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Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

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  • #61
    Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

    Originally posted by jay_merrill View Post
    I use chains (crossed) because they do keep a trailer under control at slow speeds and because the law requires me to use them.

    What happens, is that the trailer whips back and forth very violently.

    I have a very firm grasp of the physics behind it, and my theory is that crossed chains will actually induce that violent action, and may be MORE dangerous than not crossing it. I've talked to a small number of people who had trailers come off, every one that I know who crosses their chains have always had that sway happen. The one guy I know that dropped a trailer without crossing had zero issues, it was dragging on the pavement and bashing into the undercarriage of his truck, but it stayed completely straight.


    Think of it this way, due to road forces and drag, you will NEVER have both chains pulling equally all the time. The trailer will always have more load on one or the other. So what happens is that with inequal chain load, the trailer tongue will get pulled in one direction. This immediately causes the tension to drop, and the other chain to load up. Instant problem! And there is no damping in the system, it will build up relatively quickly until something breaks or you are wheels side up.

    The IDEAL situation would be to have your safety chains not crossed, and attached as far apart as possible, both on the tow vehicle as well as the trailer. If you had an attachment point 3 feet apart on each end, you could tow that down the highway with no sway issues at all. It would be self correcting, and would automatically dampen out any sway. This would obviously be a big problem when you actually wanted to turn though, so you need a compromise. Keep your trailer mounting point narrow, but widen out the vehicle side, again, not crossed.

    Anyone got an old truck, old trailer, and a big open paved area to test it out?

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    • #62
      Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

      actually the biggest cause of whipping back and forth is low tongue weight.
      Kevin

      Originally posted by Tinnie
      But, where are the reevets?
      1981 Wellcraft V-20 CC Fisherman (FREE BOAT)
      1989 Wellcraft Monte Carlo 28(Build thread here)
      1992 Hotsports Jet'n'Cat Yam 701 WR3 drivetrain "SS George Washington"
      90's Yamaha WRIII and a pair of 95 Kawasaki ZXI-900's
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      • #63
        Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

        OK, so I'm scared! My 93 Chaparral came with a roadrunner trailer made for the boat.

        It only has 1 chain and came from the manufacture like that!
        '93 Chaparral SL2000
        4.3l
        20ft

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        • #64
          Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

          Originally posted by smokingcrater View Post
          I have a very firm grasp of the physics behind it, and my theory is that crossed chains will actually induce that violent action, and may be MORE dangerous than not crossing it. I've talked to a small number of people who had trailers come off, every one that I know who crosses their chains have always had that sway happen. The one guy I know that dropped a trailer without crossing had zero issues, it was dragging on the pavement and bashing into the undercarriage of his truck, but it stayed completely straight.


          Think of it this way, due to road forces and drag, you will NEVER have both chains pulling equally all the time. The trailer will always have more load on one or the other. So what happens is that with inequal chain load, the trailer tongue will get pulled in one direction. This immediately causes the tension to drop, and the other chain to load up. Instant problem! And there is no damping in the system, it will build up relatively quickly until something breaks or you are wheels side up.

          The IDEAL situation would be to have your safety chains not crossed, and attached as far apart as possible, both on the tow vehicle as well as the trailer. If you had an attachment point 3 feet apart on each end, you could tow that down the highway with no sway issues at all. It would be self correcting, and would automatically dampen out any sway. This would obviously be a big problem when you actually wanted to turn though, so you need a compromise. Keep your trailer mounting point narrow, but widen out the vehicle side, again, not crossed.

          Anyone got an old truck, old trailer, and a big open paved area to test it out?
          Sounds like a good suggestion to make to the Mythbusters
          2000 Four Winns Horizon 170
          1997 Sweetwater 180 Pontoon

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          • #65
            Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

            Originally posted by Texas Parrothead View Post
            OK, so I'm scared! My 93 Chaparral came with a roadrunner trailer made for the boat.

            It only has 1 chain and came from the manufacture like that!
            I seriously doubt that the trailer was manufactured like that. In any case, just go get another safety chain and add it to the trailer.
            1988 Sea Ray Seville 16 BRO w/1997 Mariner 115
            My build thread
            My upholstery thread

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            • #66
              Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

              Originally posted by smokingcrater View Post
              Anyone got an old truck, old trailer, and a big open paved area to test it out?
              LOL

              He wants to use somebody else's stuff to test HIS theory. LMAO

              I would suggest that with your "very firm grasp of the physics behind it", that you test with your equipment Preferably with pictures, or even better video

              Minnesota seems to be in the minority, in that the vehicle code only requires chains not that they be crossed. I am not going to check all 50 states, but I have checked the ones I tow in, they ALL require crossing. I guess maybe the traffic safety engineers might know what they're talking about.
              Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

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              • #67
                Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

                Originally posted by npd4432 View Post
                Sounds like a good suggestion to make to the Mythbusters
                Good idea.

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                • #68
                  Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

                  Originally posted by j_martin View Post
                  If you take a quick look at the geometry, crossed chains also allow the chains to be shorter (with better control) without binding when turning.
                  Actually, you really DO need to look at the geometry, because many, many trailers, boat and otherwise, attach both chains at ONE POINT. In such case (which is the case with my boat trailer, AND my utility trailer) crossing the chains has absolutely NO EFFECT. It will not form the "desired cradle". The problem is the "law" (*and* my personal experience with less than astute LEOs) simply can not comprehend this geometric fact. Any trailer that has a "single beam tongue" has only one point at which to attach the chains. Both lawmakers *AND* LEOs need to become better informed. I have resolved that the next time a LEO mentions this to me I will ask them to demonstrate how to cross the chains when they are attached at the same point. Every informed boater and trailer user should do the same.

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                  • #69
                    Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

                    Originally posted by 109jb View Post
                    I seriously doubt that the trailer was manufactured like that. In any case, just go get another safety chain and add it to the trailer.
                    And do what? Attach it at the same point as the other one? In fact where else CAN it be attached. NOW, think about it - you have two chains attached to the same point - how will "crossing" them form a cradle??? Physics and geometry do not lie - you might be able to twist them some, but they will never form a cradle. A cradle is only ever formed if chains are attached at somewhat separated lateral points.

                    Now, why don't you go and teach your less than erudite legislators a lesson in geometry?

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                    • #70
                      Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

                      My son was given a ticket for not crossing the chains here in Pa. The chains were both bolted by one bolt, at the same point, to the trailer tongue. He did go to court and plead innocent. The cop argued but the judge interjected: "I have a jetski trailer and the chains are both bolted to one bolt at the same point--case dismissed!"

                      AND--Many years ago, my friend dropped a trailer at 60 MPH. Chains held but by the time he stopped the ground loop was worn away.

                      Anyway, crossing safety chains should be like seat belts. You should not need a law to require it. You should just do it because it is smart and cheap insurance. I totaled a VW before the advent of seat belt laws but the bug had seat and shoulder belts which I was wearing. Shortened the car by 2 feet, took out three sections of guard rail and clipped off a 6 inch tree. I walked away with no injuries at all. That one use paid for all the times I wear them and don't have an accident for the rest of my life.

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                      • #71
                        Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

                        You do know, the thread is two years old????
                        Assault Squadron NINE
                        River Assault Division NINETY-ONE-1966

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                        • #72
                          Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

                          Originally posted by Willnott View Post
                          And do what? Attach it at the same point as the other one? In fact where else CAN it be attached. NOW, think about it - you have two chains attached to the same point - how will "crossing" them form a cradle??? Physics and geometry do not lie - you might be able to twist them some, but they will never form a cradle. A cradle is only ever formed if chains are attached at somewhat separated lateral points.

                          Now, why don't you go and teach your less than erudite legislators a lesson in geometry?
                          Its really not that hard.

                          You use a bolt thru the tongue or the back of the coupler.
                          You attach one chain to each side.
                          You cross the chains under the coupler, several times if needed to shorten up the chains.

                          I think you can do it, give it a try.


                          The real hard part is to find an attachment point on the tow vehicle, that is high enough to keep the tongue off the ground if it should become uncoupled.
                          Medford, WI


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                          • #73
                            Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

                            I have always beefed up my chains when getting new trailer with threaded D clips on end. And when a coupler let loose at 60+ on the interstate I kept my trailer behind me and was able to stop with no damage except to my nerves. Could feel that baby yank and crank but I didn't lose it. Snailed my way to off ramp and redid coupler. Another time in winter snow driver in front of me spun out. Got truck and trailer 95% past then she spun back into my lane and my trailer wheel hit her car, ran right over the front fender and hood. Broke the coupler, wheel, axle and all. Had a few seconds of terror as I went off-roding into median. When I finally stopped trailer still connected. Trailer had to be towed that time but Wife and I got home safe. We shook for about an hour but we were safe, Thankfully so was other driver. Some people might say I am overly concerned with safety. No such thing is my motto.

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                            • #74
                              Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

                              OK I will get on a 2 year old thread. I have always crossed my trailer chains except my boat trailer. It has two chains connected at one point on the trailer. After I thought about a single connection point it kind of made sense. If it drops off the ball those two chains are going to kind of lock the toung in between them. Once it slams up under the back of the truck it wouldn't let it sway more than about 6 inches either way. Single connection point seems to allow for shorter chains. They are connected about a foot behind the ball mount and have enough slack that they clear the bottom of the ball by 2 inches so I can turn both ways with nothing catching.

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                              • #75
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                                Re: Texas state law, CROSS YOUR TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS!

                                Originally posted by sltintexas View Post
                                I'm 36, I've owned a boat for about 8 years and pulled a trailer for lawn mowing for about 8 years.

                                I've never heard about crossing chains. I'll start today, thx for the post.
                                Right there with you. I'm 37, and while I'm new to boating, I grew up on a farm, so I've been pulling trailers in some respect for 25 years. Never heard of crossing them. And while you all can debate the merits of doing so, if it keeps me from getting a ticket, that's what I'll do.
                                Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to buy decent tackle on a philosopher's salary. ~ Patrick McManus

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