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Old 08-11-2011, 06:48 AM   #1
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Hitch age?

My wife just asked how old a hitch can be before it should be replaced. I didn't know the answer so I thought I'd ask here. My guess is that it's more of a "inspect it regularly and watch for cracks or other signs of failure", rather than a time limit.

On a related note, what should we be checking on the hitch? Is it just looking for cracks or odd wear, or is there more?

We ask because we bought our '95 with the hitch, and the hitch setup was new in '08, meaning it's 3 years old now (I'm going to check that it's not covered by the recall, but since our trailer spent 2010 in a barn, it seems pretty unlikely). It's a Reese hitch, and it seems to be in good condition now.

Having towed it over 1,000 miles already (wow, how did that happen?), I believe the hitch has the correct ball height, angle, and WD bars for the trailer in question ('95 Excella 30', with an extra battery and spare tire on the tongue). I'm still dialing in the WD bar setting - the PO had them way too light - but I think I have it now, and I'm just chomping at the bit to try it.
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:19 AM   #2
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The one hitch failure I have experience with thats sometimes overlooked....

A fellow camper was backing into his spot at a rather sharp angle when the left side attachment bolts failed dropping the receiver...

When we got home I replaced ours with grade eight's and got into the habit of inspecting them at every Spring get-ready.

Watch the pin hole for signs of elongation, welds for cracks overall condition thats about all you can do.

Bob
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:41 AM   #3
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1985??

Our Reese Hitch came with the 1985 34 footer that we bought in 1998 and it was probably bought new when the trailer was new.. I still have this hitch and use it ALL the time, now towing our much lighter 1958 30 footer! Not much can fail with the Reese setup.. but "knock on wood" - I look it over every once and a while.
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:42 AM   #4
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I think it's mor of an inspect the wear points and look for cracks etc. What brand and model do you have?
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Old 08-11-2011, 08:25 AM   #5
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Like Bob said, I think you will expereince more failures with the hitch receiver setup than the actual WD hitch. The GM trucks especially have had trouble with the receiver holes elongating, and welds cracking. It seems all the late model factory receivers have excessive clearance with the hitch drawbar (probably from being built with imported steel), and this seems to exagerate the hole elongating and weld cracking problem.

However, the Reese hitches have had a history of a few bars breaking, a few cams bending (if they were not setup right), and over a long time, the hitch head will wear where the bars ride in the small indents, but this wear only shows up after years of use. All you can do is watch for excessive or irregular wear and any stress cracks.
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:06 AM   #6
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At our Spring Rally a member passed around the ball he had to replace (after many miles). He discovered the problem one day trying to unhook. When the ball begins to wear it appears to degrade quickly into a severely out-of-round condition. He caught it before it became a failure problem.
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveH
It seems all the late model factory receivers have excessive clearance with the hitch drawbar (probably from being built with imported steel),
Huh? It seems to me if you build something with a specific dimension, you can build it out of cardboard and it will have the correct dimension. Don't the receivers start out big? I don't think they are deforming from use and a too soft steel. I think they build them big for easy of removal.
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:14 AM   #8
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Huh?..... I think they build them big for easy of removal.
They sure do...even the new TowBeast we installed in 06 required shimming to reduce the slop.
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:14 AM   #9
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After many years & many,many miles I replaced my hitch head(ball mount). The "sockets" that the spring bars fit into had worn quite thin, even with regular oilings. I even had one of the dog bone looking stirrups break on a trip. Had nearly 100,000 miles on the equipment so it was probably past due. The platform on the truck was fine. I'm still running those same 750# bars, but new head & new truck. Reese dual cam, old style.
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:16 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne&Sam View Post
Huh? It seems to me if you build something with a specific dimension, you can build it out of cardboard and it will have the correct dimension. Don't the receivers start out big? I don't think they are deforming from use and a too soft steel. I think they build them big for easy of removal.
The key, at least I think, is imported steel. Think metric system.

I remember when a 2" drawbar fit tight in a 2" reciever, and slop was not an issue.
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Old 08-11-2011, 03:50 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone - your answers were basically what I thought, but I wanted to be sure. Just watch for signs of issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robandzoe View Post
Our Reese Hitch came with the 1985 34 footer that we bought in 1998 and it was probably bought new when the trailer was new.. I still have this hitch and use it ALL the time, now towing our much lighter 1958 30 footer! Not much can fail with the Reese setup.. but "knock on wood" - I look it over every once and a while.
That's kind of what I was thinking - it's not something you should necessarily have to replace after "x" years; it's more of a wear and tear thing, or if something goes awry.

dznf0g: It's a Reese WD hitch. I think the bars are 1000 lbs. I want to look at it much more closely so I'll see if I can figure out what bars and all it has.
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:05 PM   #12
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Cleaning the old grease off every 500 - 600 miles helps, IMHO. There is a lot of metal powder generated by the forces applied to the spring bars in their sockets as well as the ball socket. I have become a big fan of the Reese brand grease. Although I have only been using it this year, the wear pattern on the trunnions and ball contacts is becoming smooth and mirror-like. I have used all kinds of other grease over the years, but his stuff is definitely the best.
I also use petroleum jelly on the cams and clean them daily. I dremmeled the spring bar saddles to a smooth finish when they were new and I now have a very glassy wear pattern, instead of a groovy, choppy pattern. The hitch is also very quiet with smooth wear surfaces. Also, when I say "clean the surfaces", I mean periodically cleaning with brake clean. Even with the wiped down surfaces, you would be surprised at the black that comes up with brake clean. That steel powder is an abrasive. Clean and properly lubricated will make them last a lot longer.
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:16 PM   #13
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So I checked over the hitch; other than being a bit dirty it seems fine. The weight distribution bars are 1200 lbs and clearly marked Reese. The hitch, on the other hand, only has a couple numbers stamped on the shank (16/06-DT3213), but no other info I could find.
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Old 08-11-2011, 07:20 PM   #14
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So I checked over the hitch; other than being a bit dirty it seems fine. The weight distribution bars are 1200 lbs and clearly marked Reese. The hitch, on the other hand, only has a couple numbers stamped on the shank (16/06-DT3213), but no other info I could find.
At the risk of sounding like our beloved Andy, I think you should be using 800# bars. Andy would probably say 600#, but I think that's a little light for your unit, if you have the proper tongue weight.

What's your total loaded trailer weight and tongue weight.
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