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Old 07-08-2016, 09:49 AM   #1
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Question Correct ball size? 1985:T-1950

I had it locked down, snapped into place, a bolt in the hole behind the internal ball lock slide, How did it come apart???!!!

I raised the tongue jack, started up the paved hill from my campsite, as the truck leveled out on the road, the camper still at an angle down the hill, the tongue jack dug into the pavement, & apparently acted as a lever. My camper came off the ball, the old worn safety chains snapped, and my camper went back down the hill, past where it was parked over the weekend, and into a tree. The only good thing is the tree kept if from going further down the grade & into a small creek. Now the rear bumper is crushed & I have a tree shaped indent in the back of my camper from top to bottom that I have to begin beating back out from the inside, after some panel removal. So....... #1. Is 2" the correct ball size for this camper?
#2. Has anyone else out there ever had the socket come up off the ball?
#3. How do I prevent this separation of ball from socket from happening again? ( Yes I replaced the safety chains, but that's not the issue)
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Old 07-08-2016, 12:38 PM   #2
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1950's and larger use a 2 5/16" ball. It should be stamped some where on the coupler at the end of the A-frame.
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Old 07-08-2016, 05:20 PM   #3
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What size was the ball you used? Go bigger. When I traded my 1950 for a t-24, I towed it 300 miles to my rv mechanic for work. I asked why when he said I needed a new ball. He proceeded to lock my current ball in the socket and immediately pull it out. I was lucky I didn't hit any big bumps.
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Old 07-09-2016, 06:21 AM   #4
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There's a warning stamped into my tongue about having the jack fully cranked up.
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Old 07-09-2016, 07:26 AM   #5
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Pending the age of the ball coupler, it may not be stamped. I have several different trailers. The newest is a flat bed trailer, made in 2013, and it has both a weight rating and the ball size stamped in the coupler.

My Sunline T310SR, made in 2003, use to have a faint etch of a brand name and a weight rating but no ball size. The etch is all but about not readable any more. My 2004 Sunline (T2499 now sold) had a weight rating and brand deeper impressed into the coupler, but no ball size.

I have a utility trailer from 1991 with nothing on it. And I have a 1965 boat trailer with a bunch of numbers that are not understandable. They may be manufacturing serial numbers or something.

Regulations may have changed over the years, yours being a 1985, don't know what the regs where back then. Some where in the couplers life there has to be a weight rating on the coupler, it may have been in the box it was shipped in before ever being welded on the trailer or stamped. Ball size might be stamped into the coupler seems it may be a new regulation or a voluntary thing.

Normally there is only approx 1/32" to 1/16" excess clearance total between a ball and the coupler. As was said, your T1950, a tandem axle trailer has a 2 5/16 ball coupler, normally. If a 2" ball was used then there will be an excess 5/16" minimum clearance in the coupler. It could of been close to 3/8" total after taking in the working clearance. The 2" ball can move around a good amount. While by hand you may not be able to pull it out, the latch engagement will not be as high as the coupler is rated for with all the excess clearance.

A long time ago... I had a tractor pop out of gear and go "a roll'in". It had a 7 foot heavy duty snow plow on it even... In the hilly terrain of upstate NY, there is not a lot of flat... Was inside the house eating dinner and hear a loud ,crash! That was the snow plow blade hitting my brothers car in the parking lot...

Then the 6,000# of rolling steel kept rolling down to the county road, straight across and finally came to rest in the field. The good Lord was looking out for me. It only wrecked the rim on my brothers car, spun it around on the icy driveway like a top. Thank God it did not plow through someone driving down the road. It tore up the plow lift hydraulic cylinder, the plow flew up and banged down so hard it bent the cylinder jumping the culvert along the road side.

Stuff happens even under the best of intentions. Most anyone who worked or lived on a farm or in industrial world has a story to tell. Again, learn from them and make your self better and safer.

Something else not good, your safety chains broke. Where they heavily rusted or worn from road drag? There are laws on this, each chain is supposed to be able to hold the entire GVWR of the trailer. So by having 2, you get double safety factor. If your's were heavily rusted or road ground up from a prior owner dragging them, that is a good learning for other folks with worn or rusted chains/cables. If that problems exists, now is the time to change them. A separated trailer on the highway is a very dangerous thing. There are too many documented cases of run away trailers and people being seriously hurt from it.

Sorry you had your misshap and glad no one was hurt. These things can happen in an instant. We all learn from these events and hopefully become better from them. Thank you for posting so other members can learn from this and help themselves too.

Tow safe and happy camping.

John
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Old 07-10-2016, 07:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Collins View Post
1950's and larger use a 2 5/16" ball. It should be stamped some where on the coupler at the end of the A-frame.
Thanks for the feedback, but after some wire brushing & coarse sandpapering, I got thru several layers of paint & was finally able to read
the info stamped on the tongue.

It calls for a 2" ball, which is what I was using.

I was just shocked that it could actually be forced apart so easily. But I guess with the tongue jack stuck in the pavement, the camper downhill from the truck now sitting on the level road, the truck must've just forced the two apart.
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Old 07-10-2016, 07:45 AM   #7
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With hitch adjusted properly to ball size you should have bent the jack leg or stopped the unit where it stuck in the ground. JMO.
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Old 07-10-2016, 09:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbwiseman View Post
Thanks for the feedback, but after some wire brushing & coarse sandpapering, I got thru several layers of paint & was finally able to read
the info stamped on the tongue.

It calls for a 2" ball, which is what I was using.

I was just shocked that it could actually be forced apart so easily. But I guess with the tongue jack stuck in the pavement, the camper downhill from the truck now sitting on the level road, the truck must've just forced the two apart.
Hi,

H'mm. Not knowing what condition your ball coupler is in now, can you put the ball in the coupler and try to determine the amount of clearance or play the ball can move left to right and up and down with the coupler locked? It should only be approx 1/16" max.

If you have for sure a 2" ball coupler, it sounds small, but it may be. Technically a hardened steel 2" ball can meet the GVWR of the camper, but they are not normally sized to the high strength balls.

By the ratings, the latch of the ball coupler should be able to handle the entire load rating of the coupler. Meaning it is as strong in the latch pull direction as it is the normal pulling direction.

By any chance can you post pictures of the ball coupler and the latch looking up at the latch inside the coupler? Look for new fresh tears or rips in the steel or old rusted ones. Point is, your latch may have been damaged before this event. Pending what condition it is in now, you may need an all new one. For a ball tear out of the correct size, the latch should now have heavy damage to it

If it is indeed a 2" coupler and it failed that easy, I would not trust it. You should have some heavy damage to something, and being really twisted up bad if the ball was the correct size and latch did not have prior damage to it.

There are actual regulations on ball coupler testing the coupler manufacture needs to meet and that coupler should not have come apart that easy if everything was right.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 07-10-2016, 09:51 AM   #9
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Something doesn't sound right. With my trailer ball locked in, I can actually lift the rear if my truck off the ground using the jack. Maybe your ball lock is bent in the housing, allowing the ball to slip out under stress.
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Old 07-10-2016, 07:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbwiseman View Post
My camper came off the ball, the old worn safety chains snapped, and my camper went back down the hill, past where it was parked over the weekend, and into a tree.
Something else to check, there is supposed to be an emergency break away switch with a thin cable which attaches to the truck. If the camper detaches from the truck for any reason when hitched, the cable gets pulled, pulls the pin out of the break away switch and applies the electric brakes on the camper. The camper battery needs to be installed and have a charge to make this work. Also assuming the camper brakes work too.

It sounds like your break away switch was not working. Suggest you check this out that it still works before your next over the road tow. Some times the switches get frozen and you cannot pull out the pin. And when the cable gets yanked hard, with a stuck pin it sometimes strips the cable out of the pin leaving the pin in the switch. (Not good) The switch itself if a common replacement part and not that expensive if that is the problem. On mine the O ring on the end of the pull pin which seals out the water gets bound up. I spray silicone spray on the O ring and it helps the sticking problem. Need to check this switch for working at least every year or before long trips.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 07-11-2016, 07:00 PM   #11
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Or short trips up hills.
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Old 07-13-2016, 09:12 AM   #12
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One way to find out you will not be able to get the hitch over a 2 5/16" ball if it's a 2" tong. It sounds like you had a lot of forces at work there I'm not too surprised it forced the tong off the ball it maybe a real good ideal to have a very good look at the hitch to makes sure it is not damaged. Some are repairable some will require welding a new hitch end on.
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