gear tooth.

It's cheaper to have a parking brake repaired than to have a transmission replaced, transmissions are not cheap

Kitty
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Old 08-02-2010, 05:57 PM   #11
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Here's a picture of what Kitty was referring to. Keep in mind, that this little tooth is ALL that holds your vehicle from moving in park. If you park on a slight hill and don't use the parking/emergency brake, it will be harder to pull the shifter out of park. It is due to the pressure on the tooth and is the force necessary to pull that tooth out of the gear.

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Old 08-02-2010, 07:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunline Fan View Post
I've got an idea...just get rear air bags on your TV with an on-board compressor. Even if you don't use them when you tow, just raise up the air bags, raise the jack to compensate, and it should give that extra height to get it off.
Quote:
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I think this would work for a situation like John had, but it wouldn't work with the front of the TV downhill, unless of course you got front bags too.

Jon


Jon, don't think this would of helped that I can figure in my case. I had 14" of wood under the tongue jack to get more hitch height and all I did was lift the truck back up. I had at least 12" more fender clearance then normal it was like the back wheels where about to lift.... When I was up that high I said the heck with it and a few other choice words.

Bob,

While we may not of helped for every situation, may be armed with a few more tricks that might work pending the situation.

In these extreme non cooperative unhitching cases.

Like Pextron stated, leave the chains on until the ball if free. Never know where that trailer may head.

I was going down the path of hold the truck brakes on which holds the truck away from the parking gear lock up point, Kitty reminded us of the parking brake. It is an option and it may or may not work pending the parking brake itself and the situation but it would help if it will hold. It is worth a try.

This is just not a good situation.

John
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Old 08-03-2010, 07:32 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Whenever, whether towing or not you should ALWAYS set the parking break BEFORE you remove your foot from the service brake. WHY? well when you don't you always get that tiny little bit of forward or backward movement as you car settles into place.
Kitty
True! And may I add to the procedure? (Step #2)
1) Stop the rig using the service brake
2) Shift into neutral
3) Set parking brake
4) Release service brake
5) Shift into park (may require stepping on service brake again)

This allows all tension in the drive train and suspension to dissipate. That is part of that "settling" Kitty is describing.

Teach
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Old 08-03-2010, 08:38 AM   #14
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YEP, this extra 5 - 10 second procedure just might save your transmission. I use this procedure whether I am towing or not, I even do it with my school bus.
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