Weekend trip cancelled. Rusted hitch. How to fix? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-08-2012, 05:19 PM   #1
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Weekend trip cancelled. Rusted hitch. How to fix?

We were all excited to go camping for the weekend but when I went to hook up, I looked down and said, "Uhoh." My second-grade son said, "That looks dangerous!" When a kid says that, it's time to stay home!

Where the hitch is welded to the frame member is totally rusted through. I can flex it with my hand and figure after I hit about three really big bumps, I would have had a trailer hanging on to the van by its chains. I'm just glad we noticed it when we did. So, how do I fix this? Just get another hitch and weld it on like the old one or is there a better solution? Thanks.

Bad phone pic. I can see daylight through some of the weld.
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Old 10-08-2012, 05:50 PM   #2
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I would get a new coupler, reweld on....old coupler could be comprimise where it has pulled away from frame
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Old 10-08-2012, 06:22 PM   #3
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Name: Ron
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The first step, whether you buy a new coupler or not, is to take a grinder with a cutting disc and separate the coupler from the frame. When the coupler is off the frame you'll be able to see if the coupler has been compromised too much to weld back on.

It really depends if that's a fatigue crack, separate from the weld or the weld it's self lacked sufficient penetration into the coupler.

Ron
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Old 10-08-2012, 06:42 PM   #4
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Name: Eddie
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Hitch Flex

Bryan
Good catch. How is the weld on the inside of the frame rail? Should be OK, but its not holding anything but the two frame rails together.
I have to replace a hitch on an older fifth wheel because of no lock so I have been studying the Scamp top welded hitch. Looks like they are using a 7K 2" angle frame hitch.
On your hitch I would cut the old one off and install a new hitch. The new hitch needs three cross supports added to prevent flexing of the unsupported sidewalls of the hitch. The supports should be the same thickness metal of the hitch and as tall as the sides. One across the back, middle and one under the front weld. The lack of support allows the hitch walls to flex and workharden the metal at the weld. Make sure the chains are attached to the frame and not the hitch.
The fifth wheel has some of the same support issues as yours. On the fifth wheel they use the same hitch but they cut the rear angle, bend the sides in and reweled the sides. I plan to weld cross supports on my 5th wheel to add strength to the hitch.
I am not a fan of top welding these hitches.
Eddie
Added info.
On the newer 5th wheel hitches Scamp used plate metal to replace the cut off sides. I still think the sides of these hitches need to be tied together to add strength.
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Old 10-08-2012, 07:14 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses. The rust-through is actually in the coupler plate and right at the edge of the bead. I can feel an edge on the underside of the coupler plate where it has weakened and rusted through almost all the way around. It was really held on by the last couple of inches of good metal toward the rear on each side. I'll hunt around for a new hitch and see about welding it on with some more support. Thank you for that suggestion. I only have a 120V Mig so I may have to hire this one out as that's some pretty thick metal. It's not the same as the old VW metal that I'm used to welding!
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:00 AM   #6
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Is your avatar picture your tow vehicle?
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Old 01-20-2013, 05:03 PM   #7
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Ok, I finally cut this off today. After I cut a few inches off the back of each side, the coupler just fell to the floor. I am left with a sheet of metal on the bottom where the two frame rails come together that is welded on the inside of each rail and seems pretty stuck on there. Can I just weld a new plate to the bottom of this plate? Getting inside and grinding away the inner welds from underneath does not look fun at all. I would think that this is almost a stronger solution than what was there before as the weight of the frame would distributed on to that plate and then more evenly distributed to the coupler that I will weld on to the bottom. Thoughts, opinions? Thanks.

Rgrugg, that is not my tow vehicle! Just a fun hobby of mine!
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Old 01-20-2013, 05:22 PM   #8
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It's a bit close up for me to tell for sure, but: in the pic you posted first, it looks as if the coupler is welded to the bottom of the tongue- is that right?

Some pics of what you're left with now that you've started cutting would be a great help...

Francesca
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Old 01-20-2013, 06:48 PM   #9
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Pictures? Of course!


This is the old one that I cut off.



The plate underneath that I am thinking about just leaving there.


I don't even know if I could get my welder in there for this part of it if I put in a new plate after removing this one.
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Old 01-20-2013, 06:57 PM   #10
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Bryan, my 1988 Scamp has the coupler (from the manufactuer) in the exact same position. Hitch heigh is right at 21" right now, if it was on the end or above the frame... it would add hitch height. Not something I'd want... from the pictures those welds look good. Are they?
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:11 PM   #11
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The welds for the piece that is left are great. I'm just wondering if I can just leave that there and weld the new plate right to the bottom of the piece that is still there from the old one. It would only add 1/8 - 1/4 inch to the hitch height at the most. I'm no engineer but I would think that me grinding and cutting away that piece might do more harm than good.
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:24 PM   #12
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Well, I got nothin'- I didn't even know there was such a thing as a coupler attached to the bottom of a tongue. The several trailers I've owned have had the type that goes over the top...

I'll be most interested to watch how you solve the problem, Bryan!

Francesca
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:31 PM   #13
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A good welding/machine shop should be able to rebuild that for you. I'd take it to a professional.
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:32 PM   #14
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I'm having trouble just finding a coupler that is as small as the one that was on it. All the ones I find are about a foot wide at the rear and I need one that is about six inches wide at the rear. Francesca, I'll be interested in how this turns out too!
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