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Hitch Issue: A Sheared Roll Pin

About three weeks ago, we installed a new ProPride hitch. We'd been fairly happy with our old weight-distribution hitch, but it was starting to get old...cracks showing up in the hitch block, chain links showing wear, saddles getting slightly bent over time...  We also occasionally had the slightest bit of sway when a big truck passed. We decided to spring for a ProPride or Hensley, since we'd read so many good comments about them in the forums. 

After a bit of study, we decided to go for the ProPride. It looked like it had a couple of minor differences from the Hensley that might be nice. But honestly, most of all, it was black and not orange. Orange is good on the inside! (Maybe we'll do a post later about the install process...it took about two hours and was fairly straightforward.)

We've towed about 500 miles with it now, hitched and unhitched 5 or 6 times, and been on freeways, 2-lane highways, and super twisty winding roads. It tows fantastically well. Big trucks pass us and we feel absolutely nothing. The whole operation feels more solid and steady than with our old hitch. It doesn't squeak or creak at all, either.

We've gradually been dialing in the adjustments and getting used to hitching and unhitching this new system. Getting the weight-distribution right and the trailer leveled takes a little trial and error.

As we mentioned in our previous post , when we pulled into the park here and started to unhitch, as we were lowering the weight-distribution jack, the jack handle just spun in place and the jack handle didn't move. This is a pretty serious problem because if we couldn't take the tension off of the weight-distribution jack, we couldn't unhitch the truck. We figured out how to pry to the top cover off of the jack head and pretty quickly saw that the roll pin that was supposed to hold the handle shaft in a spider gear had sheared off on both ends. 

Here's one end:

Hitchtrouble-2

The other end was on the ground, and the middle was stuck inside the shaft. 

We tried jamming a few different things in temporarily (small screw, cotter pin, etc.) that might let us lower the jack, but they all sheared off as soon as we tried to turn the handle. I scrounged around in the hardware bin but didn't find anything. Then! I thought: martini picks!! They're cheap and the right diameter. Let's try it! Fortunately, these martini picks are apparently built to military specs. No olive shall come loose in any combat drinking situation. They were so hard that we couldn't cut them with our heavy duty wire cutters and we had to break out the bolt cutters. For a martini pick...that holds olives. (Don't ask why we carry bolt cutters.)

Boltcutter-1

We sacrificed two martini picks (awwwww): 

Hitchtrouble-4

We tapped one in from each side and were able to finally manually turn the crank and lower the weight distribution bars so we could unhitch.

Hitchtrouble-3

Today, Kevin ran down the street to the auto parts store and picked up a punch and the correct size roll pins. He punched out the old broken section, tapped in a new pin, and reassembled the jack. Now, we're good as new -- maybe better, since the original seems to have started out with a weak roll pin.

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