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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
New to trailering. Have new-to-us tow vehicle ('03 Chevy TrailBlazer LS w/towing package) and trailer, now need to connect the dots.

Do I need a place that specializes in trailer stuff or, as an on-line acquaintance suggests: Should I just go over to Wal*Mart?

Truck has a 2" receiver on it. Trailer has a 2" ball. Truck as an eight (?) pin connector. Trailer has a 4-pin connector.

I believe what I need to do is measure the trailer's tongue height when it's level and the hitch's height, get a bar that approximately matches the one to the other, buy a 2" ball and that's it. (If my choices are too high vs. too low, which way should I go?) For the connector: An 8->4 adaptor.

Then I plan to find a wide-open place to practice with the empty trailer this weekend


Thanks,
Jim
 

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I went to a hitch place to have the hitch installed and get the piece that goes into the receiver (hitch?). They asked how high the tongue was when the trailer was level. I cranked up the wheel jack on the front of the trailer then measured from the middle of the ball to the ground. Ended up with a hitch that bent up and had the ball on it.

If you have a receiver already, then you can get the hitch (thing that slides in and has ball attached) any place. Just gotta measure.

Most car parts places will have the adapters.
 

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QUOTE(SEMIJim @ Aug 26 2009, 11:22 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>New to trailering. Have new-to-us tow vehicle ('03 Chevy TrailBlazer LS w/towing package) and trailer, now need to connect the dots.

Do I need a place that specializes in trailer stuff or, as an on-line acquaintance suggests: Should I just go over to Wal*Mart?

Truck has a 2" receiver on it. Trailer has a 2" ball.

Truck as an eight (?) pin connector. Trailer has a 4-pin connector.
you can find an adaptor for this at walmart

I believe what I need to do is measure the trailer's tongue height when it's level and the hitch's height, get a bar that approximately matches the one to the other, buy a 2" ball and that's it. (If my choices are too high vs. too low, which way should I go?) For the connector: An 8->4 adaptor.

Then I plan to find a wide-open place to practice with the empty trailer this weekend


Thanks,
Jim

whats your boat and trailer weight?

alot of this info should be in your owners manual. typically trailer should be level when its hooked up so which ever tongue you need to do this. but the better rule of thumb is 10% of your trailer weight weighing down your trucks tongue.

I have a six inch drop hitch for my boat and flip it upside down, but I should also use some helper springs on my 1/2 ton silverado to keep it level. I pull about 6600-7000 pounds worth of boat and trailer.
 

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Couple other things...

When you get the 7 pin to 4 pin wiring adapter ( it's probably a 7 pin on the TrailBlazer), look for one with LEDs... it makes it MUCH easier troubleshooting when you can verify everything is working at the plug with a quick glance, then troubleshoot back to the lights on the trailer. (and this is a good site for the pinouts for various connectors: http://www.etrailer.com/faq-wiring.aspx )

When you bolt the ball to the ball mount (the thing that slides into the receiver), make sure you TIGHTEN it TIGHT. I have heard of many instances where the ball vibrated loose, in a couple instances popping off and leaving the trailer connected ONLY by the safety chains (and one instance where they "forgot" to use the chains and lost the trailer in the woods)

USE the safety chains, cross them under the hitch, and make sure they are (just) long enough for slack when you are turning

Check your lights frequently (definitely before each trip, but whenever you stop. And for a winter project you might want to do a once-over on all the wiring connections to make sure they are clean, tight, and protected from moisture (dielectric grease)

When you're not using the trailer, stick the wiring connector in a ziplock, or better yet, get a matching connector to it and ty-wrap it to the trailer. When it's not plugged into the truck, plug it into this "dummy" connector to keep it clean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
QUOTE(Cadmonkey @ Aug 26 2009, 12:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>whats your boat and trailer weight?
Boat is 2200 lbs. (I believe that's with the 4.3L MerCruiser engine.) Trailer is steel. I guesstimate the total to be just shy of 3000 lbs. Certainly no more than 3500.

The TrailBlazer is rated for anywhere from 5200 lbs to 7000, depending on who or what you're reading. Most-often quoted number for our version appears to be 6200 lbs.

QUOTE(Cadmonkey @ Aug 26 2009, 12:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>alot of this info should be in your owners manual.
I'll check it when I get home, but the owner's manual is "TrailBlazer generic." It appears to cover everything from the bottom-of-the-line version, to the TrailBlazer LT EXT with all the bells and whistles.

QUOTE(Cadmonkey @ Aug 26 2009, 12:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>typically trailer should be level when its hooked up so which ever tongue you need to do this.
That's the advice I've been getting.

QUOTE(Cadmonkey @ Aug 26 2009, 12:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>but the better rule of thumb is 10% of your trailer weight weighing down your trucks tongue.
Wouldn't that depend on where the load sits on the trailer? (Something over which I have little control, in this case.)

Thanks,
Jim
 

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another thought... if you have the option of the ball being "just a little to high" or "just a little too low", go with low. If it is high and you brake hard, a high ball will cause the weight of the trailer to push UP the back of your vehicle, which would affect your overall braking capability on the vehicle. If the ball is a little low, it will cause the back of your vehicle to be forced DOWN a little, which will balance out the tendency of your vehicle to nosedive in hard braking. This changes a bit (or is a bit less important) if your trailer has electronic brakes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
QUOTE(KMC @ Aug 26 2009, 12:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Couple other things...

When you get the 7 pin to 4 pin wiring adapter ( it's probably a 7 pin on the TrailBlazer), look for one with LEDs... it makes it MUCH easier troubleshooting when you can verify everything is working at the plug with a quick glance, then troubleshoot back to the lights on the trailer.
Thanks for the hint. I'll do that.

QUOTE(KMC @ Aug 26 2009, 12:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>(and this is a good site for the pinouts for various connectors: http://www.etrailer.com/faq-wiring.aspx )
Thanks!

QUOTE(KMC @ Aug 26 2009, 12:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>When you bolt the ball to the ball mount (the thing that slides into the receiver), make sure you TIGHTEN it TIGHT.
Will do! I wonder: Maybe some blue LocTite on the threads?

QUOTE(KMC @ Aug 26 2009, 12:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>USE the safety chains, cross them under the hitch, ...
What's the advantage to crossing them?

QUOTE(KMC @ Aug 26 2009, 12:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Check your lights frequently (definitely before each trip, but whenever you stop. And for a winter project you might want to do a once-over on all the wiring connections to make sure they are clean, tight, and protected from moisture (dielectric grease)
Yeah, there may be some lighting maintenance I need to address.

QUOTE(KMC @ Aug 26 2009, 12:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>When you're not using the trailer, stick the wiring connector in a ziplock, or better yet, get a matching connector to it and ty-wrap it to the trailer. When it's not plugged into the truck, plug it into this "dummy" connector to keep it clean.
Funny: I'd thought of doing that


Thanks,
Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
QUOTE(KMC @ Aug 26 2009, 01:00 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>another thought... if you have the option of the ball being "just a little to high" or "just a little too low", go with low.
Got it!

Thanks again,
Jim
 

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QUOTE(SEMIJim @ Aug 26 2009, 12:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>QUOTE(Cadmonkey @ Aug 26 2009, 12:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>but the better rule of thumb is 10% of your trailer weight weighing down your trucks tongue.
Wouldn't that depend on where the load sits on the trailer? (Something over which I have little control, in this case.)

Thanks,
Jim


yep boats have that issue. and technically anything over 5000 pounds is supposed to have a weight distributing hitch....they dont make boat trailer tongues with a wide enough spread to fit the springs bars for the weight distributer that I know of. I always tought that was dumb. but then boats have a lot of thier weight in the back and my double axle trailer should carry most of the weight. but good luck if you ever have an accident and get sued, someone will figure out you were missing one little peice of the manufacturer's recommendations for towing and then you become 100% percent liable.

I think Curtis Hitch does make a weight distribuer for boat trailers now tho I seen an add recently.

yeah better to have the trailer pointing a little down as oppsed to up, dont want a light asre end on the truck. as long as the vehicles front tires arent too lightly loaded either.
 

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QUOTE(SEMIJim @ Aug 26 2009, 01:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>QUOTE(KMC @ Aug 26 2009, 12:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>USE the safety chains, cross them under the hitch, ...
What's the advantage to crossing them?


If the trailer lets go of the ball it will not hit the ground. At least that's what they told us in boater safety class.
 

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QUOTE(KMC @ Aug 26 2009, 12:31 PM) When you bolt the ball to the ball mount (the thing that slides into the receiver), make sure you TIGHTEN it TIGHT.
Will do! I wonder: Maybe some blue LocTite on the threads?
/QUOTE

That's what I do.

QUOTE(KMC @ Aug 26 2009, 12:31 PM) USE the safety chains, cross them under the hitch, ...
What's the advantage to crossing them?
/QUOTE

Better chance of having the tongue of the trailer drop onto the chains than onto the pavement... if the tongue hits a crack in the pavement it becomes a real handfull to keep behind the vehicle. You also get enough "slack" for turns even though the chains can be tighter during "non-turns"... hard to explain, but easy to see if you can visualize it.
 

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QUOTE(Stodge @ Aug 26 2009, 01:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>QUOTE(SEMIJim @ Aug 26 2009, 01:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>QUOTE(KMC @ Aug 26 2009, 12:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>USE the safety chains, cross them under the hitch, ...
What's the advantage to crossing them?


If the trailer lets go of the ball it will not hit the ground. At least that's what they told us in boater safety class.


and it should keep them off the ground better when making turns. having them straight on would let the chain on the inside of a turn get closer to the ground and the outside one could get to tight. mine are so long anyways they're almost worn thru a couple links,and there too small, so I been wrapping my trucker chain around the trailer and hooking that up also until I can get some time to weld new chain to my trailer.
 

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I never heard of a weight distributing hitch being a requirement. But you do have to make sure your hitch is rated for your load. My factory hitch was only rated for 5000 lbs weight carrying, 8000 weight distributing. I upgraded to a Putnam class IV hitch rated for 8500 lbs WC. Truck is rated for 8000 or 8500. With 3500 lbs, you will not have to worry about this at all.

The angle of the dangle, er, angle of the trailer as it connects to the ball doesn't make as much difference as some might think. It will not affect whether it pushes up or pushes down on the ball when you brake. The height of the center of mass of the trailer / boat combo in relation to the height of the ball will determine that. How high the ball is mounted has some effect on that, but not all that much. As you're getting started, don't worry too much about this.

Rule of thumb is more like 5%-10% on the trailer hitch. More, and you're probably more or less okay as long as you don't exceed the tongue weight rating on your equipment. Less, and it won't tow very well and will be dangerous. There was an article in boating recently about this, and the pitch moment of inertia of the trailer has significant impact on trailer ride as well. With a boat, you can usually move the boat forward and backward on the trailer by adjusting the winch post, or you can move the axles forward or rearward, to achieve proper balance. You probably won't need to do this, though. I'm at about 8% and mine tows beautifully. Chances are, it's probably fine how it sits. When you tow it the first time, increase speed slowly and make a few sudden maneuvers (at SLOW speed first!) like a small jerk of the steering wheel or a quick stab on the brakes. If it does anything funny, then you can get it weighed and worry about moving stuff around. Chances are, either the dealer or previous owner has it set up just fine and you won't have to worry about it.

For now, i'm sure all this is a little overwhelming. Just go to any auto parts store, buy a ball already bolted to the reciever adapter square thingy (thingy is the technical term), install it with the pin and cotter pin it comes with, and hook up your trailer. You will also need to buy the appropriate adapter for the lights, those are also available all over the place for about $10. When you plug it in, if the lights don't work, the first thing to do is wiggle everything hard and make sure it's jammed together good. That fixes about 60% of trailer light problems in my experience. Next candidate is the ground wire. Get the trailer on the ball, make sure it's clamped on properly (every trailer is a little different) and don't forget to put the pin in the hitch on the trailer to keep it from popping off the ball (common mistake, i've forgotten this but i've gotten lucky). Cross the chains under the trailer and hook them to the hitch. Take it for a ride down the road, hit the brakes gently a couple of times. Go a little faster and hit the brakes harder. Get the feel of it. Then go find a parking lot and practice backing it up. It't not too hard at all.

Once you have it all hooked up, you can decide if you want to buy a hitch ball that's a little higher or lower and go from there.
 

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All good points..

I always double and triple check: Pin AND safety pin in reciever; trailer hitch latched and safetied; safety chains conected; lights pluged in.

I also have my assistant ( wife, girlfriend, buddy ) learn to check as well.

I was trailering for years, and had my reciever come out with a small trailer 1 time. The reciever was on the vechile for 2 years. Best i can figure, the safety pin rusted off, or somebody pulled it out.

Also, if your on a trip, at every stop, do a walk around and check everything..feel around your hubs also, looking for heat build up from a bad bearing or stuck brakes.

I had a '03 Envoy ( same as a trailblazer ), i was very inpressed with the towing capablity. I pulled 6500#'s with ease, the limiting factor was weight for stopping, but it did well.

Also, when pulling your boat out of the water, double check, and teach your assistant to double check that the outdrive is trimed up. If it isn't high enough, it will drag the boat ramp. Pull the boat out slowly, and make sure that the boat is even on the trailer. If it isn't, just back down, and realign.

Have fun, and enjoy your new boat, you'll do fine and learn fast!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for the feedback, everybody! It's much appreciated
.

Update...

Got the trailer on flat-ish ground, got it parallel to the ground, measured the height of the bottom of the tongue. Measured the height of the inside top of the hitch's receiver. Approximately 3" difference.

Picked up a Brinks 3-1/4" drop drawbar and 2" ball at WM Saturday. I liked the Brinks over the Reese because the Brinks doesn't have the bolt from the ball sticking out the bottom. The ball is welded on. This means the bottom of the draw bar is more like a nice, smooth sled, so the occasional bottoming-out on steep driveways and the like probably wont' be as traumatic
.

Wal*Mart also had the 7->4 adaptor, with diagnostic LEDs.

Also found out Saturday why the lights hadn't been working well with the loaner tow vehicle earlier this season: The ground wire was broken-off at the trailer end. Fixed that.

Hooked 'er up last night. Height appears to be about right and all the lights worked, save one amber clearance/side-marker:



whose wire is broken-off on the back. I'll have to replace that. I'm pretty sure it's a Wesbar 203294. I wonder if there are any local retailers that stock these? Wesbar doesn't list any in Michigan at all.

I notices "fog" on the inside of the left tail light, when we took the trailer home a couple days after splashing the boat. I'll probably eventually have to do something about that, too.

And there's no spare. (Nor, apparently, has there ever been one, as I see no evidence of a place where one is to be mounted.)

Regarding the tongue weight (e.g.: 5-10% or whatever): How are you supposed to know that?

Btw: The "chains" on this trailer are plastic-coated steel cable, and they're pretty long. They may keep the trailer from taking off on its own, should it slip off the ball, but they're not going to keep the tongue off the ground. Not even close. (I'll cross 'em, anyway, as advised.)

Thanks again for the input, everybody!

Jim
 

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Jim,
it looks like you got a lot of good feed back. Not sure if you are new to boating, but make a note to what 4play had said about raising your outdrive up when putting your boat back on the trailer. I see/hear it happen every other time that I am at the launch. The ungodly sound of a skeg screeching across the concrete.

On a side note-----here is my setup. This seems to work great for me

Plant Motor vehicle Aircraft Automotive tire Tree
 

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To check the tongue weight, there are two methods.

1 - if it drives down the road fine, don't worry about it

2 - take it to the scales with the boat on the trailer and tell them you're trying to figure out your tongue weight and need them to weigh it twice but you don't need the certified scale reciept. They will probably charge you once but shouldn't charge you twice. I used Great Lakes Recycling on Groesbeck. Pull the truck up past the scale so that the tongue jack is over the scale but the truck is not on the scale, and make sure all axles of the trailer are on the scale. Find out how much it weighs with it hitched to the truck. Then unhook it from the truck and find out how much it weighs all by itself (tongue jack and all trailer axles must be on the scale). Subtract one from the other and that's your tongue weight. Divide that by your total weight and that's your % tonque weight (when multiplied by 100)
 
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