Trailer Couplers, Balls and Jacks
Revised by BoatUS editors in April 2012
Couplers, Mounts, and Balls are critical components for successful trailering. Any bent, rusted, or corroded parts can cause damage to your trailer and tow vehicle, and can complicate basic hookup. The latch should be tight enough to prevent accidental separation, but not so tight as to cause undue friction. Always use a lubricant on moving parts of couplers and balls. Never mismatch ball to coupler (i.e., a 2" ball should only marry up to a 2" coupler). Some trailer balls are of the nut variety so that you can attach different balls to the same shaft, others are one integral unit with the shaft. Some shafts have multiple balls and some are offsett to allow for taller and shorter towing vehicles. The shaft/bolt of the hitch ball should be snug, and always use a lock washer and inspect regularly. Many boats are destroyed when the trailer ball loosens up and the trailer separates from the tow vehicle. A failure here or elsewhere with the system could result in trailer separation and serious injury or death.
Always secure the trailer with crossing chains from the trailer to the trailer hitch to prevent total separation should the coupler equipment fail. These should be provided with the trailer and replaced when impaired with rust or other issues. Some trailers also include a safety hookup to stop the trailer should the coupling system fail. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Tongue Jacks make it easy to hook your boat up to your tow vehicle without back strain. Your boat can easily be rolled on a hard surface from one place to another. With these your boat can be tilted slightly bow up to drain excess water from rain, snow, etc. These typically come in both fixed and adjustable heights and they should include a swing-away feature to prevent hitting something in the roadway.