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Hitches and Hitch Receivers

What parts are there to a hitch and hitch receiver?

Hayman Reece Hitch 
  Hitch Receiver



Firstly, after determining your tow vehicle is legally able to tow the weight of your RV make sure the tow bar itself is rated to carry the loaded weight of the caravan, travel trailer or camper trailer you are intending to tow.  The ADR (Australian Design Rule) compliant tow bar will have a tow bar rating plate. The tow bar will have a compliance plate and this will state its identification, ball weight and trailer weight capacity. For tow ball rating see our article "Tow Balls and Tow Bars"

Heavy Duty Tow BarFor heavy duty towing, where the tow ball weight exceeds 125kg, you will require a tow bar that has a 50mm x 50mm hitch box for a hitch receiver.  These 50mm hitch box tow bars are especially designed for a removable ball mount that slides into the square hole.  These adjustable types of hitch receivers will allow for the use of heavy duty weight distribution hitch.



Weight Distribution Shank Weight Distribution Shank

The weight distribution ball mount shank slides into the hitch receiver.  There is a hole in the length section of the shank through which a hitch pin slides to secure it to the tow bar or hitch receiver.  As hitches can be expensive to replace rather than simply securing it with a D clip (or spring clip) it is best to buy a hitch pin lock. 

Lockable hitch pin
Weight Distribution Adjustable Head Shaft There are vertical holes on the adjustable head section to enable movement of the ball mount head, up or down the shaft to get the required height.  If the tow ball height is not correct then this will result in the front of the tow vehicle having a ‘nose up’ or ‘nose down’ look.


Weight Distribution Components

Hitch Head and Ball Mount

The tow ball is bolted to the top of the hitch head and the bottom of the hitch head has a hole or space on each side into which the weight distribution bars sit.

Weight Distribution Bars

Weight Distribution BarsThere are single bar weight distribution systems and two bar weight distribution systems available.  The load capacity of the bars can vary so ensure you get the correct ones to take the load of your caravan or trailer eg: 550 lbs (250 kg), 750 lbs (340 kg) and 1000 lbs (450 kg) capacity ball load weights.  See Hitches & Weight Distribution

For example, Hayman Reese Weight Distribution Systems, caters for several weight requirements with their Classic and Standard style set ups.  The Hayman Reese ‘Classic’ comprises the traditional welded head, trunnion style weight distribution bars with integrated cams and lightweight durable cast steel shanks.  The ‘Standard’ Hayman Reese kit has round, hook style high performance spring bars with integrated cams and the same shank as the ‘Classic’ kit and also a light weight cast steel head.  These round spring bars are said to allow for more clearance for trailers with a 6” chassis.

The Hayman Reese weight distribution systems cater for all types of ball weight.  The ‘Mini’ system is for ball weights up to 80 kg, the ‘Intermediate’ four bar kit for ball weights between 80 kg – 135 kg, the 600lb/275 kg kit is for ball weights between 135kg – 275 kg and the 800lb kit for ball weights between 275 kg – 365 kg. 

For the extreme there is a 1200lb kit for the ball weight range between 365kg and 545kg and their website states for towing loads in excess of 3,500kg, a 70mm towball is required.

For the extreme there is a 1200lb kit for the ball weight range between 365kg and 545kg and their website states for towing loads in excess of 3,500kg, a 70mm towball is required.

Weight Distribution Snap-Up Brackets

Weight Distribution Bar PinsThe weight distribution snap up brackets attach to the draw bar or ‘A’ frame on each side of your caravan or trailer. The chain attached to the end of the weight distribution bar links onto the bracket and the chain is locked into place with a pin. 

It is best to elevate or jack up the nose of the caravan or trailer using the jockey wheel after the RV is coupled to the tow ball prior to attempting to connect the weight distribution bars and leverage the chains to lock them into place on the snap up bracket using the snap up handle.  This takes some strain off the lifting process particularly for heavy RV’s.  Once the hitching process is complete it lifts and transfers the ball weight.  The tow vehicle and the trailer should look level and there should be no ‘nose up’ or ‘nose down’ look about the tow vehicle.

Detailed weight distribution installation instructions are available on the internet so you can do a Google search here to locate. 

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Weight Distribution Bar BracketsCaution: Always keep your feet and legs clear of the weight distribution spring bar and snap up handle.  Sometimes when disconnecting the weight distribution bars if you haven’t jacked the RV up enough to take off sufficient weight/strain on the springs bars there will be a ‘spring back’ effect and the snap up handle can quickly jerk in a downward direction. If the snap up handle connects with your knee or any part of your body it can cause considerable injury and pain.


Pintle Hook Mounts and Pintle Hooks

Pintle HookThe pintle hook is mainly used for very heavy duty towing but for those of you towing heavy duty caravans and travel trailers there is the option to attach a rated pintle to a pintle hook mount and a lunette eye ring on the draw bar or ‘A’ frame of the caravan or trailer.  A pintle hitch adaptor is available for those of you who already have weight distribution shanks or adjustable ball mounts.

Pintle Hook HitchThere are reports the pintle hitch is noisier than a ball hitch due to the ‘play’ between the eye and the hook so each time you accelerate or brake you will get a clunking sound.  Vehicle Components VC Conical Ball Coupling can overcome this by locking a conventional ring into place so there is no play in between the towing vehicle and the trailer. 

A combination pintle/ball hitch is also available.

Front Mounted Hitch Receivers

Front Mounted Hitch ReceiverThese front mounted hitch receivers can be used to reverse your caravan or travel trailer into those tight or difficult places.  The tow ball and hitch is on the front of the tow vehicle and this enables you to have a clear view of the placement of your RV.

Accessories can be purchased such as a hitch receiver winch mounting plate or a hitch step which can enable you to reach deep into the engine bay of the vehicle.  In areas where it snows a snow plough can be attached to the front hitch receiver.



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