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Old 11-21-2008, 07:14 PM   #1
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Rear Hitch receiver, use or remove.

So far we have use our new-to-us AS only three nights, when we brought it home from the dealer in Ohio

Our first trip will be hopefully to Arizona this winter - with luck I'll have a 3/4 ton diesel by then to replace our present 1/2ton truck.

Here my dilemma ....

In the past, I carried our two mountain bikes on a standard bike rack used on a 2 inch hitch receiver that I had mounted on our 1/2 ton truck. It worked well enough, but did block some light from the headlights although we don't often drive at night. I suspect that technically it is not legal to carry the bikes this way although We've never been stopped in at least five years.

When we bought our AS I was initially pleased to see it had a very solid 2" receiver welded to the trailer frame at the rear - figured I'd rather carry teh bikes back there and that there should be no problem with trailer handling as I will be using a 3/4 ton truck and also bought a Hensley Hitch.

When we were in Ohio picking up the trailer we also toured the factory at Jackson centre & I happened to speak with out tour guide who supposedly had many many years with AS about carrying the two mountain bikes this way. He told me that while he would not recommend a motorcycle, the two pedal bikes should present no problem at all.

Since then, I have read much on this forum and heard the comments about possibl;e separation damage by rear trailer hitches. (presume this means separation of the floor from the frame?)

Although some folks have used rear hitches seemingly without problem, Many more people recommend against it and I am rather inclined to follow this advice.

I did however mount by bike carrier into the receiver & put my weight on it and it seems extremely solid so I'm still not 100% decided.

What I am really wondering now however is whether there is any easy way for me to determine if the hitch has caused any damage to my trailer. Are there any tell tale signs that I would be able to see without removing sheet metal?

I have no idea what the previous owner used the hitch for, but my guess is for a small boat trailer as there is also a flat four pin trailer wiring plug installed at the rear.

Thanks for any tips advice. If I decide not to use the hitch for my two bike carrier, I will most likely cut ot off the frame with an angle grinder.

Brian.
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Old 11-21-2008, 07:36 PM   #2
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I'm sure there are all kinds of opinions about this. I have owned a 71 model 31' foot rear bath and would have not hung anything off the back. However my 94 seems to be far more rigid. I can't imagine two bikes could place that much stress on the rear.
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Old 11-21-2008, 07:50 PM   #3
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I'm sure there are all kinds of opinions about this. I have owned a 71 model 31' foot rear bath and would have not hung anything off the back. However my 94 seems to be far more rigid. I can't imagine two bikes could place that much stress on the rear.
You know, that was my initial thought, especially when I put my bike rack on as a test and put my weight on it - it seemed rock solid.

But despite my own assessment, I do value the advice of people with far more experience than mine in this area!

Our trailer is an 05 Classic 30'. I don't know if the comments about possible separation apply to all production years or certain years.

Brian.
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:20 PM   #4
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Lots of people say its not a good idea.

lots of threads like THIS one or THIS one.
You'll always find Andy at Inland RV strongly advising against it - scroll down to his warranty comment in the second link above.

On my 1999 30' classic, I've noticed that the rear can flex an inch or so if I push the stabilizer jacks moderatly hard. I wouldn't want to make that flex any worse by adding 40-50 pounds on a long moment arm back from the axles.

I bought fork-mounts from the local bike shop, bolted them to a board, and we carry our bikes inside the trailer (up front) when we're on the road.

Keeps them clean and safe from theft (they're expensive). Not much hassle to get them out when we stop for the night.

Here's a LINK
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:25 PM   #5
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IMHO, the controversy is more of an issue with the 70s Beatrice years trailers which had lighter frames and the longer Airstreams. Before I learned of this issue I had a hitch welded on my 73 Sovereign, both Beatrice and the longest trailer made that year, infamous for rear end separation. I towed a light sailboat which weighed about 500# trailer and boat combined. Never had a problem. Maybe I was lucky. I had a receiver hitch professionally welded on my 71 which is shorter by 8'. I also don't notice any hint of rear end separation. I am considering welding in some iron under the frame from the axles to the tail for extra support. Watching the 2nd trailer is a concern and I am thinking about car topping my boat on my truck, or learn to sailboard., or get a back up video cam,

What I like about my 2nd receiver most is it looks cool with a moosehead ball cover and it is very handy to hook my blue boy to on the way to the dump station.

If you are considering towing 2 trailers you can also be your own parade. If you drive in a circle fast enough you can catch up with the second trailer. But check the regs. In some states you can, some you can't. Some states require the 1st trailer to be a 5th wheel. In NM the first trailer has to have brakes.

If I knew then what I know now would I weld in a hitch? Probably not. But I don't see any reason to remove it.
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin Diesel View Post
lots of threads like THIS one or THIS one.
You'll always find Andy at Inland RV strongly advising against it - scroll down to his warranty comment in the second link above.

On my 1999 30' classic, I've noticed that the rear can flex an inch or so if I push the stabilizer jacks moderatly hard. I wouldn't want to make that flex any worse by adding 40-50 pounds on a long moment arm back from the axles.

I bought fork-mounts from the local bike shop, bolted them to a board, and we carry our bikes inside the trailer (up front) when we're on the road.

Keeps them clean and safe from theft (they're expensive). Not much hassle to get them out when we stop for the night.

Here's a LINK

Yep, I have read all the threads, and that is why I am leaning towards not using the hitch that came with my trailer.

But I have noticed that most folks that recommend not doing it, don't seem to have done it and those that have done it don't seem to report any problems! Hmmmmm ! I don't believe I have read a post yet from anyone that has carried bikes on the back and regretted it!

As I mentioned before, I also wondered if there was much of a difference in frame strength between the earlier or later model trailers.

Many years ago, we did carry a small honda "Passport" motorcycle - scooter really - inside a 20' travel trailer. It was ok, but somehow I don't care for the idea of carrying bikes inside the Airstream!

If I don't use the rear trailer hitch receiver, I will install a receiver on the front of our next truck as I have on my present one and carry the bikes up front.

Only problem I have had with that is a slight reduction of headlight illumination. Not a major problem.


Brian
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Old 11-21-2008, 08:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Lumatic View Post
IMHO, the controversy is more of an issue with the 70s Beatrice years trailers which had lighter frames and the longer Airstreams. Before I learned of this issue I had a hitch welded on my 73 Sovereign, both Beatrice and the longest trailer made that year, infamous for rear end separation. I towed a light sailboat which weighed about 500# trailer and boat combined. Never had a problem. Maybe I was lucky. I had a receiver hitch professionally welded on my 71 which is shorter by 8'. I also don't notice any hint of rear end separation. I am considering welding in some iron under the frame from the axles to the tail for extra support. Watching the 2nd trailer is a concern and I am thinking about car topping my boat on my truck, or learn to sailboard., or get a back up video cam,

What I like about my 2nd receiver most is it looks cool with a moosehead ball cover and it is very handy to hook my blue boy to on the way to the dump station.

If you are considering towing 2 trailers you can also be your own parade. If you drive in a circle fast enough you can catch up with the second trailer. But check the regs. In some states you can, some you can't. Some states require the 1st trailer to be a 5th wheel. In NM the first trailer has to have brakes.

If I knew then what I know now would I weld in a hitch? Probably not. But I don't see any reason to remove it.

Interesting comments!

I don't think I'd be towing another trailer behind, I have enough trouble with one! I don't think it is legal here in Ontario anyway!

I'm just considering the bike carrier. Like you, I wouldn't have put one on my trailer having read what I have read on this forum, its just that my trailer came with the hitch receiver already in place and I'm torn between just cutting it off (and gaining a bit more ground clearance at the rear) or giving it a try.

Certainly don't want to be causing undue damage.

Thanks .............. Brian
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Old 11-21-2008, 09:18 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
Interesting comments!

I don't think I'd be towing another trailer behind, I have enough trouble with one! I don't think it is legal here in Ontario anyway!

I'm just considering the bike carrier. Like you, I wouldn't have put one on my trailer having read what I have read on this forum, its just that my trailer came with the hitch receiver already in place and I'm torn between just cutting it off (and gaining a bit more ground clearance at the rear) or giving it a try.

Certainly don't want to be causing undue damage.

Thanks .............. Brian
The way I figure it a full black water tank (assuming yours is in the rear), and general stuff in the rear closets weighs a bunch more than a bike rack. So, you always can expeditiously choose where you put your stuff and/or have an empty tank.
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Old 11-21-2008, 09:32 PM   #9
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I'm certainly no expert on this, but from what I've read—and it makes sense—it's not the actual "dead" weight of objects attached to the rear bumper, but rather the increased power of that weight hammering up and down as you travel over bumps and dips...the object's "weight" is leveraged on the back end of the rig and the compounded force of it bouncing up and down becomes much more of an influence on the structure of the unit than it simple weight..and the longer the unit the more the force. Sort of like throwing an object off the roof of a house...when it hits the ground it has much more force behind it than its actual weight. My take is why risk it?
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Old 11-21-2008, 11:26 PM   #10
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Rear Hitch receiver, use or remove.

While not exactly the same thing, a spare tire carrier was monted on the rear of my '64 Overlander in much the same way as many bicycle carriers mount. This carrier wasn't added until sometime in the early 1980s as the original owners were firm believers in not adding any surplus weight to the rear bumper. By 1997 (I purchased the coach in 1995), the Overlander had a bad case of rear separation with a repair cost approaching $3,000.00. Needless to say, the spare tire now rides in the tow vehicle; alothough I know that I could get by without a spare using the 3-tire "limp-home" feature.

Kevin
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:50 AM   #11
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Somewhere here is a post about a new bike rake that mounts above the Propane tanks above the front window.Its mount as I recall originated from the A frame. If that hitch receiver is bolted or welded I cut it off with a angle grinder.
This summer I did see a 31 Limited, rear bedroom that the panels behind the rear axle had buckled and it had never had anything mounted to the rear of the frame. The strength is not there for mounting anything extra off the rear of the frame. On our long-bed 1 ton we have a cap,this carries our STUFF out of the weather and away from prying eyes. We carry a charcoal grill,floor jack, 1 spare tire for the truck(unmounted) trailer spare,air compressor,toolbox.lumber of changing a tire or leveling, 8 ft step ladder (which I have had to use) Two bikes and still have room.
Let your wallet be your guide.
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Old 11-22-2008, 04:59 AM   #12
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My 77 31 footer came with a Red Ant bike rack and rear bath and tanks. It only had a 4 inch frame and developed rear end frame separation even though I never used the rack. The former owners may have done the damage but it was not apparent at the time I bought the trailer in 1994. The 1984 and later trailers have a 5 inch frame and it would take more abuse to damage them. Since you are used to having the bikes mounted on the front of the truck, I would continue the practice. I carry our bikes in the back of the trucks vertically mounted on racks attached to the floor. That is why I bought a cap that was 42 inches tall. (measured from the bed to the Inside top of the cap.) It keeps them clean and safe.
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Old 11-22-2008, 05:58 AM   #13
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I had a 1966 24ft. Trailer many years ago, purchased a two bike carrier from Airstream, Jackson Center that fastened on both sides of the rear bumper frame and was made to swing out of the way when access was required to the back plumbing. Never had any problems and since it was purchased from Airstream I felt they had no issues with having it on the trailer either.
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Old 11-22-2008, 07:22 AM   #14
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I'm certainly no expert on this, but from what I've read—and it makes sense—it's not the actual "dead" weight of objects attached to the rear bumper, but rather the increased power of that weight hammering up and down as you travel over bumps and dips...the object's "weight" is leveraged on the back end of the rig and the compounded force of it bouncing up and down becomes much more of an influence on the structure of the unit than it simple weight..and the longer the unit the more the force. Sort of like throwing an object off the roof of a house...when it hits the ground it has much more force behind it than its actual weight. My take is why risk it?

Yep,

As a retired mechanical engineer, I understand what is at play here! The thing I don't know of course is whether it is significant enough to cause any problems.

You are certainly right in that the simplest thing is to just avoid creating a situation that could cause the problem and it may well be that is what i will do.

Its just that the hitch on our trailer seems so damn solid when I stick a bike rack into it and pull up and down with all my weight - no noticeable deflection whatsoever.

So I did wonder if all these comments about potential damage may have referred to the much older trailers - I know they were of much lighter construction but I know nothing of the comparative frame strengths.

Also, since we are just changing for a new truck, I will now have to have a hitch receiver put on the new truck if we are to carry on what we have done in the past and carry our bikes that way - so you see the temptation
I face! The AS already has the hitch!

Carrying the bikes up front worked well, but it does block the lighting some, and for that reason may not technically be legal though I was never stopped for doing it after many trips back and forth to Arizona and Florida.

Thanks ........ Brian.
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