Hitch extension question.

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Hitch extension question.

Postby deceiver » Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:28 pm

I've got a cargo conversion. 14 ft. Aluminum. Don't know the weight but it's not too heavy. Thing is the distance from the hitch to the trailer is about 10" too short. When I turn sharply the end of my bumper will hit about 10" back on the side of the V nose of the trailer. If the hitch were a little longer it wouldn't be able to hit. Yes, I have a dent in the diamond plate of the trailer when I turned sharply while backing into a campsite.

Here's a crude drawing of my dillema.

hitch.jpg
hitch.jpg (31.02 KiB) Viewed 1958 times


I called the company that made the trailer and they said that they couldn't extend the trailer tongue (aluminum) and have structural integrity. They suggested I extend the hitch which would help I guess.

Right now my hitch extends about 6" If I got a 10-12 inch extension for my hitch to extend the ball out away from the back of the truck would it be structurally sound and not put too much weight on the towing package of my truck? I've got a Ford F-150 with towing package so it's not just a bumper ball but a trailer hitch.

Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 10.24.53 PM.jpg
Screen Shot 2016-03-16 at 10.24.53 PM.jpg (36.41 KiB) Viewed 1958 times


I'm wondering if anyone knows about this stuff and having about 15" of extension on the truck would be a mistake or not. I'm thinking the mechanical advantage of the ball out that far with weight pushing down on it might break something. Everywhere I look that has extensions seem to talk about using them to extend for things like bike racks even though they are rated for 5000 or 6000 pounds.

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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby Shadow Catcher » Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:39 am

It is possible to extend the trailer end but would require a major modification and welding aluminum (TIG) unless you have some one very competent is iffy. you did not say what class the trailer hitch is but I would guess class 2 or 3 which is good to 300 to 600 lbs tongue weight.
I did a google search for trailer hitch extension problems and there are some potential ones, but your situation, very short coupled may warrant a try.
One result http://www.airforums.com/forums/f464/anyone-using-a-hitch-extender-98894.html
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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby Padilen » Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:10 am

The pic is what is called Jackknifed. At that angle the tongue /front of trailer is being shoved. Trying changing your backing technique.
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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby absolutsnwbrdr » Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:47 am

Padilen wrote:The pic is what is called Jackknifed. At that angle the tongue /front of trailer is being shoved. Trying changing your backing technique.


If he's trying to maneuver into a tight campsite, its not his technique. I extended the tongue on my camper exactly for this purpose. I can get the trailer at <90 angle to my car, and I've needed to do so many times. Not all campsites are wide open spaces.



Deceiver, I bought one of those hitch extensions for the rear of my teardrop, so I could use a little cargo tray. The extension came with a disclaimer that said it will decrease the capacity of the hitch, but I can't imagine it would decrease it below the tongue weight of your trailer. Check with the label that is on the extension.
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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby lrrowe » Thu Mar 17, 2016 8:52 am

In defense of deceiver and to support Padilen,
I have been towing trailers for 45+ years and I have made the mistake of backing at too much of an angle and have hurt either my trailer of TV. It does happen when you get careless or just try to move another inch or two. Now I have learned where the danger point is and stop my backing sooner then I used to when getting close to being in trouble.

I have thought about the extenders before but gave up on them because of my intutitive feeling that the moments of force would be too much on the TV and its hitch connection. But my need was because my tailgate hits my trailer jack post. I still have not solved the issue. I think I will replace the jack and move it back and not fool around with an extender.
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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby daveesl77 » Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:19 am

When we had our 26' TT, and the F150, I used the hitch extension shown in the first picture. The only problems with them is that they can be a bit noisy as they are not an exact fit. With mine, I attached the extension to the hitch using a high strength bolt (not the normal pin). I used a type of nut that is kind of like a nylock, but instead of using a nylon insert, the threads are designed to be slightly askew and it takes a lot of real force to tighten down or remove, I mean a lot. Between the extension and the hitch I added in just some simple pieces of rubber that had to be jammed in prior to tightening it down. For the trailer to the hitch, I used a weight distribution hitch with keyed locking pin and the same type of rubber inserts. It was quiet and I towed it thousands and thousands of miles, with no problems. It helps a lot if you find yourself needed to do a "U" turn on a highway or making a sharp backup. As to hitch loading, it really doesn't matter a lot, I believe I had about 700# on the hitch with that trailer, it was designed for 1,000.

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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby halfdome, Danny » Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:58 am

If you decide to go with the hitch extender it might be a good idea to use a hitch clamp to tighten up the slop.
I use one like this on my normal setup on the tow vehicle and I'm very pleased.
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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby Padilen » Thu Mar 17, 2016 11:42 am

absolutsnwbrdr wrote:
Padilen wrote:The pic is what is called Jackknifed. At that angle the tongue /front of trailer is being shoved. Trying changing your backing technique.


If he's trying to maneuver into a tight campsite, its not his technique. I extended the tongue on my camper exactly for this purpose. I can get the trailer at <90 angle to my car, and I've needed to do so many times. Not all campsites are wide open spaces.



Deceiver, I bought one of those hitch extensions for the rear of my teardrop, so I could use a little cargo tray. The extension came with a disclaimer that said it will decrease the capacity of the hitch, but I can't imagine it would decrease it below the tongue weight of your trailer. Check with the label that is on the extension.

O' well I disagree, I see jackknifed, but I'd also not extend a hitch by more than a few inches. Not mine not my issue.
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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby absolutsnwbrdr » Thu Mar 17, 2016 12:41 pm

Wow. Yes, jackknifed is the term. Treat yourself to a cookie. I never disagreed about that. I disagreed with your comment about technique. Some people actually prefer camping out in the great unknown rather than on a concrete pad in the middle of a campground, and therefore some more maneuverability is sometimes needed. Extending the tongue can prevent jackknifing from happening until you get to a much more extreme angle, which is EXACTLY what the OP is asking about.

Extending the hitch, or extending the tongue (same outcome - creating more distance between camper and vehicle), is perfectly acceptable if you stay within the limits of the components.

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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby absolutsnwbrdr » Thu Mar 17, 2016 12:50 pm

Deceiver - I searched 2" hitch extension and etrailer.com has a few available in different lengths. The link below is for an 18" extension. The specs indicate its good for 350lb tongue weight. The note below the description says that using an extender will reduce the overall hitch capacity by 50%.

https://www.etrailer.com/Hitch-Accessor ... 45796.html

I think I personally may be a bit weary about using an extension THAT long, but depending on your actual trailer weight it may not be out of the realm of possibility. I'd be more inclined to search out the shortest extension possible that will work for your situation.

edit:

Just found one that is 14".... https://www.etrailer.com/Hitch-Accessor ... /HE12.html

Not sure what size hitch you have though. Etrailer is a great resource though!
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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby MtnDon » Thu Mar 17, 2016 1:32 pm

I am wary of using any long truck hitch extensions. The extension is a lever arm. The effect is to lighten the front axle and increase the load on the rear. The hitch ball on my truck is about 4 feet behind the rear axle. For the sake of argument, if the hitch weight was 300 pounds that calculates to a force of 300 x 4 = 1200 ft=lbs. If I extend that hitch by one foot we get 300 x 5 = 1500 ft-lbs. An increase of 25%. That would be the same as having the shorter 4 foot axle to hitch ball distance with a hitch weight of 375 lbs. Maybe that would be detrimental, maybe not.

Anything more than a few inches will likely increase the wind twitchiness, IMO. The longer the lever arm the easier it is to move something. The ideal thing would be to be able to try out an extension before purchase. Or at least buy one with return privileges.

Maybe it is not a big deal but the thought of sticking the ball 14" further out makes me nervous.
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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby gudmund » Fri Mar 18, 2016 2:08 am

something I did that helps in not jack-knifing is to get a couple of strips of the RED reflective tape that is used on the back end of semi trailers. (W-M or any trailer/RV store usually in 9 inch lengths) find a big open parking lot than drive a as tight as of a turn circle as possible to make sure you do not jack-knife (mine did not come close) after doing this, now back up very carefully - stopping just short of jack-knifing leaving a few inches of clearance you will be comfortable with. Now get back into the vehicle and sight in via your rear view mirror and place one stipe of the tape vertically on the front of the trailer/tongue box just so it is where it comes into view in the mirror. Than do the same going the other direction with the other stripe of tape. It may take a few try's but this does work for me, when I see "RED" in my rear view mirror when backing up - I STOP backing up!!! just short of jack-knifing. The placement of these strips will probably only for my eyes but being it is my truck - I'm good!!!!
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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby pchast » Fri Mar 18, 2016 8:28 pm

Excellent Idea! :applause:
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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby Dale M. » Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:46 am

Another option may be to put extension in place only when needed for backing in tight place, otherwise tow with normal setup...

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Re: Hitch extension question.

Postby tsn444 » Sat Mar 19, 2016 7:56 pm

You might get just enough with a longer hitch. Some companies make long hitches. I like the reflector tape idea too. :thumbsup:
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