Hitch-Mounted Bike Rack & New Draw Bar Installed

BrianZBrianZ Member Posts: 1,135
edited November 2019 in Modifications & Upgrades
In my previous discussion about how to rotate the tongue jack for access from the rear, our ultimate goal was to install a hitch-mounted bike rack without interfering with the jack.  I can now share the second part of the story - getting the bike rack mounted..


Upon learning of the cleverly designed Curt brand hitch-mounted bike rack, I soon realized that our draw bar (or ball mount if you prefer) did not have enough space on the 2x2" shaft to mount such a clamp-on design.  So, first thing was to choose a bar that offers a couple extra inches to clear the bumper..

I found this 12" bar at e-trailer which fit the need.
The only "hitch" with this choice was that to get that extra usable space required a much heftier solid steel bar (which is overkill for a modest weight) with a thicker shank on the ball.  That shank has a 1-7/8" nut that requires 450 ft-lbs of torque to tighten!

Well, I do have a torque wrench, but it only has a half-inch drive that goes up 250lbs.  It's instruction sheet did offer this formula for extending capacity by adding an "adapter wrench"..

So, I figured I'd give that a shot using this arrangement to connect using a crescent wrench inside a 30" "cheater bar" I had been keeping in the [email protected] for stubborn lug nuts..

However, the only pipe wrench I had to put on the on the other end that would open to 2" was an antique, and this is how that ended up..

I obviously needed a bigger wrench, but by now I  was up for a challenge, so didn't want to take the easier way out & visit a trailer service place to get it done.  Instead, I got a bigger wrench & added a bigger pipe to fit it, so here's how that all fit together, with the math & measurements applied.

This showed I needed to set my torque wrench to about 140 lbs, well within its limits, which would require me to apply about 75lbs of force to the handle at the end.  All is good in theory at least, but this nearly 6ft long Rube Goldberg looking apparatus looked a little questionable.  I would just have to give it a try.

My only concern was twisting of the crescent wrench.  The other issue I thought of was the fact that 450 lbs exceeds our hitch's 350 lb weight limit.  So, I  first jacked up the car just a half inch, enough to get some blocks of wood underneath..

I expected an issue with the ball twisting, so clamped on some pliers with a block of wood underneath to prevent that - its base has two flat sides for that purpose.
So, here's what it looked like from my perspective..

While I  kept the main force on the blue handle, I had to keep a hand on the other end of the torque wrench just to steady the crescent wrench to keep it from twisting.  It was a bit tricky, but I finally managed to get enough pressure on it to hear those welcome clicks of the torque wrench saying "good, you can stop now!".  450 ft-lbs done!  Or in this case 450 lbs that feels like only 77.

So, here's another angle showing a higher perspective where you can get the impression that there is enough room for hitching up the trailer..

I did, in fact get it hitched up and towed briefly.  I was just beginning to test for range of motion at different turning angles when I noticed a substantial puddle of antifreeze coming from under our Sienna van.  So, unfortunately, I had to put everything on hold, including our next camping trip scheduled for tomorrow, and get the TV in for service.  The leak is likely coming from an aging seal at the water inlet on the engine block, a major repair of about 6 hours and $1500, so it's going to be a few days just to get parts for our 15 y/o van.
At least the bike rack project seems to have worked, and better that this happened when it did rather than in the middle of a camping trip, so considering ourselves lucky & blessed.

PS:  The bike rack itself is very nice and solid, plus it can be quickly installed & removed, and folds into a rather compact form for storage.  It does take some force to lock it into position, which I could only do by putting my foot on top of the crossmember.  The handle is only useful for releasing it (which must be done carefully, since it snaps open with some force).  I think it's safer to release the clamp with straps in place to avoid injury.

The only issue I noticed pertains to the clearance of the 2 bike support bars that project towards the rear.  Since they extend backwards to about the trailer jack post (but don't interfere with it), there would not be enough space to actually slide a bike off the rack & slide it sideways between the rack and jack post to remove it.  I plan to [hopefully] fix that issue by sawing off about 4 or 5 inches from those bars.  We only plan on carrying 2 bikes, so this shouldn't be a problem, as it's designed to carry up to three bikes.  I will have to followup later when we get our TV back from the repair shop.

-Brian in Chester, Virginia
TV: 2005 Toyota Sienna LE (3.3L V6)
RV: 2018 [email protected] 320S, >70 mods 

Comments

  • MuttonChopsMuttonChops Member Posts: 778
    Like your torque wrench solution . . . I would have taken the parts to a good trailer shop and let/pay them do it  :) . . .

    Are you adding the Bikes & Rack to your tongue weight for deciding if the TV or hitch receiver are still within maximum tongue weight rating?

    Plus including the Bikes & Rack in your TV GVW and Rear Axle weight.  If your normal TV with [email protected] was near/at TV payload limits you may have to shift TV stuff to trailer.
    Final Thought.
    Is your solid steel draw bar from a known high quality source?  I had a solid (1.25 inch) tow bar fail on a cargo carrier with only 130# total load.  The welds were not high quality . . . welder did not manage the heat sinking of the solid steel bar
    '18 320 Spitched axle, 3020HE; PNW based
    TV: '17 Colorado V6 Z71 4x4, Tow Package, GM Brake Controller
    Adventures:  26   Nights:  160 
  • BrianZBrianZ Member Posts: 1,135
    edited November 2019
    Thanks, @MuttonChops, I did indeed consider tongue & other weights before I even got started.  In fact, I weighed each bike  on a scale.

    My latest tongue weight before bikes was 223lbs.  With bikes, rack & larger draw bar it will be about 320 lbs, so approaching the hitch limit, but should be ok.  It's a bit messy, but here are my weights & vehicle info..

    It looks like all my axle & vehicle limits are ok too.

    The new draw bar is made by "Draw-Tite" a major supplier who's been around for many years from what I can tell.  Since I  needed a 12" length with 3" rise, this one turned out to be a higher class rated at 1,200/12,000 lbs, so should have a much greater safety margin than what I need.  Amazed about your hitch failure experience though - that's scary.

    If my torque wrench with extender approach for tightening the ball nut had failed, I was also considering this idea using a jack & scale that I sketched out on my phone screen while searching the web..


    One would only need a pipe wrench & 3ft steel pipe.  Just jack it up until the scale reads 150 plus the weight of the jack.  Probably would have been easier, now that I think about it.

    -Brian in Chester, Virginia
    TV: 2005 Toyota Sienna LE (3.3L V6)
    RV: 2018 [email protected] 320S, >70 mods 
  • MuttonChopsMuttonChops Member Posts: 778
    BrianZ said:

    If my torque wrench with extender approach for tightening the ball nut had failed, I was also considering this idea using a jack & scale that I sketched out on my phone screen while searching the web..

    Amazing . . . you must have been a jack of all trades farmer type problem fixer or an engineer in your before [email protected] years . . .
    '18 320 Spitched axle, 3020HE; PNW based
    TV: '17 Colorado V6 Z71 4x4, Tow Package, GM Brake Controller
    Adventures:  26   Nights:  160 
  • BrianZBrianZ Member Posts: 1,135
    I was the only mr. fixit type in my family of 6 kids.  My father wasn't a handyman either.  I worked as a medical technologist most of my life, so my degree work included instrumentation & electronics engineering course work.  I also took some basic mechanical engineering courses as electives.  Undergrad was microbiology.
    -Brian in Chester, Virginia
    TV: 2005 Toyota Sienna LE (3.3L V6)
    RV: 2018 [email protected] 320S, >70 mods 
  • MuttonChopsMuttonChops Member Posts: 778
    BrianZ said:
    I was the only mr. fixit type in my family of 6 kids.  My father wasn't a handyman either.
    LOL=) change that to 5 kids for me.
    Remember Mom complaining when I left for college . . . "Now we are going to have to buy new stuff,  my repairman isn't here to fix things."
    '18 320 Spitched axle, 3020HE; PNW based
    TV: '17 Colorado V6 Z71 4x4, Tow Package, GM Brake Controller
    Adventures:  26   Nights:  160 
  • BrianZBrianZ Member Posts: 1,135
    edited September 2019
    We got word that our coolant-leaking Sienna van also has a leaking radiator, water pump, and hoses & belts that needs to be replaced.  The radiator is a critical component as a tow vehicle, since it also cools the transmission fluid. That will drive our repair cost up to $2,500.  It's  15 yrs old, but only has 138k miles on it, so we think it still has some good milage left on it (and battery & tires are relatively new). 

    It's painful to put that much money into an old vehicle, but we don't want to be forced into deciding on another new vehicle right now, since we just went through this a month ago after our 9 y/o Corolla was totalled in an accident & replaced with a 2019 Honda CRV as our everyday use vehicle.

    In thinking about a TV, my favorites are probably Subaru Ascent or Toyota Highlander, and maybe Jeep Grand Cherokee.

    PS:  Got our van back today, all fixed & ready for the next adventure.  There are so many new parts under the hood, and combined with the thorough cleaning they did of the engine compartment, it almost looks like a new car under there. New radiator, timing belt, drive belts, water pump, thermostat, water intake housing gasket, intake manifold gaskets, and multiple new hoses.  Runs great.  
    -Brian in Chester, Virginia
    TV: 2005 Toyota Sienna LE (3.3L V6)
    RV: 2018 [email protected] 320S, >70 mods 
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