I can't unhitch!!

Mar 14, 2005
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Hi, I have a Bailey Ranger 500/5 and tow with a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Bailey has an Alko 2004 stabaliser fitted. When ever I try to level the van across the axle using ramps, the hitch refuses to release from the towball. I have tried pulling the van forward onto the ramp as well as reversing. No matter how hard I try when I wind the jockey wheel up to remove the van from the car the hitch refuses to release the ball and lifts the car. I have even tried tapping the hitch up from underneath. I have released the stabaliser. Then the minute I take the van off the ramp and try again the hitch releases no problem. Help!!!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Paul - hope this is not a silly point, but are you first releasing the hitch handle as well as the stabilizer, before lowering the jockey wheel? Assuming you are, then the release mechanism may require some CAREFUL lubrication - make sure you don't contaminate the stabilizer's friction pads with grease etc. The hitch release handle should remain in the up position, once you start to lower the jockey wheel.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Only a thought. If you are driving forwards onto the ramp(s) the caravan will want to roll backwards off the ramps. The overrun brake mechanism will allow the van to roll backwards and I suspect this backwards pull is exerting pressure on the towhitch and this is why you can't unhitch. Why not try reversing the van onto the ramps? The van will try to roll forwards off the ramps but the brakes will be able to handle this and will stop the forward pressure on the towhitch. It should then be easier to separate car and van.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Paul, I also get the same problem with my AL-KO 2004. The problem gets worse the further up the ramp you have to pull the van. I have found that if my wife releases the handbrake on the car whilst I unhitch then it's much easier.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Never heard that one before, only thing I can think of is if you have a bolt-on tow ball (standard 2 bolt affair) then for this type of stabiliser you require a specially extended neck version, which has a little extra small diameter section immediately beneath the ball to allow a bit more clearence for this hitches bigger head! If your van was supplied with this hitch then the dealer should have checked your towball and given you this type if required. If you fitted this stabiliser yourself then extended neck ball should have been included.

If you have a swan neck towbar then you shouldn't need any mods. Hope that helps

Andy Palmer
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hi Paul has towball got any grease on it this will stop it from unhitching, also are you using a gold or silver tow ball Alko have said to use it's towball as the gold and silver ones sometime lose the paint and can pit up this would stop it from unhitching, hope this helps.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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This seems to be a be of a problem with Al-Ko stabiliser set ups. Try releasing the stabiliser after you have checked in to the next site you visit and drive to your pitch with it off. Don't know if it will work, but its worth a try. Tother thing to try is, fit a motormover and unhitch on the level and letthe mover do the work!!!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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The AL-KO 2004 hitch would have been fitted to a Baily Ranger as an extra, it makes me wonder if the appropriate tow ball with the necessary extra clearance has been fitted, this might cause your problem when the van and tow vehicle are not at the same tranverse level. Just a thought.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Paul, we had the same problem in the same circumstances when we first used a CL. After spending ages jumping up and down on the towbar (and even longer swearing...), I asked the one other caravanner on the site for help. He wound the jockey wheel up and, when it started to lift the car, he just carried on winding until the hitch and towball parted company. I've since had to repeat this on other sites and it does work - all down to brute strength and ignorance... Cheers, Simon
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Unhitching is always very difficult if the coupling is pushed right in or pulled right out against the respective end stop. If you have pushed or pulled the caravan up a levelling ramp, you will have to apply its handbrake first, then move the car an inch or so, just enough to relieve the tensile or compressive forces acting on the coupling, as the case may be. Then you should find that unhitching is a piece of cake.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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It sounds like there is too much pulling strain between the van and car caused by the gradient of the ramps after pulling up onto them. I've had this problem previously. After levelling and chocking, apply the caravan handbrake, then put the car in reverse and lift the clutch slightly to move the car back 1 quarter of an inch or so to take the strain away between the van and car. You should be able to unhitch now.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hi Paul

When pushing or pulling the van up levelling ramps the van continues to exert pressure on the tow ball even after the caravan handbrake has been applied. If the car is on level ground get someone else to releasing the car handbrake and then try to unhitch. This works for me.

Regards Jim
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hi Paul and all

A new slant on the problem, I was not able to unhitch on one occassion, on return from a service!! had to use a "Birmingham screwdriver" to release the pawl. I then read the alko operating booklet and found that a smear of grease should be applied to the pawl moving face NOT the ball contact face. If this is done you may well find, as I did, that it cures the problem.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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I had this problem quite a lot when the van was new (2yrs ago) but it seems to happen less now.Maybe Hymerman's grease was applied at service !Jiggling with the mover usually does the trick. Releasing the car handbrake is fine on the level but had to make an undignified dash at Macon one time when the car once released set off down a slope.Not recommended !
 

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