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Old 08-14-2009, 08:09 AM   #1
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Being too comfortable causes problem!

We fulltimed for four years and took a hiatus for the last 8 years. About a year ago, we re-entered the lifestyle and bought a Safari Cheetah 38 PDQ. For the past year while still working, we took short trips and did not tow a toad as we no longer owned a towable vehicle.

In preparation for retirement and extended travel in December, we bought a new Ford Flex and set it up for towing four down. This last monday, we hooked it all up to travel to the keys for 10 days of fun, snorkeling and fishing. I hooked it all up and breezed through the check-outs before leaving, I had done it hundreds of times before.

About 70 miles from our destination my wife says there is something clunking, I said I will pull over as soon as I can. Then we here the dreaded honk, honk from a passing car. I turn on the rearview camera and there is the car swaying in the wind. I have no choice, so I brake the motorhome and stop the car with the motorhome. When I get out, the car is up against the bumper with the tow bar under the motorhome.

The bar drove through the light hook-up smashing the new $125.00 transmittor for my new TowMate tow light. The car smashed into the receiver in the hitch and punched a hole it to the car and smashed the fog and driving lights and broke the front clip away on both sides from the fenders about $3,000.00 damage. In the coupler on the end of the tow bar still hanging is the ball from the receiver. THE NUT ON THE BALL HAD COME OFF.

The same receiver and ball that I had used for several years towing boats, cars. etc. had come loose. Being to comfortable with what I knew and not checking everthing caused a major expense, a lot of dissapointment and could have seriouly injured someone.

Doing it too often may be a saving grace or a wicked curse, at least, I learned the important lesson again. Check it all every time!
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:41 AM   #2
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Jim
Sorry about your troubles, but Thanks for the heads up about checking all of the elements of the towing system, not what parts you just hook up each time. Sometimes we have to get down and dirty.
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:44 AM   #3
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Jim,
Those are the kinds of stories that I don't like hearing about. I think it reminds me of me. Now if your insurance company will treat it as a non-moving violation you will be better off.

Darn! Bad, sad, news.

May the rest of your trip go without a hitch. (Ooops! Not that kind of hitch.)
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Old 08-14-2009, 08:54 AM   #4
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Ouch..... Sorry Jim but I hope everything works out for your trip next time it sounded like fun.
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Old 08-14-2009, 03:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
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Jim,
Those are the kinds of stories that I don't like hearing about. I think it reminds me of me. Now if your insurance company will treat it as a non-moving violation you will be better off.

Darn! Bad, sad, news.

May the rest of your trip go without a hitch. (Ooops! Not that kind of hitch.)
Thanks all. Having a great time in the Keys despite the mishap. Geico insured both the motorhome and the car and they are not considerint it as a moving or at fault accident. They are trying to figure out which policy covers and which deductible to charge.
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Old 08-14-2009, 04:57 PM   #6
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Jim, I'm sorry to hear about your problem and hope that your resolution through the insurance company comes quickly.

I was a bit more fortunate with mine, but I had a "nut off the ball" experience, too. Ours was with a Ford Econoline van pulling a 3,400lb sailboat through Vicksburg, MS at 4:30am. I knew the second that it happened because both side rear view mirrors lit up with sparks as the metal prop under the trailer bit into the asphalt. I managed to get everything off the road, locate an all night autoparts dealer for a new ball and get back on the road in 45 minutes. Total damage: $50 welding on the trailer (it was just a "V" to set the trailer on inside of the jack wheel) and $450 to the right rear door on the van. Now, I never tow anything without checking the ball. Problems like that can happen very quickly.
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Old 08-14-2009, 10:01 PM   #7
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Sorry to hear of your ordeal, quite scary. Wow, now I am checking my hitch balls for sure. Haven't ever had a loose ball yet, probably because I use either an 18" cresent wrench or a 24" pipe wrench to tighten it up. But I am still going to check.
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Old 09-01-2009, 08:00 PM   #8
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Hi Jim. How did the repairs workout? Hope everything came out to your satisfaction. I have a white Flex and every little knick still hurts. Tom
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Old 09-01-2009, 09:18 PM   #9
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All is fixed. I was surprised at the price, they had to replace the front bumper and they added extra time for the special 3 step paint color, time to remove parts from the bad bumper (fog lights, etc) and re-install on the newly painted bumper, time to cut out the slots for the Roadmaster mounting brackets and time for them to reinstall the breakaway box. Total bill was $962.00 and Geico waived my deductible because the car was considered in transport.

The MH damage was limited to the transmitter for my towmate lights ($125.00) and the 7-pin vehicle side plug and harness ($29.00). The deductible was 500.00, so I just paid for these myself.

Could have been a lot worse. By the way, Geico suggested one of their certified repair facilities and they did and excellent job, paint match and all.
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Old 09-02-2009, 07:29 AM   #10
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Jimmy, glad everything turned out OK. You can never check things too much. My wife gets a bit put-out at me when we are hitching up, because, I go around the rig 2 or 3 times making sure we have everything up, down, clipped or whatever. She also gets upset when I haul something in the bed of the truck and all of the rope and tie downs I use...but you know what, so far I have never had a load come loose from the truck....

Must be an engineer thing...measure 2 or 3 times and then measure it again to be sure before you cut.

Ken
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Old 09-02-2009, 08:07 AM   #11
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It may not have helped in this case but our rule is.........
If the toad is hooked up - the rear view camera is on - day or night.
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Old 09-02-2009, 08:23 AM   #12
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Quote:
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It may not have helped in this case but our rule is.........
If the toad is hooked up - the rear view camera is on - day or night.
Us, too, but I have to be honest that our particular type of camera is of little value in low/no light situations. I can see the lights on the toad at night but believe that it would be difficult to tell if it were swaying. I'm not sure that the camera would be of any value backup up then either.
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Old 09-02-2009, 10:13 AM   #13
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Install a set of cheap clear fog lights under or on your rear bumper. Also install a switch on your dash. You can use them to see your toad while driving - don't leave them on or you will irritate the drivers behind you. You can also use them as docking lights when parking the rig at night.
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Old 09-04-2009, 11:18 PM   #14
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Another person on here related a story of having the whole receiver hitch come loose on him. So before I even think of hooking up the new jeep, and because it's an Alpine MH from WRV, I am going to crawl under it and loosen each nut/bolt holding it the receiver hitch on, put on red locktite, then retourque each one of them because WRV's quality control was horrible. Then once I finish that, I will know that every bolt and nut from the receiver hitch back to the end of the jeep has been checked, because I also installed the baseplates, so I already know those are correct. There is not ball assembly on the Blue Ox Aventa Tow Bar, but since I have never hooked it up before, the little lady and I are going to check everything three times before we move the coach one foot. And yes, I know to never back up with the toad attached.
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