Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Honey....Boo Boo!

Last Friday I had to tell Patsi....Honey, I did a boo boo. I've seen the results when others have done it, but until Friday it had never happened to me. If you remember in my last post, we had taken our camper to Fort Davis for Labor Day Weekend and prior to leaving I had expected UPS to deliver our new 5th wheel hitch. But, UPS had called me and told me it wouldn't be delivered until Tuesday, after Labor Day. But they delivered it while we were on our way to Fort Davis. JD Clayton helped me out and stored it for me until we got back.

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.....



  1. Give ol' Ron some lemons and he'll make lemonade every time. Great job!

  2. And excactly which "choice words" did you use? lol