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Old 05-13-2018, 10:41 PM   #1
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Itís always som something

Towed from Idaho to Yellowstone. Kept hearing an an unusual thunk. Found out that screw to ball was very loose. As an FYI add this to your checklist. Needs to be torqued w air power gun.
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Old 05-13-2018, 11:02 PM   #2
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What kind of a hitch and stinger was this on? I have found that almost every nut usually found in camping can be tightened down with a breaker bar and a cheater If necessary. The “secret” if you will, is knowing the Torque setting for the bolt and nut at hand and usuing an accurate torque wrench to achieve that setting. Air impacts and Electric impacts have their place , I mostly use mine to remove nuts or to seat them in preparation for hand torquing. You are very right about checking tightness of hitch nuts on a regular basis. Always good policy.
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Old 05-14-2018, 02:49 AM   #3
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I only have electric (corded and cordless) impact wrenches (not air), and I don't know if either of them can apply the 250 lb-ft required for the 1" hitch ball thread typical in Class 3 hitches, but I use them as Dave described so they don't need to go that high. Also like Dave, I have never had a problem installing these nuts with hand tools... but a long wrench is required.
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:40 AM   #4
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In my case the ball was loose because the lock washer had broken away. Quite a surprise.
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:29 AM   #5
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My solution is to leave out the lock washer and weld the nut to its bolt thread after tightening. It will not be coming off without a side grinder, but could be cut loose if necessary without damaging the hitch, and it will not be vulnerable to a lock washer failure. This would not work if I had a need for more than one size of trailer ball, but I don't.
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:02 PM   #6
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Welding

We used to put a spot of weld just below the lock washer and had a dedicated stinger to match truck and trailer. Changing the ball around used to be more common when there were a lot of 1 7/8 inch balls on lighter trailers. Weekly inspection on mow trailers was standard as they take a beating.
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:21 PM   #7
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I have drilled a hole and installed a cotter pin or installed a second nut, seems to work.
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Old 05-14-2018, 08:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
I have drilled a hole and installed a cotter pin or installed a second nut, seems to work.
Hi: cpaharley2008... To...too...two nuts in one!!! Sounds like a gum commercial to me!!!
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Old 05-14-2018, 10:16 PM   #9
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Hi: cpaharley2008... To...too...two nuts in one!!! Sounds like a gum commercial to me!!!
escape artist N.S. of Lake Erie
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Old 05-14-2018, 10:34 PM   #10
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This would not work if I had a need for more than one size of trailer ball, but I don't.
I use two different ball sizes with two different drops needed. I carry three different ball mounts. Too much of a pain changing a ball out.

I use a 24" pipe wrench to tighten the nut, and have never had one come loose.
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Old 05-14-2018, 10:50 PM   #11
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I noticed a year ago that the ball could be easily rotated in my Pro Series weight distribution hitch. I made a half hearted attempt to tighten it to no avail.

No idea how long it had been in that condition, but, the rotation had enlarged the hole in the collar. My RV shop had to replace the entire head of the WDH, which cost about 2/3 the price of a whole new hitch. Didn't bill me labour.
Keep your eye on the ball.
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Old 05-15-2018, 07:26 PM   #12
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I use two different ball sizes with two different drops needed. I carry three different ball mounts. Too much of a pain changing a ball out.

I use a 24" pipe wrench to tighten the nut, and have never had one come loose.
Thanks Jim. I will get one of those. Appreciate the help.
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Old 05-15-2018, 07:49 PM   #13
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Our local Walmarts carry a large wrench along with hitch balls and other items. It's about two foot long and was right at $20. Made in China but looks like it can withstand a strong pull.
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Old 05-15-2018, 08:25 PM   #14
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It also helps to turn the stinger 90 degrees so that you are using your weight pushing vertically down vs horizontal.
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Old 05-15-2018, 09:29 PM   #15
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I’m running an 18 volt Milwaukee impact wrench, 1/2 inch drive, 350 foot pounds torque. Seems to work pretty well to snug things up. My torque wrench only goes to
150 however. So I look for a flat lock washer when tight and look closely to make sure it hasn’t snapped in the middle. Just takes a second to check things including the lug nuts. I use a 1/2 drive Armstrong breaker bar “Armaloy” grade. Probably 40+ years old but still tough. Snapped my SK head once on a stainless steel bolt but SK fixed it so I’m good to go on that one too. Doesn’t have to be new to be good.
The practice of checking on a regular basis can’t be understated in my opinion.
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Old 05-15-2018, 10:01 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Our local Walmarts carry a large wrench along with hitch balls and other items. It's about two foot long and was right at $20. Made in China but looks like it can withstand a strong pull.
I got one of these the day I found my ball loose - the nut was only on by a few threads! Now it's part of my check routine each time I hitch up.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:30 AM   #17
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U-Haul has hitch balls which include these features:
Quote:
  • Industry leading safety cotter pin
  • Exclusive clamp indicating fastener
  • Hardened flat washer instead of a lock washer
The cotter pin should keep the nut from backing off more than a small fraction of a turn if it doesn't stay tight. Split "lock" washers are typical with hitch balls, but not generally considered good for critical fasteners, and the cotter pin allows use of that plain flat washer, which is generally a preferable piece of hardware.

Although it isn't illustrated, the "clamp indicating fastener" appears to be the same as I had on a U-Haul ball several years ago: a plastic part visibly splits when the nut is sufficiently tightened. It's patented, and shown in this page: Why the U-Haul Hitch Ball is the Best in the Towing Industry
No torque wrench (or Iowa Dave calibrated arm ) required ... although the plastic part is only good for a single use (and one spare appears to be included).
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:20 AM   #18
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.....although the plastic part is only good for a single use (and one spare appears to be included).
a spare you'll never find when you need it
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:20 PM   #19
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a spare you'll never find when you need it
Likely true.
On the other hand, if you leave each ball installed in the ball mount (switching ball mounts to reconfigure the tow vehicle for a different trailer, rather than switching balls in the same mount), the second plastic bit may never be needed. Also, I don't see any reason not to re-use the ball and nut without replacing the indicating device - just use a torque wrench instead.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:34 PM   #20
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when I had to tow various light trailers with different ball sizes, I had one of those convertible balls, where the stem held two different size balls... they are only good for a few 1000 lbs max, so not suitable for our Escapes, but worked fine for the sorts of light utility trailers and small boats I was towing (tow vehicle being a volvo 240, hah!)
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