If you have ever attempted to pull a utility trailer on the trail, you probably know how important it is for the hitch connection to remain flexible over rough terrain. Without significant flexibility, severe binding can occur, resulting in damage to the coupler, hitch, or trailer tongue. To prevent this type of damage, a trailer coupler must be able to conform to differences in angularity on three planes of operation, yet maintain a tight and secure fit for highway use.
Enter the Max Coupler by Kilby Enterprises. In a nutshell, the Max Coupler is a simple yet effective weld-on trailer coupler comprised of robust steel parts and a durable polyurethane bushing to help absorb vibrations. We secured one for evaluation purposes and had the fabrication experts at Triple X Traction in Seaside, California install it for us while we took pictures. Our testing was conducted on a 600-pound utility trailer that was converted for trail use. We pulled said trailer with a ’05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon model. We were surprised with how quiet the setup was during operation on the rocky terrain as is common to our testing venue (the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains). After nearly a dozen adventures and more than a year of use and regular greasing intervals, the system maintained its noise-free performance. As such, we have no problem endorsing it as a stout solution for those trying to overcome the binding dilemma when pulling a utility trailer in the rough.
This is the old hitch connection that came on the utility trailer when it was purchased used. This type of connection was designed for paved roads and would likely break apart if used frequently on the trail.
The first step in installing the Max Coupler is removing the original coupler system from the trailer tongue. We did this by grinding off the welds that secured the setup in place.
Once the old hitch setup was removed from the trailer tongue, a section of female receiver hitch was clamped in place and each mating surface was prepped for welding.
With the female receiver hitch welded in place on the trailer’s tongue, two reinforcement plates were fabricated to help tie the two box sections together. Here, Toby Lavender of Triple X Traction begins the welding process. Known for his high-quality (and almost decorative) welds, we knew this connection would stand up to whatever abuse our adventures could dish out. The Max Coupler simply slid into the female receiver hitch section and could be pinned in place using a 5⁄8-inch hitch pin.
The coupler’s design allows for safe travel over virtually any terrain sans binding. Notice the way the Max Coupler can twist on three separate planes. Also visible here are the extra reinforcement plates Lavender added to the sides of the hitch setup. Two 5⁄8-inch hitchpins provide users with options for easy detachment and various locking arrangements for theft prevention.
The connection features a grease fitting that should be serviced after off-pavement adventures or between extended periods of storage. The grease prevents water intrusion and the corrosive effects of water from compromising the pivot assembly.
The Max Coupler’s tri-axis, offset design allows for unrestricted movement in three planes simultaneously without binding. We’re told that the coupler has undergone independent laboratory testing as well as computer-aided stress analysis evaluations.The system is certified in accordance to SAE J684 standards.