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Old 02-16-2014, 10:19 AM   #1
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Safety wiring your balls…….

What a lead in title, but years ago we used to safety wire all nuts to the bolts on our motorcycles to meet track safety standards. I also have safety wired a couple of trailer balls to the stinger to prevent it from coming loose in the past. With a new hitch set up I'm wondering if I should repeat this procedure and drill a hole through the nut and bolt and safety wire together. Do other members perform this procedure? Thanks for your input.
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:31 AM   #2
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Jim, I haven't drilled and wired mine, but it is probably a good idea. I inspect it before each hookup - looking closely to make sure that that big lock washer still looks fully compressed and nothing wiggles.

But since I don't carry the one big old adjustable wrench I have that is big enough for that nut, I wouldn't be able to retighten it anyway....better buy one!
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:49 AM   #3
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Clean threads, apply loctite, and torque to specs.
Loctite Threadlocker Red 271 from Loctite Adhesives
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:07 AM   #4
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Needing a torch and heating to 500F to change out a ball? Wouldn't the Blue Loctite combined with the lockwasher be sufficient? .....just askin'
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:30 AM   #5
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Blue loctite used on bolts up to 3/4". Easier than drilling and attempting realignment of holes when changing balls.
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Old 02-16-2014, 07:14 PM   #6
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Motorcycles, race cars, and aircraft are all notorious for vibration (which loosens fasteners) and react particularly violently to anything failing. As a result, it is common to safety-wire fasteners on them... but even then, not all fasteners. I race-prepared a Honda car, and there was no requirement under our national sports car competition association rules to pin, wire, or otherwise lock any fastener which was not normally locked on the stock vehicle (such as axle nuts).

Ordinary road vehicles, on the other hand, are held together by hundreds (thousands?) of threaded fasteners, none of which are safety wired, almost none of which are pinned (such by a cotter pin), and few of which are locked by adhesives (such as Loc-Tite).

I've never had a trailer ball come loose, or any other part fall off a vehicle (although half the little junk screws holding the plastic air conditioner housings on my motorhome are coming out), and I have no intention of taking exceptional precautions with the nut for the ball's stud. I think I'd notice the clanking around long before the nut made it all the way off the excess stud length, but I just don't see it as likely anyway.

If I were going to do anything more than the stock split "lock washer", I would look for a locking nut (Nylock style or all-metal) in that huge size.

If a torch is used to disassemble any fastener, I think that fastener should go in the recycle bin. Who controls temperature closely enough with a torch to melt the adhesive but not affect the fastener's heat treatment?
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:36 PM   #7
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Sounds kinda like looking for a solution to a problem that does not exist. I many hitches, an d balls of all sizes, I have never had an issue with a properly torqued ball coming loose. I did however have to use a gas wrench a couple times to get them off.
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
What a lead in title, but years ago we used to safety wire all nuts to the bolts on our motorcycles to meet track safety standards. I also have safety wired a couple of trailer balls to the stinger to prevent it from coming loose in the past. With a new hitch set up I'm wondering if I should repeat this procedure and drill a hole through the nut and bolt and safety wire together. Do other members perform this procedure? Thanks for your input.
All becomes unnecessary if you have an Anderson hitch. On the other hand, I too, have never had a ball loosen if torqued correctly. In fact, there was no way as an individual I could torque my Equal-I-zer hitch ball to the required foot pounds. It had to be done at a dealership. It is on there so we'll it may never come off easily.
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:33 PM   #9
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In fact, there was no way as an individual I could torque my Equal-I-zer hitch ball to the required foot pounds. It had to be done at a dealership. It is on there so we'll it may never come off easily.
According to the Equal-i-zer manual:
Quote:
Hitch balls require a 1-7/8" socket and torque wrench capable of approximately 430 ft. lbs. torque for installation.
I have a long enough flex handle to apply 430 lb-ft, but I get that it's a lot. This number assumes your ball has a 1-1/4" thread diameter, but if you use a more reasonable 1" thread (a 3/4" thread wouldn't be strong enough, but a 1" thread has far higher capacity than the Escape needs) the wrench will be smaller and the torque much lower. Of course a bushing would be required on the 1" shank to fit the 1-1/4" hole. From Reese (manufacturer of tow balls):
Quote:
When installing hitch balls, torque all 3/4" shank dia. balls to 160 ft. lbs., 1" shank dia. balls to 250 ft. lbs., and 1-1/4" shank dia. balls to 450 ft. lbs.
250 lb-ft is no problem with a reasonable length of wrench. Lightweight people need longer wrenches (such as a long flex handle and socket).

Ball nut installation/removal tip:
It's hard to pull horizontally with enough force, so put the ball mount in the receiver rotated a quarter turn, so that the nut is on one side instead of the bottom. Choose the side which will make pushing down on the wrench turn the nut the way you need (to tighten or loosen as required). Now you can use your weight on the wrench to apply sufficient torque.
Now my question for Tim: did the dealership actually use a torque wrench? Just guessing, I doubt it.
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:00 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jim Bennett View Post
Sounds kinda like looking for a solution to a problem that does not exist. I many hitches, an d balls of all sizes, I have never had an issue with a properly torqued ball coming loose. I did however have to use a gas wrench a couple times to get them off.
^ This, to go with that I have only ever had one ball assembly ever have a problem. However, that problem did not become evident till I went to change the ball that had been on the hitch for over 10 years. In those years I had towed you name it up to 10k lbs trailer around Maine hills and such. The problem ... the lock washer had cracked when I removed the nut it fell apart. In all those years once a year I would throw a wrench on it and nudge it ( yes that is the technical term :}) just to check it and it never once nudged. :} Now I never used a gas wrench to remove one ...But did have to use an Irish Speed Wrench LOL Which I think is the same thing as gas oxy/acetylene rig. If one was to be worried about the failure of ones nuts ... Double nut it get an extra split ring washer and nut and tighten it down on the first one. Use an anti seize compound if you wish to make it easy to take apart. I would suggest against using any of the Loctite's no matter what they say lol most need an Irish Speed Wrench if they have been on there a long time.

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Old 02-17-2014, 12:04 AM   #11
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All becomes unnecessary if you have an Anderson hitch. On the other hand, I too, have never had a ball loosen if torqued correctly. In fact, there was no way as an individual I could torque my Equal-I-zer hitch ball to the required foot pounds. It had to be done at a dealership. It is on there so we'll it may never come off easily.
As our old friend Archimedes used to say “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”

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Old 02-17-2014, 11:34 AM   #12
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Other discussions of this topic - such as in FiberglassRV - have mentioned the verification washer included in the special U-Haul ball nut system: the washer (or "Exclusive clamp indicating fastener") squishes out from between the nut and washer when the nut is sufficiently tightened, a reminder that proper tightening is important, and without it one might be concerned about the nut loosening.

The same system from U-Haul includes a cotter pin, but it also uses a "Hardened flat washer instead of a lock washer". Properly tightening, using a lock washer (or locking nut) and wiring or pinning just seems excessive to me. The more complex an operation, the more likely an important step will be missed or done improperly - a reason why aftermarket "safety" gadgets generally seem like bad ideas to me.

I suspect that all this attention to keeping the ball nut on at U-Haul stems from three sources:
  1. U-Haul staff are supposed to assist customers with hook-up, but the clerk at the convenience store / liquor outlet / U-Haul franchise is neither qualified nor inclined to ensure that anything is done, let alone done correctly;
  2. many U-Haul customers are first-timers who have no clue what they are doing; and,
  3. the idiotic "fits everything from 1-7/8 inch to 2-1/8 inch" handwheel coupler favoured by U-Haul has no correct setting (because it doesn't fit any particular ball size) and thus may be cranked down tight by enthusiastic users, causing the trailer to apply turning torque to the ball in corners, perhaps loosening the ball.
None of those factors apply to me, so I don't feel the need for the cotter pin (or safety wire). Everyone's situation is a little different.

I note that even U-Haul also sells normal balls, with a split washer and no cotter pin (or safety wire hole). To their credit, it looks like all of their balls have wrench flats at the base of the ball itself... handy to get the tightening started, or sometimes to hold the ball when breaking the nut loose.


If I wanted a safety backup, I would rather buy the U-Haul fancy ball system than drill the nut and shank of a stock ball.
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:56 PM   #13
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According to the Equal-i-zer manual:

Now my question for Tim: did the dealership actually use a torque wrench? Just guessing, I doubt it.
Ahh… that is a good question. I did not accompany anyone into the work area but I did ask and they did say they torqued it. Now, were they telling the truth?? That I cannot say. I will say that the Equal-i-zer ball attachment is tricky. It needs their ball because the stem needs to be short enough to clear the moving parts, so it fits in a tight, recessed area and requires a thin wall socket (which is big). I would have had to put a "very" long extension on my wrench to get enough leverage to go to the 430 foot pounds, plus I would have had to do some fancy calculations to figure how to get my torque wrenches up to 430 also. So… it went to the dealership, authorized installer of Equal-i-zer and I did take their install on a matter of faith.
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Old 02-17-2014, 03:01 PM   #14
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… it went to the dealership, authorized installer of Equal-i-zer and I did take their install on a matter of faith.
Probably the most practical approach in this case, and there's no reason to doubt the nut is tight enough... it's just that having someone else do the job is no guarantee that it will be done right.

For an example, I've certainly removed wheel nuts to find that the "professional" who put them on applied far too much torque - in one case cracking the stud. On the other hand, I have recently found Toyota and Ford dealerships, and Kal Tire store, all properly installing wheel nuts. I would have less faith in a hitch installer, because I doubt (even if they're an "authorized dealer") that there is any oversight of their operation. You just never know...
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Old 02-17-2014, 04:21 PM   #15
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Now if we could fix the loose nuts behind the wheel of some vehicles that would be great❇
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Old 02-17-2014, 09:06 PM   #16
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Now if we could fix the loose nuts behind the wheel of some vehicles that would be great❇
It is not the nut loose behind the wheel in my case, but the ones in me wee heed making it a bit unstable.
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Old 02-17-2014, 09:34 PM   #17
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The only thing worse than a loose nut behind the wheel would be a wired up wing nut
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Old 02-17-2014, 10:41 PM   #18
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I donno, I've always had good luck at U-haul (knock wood). They've applied a new hitch ball to my stinger(s), used new teflon washers and then used a torque wrench. The trailer hasn't falled off yet!

Maybe I'M the loose nut?
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:48 PM   #19
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I donno, I've always had good luck at U-haul (knock wood). They've applied a new hitch ball to my stinger(s), used new teflon washers and then used a torque wrench. The trailer hasn't falled off yet!?
And I've never used that U-Haul stuff, and a hitch ball hasn't loosened yet. There's nothing wrong with the U-Haul stuff, and there are even competent and helpful U-Haul staff (look for company stores, not franchises renting trailers as a sideline)... it's just that it's far from the only way to go for a good installation.
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