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Old 10-03-2009, 11:46 PM   #1
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2008 28' International CCD
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Hitch ball came off while driving

No, it wasn't mine. We were heading north on I-5 today with our airstream when the fellow in front of us pulling a 20' cargo trailer had a bad day. His trailer was really swaying and I was thinking it looked like trouble, then the sway stopped and you could see a dull orange light under the trailler.

The tongue had dropped to the pavement and was grinding away in a shower of orange sparks. I watched the whole thing while the chains were extended back, then forward as he slowed down and the tongue went under the back bumper of the truck.

Wasn't nearly as dramatic as I had previously thought something like that would be. Everybody was fine and its a good reminder to put a wrench on all those nuts once in a while.
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Old 10-04-2009, 01:13 AM   #2
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Yikes! Visually inspecting the hitch head and inspecting the bolts to make sure nothing is coming loose is on our hitch-up checklist.
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Old 10-04-2009, 02:15 AM   #3
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Exclamation Hitch coming off

Thanks for the reminder I'll be checking mine tomorrow.
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Old 10-04-2009, 07:21 AM   #4
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I've not had a hitch come apart, but live in fear of it happening. What I have done for a few years now is, after I find the proper adjustment for my hitch, I disassemble all bolts and reassemble using blue Locktite.

May not be necessasary, but it gives me peace of mind, and I've never had anything come loose after the assembly with Locktite.
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Old 10-04-2009, 08:14 AM   #5
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Keep the ball and tongue lubricated so the tongue does not loosen the ball like a wrench
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Old 10-04-2009, 08:41 AM   #6
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In addition to Locktite, I add a single strand of stainless wire and twist it tight around the threads. Yes I am anal about things coming lose.
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Old 10-04-2009, 10:49 AM   #7
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The Loctite is sufficient. If you want to test it, try removing the nut from trailer ball. We recently flipped our ball carrier over to adjust the ball height, and I had to use a torch to heat up the Loctite to where we could get it loose. There was no way that nut was coming off at normal ambient temperatures (it was 110+ F that day). (Just make sure to clean up the threads thoroughly from residue and grease before reinstalling the hardware and new Loctite.)

As an aside, we used red Loctite on the Phoenix missile launcher mounting lugs that connected to the F14 Tomcat. If those were mounted crooked to where they wouldn't line-up with the aircraft mounting station hardware, we had to scrap the entire launcher rail, because you could not remove or reposition the lugs. At least, with the blue stuff, you can heat it up to liquify the Loctite. By the way, it melts at a relatively low temperature, so it doesn't affect the ball carrier metal tempering (hardness) or welds.
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Old 10-04-2009, 10:51 AM   #8
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3 years ago when we were getting ready to go to the Interantional in Salem, Or. I noticed we had some movement when hooking up to our Reese Hitch. A few weeks before we had been at the Region 11 rally in Casa Grande, AZ and heard a popping sound that sounded like a loose shock absorber. After a new set of shocks (because we had one leaking) the sound continued. I took the TV to my mechanic and he found three of the bolts that hold the receiver had loosened some and was causing the hitch to move. We put the torque to them and have had no problems sense.

Be safe and inspect everything.

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Old 10-04-2009, 11:15 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by holmestk View Post
No, it wasn't mine. We were heading north on I-5 today with our airstream when the fellow in front of us pulling a 20' cargo trailer had a bad day. His trailer was really swaying and I was thinking it looked like trouble, then the sway stopped and you could see a dull orange light under the trailler.

The tongue had dropped to the pavement and was grinding away in a shower of orange sparks. I watched the whole thing while the chains were extended back, then forward as he slowed down and the tongue went under the back bumper of the truck.

Wasn't nearly as dramatic as I had previously thought something like that would be. Everybody was fine and its a good reminder to put a wrench on all those nuts once in a while.

This is an often neglected area.

We were camping next to a nice couple from Atlanta last Spring. They had a new MoHo and were towing a vintage VW Beetle. We were chattting with the the morning of their departure when my Father noticed the tow ball for the VW was cocked at an angle. Further review revealed the nut had back off three turns.

Scary when you think about it.

It pays to be attentive.


Regards,

Kkevin
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:24 AM   #10
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good thread, check the bolts-AND chk this out

when I p/u my new/old 85 31 ft excella, the owner had a new eaz lift "stinger" and w/d bars. I used it to get home-it actually had the trailer level when hooked to my TV. Check out the photos and the dimensions, and take a look at your set-up. I recommend weighing your rig (spend some time at the scale with your trlr and TV-using the scale info by changing what is on the scale (everything, just trlr, just TV, TV on scale, trlr not on scale, but hooked to TV; just tongue jack on scale at ride height, etc) may COST a little, but will SAVE a lot. Then you know what you are towing, and then check out your hitch parts...
Left photo = eaz lift 5000lb ball, 2-5/16; 1 inch shank; 1-1/2 inch nut. Note how the area below the nut is closed off-you cannot get a socket on the nut.
Right photo = draw tite 10,000lb ball, 2-5/16; 1-1/4 shank; 1-3/4 inch nut. The area below the nut is "scalloped" such that a large 3/4inch drive socket can be used to torque the nut.

Now, most hitches you see are rated 5000lb dead weight, 500lb tongue, without w/d bars; 10,000 and 1000 resp with w/d bars. BUT the bars do nothing for the ball.

Whattaya think? that 85 31 footer weigh more than 5000 lbs?
ol' bill, the newbie

edit; well phooey, left became top and right became bottom photo
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:28 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumatic View Post
Keep the ball and tongue lubricated so the tongue does not loosen the ball like a wrench
Absolutely! Last year, while hooking the trailer back up after a long weekend camping trip, I started raising the powerlift to attach the sway control bars and the hitch ball promptly pulled straight out! Apparently, over time, the friction caused the ball to rotate loose from the nut below and with road vibration, the nut came off completely.

Needless to say, the specture of what could of happened and all the possible outcomes flashed through my mind... once I got to breathing easier, went into the local town and had a new hitchball/nut put on the hitch.

Always check your hitchball.
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Old 10-04-2009, 11:43 AM   #12
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well, lookey there...

just for grins, i yarded the 1 inch shank ball off the eaz lift and found the hole in the "stinger" reduced by two rings. So the stronger ball can be added to this unit. but, i'd have to modify it so I could get the big socket on it to tighten.
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Old 10-04-2009, 12:21 PM   #13
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just for grins, i yarded the 1 inch shank ball off the eaz lift and found the hole in the "stinger" reduced by two rings. So the stronger ball can be added to this unit. but, i'd have to modify it so I could get the big socket on it to tighten.
Rather than modify the ball mount, why not just buy the special wrench to tighten the ball? It's only about $10 for one.

Reese at Lowe's: Trailer Ball Wrench
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Old 10-04-2009, 09:05 PM   #14
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Rather than modify the ball mount, why not just buy the special wrench to tighten the ball? It's only about $10 for one.

Reese at Lowe's: Trailer Ball Wrench
Because, if you read the instructions accompanying that wrench, you will see that that they say, in very large print, "NOT FOR TIGHTENING HITCH BALL NUTS", or words to that effect.

I'm sure Reese knows that people are going to use them for that, (wink, wink) and they are better than some of the makeshift arrangements I've seen used. But if you read the torque specifications on those hitch balls you will find you need a four foot long torque wrench to achieve the required mounting torque.

I swallowed hard and invested in one of those big torque wrenches because I really, really, didn't want my hitch ball coming off.
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