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Trailer Ball and hitch issue...

2550 Views 43 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  Mike tries to fish
Current skiff is only second boat that I have trailered regularly. There are a couple of nuance items I would like some help with. Current skiff is an East Cape Evo V sitting on a Ram-lin trailer.

1. See attached pic for reference. Should the trailer be more or less level with the pavement or, should there be a slight andgle downwards towards the stern? Was thinking possiblky raising the hitch up from current 2'' drop might fix problem below.

2. Recently moved, and both homes I have issues gett the ball to mate with the coupling on the trailer. It seems to be less of an issue on level ground, but on both homes the driveway slopes down slightly from the garage. Due to the slight andgle, the coupling does not want want to drop over the ball, it gets hung up. So far the best fix I have is to back the tension nut more than 75 percent out in order to make the coupling opening wide enough to slide over the ball. I then I have to crawl under there and tighten it back down a bit, because I am worried it will be too loose for travel. This works, but if there is a simple fix where I don't have to do this every time I hitch that would be ideal.

3. The swivel mount front wheel jack on the trailer still has a load on it when lowered all the way. I have to crank on it pretty hard to get it rotated up because the wheel is raisefd all the way and there is stilla decent load on it. Again, this is a sign I should ditch the 2'' drop and raise the the ball height?

Thanks for the input in advance. I wanted to poll the knowledge on here before I go out buying a new hitch.
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Flip your drop hitch over and try it. It will help with #3 definitely. If your coupler isn't setting right it might mean there isn't enough weight on it because the jack is holding it up. So it might not be seated on the ball. Start with flipping your hitch and see where it gets you.
 

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1. Boat should be as close to level as possible--looks pretty level from photo?

2. If you drop the trailer on the ball while it's too off center, it will bind and prevent the coupling from seating onto the ball properly. Or, your trailer jack isn't allowing enough downtravel to seat on the ball.

3. Your trailer ball is too low to provide the necessary clearance to properly operate the trailer jack. The tongue weight is likely causing your cars rear suspension to squat. I would go to a 1in drop or zero drop depending on the clearance needed to operate the jack. You can try flipping your current 2in drop, but it might be higher than you'd want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Flip your drop hitch over and try it. It will help with #3 definitely. If your coupler isn't setting right it might mean there isn't enough weight on it because the jack is holding it up. So it might not be seated on the ball. Start with flipping your hitch and see where it gets you.
I will slip the hitch and see where that gets me. Its definately not the jack, because there is still more room to lower when it gets hung up.
 

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What I did with my boat/trailer (trailer was Ramlin) was move boat back an inch on trailer, move bunks back an inch and added a 3/4 inch aluminum bar to set rear tie downs further back. The rear tie downs would rub my gel coat if I didn't. This made the tongue weight lighter and closer to the % allowed. Being overly tongue heavy Didn't really bother my pickup but it sure made moving boat in the garage a challenge. If the tongue is overly heavy as suggested by a squatting vehicle your front tires won't have enough traction to steer safely.. If tongue is to light then the opposite occurs in that the rear vehicle tires get lifted and no traction and you can loose control going down the road.
See red arrows on the attached photos The bunks should hold the weight of the motor/transom
Automotive tire Road surface Asphalt Motor vehicle Gas
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Automotive lighting Hood
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What I did with my boat/trailer (trailer was Ramlin) was move boat back an inch on trailer, move bunks back an inch and added a 3/4 inch aluminum bar to set rear tie downs further back. The rear tie downs would rub my gel coat if I didn't. This made the tongue weight lighter and closer to the % allowed. Being overly tongue heavy Didn't really bother my pickup but it sure made moving boat in the garage a challenge. If the tongue is overly heavy as suggested by a squatting vehicle your front tires won't have enough traction to steer safely.. If tongue is to light then the opposite occurs in that the rear vehicle tires get lifted and no traction and you can loose control going down the road.
See red arrows on the attached photos The bunks should hold the weight of the motor/transom
I don't like this idea, mainly because my boat is already about 4 inches too long too fit straight abck in my garage. I don't want to have to angle her any more if I don't have to. I don't use the rear straps on the transom. I just throw a strap over the back deck and secure it to the trailer.

I will pay attention to the squat. I have not towed the boat yet with this vehicle, other than around the block. I don't think its an issue of the vehicle squatting when the hitch coupling meets the ball, it just gets hung up because of the angle. the hitch coupling is not coming straight down over the ball because my car is sloping downward when backed up to the garage. When I put the boat away later I will try and take a pic of a visual of this.
 

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If you do this, make sure you haven't loosened it too much. The video goes over a couple of checks, but if it were me, I'd secure the latch, put your trailer jack down and crank away until the back end of your tow vehicles starts to lift.

 

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If you do this, make sure you haven't loosened it too much. The video goes over a couple of checks, but if it were me, I'd secure the latch, put your trailer jack down and crank away until the back end of your tow vehicles starts to lift.

Very helpful--thanks for sharing that video.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Tire Wheel Vehicle Bicycle Automotive tire


Here is a better picture for the angle and the issue at hand. On level ground the trailer sits nice and flat when hooked to the vehicle. So on one end I don't want to change it. But when you look at the scene it seems like I will have to raise the ball from that 2-in drop
 

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You will eventually realize that you have to disconnect before it is all in the garage. The trailer wheels need to be in garage though. Just be careful when the hitch is disconnected with the trailer jack way out. It may want to roll downhill. Just quickly push back into the garage.

I guess you could build up your driveway. Your call;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You will eventually realize that you have to disconnect before it is all in the garage. The trailer wheels need to be in garage though. Just be careful when the hitch is disconnected with the trailer jack way out. It may want to roll downhill. Just quickly push back into the garage.

I guess you could build up your driveway. Your call;)
I think you are right. I'm going to get strong pushing the trailer in lol.
 

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Be very careful putting on or taking off the hitch. When it starts rolling out of the garage it can get momentum and get away from you and plow into your vehicle. It almost happened to me. What I would suggest is when you back your trailer into the garage, take note of where your hitch has to be. Never allow your trailer wheels to get out of the garage unless it is hitched. You can also measure the trailer wheels to the hitch to find the furthest the hitch can be so trailer wheels remain in the garage. You will eventually find that sweet spot where most of the trailer is in the garage and hitch can be released. You may want to put a board to catch trailer before it has a chance to get out of the garage as a measure of security. Again you will find the point where most of trailer is in the garage and hitch comes off the ball. I found my sweet spot after a few tries. You may want to mark it with a spray paint spot.

After I disconnect my boat from the hitch, I immediately push it in until the jack wheel is in the garage ( off the incline)

Don't wear flipflop while doing this. After a year with my boat I am comfortable doing and forgot I had sandals on that were wet and I slipped out of one.
 

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If your boat and trailer is sliding forward on the ball it will be hard to latch because the coupler mechanism is pushing against the ball and will be very hard or impossible to latch. For easiest latching, the ball should be located in the coupling as if you were pulling the trailer — that gives freedom of movement to the latch.

That may sound pretty basic, but it might be part of your problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Ya know @Mike tries to fish, maybe you need a truck
I just got rid of my truck bc we had our first kid. Now I gotta transport wife, baby, 2 dogs to keys and tow a boat.... Not enough room in the truck.

Mitt Romney got into all kinds of trouble for strapping his dogs to the roof, so I can only imagine how much I would get into for strapping my wife up there. Had to get an SUV for the interior space lol
 

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If your boat and trailer is sliding forward on the ball it will be hard to latch because the coupler mechanism is pushing against the ball and will be very hard or impossible to latch. For easiest latching, the ball should be located in the coupling as if you were pulling the trailer — that gives freedom of movement to the latch.

That may sound pretty basic, but it might be part of your problem.
Good point. My experience is that coupler mechanism does make it a little more challenging but tricky and doable. Careful with your fingers as you manipulate the trailer onto the ball. Garages are made with a slight slope down so that any water will run out thru the garage door. This will show when lowering the hitch onto the ball.
 

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My driveway has a similar slope and oddly I've never tried to latch the trailer with the boat in the garage. I wheel it out, lower until the weight is almost off the winch, closer the coupler, a couple more turns on the winch and raise the wheel.My winch wheel is only a few feet outside of the garage.

I would never ever loosen the nut on the trailer ball. I'd attach the hitch to the trailer and lower the winch until it slid into the hitch mount before I loosened the nut. Your going to forget to tighten that one morning early and be SOL.

Also the note from @Rich11111 about not wearing flip flops to push the boat is a good one. I kick them off when I'm pushing the boat in.
 

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I had a 2" drop on my hitch initally and had some of the same issues.

A couple of things I did to solve it:
I swiched to a 2" lift on the hitch to help get clearance when coupling, this helped I did not have to lower the jack all the way down to get the hitch on the ball or get under the bow and lift to help the jack get into place when decoupling.
I taped off where the trailer wheels sit best in the garage to have consistency when backing in as this helped getting the trailer uncoupled after fishing. I back it in until the port wheel is in position, then I know I am at the right spot to unhitch.
I trimmed an 1" oak board at an angle to help get the jack wheel over the ledge at the lip of the garage.
I parked further away when coupling which made me pull my skiff out more so it was more level with my hitch, despite being on a downward angle.
I always switch to close toed shoes when pushing the skiff into the final position, up about 5" of driveway and over the lip.
 

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If I'm reading this correctly, the problem your post #9 is not towing; it's the slope of the driveway that results in your coupler being too high for the trailer ball when the boat is in the garage. The jack wheel lacks the range to lower it enough.

If you were to raise your tow ball 3-4" it may help in hitching/unhitching on that slope but then once on level ground you're likely to be towing around with tool little tongue weight and get swaying.

Here is your solution...

1. chock the wheels so the boat does not want to roll forward.
2. Get a hydraulic floor jack (I have a 3-ton model from Northern tool)
3. Raise the floor jack so it's supporting the tongue weight under the coupler just aft of the where the ball goes.
4. Stow the jack wheel
5. Lower the floor jack slowly down so that the coupler connects with the ball.

The floor jack will let you take the coupler all the way down to the ground and then raise it up about 2 feet without ever losing control of the boat.

Also, for a few hundred $$, a pair of Go-Jaks will allow you to push your boat around at ease once in the garage freeing up more room.
 
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