Anyway after we got back, I put the new hitch in and we tried it out. It worked like a champ and the ride was smooth. I had ordered 2 new tires because we'd separated the belts on 2 of them, so I left the trailer hooked up to the truck. I put the jacks down to take the weight off the truck. Friday when I was going to get the tires I raised the jacks, made sure the steps were up, and did a quick once over. But that wasn't a good enough inspection because as I pulled out of the driveway and just made it into the street when I heard this huge thunck! I stopped quickly, wondering what it was and my stomach turned over when I realized that the trailer had dropped off the hitch. I was expecting the worst and was wondering how I was going to get the trailer back onto the hitch because I didn't think the jacks would go that high.
I surveyed the damage and luckily the only thing that was really damaged was the tailgate, where the 5th wheel hitch pin had hit it. I started jacking the trailer up and lo and behold, it raised high enough to get hitched up again. I went and got the 2 tires. I thought at first I might be able to straighten the tailgate out. But once I got it off the truck I realized it would be impossible for me to get it straight enough to look good. I thought about getting one from a salvage yard, but wasn't sure if I'd be able to match the paint and I didn't want to go to the trouble of painting one or having it painted. I looked at 5th wheel hitches with the cutouts for the hitch and decided I'd just build my own. I didn't take any pictures of the crunched tailgate, but took some of my build after I got started.
Framed out. I was able to salvage the handle, latch mechanism, and lights.
After numerous tries, some frustration and gently coaxing it with a few choice words, I finally got it to latch correctly. Now I can get started building the panel inserts.
Pieces of kokopelli and a turtle kokopelli. These will be in the two panels along with a zia sign, pictured below.
This one has the latch handle installed. I was able to use the original linkage with a little modification. The tailgate light (3 of them) goes in the 3 holes.
I had to fabricate some panels for the back of the tailgate to cover up some of the mechanisms and finally started painting late this afternoon.
I sort of rigged up a temporary paint booth. It worked well enough to keep overspray from going all over the shop. I did get most of the pieces painted, but still have a few to do tomorrow. I'll update again when I get the finished product.
Until next time.....