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Old 05-12-2008, 09:09 PM   #1
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How do I Install an Adjustable Shank on my Hitch??

Background:

This is the original weight distributing and sway control system on my 1976 ARGOSY.

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Recent events lead me to conclude that these might be an EAZ-LIFT hitch with the spring bars MODIFIED by someone (maybe CAN –AM?) to add REESE Dual Cam Sway Control.

Current Situation:

This equipment doesn’t match up with my SPRINTER 3500 Tow Vehicle.

I went to the nearby EAZ-LIFT factory in London, Ontario hoping to buy an ADJUSTABLE ball mount.

The trouble is that my bars no longer match their latest model ball mount. I could not simply change out my mount for an adjustable one.

The factory manager kindly GAVE me a U shaped piece that I could have welded to my old ball mount. This would allow me to add the Hi-Low shank and a Bolt Package, both bought from a nearby dealer ( Eaz-Lift does not deal with the public.)

QUESTION:


No drawings or instructions were provided. I can figure out how the U receiver is bolted to the shank but there is a so called MUSHROOM BOLT, a small bolt with an adjustable amount of washers that goes inside the U receiver to adjust the angle of the BALL MOUNT to the SHANK.

WHAT PURPOSE DOES THIS SERVE AND WHAT ANGLE AM I LOOKING FOR?

Anybody with adjustable shank experience that can help me???


If you are not familiar with this reno to date see it here:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f227...ase-18448.html



Sergei
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Old 05-13-2008, 09:31 AM   #2
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Sergei,

In your case, you will have to get a U-bracket and weld it to the part that receives the WD bars. I can't tell much from the angle of your first picture.

Your existing hitch will require work to be adjustable, the hitch head will have to be welded to a bracket that can wrap around the adjustable shank and is spaced to accept two large bolts to hold it in place.
The Mushroom bolt and washer you are referring to adjusts the tilt of the hitch head, and with it the horizontal orientation of the hitch bars. This is an important adjustment, in my experience. I wouldn't begin to know where to buy that.

If this was my dilemma, I would solve it by buying a new hitch, instead of trying to grind, weld, invest on your hitch, that seems to be made for a specific vehicle and a specific trailer.

I do have an adjustable shank. My 07 Suburban needed a huge drop shank, the receiver hitch tube is very high up.


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Old 05-13-2008, 11:09 AM   #3
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Sergei,

I had an old EZ-Lift similar to the one pictured. The difference was mine had the chains attached directly to the bar ends rather than the "floating" crossbar. I ended up replacing it with Reese for a couple of reasons.

1) The head of my EZ-Lift was not adjustable and not the right height. Getting it cut off the existing shank and having a vertical piece added to fix the height was more expensive than buying a new head. I had an adjustable shank from another hitch I could use but I still think it'll be cheaper to invest in a new head and shank than to modify the old one. And with an adjustable shank you don't have to guess right the first time on the hitch height and can move it between vehicles. The down side is the adjustment is rather course (about an inch and a half?). However, the height and the angle work together. See comment below.

2) The new head had a tilt adjustment. At first I didn't think this was necessary. How wrong I was. One link of adjustment on the chains makes a huge difference. With a burly 3/4 ton truck it may not be a big deal but with my little Safari van getting the tension "just right" makes all the difference in the world on how the trailer handles.

3) The EZ-Lift inserts up from the bottom of the hitch head. This often means that to get the bars in and out you have to jack the trailer up, put in the bars, let the trailer down, hook up the chains, jack the trailer up, snap the bars into place, let the trailer down. You get the picture? A Royal pain in the ass. The Reese bars slide in from the side and twist into place. This arrangement is also much easier to grease and keep clean. The deep pocket of the EZ-Lift is a maintenance nightmare and if not well greased the pins that hold them in wear out which tells me the rest of the mechanism suffers as well.

I didn't go with the Dual-Cam although I do think it's the best value out there for an integrated sway control weight distribution hitch. The reason for that was I had the EZ-Lift bars that came with the trailer (and the associated attachments on the tounge already in place). Since I had the adjustable drawbar all I had to buy was the head. The trailer is setup for friction sway control but with the hitch setup right I find no need for it. That's not to say I wouldn't buy it if I was starting from scratch but sway control should never be used to "cover up" an inherent problem in the way a trailer tows.

One other note/question; in your pictures the chains are angled back quite a bit. I have always been under the impression that these should be verticle. Then again I'm not familiar with the crossbar sway control you show. Perhaps that is the method used to keep tension on the bar? Don't know but I'd certainly check into that. I'm almost sure that with the Dual-Cam the chains will need to be vertical so you'll want to check your mounting locations.

Final note. I would not ever ever weld cut or grind on the torsion bars. My understanding is that these are heat treated steel. Even if they're not heat treated the welding/grinding will create a heat affected zone which could cause catastrophic failure.

-Bernie
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Old 05-13-2008, 11:39 AM   #4
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At least on Reese equipment there is a specification for how high the ends of the torsion bars should be off the ground when at the proper angle and not hooked up. this is what is adjusted by the angle of the ball carrier on the hitch. This I think is just to get them into working range. My diagrams show three different measurements depending upon what type of ball socket is welded to the trailer tongue.
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:06 PM   #5
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Sergei - I believe all said to be true. I too have an EZ lift, and if I did it all over again, I'd probably buy the Reese. Although my 1 ton van does not need to be jacked up to put the bars in, I've had to do (simple but present) replacement of the pins that hold the bars up.

The chains should be straight down, fyi.
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Old 05-13-2008, 12:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3Ms75Argosy
Sergei - I believe all said to be true. I too have an EZ lift, and if I did it all over again, I'd probably buy the Reese. Although my 1 ton van does not need to be jacked up to put the bars in
Marc
The hitch height should be set by the trailer, not the TV. I guess the reason I said "often" for having the issue with the bars inserting from the bottom is that it was required when I parked in my driveway . On level ground it's not an issue but with the trailer on "level" ground and the TV parked up hill then there is a clearance problem. I used the EZ-Lift for many years towing horse trailers and it worked fine. I believe EZ-Lift and Reese are now owned by the same company?
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Old 05-13-2008, 01:26 PM   #7
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Sergei,

I think I agree that you have an EAZ-LIFT head and the bars have the bolt-on Reese Dual Cam fittings. I think if you can get the head adjusted you will have a $400 WD hitch assembly. You should read the Eaz-Lift set up instructions for the method of adjusting the head angle. If you can't find it on-line, then I am sure you can find it using the search function here in the forums. I've seen set-up directions more than a few times.

The original EAZ-LIFT heads were welded up to fit the bumper height and hitch height of the tow vehicle and trailer. I think the channel that the EAZ-LIFT factory gave you should be welded onto the front of the hitch head, and then it should work with the various drop shanks that you can buy from Reese or any of the other hitch equipment supply houses.

I would get a shank first, as long as you need, and dry fit the channel/collar to the shank. Get the mushroom hardware too. Then mark it and have it welded up. Leave yourself at least one hole above and below where you think it should go, you may nned to change it after you set the head angle.

I think you have a workable system, just needs to be put together with an adjustable drop shank.
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Old 05-13-2008, 02:41 PM   #8
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ready to give it a shot

Thanks to all for your help.

Your replies and some PM’s that Uwe exchanged with me should get me to understand.

I also called the nice lady that runs the Eaz-Lift factory in London. She has faxed me the instructions that were not included when I bought the Eaz-Lift Hi-Low Shank and Bolt Pack from her dealer.

My original post must have lacked clarity. Many of you did not realize that I had already bought the shank and bolts.

When I went to the Eaz-Lift factory I thought I could simply buy an adjustable ball mount head to replace the original fixed one - which did not now match up with my Sprinter.

(I think I am going to need an adjustable hitch just in case I ever pull the trailer without the Mini on the flat deck).

It turned out that the ball mount they make today won’t fit my bars. So she gave me a free U bracket to weld onto the head and sent me to a dealer for a Hi-Low shank and a bolt pack.

The next morning I too wondered if I’d have been better off buying new. But when I considered the work entailed in stripping everything off my tongue - to replace it with essentially the same thing - and the fact that the parts and labour will cost me about $200 while a comparable new WD set with Sway Control would be about $600.00, I relaxed.

I just needed to understand how WD works and, in particular, what that “mushroom bolt” does and I think now that I am ready to give it a shot.

Marc, I showed my photos to the folks in the Eaz-Lift factory. They said the standard advise is to have the chains straight down but that it doesn’t really matter.

This is from the original REESE literature I have:

“If the chain must be at an angle backward or forward because of some obstacle on the “A” frame, it will cause no trouble. The chain does not swing in turning when Dual Cam Sway Control is used.”

Thanks again to you all.


Sergei
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Old 05-13-2008, 04:36 PM   #9
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Hi Sergei - I went out and took some photos.

I think you can see how the "newer" hitch head has ears that attach to the shank. The shank has holes that allow you to make the head go up or down. The ears themselves have one regular hole on the bottom, and an "adjusting slot" on the top. The mushroom bolt allows you to screw in or out on the top, making the head tilt (mine is tilted down). The bottom bolt locks it into position.

Maybe I didn't explain to well earlier - I'm satisified with this setup, just if I did have to buy one again, AND I had the money, I'd buy a Reese. However, 200 vs. 660 is a LOT of dough!
Hope this helps!
Marc
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Old 05-13-2008, 05:26 PM   #10
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Thanks for the photos Marc. Much appreciated.

Your ball mount is probably more like the Elite series Eaz-Lift makes now. Mine is an older kind, one were there is a “left” and “right” spring bar. In the newer models the bars are interchangeable.

Last night I went to bed not understanding how Weight Distribution works or how to set up a hitch.

Combining the advice given here today with your photos and the drawings and instructions faxed from the factory by Lynda amounts to a Hitches 101.

I’m pretty sure that I understand and can do this now.

Wiltsie’s have already cut off the old non-adjustable bar and welded the U channel Lynda gave me (what you call an “ear”) to my ball mount.

I’m going out there to set up the hitch and move the trailer soon. I’ll let you know how it went, WITH PHOTOS, of course.

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Old 05-14-2008, 12:22 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokelessJoe
Your ball mount is probably more like the Elite series Eaz-Lift makes now. Mine is an older kind, one were there is a “left” and “right” spring bar. In the newer models the bars are interchangeable.

Wiltsie’s have already cut off the old non-adjustable bar and welded the U channel Lynda gave me (what you call an “ear”) to my ball mount.
Sergei
Wow, that's vintage. My EZ-Lift is from the late 70's and it has interchangable bars. I don't remember having a left and right side even on my parents horse trailer which would have been early 70's.

How do you (or did you) get a Dual-Cam sway set-up to work with EZ-Lift bars. I thought the Dual-Cam had a vee in the bars where the chains attached. Your's look like straight EZ-Lift bars. I've never seen this set-up with an EZ-Lift.

Your labor must be cheaper than what I can find anybody around here to do. And you were lucky they gave you the parts to convert. I had the advantage of already having the Reese and the EZ-Lift bars so buying the Reese head only set me back around $90. Would have been a little cheaper to get an EZ-Lift style hitch head. I guess the patten ran out and they are reproduced by another company now.

I'm still a little concerned about the angle of the chains. Then again the manufacturer says it's OK and the trailers been towed that way so I guess it works. My concern, assuming the anit-sway isn't affected, is that the angle puts an unequal strain on the welds and pivots of the tongue attachment hardware. Inspect this closely and beef up as required. It's also going to make snapping the chains into place harder.

You may have to change the hitch set-up depending on if the Mini is on the truck or not. You'll probably have to lower the hitch when the Mini isn't there. The angled head will help in fine tuning. Maybe you'll get lucky and find a compromise that works for both situations. When the Mini isn't loaded you won't need to transfer as much weight to the front of the TV. The tongue weight of the trailer might just bring the hitch height back down to where it belongs.

-Bernie
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Old 05-14-2008, 12:28 AM   #12
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Sergei,
Looking at your pictures again I can't tell for sure but it looks like where the chains attach to the tongue there's no moving parts? Which would mean you have to raise the trailer after hitching up to the point where you can slip the chain over the hook. No fun, electric hitch time . It also looks like the first "free" link is behind the hook. I believe this should be rotated down so that all the free links hang, well, free.
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Old 05-14-2008, 06:46 AM   #13
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Sergei,

I have an Eaz-Lift hitch with the L&R bars, but I don't know the load rating.

Do you know the diameter, and weight rating?
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Old 05-14-2008, 12:29 PM   #14
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Eaz-Lift and Reese match-up?

Don,

I don’t know the load rating. The bar is 1 1/4” round stock, which is flattened out to about 1 1/2” at the end.

The bar is stamped H 14-0.

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Bernie,

I don’t understand your questions about the chain.

The photos I sent in were of the original set up when others were moving the trailer for me. At that stage of the game I didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. I just took pictures so that I could someday reassemble things.

I know that the bars were tensioned pretty simply, without having to move the trailer up and down.

According to the early literature left in the trailer, Reese sold a Dual Cam Sway Control which could be added to their own Spring Bars or the spring bars of “competitors”.

You bolted the Spring Bar Cam onto the end of the spring bar. In my case, a previous owner or shop welded the cam onto the bar.

The Cam Arm that comes down from the frame on either side, hung by the clevis, rests in the semi circular space of the cam.

The Eaz-Lift factory inspected my springs and ball mount. The WD set up was theirs but not the Sway Control. They could only guess that what I’m reporting here is the probable story.

The lady that runs the factory has been there 39 years. I think she said my style of hitch stopped being made in 1973.

She said everything was in good shape and advised to always use a good quantity of good quality fiber grease in the cups.

Sergei
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Old 05-14-2008, 04:03 PM   #15
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Sergei,

It looks to me like the cam arm is located too far forward.

If you snug up the chains a few more links and if the tow vehicle and trailer are in a straight line, the cam should ride in the center of the cam notch that was welded onto the bar.
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Old 05-14-2008, 04:42 PM   #16
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Don,

Yes, I too had noticed that looking at the photos earlier today.

The old Reese literature gives very specific instructions on how to drive the rig in a straight line and then make sure that the Cam Arm is making contact on BOTH sides of the Cam.

When I do the final, final set up, once the Mini is aboard, I will be careful to take all these things into account.

Sergei
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:22 AM   #17
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I guess it's withstood the test of time but the welding on the spring arms scares me. My question about the hooks on the tongue was if there is a moving bail that you insert a bar in to "snap" the chains up into place. Some set-ups I've seen just have fixed hooks on the A frame which means you have to jack the trailer up after it's attached to the ball in order to set the chains. When you let it back down the chains are tensioned. I always jack the trailer up some rather than using a pry bar to put all the tension on the chains. I'm even more careful to take tension off the chains with the hitch before releasing the chains. The pry bar can snap back with a nasty kick!
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:28 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokelessJoe
The lady that runs the factory has been there 39 years. I think she said my style of hitch stopped being made in 1973.

She said everything was in good shape and advised to always use a good quantity of good quality fiber grease in the cups.
Well I guess I just missed out on the L/R arms. I think my parents bought their horse trailer in '74 (pulled it with a '72 Pontiac Safari station wagon) and I think I bought my first WD hitch in '79.

Grease is important. The challenge is keeping the dirt out. Just be sure to have a rag or sock handy to cover the ends of the bars. The challenge with the cups is you can't really see or get in there to clean it out. If you're careful about wiping off the ends of the bars and re-greasing at regular intervals that should take care of it.
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Old 05-17-2008, 03:21 PM   #19
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It's

It turned out that the Hi-Low shank I got last week didn’t have enough range. It would have worked to move the trailer this week but it wouldn’t have worked once I got the Mini up on the Sprinter’s deck.

So I went back to the Eaz-Lift factory in London, Ontario to see if I could change it out for the drop only Extra Low shank.

Even though Eaz-Lift is not set up to deal direct with the public Lynda Aristone, the General manager, very nicely agreed to swap pieces with me.

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This is Lynda, 39 years with the company.

The U channel Lynda gave me was last week welded onto my old hitch ball mount. It’ll be painted before I go out on the road.

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I used 5 washers to get the correct angle for the ball.

Luckily, I installed this out front of Wiltsie’s truck body place. The top most bolt with the serrated washers needs to be torqued to 260 pounds. I’d read somewhere on the VAL list that someone had paid $12.00 for a torque wrench. I don’t know how that is possible. When I drove the truck to the back of the plant to have Brad torque it for me the wrench turned out to be about 4 feet long and looked like it cost a couple of hundred dollars minimum.

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Don, note that we moved the Cam Lever back about an inch on the frame. The cam is seated correctly now and the chains hang straight down too.

Bernie, I used good grease and will make a pair of socks to cover the bars when I am storing them, probably in my new bumper box.
I don’t worry about the welded cams. Upon inspection, they look as strong as the bars to me.

We will do this set up all over again when the truck deck is finished. Now I know how to do it.

Thanks again to everyone for the help given.


Sergei
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Old 05-17-2008, 05:27 PM   #20
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Sergei, we have a similars setup on our Ford. One thing to keep in mind: If you decide to take the truck for a tour on back roads (sans Airstream), take the hitch off. We dragged bottom on ours several times when going through low-water crossings and over rocks.

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