It's No Joke

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April 21, 2011

By Fred Wilson, Stockton, California

While you’re parked in some areas, certain people think it’s fun to release your fifth-wheel hitch, which will cause your trailer to tear up your truck bed and tailgate when you drive away. To stop this, I replaced the bolt in my fifth-wheel hitch with an eyebolt on the pull handle. I keep a padlock between the eyebolt and the adjustment bracket.

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  1. Sledgehammer

    Had this happen to a friend. He has no sense of humor and decided to glue some razor blades to a larger grip to slip over the original one. Once he’s hooked up he slips on the “sharp grip”. About 6 months later some joker tried to unhook the trailer, and not only left his fingerprints, he left his fingertips !!!!!! Guess he probably won’t try that again. Those ” lockable pins” are called grade 8 bolts & nylock nuts. Takes longer to remove hitch, but that’s the point, most pranksters won’t take the time.

  2. Debbie

    We were just at a campground in MO and had been hooked up and ready to pull out our 42′ Toyhauler when the 5th wheel became detached from the hitch and landed on our brand new 2011 Dodge Ram! We had not been away from the trailer since we hooked up, and we had already pulled up 2-3′ so we could remove the chocks. Our 20K Valley Power Extreme hitch was locked…but all we can think of is that is malfunctioned. Any thoughts or suggestions? I’m really nervous now to pull this again, afraid something else will happen. I’m also afraid now that going down the road something will break and the 5th wheel will detach and go straight through the cab of the truck. Can anyone help ease my fears…or should I get a different hitch? Should I trade it in? Should I just stop traveling? Any suggestions? Thanks

  3. Tara

    Wow! I am new to RV’ing, and have a Hybrid Travel Trailer, but I am amazed (and disgusted) that people would mess with other people like this!

  4. John

    What type of locks can you get to make sure your hitch pins stay in place? We were told early on to make sure to put a lock on the pull bar that releases your trailer from the hitch. Now I worry about the hitch pins.

  5. Larry

    Ours is a fifth wheel, and I have found some of my pins missing a time or two. I figured the perp who took them got scared off before finishing the dastardly deed. I always padlock the little thing that keeps the release lever from being pulled because during my career as an 18 wheeler driver, I had heard about idiots who pull the release lever on rigs parked in truckstops for a prank(?) and found mine pulled once. That is the first thing I check on my walk-around pre-trip before leaving a truckstop. Can you imagine the headache that would cause an unfortunate driver who didn’t catch the release lever being pulled when he/she attempted to leave? a number of years ago a trailer came off a truck going down the Interstate here on I-80 and took the top off a car along with the occupant’s heads. Sometimes after backing into a parking space, I’ll put it into first gear and set the brakes on my trailer and give it a good hard momentary pull with the trailer brakes locked and shut down like that. It puts strain on the fifth wheel jaws and you can’t pull the release lever until the strain is released by reversing while the trailer brakes are locked. It works with my fifth wheel camper too when wife & I stop for a restaurant meal or when we’re going to be away from our rig for awhile.

  6. If I followed this advice, it wouldn’t take me so long to hook up and go. I suggest a pre-haul checklist that is to remind the RV-er of things that have to be done before starting the engine. Think up the details that have to happen from the inside of the rig to the to the door, then from the aft of the rig to the hitch. Save the hitch for last and inspect it thoroughly.
    Those of us whom use the pull behind rigs like I do, still need to do the same procedure. The difference will be inspecting the equalizing hitch for missing gear, and other damaged parts. I generally put some marine grease on the main hitch ball, the sway bar ends, and the contact points on the spring arms. After each pull, the grease is cleaned off until the next pull. The grease saves the ball and such from being galled and makes it do turns more smoothly.
    It never hurts to have things locked down when the rig leaves your sight, and have things around that make noise when someone touches the rig ( or tries to ).

  7. G Finley

    I get really upset every time I think about this happening to us. They took all of our pins that held the hitch in place. Fortuntally, my husband had bought extra pins. The people who do this do not realize that 99.99 percent of the time, they leave fingerprints. Also, the way we were sitting in the spot, if we had started out of our camp spot, the camper would have turned over — possibility of the camper landing on a walking family and killing them. With the Grace of God, we discovered what they had done to our hitch before we put the truck in drive to go. NOW, as a result , our hitch is totally locked down all the time , but, we always check. Another hint, always go to the bathroom, before you start hitching up — try not to leave your camper alone at this stage – that is when it happened to us !!! And it was noon when we were leaving. But, we find more nice people in the campgrounds then we will ever find bad ones !!! Happy Camping to all and always be careful.