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
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.
Heart surgery pending?
Read up and prepare.
Learn how to care for a friend.
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Reply to
Steve B
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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
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
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.
Reply to
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.
Heart surgery pending? Read up and prepare. Learn how to care for a friend.
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Reply to
Steve B
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:
Reply to
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.
Reply to
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?
Reply to
Bolted on with through bolt and heavy duty washer/retainer, relatively short chain, mounted near the coupler, crossed under the coupler, not dragging, not twisted, hooks with latches or use a shackle.
Object is that if the coupler fails, the trailer comes with you without too much fuss. And comes with you ALWAYS.
Long chain does not properly control the tongue. Crisscross helps to support the tongue, allows the shortest possible chain length and still do a 90 degree jackknife. Welding chain is always suspect, one never knows who did it with what kind of rod and what kind of heat treatment (a splash of water to cool it quickly can be deadly). Chains must not drag or they will eventually be useless.
Reply to
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.
Reply to
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
Reply to
Up North
You could take some light wire and tie it up. The wire will vaporize when and if the chains are ever in use dragging the trailer behind you.
For that much - man tape could do it - duck tape.
Martin H. Eastburn @ home at Lions' Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net "Our Republic and the Press will Rise or Fall Together": Joseph Pulitzer TSRA: Endowed; NRA LOH & Patron Member, Golden Eagle, Patriot's Medal. NRA Second Amendment Task Force Originator & Charter Founder IHMSA and NRA Metallic Silhouette maker & member. http://lufk> I have a Lincoln SA 200 with safety chains on it. My receiver hitch only
Reply to
Martin H. Eastburn
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.
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Reply to
Steve B
"TinLizziedl" wrote
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.
Heart surgery pending? Read up and prepare. Learn how to care for a friend.
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Reply to
Steve B
My newest trailer came with hooks with a spring retainer to keep the hook on the vehicle. Very nice to hook up. I used shackles on the last trailer, and took longer and was messier. Go with retainer hooks as that is required in a lot of states on. California for one. Do not know about Utah / NV. Cross the chains so the tongue will cradle if the ball fails. Personally I would rather the trailer brakes set and the safety cables disconnect from the truck. Get some retainer hooks, I have seen some with a rubber keeper and attach them to the chain with shackles. Make chain correct length with either smoke wrench or angle grinder with cutting blade.
Reply to
Ok I have read enough to come out of lurk mode. I am a simple, clear thinking New Englander who has towed a few heavy trailers rented from U-Haul and the like and it always aggravates me that the chains are about 18" or more too long. Granted all of my hitches have a chain eye within 6 " of each side of the tow reviever and this may not be the case for every one. Grampa taught Dad. Dad taught me. The length of the chain should be long enough to allow for the tightest turn when the chains are crossed under the tongue of the trailer. One of the other responders mentioned this crossing as a safety measure to catch the tongue as it falls off the ball and cradle it so it doesn't hit the road surface at speed and act like a pole vaulter's pole. That is exactly how Dad explained it to me.
For safety's sake on my utility trailer which is rated at about the same weight in question (1500 lbs) I used chain with a safe working load of 2200 lbs. Combined that is 4400 lbs. At the trailer end we are not allowed to have the chain welded. It must be bolted on to pass inspection. Oddly though I have seen some 3/8 flat plate with holes cut through it for the chains to mount through. That plate was welded to the tongue of the trailer and I don't remember seeing any reinforcing bolts through it and the tongue. Maybe due to the larger weld area of the 4 inch wide plate the inspector declared it safe. If one thinks for a moment that does give 16" of weld bead if all 4 sides are welded to the tongue. Assuming a 4" square tube as the tongue that is. In my case I used 2 bolts (one for each chain) that were as large as to just pass through the chain link. That was 1/2 inch as I remember and of course they were hardened bolts with a 3/16" thick washer I had fashioned from some 1.25" flat stock. At the vehicle end I had used some 1800 lb rated snap shackles. I truly wanted heavier but these were hard to find and again figuring 2 of them certainly gave me more than the trailer is rated for.
So back to the original...if it were me I would allow 6 links more than needed to cross under the tongue to the attachment points. Then I would find a shackle with a retainer of some sort to keep it from being bounced free. So you now have added a bit more to the length of the chain. When hooked up as long as they are a few inches off the road surface when the vehicle AND trailer are FULLY loaded I would call it good enough.
Just my 2 cents...spend it wisely.
Reply to
Krazy Old Man

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