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Old 01-17-2015, 04:26 PM   #1
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Building a trailer hitch

I was thinking of building a trailer hitch for my bus. The trailer hitches that are out there either do not meet my weight requirements or cost waaaay to much.
I am looking for something that can tow between 7500 and 8000 lbs.
Here is my design,
(See picture for design)

The hitch will offer no drop, so a long drop ball mout will be needed.
I will need about 12 inches of drop for my utility trailer. It is rated for only 2000 lbs so I figure one of the $30 adjustable class 3 ones off amazon will work fine for that. For heavy dutyer loads curt offers a class 4 8 inch drop rated for 10000 lbs. witch will far exceed my requirments.


I know that people do not like using long drop hitches but if I'm not going to be even close to maxing one out I should be fine?

Thanks!
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Old 01-17-2015, 06:44 PM   #2
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Attaching a hitch reciever to the rear of a conventional school bus is a pretty straight forward and simple procedure.

Just make sure you have it bolted in with grade 8 bolts and nuts.

Also make sure there is no room for wiggle.

Your design has some problems.

First, you need to be bolting through the frame rail and not through the flange.

In other words you need to build a square frame that fits inside the frame rails to attach to the insides of the frame rails. Square tube with flat plate welded on the ends make for a very strong hitch frame.

Second, you need to make the receiver stick out at least flush with the bottom of the bumper. It is best if the stinger of the hitch isn't any longer than necessary. The longer the stinger the more leverage the trailer will have when and if it ever starts to try and "wag the dog".

Using a drop hitch isn't a bad thing as long as it is used within the limits certified by the manufacturer.
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Old 01-17-2015, 11:54 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Your design has some problems.

First, you need to be bolting through the frame rail and not through the flange.

In other words you need to build a square frame that fits inside the frame rails to attach to the insides of the frame rails. Square tube with flat plate welded on the ends make for a very strong hitch frame.

Second, you need to make the receiver stick out at least flush with the bottom of the bumper. It is best if the stinger of the hitch isn't any longer than necessary. The longer the stinger the more leverage the trailer will have when and if it ever starts to try and "wag the dog".
Ok,
Why can I not bolt to the bottom of the busses C channel frame? This is how the commercially produced ones attach. All of the hitches I have scene attach in this way and one of them was rated up to 16000 lbs.

The reason I want to stick to bolting to the bottom is to get the hitch as low as possible. Bolting up between the bus frame raises it al least 2.5 inches.
What is the "stringer"? Is that the bit of the receiver tube that extends past the rear most support, or is that the entire length of the receiver tube?

Thanks again, I think I understand where you are coming from but I want to hear your reasoning.
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Old 01-18-2015, 01:42 AM   #4
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The flange is integral to the strength of the steel beam, if you compromise it with a hole, you are greatly diminishing the integrity of the member. At least this is what I was told my an airplane mechanic who helped me install a fuel tank in one of my buses. I later noticed that there was indeed a stamped message on the steel that clearly said "DO NOT DRILL THROUGH FLANGE" on the frame!! This was an 87 Carpenter.

If you weld your C channel to a plate on each end, that plate could be used to not only give you a surface to bolt to the side of the frame, but also as a way to drop it down a bit, if it is sufficiently thick enough.
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Old 01-18-2015, 09:06 AM   #5
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pulling wt while towing is not an issue, tounge wt is, towing 4 down I can do with my setup, tounge wt not so much, I prefer enough tounge wt to control sway...you might be over thinking this

you towing with a trailer or 4 down?

What is frame width?

f550 up may work, have seen a few that do
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Old 01-18-2015, 09:28 AM   #6
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Hank, looks good. Using the flange avoids creating a shear effect which I like to avoid. I also use a WD hitch to reduce tongue weight.
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Old 01-18-2015, 09:57 AM   #7
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2" square receiver tube from Northern Tool In Asheville NC. Later David added bolts. Had to use threaded links to get the safety chains in the holes because it was too close to the bumper. Bus tows my 5500Lb Jeep Grand Cherokee. Have to use a dropped ball too (4" I think).







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Old 01-18-2015, 10:50 AM   #8
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Welding or drilling through the flange of a frame rail compromises the structural integrity of the frame rail.

You can add drop into the design of the hitch, it doesn't have to nestle up inside the frame rails. You just don't want so much drop that you drag going in and out of curb cuts.

The stinger is the square shank that goes into the receiver onto which the hitch ball is bolted.
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Old 01-18-2015, 12:39 PM   #9
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Thank you all for the great advice!
I will have about 700 lbs of tung weight for those who care.
I had no idea how much 8 half inch bolts could compromise the structural integrity of a massive piece of metal, I had just assumed bolting from the bottom was the best was as that's how store bought ones attach.
I will have do really think how I'm going to do this now. My welding skills are not up to the task, one of my friends who welds as part of his business was going to build this for me so I didn't want to make this too complicated.

Would the rear bumper by chance be up to the snuff to act as part of my hitch?

I am really grateful that I asked here first, it appears that I may have just saved my self some really big problems.

Who knows, maybe I'll sue Kurt over their design (pictured) of hitch for cab and chassis trucks. I'll be able to afford I nice hitch then! (TeHe no I won't sue them!)

Btw... That hitch is rated for 15000 lbs, it's also why I figured I could attach to the bottom of the frame.
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Old 01-18-2015, 01:56 PM   #10
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Hitch

The bottom channel of the frame supports the lions share of downward force, in between the two axles. The downward force applied to the ends of the frame, distal to the axles, is primarily supported by the top rail. It really is a mute point anyway, the end of the bus frame is overkill for what it has to do under a bus. You will not affect the function of the frame in any way bolting a hitch underneath it.

I don't think your design is up to 8K or 700 lbs tongue weight for a few reasons. I would try finding a hitch on craigslist, altering the width to fit your bus would be quicker than building one.
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Old 01-18-2015, 05:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Motobus View Post
...the end of the bus frame is overkill for what it has to do under a bus. You will not affect the function of the frame in any way bolting a hitch underneath it..
My thoughts exactly. I don't see the last couple feet of frame rail having much load on them. If you were planning on drilling holes in the flange at the chassis' half-way point I could see it becoming an issue, but the butt should be fine.
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Old 01-19-2015, 09:57 AM   #12
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It is your bus and you can do with it whatever you want.

Just be aware that if anything bad should happen your insurance company with not pay a dime to anyone even if the hitch was not in use at the time.

Does the last part of the frame support much weight? In reality it does. It is all a part of the whole. If it wasn't important you can bet the OEM's would cut it out as a way to save weight and expense.

Even if you don't have much in the way of tongue weight it will pull down on the rear of the bus even if all that you are doing is flat towing something.
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Old 01-19-2015, 06:14 PM   #13
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So I have a Suburban receiver hitch, haven't crawled into the muck to see which class it is, but if it is a class 4 or 5, would it be a good start for my E350 dually to convert? And, in my searching today, I have seen new class 4 hitches for under $100 to over $300. Any reason for this, besides profit?
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Old 01-21-2015, 10:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Motobus View Post
I don't think your design is up to 8K or 700 lbs tongue weight for a few reasons. I would try finding a hitch on craigslist, altering the width to fit your bus would be quicker than building one.
Okay, how would you make my design better? Using thicker steel, cross bracing.....or what?

There is a few problems with buying a hitch on Craigslist and modifying it where i live,
1st. I live in rust country, all the used hitches are rusty pieces of crap i wouldn't tow a wagon around my yard with.

2nd. All the hitches I have been able to find are rated for maximum 5k lbs, i could just buy one then.

I want to stick to variants of my design for the sake of my friendship with my welder friend.
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Old 01-22-2015, 03:01 PM   #15
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Hitch

You have to scratch the rear cross member being channel iron on it's side. You won't find 2x4 channel, the width measurement will be less than 2 by the way. The contact area with the frame rails needs to be connected on each side, flush with the frame would be best. The receiver tube needs to go through, or be connected on at least three sides at the rear cross member. I would add another bolt each side closer to the 2nd bolt to the rear. The 2nd bolt from the front may not be necessary.

The way the commercial hitches are built is about the easiest design to accomplish all of this. I would set the bus up to tow about anything, you never know what you will find yourself wanting to do with it.
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Old 01-22-2015, 07:32 PM   #16
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I would just take 2 PCs of 1/4 plate say 12 wide x say 16 long and use them for frame attachments

And then put in a square hole for a PC of 1/4 wall 3x3 tubing, have tubing be 1-1/2 inches longer than width of frame.

In the center of 3inch tube put a square hole through both sides for a PC of 1/4wall 2-1/2 receiver tubing

Weld rec. Tube to 3in tube

Slide the 2 end plates onto the 3in tube and clamp to frame, center up and straighten, then match drill existing holes and add a few other ones, use a .531 drill bit (I would do a little tighter fit myself)


say maybe 5 or 6 grade 8 1/2-13 to hold each side on outside of frame rails, use big washers and match drive some holes in frame.

Then weld 3in tube to side plates, if side plates hang down more than 6 or8 inches maybe a verticle brace on the side mounts for lateral flex

And since the rec. Tube comes in 3 foot PCs, maybe be creative and notch/sq hole bumper and integrate it all into one unit, bumper hitch that bolts on with 12 bolts, remember to oil threads and use at least grade 5 washers and nuts, torque to specs and drag what you want

This my .02 and is confusing enough without pictures to need a warning

Okay maybe it does

And yes drilling a frame weakens it and its not engineered for that,you can't weld on hardened frames and all the other poopchute stuff, this is not under 30k or 80k pound 1million mile stress test....be safe ya'll
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Old 02-17-2015, 10:50 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Welding or drilling through the flange of a frame rail compromises the structural integrity of the frame rail.
For any one considering building or buying a hitch do not worry! This does not matter!

I went out a talked to some professionals beceause I was getting a mixed message here. I talked to a friend of mine who is an engineer, and I also contacted the local international dealer.
All of them said that the amount of metal you remove from the flange to install a hitch is SO insignificant, that they almost started laughing! You would have to remove a decent amount of metal to compromise anything.

Also, look at comercially produced hitches, see!

I have been contacted by a well respected member of the forum, who, basically said, what many of you said is silly. Regarding drilling a few small holes in the flange.

With the information I have receieved, I have come to the conclusion that some you you know less than you think. I do not mean to offend anyone, I just want to prevent the spread of false or misleading information.
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Old 02-18-2015, 10:32 AM   #18
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I'm glad to hear it because that's how I installed my hitch receiver as well!

I made this funny looking thing with bolt holes through the bottom:


Then slid it into the c-channels and bolted it through the lower flange (no picture of it sitting in there, unfortunately):


and made a hole through the bumper for the receiver to exit:
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Old 02-18-2015, 11:16 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Welding or drilling through the flange of a frame rail compromises the structural integrity of the frame rail.
What this should have said was

"Don't drill holes within 3/4 inch of the shoulder of the frame."

If the holes are no bigger than 3/4 inch, and centered in the flange, your fine.

A few of the members here need to go spend some time reading on pirate 4x4. They would learn a bunch, and posting false info would get them flamed on the spot. Pirate 4x4 also doesn't ban members for correcting other members and calling them out on a lie.

I also want to point out that it was not just cowlitzcoach;97914 info that was wrong. Other members posted here with misleading info also.

Welding to the frame is a no no. It will cause the hardened steel to crack.

Lorna's hitch pics have so much extra metal hanging down, it's nearly imposable to see what's going on there. Not sure why they hung all the extra steel there. Weight for traction? They also welded it in place.

Nat
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Old 02-18-2015, 12:48 PM   #20
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Hyjack........

Nat you got into the Pirate4x4 game late young-un

Back in the day was wow, afraid to post stupid stuff and it was a lot more hardcore, probably since it was a fairly new scene, I official got the nerve up to join Christmas of 03 pre weansel thread

after that idiot...we got like 125k new members in 3 days

then KOH started and thread went to mostly desert racing etc...

We got into racing for a few years, and all the local 4wheeling closed..I still go on from time to time to get together with old friends

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if anything I posted was out of line let me know,


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