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Old 10-17-2003, 11:35 AM   #1
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Speaking of hitch balls

This break away switch discussion reminds me that from time to time you should replace your hitch ball. They do wear out. I replace mine every couple of years.

Ken J.
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Old 10-17-2003, 12:10 PM   #2
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Grease them to extend replacement intervals and prevent damge to the hitch on the trailer side.
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Old 10-17-2003, 05:32 PM   #3
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Is there any way to tell when the hitch ball is worn? I keep mine greased and don't see any signs wear. I don't want to replace it if it is still OK. (about 20,000 miles) There may be a measuring device that will determine if there is any wear; and if so, I wonder if there is any acceptable amount of wear such as 1/32, 1/64 inch, etc.?
There are many experienced and knowlegeable members of this forum and I hope someone will either ease my mind or cause me to run to the nearest supply place and get a new hitch ball.
Wayne
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Old 10-17-2003, 05:37 PM   #4
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Kind of on and off topic, but what does it mean to have a 17 3/4" hitch height?

Thanks,

Eric
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Old 10-17-2003, 05:51 PM   #5
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The recommentation for replacement has to do with shafts breaking - not so such wear on the balls. Thing about how much weight/force is on that one pivot point. So as far as the ball itself - a well greased ball probably does not wear that much.

I follow the advice to replace every once in a while - figure its pretty cheap to do.

Clint - The 17 3/4 hitch height means ground to top of the ball.

Ken J.
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Old 10-17-2003, 07:59 PM   #6
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A potential problem from an ungreased ball is the tourque put on the ball when turning, this can cause the ball itself to turn. This in turns loosens the nut even with a lock washer. Once the ball turns it will never go back as tight as orignal and will continue to loosen the ball from that point on.

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Old 10-17-2003, 08:36 PM   #7
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Ken J.

I am a novice at towing but, will mention what I got last weekend from the Reese rep at the WBCCI rally.

(1) Replace every 3-5 years due to metal fatigue.

(2) Check ball rating(stamped on top) to exceed your tow weight. Mine is 10,000# vs. trailer at 6800#.

(3) Lube only the top half of the ball very lightly. You don't want grease working down the ball to the lock washer and bolt. Can contribute to loosening.

(4) Can only retighten a loose ball one time. After that throw away. This is based on the wear/strain to the threads against nut.

After the towing seminar, my friend and I went around and looked at various balls. Some obviously old balls had wear lines in them from front to back on both sides at approx. 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock.

Good thread Ken.
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Old 10-17-2003, 09:07 PM   #8
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Wingfoot

There you go - I started this thread because I knew you should replace the ball every so often. I learned something new - I did not realize that you could not loosen and retighten a ball only once. Think I'll go buy a new ball this weekend as I've moved my around on a couple of hitches that past summer. When I do I'll have the RV shop tighten it with a big wrench.

Sure would hate to loose a trailer over a 15-20 dollar piece of metal.

While we are on this subject - you should also check your hitch bolts - they do loosen. I have a habit of tightening them before each long trip. Also check for cracks.

First time I checked the bolts on my brand new truck I was amazed how much I tightened them.

Ken J.
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Old 10-17-2003, 09:23 PM   #9
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Ken J.

Good idea on those bolts.

Also have heard that GM & Ford (don't know about Dodge) are having trouble with their receivers. You are the second person to mention cracking. I have heard that the receivers now are only about 6" long where they tie-in and that the whole bumper is designed to flex across the back of the truck. My source said the flex is deliberate in the design.

It looks like the spare tire interferes with constructing a more rigid stronger design.

I was told to check mine on a regular basis to watch for cracks around the receiver point.
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Old 10-18-2003, 02:08 AM   #10
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Re: Speaking of hitch balls

Quote:
Originally posted by Ken Johansen
This break away switch discussion reminds me that from time to time you should replace your hitch ball. They do wear out. I replace mine every couple of years.

Ken J.
good thread ken!

i also replace the ball every couple of years.

20 bucks is cheap insurance! here are a couple of tips when dealing with balls.

one: as with lug nuts on your vehicle, look for rust at the base of the ball. if you see rust, there is a very good chance it is loose.

two: don't bother trying to loosen it with a wrench to remove it! pay a grease monkey 5 bucks at a muffler shop to cut it off with a torch. nothing saves time like the hot wrench!

three: when tightening the new ball, turn your hitch 90 degrees in your reciever. then you can stand on the wrench! retighten after the first time you use it.

john
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Old 10-18-2003, 09:47 AM   #11
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John

I've heard of hitches almost falling off because of loose bolts

I have also heard that GM in particular has had problems with cracking.

Learn something new everyday - did not think about turning 90 degrees to tighten.

Also have wonder why on my new truck, the receiver is welded on a round tube - seems counterintuitive to me.

Cheers

Ken
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Old 10-18-2003, 10:09 AM   #12
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"Also have wonder why on my new truck, the receiver is welded on a round tube - seems counterintuitive to me."

ken,

i thought that also when i got my truck. i was expecting a square reciever when i bought it.

then, a buddy of mine who is a engineer pointed out that round tubing is better at handling rotational stresses.

that's why your drive shaft isn't square!

john
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