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Old 07-11-2016, 11:29 AM   #1
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Andersen Hitch and Atwood Coupler

In a previous thread I posted how on our last trip the yoke was found in the open position after several hours of towing. A few commented on how this couldn't happen with the pin in place but in fact it did. After doing some research I found that not only can this happen, it has been happening and Andersen has listed the Atwood couplers they feel are not compatible. While the AT80072 that Escape uses is not on that list I just spoke to Jason Green at Andersen to get some insight.

He said that because the Andersen puts a lot of force on the back of the ball and that there is a lot of forward thrust the fins that seat into place on top of the coupler in the closed position can get rounded. There are two basic fixes: 1. as mentioned on Airforums "I have drilled out the pin hole on the coupler to exactly 3/8" and use a bolt through it which effectively eliminates the coupler movement and there is absolutely no wear showing anywhere on the coupler or fin." Jason explained that you drill the hole through the coupler holes while in the closed position so that they are the same size as the middle ring hole that is fixed on the top of the coupler. As is, they are slightly different sizes which results in some slop. 2. Buy a Latch Repair Kit: Replacement Latch Repair Kit for Atwood Yoke Style A-Frame Couplers, part AT15775 for $19.95 from etrailer.

Not sure which approach I will take. Reaming out the holes where the pin goes is probably easiest, however I have noticed that my coupler fins have rounded some and will probably continue to do so. Installing the Latch Repair Kit isn't expensive but you do evidently have to grind off the OEM rivet on the original.

Two references from Airforums:
Anderson Hitch and Atwood Coupler - Airstream Forums

I am coming un-hitched. - Airstream Forums
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Old 07-11-2016, 11:38 AM   #2
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That one is a completely different style of coupler from the yoke type used on most (if not all) Escapes.
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Old 07-11-2016, 11:40 AM   #3
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I know Brian, however I included that thread simply because there isn't a lot of information on hitch coupler problems and as they age they can be prone to cracking on the pawl and other issues. Something to keep abreast of on older trailers.
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Old 07-11-2016, 11:56 AM   #4
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2. Buy a Latch Repair Kit: Replacement Latch Repair Kit for Atwood Yoke Style A-Frame Couplers, part AT15775 for $19.95 from etrailer.
...
Installing the Latch Repair Kit isn't expensive but you do evidently have to grind off the OEM rivet on the original.
True, installing the repair kit requires removing the original parts, which means grinding off the staked end of the original pin (I wouldn't call it a rivet, but okay, that works). The replacement is a shear bolt with a self-locking nut, to avoid any need to replicate the staking operation. Details direct from Atwood:
MPD 87297 - Latch Replacement

This kit exists to replace worn parts (if you ever manage to wear a yoke-type coupler, which most travel trailer owners won't live long enough to do), so it doesn't change the design. Other than restarting the clock on how long before the Andersen No-Sway destroys the coupler again, it's hard to see how this fixes the problem - do the locking pin holes line up more precisely, like the result of the other fix approach?

It appears that with this kit, the pin only locates the lever in the yoke - it doesn't directly keep the yoke from moving. That means that if the action of the WD hitch bashes the corners off the fins again, the yoke can move again. The fundamental dependence on the fins engaging the slots (which isn't an issue unless one is using the Andersen No-Sway) isn't changed unless the lever is actually pinned to the coupler housing, as suggested by this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossue View Post
Jason explained that you drill the hole through the coupler holes while in the closed position so that they are the same size as the middle ring hole that is fixed on the top of the coupler.
My old Atwood doesn't have a tab on the top of the coupler housing with a hole for a locking pin, and of the many variations of this design (at least a couple of which have been used by Escape) only some have this feature.
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Old 07-11-2016, 11:58 AM   #5
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I know Brian, however I included that thread simply because there isn't a lot of information on hitch coupler problems and as they age they can be prone to cracking on the pawl and other issues. Something to keep abreast of on older trailers.
Good thing to watch , but the same fixes wouldn't apply.
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Old 07-11-2016, 12:09 PM   #6
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I somewhat accidentally purchased a 5/16th coupler pin, which I like because it reduces the slop in what I assume are my 1/4" pins.

A temp fix but now I know to check the fins. Still like my Andersen but I use a normal stinger for most days.
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Old 07-11-2016, 12:16 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
This kit exists to replace worn parts (if you ever manage to wear a yoke-type coupler, which most travel trailer owners won't live long enough to do), so it doesn't change the design. Other than restarting the clock on how long before the Andersen No-Sway destroys the coupler again, it's hard to see how this fixes the problem - do the locking pin holes line up more precisely, like the result of the other fix approach?

It appears that with this kit, the pin only locates the lever in the yoke - it doesn't directly keep the yoke from moving. That means that if the action of the WD hitch bashes the corners off the fins again, the yoke can move again. The fundamental dependence on the fins engaging the slots (which isn't an issue unless one is using the Andersen No-Sway) isn't changed unless the lever is actually pinned to the coupler housing, as suggested by this:
The Airstream owner in post #7 of first link mentions he bought a whole new coupler then Andersen put out the bulletin right afterwards. He then drilled the 3/8" hole and "effectively eliminates coupler movement" with the coupler now and hasn't had any more issues with the fins getting rounded.

Am not using the Andersen anymore and am going to buy a Pro Series trunnion WDH so this should not happen again after replacing the coupler latch.
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Old 08-05-2017, 01:13 PM   #8
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One reason Andersen was popular was it is very light. My problems with it weren't with the cone material; instead it was the chain guides that were being eaten through. The reason I switched was after the yoke started opening and I received a full refund on the unit from Andersen.

Went with the Pro Series with round bars after being told at Etrailer the trunnion was stiffer. Although I get a little less ground clearance I only use it when travelling long distances. Much easier to install & remove than the Andersen.

Do not try to use the Atwood latch repair kit with your Escape- it won't fit as Escape uses a RAM coupler that looks like an Atwood, however is a Chinese knockoff.
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Old 08-05-2017, 01:21 PM   #9
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I've seen Andersens where the chain guides were being worn, but I think it was caused by the brackets being attached to the frame at the wrong angle. Ours have shown no wear.
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Old 08-05-2017, 01:30 PM   #10
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Not sure it was an installation problem(ETI installed); can the angle even be changed? I thought it was because we were logging a lot of miles compared to many and was noticing the wear sooner.

Edit: Just read a post on Airforums dated 7/15 that alludes to Andersen adjusting the angle of the brackets to stop chain wear. We bought ours in September 2014, probably before they did that. They also changed the cone material to address that issue.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f142...ch-137902.html
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Old 08-05-2017, 07:04 PM   #11
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I've seen Andersens where the chain guides were being worn, but I think it was caused by the brackets being attached to the frame at the wrong angle. Ours have shown no wear.
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Not sure it was an installation problem(ETI installed); can the angle even be changed?
No, the angle is not adjustable... or at least it wasn't. The guides ran parallel to the tongue frame rails, which will not be correct for any setup... but how far wrong it is will depend on how far back from the ball the frame brackets are mounted. They are also supposed to be vertical (so the guides are horizontal, and hopefully level with the chain anchor points on the hitch head. These brackets tend to tilt (due to the huge continual force on them by the chains), which would affect alignment of the chain and guide.

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Edit: Just read a post on Airforums dated 7/15 that alludes to Andersen adjusting the angle of the brackets to stop chain wear.
...
Andersen Hitch - Airstream Forums
Do they now have a different angle? That would be good, but a lot of crap flies through that Airstream forum, and the current brackets certainly don't look like they're angled from the frame to me.
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Old 08-05-2017, 11:38 PM   #12
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No, the angle is not adjustable... or at least it wasn't. The guides ran parallel to the tongue frame rails, which will not be correct for any setup... but how far wrong it is will depend on how far back from the ball the frame brackets are mounted. They are also supposed to be vertical (so the guides are horizontal, and hopefully level with the chain anchor points on the hitch head. These brackets tend to tilt (due to the huge continual force on them by the chains), which would affect alignment of the chain and guide.
They're not exactly vertical. The chain guides are welded to the brackets at more than 90 degrees - probably closer to 95 degrees. The brackets (on mine anyway) are slanted so the top is slightly further away from the ball than the bottom. That makes the chain guide parallel to the frame. If the angle is a bit off when installed, the chains will indeed rub or bind on the front of the guides. They (again in mine only - assume it's the same for others) wont move at all when properly installed because they are not only bolted top and bottom, but have set screws which prevent any movement of the brackets.

If the brackets are installed with too much rearward pitch, it will cause the chains to bind because the guides are pitched slightly upward instead of parallel. I have seen them improperly installed this way, and thus my previous comment.
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Old 08-05-2017, 11:56 PM   #13
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They're not exactly vertical. The chain guides are welded to the brackets at more than 90 degrees - probably closer to 95 degrees. The brackets (on mine anyway) are slanted so the top is slightly further away from the ball than the bottom. That makes the chain guide parallel to the frame. If the angle is a bit off when installed, the chains will indeed rub or bind on the front of the guides.
...
If the brackets are installed with too much rearward pitch, it will cause the chains to bind because the guides are pitched slightly upward instead of parallel. I have seen them improperly installed this way, and thus my previous comment.
Okay, that's alignment in the vertical plane including the frame (on each side), which could make the chains rub the top or bottom of the guide opening. There is still the issue of alignment in the horizontal plane, which could make the chains rub either side of the guide opening. That's where I don't see an angle provided in the design, and the misalignment that I would expect even with proper installation and no slip.
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Old 08-06-2017, 10:45 AM   #14
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It's hard to see in any of the photos of Andersen hitches on their website. There are apparently several different ones depending on the frame size, etc. Many of the photos online show an exactly 90 degree angle between the brackets and guides, but I've never seen those on an Escape.


On my model, if they're installed at the proper distance from the connection point on the triangle plate on a standard 50 degree A-frame, there is no binding on either side of the guides. Mount the brackets a little forward of where they should be, and the chains will bind on the outer side of the guides. Since the chains are of fixed length, there isn't much wiggle room either way, so we are talking small differences.

There's one other thing you notice too. The guides are not exactly at the same angle as the frame rails, but are turned outward very slightly. That's because the chains aren't even with the frame. They flare outward a bit from the frame the closer they are to the triangle plate. This slight outward flare of the guides accomodates that - at least on my hitch. Perhaps these subtle differences vary with different Andersen models? Could be the reason for the binding and wear some have experienced.
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Old 08-07-2017, 01:10 AM   #15
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On my model, if they're installed at the proper distance from the connection point on the triangle plate on a standard 50 degree A-frame, there is no binding on either side of the guides. Mount the brackets a little forward of where they should be, and the chains will bind on the outer side of the guides. Since the chains are of fixed length, there isn't much wiggle room either way, so we are talking small differences.
True, with the stock chain length. The installation manual allows a substantial change in length:
Quote:
If the obstructions cannot be moved or adjusted, you can accommodate them by removing or adding links to the tension chains as necessary (from the shackle end). IMPORTANT! You can SHORTEN the chain (maximum of 4 links shorter) or ADD several inches to the chain (as many links as needed) with no adverse effect.
They even sell extensions.

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There's one other thing you notice too. The guides are not exactly at the same angle as the frame rails, but are turned outward very slightly.
They need a significant angle in the horizontal plane, in the opposite direction on each side. I note that the installation instructions don't differentiate between left and right guides (which are part of the outer brackets), suggesting that they're all just like all of the photos (no visible angle). While some of the information on the website is likely well out of date (it has been in the past at Andersen), this is the 2015 manual. I wonder if a slight angle is just a manufacturing variance.

Anyway, if they're rubbing I would call Andersen and ask why... and maybe have properly angled guides made locally (there's no rocket science here) if Andersen didn't have a resolution.
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Old 08-07-2017, 06:45 AM   #16
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Andersen has several brackets, an universal 3/4/5/6" as well as 4 3/8" bracket. The latter is what worked best for me for the Escape's 4" frame. The universal would not keep the chains at the needed angle.
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