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Trailer Hitch - ball etc question re: safety

Old 01-21-2002, 12:00 PM
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Assuming you have a class IV reciever hitch. You need to get a slide in piece that will keep your trailer level. Some are bent up or down depending upon the hieght of your hitch. You want the center of the ball 18inches off the ground after the weight of the trailer is on the ball. Everything needs to be straight and level.

Oh and put some grease on the ball.

If everything fits right, you should need to use some force to lock the handle down or better yet, get a screw mounting lock. Easier to use. Always lock the handle down with a key lock.
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Old 01-21-2002, 12:34 PM
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HP-how on earth did you get bullets?

Jane-make sure that ball is good and tight. If it comes loose, later on it will break right at the base. If the ball is loose (wobbly loose), throw it away, and get a new one. Read the top of the ball and make sure the hitch and ball are both greater than the weight of boat, trailer, gas, and any other junk in the boat. If the coupler is original, you can match that number.

tip-I have had the trailers come off several times. Each time was due to something that I did. They just don't magically pop off. That hitch is so strong, that the boat will actually flip the whole truck over with out the connection breaking.

When you are lowering the trailer onto the ball, make sure the tounge drops down over the ball, so the trailer doesn't just sit on the ball. Also, I like to use hooks with a safety latch so the chain cannot come off. Some people like to cross the chains saying that they will help catch the trailer. I personally don't bother because the chains are too long to prevent the trailer from hitting the ground. If the trailer should come off, I also don't like having the traier bearing down on the chain causing it to grind through. Trust, I have seen it happen. In that case, the hooks were still hanging on the back of the truck and the trailer did a end-over-end flip.

Also, after you park your truck and leave it unattended, check your trailer connection. Sometimes the trailer has a tendancy to pop off the ball when your not watching-if you know what I mean.
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Old 01-21-2002, 12:40 PM
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I agree with what everyone has said. There's one thing that no one mentioned, making sure that the trailer rides level. You don't want the trailers tongue riding high as that will put excess weight on the rear trailer axle and increases the possility of it swaying, breaking an axle or blowing a tire. Same goes for it to be too low, you'll have too much weight on the front trailer axle.
Also make sure you have the proper tongue weight. You don't know how many times I've seen trucks towing a boat or some other trailer with their rear bumper almost draging the ground.

You know what. Pick up a copy of Trailer Boats magazine. It's really good, lots of tips and recomendations on towing. Their annual towing issue has lots information. As well as boating articles. I learned a lot about proper towing techniques for them.

[ 01-21-2002: Message edited by: Iggy ]
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Old 01-21-2002, 12:47 PM
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[ 01-21-2002: Message edited by: Scott ]
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Old 01-21-2002, 01:23 PM
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I towed my 28 fountain with a 1/2 ford and never had a problem, it did sit a touch low, but not enough to cause a problem, it would tow 75 strait down I-80 like there wasn't a boat back there. Even with 4 wheel disk brakes on the trailer stopping distance increased a bunch. Try quick stops in you local mall parking lot so you know what to expect if you ever have to panic stop.

Make sure you have a class IV hitch that is rated class IV w/o weight distributing!

I had a go around with the Ford dealer when I bought my 250, he said it had a class IV, which it did but only if it was weight dist, class III for non. You can't use weigh dist with surge brakes.

Proper tongue is important like has been said, not enough and you can get trailer sway and that's dangerous. Most newer set ups are pretty good.

Practice, practice, practice.. and take your time. If someone is in a hurry on the road let them pass, don't let other drivers rattle you. I have been pulling trailers since I was 14 (we owned horses and got to drive a lot before I was legal) and I still get nervous the first time or 2 out during the year.

Take your time and like has been said, do the set up yourself, don't get distracted hooking up and if you need, make a checklist, pilots use em all the time.

I have the same routine for hooking up the boat and I use it every time, like a preflight inspection. Less likely to miss something if you always do it the same way.

[ 01-21-2002: Message edited by: Vonbongo ]
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Old 01-21-2002, 02:04 PM
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Never take anything for granted! Case in point was the day I lost a trailer. I am a police Officer and drive a Chevy Tahoe. I was sent to go move one of those radar trailers that tell you your speed as you drive by. I hooked up and at the first stop, got out tp check everything as I always do. Everything was fine. About 2 miles later I went over a good bump and watched in my mirror as the trailer cam unhooked and was dragged by the chains. Of course, first reaction was to hit the brakes. Trailer came right through the back windows of the Tahoe. The boss came out and blew his lid. By the time I got back to the station, I was confronted by the Captain who is a hot head to say the least. I stood there for about 10 minutes while he piped off about what an idiot I had to be to let this happen. Probably didnt help when I pointed out that I had never been trained by the PD on who to trailer. Anyway, after getting my ass chewed, I remembered that when I looked at the trailer tongue after the accident the locking lever was still down. I had assumed it got knowcked down when iot slid forward under the bumper. I went back out and checked the tongue which was stamped for a 2" ball. I then checked the truck which had an 1-7/8" ball on the bumper ! Never did get an apology...

Moral of the story
1. We had been using this truck to pull this trailer for over a year before it came unhooked. Never assume.

2. You are the captain of your ship and responsible if something goes wrong.

3. There is an adjustment under your trailer tongue that needs to be properly set.

4. Judging from the looks of all the people who drove by me with glass all over the road and a radar trailer sticking out the back of my truck, its pretty damn funny when cops f-up.
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Old 01-22-2002, 12:10 AM
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Troutly- you ever bust guys for unsafe trailers?
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Old 01-27-2002, 10:12 PM
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Jane: Sounds like you've got good advice on the conecting of the trailer to the truck. If you still have questions, the dealer who sold you the boat and trailer should be able to help coach you on this. Years ago when I worked for a dealer, we considered this part of the sale. We wanted all our customers to feel comfortable with their purchases from us.

You mentioned a 1500 suburban. That's what I pull with also. As Troutly said, the rear is soft, and I love the Firestone air bags. The stock brakes are worthless. I asked the board for advice on improving the brakes. Ending up replacing the stock brake pads with ceramic(sp?) pads. Air bags and ceramics were the best things I've done for the truck. Makes it a great pulling truck without killing the ride otherwise.
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Old 01-27-2002, 10:52 PM
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Someone indicated bars dont work with surge brakes. I have never heard this before, and I have bars/surge on my trailer. Don't the chains allow for enough movement for the brakes to work? They allow the trailer to turn, I would think there is enough room for brakes. I'm not saying your wrong, I am just looking for info.
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Old 01-28-2002, 01:13 AM
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Madcow, I'll try to explain it. The equalizing hitch works by transferring some of the tongue weight to the front of the towing vehicle, thus "loading" the torsion bars. Surge brakes work by means of a pendulum device inside the coupler. The act of transferring part of the load away from the trailer will make the coupler "think" the tow vehicle is not braking as hard as it actually is. The end result is a trailer that will not stop as well as it should. You might not even realize it if you have been towing with the torsion bars all along. I suggest you tow without them a couple of times and see if there is a noticable improvement. Helper springs or air shocks can compensate for any tail-dragging issues that might be involved.
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