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  • Boat trailer tongue repair

    My neighbor's son jack knived his Father's boat trailer. The damage, as seen in these pictures, is approximately 18 inches aft of the hitch. The tongue is 3 inch square box tube. The Dad thinks all we need to do is get it red hot and beat it back into shape with a hammer or put it on a frame machine and force it back into shape. In my opinion, all it is going to do is buckle it in another direction. Correct me, if I am wrong, but these are my ideas for repair;
    Cut through the top, which is pushed down now approx 1/4 to 3/8 below the top level of the tube. As seen in the pics, the left side of the box is pushed outward considerably. I am thinking, slicing vertically through that. The bottom is pushed up slightly. By slicing the top and slicing the left side which is buckeled out, I may be able to straighten the tongue somewhat. I may need to cut away the buckled out portions. I think once the tongue is reasonably straight and the outward parts beat back in with no heat, I think the top and both sides need to have plates welded to them for added support. In my understanding, there should be no vertical welding, but weld the side plates on only the top and bottom going horizontally and the plates should be considerably longer than the damaged area. Now those are my ideas. I need advice from the pros, such as Dabar to give me guidance to make the proper repairs. I told the guy that to heat it and beat it back into shape would only weaken that point of the tongue. Pictures to follow.
    The tongue being 3 in square is less than 1/8 in thick.
    What would be the recommended thickness to sideplate the tongue? I will be using a MIG welder; if I do this at all.
    Attached Files
    Nick
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  • #2
    How long is that hitch in total Monte? If it is only 8 or 9 ft. I would just replace the whole tube with 3 X 3 X.188 sq. tube. Our experience is he gets a better hitch , Removes any doubt about the repair & after considering your labour ,not much difference in price.
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    • #3
      Heating it up and bending it back is a band aid at best. The section needs to be replaced or as you have stated cut it open, straighten and weld plate over the top.
      1/8" plate would do.
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      • #4
        The tongue tube should be replaced. Use HSS 3"x3"x1/8" to maintain the same size as the last one. Nominal compression rating (LRFD) for 36" kl is 50,600 lb. Drop down to 2"x2"x1/8" and nominal compression is 29,900 lb for 36" kl.

        Huge overkill, but you have 1/8" of meat to weld to.

        I would not be involved in any repair that re-uses the damaged tongue.

        On a side not, I recommend replacing that jack with a different type, or welding the retaining ring on. Had 2 of those fail well under the rated load when the retaining ring popped off. One resulted in no injuries. Second one allowed the tongue to fall on a worker's leg, trapping him and cutting it to the bone. Tongue weight at time of the accident was 214lb, which is heavy to lift by hand and impossible to lift off with your ankle pinned under it.

        Oh, and the rating on those jacks is 1000lb.

        80% of failures are from 20% of causes
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        • #5
          So far I think both of you guys are on the money. I checked my local supplier
          and can get 24' of 3" square .120 wall for $67. If I take his off...duplicate the
          holes, prime and paint.........reassemble....he will have a much better repair.
          The wheels are a ways back and I feel a lot of stress on the tongue with all the banging around. He said the trailer is way overbuilt for his boat weight. I then ask him what if someone later puts a heavier boat on it. Who needs the
          liability? I looked for a sticker indicating load weight and didn't find any. All I found was a model number.
          Nick
          Nick
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          • #6
            At least there are no hydraulic surge brakes to worry about. Our boat trailer has a steel sleeve that slides over the 3 inch square and is welded on, with an actuator assembly that mounts/slides inside, and has the actual hitch.

            While I like the idea of pricing out a complete replacement tube, I don't know that it actually saves any labor by the time you consider cutting the places it attaches to the rest of the trailer, and welding the new tube in.

            Part of me would be tempted to cut out a three inch section, and prepare a replacement three inch section that has four 17 inch long 1/8x2 straps plug welded inside, one on each side of the tube. Then drill a suitable pattern of half inch holes down the first 6 inches of each end of the existing tube to plug weld these straps to the existing tube.. I think it is a bit more work but should provide a pretty clean looking repair.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bodybagger View Post
              The tongue tube should be replaced. Use HSS 3"x3"x1/8" to maintain the same size as the last one. Nominal compression rating (LRFD) for 36" kl is 50,600 lb. Drop down to 2"x2"x1/8" and nominal compression is 29,900 lb for 36" kl.

              Huge overkill, but you have 1/8" of meat to weld to.

              I would not be involved in any repair that re-uses the damaged tongue.

              On a side not, I recommend replacing that jack with a different type, or welding the retaining ring on. Had 2 of those fail well under the rated load when the retaining ring popped off. One resulted in no injuries. Second one allowed the tongue to fall on a worker's leg, trapping him and cutting it to the bone. Tongue weight at time of the accident was 214lb, which is heavy to lift by hand and impossible to lift off with your ankle pinned under it.

              Oh, and the rating on those jacks is 1000lb.
              What do you mean HSS. To me that means High speed steel. What am I missing? What retaining ring are you reffering to. This tongue is bolted on and I belive if a bolt is removed, it can be tilted.
              Nick
              Nick
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              Propane Forge
              60" X 60" router/plasma table

              www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTu7wicVCmQ
              Vist my site: www.nixstuff.com
              and check out some of my ironwork and other stuff

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              • #8
                If a customer came to me with that and asked me to heat it up and beat it back into shape I would tell him no thanks. I would offer to replace it with a new tube or not do the repair at all.

                I would also go up a size in wall thickeness to prevent it from happening again and use pre-galvanized tube, if available.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Desertrider33 View Post
                  If a customer came to me with that and asked me to heat it up and beat it back into shape I would tell him no thanks. I would offer to replace it with a new tube or not do the repair at all.

                  I would also go up a size in wall thickeness to prevent it from happening again and use pre-galvanized tube, if available.
                  Yeah, if the OP has a boat trailer place close to him they will have a galv replacement tongue piece to sell as a replacement. Same as an axle, springs or whatever.
                  My boat trailer is a McClain and is galvanized because the boat is a salt water craft. McClain has a shop in Houston and I have bought almost every piece for that trailer at different times over the past 35 years I have owned the boat....... pg
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                  • #10
                    Monte,

                    You've already gotten the right advice. Replace the tube.

                    Scabbing it up is asking for trouble. Plus, total liability would rest with you.

                    Nuff said.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by monte55 View Post
                      What do you mean HSS. To me that means High speed steel. What am I missing? What retaining ring are you reffering to. This tongue is bolted on and I belive if a bolt is removed, it can be tilted.
                      Nick
                      HSS = Hollow Structural Shape

                      I believe the retaining ring he refers to is the U bolts that hold the jack on..... I hate swinging jacks as well.... All of my trailers have A-frame tongues...


                      I'd definitely replace the entire tube as well...
                      Last edited by bretsk2500; 09-03-2009, 07:35 PM.
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                      • #12
                        The retaining ring he is talking about is the swivel/pivot that the jack utilizes to swing up on.
                        I see hundreds of them and truthfully not very many failures except for the castor part around the wheels.

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                        • #13
                          I had one of those jacks swing up by itself the other day. Fortunately, it was on a very small boat trailer and nothing happened, but it did make me jump back right quick!
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                          • #14
                            Stupid Jack!!!
                            I guess I am simply used to them.
                            Everybody uses them it seems and I just have grown accustomed to them.
                            On a boat trailer about anything else doesn't function quite as well.
                            BTW Monte...I would chop out the whole piece as well but I already see that's what you are planning.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by monte55 View Post
                              What retaining ring are you reffering to. This tongue is bolted on and I belive if a bolt is removed, it can be tilted.
                              Nick
                              The body of the jack has a plate with (approximately) a 2" diameter hole. The mounting bracket has a 2" diameter tube with a retaining ring groove cut into it.

                              The body of the jack slides onto the tube and the retaining ring is all that keeps the jack from popping off. There is a spring-loaded pin that allows the user to pull the pin and rotate the jack up, to swing it out of the way.

                              What happened in both cases was that while a person was raising the jack, the retaining ring popped off, allowing the jack to kick under the tongue, tipping the tongue toward the user as it fell.

                              In the one that resulted in the injury, I took photos while weighing the tongue, showing the actual tongue weight, position the jack kicked in toward, where it landed, etc.

                              This pic pretty much says it all. The displaced gravel was from the injured worker trying to free himself, which actually caused the angle sections to cut deeper into his leg. What the picture doesn't show is the wound and the sounds he made when it happened.



                              And here you can see the deformation of the retaining ring.



                              After this, I put a small weld bead around the retaining ring on the one trailer (of 3) that hadn't failed yet, and have since never purchased any Reese Towpower jacks. Now I put Bulldog jacks on trailers.

                              Given the tongue weight being well within the limit, and the level of injury from that weight being so significant, I recommend either welding the ring or replacing the jack with a different type.
                              Attached Files

                              80% of failures are from 20% of causes
                              Never compromise your principles today in the name of furthering them in the future.
                              "All I ever wanted was an honest week's pay for an honest day's work." -Sgt. Bilko
                              "We are generally better persuaded by reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others." -Pascal
                              "Since we cannot know all that there is to be known about anything, we ought to know a little about everything." -Pascal

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