R 22

Rhodes 22


Trailer Hitch

I'd just throw in one comment about ball hitches. I'd have to say that Tom may have been more fortunate than he realizes last weekend. Apparently he had pretty good tongue weight while he was hauling his boat to the lake. Given the right kind of bump though, that hitch could have raised right off the ball while traveling at highway speed. Now, I have never had this happen in quite this way, but, I have had a hitch head break. I'm here to tell you that it is a real sinking feeling watching your trailer in the mirror, going down the freeway at 70 MPH and not attached to your truck anymore. We were quite fortunate and were able to slow down with the truck and let the trailer run back into us again and get the whole works over to the side of the road with relatively little damage. I have seen many though that weren't so lucky.

We all need to be sure that our hitches are properly secured before we hit the road. It is very easy to get too far under your trailer when you are hooking up and force the hitch retainer up on top of the ball when the trailer is lowered. This is easy to see, but you must remember to look. You can also feel with you fingers once you know what you are "feeling" for. The retainer must be under the ball, not on top of it!!!

The easiest way to ensure that you don't force the retainer up with the ball is; first, before starting to hook up, make sure you retainer is all the way down. Turn the retainer nut (on top of the hitch) until the retainer bolt is flush with the top of the retainer nut(no threads showing), or, if you have a cam lock be sure the lever is straight up and it is sitting down against the top of the hitch. Now, when you back under your hitch, line up so the ball is not completely under the hitch, but sticking out just a little in front, just enough so that the trailer will be forced to move ahead a little as you lower the hitch on to the ball (maybe 1/4-1/2 inch). If you do this and you have made sure your hitch retainer is all the way down before you started, you will very rarely get the retainer hung up on top of the ball.

Just some hints for those who may not be experienced at trailering.

20 Jun 2001

I could not agree more to the fortunes of trailer wars. I think I have an answer to a lot of folks trailer problems. It is the Quick Step II Adjustable Tow System. I have the Quickstep hitch and it is great. It is rated for 7,599# and two inch receivers.

This gadget allows you to "just get close" when backing up to your trailer. It extends out by around 6 to 8 inches and also swivels. Take a look at West marine 2001 cataloge page 691. That will give you an idea of what it can do. I can get within the 6" and to one side or other of

the trailer hitch, then depress the side pins that hold the unit in the trailering position, pull the ball out and swivel the ball unit by pulling the centering pin. That makes it easy to feel the ball to hitch relationship and makes it a snap to get the ball under the hitch and above the hitch retainer.

I mentioned this device a few years ago and got the negative responses that accompany new devices not accepted by conservative thinking. Well, I have trailered my N17 around 4,000 miles and Blew Daze around 3,000 on our Ky Lake trip last year. Needless to say, it has passed the test of time and use.

I would also mention another goodie for those that have more than one trailer, with different sized balls. The Fulton Interchangable hitch ball system has also passed the test of time and use on my Jeep. I have used the 1 7/8" ball with the N17 and some rental equipment and have used the 2" ball with Blew Daze. I also trailered John and Nell's boat down from Edenton this spring with this equipment. For those who have the need, it is a great asset.

Best plan is to check and recheck all those attachment points. One thing I have been guilty of is the failure to torque the hitch retainer down after a succesful connection is made. I just plain forgot to do that a couple of times and remembered a few blocks after we started out. Now I stop and check that as a rule. The chains are also something we must not forget.

Alex Bell
20 Jun 2001

with links that screw closed. I plan to do the same for the winch strap and the safety chain that attach to the bow eye on the boat. I also tie the winch handle to the bow stop post on the trailer so that if the pawl ever popped out the winch still wouldn't be able to unwind.

21 Jun 2001

You are correct. If the hitch is attached and functioning properly (and your tongue jack is strong enough) you should be able to pick up the rear of the tow vehicle with the hitch. It should never come loose, regardless of weight distribution. The fact that someone's boat came free from the hitch with light tongue weight is only a symptom. If this happened to me, I'd park the trailer and not move it again until I determined what failed in my hitch. There are three likely possibilities:

1) The hitch was not secured properly, as already discussed. Either the hitch retainer was not secured under the ball as Rik mentioned, or it was not tightened securely.


2) The coupler is broken and needs to be serviced or replaced.

3) The hitch ball is too small. The R22 trailer should use (at least) a 2" ball. But regarless of the size, the size of the ball and the coupler must match.

I don't usually like to repeat advice already offered by others, but this is important.

If you have had this happen to you... figure out why the trailer hitch connection failed before you move that trailer again. And always use the safety chains.

Doug Gardner
s/v Fretnaught

For those who may not know it, every hitch ball and every coupler has it's size marked on it's top. sometimes it is not easy to see due to rust, grease, paint, etc. but it is there. These two numbers must match!!! A ball too large for the coupler will not get you into trouble, since the coupler will not fit onto a ball that is too large, you just won't be able to tow your boat. BUT, a 1 7/8 ball will fit inside a 2 inch coupler and not really look "that wrong". This can bring on the types of problem that Tom has described. So, if you can't see the sizing on your ball or coupler, take a rag or a wire brush and clean them off until you can see the numbers. I can not stress enough how important it is that these parts are sized to match.

If you ever hear any "clunking" sounds from your hitch as you drive it is very possible that your ball and coupler do not match. The ball should fit pretty snugly inside the coupler when every thing is properly matched and tightened up.

Just as an aside, it is also a good thing to check the tightness of the nut or bolt that secures the ball to the hitch head. This should be pretty much as tight as you can make it with a pretty big wrench (I have been known to use a 36" cresent wrench). It is not real uncommon for these to work loose. Also don't forget a lock washer or self-locking nut (or both) when you install your ball. This is another possible source of a "clunking" sound when towing.

21 Jun 2001

The only thing I would say about the positioning of the safety chains on the trailer is that they should be connected to the actual trailer frame and not to the extendable tongue. This would minimize the possibility of problems due to a failure or loss of the pins that secure the extendable tongue.

I like to use chain hooks (the round type, not the grab type) of the same size as the chain with a clevis, pin and cotter pin to attach to the chain link. This makes it possible to easily adjust the length for different hitches, etc.. I always hook my hooks into the receiver from the bottom, they are much less likely to bounce out when you do this.

Brians idea for the threaded replacement links would be a good one if you could find these links with a good enough rating. I'm afraid that the common hardware store variety is not rated high enough to be considered a legal safety chain link (at least in Minnesota). From my own experience these links are not as strong as they look.

I like the idea of the loop around the winch handle.

21 Jun 2001

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