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Subject Topic: MY CARAVAN FELL OFF!
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Message posted by stu196930/4/2020 at 3:29pm
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Hello to the community.

This is my first post and I'm afraid it's to ask about a problem!

Some time ago I had an accident where I thought I had hitched my caravan and upon driving away the caravan came off the tow ball. I believe that I had hitched the caravan correctly because the locking leaver (Winterhoff GMBH) was in the down/locked position.

This is the first time I have experienced this so can anybody shed any light on how the lever could be in the locked position without the tow ball being in the hitch properly?

I have been asked by an insurance company to provide a report on the prove (or otherwise) that the hitch is faulty, can anybody suggest how I arrange this?

FYI, I have not been able to get the handle in to the locked position without the tow ball being in the hitch correctly

Iím looking forward to your replies

Thank you
Stuart

Message posted by cliffbrown via mobile 30/4/2020 at 6:20pm
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Don't know about winterhoff but I did the same with an alko hitch it came detached going over a sleeping policeman leaving the site luckily not on the road, perhaps a momentary lapse of concentration, that's what I put mine down to, a neighbor was talking to me as I was hitching up

Message posted by tango5530/4/2020 at 7:13pm
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The best solution is to obtain a towball and insert it into the caravan hitch socket and see if the locking/release mechanism works okay when it engages on the ball. If it works effectively the ball should lock solid without any movement. This is how to test the internal friction pads as well because if the towball spins at the slightest movement then the pads need replacing. However, even if the pads have worn it should be impossible for the towball hitch to disengage once it has locked.
When you connect the caravan hitch to the car in future, it is best to wind the jockey wheel down to the ground then as you continue to wind the rear of the towing vehicle should lift as proof that the locking mechanism is properly engaged. This is the only thing you can do as proof that the hitch is in proper working order.

Message posted by morepints30/4/2020 at 11:15pm
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Hi Stuart, and welcome to the forum. Has your caravan been serviced recently, by a certified caravan engineer? In which case you will have been issued with a report, which I believe should include a report on the state of the hitch, and any anti- snake device. If not, it would be worth getting it done for your own peace of mind at the least; you will also have evidence from a Ďcompetent personí to present to your insurer.

You can find a mobile engineer here https://www.mobilecaravanengineers.co.uk/find-an-engineer/

Message posted by Paul_B01/5/2020 at 8:22am
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I've never known a Winterhoff handle close without it being on the ball properly, I know the AlKo can but not a winterhoff, was the towball new or could it be secondhand and badly worn. I consider the Winterhoff as the better choice in stabilisers.

I should add that its always good practice to wind the jockey wheel down and check that the hitch is connected properly by lifting the car slightly, even with a Winterhoff where the handle drops to the close position when fitted properly, prior to locking down.

Post last edited on 01/05/2020 08:28:56

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Message posted by birdman10101/5/2020 at 8:53am
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Last post good tip. When on wind jockey wheel down if it lifts motor you know it is securely locked on.

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Message posted by blueexpo9701/5/2020 at 9:41am
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Always wind the jockey down to lift the car up slightly, pretty fool proof.

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Message posted by billy01/5/2020 at 11:47am
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The usual reason for caravan dropping off hitch soon after moving off is that closed hitch is sitting on top of ball & not on it due to hitch not being lined up with ball when attempting to hitch & failure to check before moving off. Hence the suggested check to ensure you are properly hitched although a visual check will tell you hitch is onto ball & not on top of it.

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Message posted by Acornis01/5/2020 at 2:58pm
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Quote: Originally posted by cliffbrown on 30/4/2020
Don't know about winterhoff but I did the same with an alko hitch it came detached going over a sleeping policeman leaving the site luckily not on the road, perhaps a momentary lapse of concentration, that's what I put mine down to, a neighbor was talking to me as I was hitching up



Snap.
Some years ago the same happened to me. I put it down to the awful weather when I was hitching up and that the jockey wheel couldn't retract just enough for the hitch to engage. I always wind the jockey wheel down now after hitching to check the car lifts.

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Message posted by Ancient Uncle01/5/2020 at 3:10pm
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Been there, got the T-shirt.
We had turned into a very narrow road as instructed to approach the camp site. Only when we had turned could we see the notice ROAD CLOSED. There was a large lorry blocking the road for workmen. No way we could turn the outfit while coupled, so had to unhitch. A lot of hassle trying to turn and re-hitch. Another lorry arrived and chasing us to hurry. (I did moan about the stupid positioning of the notice)

Of course, hurrying to get hitched, obviously something went wrong. We were OK driving the 300/400 yds to alternative access road, but hit a cattle grid at the entrance. Suddenly, caravan was detached.

As this was now the only access road to the village, there was a quick build up of vehicles. As I started to try to re-hitch the motorist behind ran up with a very helpful question, "how long will it take you,we are in a hurry?' and then went back to his car. Stop and help, of course not, he was in too much of a hurry.

Learnt my lesson with that and always careful to check, no matter what the urgency may be.

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Message posted by richardandjo201001/5/2020 at 4:18pm
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I don't know if this applies to your hitch but with the Alko ones some towballs are too shallow to enable the hitch to sit fully home, these are usually the bolt on type of balls, if you don't have the swan neck type on your car maybe this is the reason why it fell off.

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Message posted by MITIE101/5/2020 at 8:00pm
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hi i do the same thing as tango hitch up and wind the jockey wheel up its works all the time cheers .tom

Message posted by Paul_B01/5/2020 at 8:17pm
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The thing is, its usually impossible for the Winterhoff to close unless its fitted properly, unlike the Al-Ko.

Message posted by Paul_B01/5/2020 at 8:18pm
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Quote: Originally posted by richardandjo2010 on 01/5/2020
I don't know if this applies to your hitch but with the Alko ones some towballs are too shallow to enable the hitch to sit fully home, these are usually the bolt on type of balls, if you don't have the swan neck type on your car maybe this is the reason why it fell off.



its not the same with the winterhoff

Message posted by tango5501/5/2020 at 10:14pm
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Quote: Originally posted by richardandjo2010 on 01/5/2020
I don't know if this applies to your hitch but with the Alko ones some towballs are too shallow to enable the hitch to sit fully home, these are usually the bolt on type of balls, if you don't have the swan neck type on your car maybe this is the reason why it fell off.



The type of towball you are referring to is called a flange towball which is mounted via 2 x 16mm. nuts and bolts which is the same as mine but strictly has to be an AL-KO type flange towball to allow the greater distance from the bumper plus it has a deeper undercut directly under the ball to accommodate the stabiliser hitch so it doesn't have to be a swan neck type by any means. However, it's a valid point that you raise because if the OP is using a standard type flange towball with a stabiliser hitch then the caravan WILL definitely disengage when it starts to pivot.


Message posted by Ancient Uncle01/5/2020 at 11:39pm
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Quote: Originally posted by tango55 on 01/5/2020
Quote: Originally posted by richardandjo2010 on 01/5/2020
I don't know if this applies to your hitch but with the Alko ones some towballs are too shallow to enable the hitch to sit fully home, these are usually the bolt on type of balls, if you don't have the swan neck type on your car maybe this is the reason why it fell off.



The type of towball you are referring to is called a flange towball which is mounted via 2 x 16mm. nuts and bolts which is the same as mine but strictly has to be an AL-KO type flange towball to allow the greater distance from the bumper plus it has a deeper undercut directly under the ball to accommodate the stabiliser hitch so it doesn't have to be a swan neck type by any means. However, it's a valid point that you raise because if the OP is using a standard type flange towball with a stabiliser hitch then the caravan WILL definitely disengage when it starts to pivot.





Which is why we had a discussion with the tow bar fitter to ensure we had the correct type. Which is a swan neck anyway. I willingly admit, when ours came adrift it was purely carelessness while we were being hassled.



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