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Old 06-04-2006, 12:51 PM   #1
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locking hitch onto ball

Lately I have been having trouble getting the Hitch lock to lock down on the ball. I have had to tap it down gently with a rubber mallet to get the lock to snap in. Any ideas on what might be causing this.

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Old 06-04-2006, 12:59 PM   #2
Van
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Hitches get that way after time. Well, at least a lot of them do. If it was me, i would just grab a can of WD40 and give it a couple squirts into the latch to get things sliding around inside easier again.
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Old 06-04-2006, 01:09 PM   #3
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Have You Tried...

Getting in the tow vehicle and pulling forward very gently just a fraction of an inch. Sometimes I'm on the ball, but too far back for the hitch to latch.

Otherwise, I periodically clean the inside of the hitch with brake cleaner and lubricate it as Zugbug has suggested.
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Old 06-04-2006, 01:53 PM   #4
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Zugbug.

This is sometimes an issue with us as well. Keeping the hitch lock mechanism well lubed and cleaned is a good idea. I also keep the hitch ball greased with hitch grease and this makes some difference too.

I find I have the most difficulty if the tow vehicle is aligned with the tongue of the trailer, but I have engaged the parking brake. I sussually do this because the TV tends to roll forward or back a few inches, ruining my alignment of ball and tongue.

If the parking brake is engaged while trying to lock the hitch this migfht be the culprit. Once the tongue is lowered onto the ball, try disengaging the parking brake to allow the vehicle/trailer to kind of "mate (roll- just a bit)" when you raise up the trailer to attach bars/chains.

I know this seems like common sense, but make sure the vehicle is in "Park" before letting off the parking brake. Don't ask how I know about this!!!!

I hope this makes sense.

Jonathan
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Old 06-04-2006, 05:38 PM   #5
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When backing up to the trailer, I leave the ball slightly forward over the coupler. This tends to pull the trailer slightly forward as the coupler slips over the ball. If I line it up exactly so the ball is in the center of the coupler, the coupler doesn't engage properly. I've done this with my last two Airstreams and find this technique works every time.

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Old 06-04-2006, 06:19 PM   #6
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With my hitch, I have to push the lock mechinism inside the coupling back until is stops moving. If I don't do that the hitch coupling will not settle down onto the ball.
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Old 06-04-2006, 07:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazylev
Zugbug.

This is sometimes an issue with us as well. Keeping the hitch lock mechanism well lubed and cleaned is a good idea. I also keep the hitch ball greased with hitch grease and this makes some difference too.

I find I have the most difficulty if the tow vehicle is aligned with the tongue of the trailer, but I have engaged the parking brake. I sussually do this because the TV tends to roll forward or back a few inches, ruining my alignment of ball and tongue.

If the parking brake is engaged while trying to lock the hitch this migfht be the culprit. Once the tongue is lowered onto the ball, try disengaging the parking brake to allow the vehicle/trailer to kind of "mate (roll- just a bit)" when you raise up the trailer to attach bars/chains.
Jack's description very eloquently captures what I was trying to say. This has been true on three Airstreams, old and new.
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Old 06-04-2006, 07:53 PM   #8
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What Canavera and startrekker said! We've found those two tips to be the trick with ours. This is our fourth year with the trailer and I think we finally have the hang of it. At least until the next time it gives us a hard time
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Old 06-04-2006, 08:13 PM   #9
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Oops, Wrong Quote

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcanavera
When backing up to the trailer, I leave the ball slightly forward over the coupler. This tends to pull the trailer slightly forward as the coupler slips over the ball. If I line it up exactly so the ball is in the center of the coupler, the coupler doesn't engage properly. I've done this with my last two Airstreams and find this technique works every time.

Jack
Jack's solution matches mine ( and Stef's)
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Old 06-05-2006, 10:28 AM   #10
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Jack.

Thanks so much for that advice! I've been dropping my tongue dead center on the ball everytime, but now I will try Canavera method. I will let you know.

Jonathan
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Old 06-22-2006, 02:17 PM   #11
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Jack.

Your method worked great!!! The latch clicked in everytime on our trip up north.

A big kiss on the cheek to you!!!!

Jonathan
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Old 06-22-2006, 05:11 PM   #12
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Is it possible to have too much grease on the hitch ball and up inside the coupler? We were liberally greasing it everytime we hitched up, until . . . we were jacking it up to get the WD bars on and BOOOM !!! The ball (& the back end of the Suburban) fell out of the coupler. It was only a couple of inches but it scared the crap out of both of us.

At that point, I wiped ALOT of ball grease out of the coupler and there have been no further incidences. However, I still wonder if the grease was problem, or the coupler is feeling worn out after 35 years.

Virginia
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Old 06-22-2006, 06:02 PM   #13
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That is a sure sign of wear, but I do not think the load on the ball going down the road will ever go to zero or pull the ball out. By my figuring the W/D bars will also add to the upward force on the ball socket and eliminate any possibility of the ball coming out of the socket. It might also be that the ball is on the low side of the tolerance or worn. Replacing a ball will be alot cheaper than replacing the hitch socket. There may be some way to modify a single piece in the socket assembly as well for less money than replacing the whole thing. On of my old boat trailers had a rotating handle that you could crank the hitch down as much as you wanted to make up for wear.
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Old 06-22-2006, 06:12 PM   #14
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Time to Repair Hitch Mechanism...

Hey Towster, This is not a too much grease issue. Sounds like your hitch mechanism is worn beyond acceptable tolerances. While Dwightd is correct about gravity and WD hitch working to keep hitch on the ball, you really should rebuild the hitch. Inland Andy has the parts, and as I recall, they are very reasonable considering everything you've got hanging on that hitch.

It takes less than 30 minutes to remove and replace the parts, not counting the hour it will take to get all the grimy grease cleaned out of the hitch head.

Hope this helps!
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