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Trailer Towing Accessories - Pulling Pals

Posted in How To on July 1, 2007
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Getting a trailer is a bit like buying a boat in that you need to keep spending after the purchase-though thankfully, nowhere near as much as with a boat. Still, there are a few things needed just to enable towing a trailer in the first place. A trailer ball and something to attach it to is usually necessary, and a brake control is often needed to be safe and legal. Then there are all those things that may or may not be must-have items but which can make towing a more pleasurable experience. Here is a small sampling.

The B&W Tow & Stow ball mount was a great asset for an 800-mile trip we took to pick up a trailer that we didn't know the tongue height of. Those who regularly pull different trailers, or with various tow vehicles, can appreciate the 6 1/2-inch height adjustability in 1-inch increments, and the three trailer ball sizes included. Not that we understand the 1 7/8-inch ball, but obviously some poor soul is still stuck with a trailer that uses that size-and B&W offers a two-ball version. When not pulling, the Tow & Stow can be turned to go forward and under the receiver to be out of the way.

Even with a fullsize vehicle, if the trailer is the full legal 102-inch width, you may need extension mirrors to see what's behind and to back up. There are several versions available to fit a variety of tow vehicles. On top is Valley Industries' universal mirror, which fits mirror heads from 4 to 11 1/2 inches tall with its adjustable rubber straps and arms. Below, the Towing Mirror from Custom Truck's large inventory is a dedicated "fits like a glove" over the stock mirror head, which while offering a smaller mirror area, is less likely to vibrate in the wind due to its more substantial mounting. Get whichever kind you feel like, but do make sure you can see outside the trailer for safer lane changes-and to be legal.

A sway control is much like a steering stabilizer-it's something that really shouldn't be needed, but it can be a savior in problematic cases. There are much more elaborate and potentially more effective variants, but this Valley unit is a popular way to keep a trailer from wagging the tow vehicle. The plate at the left is attached to the trailer's tongue, while the miniature trailer ball on the right is secured to the ball mount, a bit to the side of the trailer ball, either by welding on a mounting surface to a regular ball mount or attaching it to a weight-distributing hitch. By applying friction (the amount is easily adjustable) in the sway control between the two points, it resists side-to-side movement between the tow vehicle and trailer, reducing or eliminating the potential of sway. We've had one vehicle which drove far better with a trailer than without, thanks to a combined weight-distributing and sway-control system, so don't think that these things are just for looks.

So you want to have your cake and eat it too? B&W makes it possible with the Companion fifth-wheel RV Hitch. This is an addition to B&W's Turnover Ball Gooseneck Hitch, which as the name implies is a gooseneck hitch with a removable ball-but with a twist. Actually, technically it doesn't twist because the ball and hitch are both square, which in turn allows inserting other things (such as the Companion and other accessories) that shouldn't rotate. In short, the section of square tubing goes where the ball normally would. Then the base is secured to it with a bolt, after which the fifth-wheel is attached to the base. This allows switching from a gooseneck to a fifth-wheel in a matter of minutes, and back again as needed. Plus, it leaves the bed completely free for cargo when the Turnover Ball is in storage position.

There are a number of reasons why you may end up having to leave a trailer by the side of the road for a while, and if you must, it might as well be as safe as possible in the meantime. Normally, this means using flares or warning triangles, but now there's a better way. Safety Flashers and Lights make these setups that plug into the trailer's cord and use the trailer battery to work the flashers, marker lights, or both. The basic unit on the left only flashes the blinkers, while the one on the right has independent switches for activating the flashers and/or marker lights. If this keeps someone from running into your parked trailer, that's great. And it's yet another reason to make sure the break-away battery is fully charged.

PhotosView Slideshow

Sources

Valley Industries
Lodi, CA 95240
209-368-8881
valleyindustries.com
A.L.Y.M. Industries
www.safetyflashersandlights.com
Custom Truck
www.customtrucks.com

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