Monday, June 23, 2008

Balls with Big Shanks

I have many miles and many years of experience driving vehicles that bend in the middle. Over the road hauling 40,000 pounds of whatever to where ever. The quality of the equipment I used to haul this whatever depended on the company I drove for.

But one thing was consistent. The hitch system to hook up the power unit to the loaded trailer to be hauled. The trucking industry had long ago settled on standards that allowed a tractor made in PA to haul a trailer made in California. The fifth wheels( those circular flat pads with a V shaped slot on the back of tractors) were standard. As was the king pin standard(the little knob that hangs down from the underneath of the trailer and slides into the fifth wheel). I never gave a thought to whether or not my tractor could hook up to that trailer. I took it for granted.

Fast forward to here and now. Mike needs to find the right setup for his truck to tow a 2,000 pound trailer back from North Carolina to Maine. Mike has entered the world of trailer hitches, trailer hitch balls and receivers. I went into this not even considering it could get complicated. As usual, I was wrong. The world of hitches, balls ands receivers is a world of nuances and hard, do not blow it, fast rules to consider.

Trailer tongue weights. Gross trailer weight. What ball size to use. 1&7/8"? 2"? or be a real man and go for the 2&5/16" ball? What shank size fits what receiver, 3/4", 1", or something even bigger. Hitch extension. Hitch adaptors. And last but not least, the drop or rise needed in the hitch to mate just right with that little honey of a trailer you plan coupling with.

So many things to consider, I wish I had not even looked into it. Just gone with the hitch and ball I already had. But I visited the Internet. I decided to look into this. There is something to the idea of too much information when all it does is make you crazy because you cannot decide between a 3/4" shank on the ball or a 1" shank on the ball. Should I go with a 2" rise or a 3" drop in the hitch I pick?

Aaargh! I have been dealing with this off and on for 2 weeks now. And then the day before the day before we were to leave for North Carolina, I decide to do something about it. And I decided to do it after work leaving me a very small window of time in which to do it.

Wasting precious fuel in the pursuit of the perfect hitch setup, I hit some auto parts stores, then Mardens and finally Loew's 30 miles away. And I crammed the visits into a 2 hour time spread. In those two hours I looked at a mind boggling number of choices and options. Again like the Internet, too much information. But the screws were tightening. I had to make a decision. I bought some balls, a couple of hitches with varying drops, and to top it all off a couple of to go wrenches so I could actually install the equipment when I picked up the trailer. In this case I figured having more than I needed would cut the chances of an expensive "on the road" solution down to a minimum.

So wish me luck. Although it will be retroactive luck. For when you read this, I will already be in the Belly of the Beast I call the I-95 corrider. Be back Saturday if all the stars line up right.

Post Script - A minor milestone has been made I guess. This should be my 500th post. Only took me 3 1/2 years.


GJG said...

Well I didn't lose much sleep over the problem of hitches, balls and trailors prior to reading your post, but now may have a nightmare, worrying about even being caught up in such a situation. thanks-----HEY, wow, congratulations on your 500th post, thats alot of blogging---that runs on average to about 2.9 posts every week-----just goes to show your a man with alot to say, and you make it interesting reading too---can't wait to get into a conversation about trailer hitches---I'm armed to the teeth now.

Dawn on MDI said...

Good luck, mister!

I almost completely put on the tow hitch for my chevy blazer a few years ago. After a shole day spent on my back in my mom's dirt, ant-riddled driveway in the hot Florida panhandle, we tossed the bumper into the back of the thing and drove to the air-conditioned automotive shop where a couple of guys had it done lickety-split. Ain't it amazing what an air wrench can do? Of course once we had the bumper off, we realized that it never had to move, but by then it was too late. Good luck and safe journey back. I look forward to the road posts.

Oh, and congrats on the 500 milestone - that's amazing. I think I'll be thrilled when I hit 100.