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Old 09-28-2017, 12:54 PM   #1
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2017 28' International
Batesville , Mississippi
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Hitch Ball Retaining Nut Backing off During Trip

Recently while on a trip at approximately 1800 miles since we took delivery of our 2017 International Serenity 28' RB, the 2 13/16" Hitch Ball Retaining Nut backed off, when I discovered it was way loose there was only 2 treads holding it on, Talk about a Scare! It appeared to be good and tight at the dealership when I took delivery of our Airstream. I had this same issue with my 2007 Dutchman Denali 27' RV when it was new as well. The way I stopped the Hitch Ball Retaining Nut from backing off was to get it welded on once it was tightened real good. Has anyone else had this problem? I was wondering if just the torsion of the load on the hitch assy. while towing could cause this to happen?
Thanks
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Old 09-28-2017, 01:03 PM   #2
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Simple solution is loctite and also make sure the lock washer is between the nut and hitch and not on top.

Its hard to get the nuts as tight as they are supposed to be?
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Old 09-28-2017, 01:16 PM   #3
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If it's an 1 1/4" ball shank you need 450 ft pounds of torque. It probably was not tighten properly. You can use a thread locker compound use only a mild or medium compound not a permanent compound . You can go extreme and drill through threads and install a cotter pin to stop nut from backing off.
I would replace ball (cheap Ins) and make sure it is fully tighten to specs. A truck service center would have a large torque wrench for the task or Google how to torque to 450 ft/lbs with standard torque wrench.
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Old 09-28-2017, 01:32 PM   #4
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Are you greasing the hitch ball or putting wax paper on it? If it's dry then when you make turns that could be rotating it.

Make sure there is a lock washer under the bolt and that everything is torqued to specification.

I've not had the AS ball come loose on me but I've had the one for my boat trailer come loose. Anytime I unhitch I check to see if either of them are loose. I carry a large socket and long breaker bar to tighten things up until I can get to a repair shop. I also grease the ball or use wax paper on it as a lubricant.
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Old 09-28-2017, 01:48 PM   #5
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How you ever found 2 dealerships that did not tighten the nut is a good question.

I can understand the nut coming loose if not originally tightened but I can see why the nut would continue to unthread itself to the point of almost dropping off.

First thing is find someone with equipment to tighten things as there were intended and keep an eye on it for a while. Any truck garage should have such equipment.
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Old 09-28-2017, 04:03 PM   #6
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X3 on Loctite thread locker.

Dan
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Old 09-28-2017, 04:41 PM   #7
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For many years we have tightened our hitch balls and then drilled them and put a cotter pin through the nut/shank.
It is the safest way to do it.
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Old 09-29-2017, 09:43 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csondt View Post
Recently while on a trip at approximately 1800 miles since we took delivery of our 2017 International Serenity 28' RB, the 2 13/16" Hitch Ball Retaining Nut backed off, when I discovered it was way loose there was only 2 treads holding it on, Talk about a Scare! It appeared to be good and tight at the dealership when I took delivery of our Airstream. I had this same issue with my 2007 Dutchman Denali 27' RV when it was new as well. The way I stopped the Hitch Ball Retaining Nut from backing off was to get it welded on once it was tightened real good. Has anyone else had this problem? I was wondering if just the torsion of the load on the hitch assy. while towing could cause this to happen?
Thanks
I doubt that the nut was ever tight. It is fine thread and it is supposed to be torqued to 450 ft lbs. That size of nut tightened would never work itself lose. The mechanic must have gotten distracted.
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Old 09-29-2017, 09:59 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by lynnsr View Post
For many years we have tightened our hitch balls and then drilled them and put a cotter pin through the nut/shank.
It is the safest way to do it.
LynnSr
^^What he said -

FWIW - I use a "3 way" hitch ball - it has 3 balls - 2 5/16", 2" and 1 7/8" all welded to it to tow mine.
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Old 09-29-2017, 10:46 AM   #10
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A nylock nut might be a neater solution....
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Old 09-29-2017, 01:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csondt View Post
Recently while on a trip at approximately 1800 miles since we took delivery of our 2017 International Serenity 28' RB, the 2 13/16" Hitch Ball Retaining Nut backed off, when I discovered it was way loose there was only 2 treads holding it on, Talk about a Scare! It appeared to be good and tight at the dealership when I took delivery of our Airstream. I had this same issue with my 2007 Dutchman Denali 27' RV when it was new as well. The way I stopped the Hitch Ball Retaining Nut from backing off was to get it welded on once it was tightened real good. Has anyone else had this problem? I was wondering if just the torsion of the load on the hitch assy. while towing could cause this to happen?
Thanks
Glad to hear you caught this in time. Though it appears Airstream may have changed the specs, I am puzzled by your statement about your "2 13/16 hitch ball". My manual for all 2015 Airstream models specifies all Airstreams that year are "2 5/16" hitch balls. If your hitch ball is 1/2 in. larger and thus very tight in the coupler) maybe no amount of grease would prevent turning the ball?

I suspect I am missing something here, but thought I'd raise the question.
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Old 09-29-2017, 01:31 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by WestieHouse View Post
Glad to hear you caught this in time. Though it appears Airstream may have changed the specs, I am puzzled by your statement about your "2 13/16 hitch ball". My manual for all 2015 Airstream models specifies all Airstreams that year are "2 5/16" hitch balls. If your hitch ball is 1/2 in. larger and thus very tight in the coupler) maybe no amount of grease would prevent turning the ball?

I suspect I am missing something here, but thought I'd raise the question.


The ball is 2 5/16 The retaining nut on the bottom side/lower side is 2 13/16 inch. I did grease it real good every time I pull my airstream.
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Old 09-29-2017, 01:36 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by csondt View Post
The ball is 2 5/16 The retaining nut on the bottom side/lower side is 2 13/16 inch. I did grease it real good every time I pull my airstream.


I had it welded on the top side to receiver, on the lower side at washer to receiver, washer to nut and nut to ball shank
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Old 09-29-2017, 02:47 PM   #14
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"If the Tension on the Fastener is greater than the Working Load, the Fastener will Never Fail.". (Premier Fastener Corp. handbook.)

The nut backed off, probably because it wasn't properly tight. After all............
450 ft. lb. is a lot of grunt; but that's what the ball spec calls for, for a 1-1/4" shank.

So, do you go to a Truck Service Dept; and 'bum' their torque wrench? Or do it yourself.
IF you have a torque wrench capable of 250 ft. lb. you can do it yourself, using this knowledge, and method.

'Some' mechanics know that only 10% of the torque is used to tighten the fastener.
The rest, (50% for the threads, 40% for the nut face), is used to overcome friction.
So knowing that, use the following method to achieve a tight ball. (doesn't THAT sound nice?)

Grease generously, the threads and nut face with an 'extreme pressure' lubricate such as C-5, Colloidal Copper, (450 K.S.I. bearing strength), 'Never Seize' or similar.
Set your torque wrench at Max.250 ft. lbs.
Using the grease; you need to Reduce the given dry torque by about 40%.
So: 450 ft. lb. reduced by 40% =270 ft. lbs. Not Shabby.

With the shank and the ball, mounted in the receiver, put a large sheet of cardboard on the ground to sit on. Put your foot on the bumper, (So you don't slide under the car.)
Pull your torque wrench slowly up to max. 250.
This will give you a fastener tension that's as close as "Damn is to swearing" to the spec.
If you REALLY NEED that extra 20 ft. lb, then use a 'Johnson Bar' and tighten a further 1/4 flat of the nut.
But really? Don't bother. You're good as is.

Another thing to watch for:
That 'Lock Washer' that goes between the nut and the hitch; check it's cross section.
If it's a flat piece of steel, throw it out.
You want a lock with the cross section that is trapezoidal in shape, with the wide part in the I.D. THIS is to prevent the washer from splitting apart under load.
A flat cross section will do that. (Cheeep Chinese crap)
If you cannot find one, use a Grade 8 Flat washer. It's good.
If you have a used ball nut hanging around, put it on over the new nut, and snug it to lock the assy.
If you do use a 'lock-nut', remember to add the rotating torque of the lock, to your main figure.

"Look after your Equipment, it will look after you."
'Trailer Trash, towing a Tin Can Shed';
(Retired Aircraft Mechanic,[A.M.E.], former Premier Rep.)
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