Well, Duwayne and Darla have made quite a few minor RV-ing mistakes, but nothing like this one! The day started out quite nicely. The Gumbos hitched up the rig at their Sawthooth campsite and took off for Black Canyon Campsite in the western part of Joshua Tree National Park. When they arrived at the campsite, the sign said that the place was “full”, but Darla Jean, using her expert social skills, convinced the campground official to give us a pull-through campsite. They pulled into the site, only to find that the ground was not nearly level. So Duwayne spent about 30 minutes digging trenches under one set of tires and pulling the rig up onto leveling devices on the other two tires. They then unhitched the truck. This is when they made their FIRST mistake: they didn’t look to see if there was room for their slide-outs.
For those of you who are not familiar with 5th-wheel terms (and there will be a few used during this post), slide-outs are the parts of an RV that extend out from the main unit, thus making the interior living space much larger.
The problem on this day was that Duwayne and Darla Jean hadn’t noticed a large Joshua Tree that was right where one of the slide-outs needed to extend.
This meant that the Gumbos needed to re-hitch the truck to the 5th-wheel so that they could reposition the rig. Now you’ll need to know a few more 5th-wheel terms:
So, the way you hitch a truck to a 5th-wheel is by backing the truck until the KING PIN is engaged with the opened hitch jaws, at which point, the hitch jaws automaticly close around the king pin. You then lock the jaws and install a locking pin to keep the jaws from opening. Finally, you retract the landing gear (the legs that are supporting the front of the 5th wheel) until all of the weight is being supported by the hitch and truck.
Well . . . in this particular instance, Duwayne must have overlooked SOMETHING. He backed the truck up, saw that the hitch had moved to the closed position, installed the locking pin, retracted the landing gear and started to pull forward. That’s when brown stinky stuff hit the fan! Apparently, even though the hitch was locked, the jaws were NOT securing the king pin and, as the truck pulled forward, the entire front end of the 5th-wheel came crashing down onto one of the bed rails (fenders) of the truck, crushing it!
To make matters worse, the front of the fifth wheel was now down so low that the landing gear could not extend enough to raise the king pin high enough to re-hitch!! Thus entailed about an hour and a half of head-scratching, cursing, pacing around and cursing. Duwayne was FINALLY able to use a bottle jack on the bed of the pick-up to raise the king pin, little by little, until he could extend the landing gear far enough to re-hitch. Sheesh!! Needless to say that this event took more than the normal amount of beer to calm Duwayne down.
The only thing that worries the Gumbos is that, because they like to learn by their mistakes, they need to know how this happened. And it isn’t clear HOW this happened. After the front of the 5th-wheel fell, Duwayne looked at the hitch and the jaws WERE closed and locked. So how did the rig become detached? The only thing he can figure is that, when he had backed the truck, the king pin had tapped the jaws of the hitch, causing them to close. And, even though, he had locked the jaws, they must not have been gripping the king pin. At least that’s his story for now (and he’ll stick to it until he can think of something better!)
All in all, just another day in paradise!