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Old 04-23-2021, 07:22 PM   #1
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Check your hitch

Yesterday we were in Key West eating Key Lime Pie, today we departed for the Everglades. I was driving 55-60 on US RT-1 when I looked at the rear view camera and couldn’t see the car, but I saw some idiot trying to pass on my right hand side, down the breakdown lane, then I realized that “idiot” was my car! It drifted off to the right until it hit the berm where the tow bar dug in causing the car to raise up and the tow bar to flip under the car. It proceeded forward and slammed into the 8’ tall deer fence coming to a halt. The air bags never went off! Oh yes, the “Tow Defender” protected the hood from further damage. The last picture shows how the toad was hooked up prior To the incident.

I discovered that what happened was the receiver is bolted to the frame on both sides. Those tabs were broken allowing the receiver to disconnect from the frame. Both safety chains were attached to the receiver as was the break away switch cable. The picture below shows a “clean” frame where the receiver used to be!

LESSON S LEARNED - do not connect your break away cable to the same place as the safety cables. And I would not attach the safety cables to the receiver points, if the receiver breaks away from the frame your brake system will NOT stop the car (it was still ready to work after the car was on the flat bed, the plug was never pulled).

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Old 04-23-2021, 09:27 PM   #2
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Very unfortunate, very lucky that was the only damage
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Old 04-24-2021, 09:24 AM   #3
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WOW--good news is no one was hurt! Good point about safety cable and break away lanyard attachment points on the RV....along the same lines, this issue also applies to the towed vehicle too. A failed baseplate, frame or bumper could result in a breakaway with no Aux. brake deployment....Only half the solution but I like the idea that BO provides secondary safety cables to secure the baseplate to a frame cross-member....
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Old 04-24-2021, 09:43 AM   #4
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Wow, glad no one was injured, that could have been so much worse.
This is exactly why, in addition to safety chains, I run a "last chance" safety cable from both frames. Still a good idea to check the hitch and baseplate every trip though. Our hitch says "Country RV" on it, but has no weight ratings stamped anywhere. Anyone know if these were installed by WRV, or was that the new owners responsibility?
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Old 04-24-2021, 12:00 PM   #5
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By 2003, the hitch was installed OEM by WRV and was rated for 10k lbs....don't know if there were any differences before 2003....
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Old 04-24-2021, 12:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Scout View Post
By 2003, the hitch was installed OEM by WRV and was rated for 10k lbs....don't know if there were any differences before 2003....
Thanks. I figured ours was installed after delivered, since it has a decal saying Country RV, somewhere in California. It's hell for stout with 1/2" plate frame mounts and 3/8" construction but no ratings to be found anywhere.
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Old 04-25-2021, 12:37 PM   #7
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Check your hitch

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Scout View Post
WOW--good news is no one was hurt! Good point about safety cable and break away lanyard attachment points on the RV....along the same lines, this issue also applies to the towed vehicle too. A failed baseplate, frame or bumper could result in a breakaway with no Aux. brake deployment....Only half the solution but I like the idea that BO provides secondary safety cables to secure the baseplate to a frame cross-member....


Dean, I am convinced God was watching out for us and we were extremely lucky, if the break away cable had been hooked to the frame it would have activated the brake system. The car would have come to an immediate halt in the middle of a 2 lane divided (by a 4’ tall Concrete Jersey barrier) road. With the traffic on that road the cars following us at 55 mph would have rear ended the car and someone could have been REALLY hurt. As is the 4th car back was a county sheriff who stopped and ran to the car to see if any one was hurt. When I got to the car he had an extremely confused look on his face because the car was empty!

The break was at the tabs that attach the hitch receiver to the frame, the steel was torn. I still have half the tab on the coach, the rest was still attached to the tow bar! When it let loose, the tow bar, receiver, safety and break away cable all dropped to the asphalt with the car pushing it down the road at 55. Because the road had a slight slope to the outside the car started drifting toward the shoulder. When I looked at the rear view camera there was NO car there, so then I looked at the mirror and there it was. It hit the dirt and the tow bar, et all, dug into the dirt which caused the front end to raise up, the tow bar et all folded back under the car, puncturing a hole in the oil pan, but slowing the car drastically. It then impacted the fence which acted just like the arresting barrier on an aircraft carrier, although at an angle! The air drags were never activated because it was such a slow impact. The tow bar was bent, big time.

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In the first pic you can see the broken tabs of the chassis mounting plates. In the second one you can see the bent tow bar ram and that the safety and break away cables are still attached!

I would suggest all Alpine owners inspect this plate, look for cracks and get them fixed before you tow another mile. This could be a one off failure, or it could be the first of a bigger issue. Because of the failure method it is going to be hard to do much more analysis, the receiver plate from the coach was pretty well torn up by the pavement and crash.

This pic shows the mounting plate for the RoadMaster Guardian in the center and on the right the attachment for the RoadMaster Tow Defender. The metal sticking up on the left side of the pic shows the broken tabs.

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Old 04-25-2021, 01:58 PM   #8
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Thanks for sharing

Thanks for sharing that. Could have been way worse. Sorry for your damages but glad everything came out as it did. Ill be doing some inspecting.
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Old 04-25-2021, 06:33 PM   #9
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Dave--very interesting--really appreciate your explanation of what happened. Need to check the receiver hitch on my 2003 ASAP--don't recall that it looks exactly like yours but its hard to get a frame of reference on your hitch with all the damage and distortion from the accident. Have to agree--divine intervention may have been involved--glad you all are safe!
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Old 04-25-2021, 06:48 PM   #10
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Dean, it may be a little hard to see, and out of focus, but here is a pic of the passenger side frame where the receiver connected to it.Click image for larger version

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Old 04-25-2021, 06:53 PM   #11
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Thanks Dave--on my way to the barn to inspect mine right now.....
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Old 04-25-2021, 07:00 PM   #12
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Check your hitch

Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Scout View Post
Thanks Dave--on my way to the barn to inspect mine right now.....


I think many of us are inspecting toad receiver connections. We use the BlueOx system which has two individual receivers, each one bolted to the frame rail. Even if one receiver were to break free, the other one is independent. I find it scary that there are systems that connect to the cross steel.Click image for larger version

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Old 04-25-2021, 07:04 PM   #13
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Scott--you got a picture of that BO double-receiver config.?
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Old 04-25-2021, 07:22 PM   #14
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OK--Dave's issue is that the receiver frame on the Alpine failed--not the towed vehicle. Also, the two pull tabs on the BO are very common but they connect to the same baseplate or frame ends that can fail....that is why I like the secondary cables that BO uses to secure the baseplate or independent pull tabs to a frame cross-member.
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