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Old 08-04-2020, 11:00 PM   #1
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Donít Twist the Safety Chains

I see people twist their safety chains all the time when it is detrimental to the strength of the chains. I am reminded of this whenever I rent a trailer from Uhaul because the Uhaul staff always wants to twist the safety chain to prevent the chain from dragging on the ground.

I just found a great article that explains why the safety chains should not be twisted. As a Professional Engineer I really appreciate this article.
https://mechanicalelements.com/twisting-safety-chains/

Enjoy
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Old 08-04-2020, 11:21 PM   #2
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There is also this YouTube video that shows how to cross the chains and how to shorten them safely
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Old 08-05-2020, 03:58 AM   #3
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Sorry I disagree and go with u-haul on their trailers.

A camper maybe not but on a small utility trailer twisting safety chains is not a big deal and fine. The trailers uhaul has builts are overkill on everything. Their safety shains are probably rated to hold a trailer of twice their capacity.

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Old 08-05-2020, 06:01 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by wszApex245 View Post
I see people twist their safety chains all the time when it is detrimental to the strength of the chains. I am reminded of this whenever I rent a trailer from Uhaul because the Uhaul staff always wants to twist the safety chain to prevent the chain from dragging on the ground.

I just found a great article that explains why the safety chains should not be twisted. As a Professional Engineer I really appreciate this article.
https://mechanicalelements.com/twisting-safety-chains/

Enjoy
Good information. Thanks!
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Old 08-05-2020, 06:32 AM   #5
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My understanding is that the reason for twisting them is so that if the trailer breaks free of the hitch ball the triangle will be supported by the chains until you can stop.

Versus wIthout twisting the chains there is too much slack and the triangle immediately hits the ground and if it’s anything but concrete digs in and causes a potentially major problem beyond the disconnect issue.

I had this happen at slow speed (maybe 5mph) in an asphalt lot and since chains were not twisted the trailer nose fell hard and the coupler dug a pretty good trench all the way through the asphalt and into the dirt below.

Since then, I have been a twisting fan.

So, interesting dilemma - the strength issue makes sense, but the minimization of damage by twisting also makes sense.

Thoughts from others?
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Old 08-05-2020, 06:47 AM   #6
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I already see that there is A LOT of confusion over this post. "Twisting" the chains and "Crossing" the chains are TWO VERY DIFFERENT THINGS. "Crossing the chains....if possible...forms an 'X' in which to cradle the hitch, should it come loose. "Twisting" the chains is just that. You TWIST the chain which makes it shorter so as NOT to drag on the ground while traveling.
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Old 08-05-2020, 06:58 AM   #7
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The article did not convince me not to twist the chains.

It did convince me that doing so weakens the chains, however it did not demonstrate that this weakening will be enough to increase the danger if the hitch fails. The chains will still be strong. The question is whether the strength has been degraded to the point where they are no longer strong enough.

I plan to continue to twist the chains, but I will be on the lookout for evidence that the twisted chain cannot do the job, while an untwisted chain can.

My mind can be changed. This article did not do that.

Thank you for posting the article. It has piqued my curiosity on the matter of twisting chains.

On edit: The above post prompted me to wonder how much good crossing my chains is doing. They are so close at the trailer end that the crossing happens inches down the chain. I don’t that that will support the tongue!
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Old 08-05-2020, 07:11 AM   #8
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The article did not convince me not to twist the chains.

It did convince me that doing so weakens the chains, however it did not demonstrate that this weakening will be enough to increase the danger if the hitch fails. The chains will still be strong. The question is whether the strength has been degraded to the point where they are no longer strong enough.

I plan to continue to twist the chains, but I will be on the lookout for evidence that the twisted chain cannot do the job, while an untwisted chain can.

My mind can be changed. This article did not do that.

Thank you for posting the article. It has piqued my curiosity on the matter of twisting chains.

On edit: The above post prompted me to wonder how much good crossing my chains is doing. They are so close at the trailer end that the crossing happens inches down the chain. I donít that that will support the tongue!
On the "Crossing" of chains, our old Jayco had the chains...each on their own side of the tongue. when you crossed them...they made the 'X'. Now our 2018 Cherokee, the chains were mounted at a single spot and when you crossed them, there was no 'X'. I know exactly what you're saying.
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Old 08-05-2020, 07:22 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by TheWolfPaq82 View Post
On the "Crossing" of chains, our old Jayco had the chains...each on their own side of the tongue. when you crossed them...they made the 'X'. Now our 2018 Cherokee, the chains were mounted at a single spot and when you crossed them, there was no 'X'. I know exactly what you're saying.
Hmmm...that may be something I ought to have fixed. The question in my mind would be about the effectiveness of the ďXĒ. Does it actually keep the tongue off the ground, or will the differences in speed between the unhitched trailer and the TV result in the TT approaching the TV, slackening the chains.

Information about actual incidents of dehitching TTs would go a long way to allaying my doubts. Fortunately, such incidents are rare.
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Old 08-05-2020, 07:25 AM   #10
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Hmmm...that may be something I ought to have fixed. The question in my mind would be about the effectiveness of the ďXĒ. Does it actually keep the tongue off the ground, or will the differences in speed between the unhitched trailer and the TV result in the TT approaching the TV, slackening the chains.

Information about actual incidents of dehitching TTs would go a long way to allaying my doubts. Fortunately, such incidents are rare.
Talking and listening to others out here, it appears there are some states that require you to "Cross" the safety chains....which is impossible if both chains are mounted at ONE central point like my Cherokee was.
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Old 08-05-2020, 07:56 AM   #11
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When I see twisted chains, I just wonder why people don’t just shorten them.
Speaking of.... I want to shorten mine some more. Took 2 links out of the chain and I think I can take out 2 more. Need to look at that here soon.
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Old 08-05-2020, 08:07 AM   #12
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Another thought, either shorten the chains or twist. If you do nothing and let the chains drag, you create the potential for sparking and causing a fire, or wearing the chains thin as they grind on the road, thus greatly diminishing strength. Some people have different tow vehicles and hitch setups. I have a threaded chain coupling I use to shorten the chains on my utility trailer, depending which vehicle I use.
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Old 08-05-2020, 08:13 AM   #13
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Good point Paulie. We used to use small bungee cord to hold the chain up when we had two tow vehicles.
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Old 08-05-2020, 08:21 AM   #14
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In NY you can get a ticket if your chains are twisted, and they must be crossed.

My trailer has clevis connectors on the hooks so if they are too long I can just pull the pin, drop a couple of links, put the pin back in and be good to go. Leave the extra links there in case they are needed later. More often than not I have the problem of the chains being too short because my drawbar is bit long and has a lot of height adjustment. I just use a large pair of repair links and put them on the Chan loops on the tow vehicle then connect the safety chain hooks to them. Works well for me.
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Old 08-05-2020, 08:49 AM   #15
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The 'X' works fine. The weight of the tounge on the chains will remove the slack in them, not the delta in speed. In order to keep the tounge from hitting the ground the chains needs to be short enough. This can be determined at rest and adjustments made.

The chains will not prevent damage to the TV as the trailer - vehicle link is no longer rigid so the tounge can impact the TV. The chains are meant to keep the trailer tethered to the TV and protect others while you stop as soon as safely possible.

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Hmmm...that may be something I ought to have fixed. The question in my mind would be about the effectiveness of the ďXĒ. Does it actually keep the tongue off the ground, or will the differences in speed between the unhitched trailer and the TV result in the TT approaching the TV, slackening the chains.
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Old 08-05-2020, 11:43 AM   #16
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Talking and listening to others out here, it appears there are some states that require you to "Cross" the safety chains....which is impossible if both chains are mounted at ONE central point like my Cherokee was.
Exactly. Required in PA. My chains are welded like that. Not much help crossing them. I have to use shackles on the receiver for my hooks or use a hammer to get them on and off (thanks, Ford ;(.
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:00 PM   #17
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Chains

Most of the chains are only 3500 lb rated anyway. I guess it is a question of what is going to weaken the chain more, the wear from dragging vs twisting them.
It is also against the law is some states to cross them-TX. I had a trailer come off going over a large "Speed Bump". Crossing chain saved the trailer and boat and all that happen was a small dent on the bumper. Crossed chains caught tongue in the "V". I now put a link pin on any hitch I tow. I have it on a small chain attached to trailer so it does not walk off, or to prevent me forgetting.
I have heard the argument that is safer to let the electric brake handle it, but only works if trailer comes completely loose. ON MY SMALL TRAILERS, I STILL CROSS CHAINS.
On an 8K travel trailer, it is going to bad either way IMO.
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:10 PM   #18
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While in the Military any time on rail cars or aircraft the twisting of chains was a big no no.
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:34 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Paulie1138 View Post
Another thought, either shorten the chains or twist. If you do nothing and let the chains drag, you create the potential for sparking and causing a fire, or wearing the chains thin as they grind on the road, thus greatly diminishing strength. Some people have different tow vehicles and hitch setups. I have a threaded chain coupling I use to shorten the chains on my utility trailer, depending which vehicle I use.
I have two different TV's requiring different length safety chains for the same TT. While I cross the chains to hook up to each TV, I put a couple twists in the chains for the shorter hook up.
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:56 PM   #20
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check this Indiana DOT inspection at approximately the 7:00 mark were they say it is Ok to place a slight twist in the chains.
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