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Old 01-27-2013, 08:32 AM   #1
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Fifth Wheel Hitch won't release

Wow! We got into Pontchartrain Landing RV park yesterday after driving the roughest section of I-10 I've ever seen. (LA must have the worst roads in the US) When I went to unhook, the release lever just pulled free without any tension, but it didn't release the jaws, so it didn't release the trailer. It feels like the connection between the release lever and the jaws came undone. I tried various things to get the hitch to release, but no luck.

I have a repair guy coming tomorrow morning, but thought I'd see if anyone here had any ideas on how to fix. It might save me a $160 service call. I know I can remove the whole hitch assembly by pulling the pins on the rail, but this doesn't fix the problem. It just gets the truck separate from the trailer. I need to get the hitch off the king pin. I also need to ensure the hitch is still operating properly and is safe to pull the trailer.

Anyone out there know how these hitches work internally?

Thanks, Jerry
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Old 01-27-2013, 08:40 AM   #2
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If the lever came out with no resistance I would guess somethings broken inside. Whats the make/model?
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:12 AM   #3
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If it's a Reese, push the jaws apart by hand and lift the pin clear with the landing gear. Then you can pull the head and see whats broken.
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:05 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies. It turns out the release arm is attached to the jaws mechanism by a C clip. the rough roads popped the C clip off and allowed the arm to drop out of the jaws mechanism. It is surprising that they (Reese) don't use something more secure than a C clip. Seems a cotter pin or similar would be much better. Anyway, it is fixed now. I also discovered that the hitch had been hit hard at some point in the past and part of the hitch frame was bent. The repair guy said it was safe to use, but would explain why the hitch can be hard to disconnect sometimes. A new head would cost several hundred dollars, so he suggested I keep using it unless it becomes too hard to release.

Only time will tell,

Jerry
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Old 01-28-2013, 01:51 PM   #5
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A bent hitch, IMO is basically unsafe. You might begin to shop around for a new one. You have a lot riding on the integrity of that hitch_ in more ways than one.
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray,IN View Post
A bent hitch, IMO is basically unsafe. You might begin to shop around for a new one. You have a lot riding on the integrity of that hitch_ in more ways than one.
AGREE !!!!
not worth it
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:09 AM   #7
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Yeah, I agree. Fortunately, the bent part doesn't directly affect the overall hitch integrity. Mainly, it interferes with the release lever, so it can be hard to release and requires a lot more tugging on the handle.

Anyway, I will replace it when we are in one place long enough for me to order a new head online, or find a better price than here.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:35 AM   #8
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Generally the release lever to latch (not jaws) connection is either a 90 degree bend and drops into a hole in the latch, or a clevis and pin affair.

My guess is the cotter key or other locking pin failed and when you hit a bump the rod went up and out of the hole.

No matter the lever, somewhere there is either a rod in ah ole or a clevis and pin.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:32 AM   #9
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That's it exactly. The rod has a 90 degree bend at the end that drops into a hole in the release mechanism. It is held in place with a C clip. The rough roads popped the C clip off and allowed the rod to bounce out. With a big enough bar, the repair guy was able to push the jaws apart while I eased the truck forward. After the hitch was released from the trailer, it was just a matter of pulling the head off and reattaching the rod.

By the way, if you are ever in New Orleans and need RV repairs, call Northshore RV Repairs at 985 345-2225 or 985 969-2465. Gary was friendly, professional, knowledgeable and willing to work Saturday night, if necessary, to get us fixed. As it was, we didn't need to get unhooked that evening, so I suggested he come on Monday instead. He was at our rig at 7 am, ready to go. He is fully licensed and does insurance and warranty work as well.

A happy ending to our troubles, Jerry
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