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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Those with trailer a hitch check the hitch ball. If the threaded rod is threaded into the ball get rid of it. I was down in Main pulling my trailer when the threaded stem decided to eject itself from the ball. All of a sudden the trailer is hanging on by the safety chains, thank god I was not on the interstate or I would not be writing this. The trailer was dragged over a hundred feet with the ball still in the receiver. After I cleaned my pants I inspected the ball and found the threads inside completely flattened. My advice is do NOT put a ball on if the rod is threaded into the ball, only use a ball where the stem has been machined as part of the ball. Food for thought :22yikes:
 

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those with trailer a hitch check the hitch ball. If the threaded rod is threaded into the ball get rid of it. I was down in main pulling my trailer when the threaded stem decided to eject itself from the ball. All of a sudden the trailer is hanging on by the safety chains, thank god i was not on the interstate or i would not be writing this. The trailer was dragged over a hundred feet with the ball still in the receiver. After i cleaned my pants i inspected the ball and found the threads inside completely flattened. My advice is do not put a ball on if the rod is threaded into the ball, only use a ball where the stem has been machined as part of the ball. Food for thought :22yikes:

tclocks?
 

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Trailer Balls

There was a big right up, in the papers and I think on the news several years ago about that. Since that time, I started using only the solid shank type trailer ball.
 

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If on the interstate you would have died? Why? A simple matter of coasting to the side of the road and stopping. The chains hold the trailer, the trailer wont speedup to pass you, if the hitch contacts the tire it gets pushed backwards. I can see if no chains were used, trailer goes astray and causes multi car accident as they try to avoid it and they hit you but otherwise I see no death sentance.
 

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What about when the trailer tongue noses down on the pavement and strikes the expansion joint between concrete sections of the interstate or a bump in the highway? Or begins darting side to side at highway speed?

I'm with the OP. That could have been a disaster for the rider.
 

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Peter trys to help everyone with a good warning and someone has to argue the results of the warning. Geesh, this crap has to stop.
Jakec
 

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Several yrs back we stopped at a rest stop and found the WSP trooper checking for safety chains including motorcycles pulling trailers. I passed !!!
 

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Peter,

Thank you for your post and a very informative head's up.

For others reading this post, it is always important, as a reminder, to use safety chain when pulling a trailer, if not by law, but by mere moral issues and self responsibility.

They should not droop too low to allow the hitch to drag on the ground in the event of a ball disconnect/failure.

When connecting my trailer, I always check the play of the hitch locking mechanism's operation under the hitch itself. Too much slack and the hitch could come off of the ball. Too tight and the mechanism may wear prematurely. I adjust accordingly.

And finally, I add a dab of grease to the ball before i connect the trailer.

In my travels I've noticed, on few occasions, safety chains dragging the blacktop. If anything, the sparks create a nice show to witness at night.
 

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Peter trys to help everyone with a good warning and someone has to argue the results of the warning. Geesh, this crap has to stop.
Jakec
:agree:

Thanks to the OP for the warning. If nothing else the ball coming loose will cause some serious pucker factor. Glad you managed to stop safely. For those who tow, either on the bike or a car, I think you've been warned, and should inspect and/or replace your ball.

For some you may already be ok if your wife keeps them safely in a jar on a shelf. :joke:
 

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If the trailer coupler becomes disconnected from the trailer ball for any reason while towing with a motorcycle and the safety chains support the trailer tongue obviously the trailer tongue drops and is suspended on chains and is free to swing forward and rearward.

Can contact between the motorcycle's rear tire and trailer tongue occur? How about when the motorcycle's brakes are applied?

My question is sincere. I have never towed a trailer with a motorcycle and don't know the answer. But I've been towing travel trailers, utility trailes, fifthwheel trailers, and gooseneck trailers with light trucks since the late '60s. I've seen a few trailers disconnect from tow vehicles and once had a utility trailer coupler bounce off an improperly latched tow ball as I left my home. Not a great idea behind a heavy truck and sounds scary to have happen with a motorcycle.
 

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Peter trys to help everyone with a good warning and someone has to argue the results of the warning. Geesh, this crap has to stop.
Jakec
While I'm sure everyone appreciates the warning, (at least I do), They were just saying that the death assessment was probably a little over the top if the chain was installed properly. Nothing wrong with that. That doesn't mean that losing a hitch isn't scary. It is.

The chain is a safety backup to allow you to safely pull over in the event of a hitch failure. If losing a hitch connection on the freeway meant imminent death, then it would be an extremely foolish risk to pull a trailer on the freeway.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of hitch chains that are installed wrong, and were either attached just to comply with the law, or the owner didn't know how to adjust and attach it. Cases like that could indeed be a death sentence if the hitch fails.

If anything, there are two appropriate warnings here. Watch what type of ball you buy. And make sure your chains are adjusted right.
 

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Wax paper accomplishes the same easy movement/non-wear on the ball and is much cleaner. When/if you acidently bump your pant leg against the hitch ball, your pant leg stays clean (unlike grease all over it).

I carry a couple of 4" x 4" squares of wax paper in the trunk, just change it when needed. The wax paper has lasted on extended trips of 6 - 8k miles with no issues.


Peter,

Thank you for your post and a very informative head's up.

For others reading this post, it is always important, as a reminder, to use safety chain when pulling a trailer, if not by law, but by mere moral issues and self responsibility.

They should not droop too low to allow the hitch to drag on the ground in the event of a ball disconnect/failure.

When connecting my trailer, I always check the play of the hitch locking mechanism's operation under the hitch itself. Too much slack and the hitch could come off of the ball. Too tight and the mechanism may wear prematurely. I adjust accordingly.

And finally, I add a dab of grease to the ball before i connect the trailer.

In my travels I've noticed, on few occasions, safety chains dragging the blacktop. If anything, the sparks create a nice show to witness at night.
 

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What about when the trailer tongue noses down on the pavement and strikes the expansion joint between concrete sections of the interstate or a bump in the highway? Or begins darting side to side at highway speed?

I'm with the OP. That could have been a disaster for the rider.
Thanx... I was going to say the same thing. Chains help prevent the trailer from going astray and causing liability damage but if you think that they are a sure bet to a safe end when the ball fails, think again!
 

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I think the point of this thread was to avoid Junk Trailer Balls.

Thanks for the reminder. I thought they had taken them off the market.

Would never use anything but a solid shank ball.
 

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Peter."Thank you for letting everyone know what happened to you about this type of ball.

I had used this type if the past and had put Red Lock-tite in the ball and on the bolt.And I still wasn't comfortable with it and replaced that type of ball.

I recently got a very nice machined SS ball with a ny-lock nut with a hole drilled in the shank for a cotter pin,so the nut can never come off.Very nice set up and the utmost in design safety.(Thanks Buddy :bow:)


A couple years ago I modified a trailer and Tongue.I installed a Bush-tek type Hyme joint.

I loaded the trailer and passenger and took it for a test ride to see how it would work before we headed out to the first Rockies Gold.

Hwy 52 has some serious dips (built over a former landfill).

To my horror the trailer was wagging like a puppy.
I gently rolled off the throttle and pulled off into the hole filled dirt center divide near the guardrail.it was wide enough for two cars wide.calling it bumpy would be to kind.

After we got off and I inspected what had happened?.

Mistake number 1.
I realized that the washer I put under the hyme joint didn't allow for the Pin Lock to LOCK.So when I started hitting these big dips,the trailers weight caused the hyme joint to spit off the lock and then the tongue popped off the pin!:eek:4:

I could see the trailer tongue had been rubbing the sidewall of the tire.

Mistake number 2.
I made the chains to long to allow for backing up,only it caused tongue to drag on the ground when it fell off the hitch.:eek:4:
The only damage was to the bottom of the hyme joint that dragged the ground (I replaced it).
I then shortened the chains like the OP (Peter) did,so the tongue would hang if it ever happened again.
A new lock was brought to me by a friend after I tossed that washer I put on to tighten any slack.(That was my bad idea)




The OP was "Smart" enough to have short chains to keep the tongue off the ground.

"John, the frozen" is also correct that the trailer tongue won't cause any issue if it hits the ground or the tire,due to the tires rotation.

I'm here to type this after living through this experience that he described.


Edited to add:
Here is the ball I use now.See the hold drilled in the bottom of the shank for the cotter pin.
Another brilliant idea was how he lengthened the gap under the ball to the base to allow for greater lean angle without binding between the tongue and ball shaft.
A sweet well thought out Ball for extra safety & Strength .:bow:

 

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What about when the trailer tongue noses down on the pavement and strikes the expansion joint between concrete sections of the interstate or a bump in the highway? Or begins darting side to side at highway speed?

I'm with the OP. That could have been a disaster for the rider.
Then the safety chains are not being used correctly. Learn to properly connect the safety chains and this situation should not occur.
 

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While we're on the subject, there are other things to know about towing trailers:

The side-to-side motion inherent in a trailer means that the lug nuts on the wheels should be checked every so often to make sure they have not loosened up. They DO loosen up and if not checked, they'll eventually get to the point where you can remove them with your fingers alone.

Raise each side of the trailer and check the wheel bearings for resistance or excessive play. Grease the bearings once in a while. A good trick is to color a dot onto the hub with a wax crayon. if the hub gets excessively hot, the crayon dot will have melted and smeared, indicating a wheel bearing problem.

The chains should be crossed under the tongue so it has a cradle to land on if it becomes separated from the ball, and hang just loose enough so that they do not tighten up in a sharp turn. If you are turning your bike and a trailer chain reaches its extended length, you'll know it!

Tongue weight is critical. If the trailer tongue weight is too light, and the tongue comes off of the ball, the trailer will try to lift the rear wheel of your bike and follow you like a drunken goose.

Also, do not forget about brain dead teenagers! They like to do stupid stuff, like unlatching trailer balls, unhooking safety chains, removing the hitch pin R-hook or even the hitch pin itself just so they can laugh Beevis and Buttead style about the horrors it will cause you down the road, even if they are not there to witness it. Whenever you leave your bike and trailer, CHECK IT and check the hitch when you return to make sure no one has messed with it. Do not assume everything is as you left it.

Check the tire pressures visually, and with a gauge now and then.

Make sure the lights are working.

If you are in Mexico and crossing the border back into the United States, check your entire bike and trailer CAREFULLY before approaching the border. Drug smugglers can shove a bag of cocaine or pot up under your fairing, toss it into an unlocked trunk or trailer or tie it to the frame of your trailer and follow you across the border. IF you make it through, they'll remove it when you stop for lunch or at a hotel. If the drugs are found by the Border Patrol, you'll be hating life.

The opposite is true when crossing into Mexico. If you are about to cross the border, make sure your bike and trailer were not loaded with a handgun someone wants you to smuggle into Mexico for them. It is not necessarily about the gun. It is about the confiscation of your bike by the Mexican government, the gun being the excuse they need to make YOUR bike the new ride for "Mayor Lopez" or the Tijuana Chief of Police!
 

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Three years ago I had my hitch ball installed with an impact wrench. Would probably use the same method to get it loose. I did have it tightened with a wrench before that and found it starting to come loose! I do like the idea of locking the bolt in place.

Good luck.

Mike
 

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While I'm sure everyone appreciates the warning, (at least I do), They were just saying that the death assessment was probably a little over the top if the chain was installed properly. Nothing wrong with that. That doesn't mean that losing a hitch isn't scary. It is...

Unfortunately, I see a lot of hitch chains that are installed wrong, and were either attached just to comply with the law, or the owner didn't know how to adjust and attach it. Cases like that could indeed be a death sentence if the hitch fails.

If anything, there are two appropriate warnings here. Watch what type of ball you buy. And make sure your chains are adjusted right.
:agree:

Let's clarify the safety chains thing... When you tow with safety chains, you should cross the chains in order that, in the event of a hitch malfunction, the trailer tongue "hangs" or is caught in the chains. If the chains would allow the tongue to hit the pavement in the event of a malfunction, then the chains should be shortened by twisting the chains before hooking them to the bike.

Maybe that's a no-brainer for most, but might be something that someone didn't know.

I also tow a boat and see all kinds of moronic things done on the road when towing, endangering everyone on the road with them. When towing, stupidity could cost lives.

OP, thanks for the hitch ball warning.:thumbup:
 
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