Good old tow balls ......

Submitted: Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:19
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Having seen many different types of hitches around i have to ask the question, has anyone had any problems with "traditional" tow balls, i would have to say i have never seen one that has failed ..... yes i have seen some that have been loose for some time and come off, simply not checked and some badly worn and come adrift, again probally years old and not checked ....
Reason i ask is i have thought of changing my coupling to some of the others around but can not convince myself that the one i have is not going to last and at least i know i can hook up to 95% of trailers around .....

Cheers Joe
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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:28

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:28
Joe, I haven't used a tow ball for over 10 years. Polybloc hitches like Treg are definitely much quieter and secure and allow more articulation. If i was using a ball when i had a major axle failure on my trailer early last year, i would have done damage to my towbar and trailer A frame and possible my Patrol's chassis due to lack of a balls articulation. Its extra money but its worth in my opinion. regards Michael
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Follow Up By: Member - Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:39

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:39
that is one thing i have looked at and i do agree, the "quite" part is interesting as i cant say i can hear "noise" from the hitch but maybe it is .... very interesting, thanks for that..
Joe
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Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 07:46

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 07:46
Unfortunately, I have gone the other way. Previous trailer had a Treg with polyblock hitch. New one has ball. The difference is considerable. The poly smoothed out towing by absorbing little shocks. Much quieter. I'll bet it took strain off the transmission as well. In time I will definitely get another Tregg for the new trailer.
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Follow Up By: Patrol22 - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:29

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:29
Michael.....I have a hyland coupling on my camper that is a ball type hitch.....checking its operation against a friend Tvan (with a TREG) it seems that there is now noticeable difference in the articulation properties of either. I chose the hyland as my Mrs is the worlds worst at giving directions and the ball type is easier to couple IMHO. But I do see where the articulating properties of the polybloc came in very handy for you.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:59

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:59
Patrol, I agree re the relative ease of a ball v tregg when doing the hitching up. I found however that I got much better at it after a while and especially afterI started giving the pin a squirt of silicone spray before hitching. Using a better quality jockey wheel also made the movement of the trailer far easier (big pneumatic tyre). I no longer use a trailer for serious off road stuff, so the articulation is no longer an issue. The big thing I miss about the Tregg polyblock is the quietness and smoothness when travelling
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Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:31

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:31
Hi Joe

I've seen a couple that have snapped off at the neck. That is one good reason for safety chains of course. It is probably wise to replace them after a few year of heavy use when travelling on the open road; they aren't expensive.

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Follow Up By: Member - Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:42

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:42
yes the only ones i have seen snapped turned out to a loose nut .... the chains are there for a reason eh
Cheers guys
Joe
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 12:15

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 12:15
Hi Joe

Yes, and we have had to use them! Not a ball failure, as we have a different set up. Some years ago, someone was coming here with a load on a trailer and when his wife got out to open the gate, NO TRAILER :O. The ball had snapped, and they found the trailer a littleway back on the road wedged firmly between two trees. I'd say no chains either.

We are in the south west, and live near Bridgetown.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Joe Grace Doomadgee - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 23:46

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 23:46
Thanks, i seemed to think you were around Jerry/Bremer way for some reason .... some very interesting comments on this, i may look at a ball coupling still but have a "shock adsorber" system someware in it, best of both worlds, still interested in the "noise" the others comment about...
Cheers guys
Joe
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jan 09, 2011 at 00:04

Sunday, Jan 09, 2011 at 00:04
Hi Joe, yes, I'd mentioned to you once that we used to have a property south of Jerry (half way between the Gairdner bin and Boxwood Hill). We spent most weekend and our holidays there working hard for nought. We could see the sand dunes near Bremer, but only went there occasionally to get rural supplies - no time for fun when farming.

I have not noticed any undue noise from a ball coupling, but WDH bars can make a few clunks and groans occasionally. We have and AT35 on our caravan, but combination hitches like the Hyland gives the best of both worlds with full articulation and an easy to hitch ball.

Mh
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Reply By: Member - Marc Luther B (WA) - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:47

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:47
Hi Joe

I only use the traditional tow ball, and you know what the roads are like where I am, they have never failed me.

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Follow Up By: Member - Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:58

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 00:58
Yep that i do Marc........
I was checking out one of those big "fifth wheeler" vans and i noticed it had a "tow ball" for the coupling and that thing would have had to have been worth $75,000 grand easy ..... i would assume they would only use the most reliable on something like that eh .. food for thought ..
Cheers
Joe
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Follow Up By: cycadcenter - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 04:50

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 04:50
I tow a an equipment trailer in the USA with an F-350 with a 20,000 lb hitch coupled with a 20,000 lb forged tonge and a 20,000 rated 2 5/16" ball with 1 1/4 shank and never had a problem.

Bruce
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 07:08

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 07:08
I rolled a trailer one and a half times on the GRR many years ago.
It stayed attached to the camper and the camper stayed on its wheels.
It was a Treg coupling. I am sure that the lot would have rolled if it had been a conventional ball.

Cheers,
Peter
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:34

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:34
hmmm havent I seen this post semowhere else??
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Follow Up By: Joe Grace Doomadgee - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 23:54

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 23:54
may be a strange question but is it possible that the camper may NOT have rolled at all if it was a "ball" ?????? i will assume it swayed out to roll and if it hits the point where the ball restricts it to roll any further it would probally bring it back into control, it would take a heap of force to effect a roll of the car attached to it .... the same principle as the "load bars" talked about above, it "shares" the load with the car ..... and makes it far more controllable ...
Other way of looking at it is you could tow it with a rope, you would not feel it even if it rolled, swayed or whatever but you have lost the control of it in doing so....
Cheers
Joe
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Reply By: AGNI4x4 - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 08:17

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 08:17
Apart from the allowing extra angle of movement I think with a Tregg type hitch the biggest advantage is that it absorbs the impact of vibration from the towbar / coupling assembly. After hours of this type of vibration and impact this is what creates the fatigue cracks that can lead to their failure. Having seen the effect and how it can literally destroy trailers to a skeleton the more you can isolate this shock from the hitch the better. For use on heavy corrogations I'd personally only use a Tregg type.
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:40

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:40
Hi AGNI,
Mate I have towed with a ball and weight distribution system for about 40 years now and in my experience you dont get vibration with a WD system.
Car and trailer become one unit. A properly adjusted ball should not vibrate either.
Mind you, WDHs don't work in rough off road conditions.
Cheers, Bruce.
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Follow Up By: AGNI4x4 - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 11:43

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 11:43
Bruce fair call .................. but I'm talking about impact shock as from heavy corrogations more so than vibrations (wrong wording I guess). On further reading would have to agree with others re once the weight goes over a certian point then the Tregg type may become less satisfactory. But in saying that it would be impossible to take a full size van in some places where my Tambo camper has been, so hence it comes back to severity of conditions it's used under I guess ?
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 12:18

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 12:18
"Mind you, WDHs don't work in rough off road conditions" ?

Statement needs clarification; they don't stop working on rough ground.
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Follow Up By: Member - Marc Luther B (WA) - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 13:45

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 13:45
Hi Mh

As I previosuly stated, I have always used a traditional towball, and never a problem. You know what the roads are like where I am.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: - mazcan - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 15:05

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 15:05
hi all
i have never used anything other than a tow-ball for towing and
have always made sure it is done up tightly with a decent ring spanner and always used grease

i have towed many trailers /3 different caravans including an 8 month trip around oz and also farm machinery for 45yrs
i have never experienced the so called noise that some talk of

which is imho - is caused by loose/or badly worn and dry un-greased tow-balls--- and have never ever broken one off
the only time i have seen other peoples towballs snap off is when they have run loose from not been done up tight in the first place

but i'm not condeming treg or hylander as they have merrit in design
where oscillation in various multi- directions is needed offrd etc

the newest one to recently come to light is the 'mchitch' which has been developed on the universal yoke principal
www.mchitch.com.au
i have no connection what so-ever with the product
cheers
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Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:20

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:20
Hi Joe,

Some years ago Caravan and Motorhome shot a DVD of their trip from Brisbane to Darwin.

Accompanying them was Roy Weise principal of Sunland Caravans. Gill Schott was towing the then new Blue Heeler which was atached to Gills troopy with a Treg type hitch. Traveling the outback Queensland rough roads was, from all appearances, very stressful to Gill and the continual hammering the tow bar and hitch were getting was very obvious from the sounds in the DVD.

This was such a problem that somewhere along the way, outback Queensland, they went to the expense of ditching the treg and changing to a ball coupling.

The difference was extremely noticeable immediately, both in the quieter sound and the lack of stress in Gills face. The main problem with the Treg type hitches is, as far as I know, is that you cannot fit a weight distribution hitch to the outfit as the tregs are not designed for that type of setup.

I make the observation that Tregs are fine for the lighter loads such as camper trailers but not for a heavier load such as a caravan.
Roothy makes a very clear comment in that same DVD that, I quote, "Tregs are fine if you intend towing your trailer on its roof, but for a caravan they in fact don't provide enough stability". or words to that effect.

I agree with John Rooth on this one.
Case in point;
My nephew has a Kimberly Camper, weight about 1.5 tonne, we weighed it with our cattle scales, and I got him to do a test run on his car using my 2.2 tonne van, again verified by the cattle scales.

His comment was that my van weighs a lot less than his camper because it felt lighter on his car. He took some convincing that his camper was in fact lighter than my van. that is when I bought in the cattle scales and weighed his camper and verified it at 1.5 tonne.

As I explained to him the difference was the weight distribution hitch and the way it locks the vehicle and van together as a unit while still maintaining articulation. Sure, you take the WD system off if in rough country to allow more articulation but for highway traveling they are more preferable must for any trailer over 1 tonne.

I first towed with a WD system in 1972 and immediately was blown away by the difference and prefer not to tow anything over a tonne with out them.
I don't know if they have devised a treg hitch which can take a WD system as yet as I have not seen one, but then they don't let me out all that often LOL.
Cheers, Bruce.

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restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:29

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:29
A further thought just came to mind and that is that the Kedron ( read Gall) boys are fitting a ball coupling to the vans they manufacture. The couplings they fit do provide a very high level of articulation but they are still a ball coupling as this suits a WD system. They are in a position to fit the best and their reputation stands or falls on such things.
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Follow Up By: youngharry52 - Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 13:59

Monday, Jan 10, 2011 at 13:59
Hi Bruce,

The Kedron boys are now using the McHitch coupling (Google will find it). Great hitch, the only problem being that the heads of the WDH bars are not aligned to the articulation point of the hitch causing the chain hangers to slide up the A frame in a tight turn.....

Regards

Chris
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Reply By: Bonz (Vic) - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:35

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:35
Once you get into the bigger vans etc, the ball is the only thing you can use, so I learned over Christmas at the cvan park
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Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:57

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 09:57
Can't see how the Treg has that much difference in articulation than a Hyland??

If the ball coupling is set up correctly with the slack adjusted correctly I have not noticed any undue noise in the coupling.
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Reply By: Hairy (WA) - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 12:27

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 12:27
Gday,
Yep.....Ive seen plenty of bent tongues because balls don't have enough articulation.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: landseka - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 12:49

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 12:49
Enough of that on a 'family' forum please! ROTFL
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Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 18:42

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 18:42
Ball couplings have an articulation of something like 20%. With 3 tonne and a sharp dip or crest, damage could be done; but these are not on normal roads.

Certainly the sideways 360º rotation of the off road hitches may in the case of a trailer rollover prevent the car from going over too - but the safety chains sometimes do that job!

When I was a young child, we dragged our caravan to our coastal holiday destination over rough roads and the ups and downs of the sand hills to get into our camp - all with a pin hitch. We thought ball hitches were the bees knees when i came to articulation.

Mh
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Reply By: Member - Josh- Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 20:04

Saturday, Jan 08, 2011 at 20:04
This what happens when you roll a triler with a ball and it doesn't let go!!!!!Image Could Not Be Found
This would not happen with a tregg or orac hitch

Josh
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Follow Up By: - mazcan - Sunday, Jan 09, 2011 at 12:47

Sunday, Jan 09, 2011 at 12:47
hi
josh
now thats what i would call a well done genuine olliver
cheers
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Follow Up By: - mazcan - Sunday, Jan 09, 2011 at 12:54

Sunday, Jan 09, 2011 at 12:54
hi all
it also demonstrates how a heavy duty tow-ball that is done up tight can stand up to severe stress without breaking off
i always have and always will trust a h-d-t/ball if correctly installed
cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Josh- Sunday, Jan 09, 2011 at 15:57

Sunday, Jan 09, 2011 at 15:57
Apparently it made a fair mess of the trailer. Thankfully it wasn't me that caused the bent tow bar. I was amazed that the ball didn't snap off. The other point here is to regulary check that the ball can be undone. Had to remove a ball with a grinder once, had a shifter with a 4 foot bar on it and couldn't move it. I guess it comes down to maintanace which is often the cause of a lot of failures.

Josh
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Reply By: Joe Grace Doomadgee - Sunday, Jan 09, 2011 at 00:07

Sunday, Jan 09, 2011 at 00:07
All VERY interesting, reminds me of the "split vrs tubeless" debate .....
Now i know i have seen the ball hitches with the hydraulic brakes that use a threaded shaft and attached to the ball coupling allowing it to rotate a full circle so rolling over is solved........ BUT we all still use chains so that would stop it at some point
I also reccollect towing a site van in the Pilbara that had a pivot system on the hitch with a heavy spring system on it and it took ALL of the shock loading out of towing, it was a breeze to tow .....
Still with all the above i think i will stick to the ball for now and try to remember the old hitch we used to use.. and get one made up.
Cheers and thanks for the info all.
Joe
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