Alice and I were driving from Hot Springs, South Dakota to our next campground in Loveland, Colorado.
When we got on I-25, the road was concrete and had a very bumpy rhythm, Badump, Badump, Badump, and the road had lots of repaired and unrepaired holes in it. – it was so bad it was actually making us sick.
I heard this weird noise from the hitch area which kind of felt like bad Chucking. We have a Lippert Rota-Flex Pin box and a B & W companion Hitch, and usually do not have any chucking at all.
Alice started looking for the next rest stop so we could check it out – even though we were only 30 minutes from our campground. We always pay attention to our Spidey Sense – If we are concerned something is wrong, we get off the highway and check it out immediately.
While we were exiting the highway and applying the brakes, I could feel and HEAR something bad happening at the hitch. When we stopped at a stop sign, there was a loud BANG. I was like, what the hell was that.
We continued to the rest stop – which was kind of an unusual off the highway type with several stops and turns. Every time I hit the brakes, I heard another loud BANG.
When we stopped, I went back and looked at the hitch and King pin to see what was wrong, I didn’t see anything obvious – at first.
I had Alice get behind the wheel and pull the rig forward a few feet, then hit the Brakes HARD so I could see what was making the noise.
I could see that the Rota-Flex hinge was moving freely, and NOW I could see that the rubber bumper between the pin box frame and the swiveling king pin was missing, and I found it in the truck bed behind the hitch – we were LUCKY it didn’t fly out.
Instead of a RIGID king pin, the roto-flex king pin has a rubber bumper which allows the pin to flex and move with the rotation of the hitch to smooth out the bumps in the road, giving a smoother ride, less bothersome chucking and less stress on the truck, hitch and RV.
RV repair locations.
I climbed into the back of the truck and positioned the rubber bumper close to where it was SUPPOSED TO BE, and tried to figure out how to get it back in.
I started hammering away at the rubber bumper with my dead blow hammer to get it back in, even though it is rubber it is very stiff and rigid. At first, I thought it was going in, but I couldn’t get it past about one quarter the way in.
Alice saw me struggling to hammer from inside the truck bed and suggested we unhitch the truck so I could get in a better position to hammer it in. Also it will make it easier to hammer in with the weight off the king pin, allowing the bottom swivel to move as I hammer it in.
Now, I started pounding with my 3 POUND hammer, but it was just stuck and wouldn’t go any further. I decided to cover the entire rubber bumper with hand soap for lubrication, then started hammering AGAIN.
I was able to finally get the rubber bumper back in place. To help make sure the rubber bumper stayed in place until we got to the campground, I wrapped the bumper with duct tape – duct tape can fix ANYTHING.
We hitched back up and tested the king pin by pulling forward and braking, to see if the rubber bumper would stay in place. It Did
We made it to our campsite safely without any damage and the bumper did NOT come out again, but the delay caused us to get to there in the dark – which Alice hates to PARK IN THE DARK. We should make t-shirts that say WE DON’T PARK IN THE DARK. Is there anyone else out there that hates that too?
But we knew this was NOT a permanent fix, so I called Lippert who makes the rota-flex king pin the next morning.
After getting transferred a few times, I eventually got to a very competent tech named Don in the towing-hitching department. He told me they were aware of this problem and our current pin box could NOT be fixed – it HAD to be replaced with a new one, but they would reimburse us for the cost of the pin box AND having an RV mobile repair tech come and install it.
Luckily, we were at this campground for the next week , so I had 7 days to find a new king pin LOCALLY and a mobile tech to install it. The King Pin weighs over 100 pounds, so I knew I was not going to be able to remove the damaged king pin and install the new one myself.
I called about 10 RV dealers in Denver and found one that could get it in a couple of days, but I would have to pick it up in Denver, about an hour away from our campground.
After I knew I was going to be able to GET a new king pin, I started looking for a local rv mobile tech who could install the new king pin in the next few days. I found the RV Doctor right in Loveland close by. They were available, AND would bring TWO techs for the install because it was so heavy.
After submitting my claim to Lippert, they eventually reimbursed us a couple months later – nine hundred and sixty bucks for the new king pin and four fifty for the mobile tech, total about $1400
Now we have a brand-new king pin and Lippert ASSURED me that they changed the design and the rubber bumper should NOT pop out of the new King Pin.
We haven’t had any problems so far and it’s been about 6 months since we installed the new king pin.
If this happens to you, FIRST, call Lippert ask for support for towing products. Their recommended actions may have changed since we spoke to them.
First option they gave us is to have a mobile tech come out and weld the bottom part of the king pin that swivels to the king pin frame by welding a plate across here. <pointing to the king pin>. This way the swivel will NOT MOVE and you can travel safely until you get to your next location to have it replaced. It is not safe to travel with the bumper missing. We didn’t have to do this because I was able to hammer the bumper back in.
Second option is to get to a location where you can arrange to get a new king pin and have it installed – like we did.
Third option, bring it to a RV dealer to have it replaced. But we know there is still a long wait at most