What size ball on the hitch - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-20-2019, 09:42 AM   #1
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Name: Bob
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What size ball on the hitch

Does anyone know an easy and foolproof way to physically determine what size ball is required to safely hook up with a particular hitch?
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:42 AM   #2
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Look carefully, it may be stamped into the hitch along with max weight and so forth.
But if it's got a lot of paint it might not be visible.
But I do know a 2" ball won't fit into an 1 7/8" hitch.
There's a chart here showing the maximum for each size ball.
https://www.westmarine.com/WestAdvis...s-and-Couplers
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Old 08-20-2019, 11:52 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by bobblangley View Post
Does anyone know an easy and foolproof way to physically determine what size ball is required to safely hook up with a particular hitch?
If you can't find any markings on the coupler, a bit of trial and error is required, along with an educated guess.

1 7/8" are old fashioned and only for the lightest of trailers. A 2" ball will not fit a 1 7/8" coupler.

2" is overwhelmingly used in almost all applications below about 10,000 lb trailers, and certainly below about 7,000 lb trailers.

2 5/16" are used on goosenecks and heavy utility trailers heavier thatn the above numbers.

If you are unsure what you have (your Bigfoot is going to be a 2"), get a 2" ball and try it in the coupler you are unsure about. If it won't fit, and the trailer is small and light and older, you need a 1 7/8". If the 2" rattles around in the closed coupler, and the trailer is a heavy dump trailer, then you need a 2 5/16" to fit properly. Trial and error.

Be sure to match the ball shank size to your tow bar hole size. Some are only 7/8" threaded shanks and should not be used with 1 1/4" tow bar holes. I always use a 1 1/4" shank and tow bar if possible. Look on top of the ball for it's rated load capacity and get the highest you can fit to your TV. The tow bar hole will determine this. The rated load stamped on a given ball should be the same or greater than your trailer's gross weight rating.

If you think you are getting close to what a 2" ball can handle, around 7,000 lbs, you can upgrade to a 2 5/16" coupler and ball. This will push the rated load capacity of that combination to about 14,000 lbs. This is kind of meaningless unless you have a type 4 or type 5 hitch and a rated draw bar to match.
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Old 08-21-2019, 09:15 AM   #4
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By trial and error. As others have said, most trailers use a 2" ball.

Some hitch sockets are adjustable. The ball should fit snugly so it doesn't have any looseness.
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Old 08-21-2019, 01:44 PM   #5
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My newer Bigfoot 17.5 uses a 2-5/16” ball, and it’s much less than 7000lbs.
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Old 08-21-2019, 03:06 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by SnowballCamper View Post
My newer Bigfoot 17.5 uses a 2-5/16” ball, and it’s much less than 7000lbs.
There is nothing wrong with going bigger on the ball size if one chooses to, but it's optional, not required, unless the trailer weighs more than the ball is rated for. I went to 2 5/16" on my Oliver and it only weighs 5,700 lbs. It came with a 2" ball rated for 7,000 lbs.

I like 2 5/16", plus I have other trailers that are heavier and it was easy to standardize. Stronger is better.
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Old 08-21-2019, 03:17 PM   #7
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1-7/8 is used quite a lot on light boat trailers, hobie's, FJ's, light utility trailers, etc. all class I/II stuff.
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Old 08-21-2019, 03:21 PM   #8
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I wonder how many older eggs are still using a 1 7/8 too. Mine is, but if I ever replace the coupler I'd change it out to a 2".
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Old 08-21-2019, 11:16 PM   #9
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When i was towing light trailers with a class I/II on my various cars, I was using those changable balls that had both a 1-7/8" and a 2" ball that fit on the same post. I'd never use of those towing our fiberglass things.

On that topic, I was pleasantly surprised how well my 87 Volvo 240 sedan, and '92 Volvo 740 wagon towed a < 2000 lb utility trailer. Sure, I stayed out of OD/4th on the automatics, and therefore the gas mileage was pretty bad, and it did require me to lean on the turbo pretty hard going up grades on the 740 (and just downshift to 2nd on the 240 and take it slow), but the chassis and suspension handled it without any drama. Those RWD live axle 4 cyl cars were rated for a 3500 lb trailer and 1000 (sedan) or 1200 (wagon) payload.
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:44 PM   #10
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2" balls

The factory said to be sure to grease your balls
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Old 08-31-2019, 03:11 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by SnowballCamper View Post
My newer Bigfoot 17.5 uses a 2-5/16” ball, and it’s much less than 7000lbs.
They probably just standardized on one size ball for all models for simplicity. So, overkill for the 17.5 but about right for the 25' models.
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Old 08-31-2019, 10:06 AM   #12
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Okay, now I am really confused.

I have purchased a Frontier Pro4X and a 2013 PL, and I had a Class III trailer hitch receiver installed on the truck. It has a 2" square "hole" to slide the hitch into.

Now, I need to figure out how long of a hitch and what size hitch ball to get. I am guessing this 2013 PL coupler is the original.

Is there anybody out there who has a 2013 PL that can tell me what I should be looking to buy? I have never owned a travel trailer, or a pickup so I am in deep waters here. I wanted to be on the road by now but finding a truck that could do the job and not be too big/tall and within price range has been a challenge. I settled on a 2018 Frontier Pro4x.

Thank you,
Tinkerbelle
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Old 08-31-2019, 02:12 PM   #13
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the hitch on the trailer should have the size stamped into it. its probably 2"

with the trailer parked on level ground and leveled, measure the height of the trailer hitch, and measure how far from the ground to the top of the 2" square reciever on the truck. you'll want a tow bar with sufficient drop (or rise) so the trailer rides approximately level when being towed. if the tailgate of the truck is particularlly tall (like my f250 superduty), it might not open without hitting the tongue jack on the trailer, so then you'd want a longer towbar so you can get into the back of teh truck when hitched.

two random towbars I used with my Tacoma 4x4 to pull a Casita. the bottom one has a little more drop and caused that trailer to ride more level, but was shorter and had some tailgate interference.

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Old 08-31-2019, 02:18 PM   #14
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EDIT: the hitch on the trailer should have the BALL/COUPLER size stamped into it. its probably 2"
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Old 09-02-2019, 10:04 PM   #15
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Thanks folks.
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Old 09-02-2019, 10:16 PM   #16
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I found the faint stamp...2 inches

Now I have another question.

I used a friend's old ball mount that he found in the road once upon a time to see if it would work and it did. The trailer sits pretty level...I just don't know what the drop or rise is in order to buy one for myself.

Besides this, while I was borrowing his mount I tried to back the trailer up and the bumper of my Frontier truck started to rub against the LP cover that sits on the front of the Park Liner when I tried to cut my tires to get the right angle for backing into a space.

From the photo posted by John in Santa Cruz I can see that the shanks of the ball mounts come in different lengths and I have seen different lengths posted on websites that sell them. I thought perhaps I need a longer one to provide a little more space between my bumper and the trailer.

Does this sound right or is it just a matter of practicing backing up more? How far from the bumper should the receiver part of the hitch protrude? Could it have been mounted too far under the truck and thereby shortening the distance between the two parts? Is that even possible?

Thanks,
T.
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Old 09-02-2019, 10:52 PM   #17
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What size ball on the hitch

In general, minimizing the distance from the rear axle of the tow vehicle to the trailer ball increases stability (i.e. resistance to sway).

An inch or two difference, if it allows clearance to open a hatch or tailgate, won’t matter that much. But unless you have a compelling reason, you want the ball as close to the vehicle as possible.

As to the bumper hitting the LP tank cover, if you turn turn too sharply when backing, eventually something will make contact. Knowing how far you can go is an important backing skill. In general, you shouldn’t be backing any sharper than you can turn going forward, which is limited by the turning radius of your tow vehicle.

Try making the sharpest turn you can going forward. Stop and look at the trailer tongue. If there is still, say, 6” or more clearance between the bumper and the LP tank shroud, you’re okay. Notice the angle between trailer and vehicle. That’s the sharpest it should get when backing.

The most common beginner’s mistake when backing is waiting too long to reverse the steering wheel, resulting in too sharp an angle. As soon as the trailer starts to move in the desired direction, immediately and gradually turn the steering wheel in the other direction to follow the trailer back. Practice, practice, practice.
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Old 09-02-2019, 11:06 PM   #18
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the drop/rise of a hitch is measured from the top of the square tube to the top of the flat platform that the hitch ball is mounted on. the upper one in my picture on post #13, has a 2" drop (note the platform the ball sits on is just about level with the /bottom/ of the 2" square tube). This is probably the most common size. The lower one in that picture has a 4" drop.

its also important to get a tow bar with the correct size shank hole.... class 3 2" balls generally have a 1" shank, these are typically rated for 6000 lb tow, 600 lb tongue weight, which is a good safe margin on our fiberglass jobbers.

the nut on those balls has to /really/ be torqued down hard, I use a 1/2" drive breaker bar with a impact socket, and put /all/ my grunt into it. I think the spec is 150 ft-lbs or something.


the ONLY reason to get a longer tow bar is if you want to be able to open the tailgate and the shorter tow bar doesn't give you clearance. as Jon says, longer bar == less stable, but I'm using an 12" long bar on my F250 for my Escape 21 because the Ford SuperDuty series has a really tall tailgate, and with the 9000 lb F250 diesel, stability just isn't an issue towing a 4500 lb Escape.
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