Towing different equipment with your work trucks? Then maybe the multi-hitch is for you.
Ask a mason contractor, as we did, what the first accessory put on a new work truck and the answer is usually a trailer hitch. We may disagree on the importance of a V-8 versus a 6 or Chevy versus Ford, but everyone agrees: get a hitch.
While most trucks can be ordered from the factory, or fitted at the dealership, with hitch receivers, most will not be equipped with the attaching point, the hitch ball. This acknowledges the fact that there are many different ball sizes in use, often causing confusion and on-the-job complexity.
At the recent SEMA show, the big aftermarket vehicle equipment get-together, several companies were exhibiting multi-ball hitches. These units slide into the existing receiver (two-inch ID) and allow two to four different attaching points to be available.
The simplest is the rotating two-ball hitch. A safety pin locks the rotating carrier in place on the steel carrier bar inserted into the hitch receiver. The unit is rotated with one of two sizes on top for the trailer tongue to engage. The carrier bar is normally inserted and locked in the receiver and only the ball unit is rotated or moved.
Jeff Warner, regional sales manager for Best Hitch, Springville, Utah, notes that their QuickDraw hitch system uses pull pins with safety locking cotter pins to prevent the retaining pin from sliding out of the hole after years of wear. The QuickDraw Magnum system and it is more of a system than just a hitch allows two or three balls to be employed on the hitch.
"In addition, the mount has a great deal of flexibility in height relative to the centerline of the receiver," explains Warner. When you work with a heavy load in the bed of the truck or the rear springs start to sag, maintaining the right hitch height for the trailer being towed becomes complicated. "The Magnum hitch allows the ball to be raised 5.5 inches above the receiver centerline to compensate," Warner says. "Or if the trailer tow bar is lower than you expected, the ball carrier could be lowered up to 5.5 inches. When not in use, the Magnum can be swung under the bumper, out of the way."
The Magnum hitches all feature 10,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, a Class IV rating, and a maximum of 1,000 pounds of tongue weight. For heavy loads using a pintle hook, they offer a special unit that can haul up to 16,000 pounds.
The idea of the multi-ball hitch seems so logical that you almost expect it's been around for a long time. Not so. David Ortiz, vice president and partner at Hammerlock Industries, Miami, Fla., lays claim to the development and patent for the concept. Hammerlock offers, as you would expect, a variety of hitches using this idea, but they also offer some of the minor accessories that are easily overlooked but that can be important to a contractor. For example, while all hitch companies offer safety pins to secure the hitch to the receiver or, in the case of rotating elements, the hitch ball carrier to the hitch mount, Hammerlock offers a locking pin in 5/8 or 1/2 inch sizes.
But the main business at Hammerlock is their line of Hitch-Rite quick change hitches. Unlike the QuickDraw system, many of the Hitch-Rite units slide directly into the receiver (two-inch). Others offer a height adjustment through the use of a heavy mount; obviously, all offer multiple balls in rotating units. Capacities range from a low of 5,000 pounds with a 2-5/16 inch ball to 16,000 pounds with a pintle hook attaching point. If your equipment uses a clevis pin connection, that can be accommodated with several models with lower (7,500 pound) capacity and three additional ball sizes.
As an example, the Hitch-Rite HR-5700 has a 10,000 pound capacity, 1-7/8, 2-5/16 and 2 inch balls in a rotating turret, 12 inches of vertical adjustment and three receiver locks, all included. Oh, and it comes in red or black for that custom look.
Look Out Back
Sometimes a gadget is just a gadget; other times, it's something that can come in handy but might not justify the cost; a third class is an idea that makes sense but can only be justified by some of the potential users. HitchCam is probably one of the latter class of "tech toys" available today.
According to David Mendoza, president of HitchCam, "HitchCam is a rearview camera system that integrates with a standard two-inch trailer hitch receiver and provides a wide-angle view of the area behind a truck. It shows the driver a four to five foot high blind spot behind the vehicle that can extend back as much as 20 feet. It's a sturdy, low-light level video camera in an aluminum hitch cover. The 3.5-inch color monitor in the cab allows the driver to see what is invisible in the normal mirrors."
The National Highway Traffic Administration says that there is one backing accident in the U.S. on the average of every minute and a half, with most caused by the driver being unable to see the obstacle. Whether use of the HitchCam will lower your insurance rates or not, it might be something to investigate.
Toolboxes and Sleds
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