Reinforcing the Receiver Hitch - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 03-27-2016, 01:21 PM   #1
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Reinforcing the Receiver Hitch

In another thread there was a discussion of the frame cracking, possibly due to carrying bikes. While it might not be the case, it got me to thinking of our upcoming situation.

We will want to carry 4 mountain bikes which will be on our 1UP bike rack. We had a receiver rack welded to our Casita, and used the 1UP racks and the 4 bikes on that successfully for 4 years.

However, we had a welder weld 2 solid steel bars to the frame of the trailer and back to a steel plate he welded to the bumper. That same plate, which was welded to the bumper, was also welded to the outside frame of the Casita. I've attached 2 photos which will hopefully show it better than I can can explain.

I know Casita used "L" shaped frame supports underneath, and "I" beams on the outside of the frame (I think both can be seen). That very well might be more substantial than the tube frames that Escape uses, I don't know. Just seems that there have been some frame issues with the Escapes that I don't recall reading about with the Casita (though my memory fails me a lot so I wouldn't want to be quoted! )

Anyhow, could something similar be done to reinforce the receiver on the Escape? I realize it will be over 150 lbs we will be carrying between the rack (roughly 100 lbs) and the bikes, (120 lbs ) and that's why I want to reinforce it...

Thanks for any feedback you could give!
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File Type: jpg 2011-07-11 6052559705.jpg (177.0 KB, 49 views)
File Type: jpg 2011-07-12 6053559715.jpg (217.5 KB, 45 views)
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Old 03-27-2016, 01:48 PM   #2
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We have yet to pick up our trailer but we are also interested in purchasing the 1UP bike rack (looks like its built like a tank), albeit the two bike model. I'd be interested if anyone has ever asked ETI what is the maximum weight that should be attached to the rear rack. Understand that I'm not trying to open up a discussion of tongue weight, just how much dead weight can be safely placed on the rear hitch?
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Old 03-27-2016, 01:53 PM   #3
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wt.on hitch

My 2013 21 says 150lbs on the hitch receiver
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Old 03-27-2016, 02:18 PM   #4
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This is what Tammy sent me last year:

"For liability purposes we are unable to reinforce the bike rack receiver to carry four bikes as it directly impacts the tongue weight of the trailer. At one time we certified our receiver to carry 300lbs however, on the advice of our insurance agent we have been directed to restrict the weight to 150lbs."

What she didn't say is whether they changed anything other than the rating. I have no problem adding support, if it would help and is required. I just don't quite know what needs to be done, as I have not seen the underside of an Escape trailer. I might have to wait until after we pick it up...
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Old 03-27-2016, 03:24 PM   #5
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Understand that I'm not trying to open up a discussion of tongue weight, just how much dead weight can be safely placed on the rear hitch?
I think that this is going to be hard to answer as everyone loads their trailers differently and has different options installed. Buying and using a tongue weight scale will be the best way to determine this for your trailer. I would think that hanging lots of weight off the rear bumper could have significant impact on tongue weight.
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Old 03-27-2016, 03:29 PM   #6
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I agree that a tongue weight scale is the only way to be accurate (and safe), but in my case, I added a Stowaway 2 cargo carrier to my rear hitch. 150 lbs on the rear hitch changed the tongue weight from 345 lbs to under 300 lbs. I moved a bunch of stuff around in the trailer to get the tongue weight back up to 324 lbs.
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Old 03-27-2016, 03:43 PM   #7
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From Bike Rack thread last year on forum; post #110

1up USA advises a two bike max for RV and travel trailer usage for our two inch models. The 1 inch models are not intended for RV and travel trailer use.

Lot of force back there; not to say you can't do it, but that is a significant amount of weight there, along with the spare tire and dual 6V in proximity.
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Old 03-27-2016, 03:47 PM   #8
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Underneath a 5.0TA

Nathan, I took these photos at the factory last fall and had posted them in a thread here. I don't know if these photos will help you with information on the underside, but it's worth a try.
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File Type: jpg DSC03532.jpg (114.9 KB, 63 views)
File Type: jpg underneath 5.0 - back.jpg (130.7 KB, 54 views)
File Type: jpg underneath 5.0 - middle.jpg (140.6 KB, 45 views)
File Type: jpg underneath 5.0 - front.jpg (158.1 KB, 45 views)
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Old 03-27-2016, 04:06 PM   #9
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Forgetting the "should it or should it not be done" for a moment, are there any crossbars that reinforcing bars could be welded to strengthen the receiver? And if so, is there more than one crossbar in front of the hitch that the reinforcing bar could span?

Well, Laura posted while I was typing...it looks like the tank prohibits anything from being welded further forward. Thanks!
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Old 03-27-2016, 04:54 PM   #10
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In looking at the first picture above, would it be of any benefit to have a solid steel bar welded halfway between the bumper and the crossbar? That way, it could be welded to the outside frames and the receiver hitch. Would that provide extra strength?
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Old 03-27-2016, 06:43 PM   #11
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There's another approach; spread the load.

There's always a way to weld on more metal to make the receiver stronger but I take a different approach, much the way some owners have two additional receivers added to spread out the load from a rear box.

I carried our bikes to Alaska and Baja over rough roads without incident. What I do is clamp, with "U" bolts to the bumper support/frame extension, a small platform that one of the wheels rests on. The wheels are lashed to it. Weight of the bikes is spread over 2 locations. For 4 bikes I'd probably to want a extension support on both sides supporting both front and rear wheels.

Direct extensions from the frame don't torque the cross member the way the receiver does.

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Old 03-27-2016, 06:56 PM   #12
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Thanks for the input Ron! That sounds like a great plan, if I'm visualizing it correctly...
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Old 03-27-2016, 07:29 PM   #13
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I like your idea of the extra support clamped to the main frame rail Ron.
May have to try that out soon.

I do use two ratcheting straps from the centre bike rack to each frame/bumper support. That takes a lot of the bounce out of the system.

I also have a short extension to the receiver which I should probably remove. Put that in there as we had issues with the pedals poking through the spare tire cover. Removing the one pedal would fix that and allow for a shorter moment arm on the receiver with the bikes in place and therefor less stress on the frame cross supports.

We take our bikes almost everywhere we go so they have bounced around a lot back there. Hopefully our frame is not showing any signs of fatigue. Can't look now as the trailer is not here.

Photo shows the two straps in place.
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Old 03-27-2016, 07:32 PM   #14
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I do use this gizmo on the receiver and was told by friends driving behind us, there was almost no bounce from the 4 bikes:

Robot Check
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Old 03-27-2016, 09:12 PM   #15
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I do use this gizmo on the receiver and was told by friends driving behind us, there was almost no bounce from the 4 bikes:

Robot Check
Not only mechanically sound, but it's a great stopper when plugging in the stinger so the cross-pin hole lines up with the receiver first try. Just ordered one for us!
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Old 03-27-2016, 09:56 PM   #16
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This is what I was originally thinking. Would that assist in spreading the weight and preventing cracked or twisted tubing?
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Old 03-27-2016, 10:24 PM   #17
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This is what I was originally thinking. Would that assist in spreading the weight and preventing cracked or twisted tubing?
Yup, but I think you're going overboard as most wall sections involved will be 1/8th inch thick or more. Both bending and torsional ratings for 2x2 tubing that size are very large. What is the weight you are trying to haul?
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Old 03-27-2016, 11:23 PM   #18
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Probably in the 250 lb range, not much more than that certainly. I just don't want to damage anything that would be harder to fix than having a few steel rods welded in there. I'm sure we could find some heavy things to put in the loft area to compensate for the weight back there if need be.
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Old 03-28-2016, 12:01 AM   #19
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Probably in the 250 lb range, not much more than that certainly. I just don't want to damage anything that would be harder to fix than having a few steel rods welded in there. I'm sure we could find some heavy things to put in the loft area to compensate for the weight back there if need be.
Well, for a 250 lb load on an 18 inch piece of steel 2x2 1/8th inch wall tubing with both ends fixed would be 0.0005 inch, and with both ends free around 0.0019 inch, so I think you're in the safe zone without going too far overboard.

With the load distributed (like on a rear carrier) or closer than 18 inches the deflection would be less.

The critical link is either the quality of welding (if welded on) or the bolts holding things together (if bolted use Grade 8 fasteners.)

Since your pickup is pretty far out, why not email ETI with your load plan; they could always add a gusset or two when they put their receiver on if there's any question........

Just the opinion of a retired mechanical engineer. Here's a fun tool:

Deflection Calculator for Square Tubing
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:28 AM   #20
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... we had a welder weld 2 solid steel bars to the frame of the trailer and back to a steel plate he welded to the bumper. That same plate, which was welded to the bumper, was also welded to the outside frame of the Casita...

I know Casita used "L" shaped frame supports underneath, and "I" beams on the outside of the frame (I think both can be seen). That very well might be more substantial than the tube frames that Escape uses, I don't know. Just seems that there have been some frame issues with the Escapes that I don't recall reading about with the Casita (though my memory fails me a lot so I wouldn't want to be quoted! )

Anyhow, could something similar be done to reinforce the receiver on the Escape?
In general, solid steel bars are not suitable for any kind of load except tension (being pulled apart), and those braces on the Casita are loaded in compression when weight on the hitch tries to pry the bumper down. Tubing (square for convenience of fabrication) would be more efficient (more strength for the same weight, or less weight for the same strength).

What these braces are trying to do is the same as the role of the brackets on each end of a common towing receiver under the back of a tug, where the receiver tube is being twisted by load on the hitch and needs to transfer that load to the vehicle's frame. The usual solution there is simple plates, tapering toward the front, with the top edge folded 90 degrees to provide a bolting flange (although on the trailer they could just be left flat, run up against the inside face of the frame, and welded) and ideally with the lower edge folded for stiffness. This sort of bracket could work with reinforcement of the bumper tube to make a stronger receiver structure, instead of building on the system that Escape uses of spreading the load between the bumper and the next crossmember forward.

Casita apparently uses angle ("L" shaped) crossmembers; Escape uses stronger Z-shaped members in other locations, but the rearmost one (at the rear edge of the body, just ahead of the bumper) is a square tube to handle the role of bracing the bike rack receiver. If this not strong enough it could be reinforced or replaced with larger tubing, but if forces are that high I would wonder whether the load being carried is suitable for a small travel trailer.

The rear section of the Casita frame appears to be C-channel (with the open side facing outward), not I-beam. I-beams are common on larger trailers, but not in this size; C-channel is not as strong as I-beam or box section of the same dimensions and weight, but is easier to work with. Escapes all have 1.5" x 3" box section tubing for the rear section of the frame, and I've never heard of an issue with the frame in the rear.
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