Use the right hitch safety pin

Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:44 pm

If you have a trailer hitch of this type do not use a smaller safety pin to lock the latch closed than it was designed for.
Image
The latch is locked closed by the pin sliding through a notch in the hinge plate of hitch itself. This type normally uses a 5/16 inch pin, but if you use a 1/4 inch pin it is small enough to slip past the ears of the notch and will not lock the latch shut. I learned that today while hitching a trailer and noticed the handle did not lock down good when the pin was installed. I was using the 1/4 inch pin that came with the trailer (used trailer). I discovered that the apparent reason for the 1/4 inch pin rather than the 5/16 was that the holes were not aligned quite right and it was nearly impossible to get the proper 5/16 pin in the latch. A quick pass with a 5/16 drill bit and the proper pin fit just fine, and the hitch locked closed as it should.

Re: Use the right shitch safety pin

Sun Sep 23, 2012 8:53 pm

Thanks, John. I've been running without a safety pin. I'll go get the real deal tomorrow.

Bill

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:20 am

I am glad you posted that reminder. I haven't used a pin for a while. I always have the chains hooked up but no pin. I guess somehow I viewed the pin hole as a place for a padlock (security) , more than a safety measure.
Thanks.

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:05 am

Mr Ziffel wrote:I viewed the pin hole as a place for a padlock (security)
This is what I thought also...and our padlock is definitely not 5/16"....Thanks for the heads up, John.

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:27 am

The reasoning for the pin is that if the spring breaks that holds the latch down, there is nothing to keep it from vibrating open other than gravity, and the pull of gravity on that little handle is not much.

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:05 pm

I guess the extra piece of copper wire I have been using should be replaced :big smirk:

Disclaimer: (just joking)

You mean just loading tongue heavy won't keep it on there? :bellylaugh: :bellylaugh: :bellylaugh:

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:56 pm

Dale Shaw wrote:......
You mean just loading tongue heavy won't keep it on there? :bellylaugh: :bellylaugh: :bellylaugh:
Depends on how lucky you are and how rough the road is. In about 71 or 72 I was pulling a pretty nose heavy camper behind my Bronco, and about a hundred or so miles down the road I hit a rough stretch of 67, and heard a strange bumping noise. When I checked it out, I had failed to close the latch on the hitch. I have not forgotten to close one since.

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:45 am

OUCH!

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:18 am

Just going to add a bit to what John has said. The correct pin size is important. Dad always used a bolt and nut instead of the pin. That works as long as it is pretty well tight. Unfortunately with a lot of vibration nuts can work themselves loose and once that happens it doesn't take long for the bolt to either work itself out or break. I have had a trailer bounce off the hitch twice in the last 20 years. Not a good experience especially at speed on a highway. Luckily I had jacks with me or it would have been very serious. Even with safety chain securely holding the trailer to the van, there is no control over the trailer as it swings wildly from side to side behind you. Pucker factor maxes out at that point.

I have made it a point to ensure that I have lots of the correct pin sizes (I have a few trailers) and there are always a couple spare pins in the storage compartment of both my vans.

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Tue Sep 25, 2012 9:49 am

As Rudi mentioned, the chains are important. When installed properly they X under the tongue, and are long enough to allow turns without binding, but short enough that if the tongue comes off the hitch it will be carried by the chains rather than hitting the ground/pavement and it or the jack stand digging in.

I like the pins with the loop as opposed to just a pin with a key in the end or a bolt. It allows running the light wiring along with the cable to the brake-away switch through the loop to keep it from dragging or getting caught in the hitch on turns, which is especially handy if driving a truck that the receptacle is mounted to the side and you have to make an extension cable to use it.
Image

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:07 am

As John said " I like the pins with the loop as opposed to just a pin with a key in the end or a bolt. It allows running the light wiring along with the cable to the brake-away switch through the loop to keep it from dragging or getting caught in the hitch on turns, which is especially handy if driving a truck that the receptacle is mounted to the side and you have to make an extension cable to use it." Just make sure your wiring is long enough to make a tight turn. I did that with mine (wires too short) and it pulled the pin apart. When I stopped the pin was still hooked on the wiring but not in the hitch. Not a real problem but could have been. Grump

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:23 am

Even though I have the same style hitch on my trailer, I don't think it is a very good hitch. I have had trouble over the years of the top lever getting bent and not aligning up. Or the bottom latch sticking and not letting the hitch settle down on the ball far enough.
The best hitch IMHO is a bulldog. The jaws open to allow easy hooking to the ball, the ring slides over it and when a pin is used to keep everything in place, you are good to go.

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:17 pm

BIGHOSS wrote:Even though I have the same style hitch on my trailer, I don't think it is a very good hitch. I have had trouble over the years of the top lever getting bent and not aligning up. Or the bottom latch sticking and not letting the hitch settle down on the ball far enough.
The best hitch IMHO is a bulldog. The jaws open to allow easy hooking to the ball, the ring slides over it and when a pin is used to keep everything in place, you are good to go.
I agree 100%, however most trailer manufacturers use the ones I pictured because they can buy them cheaper. I definitely prefer the bull dog couplers.

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:08 pm

Thanks John for the safety tips. I was going to add the point of crossing the chains if you had not. It always amazes me how many rigs I see on the road with the chains not crossed or too long or.... :shock:

Re: Use the right hitch safety pin

Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:38 pm

poppy-1948 wrote: It always amazes me how many rigs I see on the road with the chains not crossed or too long or....


One would think that the sparks from the chains as well as the tinkling would alert them to their folly, but I guess not.... :roll: