TRAILER SAFETY CHAINS

dirtydeed

Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
B2650 BH77, BX23TLBM, box blade, rear blade, flail mower, Stump Grinder
Dec 8, 2017
2,098
1,319
113
Wind Gap, PA
Well, a quick search for PA trailer safety requirements turned this up:


Pennsylvania Trailer Hitch and Signal Laws

here's the link:




Whenever 2 vehicles are connected by a ball-and-socket type hitch, or pintle hook without a locking device, they must also be connected by 2 safety chains of equal length, each safety chain having an ultimate strength at least equal to the gross weight of the towed vehicles. The safety chains must be crossed and connected to the towed and towing vehicle and to the towbar to prevent the towbar from dropping to the ground in the event the towbar fails or becomes disconnected. The safety chains must have no more slack than is necessary to permit proper turning.

I've always crossed my chains and will continue to do so no matter what anyone else advises.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

dirtydeed

Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
B2650 BH77, BX23TLBM, box blade, rear blade, flail mower, Stump Grinder
Dec 8, 2017
2,098
1,319
113
Wind Gap, PA
I have tried to see if Illinois law has any requirements about crossed vs uncrossed, yet only I have found thus far is you have to have two safety chains. Yet, as with anything, I could of missed it in the State law.

Reading the arguments on both sides, it seems like the important factor is to make sure you hookup your trailer correctly from the onset to prevent you from having to find out which is the correct method, crossed or uncrossed.
I tried my link above for IL. No mention of chain requirements at all. Sorry.

Y'all might find this informative. Attached as pdf here as well. You can look up for the state that you are interested in. Not sure if it only applies the "RV" pull type trailers or not. My state (PA) list chains MUST BE CROSSED https://fifthwheelst.com › documents › safety › Safety-Chain-Requirement.pdf
 

Attachments

Last edited:

mcmxi

Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
M6060HDC, MX6000HSTC, MX6000HST (sold), BX25TLB (sold), GL7000
Feb 9, 2021
1,842
1,752
113
NW Montana
Well, a quick search for PA trailer safety requirements turned this up:


Pennsylvania Trailer Hitch and Signal Laws

here's the link:




Whenever 2 vehicles are connected by a ball-and-socket type hitch, or pintle hook without a locking device, they must also be connected by 2 safety chains of equal length, each safety chain having an ultimate strength at least equal to the gross weight of the towed vehicles. The safety chains must be crossed and connected to the towed and towing vehicle and to the towbar to prevent the towbar from dropping to the ground in the event the towbar fails or becomes disconnected. The safety chains must have no more slack than is necessary to permit proper turning.

I've always crossed my chains and will continue to do so no matter what anyone else advises.
I stated that PA requires crossed chains and provided links in post #59. If you operate a trailer in the three states that require crossed chains it makes sense to follow state law.

This is Montana's requirement.

"A trailer or pole trailer with GVW of 3,000 lbs. or less must be equipped with a steel safety chain or cable with a minimum diameter of 1/4 inch must be securely fastened to the towing unit. The safety chain or cable may not be connected to the ball but must be connected to the hitch or other frame member of the towing vehicle to prevent the drawbar from dropping to the ground if the ball, socket, or coupler fails. "

If you read this carefully, the law in MT states that the tongue must be held off the ground in the event that the trailer is no longer connected to the tow vehicle. No cradling required.
 

dirtydeed

Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
B2650 BH77, BX23TLBM, box blade, rear blade, flail mower, Stump Grinder
Dec 8, 2017
2,098
1,319
113
Wind Gap, PA
I stated that PA requires crossed chains and provided links in post #59. If you operate a trailer in the three states that require crossed chains it makes sense to follow state law.

This is Montana's requirement.

"A trailer or pole trailer with GVW of 3,000 lbs. or less must be equipped with a steel safety chain or cable with a minimum diameter of 1/4 inch must be securely fastened to the towing unit. The safety chain or cable may not be connected to the ball but must be connected to the hitch or other frame member of the towing vehicle to prevent the drawbar from dropping to the ground if the ball, socket, or coupler fails. "

If you read this carefully, the law in MT states that the tongue must be held off the ground in the event that the trailer is no longer connected to the tow vehicle. No cradling required.
Sorry, I missed that post. Admittedly, I did not read the entire thread. My mistake.

I'll throw two more states into that requirement as well. WA, and WI both state it slightly different:

"Attachment shall be located equally distant from and on opposite sides of the longitudinal centerline of the towing vehicle and the trailer."

To me, that indicates that they want them crossed as well?
 
Last edited:

fried1765

Well-known member

Equipment
Kubota L48 TLB, Ford 1920 FEL, Ford 8N, SCAG Liberty Z, Gravely Pro.
Nov 14, 2019
1,272
912
113
Eastham, Ma
Well, a quick search for PA trailer safety requirements turned this up:


Pennsylvania Trailer Hitch and Signal Laws

here's the link:




Whenever 2 vehicles are connected by a ball-and-socket type hitch, or pintle hook without a locking device, they must also be connected by 2 safety chains of equal length, each safety chain having an ultimate strength at least equal to the gross weight of the towed vehicles. The safety chains must be crossed and connected to the towed and towing vehicle and to the towbar to prevent the towbar from dropping to the ground in the event the towbar fails or becomes disconnected. The safety chains must have no more slack than is necessary to permit proper turning.

I've always crossed my chains and will continue to do so no matter what anyone else advises.
A very clearly written document!
So two or more (?), here on OTT, obviously must believe that the state of Pennsylvania DOT is managed by a group of fools!:ROFLMAO:
 
Last edited:

Biker1mike

Active member

Equipment
B6200, Kubota 2030 Front Blade, King Cutter 60" finishing deck
Jan 11, 2022
254
177
43
Gallatin, NY USA
Some say they will and some say they won't
Some say they do and some say they don't
Some say they shall and some say they shan't
and some say they can and some say they can't
All in all it's all the same
but call me if there's any change

Thank to Boredom, Procol Harum sometime in the 70's maybe late 60's
 

GreensvilleJay

Well-known member

Equipment
BX23-S
Apr 2, 2019
4,647
1,475
113
Greensville,Ontario,Canada
this is interesting.....

"A trailer or pole trailer with GVW of 3,000 lbs. or less must be equipped with a steel safety chain or cable with a minimum diameter of 1/4 inch must be securely fastened to the towing unit. The safety chain or cable may not be connected to the ball but must be connected to the hitch or other frame member of the towing vehicle to prevent the drawbar from dropping to the ground if the ball, socket, or coupler fails. "

1) what about a trailer OVER 3,000# ? wonder what the law says to that...?

2)would like to see HOW a single safety chain/cable can keep the 'drawbar' ( I assume trailer tongue(?) ) from hitting the ground .
 

mcmxi

Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
M6060HDC, MX6000HSTC, MX6000HST (sold), BX25TLB (sold), GL7000
Feb 9, 2021
1,842
1,752
113
NW Montana
this is interesting.....

"A trailer or pole trailer with GVW of 3,000 lbs. or less must be equipped with a steel safety chain or cable with a minimum diameter of 1/4 inch must be securely fastened to the towing unit. The safety chain or cable may not be connected to the ball but must be connected to the hitch or other frame member of the towing vehicle to prevent the drawbar from dropping to the ground if the ball, socket, or coupler fails. "

1) what about a trailer OVER 3,000# ? wonder what the law says to that...?

2)would like to see HOW a single safety chain/cable can keep the 'drawbar' ( I assume trailer tongue(?) ) from hitting the ground .
The quote above is taken from MCA 61-9-208 Additional Equipment Required on Certain Vehicles


MCA 61-9-304 Brakes Required On All Wheels - Exceptions states that trailers under 3,000 lb GVW do not need brakes but they do need a single chain.


Furthermore, MCA 61-9-305 Automatic Trailer Brake Application Upon Breakaway states that any trailer with a GVW in excess of 3,000 lb must have automatic trailer brakes on every wheel.


The state of Montana has no chain requirement for trailers in excess of 3,000 lb GVW because trailer brakes are required on all wheels.

Should I say that again for all those here telling everyone to cross the chains. Montana doesn't require chains on trailers over 3,000 lb GVW but they do require brakes on each wheel that will operate for 15 minutes if the trailer and tow vehicle separate. So the state of Montana with all of the mountains and passes that we have believes that trailer brakes are important, and a chain is only important if the trailer doesn't have brakes. Perhaps they actually thought about this one.
 

hagrid

Well-known member

Equipment
K1600GTL, ZX-14R
Jun 11, 2018
411
290
63
Pittsburgh
A very clearly written document!
So two or more (?), here on OTT, obviously must believe that the state of Pennsylvania DOT is managed by a group of fools!:ROFLMAO:
It's not just PennDOT. This entire state is a huge nest of brazen crooks. Look at the gas tax and then look at the roads. Frigging bridges are falling down. Not hyperbole.
 

Flintknapper

Active member

Equipment
L2350DT
May 3, 2022
185
203
43
Deep East Texas
When doing your cradle test, be sure to roll the trailer forward so that the trailer coupler is below the ball and see how that cradle is working. Many think that the trailer will be the same distance from the truck after a disconnect and just don't look at the whole picture.
Exactly right. I am not in the least against good and provable ideas when it comes to safety. But some things required in the name of 'safety' may not actually be achievable in the real world.

Having read through most of this thread and also having a small trailer of mine hooked up....I compared having the safety chains parallel and crossed. In MY case the loops for the safety chains on the receiver hitch are a whopping 3" apart. This is NOT enough to create a significant 'V' in the chain to which the trailer tongue is supposed to become 'cradled'.

There isn't one chance in Hell of that happening. In a purely unscientific way (admittedly anecdotal) I pulled the tongue back sharply and let it drop 6 times. And exactly SIX times it fell to one side of twisted portion of the chain. Then I did the same thing with the chain parallel and no surprise.... got the same results.

In all cases the safety chains kept the tongue off the ground (owing to their length)....but just barely.

It could be argued that chains connected to the vehicle farther apart might indeed create a 'V' capable of catching the trailer tongue. But not on any of my vehicles. So I am not arguing one way or the other for chain crossing, just saying you might want to look at YOUR set up and consider any laws requiring the same.

Chains1.jpg
Chains2.jpg
Chains3.jpg
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

NCL4701

Well-known member

Equipment
L4701, WC68 chipper, grapple, BB1572 box scrape, Howes 500, 16kW IMD gen
Apr 27, 2020
1,384
1,493
113
Central Piedmont, NC
Exactly right. I am not in the least against good and provable ideas when it comes to safety. But some things required in the name 'safety' may not actually be achievable in the real world.

Having read through most of this thread and also having a small trailer of mine hooked up....I compared having the safety chains parallel and crossed. In MY case the loops for the safety chains on the receiver hitch are a whopping 3" apart. This is NOT enough to create a significant 'V' in the chain to which the trailer tongue is supposed to become 'cradled'.

There isn't one chance in Hell of that happening. In a purely unscientific way (admittedly anecdotal) I pulled the tongue back sharply and let it drop 6 times. And exactly SIX times it fell to one side of twisted portion of the chain. Then I did the same thing with the chain parallel and no surprise got the same results.

In all cases the safety chains kept the tongue off the ground (owing to their length)....but just barely.

It could be argued that chains connected to the vehicle farther apart might indeed create a 'V' capable of catching the trailer tongue. But not on any of my vehicles. So I am not arguing one way or the other for chain crossing, just saying you might want to look at YOUR set up and consider any laws requiring the same.
View attachment 80664 View attachment 80665 View attachment 80666
At least your chains have some separation. I do cross chains more out of habit than any physics argument, but try crossing the chains on this:
FEC5AB64-031A-46DA-A0C3-69A47C06F030.jpeg

8800lb GVW Winnebago that has both chains attached to the same ring. 🙄
 

Flintknapper

Active member

Equipment
L2350DT
May 3, 2022
185
203
43
Deep East Texas
At least your chains have some separation. I do cross chains more out of habit than any physics argument, but try crossing the chains on this:
View attachment 80672
8800lb GVW Winnebago that has both chains attached to the same ring. 🙄

Haha.....!

Yet in some States you would be required to do so. Ineffective or not. IF the purpose of 'chain crossing' is to provide a 'Cradle' for a disconnected trailer tongue (a dubious happenstance to begin with) then running the chains parallel with a chain, cable or nylon 'net' between them would seem a much more effective way to do it.

But this is your Tax Dollars at work folks. legislators creating and passing mostly ineffective 'feel good' laws, rules and regulations. You know we have to spend that money somehow.....right? Like a grant to study shrimp running on a treadmill.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

lynnmor

Well-known member

Equipment
B2601-1
May 3, 2021
622
423
63
Red Lion
In a purely unscientific way (admittedly anecdotal) I pulled the tongue back sharply and let it drop 6 times. And exactly SIX times it fell to one side of twisted portion of the chain. Then I did the same thing with the chain parallel and no surprise got the same results.

In all cases the safety chains kept the tongue off the ground (owing to their length)....but just barely.

View attachment 80665
Thank You.

When all hell breaks loose and the trailer is off the ball, that coupler will go forward under the truck or go back as far as the chains permit. To complete your testing show the coupler all over the place, including under the truck, and then maybe folks can see the utter nonsense in the cradle theory. Only if the trailer brakes (if it has brakes) come on first, brake harder than the truck and stay on till stopped, will the chains have a prayer of keeping the coupler off the road. Now the expert drivers might tell you that they have the wherewithal to operate the brakes by hand in a split second and drive one handed with complete control in an emergency situation.

You cross the chains to prevent binding in a sharp turn.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Henro

Well-known member

Equipment
B2910, BX2200, KX41-2V mini Ex.
May 24, 2019
3,654
1,387
113
North of Pittsburgh PA
At the end of the day, what is the big deal? If some places require them to be crossed, and others don't care, why not just cross them and move on? Especially if the claim is that it makes no difference...one way or the other...

Now if some places specified that safety chains NOT be crossed, while other places required that they be crossed, that would be a different story. But never read that to date.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

mcmxi

Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
M6060HDC, MX6000HSTC, MX6000HST (sold), BX25TLB (sold), GL7000
Feb 9, 2021
1,842
1,752
113
NW Montana
At the end of the day, what is the big deal?
The facts are a big deal along with the ignorant dissemination of bullshit. Don't forget the very first post in this thread ...

fried1765 said:
I see trailers going down the road every day with safety chains improperly connected.
....
Apparently many people do not understand that trailer safety chains must be crossed chains,.... for safety.
....
Having safety chains is not enough, to provide trailer safety, the chains must be used properly to provide appropriate safety.
Someone sets out to tell the rest of us how it is or how it should be. Many here tell us that the "experts" on YouTube or those making state law know better than the rest of us. My objection is the blind, sheepish, lazy, ignorant acceptance of bullshit without independent critical thinking.

As it turns out, I learned from this thread that the state of Montana with all of it's mountain ranges, mountain passes, inclement road conditions and such doesn't require chains at all on trailers with a GVW of 3,000lb or more. They do however require brakes on each wheel of the trailer that must work continuously for at least 15 minutes after the trailer and tow vehicle become separated. So much for chains and their supposed use.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

Henro

Well-known member

Equipment
B2910, BX2200, KX41-2V mini Ex.
May 24, 2019
3,654
1,387
113
North of Pittsburgh PA
The facts are a big deal along with the ignorant dissemination of bullshit. Don't forget the very first post in this thread ...



Someone sets out to tell the rest of us how it is or how it should be. Many here tell us that the "experts" on YouTube or those making state law know better than the rest of us. My objection is the blind, sheepish, lazy, ignorant acceptance of bullshit without independent critical thinking.

As it turns out, I learned from this thread that the state of Montana with all of it's mountain ranges, mountain passes, inclement road conditions and such doesn't require chains at all on trailers with a GVW of 3,000lb or more. They do however require brakes on each wheel of the trailer that must work continuously for at least 15 minutes after the trailer and tow vehicle become separated. So much for chains and their supposed use.
Again, what's the big deal about crossing chains...??? Especially if one's position is that it makes no difference one way or the other...

A more critical question would be if they should be used or not. BUT that question has not be proposed, as far as I remember...
 

Biker1mike

Active member

Equipment
B6200, Kubota 2030 Front Blade, King Cutter 60" finishing deck
Jan 11, 2022
254
177
43
Gallatin, NY USA
I trailer in 9 northeast states. The states vary as to cable, single chain, double chain, crossed and uncrossed.
What they ALL have in common. Cable/chain must support the weight of the trailer. Cable/chain must not drag on pavement and be short enough to keep the tongue from hitting the pavement in a disconnect.

My state requires for them to be crossed, so they are crossed. The landscape trailer requires a shackle to shorten to proper length. NYS inspection has never inspected the chain length.
 

mcmxi

Well-known member
Lifetime Member

Equipment
M6060HDC, MX6000HSTC, MX6000HST (sold), BX25TLB (sold), GL7000
Feb 9, 2021
1,842
1,752
113
NW Montana
Again, what's the big deal about crossing chains...??? Especially if one's position is that it makes no difference one way or the other...

A more critical question would be if they should be used or not. BUT that question has not be proposed, as far as I remember...
I've never raised any objection to attaching chains, crossed or not. From the get go I've only objected to being told that there's only one way to pull a trailer safely, and if you're not doing it that way you're an unsafe idiot. That's all. As it turns out most states have their own rules, some of which make sense and some of which don't.