Safety chain

I have a Lincoln SA 200 with safety chains on it. My receiver hitch only sticks out about 8" from the pin slot. Total weight, 1700#.
The two safety chains on the trailer are 3/8" chain with large slip hooks. They are so long that even with a knot in each, they slightly drag the ground. The slip hooks just go into the round eye on either side of the receiver. They do look a little light, like 1/4" thick.
The chains were welded on the welder frame with what looks like 7018, and look like they'll be there except for a direct hit with a Hellfire missile.
I want to shorten them, and change from the slip hooks. Right now without a knot in them, they drag the ground for about six inches. With a knot, they barely clear the pavement.
I know that I must leave them long enough so that I don't run out of chain on a tight turn, but these are just way long, even with a knot in them. I think I'll replace the bigger than needed slip hooks with shackles. The big slip hooks look like if they were to get bouncing around, they would come off. Grab hooks would be a little better, and I could mouse them on, but that would make changeout a time consuming thing. And they still have the potential to come off in a tussle.
So, I think I'll just keep the bigger than necessary chains, shorten them, and put shackles on them.
But how long do I cut the chains? Is there a rule of thumb about length? Height above the pavement? Measuring them so they can't be pulled totally straight and taut on a tight jackknife? They are old chains, but good ones, and I would like to keep them, but have only one chance to get it right, unless I cut them too long, then I get more than one.
Any guidelines or cites?
And when hooking up safety chains, do they go parallel with each other, or criss cross? Should they be short enough so that if the trailer drops off the ball, the chains support it, and the tongue doesn't drag? (I need a new tongue/ball receptacle device, too, but that's no biggie.) Should they be put on with closed fasteners such as shackles? In the worst, do you want the trailer to stay attached, or be able to go off on its own trajectory?
I have seen some doozy "safety chains" from 1/4" rope to porch glider chain link to boat anchor rope. I've seen them wired together with baling wire, Dollar store soft metal keychain carbiners, welding rods, those screw closed D-ring things that take a cutting torch to get off once they're torqued (if they plain don't break from shearing). Anything's good that will bring the thing to a successful stop. I just like having three times working load on anything I rig up. A couple of very short socketed wire rope slings would work, but they would be spendy, and I think the proper chain would be as good.
I want something that's going to bring it to a 195% damn sure stop, or release it if that's the best way.
At times, I am pulling a 1500# bass boat, and another time a triple tandem that's pushing 10,000#. The sizes of the restraints would vary, but there has to be some general guidelines on length, how close they come to the highway, etc.
Just want to do it right.
Steve
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You should be able to insert the pin of a 3/8" shackle into any link, without having to cut off the chain. The chain and shackle hooked over my left thumb as I type this fit together easily.
Chain dropped on keyboard: g3silzaadxq22
jsw
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Criss cross, with shackles. phil
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snipped-for-privacy@alphacomm.net says...

And _under_ the tongue.
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LOL!
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Twist the chains to take up slack. We do that with our horse trailer. Chains should be criss crossed so if hitch pulls free it will be cradled in them so tongue doesn't plow into road and trailer flip.
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I'll post a pic of the chains. I think they are about a foot too long. Twisting them is a good idea and I can see the function of it, but to twist them THAT much, they would have bunches in them here and there. I never thought of rigging it that way with the X to cradle it. That was one of my questions, how long to make the chains so that if it did come off, what was the best way to have it rigged so it was least likely to damage or take off on you. And you answered that.
Now, to get the tongue changed. Simple, really. $47 for the whole new piece. Cut and replace. Weld.
Steve
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Yes, the chain will bunch up in places. Also be sure to have clips that latch vs open "S" hooks that can bounce off the hitch if driving on rough road.
n 10/14/2010 11:02 AM, Steve B wrote:

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On Thu, 14 Oct 2010 08:02:59 -0700, "Steve B"

Cross the chains under the tonge, pass the chains THROUGH the eyes on the drawbar, and link back to the chain at the tongue. You then have 4 strands of chain doing the job instead of 2.
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The drawbar on my truck, the chains won't go through. I kinda doubt Steve's will either. Crossing the chains is a good idea.
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Crossing of safety chains is actually a legal requirement per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Reglations.
On Thu, 14 Oct 2010 17:00:09 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"

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<MTBSW> wrote in message

So is the grade of chain.
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Fortunately, I am a member of the priesthood, and can do such things.
"In the name of the Father....."
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On Thu, 14 Oct 2010 17:00:09 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"

Get a couple short chunks of 2" Sched 80 pipe and weld them to the drawbar to pass the chains through - or a couple of welded 2 or 2 1/2 inch rings. Mine has a couple of rings cut from 2" DOM tubing.
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca says...

That's a good idea, provided the chains fit. If you go with the shackles and a chain sized to pass through the holes on the hitch, this may be the best idea yet. Passing the chain through the hitch holes doesn't make for 4 strands of chain though. You'll still have wear and tear on the links passing through the holes. Once they separate, game over.
Crossing the chains under the hitch keeps it from flopping down and causing the trailer to pole-vault.
Take a chunk of rope or another chain and see what kind of length you would need to keep from dragging the ground on a straight pull (from attachment on trailer to attachment on hitch). Then, with the end secured on the hitch, move in an arc towards and away from the trailer. That'll help visualize the length needed to allow for sharp turns. If needed, play around with the trailer hitched up and jacknifed.
Most trailers I've worked with have chains hanging about 6 to 8 inches under the hitch when properly attached. Seems to allow a jacknifed fit into narrow parking spots, without dragging on the straight pull.
As an aside, I've always been really nervous about welding on chain, especially any that may have to take a load, and downright paranoid about a safety chain that may have to take a shock load. The HAZ is the most brittle part, and if you don't apply the correct heat treatment to the welded link, you've lost lots of toughness.
I would tend to be nervous about trusting those welded links on the trailer tongue. Can anyone tell me if my concern is appropriate?
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wrote:

Ontario law REQUIRES the chain to be "bolted" to the tongue.
Welding does NOT pass.
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The last cargo trailer I bought had what appeared to be mild steel 3/8" rod bent into a loop and welded on the tongue to secure the safety chains. When I lengthened the tongue to allow use of a Equalizer brand sway control hitch I bolted the safety chains on a 3/8" welded plate with 1/2" grade 8 bolts. I hope I never need to use the safety chains to keep my trailer behind me. Steve
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One can buy weld on grab hooks that have a lot of meat in the weld on area. Those would be good, but then, there's still the issue of a link falling out of the grab hook. The pad eye/shackle idea to give it double strength is a good sounding idea, and the pad eye can be made of hefty steel like 1/2" plate and welded with 7018 to give a very high failure strength.
I'm with you about welding on chain, but to a point. I would repair weld a chain, and have done it, and have used it. I would just never do it with anything that is going to be critical or used in lifting overhead or anything heavy. We all use weak chains, and a lot of ours would be rejected by an inspector, but we use them for light lifting. For actual real life, though there's nothing line the good stuff. And no repaired stuff. No birdsnested, crushed, or twisted chokers, either. When it got that way in the oilfield, I personally would destroy it with a cutting torch and toss overboard, and just tell the boss that we needed another. If asked why, I just said that one died.
As for welding the chain directly to the tongue, you are welding the link along the side, with half the weld fusing the base metal, and half the weld fusing the link, and hopefully one would weld both sides, keeping the arc slightly on the base metal and allowing it to flow to the link, yet still weaving enough to make your arc dig into the link enough to fuse it. If you turn the link out so that the fusion weld used to make the link is out, you do not disturb the metallurgy of that resistance weld, or whatever weld was used to heat the ends of the link and join it to the other end.
So, yes and no on chain welding. Yes to chain repairs, just never trust the chain or use it for heavy use, and if welding a link as an attachment point, orient it so that you don't include the original weld in the joint. I have chains that are good from hook to hook, and chains that are questionable because of repairs or wear. You know which one I grab when I'm really going to pull on something.
So far, I like the shackle ends idea best. I just need to cut about a foot off for that. I like the doubled chain better, but this trailer is only 1700# or less, so one strand of this heavy chain is adequate. For larger trailers and loads, I like the doubled, and dogged off to a hefty pad eye.
Steve
Heart surgery pending? Read up and prepare. Learn how to care for a friend. http://cabgbypasssurgery.com
Steve
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The chains are 3/8" and have slip hooks on the ends. There's nothing to hook the slip hooks safely to. As someone said, driving down a bumpy road could shake them loose. I wouldn't even try it with moused grab hooks.
Steve
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On Thu, 14 Oct 2010 21:38:39 -0700, "Steve B"

My last trailer had chains which were too short after installing the 6" drop hitch in the receiver. I picked up a pair of safeties from HF which have screw-type quick links like these: http://fwd4.me/dhW Their current safety chain has el-cheapo spring-clip style S-hooks I wouldn't want to trust. http://fwd4.me/dhX
I've only had one trailer come off my ball in 40 years of towing, and that was a doozy. I borrowed my friend's trailer and my friend hooked it up. I installed the safeties and doublechecked that the knob was tight. I didn't know that his wife had recently lost the locking spring inside the knob. We got 100 miles up, into HelL.A. proper, when the truck suddenly lurched sideways into the next lane with only a slight shudder of a warning one second earlier, as the tires hit the slight dip on an overpass bridge. I looked into the rear view mirror and saw 6 lanes of traffic stopped dead behind us and the trailer heading up over the guard rail. I was already slowing down but immediately hit the brakes and veered over to the right safety lane and backed up to the trailer. It was teetering on the top of the rail but hadn't gone over into two lanes of traffic. My friend and I added our weight to the rear and it slid back down into the slow lane. Once we got it hooked back up, the 6 lanes of backed up traffic started slowly moving by. In a minute, it was back up to speed. I'm amazed that we didn't feel anything until it jacknifed us. Evidently, it had come loose at the bridge bump, swung enough to go crazy, and poleaxed the tailgate with the tongue as it bounced up and moved us over a lane, as it came loose. We lost one safety chain to the gods of towing and the wiring was shot, but even with a couple broken welds, it held together enough to get my cubic meter of Aussie jarrah wood home that day. My friend was kind enough, as we reattached the bent trailer, to tell me that his wife had lost that safety lock spring the week before. I coulda killed him on the spot. And you can be sure that I made 5 safety stops on the way home to ensure that the knob hadn't rattled loose again.
Like Gunner and his infamous spare tire mount, I don't want to repeat that performance ever again.
-- Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball!
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