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Old 06-16-2016, 10:28 PM   #1
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1979 31' Excella 500
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Hitch Head Adjustment Screw Stripped!

We have an EAZ Hitch, Weight Distribution and Sway Bar system installed on our Tow Vehicle and tow a 31' AS Excella.

We towed maybe about 500-700 miles since the hitch was installed and I noticed the ride quality change. I was told that I'd have to adjust the WD bars after towing for a while, add bolts between links possibly. So I went back to do that and I noticed that there was a large gap between the vertical shank and head angle adjustment screw. That was strange because last time I checked there was no gap (which is the proper positioning as I understand it).

When we got off the road I took the whole hitch assembly apart and found this:

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Both the head tilt angle adjustment screw and the screw hole are completely stripped. The screw no longer screws into that screw hole.

Any idea how this happened? Or, more importantly, what to do now that I effectively no longer have a tilt adjustment screw?

The only thing that I can think might have happened is that maybe this screw got stripped as a result of the hitch assembly moving when I jack up the trailer with it attached to the tow vehicle to get the WD bars attached. I learned this trick from one of the service techs at the place I got the hitch installed when I called to say that I was having trouble getting my WD bars to even the 1st chain link.

Anyone else had this happen to them? Or have advice on what to do about it now?
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Old 06-18-2016, 05:24 AM   #2
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I'm not familiar with the EAZ and cannot explain how it may have happened but if you are able, drill and tap the hole for next larger bolt size and install a good bolt like a grade 5. If that is not possible is there room on the other side to just put a nut and the new bolt will use that in place of the old threads to make the adjustment. Was any other part of the assembly loose that allowed it to take a beating?
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Old 06-18-2016, 05:42 AM   #3
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I've had trouble with mine coming loose and tilting the ball back. I just leave the ball tilted back , too late for you
Call eazlift.
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Old 06-18-2016, 08:20 AM   #4
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Drill and retap the hole oversized. If you can't do it any machine shop or truck shop should be able to. I would make the bolt long enough to accept a thin lock nut to secure the bolt against movement.

I see the original had a thumb screw inffering the need to often make an adjustment. Not sure why because once a hitch is set up there shouldn't be any need for adjustment
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Old 06-18-2016, 08:54 AM   #5
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Is it a new hitch? Maybe ez lift will replace it? Nothing wrong with jacking up the tongue to attach the chains. Many of us do it. Could have been a defective part. Could have been cross threaded. Most likely came partially loose and got beat up. And I agree with Howie. Once set you should not have to move the angle if that is what effects the weight transfer. 31 footer has pretty heavy tongue wt. I use a hitch with 1000 lb bars on mine. Does not do you any good now but from what I have seen in the pictures I do not much like that hitch design.
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Old 06-18-2016, 12:02 PM   #6
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The two 3/4" bolts the hold the hitch head to the stinger were not tight enough. That adjustment bolt is not designed to take much abuse. Its meant to set the angle of the hitch head to the stinger. Then the 3/4" bolts are to be tightened so that angle will not change with use. Mine were tightened with a 3/4" impact air wrench set to max. How much torque? I have no idea. The harden 3/4" bolts didn't break and the hitch head stayed in place.

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Old 06-18-2016, 01:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by gdanderson View Post
The two 3/4" bolts the hold the hitch head to the stinger were not tight enough. That adjustment bolt is not designed to take much abuse. Its meant to set the angle of the hitch head to the stinger. Then the 3/4" bolts are to be tightened so that angle will not change with use. Mine were tightened with a 3/4" impact air wrench set to max. How much torque? I have no idea. The harden 3/4" bolts didn't break and the hitch head stayed in place.

Greg Anderson
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That is correct.
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Old 06-18-2016, 02:32 PM   #8
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Yep, that's what happened I'll bet. Those two 3/4-inch bolts are supposed to be torqued to about 200 or 260 ft lbs, depending on which source you want to believe, so I recently read.
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Old 06-18-2016, 04:15 PM   #9
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The Equalizer hitch has a similar adjustment bolt. The bolts that hold the head in place are torqued to 320 ft. lbs. The Equalizer adjustment bolt is a 1/2" hex bolt, very easy to put a wrench on and strip it. The picture of the stripped bolt on the EAZ hitch looks like a hand turned style bolt. I wonder how someone managed to strip that.

The link for EAZ hitch http://www.eaz-lift.com/ takes you to Camco. Might be worth it to give them a call and see if you can get replacement parts or a repair. A local machine shop can probably fix you up too.
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Old 06-20-2016, 11:55 AM   #10
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From what I gather that head tilt adjustment screw is a convenience, not a necessity, to adjusting the tilt angle of the head. Rather than replace it I'm opting to leave it out for now and just ensure the horizontal bolts attaching the assembly to the shank are as tight as I can get them with the compression washers and lock nuts in place. Here's the result (below). Any immediate red flags anyone can see?

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Old 06-20-2016, 02:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trekerboy View Post
From what I gather that head tilt adjustment screw is a convenience, not a necessity, to adjusting the tilt angle of the head.
Attachment 264844Attachment 264845
Yes it is a convenience designed to make the adjustment of the WD aspects of the hitch a simple task of dialing in the correct load on the head to return the steering axle to the original geometry. Other WD hitches could also use this convenience and thus make adjusting a much simpler process.

It is quite clear why this bolt failed. The bolts, holding the head to the shank, were not tight enough to take the load of the bars and thus that vibrational load from the road was transmitted to the bolt and it failed. That hitch head relied solely on the friction between the head and the shank to carry the load. Most head have a saw tooth interface at that point thus relying on that configuration to take the load.
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Old 06-20-2016, 05:41 PM   #12
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If the head bolts were loose enough to allow a loose fit then the bolts were rubbing and even impacting a bit in the holes and slots.

Bolts might deserve close inspection for damage or wear and possible replacement on the side of caution.

Bolts clamp parts together, not to act as a pin.
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Old 06-20-2016, 07:33 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by trekerboy View Post
From what I gather that head tilt adjustment screw is a convenience, not a necessity, to adjusting the tilt angle of the head. Rather than replace it I'm opting to leave it out for now and just ensure the horizontal bolts attaching the assembly to the shank are as tight as I can get them with the compression washers and lock nuts in place. Here's the result (below). Any immediate red flags anyone can see?

Attachment 264844Attachment 264845
When I use my eazlift that is exactly how it's set up. Works fine.
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Old 06-23-2016, 03:27 PM   #14
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Hitch Head Adjustment Screw Stripped!

Ok, 1st trip out with the new lock nuts and tightened down bolts, and guess what? Despite torquing the bolts as tight as I could the hitch assembly's pitch still moved during towing! Look at the scrape marks left by the washers after I put the tilt back into position:



So, I loosened the bolts, repositioned the assembly to the proper tilt, then gave a friend a beer to help me use two men's strength to tighten the bolts using some cheater bars. Hope it holds this time.

A friend suggested I use a "wedge" (think of a wedge splitter you'd use to split wood) to put between the hitch assembly and the vertical shank to prevent any movement... If my current tightening doesn't hold, I'll resort to that.
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