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Subject Topic: Unhitched Caravan accident in Colchester
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Message posted by iank01 on 26/10/2013 at 12:55pm
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Quote: Originally posted by jayc001 on 25/10/2013
I've towed lots of American trailers and often wondered why many don't have break away cables. Instead they have heavy duty chains that should the trailer become unhitched the trailer still has a secondary fixing to the vehicle. Should it come unhitched I suspect the trailer makes a mess of the rear of the vehicle.

Some do have breakway cables though but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

That said American trailers are far superior to Euro spec's one in most ways.


In South Africa we had heavy duty chains on the caravan that were looped over the tow ball. Basically it could come unhitched and you would not know except that the car would be jerked around. No damage to any one else. A breakaway cable is a stupid useless outdated dangerous piece of equipment

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Message posted by Jack+Jon on 26/10/2013 at 3:36pm
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I would think an unhitched caravan still attached by a chain strong enough not to break would cause more problems than it solves, it could well cause the car to crash with it. Provided caravan running gear is working as it should the breakaway cable should apply caravan brakes & stop it ok.

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Message posted by beechy on 27/10/2013 at 6:51pm
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Quote: Originally posted by Jack+Jon on 26/10/2013
I would think an unhitched caravan still attached by a chain strong enough not to break would cause more problems than it solves, it could well cause the car to crash with it. Provided caravan running gear is working as it should the breakaway cable should apply caravan brakes & stop it ok.



But without brake lights to warn other drivers that it is stopping, so still potentially dangerous

Message posted by Jack+Jon on 27/10/2013 at 8:37pm
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A caravan unhitching itself while being towed on the road is a bit more than potentially dangerous. But I would think a breakaway cable working as it should might make the situation slightly less potentially dangerous than the hitch dragging on the ground while still chained to the towing vehicle.

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Message posted by iank01 on 28/10/2013 at 8:36am
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Quote: Originally posted by Jack+Jon on 27/10/2013
A caravan unhitching itself while being towed on the road is a bit more than potentially dangerous. But I would think a breakaway cable working as it should might make the situation slightly less potentially dangerous than the hitch dragging on the ground while still chained to the towing vehicle.



The chain is supposed to prevent the hitch from dragging on the ground and damaging the road surface.

Message posted by Jack+Jon on 28/10/2013 at 9:43am
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Quote: Originally posted by iank01 on 28/10/2013
The chain is supposed to prevent the hitch from dragging on the ground and damaging the road surface.


I think one is not really comparing like with like here. It might do that on a large/heavy vehicle/caravan most likely seen in the US etc but it is not really applicable to UK car/caravans.

Ie...



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Message posted by The 2 Tops on 28/10/2013 at 10:56am
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The worrying thing is: how does the van become unhitched if it has been correctly attached, or how can it be incorrectly attached without being obvious?
When hitching, my Al-ko stabiliser lever is in the raised position, and the hitch itself lifted to 'lock' in the up position.
As the van is lowered onto the towball, on engagement the hitch lever snaps into place, and the stabiliser lever is then pushed down to complete the process.
Yes, I do wind the jockey wheel to check that it is trying to lift the car, but I do find it difficult to see how incorrect hitching could happen if the hitch lever has automatically snapped onto the towball.
Surely the problem must be one of excessive wear and/or incompatibility of hitch and towball.
Bertie.

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The 2 Tops

Message posted by Jack+Jon on 28/10/2013 at 11:24am
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I think there is a suggestion here that a correctly coupled Alko stabiliser hitch could lever itself partly off a non compatable flange ball at extreme articulation, possibly, for example if there was a sudden steep slope with sharp bend leaving campsite with caravan detaching itself once speeding up on the road. If this happens the front of the hitch can be smashed & it is not unusual to see Alko stab. hitches with some damage to front where they have obviously been used with non Alko flange ball.

It would be interesting to hear if any poster has personal experience of this.

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Message posted by The 2 Tops on 28/10/2013 at 12:00pm
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Take your point, Jack+Jon. Does make you wonder why people don't fully familiarise themselves with what is, and what isn't, the correct equipment before they reach the disaster stage!
There's enough easily obtained info out there for anyone prepared to take the trouble to check.
Bertie.

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The 2 Tops

Message posted by White Rose on 28/10/2013 at 10:56pm
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Quote: Originally posted by The 2 Tops on 28/10/2013
Take your point, Jack+Jon. Does make you wonder why people don't fully familiarise themselves with what is, and what isn't, the correct equipment before they reach the disaster stage!
There's enough easily obtained info out there for anyone prepared to take the trouble to check.
Bertie.



It's that thing about unknown unknowns, isn't it? It's obvious when you know about it, but otherwise you probably just see a ball and a socket and assume it's just as straightforward as applying Exhibit A to Exhibit B. No need to read up on it, there's nothing more to know. There's no real reason why the thought that there could be more than one type would occur.
Many people only discover sites like this after things have gone wrong!


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