Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

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Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby WizardOfOdds » Thu May 19, 2016 7:45 pm

Tried to install a brand new hitch into a brand new Jeep and ran into a problem. The hitch has mounting plates on each end that attach to the inboard sides of the port & starboard frame rails. The problem is the mounting plates are a full half inch (well 11-12 mm) too close together to span the distance between the Jeep frame rails. I suppose too short is better than too long, but a half inch is absurd. I sent a note to eTrailer and am awaiting a reply.

I fear I will not get much help from them, so if anyone has experience with such a problem, what did you do? I suspect quarter inch thick washers are not a good idea but maybe I could fabricate two quarter inch thick shim plates to place between the rails and hitch plates.

Any help would be valued. Thanks in advance.
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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby Redneck Teepee » Thu May 19, 2016 11:50 pm

I would think that maybe you got shorted some shim plates. First off it would be awfully hard to get an exact fit (length) between the inside of your frame rails with mounting flanges unless you removed the bumper and could slip it in from there. I'm guessing that 1/2" is so you can get it between the rails and then add a shim plate on 1 or both sides.

These hitches are probably computer cut and jigged for assembly/welding so I would think just to be short 1/2" would be a long shot. Of course I'm not there so I may be in left field.

Do the instructions give any hint or details?
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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby WizardOfOdds » Fri May 20, 2016 7:56 am

First, thanks for the reply, it is very comforting to know some readers care.

I agree with you, it seems to me they would manufacture them on the short side and supply shims, but none are supplied or mentioned in their ads, instructions, videos, or even in the reviews (at least those I have read so far)
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I ordered the hitch eTrailer specifies for the 2016 Patriot Jeep
https://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Hitch/Jeep/Patriot/2016/C13081.html?vehicleid=2016305998
which has an installation video
https://www.etrailer.com/tv-install-trailer-hitch-2015-jeep-patriot-c13081.aspx
and on-line installation manual
https://www.etrailer.com/instructions.aspx?pn=C13081
I have watched the video several times (including those of previous years and other hitches) and never saw any mention of shims anywhere in the videos or installation instructions. I hope they will step up to the problem and offer proper shims.

I installed a Curt/eTrailer hitch on another vehicle with no problems, but that one mounted to the bottom of the frame rails and had adequate "slop" using extra large holes to insure you could get bolts into the frame rail threaded holes.
Last edited by WizardOfOdds on Fri May 20, 2016 8:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Tale of 2 Trailers thread http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=61451
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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby lrrowe » Fri May 20, 2016 7:58 am

Looks to me like spacers would work. I myself would be looking at a plate rather then washers, etc for more hitch to vehicle contact. Have you tried the several jeep forums out there. These forums usually have a ton of info for items like this.
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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby Redneck Teepee » Fri May 20, 2016 8:39 am

I would say that by watching their install video that you are indeed a 1/2" short for whatever reason. :x :cry:
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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby Dale M. » Fri May 20, 2016 9:42 am

If total distance is 1/2 inch (to short) I would consider 1/4 plate for a spacer on each side ... But unless you are desperate to go someplace I would at lease wait for e-trailer's response... Obviously manufacturer is in error on its construction of hitch... And be aware of bolt length to have full penetration into threaded portion of chassis/backup plate/nuts...

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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby 3GKnight » Fri May 20, 2016 10:07 am

I would add that you don't want to just space it with washers. Part of the holding force is the 'face to face' contact between the flange and frame. Even a grade 8 bolt with a couple of washers to space it will be much weaker. If you need to space it, a piece the same size and shape as the hitch flange is what's needed.

I'd certainly wait for a response from the supplier first though.
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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby fm-usa » Fri May 20, 2016 11:51 am

DO wait for MFG response.
Improper spacers like washers will put extra unwanted twist force on the bolts.
Is it possible, FULL RV in a 48 Sq.Ft. footprint & stay under 500Lbs wet?
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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby antilies » Sat May 28, 2016 1:02 am

If indeed you are in need of spacers a good place to look for them would be the local U-Haul. They often have extra parts that can be given for a little bit of nothing. In fact there is no way for them to do a proper sale of them and they should be free, unless the U-Haul guy is trying to line his pockets.

As a hitch installer for the above mentioned company, I often run into issues like this. Most of the time it is that the "wings" on the hitch are welded crooked or they were pinched in during shipping. The only way to know that would be to look at those mounting flanges in comparison to the cross tube for proper angle. In your case 90 degrees. If they are in fact "pinched in" than there is no harm in simply torquing the bolts to the listed spec, as you are only putting the hitch back into proper shape.

A note of caution though. This ONLY works if the bolt surface is out of alignment and the welded portion is right. (Give or take 1/16") If the weldment is off by much more than that you have a badly welded product and require replacement. To figure that out take a measure from frame rail to frame rail. The spacing on the outside of the welded AND bolt surfaces should be within a 16th of the train rail measurement.

I know this was long winded, but I hope I've helped.

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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby WizardOfOdds » Sat May 28, 2016 1:43 pm

Antilies,

Thanks for sharing your valuable experience, it is what makes this forum such a great resource.

The misfit turned out to be a bit larger than my picture shows, in part because the tightening I did on the side shown drew a small gap on the other side (which was finger tightened before the plate was flush with the rail).

After removing the hitch, I measured the outside width of it at the welds and at the mounting holes. Both came out 35 13/16 to 35 7/8 inch. As far as I could measure the plates are perpendicular to the cross bar and the plates and are flat, so I do not believe they were bent in shipping (the box was almost intact).

Next I measured the distance between the frame rails. This showed the hitch to be cut at least 5/8 inch too short. Next, I took the hitch and Jeep to a local hitch & RV shop, and they measured the difference as even larger (but they did not apply the Pythagorean correction I used to correct for the fact that you cannot get a straight line measurement). Combining the professional assessments with mine, I decided to return the hitch.

I plan to fill in more details soon, but I wanted you to know I read your post and appreciate your help.
WizardOfOdds: Chalet shaped rag roof clam shell TIER drop for 4 cylinder tow
Tip Top Tier Drop thread http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=56232
Unusual Designs thread http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=64495
Tale of 2 Trailers thread http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=61451
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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby Iconfabul8 » Sat May 28, 2016 3:51 pm

Maybe this was brought up. Are you sure your TV has never been rear ended and repaired? Just a thought.
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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby fm-usa » Sat May 28, 2016 8:16 pm

One hitch can fit several vehicles, hence the narrower width, which said excess space is taken up via SOLID spacers.
*IF* you're planning on pulling a fairly light trailer, fender washers will suffice until plates can be bought or made.

I have on stock a 3/8" and 1/2" thick I-Beam that I milk pieces off of. Had that I-Beam for the past 20 years.

IF ALL ELSE FAILS...
Maybe a metal shop will have a SCRAP box you can fish through.
Price might be right, FREE. Usually is for me on few and small pieces.
:thumbsup:
Last edited by fm-usa on Sat May 28, 2016 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Is it possible, FULL RV in a 48 Sq.Ft. footprint & stay under 500Lbs wet?
SHE thinks teardrops are "cute" but I prefer a SKOSH more room & at 63+ the
body doesn't react/extract/move/mend/bend/lend or work like it use'ta.
NOW! That unwanted guests moving in, Mr. 'Arther I. Tus' & Ms. DVT (grrr)
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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby antilies » Sat May 28, 2016 9:14 pm

I'm glad I could lend some insight. Sorry that it didn't fix your problem, but at least we know where the problem is.
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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby H.A. » Tue May 31, 2016 1:28 pm

...
Last edited by H.A. on Fri Jul 08, 2016 7:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hitch Issue - Can You Help?

Postby antilies » Fri Jun 03, 2016 9:35 pm

If it was an install in the shop I work at, I'd put 1/4" spacers on each side and run the bolts to torque. By spacers I mean the inch-and-a-half square, round hole plates that ship with many hitches.

If I was doing this on my own truck, i'd do the same thing. With the exception of rechecking the torque every 6 months or so. In all fairness to the OP this is a common issue with hitch makers. The vehicle they got to use as the basis for their hitch design is a bit different from the one you have. Further there are always misalignments and manufacturing flubs. A half inch difference is still alot, but it's not uncommon for 1/4 to 3/8 inch difference.

To contradict myself even further, I've installed this hitch 20+ times. Never have I seen one that far off. That hitch should be replaced.
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