To grease the ball, or not?? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-14-2006, 09:56 PM   #1
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Years ago when hauling trailers, I was told not to grease the ball! The reason being, that the contact between the ball, and the tongue helped to ground the trailer, there for the tail lights, turn signals, and brake lights worked better. Lately I have been seeing grease for the ball in some trailer supply stores! So....what is the best way?? I haven't been useing any at all
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Old 08-14-2006, 10:01 PM   #2
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all i can say is i never have or never will use greese on a ball..
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Old 08-14-2006, 10:28 PM   #3
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I never used to grease a trailer ball till I came to this site a few years ago....now for lubrication I always do....same as all fifth wheels are greased.....nothing at all to do with grounding....If I traveled on a lot of gravel roads then possibly my thinking would revert back to "no grease", but so far it works well for me.......I just have to remember to cover the ball, as soon as I uncouple the trailer, with my infamous Coke can......saves getting my jeans dirty... ....Benny
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Old 08-15-2006, 06:08 AM   #4
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Old 08-15-2006, 07:00 AM   #5
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Years ago when hauling trailers, I was told not to grease the ball! The reason being, that the contact between the ball, and the tongue helped to ground the trailer, there for the tail lights, turn signals, and brake lights worked better. Lately I have been seeing grease for the ball in some trailer supply stores! So....what is the best way?? I haven't been useing any at all
After about 500,000 miles of towing down bumpy dirt roads the ball will wear a hole in the trailer coupler. Actually it would propably be best to grease the ball but you tend to get grease all over the place (pants leg, hands etc.) and most folks don't. I doubt that there is a ground connection through the coupler as all of the electrical connectors I've seen have the ground connection on the connector (even my 4 X 8 utility trailer).
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Old 08-15-2006, 07:31 AM   #6
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Electrical grounding shouldn't be an issue; your steel safety chains or cables link the trailer frame to the hitch frame. I always grease the hitch ball, and keep a plastic cover on it when unhitched. Otherwise, you're just causing unnecessary wear on both parts of the coupling.
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Old 08-15-2006, 08:09 AM   #7
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Lowes and other stores sell a teflon based white lub just for the hitch. I always use it and cover it with a plastic cover when it is not in use, just as Jack does,.

As far as the ground: Grounding is the number 1 reason tail lights don't work on the trailer so I have a battery jumper cable bolted to the trailer hitch and clamp the clip on a clean, non rusty, bolt on the tug hitch.

Remember, if the tail lights are not working, your battery charging wire between the tug and egg is not working also.
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Old 08-15-2006, 10:01 AM   #8
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I don't rely on any grounding effect other than the one provided through the 7-pin connector. I do rely on putting grease in the hitch mechanism, it transfers to the ball soon enough. One more opportunity for my pants to stay clean before we set out.
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Old 08-15-2006, 10:43 AM   #9
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Remember, if the tail lights are not working, your battery charging wire between the tug and egg is not working also.
I'm sorry, but this not a true statement. Your charge wire can be working prefectly well and the tail lights not working and the other way around. Your tail lights can be working and the charge wire not.
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Old 08-15-2006, 04:14 PM   #10
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The discusion was about grounding the egg to the tug through a greased and/or non greased ball.

If the trailer is not grounded to the tug would the battery charge wire from the tug charge the battery?
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Old 08-15-2006, 04:35 PM   #11
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The discusion was about grounding the egg to the tug through a greased and/or non greased ball.

If the trailer is not grounded to the tug would the battery charge wire from the tug charge the battery?
Your statement is still not true no matter how the negative side of power gets to the trailer. As for using the hitch for the negative power connection, that's idea was abandoned many years ago because it's not reliable, hence the negative wire in the harness.

Many fiberglass trailers DO NOT have the negative wire connected to the frame, hence the term "ground" doesn't mean frame. Therefore any electrical connection between the trailer frame and the tug frame is meaning less.

My trailer has a connection between the negative power and the frame at one point only, that's near the converter. It's only there because I have an external AC outlet and required for safety purposes when connected to shore power.

The "ground" in a fiberglass trailer is simply a common wire that's connected to the negative side of the 12Volt power system. That's it....
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Old 08-15-2006, 04:45 PM   #12
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Short hops, I sometimes just shoot some WD 40, or the like, on the ball and up into the hitch recess. Longer, I use a water proof, lightweight bicyle wheel bearing grease called "Phil." After uncoupling, I immediately remove the draw bar from the receiver so I won't crack my knees, or those of the unsuspecting. Then I cover the ball with a soft, terry cloth, usually a discarded face cloth.

I have a large plastic container I call my "tender box," as in the nautical sense. I keep the hoses, electrical cords, leveling blocks, and chocks in this. It is immediately inside the hatch door of the tow vehicle. This is also where I stash the draw bar and ball when in "port."
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Old 08-15-2006, 05:03 PM   #13
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Have a zippered bag that I keep the locks, the stinger with ball, ball grease, and a cheap plastic ball cover. When docked the stinger is removed and the plastic ball cover is in place. I don't like running into that ball and stinger it hurts my legs. I've only had to grease the ball once so far. Some of the grease is inside the cover and some is left on the ball every time I take the cover off.
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Old 08-15-2006, 05:13 PM   #14
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My Boler is an example of one of those trailers, as Bryon described, in which the negative side of the 12V electrical system is not connected to the frame. I neither need, nor have any use for, electrical continuity through the hitch.

I see Darwin's point that the same "ground" connection is likely used for both charging and lighting; I believe that the "ground" connection should be the one in the electrical cable.

Of course I use safety chains, but I wouldn't count on them for an electrical connection. The hooks go through appropriate holes in the hitch reciever, but in my ideal of an ideal world that would have a durable protective coating, and thus would not be a conductive metal-to-metal connection. And as I said, my frame is not part of the 12V electical circuit anyway.

So as for the original question: I lubricate the ball with grease to reduce wear, use a ball cover, and occasionally get grease on myself. If this were a big deal, I would switch to the clear grease which I have seen advertised for this purpose; however, I would need to completely clean the coupler socket to get rid of the old grease for the change to be really effective.

I have a box which is some respects is like Ronnie's "tender box", and keep the grease there. When I made one significant trip on gravel (with a tent trailer), I wiped the gritty grease off with a paper towel and re-greased on a couple of occasions.

If I am going anywhere without the trailer for more than a few minutes, I pull the ball platform from the hitch; even if it were not greasy, it's really hard on the shins, and is a poor bumper.
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Old 08-15-2006, 09:39 PM   #15
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Going against the grain, I guess, because I run a trailer frame ground....a wire from the trailer frame runs to my trailer negative terminal strip which is used for 12V trailer lights and running lights....I also have a wire from my trailer battery to the same strip.....I run 2 separate ground wires thru my trailer connector.....one from my regular trailer connector pin and the other thru the aux trailer pin which is normally used for hi-level brake light......I know it`s over kill .....but wire is plentiful.......also because my trailer frame is grounded, the coupler ball and coupler also supply another backup ground, in case I lose a ground someplace else in the system, albiet possibly intermittent....nothing like enough grounds, LOL .......Oh, also I think that my trailer hitch, with the platform and ball on, makes an excellent bumper and protects my chrome bumper from minor rear end bumps....and parking lot dings......last year had an impatient fella in a sports type Lexus, I think it was, at a gas pump behind me as I was being fueled tried creeping forward to get closer to the rear of my truck for whatever reason and pierced his plastic front bumper with my stinger.....he wasn`t too happy! ...yep, makes a good bumper......and never a Coke can ball cover stolen yet either, .....Benny
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Old 08-15-2006, 09:44 PM   #16
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WOW!! Why don't you run extra wires for the positive side too?
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Old 08-15-2006, 11:50 PM   #17
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I believe that some converter designs internally connect the 120VAC and 12VDC "grounds" -- In this case, because the 120VAC ground is connected to the trailer frame, the 12VDC "ground" or return is connected to the trailer frame. This may not be true for all converters, and the connection would be lost in the case of a plugin converter (as I had on my 91S13 and a previous Jayco 16) that was unplugged.

If anyone has a converter schematic, it would be interesting to check the above out.

Beefing up the ground wire in the tow-vehicle to trailer connector is not a bad idea because it is possible for the following to all be sending simultaneous +battery which all comes back on the same return wire (and hitch ball that is not bouncing around):

1. Tail lights
2. Brake lights
3. Brakes
4. Battery charge

As part of my upsizing the battery charge wire on my tow vehicle, I also ran a ground/return wire from the truck battery to the connector, plus I grouded that pin on the connector to the truck frame. It was not convenient to upsize the charge or ground/return wires on my Scamp's wiring harness between the egg battery and the connector, so that short distance is still original wiring.
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Old 08-16-2006, 04:46 AM   #18
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I'm with Pete on this one...

99% of all 12v trailer electrical failures are ground-related. Often in these fiberglass trailers, the ground is a single wire that is daisy-chained (hooked up in series) to all of the 12v electrical parts throughout, and then connected to the pigtail for grounding to the tow vehicle's electrical. Although it generally is, it may or may not (depending on the brand) be connected to the trailer frame. Corrosion and vibration are the enemies of grounds. It can never hurt to be 'over-grounded'.

As far as greasing or not the ball... I've done both. I have yet to wear out a coupler that wasn't greased, but I have seen the effects of a worn-out coupler. If you occasionally inspect your coupler and ball for damage and wear (which should be done anyway) you won't experience any ill-effects. If it isn't creaking, it's not a big deal. If it's noisy, grease it.

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Old 08-16-2006, 06:45 AM   #19
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I'm with Pete on this one...

99% of all 12v trailer electrical failures are ground-related. Often in these fiberglass trailers, the ground is a single wire that is daisy-chained (hooked up in series) to all of the 12v electrical parts throughout, and then connected to the pigtail for grounding to the tow vehicle's electrical. Although it generally is, it may or may not (depending on the brand) be connected to the trailer frame. Corrosion and vibration are the enemies of grounds. It can never hurt to be 'over-grounded'.

As far as greasing or not the ball... I've done both. I have yet to wear out a coupler that wasn't greased, but I have seen the effects of a worn-out coupler. If you occasionally inspect your coupler and ball for damage and wear (which should be done anyway) you won't experience any ill-effects. If it isn't creaking, it's not a big deal. If it's noisy, grease it.

Roger

One indication of a intermittent or partial ground is to turn on a blinker, left or right, with the tail lights also on. All the lights will blink.

With proper hitch weight, I don't think greasing the ball would interrupt grounding, if that were your only ground connection. But the rust and paint on the stinger/coupler could be a factor.

I've never had a ground problem using a weight distributing hitch, and I don't use a ground connection in the plug. When you pull those chains up, you are connected.
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Old 08-16-2006, 06:50 AM   #20
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Just to throw an international flavour into the greasing question, most Yurpeens now run grease-less as most new travel trailers use friction-on-ball type sway control. Here is one manufacturer's web page - the friction pucks are shown at the bottom of the page.

While on that site, you might also like to see their noseweight-indicating jockey wheel - a nice simple, economical solution to estimating noseweight.

Andrew
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