Why use an anti-rattle clamp? Which clamp to use?

Wayne

Administrator
Staff member
While growing up on a farm, I probably towed thousands of times without any device to keep the hitch and receiver from moving around or "rattling". There really was no need. Towing was not much more than moving an implement or trailer a mile or two on a gravel road. Yeah, the hitch could be heard jerking around and maybe you could even feel the "play" in the hitch, but what difference did it make?

It wasn't until 30 years later when I pulled a U-Haul trailer 2,500 miles round trip to Austin, TX with a unibody vehicle, that I learned exactly how annoying a rattling hitch could be. I didn't even know anti-rattle clamps existed until after I got back and Googled looking for a solution.

Today, we pull a 30' Airstream, which is fairly heavy at 8,800 pounds, long distances every year.

The rattling hitch can be very annoying, cause the pin hole in your receiver to wear oblong, and reduce the effectiveness of your anti-sway hitch. It's not hard to find pictures of receiver pin holes that are worn oblong 100% from their original radius.

We use a ProPride anti-sway hitch that requires the hitch and receiver to act as one solid unit to be effective. We have had our anti-rattle clamp loosen so that our Propride hitch could move around in the receiver. The hitch to receiver movement drastically reduces the effectiveness of the ProPride, because the ProPride applies a torque to the tow vehicle toward the direction the front of the trailer moves. When the clamp loostenend, our rig felt like the tail was wagging the dog - sway was happening. As the hitch was attempting to torque the truck, the slop in the hitch completely nullifies the attempted torque, the ProPride couldn't do its job. Retighten the hitch clamp and the sway immediately goes away. Lesson learned.

Using an effective hitch clamp saves the aggravation of listening the the hitch rattle, saves you the cost of replacing a worn receiver, and lets your anti-sway hitch work much more effectively.

Which anti-rattle clamp works the best?

This is a question that took me months and thousands of miles of towing to answer. Your mileage may vary, but this is how I arrived that the clamp the works for me. I tried several anit-rattle clamps that are readily available on Amazon, read reviews and chose several that were highly rated.

First was the 2.5" Hitch Clamp by hitchclamp.com. It does work and is fairly stout, but there we a couple problems. I couldn't keep the clamp from loosening. Drive a hundred miles, tighten the clamp, repeat. After a couple thousand miles, the clamp started to bend slightly and I couldn't keep it tight. It's a good design, but I suspect with my relatively heavy trailer and lots of miles, it wasn't up to the job.

Second, was the heavy duty version of the 2.5" Hitch Clamp by hitchclamp.com. It was better than the standard duty clamp, but suffered the same fate. I just wouldn't stay tight.

Third, I found the Roadmaster 062 which is a very very stout bar with a 1/2" U-bolt. I had great hopes for this clamp, because the bar was so stout. But as they say, any chain is only as strong is it's weakest link. The 1/2" U-bolt bent like a pretzel and the clamp loosened in no time.

The fourth iteration came after much Googling and no real new answers. I got to looking at the Roadmaster and thought, what if I buy a second Roadmaster 062 and put it back-to-back with straight bolts holding the two bars together? So I bought a second Roadmaster 062 and found that a 9/16" bolt will fit in the holes, replacing the 1/2" bolt the clamp came with. Two 9/16" grade 8 bolts, two 9/16" nuts and two 9/16" lock nuts and I was off to try again.

Here is how I put the clamp on, notice the clamp pulls the hitch up, not down. I did this because the weight distribution bars put torque up on the hitch, so it's better to hold the hitch up with the clamp, that way the clamp is not fighting against the strength of the weight distribution bars. The clamp force of one 9/16" grade 8 bolt is 16,000 pounds x 2 bolts is 32,000 pounds. This may seem like overkill, but my experience is that unless you tighten these bolts very tight, they will loosen after a few hundred miles. If you tighten them tight, then this clamp will not loosen.

20200503_211516206_iOS.jpg


The clamps and U-bolts that didn't make the grade.

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Happy clamping!
 
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ls1mike

Member
I have always towed my bumper pulls with a crew cab long bed. I never hear it, but might worth looking into one of these with the current GM hitch I have. I do not like the sleeve or the holes for the safety chains.
 

Wayne

Administrator
Staff member
I'm thinking about swapping the 2" hitch for a 2.5" hitch, as I don't like using the sleeve because it's too sloppy. Not sure what you mean by the holes for the safety chains?
 

ls1mike

Member
I'm thinking about swapping the 2" hitch for a 2.5" hitch, as I don't like using the sleeve because it's too sloppy. Not sure what you mean by the holes for the safety chains?
The holes in the rear are awkwardly spaced to the front, my car trailer safety chain hooks are not big enough to go around them. The hooks are not big enough to get around that plate, I had to change them. The trailers just fit, but I am changing those too.
hitch.png
 

Wayne

Administrator
Staff member
Oh yes, I don't think GM could have placed them more awkwardly if they tried. How did you change them? Picture?
 

ls1mike

Member
I will get you some pictures, but right now I have two large hooks in the holes. They are 6600lbs working weight limit hooks. I just hook my car trailer hooks to the pin or in the case of the travel trailer I pull the pin and run it through one of the chain links. I have seen a bunch of guys with our type hitch do that. That is where I got the idea.
9XE27_AS01.jpg
 
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ls1mike

Member
So on the trailer I actually cut the hooks off. I will just be getting a second set of these and have two on the travel trailer and two on the car trailer. I might actually keep a extra set under the rear seat. They are like 12 bucks a piece at Wilco.
 

Wayne

Administrator
Staff member
Another example of the clamp I use - this time with a 2" ball in a 2" ball mount and a 2" to 2.5" sleeve. It's not going to move and wear my receiver!

20200802_191808207_iOS.jpg
 

dnewton3

Moderator
Staff member
Pulling my RV or heavy duty flatbed trailer, I have just the traditional tow hitch with typical WD bars. When I set up my rig properly, the bending-moment force of the bars keeps the hitch loaded in the receiver, and I don't get any rattle.

However, if using a non-WD hitch, then rattle is not uncommon. When I had a small fishing boat (2" ball on the trailer), that rattle did get old after a while of traveling.
 

Wayne

Administrator
Staff member
I load the WD bars only a couple inches, which gives a slight bending moment, because the ride is much better. Before I had the clamp, I could feel the hitch moving around in the receiver, probably made worse by the 2" to 2.5" adapter sleeve. The Propride requires the hitch to be absolutely as one with the receiver, any movement can negate the Propride's ability to counter sway. The clamp I have set up does not allow the hitch to move. I've pulled the trailer 27,000 miles with the Propride and I can attest to its ability to counter sway when the hitch and receiver are one.
 
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