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Author Topic: 3000 Mile Trip - Bus Did Fine - But.....  (Read 2405 times)
rv_safetyman
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« on: October 26, 2011, 01:14:09 PM »

I thought that I would post a story about a successful trip, since we often hear about the "bad" trips.

This trip covered close to 3100 miles and we were on the road 41 days.  The bus performed very  well.  We had one minor incident in IA where the charge air cooler hose came off.  It took about 15 minute to get it secured back in place.  Other than that, we had no problems.  I take a lot of time to do preventative maintenance, but part of the success is just plain dumb luck.

Like others, I have replaced all of the engine components that tend to wear out and carry some parts with me.  That all costs a bit of money, but it gives me a better feeling.

The Series 60 and Autoshift is a dream to drive.  This second engine is set at 500HP and 1650 foot pounds torque.  We weigh about 46K with the service truck and it is nice to have that power in the mid-west rolling hills.  Makes passing slower vehicles much easier.

We spent a lot of time in IA (relatives), OH (genealogy) and TN (Bus Conversions Rally).  We got to see some pretty good fall colors and the weather was not all that bad (got down into the low 30s a few times, but we were comfortable.

Now for the but.....

As most of you know we tow a rather heavy service truck behind the bus.  About a mile from the house, the hitch broke and the truck swerved from side to side quite a bit.  It could not have happened in a worse spot, as the truck swerved into the ditch and the right front wheel hit a big rock and tore up the front end pretty good.  I lost a tire, a high dollar aftermarket wheel and at least two of the control arms.  It is snowing here right now (got home just in time), so I can't inspect for further damage.  My guess is that it will be several hundred dollars to repair – with me doing the work.  Long ago, I converted to very robust safety chains, and that kept the truck from breaking away from the bus. 

I had just added an item to my to-do list to carefully inspect all of the towing components this winter.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog:  http://rvsafetyman.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2011, 01:33:47 PM »

Might consider double clamping the charge air cooler hoses since the Series 60 (especially the 500hp version) runs at a high turbo boost.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2011, 01:41:42 PM »

Glad to hear you made it home without putting the Eagle on a hook Jim.  We're back over in Nebraska for a while so could you please keep that snow over there next to the mountains?  Thank you very much.
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2011, 01:48:33 PM »

Tom, I think the issue was that there are a couple of fairly long lengths that are not supported well.  I thought I had done that part properly, but now I am not sure.

That said, I have blown off a hose or two in other places.  Everything has a bead, but I think the that the silicone flows under the clamp (even spring clamps).  I tightened all the clamps I could get to and they were all slightly loose.  A good friend (hardheadedken) sent me some extra clamps and I just have to find the time to double clamp everything.  

Kind of sad - I don't know what our next trip will be.  We won't make quartzsite (conflict) and we have quit doing tradeshows (had to stop the bleeding in this terrible market).  We need new rear tires and we might have to wait until we hit the loto to travel again Roll Eyes

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2011, 01:51:57 PM »

Bob, we can't promise anything.  Our weather forecasters predicted 20 inches at our altitude.  Not likely that will happen.  Almost non-stop coverage this morning.  Must have been a slow news day.  

I think I heard that it will turn to rain on the plains.

Supposed to be in the 60s this weekend here.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog:  http://rvsafetyman.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2011, 02:18:35 PM »

Jim, so glad to hear you made it safely and that your mishap was not worse, as it easily could have been.  It was great seeing you guys here in Chattanooga (yes, we're still here) and we look forward to the next visit, whenever that may be.

-Sean
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« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2011, 02:33:37 PM »

Sean, good seeing you as well.  Always enjoy our visits.  Next time I hope we will get to see Louise as well.  I read your latest blog and that whole bearing situation is a real bummer.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2011, 04:48:37 PM »

Jim, it was refreshing to read about your successful trip. We had a series 60 in a compressor once and it ran for weeks nonstop without a glitch. I was really impressed with it and wondered how it would be in a bus.

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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2011, 05:50:59 PM »

Mike of the Series 60 is pretty popular in buses - both as an OEM installaton and as a conversion.  Most people feel that it is a great engine.

Unfortunately, this is my second Series 60.  The first one had a bit less than 700k and I think it had been ridden hard and put away very wet.  Got about 55K before the engine got pretty bad (two liners sank in block and caused in a lot of damage).

Most folks will tell you that they are a million mile engine.  Statistics and my experience suggest that does not always happen.  This engine was rebuilt by DD about 250K miles ago.  I have the receipts and maintenance records thanks to a great DD dealer and truck owner.  Hopefully it will last the rest of my life Shocked Grin

This engine really pulls strong (last one was pretty puny). 

To top it off, I get over 7 MPG.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog:  http://rvsafetyman.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2011, 09:20:51 PM »

Jim -

Glad you made it home safely with an "interesting" experience to add some color to your journey.  Most importantly, nobody got hurt!

Could you elaborate a little more on "the hitch broke?"

What component(s) are you talking about?  Maybe some pics?

Since a lot of folk tow something, more info can be helpful preventing a similar event for another busnut.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink

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« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2011, 10:27:20 PM »

Glad to hear you guys made it back home, Jim.. it sure was a pleasure to meet you and Pat in Chattanooga and hang out at Choo Choo!

So sorry you encountered a problem with the hitch so close to home.  We too are curious for more information on what happened and what might have prevented it (when you have a chance to assess it, of course). As you know, we're about to add a tow behind vehicle to our bus, and trying to do it as right & safe as possible.

Warm wishes to you and yours,
 - Cherie



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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2011, 04:30:44 AM »

Jim -Could you elaborate a little more on "the hitch broke?"

What component(s) are you talking about?  Maybe some pics?

Since a lot of folk tow something, more info can be helpful preventing a similar event for another busnut.

  As others, glad your home safe. I too am interested what broke exactly, something on the towed, or the hitch on the Bus?

  Good thing when stuff breaks "after" were home, rather than early on. Or in a bad place. If its going to break I mean.
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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2011, 05:35:57 AM »

Ok folks, this is embarrassing and painful to write.  The part that broke is a part that I made.  It is shown in the photo below.  

Part of the reason it is embarrassing is that I wrote an article for BCM on towing safety (March 2010).  The main thesis of that article was the rather poor protection offered by the cables and connecting hardware which come with the tow bars. In the article I talk about the relative strength of cables and various qualities of chain.  I also discussed the rather poor quality hardware that can be found in flea markets and most hardware stores.  I used top quality chain and connecting hardware.  That part worked very well.  

I have 5/16 grade 70 (DOT approved) chain to connect the bus and the truck.  I also have a supplemental chain (3/8 grade 70) that is connected to the engine rails and the tow bar (you can see that in the photo).  The supplemental chain is in place to prevent a separation of the bus and toad in the event of a failure of the bus trailer hitch.  I am really glad that I had gone the extra mile with the safety chains, as I doubt that the cables that came with the tow bar would have held.

Now about the part that failed.  Tow bars must be level (parallel to the ground).  I built the adapter shown in the photo in order to raise the receiver for the tow bar.  The lower tube that inserts into the bus receiver is standard wall tubing.  This is the same tubing typically used in commercial trailer ball adapters.  That is the part that failed.  It broke off right at the bus receiver.

In hindsight, I should have used at least 1/4 inch wall tubing.  The standard tubing is probably OK for normal towing where the forces are mostly horizontal.  In my case, I have a pretty good bending moment on the tube due to the rise in part.  Every time I started or stopped, the horizontal load tried to bend the tubing going into the bus receiver.  Over time, the part fatigued.

Rookie mistake made by an engineer with way too much experience - experience that should have kicked in when I made the part.

Jim

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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
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« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2011, 05:54:00 AM »

  Well, you could have said something much simpler, and shirked responsibility like most everyone else does. Its a bigger man that can admit his shortcomings.

  I can weld, and ive gotten "okayish" at it over the years, but I still dont like welding anything that which it breaking could hurt anyone. Ive seen way to many things people with way more schooling and experience had break (bridges, space vehicles, wings seperating from airplanes), a mans gotta know his limitations.

  So like you, I compensate by beefing up other areas, and adding extra safety, like your additional chain. Then im out driving around and see some idiot pulling a trailer with the trailer chains not hooked up, the lights not hooked up (or not working), carrying some big piece of equipment like an excavtor or skid loader (or a Cat), and its not chained down either. Going through Des Moines last year, a Skid Loader came off a trailer and was sitting in the freeway under an overpass and someone hit it. There just isnt any excuse for that kind of BS. Some clown up in Minnesota, years back, had a big Cat on a lowboy semi, (BIG CAT/WIDE LOAD), just moving it a mile to another site, didnt chain it down. Stopped at a light, Cat rolled up and over and squashed him dead. At least hes out of the gene pool.
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« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2011, 06:19:22 AM »

Thanks Paul.

When I researched the article, I heard all kinds of horror stories.  One was a friend who lost a trailer from behind a motorhome.  The trailer crossed several lanes in the Chicago area, luckily missing all of the cars in the area.  When he told me the story, he was still visibly shaken after several years.  Another friend lost a toad from behind his Eagle bus.  Again, it did not hit a car - went out into a field.

When I towed smaller vehicles, I never gave it a thought. My Jeep tow bar that I built is the butt of many jokes, as it could haul the bus with no problem.  That is my typical approach, build my stuff very stout.

When I started towing the service truck (9600 pounds with full compliment of tools and product), I got very concerned about towing safety.  I vowed that it would stay behind the bus under any condition.  My tow bar was rated at 10K and that did not give me a warm fuzzy.  The cables that came with this bar were a joke.

Like you, I see terrible situations just waiting to kill someone.   One of the major problems I see are commercial trailers with very small grade 30 safety chains and cheap Chinese slip hooks .  Grade 70 chain has over three times the strength of grade 30 chain (what you find at your hardware store and flea markets).  I also used Grade 70 slip hooks which have the same strength as the chain.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog:  http://rvsafetyman.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2011, 06:46:14 AM »

Jim, what about your "service truck"? Do you tow that to fix your bus if you have to?  What is its purpose? When I met you at BusN'USA a few years ago, I seem to remember you towed a Jeep.

Curious,

JC
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« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2011, 07:00:31 AM »

Hi JC

We towed a Jeep Commando for a while and then a Dodge Durango.  In 2008, it looked like our business might get better and we set up a service truck to take to trade shows and to do installations around the country (great timing, huh?).

I have used it for a few installs, but mostly to haul product and display items to trade shows.  Now that we no longer do trade shows, I haul it because it has all my tools and we can carry a bit of product to ship from the road.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog:  http://rvsafetyman.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2011, 07:16:45 AM »

Jim, was this the same ditch and rock that got the PT? Grin
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« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2011, 07:32:35 AM »

Ed, you really have a way of making a fellow feel good Roll Eyes Cheesy Smiley

The PT went in the ditch a few miles away from the truck.  For the rest of you, since I am airing all my dirty laundry, a couple of years ago, I fell asleep and went off the road.  PT Cruisers are not good off-the-road vehicles  Embarrassed

BTW, Ed, did you take notice the ground below the hitch?  That photo was taken at your place in Yuma.  You were the one that got me started on the hardware issues when we went to the Yuma flea market and I saw the poor quality of hardware some of the folks were selling.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
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« Reply #19 on: October 27, 2011, 07:38:35 AM »

I thought that picture looked familiar, but i was looking at the hardware, not the rocks!  Smiley   And you know that i just HAD to ask about the PT!!!! Grin
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« Reply #20 on: October 27, 2011, 09:33:36 AM »

   Not throw salt in a wound, but my frend just purchased a aunit that has 2 different drops/raises and it uses a solid insert into the receiver not tubing. My pintle/2in ball has the solid male insert also. His double unit weighs 50lbs or more?Huh It was bought at camp over$$ wold. 
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« Reply #21 on: October 27, 2011, 09:56:56 AM »

  (snip)   One of the major problems I see are commercial trailers with very small grade 30 safety chains and cheap Chinese slip hooks .  Grade 70 chain has over three times the strength of grade 30 chain (what you find at your hardware store and flea markets).  I also used Grade 70 slip hooks which have the same strength as the chain.   Jim   

    Thank you for this info, Jim.  This information alone is worth a lot. 
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« Reply #22 on: October 27, 2011, 09:59:39 AM »

Also use the high strength bolts from the fastner place....
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« Reply #23 on: October 27, 2011, 10:55:31 AM »

  I didnt mention the runaway trailer in Wisconsin. This was on the news some years ago. Apparently this guy was towing a tri axle heavy equipment trailer, no chains, open hasp, no lights, break away not hooked up or inop. Hwy 35 north of Centuria, the trailer comes off rolling 60-65 mph, crosses over the center line into a group of bicyclists, killing several, maiming others.

  It may all just be oversight. How many have gone to hook up the trailer out back, thinking we'll hook it up properly before we go? Im raising my hand! I got over 10 miles from home once, taking stuff up to storage, get there and see nothings hooked up. I was so mad at myself I wanted to punch something.

  My new rule is I always hook it up completely anytime its attached to the hitch.
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« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2011, 11:45:02 AM »

.... the trailer comes off rolling 60-65 mph, crosses over the center line into a group of bicyclists, killing several, maiming others.

Not to belittle a runaway trailer, but bicycles are dangerous.  Wink
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« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2011, 01:16:57 PM »

    I can weld, and ive gotten "okayish" at it over the years, but I still dont like welding anything that which it breaking could hurt anyone.  a mans gotta know his limitations.


I agree, sounds like my welding skill is about the same as yours.  When I needed custom brackets welded in for the new intergral steering we installed, I had a friend that was a certified welder for Dupont for about 30 years do the welding. For something as important as steering, I would not take any chance with my intermediate welding ability.  Jack
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« Reply #26 on: October 27, 2011, 03:21:55 PM »

It looks like most of the 10K drop/rise receivers use a steel shank, not tubing ...

for example:

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/rv-hitches/roadmaster-drop-hitch-receiver.htm
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« Reply #27 on: October 27, 2011, 05:51:54 PM »

  I never really liked drop hitches, they put torque into the tow hitch, which magnifies with the drop. Probably best to locate the tow bar hinge point higher or lower to match the tow hitch?
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« Reply #28 on: October 27, 2011, 06:42:42 PM »

Re solid insert, just makes sense.

Re lowering the tow bar on the truck.  I have tried that before (reversing the arms on the mount) but that makes the parts hang way down and looks kind of stupid.  The truck is a Dodge 4X4 and sits kind of high.

For some reason (probably looks) the tow bar mounting has arms that bend up and raise the connection point about 6 inches.  I think I will play with making arms that come straight out.  That would be stronger as well.  I might also play with the arms that I have for the Durango.  They don't have as much raise to them.

The bending moment is also very hard on the bus trailer hitch.  I made it pretty strong, but now I am second guessing that as well.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
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« Reply #29 on: October 27, 2011, 09:57:05 PM »

Jim you might consider what I did.  That was use solid stock for the male part.  Then I precision drilled TWO holes for the pins to go through.  I install them from opposite directions.  By putting the pins through a precision hole there is zero chance of wearing out (egging out) the drilled tubing, which may lead to cracking.  It's hell for stout.  There are some pics somewhere on the Eagle site.  Good luck, stay warm.
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« Reply #30 on: October 27, 2011, 10:18:03 PM »

  The absolute strongest assembly is having everything level in a line between the two mounting points, from the frame mount through to the tow bar mount. That way the towed vehicle trust is only in/out. IIRC standard common hitch height is 14 inches? If everythings set up to standard height, anything can tow anything.

  In mounting a hitch to the frame of a vehicle, I always prefer bolts over welds, and grade 5 bolts over 8's. Grade 5's will bend and stretch and distort long before they fail, 8's will hold until they reach yield and then let go, snap. Just use oversize 5's to reach the same tensile strength your looking for. Rather than drill holes in the frame, often you can use clamps to clamp to the frame, not weakening it, but actually adding strength.
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« Reply #31 on: October 28, 2011, 12:37:50 PM »

Paul, many years ago there was a guideline about hitch height as I recall.  Then the receiver hitch took over the market and the receiver height is all over the place and the hitch manufactures make all kinds of offset inserts to adjust the ball height.

Then there is the tow bar manufacturers.  They have absolutely no standard for connection height.  All you have to do is walk through the camping area of a rally and look at all the different heights.  Again the industry takes care of that by making offset receiver adapters.

As I noted earlier, I am going to see what I can do to lower the connection height on the truck.  I think that should be pretty straight forward.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
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« Reply #32 on: October 28, 2011, 01:24:29 PM »

  I know what you mean. I too have watched the drop hitches get more and more offset, yet you never see any warnings to reduce tow capacity with bigger drops. I saw a lifted 4X4 recently, the reciever hitch must have been nearly three feet off the ground, and he had an obviously custom made drop hitch out of what appeared to be 3/4 inch steel, I dont know how far it dropped but it was so rediculous looking it wasnt funny. Each time he accelerated or braked you could see the bar stock physically flex.
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« Reply #33 on: October 28, 2011, 10:06:20 PM »


•Capacity: 25,000 lbs
http://www.etrailer.com/Balls/Curt/C40044.html


10000 lbs GTW
http://www.etrailer.com/Ball-Mounts/Curt/D900.html

http://www.etrailer.com/Ball-Mounts/Diversi-Tech/DTALBM7025-3S.html


Product Specs:

10 Inch Drop
11 Inch Rise
Fits 2-1/2 Inch Hitch
12000 lbs GTW
Diversi-Tech

For your safety chains:


http://www.etrailer.com/Ball-Mounts/Tow-Ready/TR63045.html

or a combination of adj,supplemented with:
Fits 2 Inch Hitch
Class IV
14000 lbs GTW
Solid Shank
Diversi-Tech
http://www.etrailer.com/dept-pg-Ball_Mounts-sz-14000_lbs_GTW-gw-Aluminum.aspx
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