Tow ball greasing

Submitted: Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 15:55
ThreadID: 140098 Views:3350 Replies:17 FollowUps:38
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What's everyone's thoughts on greasing a tow ball for a caravan? If greased, what product?
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Reply By: HKB Electronics - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 15:59

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 15:59
Depends on tow ball and where you travel, on bitumen I grease any tow ball. If you travel on dirt, gravel and sand then I still grease but I have a sealed tow pin setup. If a ball under the same conditions then keeping the grit out of the grease might be an issue.
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Reply By: RMD - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 16:21

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 16:21
Although still dirty, I use a Moly Spray which dries to a lubricating film. Doesn't attract dust much at all. Also used on spring leaves, between leaves and where slipper pads of some springs require to be allowed to move.
If I have to use grease, Moly grease or Teflon grease.
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Follow Up By: Member - Scrubby (VIC) - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:39

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:39
Ditto, spot on RMD,
I entered the metal engineering trade 60 years ago, nothing has changed, if you have a metal to metal joint it must be lubricated, the same with leaf springs, that`s what the holes in them towards the end of the leaf are for.

Scrubby.
I don`t know where i`m going but i`m enjoying the journey.

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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 09:49

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 09:49
If leaf springs need to be lubricated I would like to know why the manufacturer does not do it.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
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Follow Up By: Batt's - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 16:56

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 16:56
I always used the same grease I have in the grease gun I use for the drive shafts ball joints etc I think mine is lithium based.

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Reply By: CSeaJay - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 16:58

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 16:58
For 3 decades now (yes I am grey) I have never greased a ball joint, or my current DO45.
Never any problem, not required IMO
When you grease them, 1) it attracts dust and sand which becomes a grinding paste, and 2) it makes a mess of everything it touches
Hope this helps
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Follow Up By: Member - Scrubby (VIC) - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:50

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:50
CSeaJay,
Farmers grease the moving joints on their cropping and other machinery and these machines work in dust and dirt most of their life.

Scrubby.
I don`t know where i`m going but i`m enjoying the journey.

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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 21:22

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 21:22
Yep thats right,
Moving joints are not a towball though
And farmers dont have slacks bumping onto greasy joints on a Sunday
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Follow Up By: RMD - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 22:05

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 22:05
Why do operators grease the pins and joints on earthmoving equipment and road making machinery? They work in far more dust and grit than a towball does.
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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 23:03

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 23:03
“They work in far more dirt and grind than a towball does”
Yes, and they are engineered as a greasable joints.
And many farmers and operators who grease those greasable parts do not grease their towball!
If you look at a towball that are decades old and used without grease you will not see any wear.
You may grease yours if you wish, probably wont make much difference other than peace of mind and the often greased shin or jeans ;-)
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Follow Up By: qldcamper - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 07:51

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 07:51
Earthmoving gear is deliberately over greased for the flushing affect keeping crap from getting in to the working parts of the joint.
In mining every machine has auto lube fitted before delivery and when set up correctly there is grease dripping off every joint of the pit machines.
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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 19:00

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 19:00
It is fair to say there are two schools and also fair to say neither is wrong.
Yes you can grease it and do it regularly and clean it regularly and get it on your shins, or you run it dry.
Neither has caused it to fail.
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Follow Up By: qldcamper - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 19:09

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 19:09
The towball will show signs of wear and yes if it shows signs of wear replace the ball.
What about tbe coupling on the trailer, you wont see the wear in there till it lets go.
Dont kid yourself, metal on metal means wear.
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Reply By: Kazza055 - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 18:58

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 18:58
If it needed to be greased, wouldn't there be a grease nipple there?

Using grease will attract dirt and imagine what she will say when it gets on her white slacks!
AnswerID: 631926

Follow Up By: RMD - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:48

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:48
How many trailer couplings which have override brakes ever get greased? and THEY have a grease nipple, sometimes two.
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Reply By: Gbc.. - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:09

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:09
My ark off-road ball hitch is greasable. It gets whatever grease I have in the Mini gun for doing the swingarms on the camper - multipurpose of some Description.
In sand or dust I’ll leave the hitch hooked up and pull the pin out of the receiver. Keeps everything clean and tidy.
I recall all the cut down tennis balls on the greased tow balls in the 70’s.
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Reply By: Member - pedro1 - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:10

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:10
I use a silicon spray which sets dry , have heard of some others using a plastic bag between the coupling on a ball connection
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Follow Up By: RMD - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:51

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:51
Better if a PTFE bag?
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Reply By: noggins - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:49

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 19:49
I use a folded plastic bag to lube the tow ball.
No grease or stuff to get onto your clean pants.
That was ok but plakky bags are getting scarce these days.



Ron
AnswerID: 631929

Follow Up By: qldcamper - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 07:44

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 07:44
6pack wrappers. Yet another good excuse.
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Reply By: Logan V - Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 21:44

Monday, Jun 01, 2020 at 21:44
Applying grease or other lubricants would create a grinding paste would it not ?
Whereas a dry ball would allow any grit, gravel, etc to simply fall away. to get better opinion Visit here.
AnswerID: 631934

Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 11:03

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 11:03
I have had shocker bush fail and when removed from the car they are packed hard with grit.

Same for back of camper dust builds up everywhere, if its not sealed dust will get in and stay there.
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Reply By: Member - Norm & Lisa - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 06:34

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 06:34
I spray mine ball with silicon spray and spray inside the Hyland hitch. If it gets to dry it's a pain to pop off so keeping it moist makes the job easier. As for dirty shins, I just pop on a plastic cover when not in use or if I can't find what the hell I did with the cover, I always have the old half tennis ball in the box.
Everyday is a holiday
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Reply By: Gbc.. - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 07:50

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 07:50
http://www.haymanreese.com.au/products/hitch-ball-lube

Looks like both and answer and a suggestion for the OP's questions?
AnswerID: 631939

Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 11:04

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 11:04
Manufacturer of my DO35 hitch suggest a lite coating of grease too.
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Reply By: Mark C9 - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 09:43

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 09:43
Once again, the variety of answers just reinforces how the old farts in caravan parks just love to make things up
Metal on metal with wear the ball. Grease will attract dust and wear the ball. Solution, check the ball and replace when needed
But as always, Ask the suppliers. There is a reason they make tow ball lube

AnswerID: 631940

Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 10:02

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 10:02
Once again the knowall is on the ball. :)
Dave.
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Follow Up By: RMD - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 12:23

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 12:23
David M SA
I can't follow your comments, it seems anyone whose views are challenged, immediately calls the poster "a know all" and other comments too. Some even demand the credentials of those giving true but conflicting info to the silly norm believed by many, but are never able to present their ability, understanding or experience in any way.
Mark is often quite accurate and true in what he says.
PS. Why is there a screw adjustment on many ball hitches. No one seems to want to save wear it seems.
If using a towball setup in dust conditions it isn't hard to tie a thick loop of cloth around the tow ball neck to keep out most of the dust and grit IF it is a problem, ie, a dynamic seal.

In a technical sense, it is staggering to hear what some people believe and seem to pass it on their mates and the next generation while good info is not spoken of, and must be censored and ridiculed.. Aussies are strange folk.
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Follow Up By: Mark C9 - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 15:56

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 15:56
David M
I just love how many people with NFI give their opinion rather than researching a subject for themselves.
If you don’t know the facts, its so easy to find out for yourself rather than listen to or make up the rubbish peddled about
Most of the time, the comments are so far from the facts that its laughable.
Some of the advice can be dangerous.
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Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 17:30

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 17:30
"I can't follow your comments"
And therin lies your problem RMD.
Mark. Not even going to bother. Mainly because I can't follow your train of thought.
Dave.
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Follow Up By: Kazza055 - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 18:16

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 18:16
I think the smiley on the end says it all :)
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Follow Up By: Mark C9 - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 18:19

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 18:19
I disagree re the smiley. You cant shitcan someone and make it right by inserting a smiley

David, ask a 10 y/o to explain it for you. (now inserts a Smiley :))
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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 18:58

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 at 18:58
It is fair to say there are two schools and also fair to say neither is wrong.
Yes you can grease it and do it regularly and clean it and get it on your shins, or you run it dry.
Neither has caused it to fail.
1
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Follow Up By: Mark C9 - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 07:34

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 07:34
As always, the best advice is to call the manufacturer who will say to use grease. I understand the theory that grease will attract dust and work as a grinding paste but no grease will cause faster wear.
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Follow Up By: Kazza055 - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 12:17

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 12:17
Tow balls are very cheap and easily replace so why worry about greasing it.

I just replaced my 15 year old ball for a nice shiny one which will probably last another 15 years.
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Follow Up By: Mark C9 - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 12:20

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 12:20
agree. but a metal on metal one squeaks. I do a lot of off roading and replace mine every 12 mths
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Follow Up By: RMD - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 16:23

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 16:23
Kazza
Do a test.
Fit a nice new ball which isn't worn and place it in the hitch. If 15 years old and done some work then the ball will flop around in the hitch. This looseness is something which no one seems to ever know about or consider. When worn the slack is quite impressive, whether you grease it or not, the hitch is usually the most worn section and hasn't even entered the discussion as a factor. If worn and going unnoticed, when a sudden heavy force is applied, the cup section of the hitch just breaks open because of lack of wall thickness/strength. So don't only focus on the ball wear. When connected, Jack up the A frame and watch the slack movement as the hitch rises without taking the ball with it. Surprise surprise to some.
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Reply By: GerryG - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 12:22

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 12:22
I've been towing heavy camp kitchens and toilet/shower trailers throughout the outback for 45 years behind 4WD buses and supply trucks.
Always used 50mm tow balls and never greased them. Never had a problem. I have always presumed that being round and smooth, (bit like the top of my head), any sand/dust that managed to get in there, will fall out, just as easily. Grease it and there it stays .
As RMD says, how many of us bother to keep the adjusting screw that a lot of tow hitches have, adjusted properly. I never had.

And while I'm here, I've always thought that this forum was supposed to be just a general chat area amongst the members. I don't think one needs to qualify their expertise before making a statement. Because if we do, I'll stand to the side.......I'm just a bus driver and I'm not qualified to do anything.
Just my two bobs worth.
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Follow Up By: RMD - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 16:14

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 16:14
Gerry G
I understand many don't grease gear on their rigs, I drove busses with large kitchen trailers through the centre for a while and each bus used had the large drop over ball with hole in top for captive spring loaded bolt/washer.
Sometimes the workshop mechanic also did some driving in the outback and he always greased the large ball units.
We always had them greased. so, there you go two ways.
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Follow Up By: GerryG - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 19:43

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 19:43
RMD
When we meet we must sit down around the camp fire and compare notes.
GerryG
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Follow Up By: RMD - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 23:30

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 23:30
Gerry G
You said you weren't qualified to do anything, not so. If you have driven large machines and towed and backed them into positions with trailer attached as well, you have skills which many will not achieve no matter how long they tow vans around the country.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Jun 04, 2020 at 09:11

Thursday, Jun 04, 2020 at 09:11
"I've been towing heavy camp kitchens and toilet/shower trailers throughout the outback for 45 years behind 4WD buses and supply trucks.
Always used 50mm tow balls and never greased them."

I hope you suitably de-rated the towing capacity those 50mm balls :) :)
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
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Follow Up By: GerryG - Tuesday, Jun 09, 2020 at 21:19

Tuesday, Jun 09, 2020 at 21:19
Now Peter_n_Margaret, I'm going to throw the cat amongst the pigeons. (I've been bush the last few of days and just got back, so haven't kept up with the forum)
50mm tow balls have always been rated at 2000kg, but for a number of years now some 50mm tow balls are rated at 3500kg. It's the latter I have used.
I have, in very slow, first gear situations, snapped the odd 2000kg unit but never a 3500kg one. I've often wondered how a tow ball can have it's rating almost doubled, when comparing them, side by side they look so similar.
Is it as simple as it seems?
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Jun 09, 2020 at 21:43

Tuesday, Jun 09, 2020 at 21:43
Ah, but, .... the rating of a 3,500kg ball is not 3,500kg if the GVM of your truck exceeds 5,000kg....
https://www.nhvr.gov.au/files/201709-0684-vsg16-50mm-ball-couplings.pdf
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
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Follow Up By: GerryG - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2020 at 10:32

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2020 at 10:32
I'm fine with that, bearing in mind that probably 95% of towing vehicles in Australia are exceeding their GVM when their caravan or car trailer is loaded. and heading out of town.
Out in the sticks, a fellows got to do, what a fellows got to do, so we just got on with it.
Anyway, I don't have to worry about it now as I'm retired, sold the business and now drive a 4WD Hino mobile home with a GVM of 8000kg. The worst I'll every tow now is a 12 foot tinnie. My biggest problem now is trying to back the shadow of a tinnie I can't see!
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Wednesday, Jun 10, 2020 at 17:14

Wednesday, Jun 10, 2020 at 17:14
I know what you mean.
I backed into a tree that I could not see a few years back so installed a reversing camera. Very useful devise for all sorts of things.
Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 motorhome
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Reply By: Member - 2208mate - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 13:03

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 13:03
This is a humorous thread and I wouldn't like to derail it with yet another 'feeling'... type answer.. hehe

So instead I would like to ask the folk who subscribe to the 'grinding paste' theory a question..

........I'm sick of buying grinding paste and would like a cheaper alternative, can you show me what I may expect when using caravan ball paste mix... sourced from an Australian caravan ball combo of course?

It does sound like the perfect kit to get rid of a few extra 'thou', in that tricky job.
AnswerID: 631963

Follow Up By: RMD - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 16:08

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 16:08
2208mate
I often collect said paste from caravan ball and hitches, it is great for lapping in valves when doing a regrind after the blown head gasket. Hard to get the correct finer grade for motor cycle valve seating jobs though.
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Reply By: Member - 2208mate - Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 17:20

Wednesday, Jun 03, 2020 at 17:20
Good on ya RMD, wait a mo' until I have stopped laughing.

The image of you that I have in mind, is probably not very complementary. hehe (lurking around old ball joints, on the prowl for just the right bit of..)
I've used a lot of lapping compound and the home made stuff that comes of a van ball joint wouldn't come any where near the quality needed to do any real work.(that's if you can even find any under the ball where excess is quickly squeezed out waiting for the ingress of the tricky road side dust)

...but you may have stumbled over some country containing just the right size grit and composition of carborundum, aluminum oxide, silica or silicon carbide, boron carbide, etc. mixed with the right type of carrier medium to get the job done. More power to you..

Yeah, I'm a sceptic, I think with reason as well.
AnswerID: 631974

Reply By: Iza B - Thursday, Jun 04, 2020 at 18:15

Thursday, Jun 04, 2020 at 18:15
Double layer of plastic bag does it for me. About 60,000 K on the current ball. What's the problem?

Iza
AnswerID: 631994

Follow Up By: axle - Friday, Jun 05, 2020 at 19:33

Friday, Jun 05, 2020 at 19:33
Well .Well ,Well, !! Wots do wee do greeze or not greeze????????????????????????????. Talk about needing to get out.....LOL.

Cheers Axle.
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Follow Up By: Member - FSH00 - Saturday, Jun 06, 2020 at 19:41

Saturday, Jun 06, 2020 at 19:41
I reckon you should greeze axle (=:
Work to live don’t live to work

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Reply By: Ausdigga - Saturday, Jun 06, 2020 at 19:05

Saturday, Jun 06, 2020 at 19:05
Has anyone taken the time to look at or feel how rough the ball cup is on new ball hitches . The light duty ones appear to be sand cast iron and the heavier duty version seems to be steel but still sand cast. Putting a new ball in a new coupling will damage one or the other , yes ??
AnswerID: 632008

Reply By: Ron N - Saturday, Jun 13, 2020 at 20:42

Saturday, Jun 13, 2020 at 20:42
If you want to start a 300-post long, forum war - ask whether towballs need to be greased.

All-metal-to-metal contact movement usually requires a lubricant of some type - but it depends on the level of movement.

Lots of movement of the contacting parts (such as ball joints, steering knuckles, rotating bushes running on pins, as in earthmoving and farming equipment) requires daily greasing. - unless they're sealed.

The grease coating on components fitted with a grease nipple, forms a crude seal on the area where it is being squeezed out.
Regular daily greasing keeps the dirt from entering the working surfaces and removes the old grease and contaminants to the outside, where it improves the crude seal.

Components such as towballs and hitches see little contact surface movement, except when turning sharp corners.
As most tow vehicles spend 90% of their time travelling in a fairly straight line, the movement between the surfaces of the towball and the hitch is very small.

You have to ask yourself this question: If the manufacturers of hitches and towballs believed these components need regular greasing - why is there no grease nipple on the tow hitch or towball?

Some over-ride hitches have grease nipples on the hitch sliding shaft. This is necessary because of the amount of movement incurred when braking action is happening, and because a smooth action is required to generate smooth braking action.

The simple solution to towball and tow hitch lubrication is to utilise a dry spray lube, the same as you use on door lock latches and strikers. This is all the lube that is needed for these components.

Disclaimer - My qualifications are an extensive level of experience in regularly greasing earthmovers and farm equipment, and some towing experience with a few vans, over about 3,000,000 kms, and about 53 years. [:-)

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 632134

Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Saturday, Jun 13, 2020 at 21:02

Saturday, Jun 13, 2020 at 21:02
Just put my Grease Gun on Gumtree. $7.50 plus postage.
Dave.
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