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Old 04-09-2012, 03:16 AM   #1
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How do I measure the correct ball size and hitch height for my RV?

While looking at a Layton 28' RV I wondered how do I know which size ball & hitch to purchase for my truck? I am new at this and I realize that I just cant go out and buy any old hitch. I see that some of them drop down a few inches, some go straight out, some have different ball sizes, etc. Is there a proper way for me to make that determination? I don't want to guess. I'd like to get it right the first time. Like I said, I am really new at this and I'm afraid the sales person at Wal'MArt isn't going to be knowledgabe enough to help me when I go to buy it there.
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:17 AM   #2
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The ball size will be stamped into the metal of the hitch on the trailer, that one is easy.
As far as I know, you will want the trailer fairly level when towing.
So that will be a matter of measuring hitch height when trailer is level,
then measure the height of your truck receiver and do the math to figure out the drop.
Also take into consideration the tongue weight will drop the hitch height
when connected, and are you going to use equalizer bars to raise it back up?

This is all assuming you have a bolt on hitch on your truck with a 2" receiver.
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Old 04-09-2012, 05:09 AM   #3
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Depending on the weight of the trailer you are towing, I would NOT use a bolt-on receiver hitch either.

The important information that you need is having a receiver installed on your tow vehicle that is rated properly for the weight you are towing AND for the tongue weight. Remember that the TOW vehicle has to be properly rated also.

Every trailer depending on the weight of the trailer will require a certain size ball to fit the tow tongue. The most common ones are 1 7/8 inches, 2 inches, 2 516 inches. A small aluminum fishing boat on top of a light trailer may use the small 1 7/8 inch ball whereas my 30 foot trailer that can haul up to 12,000 lb.s requires a 2 5/16 inch ball.

When towing, the tow vehicle and the trailer being towed need to be level when on level ground. This is a visual adjustment. There are hitches that slide into the receivers that can be adjusted for height which make it very convenient to bring the trailer level with the tow vehicle.

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Old 04-09-2012, 08:25 AM   #4
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I went with a weight distribution hitch from HERE My brick & mortar hitch store wanted $700+ I got the whole system for $420 delivered. ( 2-3 days)
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Old 04-09-2012, 08:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horizonchase View Post
While looking at a Layton 28' RV I wondered how do I know which size ball & hitch to purchase for my truck? I am new at this and I realize that I just cant go out and buy any old hitch. I see that some of them drop down a few inches, some go straight out, some have different ball sizes, etc. Is there a proper way for me to make that determination? I don't want to guess. I'd like to get it right the first time. Like I said, I am really new at this and I'm afraid the sales person at Wal'MArt isn't going to be knowledgabe enough to help me when I go to buy it there.
its not rocket science but wally world isnt going to have the best selection of hitches.
A truck accessory store or trailer shop would be a better choice. YOu pay a few bucks more but you also get the benefit of their knowledge.
Personally Id get something like this
Adjustable Ball Mount Ball Mounts | etrailer.com
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:50 PM   #6
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Most of the receivers from wal mart are only rated for 5000 pounds I would think a 28' trailer could easily be over that
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Old 04-09-2012, 04:57 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Dr4Film View Post
Depending on the weight of the trailer you are towing, I would NOT use a bolt-on receiver hitch either.
I wouldn't use a weld on one either as the welds can crystallize the metal around the weld. Frames should only be welded on by experts and then only certain areas can even be welded on.
Our MH has a bolt on 6,000# hitch and I can get a 10,000# bolt on one also. Just be sure the bolts are torqued correctly and check them once in a while.
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Horizonchase View Post
While looking at a Layton 28' RV I wondered how do I know which size ball & hitch to purchase for my truck?
As Sequim Guy noted, look at the coupler on the front of the trailer tongue. The coupler is the part on the trailer that fits over the ball. That coupler will have the size ball required stamped onto the coupler. Probably 2 inches, but it may be 2 5/16 inches.

As to the "hitch", there are several parts. One part is the receiver, which bolts to the frame at the back of the tow vehicle. In choosing a receiver, it has to fit your tow vehicle and have enough weight capacity to handle the GVWR of the trailer. If your tow vehicle already has a receiver, then the weight capacity will be stamped or embossed onto the frame of the receiver.

Quote:
I am new at this and I realize that I just cant go out and buy any old hitch. I see that some of them drop down a few inches, some go straight out, some have different ball sizes, etc. Is there a proper way for me to make that determination? I don't want to guess. I'd like to get it right the first time.
There are two kinds of trailer hitches. The cheap "weight carrying" hitch and the more expensive "weight distributing" hitch.

The cheap weight-carrying hitch is a drawbar, sometimes called a ball mount. It has a shank that fits into the receiver and a hole in it where the ball is inserted and tightened. It can have a "rise" or a "drop" and most have both. Rise and drop vary from none to several inches. And the drawbar will have a weight rating. The hole in the drawbar where the ball mounts can vary in size, depending on the weight capacity of the drawbar. The shank of the ball must fit snuggly into that hole in the drawbar

DO NOT even consider a weight carrying hitch for any trailer that can gross more than 5,000 pounds, and I prefer to use a weight-distributing hitch for any trailer loaded to more than about 2,000 pounds gross trailer weight. So I'll discuss only weight-distributing hitches for your TT.

There are two basic types of weight-distributing hitch. Most common are the ones sold by Reese, Drawtite, Curt, Valley and some others. There are also two really-good ones that will not allow any sway at all, but they cost three times as much as the ordinary weight-distributing hitches.

The best ones are the ProPride and the Hennesy Arrow. North of $2,000 for a new one.

But most folks get by with an ordinary weight-distributing hitch with dual sway controls, such as the Reese Straight-line with dual-cam sway controls (see link below).

The weight distributing hitch usually has an adjustable shank plus a ball mount that bolts onto the shank, and the ball mount also includes attachment points for the weight-distribution bars to connect to. Plus most also have provisions for dual sway controls of some sort. The adjustable shank means you can move the ball mount up or down on the shank as required to result in a level trailer.

Weight distributing hitches are designed for a certain trailer hitch weight. Reese/Drawtite hitches are made for trailers that have a max hitch weight of less than:
600 lb
750 lb
800 lb
1,200 lb
1,500 lb
1,700 lb

"Normal" TT hitch weight varies from about 11 percent to about 15 percent. If you don't know the maximum wet and loaded hitch weight of your trailer, then compute 15 percent of the GVWR of your trailer, then order the one with the next higher max hitch weight. For example if your trailer has a GVWR of 7,800 pounds, you need a hitch with a max hitch weight if at least 1,170 pounds. So you'd order the one for a max of 1,200 pounds hitch weight.

Read the hitch sales pitch carefully and be sure it includes dual sway controls, like these:
Draw-Tite, Reese Dual Cam High Performance Sway Control 26102.

If the sway controls are optional, then be sure you order them too. In the link below the Reese 66022 Strait-Line 1200 hitch and the 26002 dual cam sway control parts are included in that 66074 pkg.

http://www.etrailer.com/Weight-Distr...e/RP66074.html
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:55 PM   #9
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its not rocket science but wally world isnt going to have the best selection of hitches.
Anybody else notice that Wally World sells Reese and Draw-Tite.
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:37 PM   #10
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I would call the part that bolts to the truck the hitch and call the part that goes between the hitch and the coupler the receiver
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Old 04-09-2012, 07:38 PM   #11
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The Wally World near me sells Reese and Draw-Tite.
The hitches at walmart are universal fit you want to get one that is made just to fit your vehicle
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Old 04-09-2012, 09:37 PM   #12
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to get the hitch height correct you have to measure the tongue weight with the tongue LEVEL. I have race car scales, which makes this easy, but if not, you need to find a scale with the appropriate limit and resolution. cut a bunch of wood to the correct height, position the tongue over the scale with the load wheels OFF the scale, and crank the jack up until all the load is on the wood and the tongue level. Read the scale.

Then, weigh yourself. Pick a spot on your hitch for a reference dimension and record this. then stand on the hitch and take note of how much it drops compared to the previous measurement. divide the drop by your weight and you'll have the effective spring rate at the hitch in lbs/inch.

Using the tongue weight above, and the spring rate at the hitch, you can now calculate the number of inches above reference that you need the ball mount to be in order for it to be level when the trailer is put on it.
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Old 04-10-2012, 02:50 AM   #13
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Thanks all. Armed with all of this new found knowledge I hav a better understanding of what I need to get.
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Old 04-10-2012, 07:07 AM   #14
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I'd be curious as to how close you are to the proverbial "18 inches" I've heard is pretty much standard for trailers coupler heights. If the hitch drop you need is no more than about 4 inches, you can find a good selection of Reese and Draw-Tite hitches at Walmart. Sorry if all this "rocket science" is confusing, but you can also get a good deal at an RV dealer's parts store on a used hitch(flame suit on). Yesterday, I saw several kinds at the RV store I was at. You won't know the history of if and won't get a warranty, but if you can take it to a trailer hitch shop and have it inspected, you can save some money on one.
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