4WDING, CAMPING,CARAVANING, ADVENTURING...& A BLOODY GOOD LAUGh
HITCH-EZY OFF ROAD COUPLING
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARK ALLEN
THIS LATEST OFFROAD HITCH IS MANUFACTURED TO SURGICAL PRECISION – IS IT THE ULTIMATE IN EZY-TO-USE DESIGN? WE SLICE IT OPEN TO FIND OUT
This surgeon-come-frustrated-engineer-inventor and manufacturer of the Hitch-Ezy off road trailer coupling has potentially hit the nail on the head for all-round ingenuity with his incredibly simple hitch. John Allsop, the clever Doctor who seems to have spent countless hours, weeks and months sitting in waiting rooms thinking about how to manufacture a ‘better hitch’ has devised a system that certainly seems fool proof, is self-centring, offers full flexibility in all three axis and has considered the safety and ease-of-use of its users. Neville Withers, who manufacturers the highly regarded Sugar Glider suspension and camper trailers, also played a critical role in the design and manufacture of this new hitch. Being a toolmaker and having a factory full of the right machinery made this clever design a reality.
The Hitch-Ezy has passed all the rigorous (static and dynamic) testing to achieve ADR 62/02 compliance and been given the stamp of approval for a whopping 5 tonne rating – higher than most off road hitches!
The system replaces the standard 50mm tow ball with a dedicated 55mm diameter tow pillar manufactured from 4140 steel that has been nitrided – a case hardening process that leaves a ‘slipperiness’ to the metal and helps resist rust.
Interestingly, while this tow pillars domed shaped head forces the self-centring action of the hitches main body, all towing and load forces are taken only on the 55mm diameter main post that anchors onto a large 75mm base flange (as opposed to a 50mm ball having a 51mm base flange). This reduces load on the threaded shank section. The recessed (concave) section is where the three large cam-operated ball bearings ‘lock’ on to the pillar – no manual locking needed, it all happens automatically. The tow pillar’s flange incorporates a neoprene O-ring to seal against the ingress of water and dirt, both when the coupling is in use and when the supplied tow pillar cover is in place – clever!
When lowering the hitch (via the jockey wheel) onto the tow pillar, the cleverly-engineered main body (manufactured from 1020 steel) within the yoke will pivot in all directions to aid in easy hitching… Hitch-Ezy… what an apt name!
Once the hitch is lowered onto the upper pillar, just press the secondary locking trigger and rotate the jam-jar-like primary locking ‘lid’ 45 degrees to allow the coupling to fully engulf the pillar. When fully seated, the coupling will automatically double lock itself. The user need not do a thing to ensure the trailer is securely hitched to the tow vehicle – no clips, pins, rings or other loose or separate devices to handle – it’s all done automatically.
The system can be hitched or unhitched while you’re standing on either side of the draw bar with either your left or right hand – no need to jump from side to side of the drawbar to get into ‘just the right position’ for left or right-handed operators, to slot pins in, pull spring-loaded levers or undo fiddly attachments – the ultimate in ambidextrous design!
The Hitch-Ezy allows for padlocks to be installed in both the pillar and the main hitch section to prevent thieving mongrels doing their job. Level riders can be used with the Hitch-Ezy, but be sure to remove them for offroad use. The standard 4-bolt pattern is used, with an additional two holes for heavier duty applications, plus, being steel, can be welded on to the drawbar. Standard handbrakes can also be used, making the whole unit easy to retro-fit or include with newly built trailers and vans.
The Hitch-Ezy will twist a full 360 degrees along its axis and articulate a full 90 degrees in both the up and down as well as left and right directions. In real terms, that’s more than enough for any off road driving anyone is ever likely to encounter. Overall height of the hitch is just 117mm, which should clear most rear doors.
Another impressive design feature with the Hitch-Ezy is the lack of protrusion of the towing point behind the vehicles standard tow bar. That is, the actual pivoting and load point of the Hitch-Ezy is exactly where the hole in your tongue is, not rearwards like many other hitches. So what you may say: well, this system doesn’t put extra load via leverage or cantilevering onto the tow bar and that’s gotta’ be a good thing for safeties sake.
All up, the Hitch-Ezy in one hell of an impressive design. It covers all bases for ease of use, safety to the user, off road ability, functionality and outright precision of manufacture. Time will tell how the O-ring seals and secondary locking lever will stand up to bull dust, mud, water and whatever other gunk may find its way onto the hitch.
Well done Doc… do you have an appointment available to book my trailer in for a full check-up?
For more information on the Hitch-Ezy off road hitch, see www.hitch-ezy.com.au, call 0407 246 407 or email email@example.com ***ENDS***
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The Long Paddock 4x4, 4WD, caravan, camper trailer, camping products reviews, tests, comparisons by Mark Allen