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Old and messed up Atwood Coupler

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coldstreak753 View Drop Down
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    Posted: June-16-2024 at 2:26pm
Last year I bought a 1996 Jayco popup trailer in very good condition and for a good price.   It needed a little cosmetic work on the inside.  Cushions and curtains, but otherwise it's solid and doesn't leak.  And the canvas is in good condition also.  I've towed it a few times and it looks like it has the Atwood hydraulic coupler with disc brakes.   I never bothered much with it because I packed the wheel bearings and it didn't have any brakes on it at all.   I am the third owner so I don't really know why it didn't have brakes on it.   Whether it was an option or the original owner choose to remove them, I don't know..   Whatever the reason, it's never been a problem and it has always towed great.   There were a few times that to unhitch it I'd have to  block its wheels and reverse the truck enough to get the coupler to unlatch tha ball.   I don't know much about couplers, and I really don't have a clue about hydraulic couplers.  
So last week-end I got reservations to a very nice campground and was so excited that I was finally going to get to use it.  I got all loaded up and ready to go, but when I pulled the truck back to hitch the trailer the coupler wouldn't release and hook up the ball.   The coupler is locked closed and will not open at all.    This coupler is also welded on.   And now I see that they don't make Atwood hydraulic couplers anymore.   
Luckily the trailer is stuck in my driveway and not at some campsite.   So I have time to research it and tear into it.  But.....Is that feasible?
What can I do?   Is the coupler in these hitches connected to the hydraulics or is it a separate mechanism that can be torn apart and fixed.   Who do I call to repair this?  Should I call a welder to just replace the entire old worn out hitch?   Should I get it towed to an RV repair shop and have them fix it?   This is my first experience with a trailer hitch.   I've owned horse trailers before and never even realized couplers can crap out like this.   
Any ideas or suggestions on how to fix this or how this mechanism works?  All comments would be greatly appreciated.   

Thanks.   
Coldstreak753
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Jonny Quest View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jonny Quest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-16-2024 at 9:54pm
On my 1994 DHL trailer, it had an Atwood surge coupler for drum brakes -- also welded on.  I took an angle grinder and cut that bad boy off.  Then I installed a new bolt-on surge unit.

I couldn't find all the replacement parts, so I went with a new unit.  You may be in the same, ah, boat.

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coldstreak753 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote coldstreak753 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-17-2024 at 11:15am
Thank you Jonny Quest for your reply.    After lots of research I think I have to agree.   This thing I suppose in its day was something special.  But right now I am thinking it's a POS.    
Could you tell me if the coupler works off the hydraulics?    I am guessing it most likely does.  
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Jonny Quest View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jonny Quest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-17-2024 at 3:08pm
The coupler is connected to a brake master cylinder.  So, as the tow vehicle hits the brakes, the trailer surges forward and activates the master cylinder.  The harder the surge, the more the trailer brakes are applied.  So, the coupler activates the hydraulics (master cylinder), but the coupler isn’t activated by the hydraulics.  You can run a trailer with a malfunctioning surge brake system, but you won’t have any trailer brakes and the tow vehicle does all the stopping work.  Not as safe.  

JQ
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2003 Ski Nautique 206 Limited

Previous
2001 Ski Nautique Open Bow
1994 Ski Nautique Open Bow

Aqua skiing, ergo sum
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coldstreak753 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote coldstreak753 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-17-2024 at 3:23pm
Thank you again for your reply.   I am looking at having this unit cut off and replaced.   Can you tell me what model bolt on surge unit you bought and where you got it?   You information has helped me tremendously.   

coldstreak
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Jonny Quest View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jonny Quest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-17-2024 at 7:18pm
Go to the Dexter Axle website below:


If you have drum brakes, look for a bolt-on drum brake actuator.  If disk brakes on the trailer, then look at the bolt-on disk brake actuator.  Several styles to choose from.  

JQ
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2003 Ski Nautique 206 Limited

Previous
2001 Ski Nautique Open Bow
1994 Ski Nautique Open Bow

Aqua skiing, ergo sum
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MrMcD View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MrMcD Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June-26-2024 at 9:05pm
I just replaced my Atwood this week.   I started another post about replacing the Atwood with a Dexter unit sorry I had not seen this post when I started mine.   I bought a different Dexter unit rated for 6600 pounds since my boat and trailer even loaded for camping is only maybe 5,000 pounds I wanted a unit with a working load closer to my actual load.  It is installed and working well today.
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