Friday, September 09, 2005

Ever Lose a Ball Hitch at 60 MPH?

Now I can say I have. I was driving Pete's pickup truck with a U-Haul trailer attached to go get 8 oak doors that were in the Twin Cities. Since Friday is my day off, that's when I would get them. I thought I'd be smart and drive halfway on Thursday night, and stay in Mason City, IA. I was 30 minutes from stopping for the night when I felt a clunk, following by loud banging. I was certain I'd blown a tire until I looked in the rear view mirror to see the trailer bouncing up and down and swininging from side to side. (I was going downhill at the time. I managed to get the truck slowed down and pull over to the side of the road. I discovered that the lock washer and nut had dropped off the bottom of the trailer hitch, and the ball had slid forward allowing the tongue of the trailer to slip off. Basically I was towing the trailer by the emergency chains.

Another motorist had pulled off with me and said he had seen the trailer start to bounce. I called 911 to get someone out, and to call a wrecker to see if they had any ball hitches. The other motorist realized I was fine and took off. Ten minutes later, Ernie from the
Nashua, IA, police department showed up. I was about a mile beyond his small town, and he got the call from Chickasaw County dispatch. I explained what happened and he looked. His comment was that his experiences with ball hitches was that you can never take them off because they are usually rusted together. We waited for the wrecker driver to come. Ernie was great company, we talked about his kids, schools, and what happens in a town that only has one officer on duty at a time. We wondered how many vehicles were passing us that had ball hitches that we could have borrowed. The tow man came in his van 90 minutes later with 5 different ball hitches, he apologized profusely for not coming sooner, but two tire salesmen from Minneapolis had come down and he didn’t want to be rude to them. 5 minutes and 40 bucks total later I was back in business, and on my way.

I was very lucky in that A) the hitch came loose in a relatively lightly travelled stretch of highway 218 and B) the trailer was empty, I don't think I could have wrestled down a full one.

More on going to get the doors in my next post.


StuccoHouse said...

Yikes! I had a motorcycle strapped on a trailer a few weekends ago and the walls of the trailer worked their way out of the floor. Not a good feeling to see things moving that shouldn't be moving when you are driving down a freeway.

Curious where in MN you found your doors.

Mike said...

They were for sale on Ebay and came from a house remodel in Dayton.

I drove down 94E to get to 35 South to go home and thought about what would have happened if I'd lost the hitch there!