snapped off tongue on trailer

IDspud

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Nov 26, 2007
1,431
1,369
113
Oakley, ID
If you’ve got non penetrated material with separated welds it’s time for your insurance companies lawyers to have a talk with the manufacturers lawyers.
 
Dec 21, 2016
244
170
43
41
Wow. Kind of glad mines a metal trailer now. Although it’s getting pretty rusty underneath. I had a small aluminum snowmobile tow behind trailer on skis. Only had about a two inch thin square tubing tongue, but cruising along one day it snapped in half. Replaced it with a metal one. I’ve never heard of a large trailer having that happen. Kind of makes you think it had a flaw in the aluminum? Glad everyone was OK.
I’m sure you meant steel, because aluminum is metal too.
 

Mafesto

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Nov 26, 2007
11,460
8,629
113
Northeast SD
in my life time, seen it 3-4 times, all aluminum trailers
Happened to us about ten years ago wit a steel frame enclosed.
Very fortunate that it was still hanging by a portion of the top of the tongue tube, so it did not leave the truck.
We were able to find a local with a stick welder in Edgemont, SD, and we were back on the road in 2-3 hours!
 

Reg2view

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Feb 1, 2010
2,374
1,573
113
Yeah, pure aluminum and non-tempered is soft. 6061-T6, which is the alloy and temper of most/many large tubed rectangular and tubular extrusions for fab, is hard. Maybe bend it a couple degrees once after tempering, before it cracks, maybe not. You can't bend it back. Extruders/heat treaters and fab shops should know this well. Can be annealed, manipulated, and rehardended, but cheaper to replace, especially for large tubes. Also seen it in the bike industry - crash an aluminum frame bike, toss it - a person is foolish to ever ride a repaired aluminum or CF bike. Very different than steel or Ti frames.

Real point, and why I'm responding - OEMs are finding that long-term exposure to salt environments also weaken the molecular structure of hardened Al alloys and promotes cracking and fatigue, which could contribute to this, or maybe there was a tongue drop once with a load, etc., and road fatigue took over. Aluminum trailer frames have been around a long time, I've owned three myself since 2001. Another reason to watch and look, especially at welds. With the sodium chloride solutions being sprayed in the past five years in huge qtys in the MW and east, new issues are bound to come up.
 

Super 8

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Feb 2, 2012
311
277
63
Happened to my 1996 newman's sled bed alum trailer. Took it back to the factory and they doubled the hitch tongue and sent me on my way, free of charge.
 

Attachments

  • trailer.jpg
    trailer.jpg
    872.9 KB · Views: 83

Ex-Flit

Active member
Lifetime Membership
Dec 16, 2007
168
37
28
North Branch, MN
You would think all trailers would be doubled up like that. I just looked at a 2019 Amera lite and the specs. called out that the tongue is tripled beamed. Makes you wonder why they are doing that???
 

Coldfinger

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Nov 26, 2007
2,321
497
83
Nebraska
I was curious what a triple tongue looked like but didnt see one on the Ameralite site. Maybe I missed it.

My aluminum 14’ cargo trailer tongue has an interesting design. 3 large rectangular pieces.
 

Attachments

  • 86084343-3495-4D41-92A9-8079F82B77F0.jpeg
    86084343-3495-4D41-92A9-8079F82B77F0.jpeg
    73 KB · Views: 67

Ex-Flit

Active member
Lifetime Membership
Dec 16, 2007
168
37
28
North Branch, MN
I was curious what a triple tongue looked like but didnt see one on the Ameralite site. Maybe I missed it.

My aluminum 14’ cargo trailer tongue has an interesting design. 3 large rectangular pieces.
What I am guessing is it is one pole but 3 tubes inside of each other, because when I looked at the picture of it, it didn't look much different than mine. I wish mine had 3 beams coming together like that! it would have to be stronger than what they did for mine.
 

jim

Well-known member
Nov 26, 2007
1,003
620
113
Boise
Aluminum alloys used on trailers does not flex well and is not very tough from a metallurgical sense...it cracks easily and fatigues no matter how light the cycle (which is why airframe are rated by hours). It will also initiate cracks pretty quickly due to corrosion or physical damage like scratches of dents. Steel is strong and tough...will flex, doesnt fatigue easily.

If you can share a pic of the hitch from the truck side, could likely see shiny spots and watermark lines where the crack started...and grew.
 

Ex-Flit

Active member
Lifetime Membership
Dec 16, 2007
168
37
28
North Branch, MN
Aluminum alloys used on trailers does not flex well and is not very tough from a metallurgical sense...it cracks easily and fatigues no matter how light the cycle (which is why airframe are rated by hours). It will also initiate cracks pretty quickly due to corrosion or physical damage like scratches of dents. Steel is strong and tough...will flex, doesnt fatigue easily.

If you can share a pic of the hitch from the truck side, could likely see shiny spots and watermark lines where the crack started...and grew.
I have some pictures, I will be posting some soon, I have been holding on to them because we are still working with Amera lite to get them to help me out. The other day they offered to pick up the trailer and bring it back to there facility to re build it. We are just waiting for the insurance co. to get back to us so we can make a decision.

So, here is my question? So when I buy my next trailer do I buy a steel framed trailer or an aluminum trailer? Is it worth it to go with a car / sxs / snowmobile trailer with heavier rated axles? Would a trailer like that be more beefed up?
 

Chadx

♫ Off the trail again. Just can't wait to get...
Lifetime Membership
Feb 2, 2010
646
401
63
Bozeman, MT
Scary event but very rare. Let them repair it and pay for any damages and keep running it. If you replace with different trailer, don't let this scare you away from aluminum. Base your decision on the other typical steel vs aluminum factors (cost, weight, salt/corrision, etc.) and buy based on that.
 
Jan 13, 2015
9
5
3
Samething happened to me with a 29 x7 at almost the same location on the the toung. No question 100% totaled. No way would my insurance company repair it with the risk of it breaking again. Also now that trailers are so much higher in cost due to supply chain you should be gething a much higher payout to replace it. Mine was mint not a thing wrong with it then that happened. Don’t let them try to fix it.
 

Super 8

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Feb 2, 2012
311
277
63
You would think all trailers would be doubled up like that. I just looked at a 2019 Amera lite and the specs. called out that the tongue is tripled beamed. Makes you wonder why they are doing that???
This is the best pic I could find off my 1996 brochure, as you see it's not just a hollow tube. My hitch was a 3"X4", they since went to a taller tube.
 

Attachments

  • sledbed.jpg
    sledbed.jpg
    608.5 KB · Views: 55

Ex-Flit

Active member
Lifetime Membership
Dec 16, 2007
168
37
28
North Branch, MN
Samething happened to me with a 29 x7 at almost the same location on the the toung. No question 100% totaled. No way would my insurance company repair it with the risk of it breaking again. Also now that trailers are so much higher in cost due to supply chain you should be gething a much higher payout to replace it. Mine was mint not a thing wrong with it then that happened. Don’t let them try to fix it.
That is where I am at. I really don't think I can trust using my trailer again. If the trailer would just break again that would be one thing, but the chance of someone getting killed next time is another. We were really lucky this time.
 

Fosgate

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Mar 28, 2005
9,049
954
113
Rapid City, SD
I'll chime in as an insurance adjuster/automotive physical damage appraiser for another carrier. I see it on rare occasion with older or neglected trailers. Thing is with shops working on aluminum is trying to avoid contamination to avoid galvanic corrosion when working with aluminum. Even Ford has a problem with this and that's why you see Ford explorers with the paint bubbling on the left and right side of the hood from where a tool contaminated the aluminum when holding the hood before paint. I would suspect cause of loss to be ether contamination of the aluminum at the factory or that tongue had enough torque placed on it at one point of it's life to compromise the metal and it just gave way. While insurance may not cover a manufacturers defect they will typically cover the resulting damage (or at least my company does). We will typically take care of our insured and hire engineers/legal and have factory representation present to do a cause and origin inspection in an attempt to subrogate (recover) the damages the insurance paid you and recover your deductible. That is, IF the trailer has a high enough value. A $100k custom horse trailer I have done before. But for something under $30k probably only go so far and if you can't dismiss the issue of toque applied, prior Collison with the hitch, bumper etc then insurance is wasting their time.

I just wrote a check out for a similar trailer for hail damage, 28ft for one side of replacement panels run about $7k a length $5k for the roof and another $2k to reskin the back door. Depending where he were to take it to probably see a $2500-3k supplement for roughly $15k and the trailer booked at $20k. In my state she's totaled and the year of the trailer put the salvage at about $6k expected salvage value. He'll probably keep it as hail damage is not that big of deal. Yours however I would expect that salvage to go relatively cheap because of the structural safety issues.

I would just clean your stuff out of it, remove anything you want to keep or tell the appraiser that looks at it if you intend to keep the track slides, tie downs, cabinets or lights that you may have put in it. RV's, Campers and trailers are bringing really good values and often more than what they are insured for in the stated value. So if they are only giving you a couple hundred bucks for those items and you want to mount them in the new one, I'd be sure that the company does not run an appraisal with those items in consideration otherwise they are theirs. Take that stuff. Let the trailer go and let it become insurance companies problem to deal with.

As far as new selection, I would not let this steer you away from another aluminum either. I've seen just as many wrecked steel ones as aluminum and your situation is fairly rare. I'm also buying an aluminum enclosed soo also. Need any other advise dealing with this just PM me.
 

Ex-Flit

Active member
Lifetime Membership
Dec 16, 2007
168
37
28
North Branch, MN
I'll chime in as an insurance adjuster/automotive physical damage appraiser for another carrier. I see it on rare occasion with older or neglected trailers. Thing is with shops working on aluminum is trying to avoid contamination to avoid galvanic corrosion when working with aluminum. Even Ford has a problem with this and that's why you see Ford explorers with the paint bubbling on the left and right side of the hood from where a tool contaminated the aluminum when holding the hood before paint. I would suspect cause of loss to be ether contamination of the aluminum at the factory or that tongue had enough torque placed on it at one point of it's life to compromise the metal and it just gave way. While insurance may not cover a manufacturers defect they will typically cover the resulting damage (or at least my company does). We will typically take care of our insured and hire engineers/legal and have factory representation present to do a cause and origin inspection in an attempt to subrogate (recover) the damages the insurance paid you and recover your deductible. That is, IF the trailer has a high enough value. A $100k custom horse trailer I have done before. But for something under $30k probably only go so far and if you can't dismiss the issue of toque applied, prior Collison with the hitch, bumper etc then insurance is wasting their time.

I just wrote a check out for a similar trailer for hail damage, 28ft for one side of replacement panels run about $7k a length $5k for the roof and another $2k to reskin the back door. Depending where he were to take it to probably see a $2500-3k supplement for roughly $15k and the trailer booked at $20k. In my state she's totaled and the year of the trailer put the salvage at about $6k expected salvage value. He'll probably keep it as hail damage is not that big of deal. Yours however I would expect that salvage to go relatively cheap because of the structural safety issues.

I would just clean your stuff out of it, remove anything you want to keep or tell the appraiser that looks at it if you intend to keep the track slides, tie downs, cabinets or lights that you may have put in it. RV's, Campers and trailers are bringing really good values and often more than what they are insured for in the stated value. So if they are only giving you a couple hundred bucks for those items and you want to mount them in the new one, I'd be sure that the company does not run an appraisal with those items in consideration otherwise they are theirs. Take that stuff. Let the trailer go and let it become insurance companies problem to deal with.

As far as new selection, I would not let this steer you away from another aluminum either. I've seen just as many wrecked steel ones as aluminum and your situation is fairly rare. I'm also buying an aluminum enclosed soo also. Need any other advise dealing with this just PM me.

Thanks for all of the information. I really appreciate it.

We are still waiting on the estimate for the damages. Our insurance company just dumped that problem on us. They have had it for almost a month and had someone go and look at it, but he would not give them an estimate. So after calling them a bunch they are now telling me that I have to come up with someone to give us an estimate. So we finally found someone from a company called I 29. They have been really helpful. They were willing to drive out to the salvage yard to take care of the estimate, but the insurance co. will not let them do that. They are insisting that the trailer be put on a flat bed and hauled to there shop! So, we were trying to save the insurance company some money, but I guess they are not into saving money!

We are still working with the manufacturer as well, they would really like to take a look at the trailer to make sure this doesn't happen again. So far they have be pretty good to deal with.
 

Fosgate

Well-known member
Lifetime Membership
Mar 28, 2005
9,049
954
113
Rapid City, SD
Thanks for all of the information. I really appreciate it.

We are still waiting on the estimate for the damages. Our insurance company just dumped that problem on us. They have had it for almost a month and had someone go and look at it, but he would not give them an estimate. So after calling them a bunch they are now telling me that I have to come up with someone to give us an estimate. So we finally found someone from a company called I 29. They have been really helpful. They were willing to drive out to the salvage yard to take care of the estimate, but the insurance co. will not let them do that. They are insisting that the trailer be put on a flat bed and hauled to there shop! So, we were trying to save the insurance company some money, but I guess they are not into saving money!

We are still working with the manufacturer as well, they would really like to take a look at the trailer to make sure this doesn't happen again. So far they have be pretty good to deal with.
If the company is willing to flat bed tow it then so be it so long as they are paying for it. They probably want the most accurate estimate as possible without doing a teardown so if they think it is repairable that they do not get slapped with a big supplement later that had they known, they would have totaled it before. Weird they don't have some kind of estimate started though. I have 4 days from the time I'm dispatched to to inspect and 24 hours to have an estimate drawn up best I can from the time of inspection. Do you have any dents showing in the roof or side panels further back from the front?
 

Ex-Flit

Active member
Lifetime Membership
Dec 16, 2007
168
37
28
North Branch, MN
If the company is willing to flat bed tow it then so be it so long as they are paying for it. They probably want the most accurate estimate as possible without doing a teardown so if they think it is repairable that they do not get slapped with a big supplement later that had they known, they would have totaled it before. Weird they don't have some kind of estimate started though. I have 4 days from the time I'm dispatched to to inspect and 24 hours to have an estimate drawn up best I can from the time of inspection. Do you have any dents showing in the roof or side panels further back from the front?
the dents are mainly in the front and 2 smaller ones just past the side door towards the back where both of the sleds hit both sides with the tunnel and bumper. Not sure if there is any roof damage.

They said that they are super busy with other clams, so they were having problems getting someone out to give an estimate.

I am just worried that every time they move it they are causing more damage. after the last time they moved it there was aluminum pieces in the trailer there weren't there before.
 
Premium Features