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High: 88°F ~ Low: 72°F
Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Hitch it up

Monday, October 22, 2012

We have had great weather for all sorts of outdoor activities including horse shows, boating, camping, working outdoors and harvest.

A truck and trailer are instrumental in most of these activities. It's nothing to hitch up your favorite trailer and go. Have you thought about your hitch and trailer recently?

Many people die each year when a trailer becomes unhitched from the pulling vehicle. It only takes a few minutes to think about your hitch and trailer.

Hitch and component ratings matter.

You can only pull as much as the weakest links in your hitch assembly, regardless of how much your towing vehicle can tow. If your load outweighs the total lowest rated component of the hitch, you run the risk of hitch failure and seriously injuring or killing yourself or someone else. The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) includes the maximum weight of the trailer and the load it can carry.

Understand that your towing vehicle has limits too. The gross combination weight rating (GCWR) provided in the owner's manual is the maximum weight the vehicle can tow or carry. Exceeding this weight can have serious consequences and shorten the life of the vehicle.

Selecting the right hitch mount is very important. Bumper or frame mounted hitches are your choices. Most bumper hitches can only carry a very limited amount because most bumpers are made out of stamped steel and are held on by eight bolts. A bumper hitch is stamped with the amount it can safely tow.

A properly mounted frame hitch mount can tow significantly more weight than a bumper hitch. Never pull with a damaged or modified bumper because its structural integrity has been compromised. Most farms and businesses use a frame mounted hitch.

These hitches are in three categories of weight -- carrying hitches, gooseneck hitches and weight distributing hitches. It is important to choose the right hitch for the job you want it to do.

Each component of the hitch assembly is also rated with a maximum towing rating. Receivers, inserts, hitch pins and hitch balls can have different ratings. You can only pull an amount equal or less than the lowest rating in anyone of the components.

For example, if your receiver is rated to 10,000 pounds and your hitch ball is rated for 2000 pounds, you can only pull up to 2000 pounds. If you pull more weight you may bend or break the component, resulting in an accident.

Never use damaged hitch components. There is no way in telling how much a weight component can tow. Be aware of a sleeve that may fit inside the receiver. This sleeve also has a rating and the rated weight should not be exceeded. Also make sure the sleeve is secured when not being used as it can come out and hit a vehicle on the road.

Hitch pins can be the weakest link in many hitch assemblies. It's important to get a pin that will be able to handle the stress of the load you want to carry. Most pins are not rated, but you need to get a pin that is solid steel and fits the hole so there is very little play. Never use a rusty pin or a bent pin as they have been compromised.

Hitch balls are also rated.

They also need to be the correct size to fit your trailer. Never use your hitch to hold down your load. Always put on your safety chains. These chains can save a life and your trailer, but only if they are in good condition and only if you have two. Having one chain doesn't help and can be more dangerous than not having any.

If you want more information about towing a trailer or hitch information contact Ann Delchambre at adelchambre@purdue.edu or call 653-8411.

More information is available from Purdue publication PPP-92 or at http://www.ppp.purdue.edu/Pubs/PPP-92.pd...

Upcoming events

Oct. 27 -- Coats for Kids distribution & Community Halloween Festival, Fairgrounds

Oct. 29-30 -- ISA Farm Tours -- West Lafayette

Oct. 30 -- 4-H Volunteer Meeting, Putnam Co. Museum, 6 p.m.

Oct. 31 -- Halloween

Nov. 2-3 -- Extension Homemakers Past Presidents' Arts and Crafts Show at Fairgrounds

Nov. 4 -- 4-H Member Achievement and Volunteer Recognition Program, Fairgrounds, 2 p.m.