Check Your Hitch Ball ! - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-12-2007, 07:27 AM   #15
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Blue Loc Tite. Stud grade
A little blue Loc Tite and the proper torque and the nut will nuut come off.
To make sure you alwat could take a center punch and dimple the threads where they meet the nut, But doing this will make it permanate.
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Old 09-12-2007, 07:42 AM   #16
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My 2" ball came loose twice in the past year...I took it to a rental store in SE Portland and they used a torch welder on it. It'll never come loose again, cost was $10.00.

Paul
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Old 09-12-2007, 11:57 AM   #17
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My 2" ball came loose twice in the past year...I took it to a rental store in SE Portland and they used a torch welder on it. It'll never come loose again, cost was $10.00.

Paul
I'd be afraid to do that. Parts are engineered to break under certain stresses, just as they are engineered not to break. Would it be better for your hitch ball to be torn loose, or the your hitch reciever mount fastened to your frame?
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Old 09-12-2007, 12:21 PM   #18
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I'd be afraid to do that. Parts are engineered to break under certain stresses, just as they are engineered not to break. Would it be better for your hitch ball to be torn loose, or the your hitch reciever mount fastened to your frame?
I think you bring up a good point Laura.Maybe we have someone in the membership which could enlighten us with hard facts.
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Old 09-12-2007, 01:31 PM   #19
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The weak-link point is interesting, but in this case I really doubt it is going to be the ball. Balls are routinely rated far beyond the receiver rating; for example, a typical 2" ball has a 5000 lb rating, but my hitch and van are only rated for 3500 lb.

Ball mounts with welded-on balls are routinely available, usually as units which have two or three balls on them: you rotate the mount to put the desired ball up, and insert it that way. The balls are welded because their studs would collide with each other otherwise. I have no use for such a device, but it does illustrate that balls can be welded to the mount.

In my reading of both VESA V-5 and SAE J684, I saw no reference to a desired specific weak point. Of course, Laura has a valid point and I would rather replace a failed ball than have my van's hitch mount areas ripped out, but I suspect that any event which involves sufficient force to do either will be a major collision which destroys van and trailer, anyway.
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Old 09-12-2007, 03:04 PM   #20
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In a straight fore-and-aft crash, I would expect the ball mount pin to fail first, although the coupler mechanism also looks rather delicate compared to a ball shank... Anyone recall the photo of the truck and boat trailer hanging over a cliff?
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Old 09-12-2007, 03:54 PM   #21
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According to SAE standard J684, the breaking strength of the coupling must be at least 1.5 times the trailer (not hitch) weight in the fore-aft axis... that means the requirement for the coupler latching mechanism is as high as it is for the front of the socket (although I assume in practice the front of the socket will be stronger). That pin does look like a potential weak link, if everything is aligned so well that the ball mount doesn't jam in the receiver.

Similarly, the strength requirement for vertical force is the same (0.5 times the trailer weight, I think) for up and down... although the normal situation is a lot of force down on to the hitch, that latch needs to handle the coupler being pulled up with a force equal to half the trailer weight.

I think any vertical force is easy for the ball compared to the coupler, and even the horizontal forces (fore/aft and side-to-side) are easier for the ball to handle than many of the other components... if the ball's nut is not loose!

The VESA V-5 minimum requirements are a little different from the SAE standard test levels, but the same general ideas apply.
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Old 09-13-2007, 06:22 PM   #22
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I found a product called Permetex Thread Locker which I used on my new coupler ball with a longer shank and wrench flats. In other words the ball can be held easily while applying 200-250 ft-pounds to the nut. I made an extension for my breaker bar using pipe. A friend at the local body shop welded my sway control plate to my drawbar. Hopefully this will solve the problem of a loosening coupler ball.
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Old 09-13-2007, 10:59 PM   #23
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Also, make sure the shaft on the trailer ball is the correct diameter for the hole in the receiver. Some threaded shafts are a much smaller diameter than the receiving hole in many receivers - especially a light duty ball vs. a heavy duty hitch. The smaller diameter allows the ball to move front, back and laterally up to 1/4 inch. Bad news as it will loosen every time...
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Old 09-14-2007, 06:33 PM   #24
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...Some threaded shafts are a much smaller diameter than the receiving hole in many receivers - especially a light duty ball vs. a heavy duty hitch. ...
While balls are available in different shaft diameters, and the best solution is to use the right one, reducing bushings are readily available to make a smaller shaft fit a larger hole... good to know if you accidentally find yourself with one of these combinations.
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Old 09-15-2007, 09:44 AM   #25
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It has been my experience in over 30 years of investigating traffic accidents that in a rear-end accident involving a vehicle with a trailer hitch (without a trailer attached) that the receiver hitch generally bends the frame, but acts as a frame member and doesn't deform.

A trailer hitch that is hit on a unibody will push the unibody out of shape; tend to tear one or more attachment points out of the unibody; and generally the damage is sufficient to "total" a unibody car unless it's brand-new and high-value to begin with.

The few accidents I've seen with a trailer attached have all ended in one-side roll-overs, either for the trailer or entire rig together, but the hitch didn't fail. I've only seen one separation in an attached-trailer accident, and that was on sheet ice, and ended with the truck rolling and the trailer staying upright. The weak link in the hitch setup (perhaps by design) appeared to be the spoon assembly in the trailer hitch that locks the hitch assembly into the socket. With enough twisting force, the spoon will deform and allow the hitch ball to come out. Depending on the weight of the trailer, if the break-away switch activates (if so equipped), the safety chains almost always snap. Trailers equipped with an activated break-away switch will likely end up on their side in a ditch once detached from the tow vehicle.

Roger
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Old 09-15-2007, 10:46 AM   #26
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Always had U-haul attach the ball and never had this issue. So that system they use with the nylon washer that Brian was describing earlier must work pretty well. After reading this post, I think if I ever need a ball attached I'll just run over and keep having them do it.
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Old 09-15-2007, 01:27 PM   #27
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We were involved in a rear end accident while towing about 8 years ago. We had a 16' Casita that was rented from the U.S. Navy and were towing with a 1995 Nissan Maxima. Construction at an interstate exit caused us to stop in the exit lane. A plumbing company's 3/4 ton pickup, towing a trenching machine, hit us from behind at a considerable speed. We were knocked forward into the car stopped in front of us. The impact forced the Casita's tongue through the car's trunk almost to the back seat. We were okay but shaken and showered with glass from the rear car window shattering. The ball did not fail and was still attached to the hitch draw bar. The hitch and mounting points deformed upward enough to allow the tongue spoon to come loose from the ball. The other guy's insurance paid $12,000 to fix our car which we drove for another 100,000 miles with no problems. The Casita was in good shape considering how hard it was hit. We retrieved our 13" TV from the front closet that was undamaged and we still use. The Navy removed all the usable parts from the Casita and scrapped the shell.

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Old 09-15-2007, 06:19 PM   #28
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Depending on the weight of the trailer, if the break-away switch activates (if so equipped), the safety chains almost always snap. Trailers equipped with an activated break-away switch will likely end up on their side in a ditch once detached from the tow vehicle.

Roger
Safety chains don't seem to have very high breaking limits compared to the rest of the rated towing equipment.
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