Jump to content

How Tight Are Your (tow) Balls?

Guest johblow

Recommended Posts

Guest johblow

G'day all. Well, i have to admitt that i over-sensationalised the title and description of this post, but it may be worth it. I want to share my towing experience from saturday, so that others may benefit. I certainly benefited from my experience!!!

To cut a long story short, me and a mate were on our way to ATB ramp, probably two thirds of the way along the road from Bobbo, when i went over one of the speed humps a touch too hard i assume... to my displeasure, the bloody trailer coupling popped out, and i was left dragging the chain... You will notice this if it happens to you, because the boat will suddenly be in a rather unfamiliar position in the rear view mirror, earily skooting along like a uni-cyclist. Oh, and the sudden crunch is hard not to miss!!

Avoid braking hard if you can! I didn't initially, so i coped a dent in the back of the boot from the winch thing-emy, but the bumper bar took the majority of the impact. After the first hit i let it roll and the trailer then ground to a halt. Im not sure if i could have avoided the impact, as a first-timer (and last-timer).

I must say that the trailer stayed quite true. Mind you, i wasnt going very fast. All i can say is that i am bloody grateful that this didnt happen at speed, and that i am investing in a new coupling which is not rusted to buggery, so that i can adjust it properly to fit my ball. May i suggest that people check the coupling of their balls too? Oh, and ill be driving with more respect for my load too in future.

Finally, is there an expert on adjusting trailer couplings out there? Advice needed please. How much play is acceptable? What is a good test of 'fit'?

P.S. Aside from that, it was a good day - went all the way to Barrenjoey for a few throwbacks. Not much happening, but the water was quite flat, and the sun was great!

Edited by johblow
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Jocool

Good to hear you came out of it with nothing more sinister than a dent. I have seen a lot worse! :1yikes:

As far as a good fit, your new coupling would be a 50mm as that is more or less the standard. If you have an older tow bar its possibly an imerial size, or even a 45 or 55 mm ball. It would pay to replace the ball to suit your new coupling.

The only advise I can give to test, is that it is as tight as possible while still allowing the ball to spin and pivot inside the coupling. This test would probably be best done while the ball is OFF the tow bar!

A spot of grease would be wise, but too much will have it accumalating lots of dirt and grit. One thing people overlook regularly is the state of the grease on the ball. It pays to have a little cover for it. Even if its just a cut tennis ball, or a toy dinasour as I had on my last one. :1prop:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The same thing happened to me a couple of years ago TWICE!! Once between the Old Pacific Hwy & Brooklyn through the bends where there's a bump that is just the right size that it causes a trailer to lift and put upward pressure on the ball. The second time was going down the hill from Asquith to Bobbin Head. Both times I was going very slow.

I did two things and it hasn't happened since:

1) I restored my trailer and while doing so I moved the wheels back a few inches resulting in more weight on the towball.

2) I tightened the adjustment on the hitch right up. We'd only just bought the boat and maybe the previous owner had a larger ball like Joe said (I don't know). To do this I even bounced the trailer up and down as I tightened the grub screw which allowed it another few 1/4 turns. Now when I hitch up the boat I have to push the boat down and it 'snaps' onto the ball so I know it is tight.

I've since hit a few bumps hard and although there was an anxious few seconds, the boat stayed firmly attached to the car!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good advice their...

I always have my trailer hitch lock on as well to make seperation virtually impossible. They are cheap as.

Its also good if you can climb into your boat from the rear without it being hitched to the car, and it not tip backwards. This means there is ample weight on the tow ball as Iain suggested.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, thanks guys, I just learnt heaps and some good points raised.

I must say I have never given it a lot of thought. I didn’t even know there was an adjustment for the hitch and I have often wondered how long the safety chain should be. I have always just used the last link.

A little maintenance check this weekend will be happening.

I’m glad to know you came out of your experience ok Johblow.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A caravan recently jumped off the towball down near Fishermans Paradise resulting in a double fatality :(

Had my old trailer jump off the towbar outside Yabbie Marine .. very embarrasing ... but no real damage.

Propper adjustment is great, but this saftey pin will help too ...



A padlock will also work if it will fit :biggrin2:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest johblow

Well, thanks for all the positive feedback and advice fellas! I dont feel like such a dickhead now!!

Thanks for the advice re: testing the coupling - will try em all out and see if i can make it fail. And ill be buying a new coupling that i can adjust properly.

To summarise a few things -

Jocool - yes, the tow ball is new and the trailer is old! Ill be checking the sizes closely this weekend.

Jimbo - Interesting point about the safety chain length - can you explain more please? I was acutally thinking that in my case the fact that the hitch dragged on the ground saved me a bit more damage, but im interested to here your reasoning. Is speed a factor you are considering?

Thanks all once again. Hopefully im the last fishraider to experience the old runnaway trailer!!! ;-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...