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  Trailer: Loose Fit Between Hitch Receiver and Drawbar

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Author Topic:   Trailer: Loose Fit Between Hitch Receiver and Drawbar
Gene in NC posted 07-03-2005 12:18 PM ET (US)   Profile for Gene in NC   Send Email to Gene in NC  
[How can a draw bar be made to fit more snugly into a receiver on an OEM rhitch on 1994 Chevrolet Suburban 1500?]

The [drawbar] is a loose fit that encourages bounce on bumps.

Also, my Montauk on aluminum Float-On brand trailer amplifies the small movement at the [hitch's drawbar] to bounce the trailer coupler, which flexes the tongue and bounces bow of the boat. Aluminum trailers flex more that you can imagine and this creates a lot of bouncing and banging around. Because of the trailer flex, there is no way to tie the boat down. The bow is held in place by the bow stop which is a "u" shaped stop bolted to the frame. Tongue weight is a little light at 111 pounds, but not easy to increase.

Are there quality [drawbars] that will fit the receiver snugly? Is there some way to wedge the [drawbar] to reduce or eliminate the sloppy fit? Is there a way to improve the situation?

bluemoonfish posted 07-03-2005 12:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluemoonfish  Send Email to bluemoonfish     
My boat and trailer did the same thing and was easily fixed by tieing the bow eye straight down to the trailer tongue with a dock line.this kept the bow from starting that horrible jumping.hope this helps
Gene in NC posted 07-03-2005 01:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Gene in NC  Send Email to Gene in NC     
Bluemoonfish, what kind/style trailer are you applying your fix to? What knot are you using?
Chuck Tribolet posted 07-03-2005 01:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Drawbar to receiver:

1. West at least used to sell padded pins. These at least
cut down on the clanking.

2. The drawbar can be bolted to the receiver. Someplace I
once bought a kit to do this. But it's not something I'd want to
do at 3 a.m. in the morning.

Ball to coupler movement:

--replace whatever is the wrong size
or worn. They are both standard parts. And any chance you
have a 1 7/8" ball in a 2" coupler?


Chuck

bluemoonfish posted 07-03-2005 01:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluemoonfish  Send Email to bluemoonfish     
gene I have a Continental brand trailer with bunks and like you I have a fairly light tongue wieght. I wrap my line between the trailer tongue and through the bow eye several times and just keep in place with a series of half hitches. Hope this helps.
whalerskiff posted 07-03-2005 02:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalerskiff    
If the reciever to drawbar fit is loose,place a weld bead on all sides , then grind to fit properly. Add silicone paste to the drawbar and pin it in. As far as the aluminum trailer goes, try to move the boat back a little to place more weight over the axles, but remember to have some on the tounge.
gss036 posted 07-03-2005 10:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for gss036  Send Email to gss036     
A simple fix is to drill a hole in the receiver, spot weld a 1/2 " nut in place and run a 1/2" in bolt down to put pressure on the insert. I did this for a motorcycle bracket I made and it works great.
JustinAndersen posted 07-04-2005 04:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for JustinAndersen  Send Email to JustinAndersen     
Considering that you can buy a new coupler for less than $15 and a new ball is way less than $10, I'd try this first, assuming your coupler is bolted on.

Also, I suspect that you have too little weight on the tongue.

Chuck Tribolet posted 07-04-2005 07:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Are the spring carriers bolted to the frame? On an AL trailer,
I'd suspect they are. Then it's just a matter of jacking
up the trailer frame, unbolting the spring carriers, and
moveing them aft a bit. There's a formula in the reference
section of the site to help you define "a bit" more precisely.


Chuck

Riptide23WA posted 07-04-2005 10:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for Riptide23WA  Send Email to Riptide23WA     
Gene, if the ball and coupler are the correct size (2-inch probably), look at the underside of the trailer coupler. You will see a nut that can be used to adjust the snugness of the coupler "yoke", or whatever the thingy is that grips the underside of the trailer hitch ball. I took a few turns up on mine, and it significantly reduced the slop in the hitch department.

If, on the other hand, the trailer hitch is loose in the reciever, they make a U-bolt and plate gizmo that stresses and clamps the hitch to the reciever, available just about anywhere. Its a PITA if you like to pull your hitch out with any frequency, though...i

an86carrera posted 07-05-2005 12:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for an86carrera  Send Email to an86carrera     
Gene,
You stated that you have fairly light tongue weight maybe a small shift of the boat foreward would add more stability.

Your tongue could be floating a little at highway speed or over bumps. This would cause the looseness in the reciever.

ScottS posted 07-05-2005 01:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for ScottS  Send Email to ScottS     
Gene,

A tongue weight of 111 lbs does sound light. If you can't move the axle back as Chuck mentioned, then a quick way to increase your tongue weight is to mount a spare tire to the top of your trailer tongue. Place it as close to the coupler as possible for maximum effect. That should add 30-50 pounds of tongue weight, which should help reduce your hitch rattle and trailer bounce. I've found that lighter trailers require more than the 5-7% tongue weight that is generally recommended for boat trailers.

Reese sells a product to stop the receiver hitch from rattling called the Anti-Wobble Device ( www.reeseprod.com ). It puts pressure on the side of the ball mount via the hitch pin. I've seen other products that use a bolt to put pressure on the top of the ball mount similar to what gss036 described, but without having to drill a hole. I've solved the problem on two trailers by just wedging a flat piece of plastic (credit card thickness) between the side of the draw bar and the hitch box opening.

Good luck!

ScottS

Gene in NC posted 07-05-2005 08:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Gene in NC  Send Email to Gene in NC     
Thanks for all the good ideas.

The problem is fit between receiver and drawbar. Float-on brand aluminum trailer has torsion bar axle assembly bolted directly to alum I-beams, the other two of total three parts of assembly. Coupler assembly [undecipherable] the two I-beams. and that is it. Except for bunks that bolt on directly above the I-beams.

Bow stop/hold down is spring loaded U-shaped loop, bolted to the I-beams.

Good ideas in the responses. Riptide may have the solution.

http://shop.easternmarine.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=catalog.catalog&categoryID=214

Hitch Ball Mount Anti-Rattle Device, 2" sq.
Stock # 5223008
Reduces drawbar and ball mount rattle, stabilizes hitch mounted bike carriers and accessories. Attaches to standard 5/8" diameter hitch pin and most hitch locks. $12.50

CFCAJUN posted 07-05-2005 08:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
This may sound like an oversimplification, but it sounds like you are describing a loose fit in the square receiver housing. If the ball/bracket you insert into the housing isn't snug, this allows movement. While this movement may only be centimeters in the housing, the energy that is transferred through the trailer and boat increases.

Until you buy the anti-rattling device, simply buy black duct-tape and wrap this around the ball/hitch assembly until the it fits snugly into the receiver.

When your official parts come in, assemble them. Until then, the duct tape will suffice.

Gene in NC posted 07-05-2005 09:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Gene in NC  Send Email to Gene in NC     
Think I'll try a variation of the duct tape trick by wrapping it around one or more of those little plastic wedges from the hardware store that are used for leveling furniture, etc. Could even tap the wedge into gap between top of ball mount and receiver before taping it in place.
CFCAJUN posted 07-05-2005 09:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for CFCAJUN  Send Email to CFCAJUN     
Sounds like a plan. I think someone once wrote a book about the many uses of duct tape. It should work fine. Hek, if that works, try duct-taping your entire boat, it may work better than gelcoat.

Just kidding! Good luck.

pglein posted 07-06-2005 02:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
There are some good ideas here. My receiver is also a loose fit on my hitch (or vise versa, depending on how you look at it). I like the idea of drilling and adding a nut to run a bolt through. My only concern, however, is about strength. I'm not too concerned about it when towing my lightweight 13' Whaler, but what about if I'm pulling a larger trailer? Is there any risk in weakening the receiver and applying pressure to the hitch in this way?

I looked for one of those rubber coated retainer pins at West Marine the other day, and they didn't seem to have any.

Chuck Tribolet posted 07-06-2005 03:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
No need to drill. Work out something to use the existing
holes. My Yakima bike rack has a big square nut that goes
inside the drawbar, and a funny bolt. This clamps the
drawbar to the receiver on one side.


Chuck

Gene in NC posted 07-06-2005 06:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Gene in NC  Send Email to Gene in NC     
Chuck, does the bolt go through the "pin" hole and replace the pin?
Chuck Tribolet posted 07-06-2005 11:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Yes the bolt goes through the "pin" hole.


Chuck

allen723 posted 07-07-2005 01:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for allen723  Send Email to allen723     
Do you have a two inch ball?
jimh posted 07-07-2005 07:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Locate just about any issue of TRAILER BOAT Magazine. In the advertisement section you will probably find several companies who manufacture devices to improve the fit between the drawbar and the hitch receiver.

My experience with the hitch receiver on my GMC Suburban 1500--which probably has the same hitch as yours--is that the fit of the drawbar is quite snug. I use a Reese drawbar.

If you need a tighter fit of the drawbar into the hitch receiver, you could easily shim it with some plastic material.

There is some very slight movement of the drawbar in the hitch receiver, but I would estimate that the vertical movement of the hitch coupler ball is on the order of about 1/8-inch.

If the dimensions of your drawbar are so sloppy that you have more play than that, maybe your problem could be fixed by buying a better drawbar.

I do see a lot of no-brand drawbars sold at places like WALMART. Maybe yours is a made-in-China model with poor dimensional tolerance.

quickfarms posted 07-07-2005 10:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for quickfarms  Send Email to quickfarms     
I use the reese (also sold by drawtite) anti rattle device on both of the trucks that I tow with.

This device is basically a locking hitch pin where the end form a J. You will have to drill a extra hole in the recieve so that the end of the J can put pressure on the mount. The only issue I have had with is that you have to tighten the nut on that applies the perssure once in a while.

I also use solid ball mounts.

When the tounge weight is set properly the trailer should not bounce.

A montauk and trailer probably weighs about 2000 pounds so your tounge weigh sounds light.

How does the trailer track on the freeway?

I would not use the duct tape because it will make the inside of the reciever a gooey mess in the end.

You could very easily make some shims out of a plastic milk bottle.

The half gallon ones also make a cheap bailer.

pglein posted 07-07-2005 01:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
My drawbar has a tollerance of less than 1/8", but still clunks quite loudly when passing over bumps. It's mostly just an annoyance, but it does concern me nonetheless.

I suppose I could use a shim, but that does seem like taking the easy way out. My trailer has quite light tonge weight, no more than 20#. But that is expected, as my boat is only a 13'. I need it to be this light in order to move it around. My storage options do not allow me to maneuver the trailer in to place with a vehicle, so it must be done by hand. Thus, a lightweight tongue is a must. Also, my tonge is extends almost 8' in front of the bow, so it is quite long, providing a large amount of leverage. This is nice for maneauvering and trailering, but difficult for storage. I plan to shorten it by about 3-4'. I'm wondering what effect, if any, this will have on it's trailering characteristics.

Gene in NC posted 07-25-2005 02:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Gene in NC  Send Email to Gene in NC     
Used Quickfarms milk bottle shim idea to take play out of receiver/ball mount. One minimum thick from the side and then variable thickness wedge from transition from side to neck of the jug. Pushed wedge in and secured w elec tape. Snug, quiet, and after snugging up the coupler adjustment, the solution was quite satisfactory.

Will be adding spare to tongue and improving tie down of bow to try to limit trailer frame flex.

McGuyver would have been envious. Thanks to all, especially Quickfarms.

jimh posted 07-25-2005 10:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Great outcome. Sounds like you needed a tighter fit of the drawbar into the hitch receiver, and you easily shimmed it with some plastic material.

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