Shank length on draw bar --longer or shorter? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-28-2015, 03:11 PM   #1
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Shank length on draw bar --longer or shorter?

I need to get a draw bar to connect Volvo to Lil'Bigfoot.

These apparently have a choice of shank *lengths.*

DH is on top of the height we need from ground to top of ball, but we haven't discussed the shank.

Is there an ideal shank length (to allow adequate turning clearance from bumper to trailer)?

If it helps, the V70 is more rounded on the corners than the previous, more boxy models.
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Old 08-28-2015, 06:03 PM   #2
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Generally speaking, the closer the ball is to the rear axle, the better.
That is of course assuming turning radius is not affected.
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Old 08-28-2015, 06:44 PM   #3
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Can't really speak for your Volvo but the receiver on my Toyota Tacoma comes pretty well 'even' with the rear of the bumper. The half inch hole for the hitch pin is approx 2 1/4" in front of the rear of rcvr. I have a half dozen or so 'stubs/stingers/drawbars' whatever you choose to call 'em. Most are what I'd consider standard length, i.e. from the 'drop' to the center of the hole for the hitch pin is 5 1/4" give or take a fraction. I also have some home made stubs with more/less drop & shorter/longer length to the hole, some as short as 3" or so. I'm pretty sure the standard (at least most I've seen) is probably about 5 1/4" from drop/rise to center of hitch pin hole. With my existing setup I've towed a 16' tandem axle equipment trailer, my 10' teardrop trailer, a 13' Scamp, & a 17' Casita, along with a bass boat & several utility trailers. I've made some pretty 'sharp' turns while backing & havent 'crunched' either the trailers or the truck yet...

Here's pic of a stub on my truck, with 3" drop & 5 1/4" from drop to hole - That puts the ball center about 6" away from the bumper/hitch. Wouldn't want it much farther (or closer)
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Old 08-28-2015, 06:47 PM   #4
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Two things point to a shorter shank. The longer shank providers more leverage for the trailer to act on the vehicle. A smaller tow vehicle would benefit from a shorter shank. Some folks drill a new hole closer to the ball to shorten it further. Your smaller vehicle would make maneuverability less of an issue.

One concern is the ability to raise a rear hatch, if you have one.
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Old 08-28-2015, 07:33 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Harvey View Post

Here's pic of a stub on my truck, with 3" drop & 5 1/4" from drop to hole - That puts the ball center about 6" away from the bumper/hitch. Wouldn't want it much farther (or closer)
Havey, thanks for your info and the photo. Have you ever reversed one like this, in order to change the height? Or should it only go one way? (I'm looking at the angle of the weld; is it stronger in one direction than the other?)
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Old 08-28-2015, 07:35 PM   #6
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Thanks Floyd and Steve. I do have a rear hatch (it's a station wagon), but it's well out of the way.

This is getting exciting...!
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Old 08-28-2015, 07:58 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ellpea in CA View Post
Havey, thanks for your info and the photo. Have you ever reversed one like this, in order to change the height? Or should it only go one way? (I'm looking at the angle of the weld; is it stronger in one direction than the other?)

From all the info I've been able to obtain, you can use 'em either way, as a drop or rise. I have a couple of homemade that I welded up myself & I'd not be afraid to use 'em as a 'riser'. The ball mount itself is made of 5/8" solid steel, & if the welder is competent the 'joint' is as strong or stronger than the base steel.
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:06 PM   #8
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I've towed my Scamp with two different Ford F-150s. On my 2000, the stinger had a 2-1/2" drop. Towing with the 2014, which is a 4x4, I had to flip the same stinger over to get a 1/2" rise.

I think those were the measurements. Either way... it worked.
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:25 PM   #9
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In my opinion the drop or rise should be calculated for the trailer level and the unladen height of the station wagon level.
Then I believe you wold be well served to add Airlift bag to raise the rear laden to the unladen height. This is especially important with cars with Independent rear suspension to correct the geometry to keep proper handling.
I have done a good bit of research on my VW station wagon and it makes a great TV.
Studied in the late '70s indicate that adding Airlifts give approximately half of the benefit of a weight distributing hitch and keeps the headlights aimed properly.
According to Airlift people you should start with the airlift pressure higher than what you would need and reduce it to the point that the car is level.
When not towing or the additional lift is not required keep at least 5 PSI in the bags.
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:47 PM   #10
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Thank you, Harvey, Donna, & JP!

I will look into airbags. What we have done so far regarding keeping the car and trailer level, is place weight on the rear of the car equal to the tongue weight of the trailer. The drop down is not very significant. We used this measurement to choose the receiver (which we will have to turn over, but this seems to be fine). We wanted the top of the ball (with tongue weight added to the car) to be equal with the hitch of the trailer when level.

We can test the level of the car by looking at headlights also. If necessary, Ron can temporarily adjust them -- he's good at that stuff.
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Old 08-28-2015, 11:44 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ellpea in CA View Post
Thank you, Harvey, Donna, & JP!

I will look into airbags. What we have done so far regarding keeping the car and trailer level, is place weight on the rear of the car equal to the tongue weight of the trailer. The drop down is not very significant. We used this measurement to choose the receiver (which we will have to turn over, but this seems to be fine). We wanted the top of the ball (with tongue weight added to the car) to be equal with the hitch of the trailer when level.

We can test the level of the car by looking at headlights also. If necessary, Ron can temporarily adjust them -- he's good at that stuff.
LP, doing online research and asking questions is fine but. Any tow vehicle and trailer are going to be it's own as far as how they couple up for level towing. The only way you're really going to know if your tongue/hitch is a good level to go is to connect it and look from a side distance. Looking at the headlights means nothing for the tow angle you are needing or looking for. Trailer= level or slightly down on the ball is all you need. It's that easy, really . All stingers are reversible for adjustment and they do sell balls with an extra inch in the neck to help get it closer. I borrowed a couple different length drop stingers from friends to find out which one worked out the closest before buying one. BTW, I did have to change them to a rise mount for testing. Getting the right tongue height is the easiest thing you'll have to do. Save the fretting for picking out the colors/fabrics you want to decorate with .
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Old 08-29-2015, 12:10 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Borrego Dave View Post
LP, doing online research and asking questions is fine but. ... Save the fretting for picking out the colors/fabrics you want to decorate with .
LOL. You're so funny. As if I've actually NOT been decorating? Silly person!
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Old 08-29-2015, 07:58 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ellpea in CA View Post
Is there an ideal shank length (to allow adequate turning clearance from bumper to trailer)?
Floyd, Steve, and others have the good info.

Get the ball as close to the back bumper as possible.

I had ours redrilled to do this. A few inches make a difference. The change in effect, makes the TV react as if the vehicle's wheelbase is longer, (wheel base to overhang ratio). There is also less stress on the hitch receiver that is attached to the vehicle.
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Old 08-29-2015, 10:43 AM   #14
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Every vehicle is different. If someone needed airbags in a particular station wagon or small SUV I would not assume they all need them. I pulled with a small station wagon a 16' and did not need airbags in the rear.

I would fill up the propane tank and load up your stuff into the trailer and hook it up before deciding what if anything is needed in that regard. If your not planning on loading up the rear of the vehicle or carrying passengers in the back seat you may find it is just fine as is.

As far as getting the right height goes the only sure way of doing that is to again load up the trailer and attach it to the car. Once you have towed it you may need to fine tune it and find yourself the proud owner of more than one draw bar. ;-) For example - my previous tow vehicle was most stable in all towing/weather conditions when the trailer was completely level. Current tug and trailer combo gives the most stable tow particularly in side wind conditions if the tongue is slightly down on the trailer.

Re the welding on the draw bar - the draw bar is built to a weight capacity that is stated on it regardless as to whether it is in drop or rise position.
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