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Old 08-10-2014, 10:49 AM   #1
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Lost locking pin while underway

Just wondering if anyone else has had this happen to them. We've had the Stirling All Terrain 6K Lbs hitch for about 7 1/2 years now. We tow a Honda CRV with a Blue Ox base plate, and thus the Blue Ox knuckles added as attachment points to the CRV.

I use Blue Ox locking pins.

We've a little over 45K miles of towing (same bar and toad, two RV's). About 3 years ago, during a stop walk around inspection, I found the lock had come off of the pin. The pin was starting to work its way out, but still held. (Wrapped lots of duct tape around it to keep the pin in, as we had a short way to go to get home.)

Yesterday, we had the pin fall out of the driver side of the knuckle. At speed on the highway. Slowly worked our way over to the side of the road and came to a gradual as stop as possible.

I assume that the lock came off again, though I suppose it's possible that a pin broke, bur more probable the lock popped off again.

Ever since the first time the lock part of the pin was missing, I do a careful check that the lock had 'engaged' on the pin... It's part of our normal hook up, and also 9 times out of 10, crossed checked by the DW too.

Has anyone else lost the lock off of a towing pin like this?

We were lucky, as no car damage, and I had one remaining spare. But, the arm that had not lost it's pin is now slightly bent enough, to keep me from being able to push the rod in all of the way in, so the cover can not go on while not towing. It looks OK, and as we dodged highway trucks flying by us at full speed, we were able to get things re-hooked up, and back underway.

Not sure if I'll send it in for repair (if Roadmaster does repair these?), or go ahead and replace the bar. Without xraying, no way to know if other damage is done, so a bit suspect.

Sorry so long winded, as it is a simple question. Have others lost their lock off of tow pins? (This one happened to be a Blue Ox.)

Best to all,
Smitty
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Old 08-10-2014, 12:04 PM   #2
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Smitty, that is why I use padlocks, plus, using them prevents people from messing with the pins. Unless you do a walk around every time you stop you have no idea who may have come by and flipped the ring that is supposed to be holding the pin in.

Jerry
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Old 08-10-2014, 01:10 PM   #3
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Had the pin come out of the receiver once.. Will not type what I said when I saw what happened next.

Blue ox was nice though and replaced the tow bar no charge (Seriously they should have charged).
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Old 08-10-2014, 02:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wa8yxm View Post
Had the pin come out of the receiver once.. Will not type what I said when I saw what happened next.

Blue ox was nice though and replaced the tow bar no charge (Seriously they should have charged).
Blue Ox has a great customer service attitude. They do what is right for the customer. Sometimes even if you are out of warranty they will comp you on parts.

The locking pins are too iffy. Like someone said they can easily be messed with when you are stopped. I use locks (padlocks) on mine. If my car is going to come unhitched it's going to be because of something catastropic and not because of an oversight.
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Old 08-10-2014, 02:08 PM   #5
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I know this is obvious but the locking pins [wire loop, not the inbedded ball type]close one of two ways--one way, by design, is more secure than the other. 13 years on the road and 10 years on a dairy farm--never seen a wire loop locking pin fall off---huh????
PS--pad-locks are indeed secure but I'd hate to try an unhook them if time were of the essence--like an engine fire???
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Old 08-10-2014, 02:10 PM   #6
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Thanks to you both. My pins are the BLue Ox kind with the Round Locking end that slips onto the pin. The key when opening the lock, opens a some teeth that bite into a grove around the end of the pin.

I tried to look at it as 'Well, it's only lost the locking part twice.'. But then I caught myself and said 'Once is too often, let alone twice.'

We don't abuse our equipment. I inspect and clean them frequently. I keep the lock part of the pin well taken care of with graphite, and keep the plastic caps over it too.

I think I have the simple pins, with one end angled and a hole in the other, at home in my RV cabinet. I'll look into the two padlocks and these pins, as an alternative.

Will have to wait until Monday to call and see if Roadmaster rebuilds these, and if so, for how much...

Appreciated your responses.... And yes, it was a puckering moment. I never felt a thing in the coach, and my periodic sweeps of the review camera had not picked it up. A car passed me in the left lane, and both the front and rear passengers had their windows down waving and pointing to me that I had some kind of problem. I first checked my TST to see if any of the tires had a low condition (no alarm had gone off, but that was my first thought). Then looked in the review mirror to see if i was spitting fluid out, though all the dash gauges were where the belonged. Saw the CRV off to the right of center, and knew something had come loose!

No one hurt, hope that my pin or lock part, did not bounce up and damage someones car. Heck, I had been passed within the last few miles before this happened, by 5 guys touring on their motorcycles. That really could have hurt someone!

Best to all,
Smitty
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Old 08-10-2014, 02:15 PM   #7
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I tried the locking end caps once but found that the pins tend to rotate in the hitch and eventually wallow out the pin openings--when back to simple wire clip pins....
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Old 08-10-2014, 03:50 PM   #8
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Old Scout, that's why I have insurance, besides if the engine were to catch fire there would not be anything I could do about it from 38 foot away. The rear of my coach would be consumed before I could do anything about it. As an example of what can happen before you know it, we had a blowout on the left front of our toad the sun was reflecting off of the windshield,of the toad, so bad I could not see it in the moniter. As a result the entire wiring harness under the hood of my towed was removed by flapping rubber and the wheel was almost ground down to nothing. Had I been able to see what was happening I would have been able to stop sooner and possibly, not likely, avoided all the damage. My insurance paid the entire repair bill which was over $5,000. Short of installing a fire suppression system in the engine bay, probably not enough room anyway, there is not a whole a lot I can do about it. Even with the recalls done on my refrigerator I am still more worried about it catching on fire than I am my engine.

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Old 08-10-2014, 04:22 PM   #9
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The pins we have, are like this:

http://www.carid.com/images/brand/blue-ox/bx88101.jpg

We make sure we hear it 'click' then also pull back on it and twist it, to make sure it's on...

We are just finishing a road trip to Alaska, and about 8K miles, and about 500 of those were slow and rough! So, perhaps more strain than normal on these set of pins. But, I know they were locked...

Smitty
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Old 08-10-2014, 04:30 PM   #10
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I'm a big fan of padlocks too. I figure the risk of someone messing with the pins or the pin working it's own way out are greater than a fire in my toad. In fact if I thought the chances of a fire were that great I wouldn't tow a car.
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Old 08-11-2014, 07:17 PM   #11
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I went to a recommended Eugene, OR trailer hitch supply company today. The sell both Blue Ox and Roadmaster gear, in relation to Toad towing. When I explained that I felt the pins locking mechanism had failed, and the pin had worked it way out - he walked over to a counter an picked up a locking pin like I have and asked 'Is this what you use?. I said 'Yes.'. And he said 'How old were the pins?'. And I said 'Over 7 years old.' He then said 'You've been on borrowed time...'.

The locking 'clamps' springs get dirt/dust/grime in them over time. And, the clamps springs loose some of their spring too. He told me even though I hear it click, and then pulled and it did not come off. That it was highly probable that only a small portion of the locking 'clamps' prongs, had caught in the pins groove. And the strain of driving with the toad behind it, was enough to work the pin back and forth enough until the smaller amount of clamping prongs either broke or just worked their way out of the groove.

He then walked over to a wall with pins hanging on it, and says here is the only pins with locks I will sell, other then rods with holes for padlocks.

My wife and I talked it over last night, and since we'll be moving to a heavier toad next year anyway, we're just going to go ahead now and replace the 6K Lbs Stirling All Terrain with the 10K Lbs unit.

I may still call Roadmaster to get an idea of what they would charge to rebuild my 7 year old unit. If it's not too much, I'll do so and then let my BIL have this unit for a coach he is going to buy later this year. He'll be towing a Suzuki Jeep, so it will be great for that duty.

Oh, and when we get the new Stirling, we'll also be getting the new locking pins this place recommends! (Can't recall the manufacturer of them, sorry!)

Best to all,
Smitty
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