5th wheel disaster averted

Discussion in 'Experienced Truckers' Advice' started by thelinedriver, Apr 21, 2024.

  1. thelinedriver

    thelinedriver Light Load Member

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    So here's what happened, I've been driving for 15yrs, and I've been driving the same truck for 2yrs, everything was fine,just left company shop 1.5weeks ago, heading to florida,then, te texas, then California, as we are leaving California going up 15 to Barstow for a bite, I pulled into one of those dort lots to turn around and as I'm about to make the turn, going about 2 miles an hour, the trailer disengaged from 5th wheel, needles to say the trailer buried the landing gear, but not too bad, not sure how this happened, before leaving shipper in chino, I double checked everything, it was connected! So then I drive the 80 or so miles to Barstow, up hill all the way with 26k on trailer!! Finally get the truck over to the shop to look at 5th wheel,because I found metal fragments around it upon inspection after it disengaged trailer, shop confirmed metal fragmented up to one inch thick broken off inside 5th wheel!! What!! I never heard of this before what happened? No one has any real answers, my question here is has any one ever even heard of a 5th wheel breaking? I sure haven't and even more so (proof of God), I drive 80 miles up hill with 26k on trailer , why didn't it break then? I'm feeling lucky ,but also thinking of hanging this up, what's your thoughts?
     
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  3. Dennixx

    Dennixx Road Train Member

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    We have had 3 of the low profile Holland greaseless 5th wheels fail and drop trailers.
    One was found to have been assembled incorrectly after a rebuild and the other 2 I haven't heard from management.
    They were sent back to manufacturer for metallurgy testing.
    These were the aluminum plates that used a thin Teflon pad in leui of grease.
    We have since moved away from the lo pro style but continue to use Holland aluminum.
     

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  4. thelinedriver

    thelinedriver Light Load Member

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    Mine is a Holland as well, the scariest part is what if it had failed while traveling 40mile an hour up hill on 15? There were tons of vehicles behind me, and for the first time in trucking I was scared! For loss of life and for myself and my wife, you know they would of slapped manslaughter charges on me! I'm completely shutdown mentally thinking of what ifs!
     
  5. Dennixx

    Dennixx Road Train Member

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    Doubt you would be charged for an equipment failure that was a defect of some sort..
    Like most things there are maintenance requirements on 5th wheels for the owner.
    The manufacturer would likely be liable after the investigation from both parties was finished.
    Scary yes I'm sure.
    2 of our failures happened on the road but only 1 at around 30mph and 1 around 10.
    Both times the rigs had successfully made a prior trip/delivery so there was no way to predict this.
    We leave at 80K every trip.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2024
  6. Dennixx

    Dennixx Road Train Member

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    USA
     
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  7. Diesel Dave

    Diesel Dave Last Few of the OUTLAWS

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    I use this constantly. Before hooking up every trailer I pull, this is applied;
    IMG_3430.jpeg
     
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  8. 201

    201 Road Train Member

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    high plains colorado
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    Are you sure the wagon wasn't "high hooked"? In all my years, I only "dropped" a wagon once. Out of the tens of thousands of times I pulled the pin, and rehooked, it never happened. The only time it did was with my old Pete, it was like 0 out, and the jaws were sticky. Due to the design of the 5th wheel, I believe, when hooked, unless a catastrophic failure, it can't come loose. Pressure from being pulled probably kept it hooked. We have to remember, we can't have 0 risk, and the gremlins in the machine surface from time to time. If it's any consolation, since it happened to you, the odds are it will never happen again. Great catch, driver!
     
  9. RockinChair

    RockinChair Road Train Member

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    I'd be leery about pulling a trailer with a fifth wheel that had a bunch of cracks and rust spots like the one in the picture @Dennixx posted.


    @thelinedriver I'd ask the shop to see if the jaws are worn or if the locking mechanism is out of adjustment, in additon to findng the source of the metal fragments that you spotted.
     
  10. thelinedriver

    thelinedriver Light Load Member

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    Checked it before I left, it's a habit of mine to always look amd pull test before I leave
     
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  11. TX2Day

    TX2Day Light Load Member

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    I have all connection points on trucks and trailers scoped every two years just for this reason. Metal does fatigue and will splinter and break apart. You were very lucky. So many people ignore the 5th wheel thump because they don't know what it is. I insist the trusted mechanic make that call. If it needs adjusted, great. If it needs other repair it doesn't move until those repairs have been completed.
     
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