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Old 04-30-2014, 11:19 AM   #1
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Safety concern regarding hitch installation

I purchased a Flagstaff 21FBRS MicroLite and had the dealer install a 10K Equalizer Hitch. After my first trip, I noticed that the spring bars stuck out more than the 3 inches recommended by Equalizer, so I decided to move the Link Plates further back on the tongue, to around 31 inches from the coupler (the dealer had them at 29 inches back). That is when I made a disturbing discovery...! Because Flagstaff had the trailer VIN engraved into a strip of steel that was then welded on the top side of the tongue frame, the top holes of the Link Plate were too low for the attaching bolt to pass through, i.e., the VIN plate raised the top of the tongue frame to where it no longer aligned with the holes of the Equalizer Link Plates. So, the dealer 'ground-out' a section in the body of the bolt used to connect the two Link Plate halves so it could sit over, instead of on top of, the VIN plate. From my perspective, it looks like they removed about 25% of the bolt's diameter for about 1.5 inches of the bolt's length. I'm now concerned about two things; 1) that this bolt could break under stress and, 2) that leaving the Link Plates at 29 inches will produce additional stress on the entire connection. Equalizer states the Link Plates can be as close as 27 inches to the coupler, so maybe I'm being overly concerned.

Would love to hear from someone with knowledge on this subject.
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Old 04-30-2014, 01:07 PM   #2
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I did the same thing on my Mom's when I installed her Equalizer 4 point hitch. I replaced the grade 2 bolt with a grade 8, however, for added strength. I would recommend you do the same. I would make sure the brackets were at the recommended distance. You lose leverage the shorter the distance back resulting in less weight distribution and more stiffness.
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Old 04-30-2014, 07:18 PM   #3
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I had no idea about bolt grades, but I'm for anything to make the connection as strong as possible. Unless I could get in trouble with the law, I'm thinking of grinding out a channel on the VIN metal strip about 31-32 inches from the coupler so that a bolt could rest on top of the tongue frame at the distance recommended by Equalizer. If the spot I need to grind out contains a character or two of the VIN, I could engrave those characters on the side of the tongue frame just below that spot.

Thanks for taking time to reply, and I'm glad to know about the better quality bolts.
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Old 04-30-2014, 07:22 PM   #4
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Could you have a shop cut off the vin plate and relocate it? Document the entire process with photos...the pro's make could make this stuff look factory and really you are not doing anything wrong.
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Old 04-30-2014, 07:25 PM   #5
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...Thanks for taking time to reply, and I'm glad to know about the better quality bolts.
A gr 2 bolt has no hash marks on the head, gr 5 has 3 hash marks and gr 8 has 6 hash marks.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Torque-Tension Chart for A307 Gr5 Gr8 Gr9.pdf (76.4 KB, 30 views)
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Old 05-01-2014, 06:23 AM   #6
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Old 05-01-2014, 07:00 AM   #7
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IMO, as long as the bar shelves are located in the proper range as stated in the instruction manual, I would not worry.

As to the VIN plate location, a photo of the problem might help in coming up with a workable solution. Grinding down the bolt seems an "expedient" and not correct solution.

Have you contacted Equ-i-Lizer and asked their tech support?
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Old 05-01-2014, 09:22 AM   #8
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I think I'll talk to the folks at Croft Trailers (work with commercial trailers, e.g., types used by contractors for hauling) and get their opinion. They may even be able to rectify the problem for me. I'll post again after I talk to them.
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Old 05-01-2014, 09:35 AM   #9
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A gr 2 bolt has no hash marks on the head, gr 5 has 3 hash marks and gr 8 has 6 hash marks.
May not be universal, but my experience is: grade 2 are silver, grade 5 grayish, and grade 8 gold. I know the hash marks are there as well.
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Old 05-01-2014, 09:39 AM   #10
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IMO, as long as the bar shelves are located in the proper range as stated in the instruction manual, I would not worry.

As to the VIN plate location, a photo of the problem might help in coming up with a workable solution. Grinding down the bolt seems an "expedient" and not correct solution.

Have you contacted Equ-i-Lizer and asked their tech support?
Herk
I actually spent more time going to get the bolt and grinding it down carefully to ensure only enough metal was removed to clear the VIN plate than it would have taken to relocate the VIN plate!!! Therefore, my fix really wasn't expedient- but I'm confident that I'll never have trouble with my Gr 8 bolt holding the plate. I really didn't want to grind and weld on a brand new camper, though. Much ado about nothing, IMO. Just get the Gr. 8, grind it down the least amount possible and bolt it up.
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