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NorthernBasser

Trailer swing tongue slop/play

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I have a new caravan trailer that is making an awful creak/clunk noise around the hitch/coupler area. The dealer where I bought the boat looked at everything and said it all seems fine, and that the noise is maybe on my end. Everything is tight on my end (aftermarket hitch), so I'm not sure I believe that.

 

I mentioned to them the the swing tongue has some play in it, horizontally and vertically. They said that's completely normal. Now, I don't think that's what's causing this noise, but is it normal for there to be some slop? 

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How much play does your draw bar have? I was surprised how much play mine had. It makes for a lot of noise.

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Do a Google search for anti rattle hitch pin. I got one a while back and the noise has disappeared. Best 20 bucks I ever spent.

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I put this anti-rattle device on a while back, thinking that was the issue. But it turns out that wasn't the problem.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Titan-Tightener-Anti-Rattle-Receivers-Heavy-Duty/dp/B01IO2N44E

 

I don't know what it is, but the sound makes me cringe. I know it's not normal. 

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I had a Caravan trailer under my Lowe Stinger 170. That was the noisiest trailer I have ever owned. I recommend finding a friend with another boat trailer and ask to tow it a few miles. See if it is your trailer or your truck/hitch. My new Load Rite galvanised trailer has a different style axle and it tows almost silently. By the way yes the swing away tongues on those will have some play. There is directions in the trailer manual on how they should be tightened.

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My swing tongue had a lot of movement/play in both directions and was very noisy/clunky.  I finally got tired of it and put a stop to it.  I don't use the swing joint so I drilled it the next size larger plus a couple more holes through it with a bit that perfectly fit the bolts I used (grade 8, 3/4") and bolted that sucker together solid.  It's all nice and quite back there now and don't have those jerky clunks when you start and stop now.

 

I was so fed up with it, I started to weld it but decided to make it undoable just in case the next person wanted to use the swing.

 

Also, make sure you have the hitch latch adjusted to fit the ball so there is no movement in it.  That can cause a lot of noise, and keep a dab of grease in the socket.

 

One other thing that can cause a lot of noise it the hydraulic brakes if you have them.  The tongue movement back and forth working them can get pretty noisy and sloppy.

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As mine rusted, the quieter it got will need to sell it with the truck 😂

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Any chance you have the opposite problem to what I describe here:

Might be worth a look.

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1 hour ago, Further North said:

Any chance you have the opposite problem to what I describe here:

Might be worth a look.

Took it to the dealer today. We tightened the swing tongue so there's no play. Still had the noise. We pinpointed that it sounds like it's coming from the coupler/ball area. We adjusted the nut to make it tighter and looser, still no dice. I even tried a new ball mount with ball, no dice.

 

Any chance the coupler itself could have some sort of defect that's causing this loud creaking?

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2 minutes ago, NorthernBasser said:

Any chance the coupler itself could have some sort of defect that's causing this loud creaking? 

I'm not anywhere near knowledgeable enough to make a suggestion, maybe someone else will chime in.

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Is the hitch ball a 2" or 1 7/8" ball?  It should be printed on the top of the ball.  If it's a 1 7/8", replace it with a 2".  Matter-of-fact, you might want to get a new one anyway. They can get out-of-round over time.

 

Also, grab the hitch and see if there's any play.  If there is, replace it (there shouldn't be any play). Get a new hitchpin while you're at it.

 

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Does your trailer have surge brakes?  

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On 8/26/2018 at 4:58 PM, NorthernBasser said:

I put this anti-rattle device on a while back, thinking that was the issue. But it turns out that wasn't the problem.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Titan-Tightener-Anti-Rattle-Receivers-Heavy-Duty/dp/B01IO2N44E

 

I don't know what it is, but the sound makes me cringe. I know it's not normal. 

I got tired of the receiver slop making the clunk every time I braked with my trailer behind the truck so I got one of these also.   Works great.

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19 hours ago, Glenn said:

Is the hitch ball a 2" or 1 7/8" ball?  It should be printed on the top of the ball.  If it's a 1 7/8", replace it with a 2".  Matter-of-fact, you might want to get a new one anyway. They can get out-of-round over time.

 

Also, grab the hitch and see if there's any play.  If there is, replace it (there shouldn't be any play). Get a new hitchpin while you're at it.

 

It's 2". And everything is tight tight. This is mind-boggling.

3 hours ago, Fishing Rhino said:

Does your trailer have surge brakes?  

Honestly I'm not sure. I'm pretty naive since this is my first 'real' boat/trailer I've owned myself. I didn't get any kind of manual for the trailer when I took delivery. I feel I should have, but who knows? 

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Is the ball greased?

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41 minutes ago, Bass Turd said:

Is the ball greased?

Mine is not ~ 

 

Greaseless AlumiBall - no need to lubricate tow ball and trailer receiver.

undefined

:smiley:

A-Jay

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The sound you are describing is the same sound I have gotten used to with my trailer which has surge brakes. When braking your tow vehicle, the forward momentum of the boat/trailer compresses the spring in the trailer tongue to the point at which it triggers a solenoid which applies the hydraulic brakes. This "surging" will cause for some slop over time that will create that dreaded clunking noise when you pull away from a stop. I have found that, sometimes, by adding some brake fluid this can be reduced to a degree but I've never been able to totally eliminate it.

Both are aggravating but a noise for which you know the cause is much better than a noise for which you don't.

First thing, find out if you have surge brakes on your trailer.

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17 hours ago, Nitro 882 said:

The sound you are describing is the same sound I have gotten used to with my trailer which has surge brakes. When braking your tow vehicle, the forward momentum of the boat/trailer compresses the spring in the trailer tongue to the point at which it triggers a solenoid which applies the hydraulic brakes. This "surging" will cause for some slop over time that will create that dreaded clunking noise when you pull away from a stop. I have found that, sometimes, by adding some brake fluid this can be reduced to a degree but I've never been able to totally eliminate it.

Both are aggravating but a noise for which you know the cause is much better than a noise for which you don't.

First thing, find out if you have surge brakes on your trailer.

Just to be clear.....Your Solenoid is activated electrically by your reverse light circuit when you put your tow vehicle in reverse to "lock out" your surge brakes so you can back up (which would normally compress the tongue of the trailer).  Surge brakes work when you slow the tow vehicle and it compresses the tongue of your trailer forcing brake fluid to your calipers which engages your brakes.  When you let off the brakes and have forward momentum, the trailer tongue is pulled back out releasing pressure.  The "clunk" more than likely is a worn actuator on your trailer.  It's a maintenance item and not unusual to replace.  Once you verify your hitch ball is the right size and tight, your receiver it snug in your hitch without a lot of movement or wear and the trailer ball lock is working.  

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That would only apply if you have the solenoid.  Not all surge brakes use it.  Mine doesn't, you have to manually lock mine at the tongue when you want to back up.  While towing, it's back there clunking and jerking constantly. 

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Yeah, the creaking/clunking I'm hearing near the coupler area doesn't just happen when braking. It happens while driving as well, hitting any little bumps or even dips in the road.

 

It's a brand new trailer too, so I would hope nothing would be worn out yet. It's just odd that the service dept. where I bought the boat can't figure it out. 

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When breaking or accelerating it's under a steady pressure so it's quite.  It's when you are just cruising the trailer is just kinda oscillating back and forth is when you get all the clunking and jerking. 

With mine, if the brakes are not completely bled, the air in the system causes excess travel of the hitch, and its gets really aggravating.

Easy way to check that is to back up and force the trailer tires against a curb and apply the park break.  Then use a marker and make a line on the hitch part where it moves into the tongue.  Then pull forward with a couple of wedges in front of the trailer tires to make sure you get full extension, apply park brake, and see how much travel it the is on the hitch.

Bleeding trailer brakes without a good pressure bleeder is not easy or fun and not uncommon to have air in them.

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Try hooking up the boat and chock the tires front and back.  Have someone gently drive forward and back, not over the chocks, and try to replicate the noise.  Of course don't get between the vehicle and boat, maybe you can see/hear where the problem is.

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