The majority of members in the
Australian CamperTrailers Group own an off-road vehicle together with a purpose
built off-road camper trailer & prefer to venture off the beaten
track into the more remote parts of Australia. For this reason they
have an off-road tow coupling which suits the capabilities of both
vehicle & camper. Let's look at what off-road hitches are on the
market & what sort of job they do.
An on-road BALL COUPLING has limited
movement & therefore is not generally suited to off-road use. Major trouble can develop with this
type of coupling off-road if the tongue bottoms out into the hitches
casting & breaks a piece out of the coupling, rendering it useless.
Ball couplings as shown right with hydraulic over-rider brakes have
a 360 degree rotation.
The PINTLE HOOK has its origins in agriculture
& then developed for military purposes in the 1940's. The pintle
coupling is not as
popular as it once was. It does have limited movement from
side to side & can be noisy at
times over rough terrain.
An improvement on the Pintle Hook is Vehicle Components
VC COUPLING which
represents a major breakthrough in the performance of ring type
couplings. The key to its ingenious design is separating the ball
movement from the clamp.
The coupling locks a conventional ring into place so there is
no play in-between the towing vehicle and the trailer. The base of
the coupling incorporates a sealed ball joint which provides the
articulation between the two vehicles.
The lack of play in the coupling eliminates noise and damage
between the vehicle and trailer and does not snag when reversing
around tight situations. As the movement is fully sealed the
coupling can be used in arduous conditions needing no maintenance.
TREG poly block coupling came about when Gordon J Tregoning
pioneered the unique shaped coupling designed to make towing easier.
With safety a key factor, the couplings 3 tonne capacity is suitable
for all vehicles on the roughest of Australian roads. The ADR
approved design has been made in Australia for over 60 years. It
has a pin that stops
full up & down movement , but has 360 degree rotation.
The TRIGG polyblock
coupling is rated to 3 tonne towing capacity & features brass bushes &
19mm locking pin. It has 360 degrees rotation & 90 degrees grease
nipples for easy servicing.
The ORAC coupling
enables safe & reliable towing in all conditions by providing a
fully flexible coupling between the trailer & vehicle.
It features a special anti vibration bush to prevent damage to your
vehicle or trailer on badly corrugated roads & tracks with a tow
capacity rated at 2500Kg. It has full 90 degrees of pivot above &
below the horizontal with a 360 degrees of rotation.
HITCHMASTER DO35 V3 coupling is the latest design from
Cruise Master, formerly Vehicle Components. The coupling is manufactured with components
made from forged steel, high quality polyurethane & laser cut
stainless steel which reduces weight & is over 50% stronger than the
outgoing model. Features include a new ‘Checklock’ cap system
keeping the dirt out of locking mechanism & also gives a visual
indication that the coupling is locked. The low profile gives better
clearance for rear open vehicle doors with a 2-stage ADR compliant
is a simple drop in off-road hitch with a self aligning tool in the
shape of a cradle which lines up perfectly the two halves of the tow
hitch for easy connection. The two locking mechanisms only require
one hand to operate, leaving the other hand to operate the jockey
wheel. It is bushed so there are no rattles & lockable for security.
The hitch design allows for 85 degrees of movement up & 70
degrees in a downward direction with a 360 degrees rotation.
UNIGLIDE coupling uses a universal joint to handle all movements
well past 90 degrees horizontally & vertically with the twisting
being handled in the rear body by shock absorbing urethane bushes.
The universal joint is the same found in all 4wd Landcruisers while
the joint is held in place by registers and opposite threaded plugs
& end caps which removes any end play. The universal and rear body
are both fully greaseable.
released three new off road couplings onto the market which fit a
towball. They feature a patented positive towball latching system that
make connecting a breeze, requiring no pin or hole alignment. The
couplings are ADR compliant meeting Australian Standards & designed &
tested in Australia for Australian conditions.
2 tonne and 3.5 tonne
fixed intended for used with electric brakes & a 2 tonne overrider for
mechanical or hydraulic braking systems. All feature 360 degree head
The HITCH-EZY 3.5 Tonne
coupling features a convenient & safety feature mechanism that holds
the coupling in the unlocked/ready-to-engage position for hands free
coupling & uncoupling. During the self-centering engagement process,
automatic double locking occurs with the full descent of the sleeve
over the tow-pillar. The coupling is manufactured using marine grade
316 stainless steel & zinc-nickel alloy plating of all metal
components prior to painting. There is unlimited articulation in all
three axes with O-rings to keep the coupling area dust free. The
coupling is compatible with level-ride torsion bar systems & has a
low profile allowing clearance for 4WD rear doors. A tow-pillar,
security dummy-pillar, aluminium pillar cover & stainless steel
handbrake is included. There is also a 5 tonne version.
The ARK XO coupling offers
full off road articulation & fits a standard 50mm tow ball. The unique
Quick-Hitch locking system makes hitching up and unhitch an easy
process. There are two sizes, a 2 tonne coupling designed for mechanical
overrider brake systems & a 3.5 tonne coupling for electric brake
The Lovells HAULACE 3.5T
is an Australian designed, tested and manufactured all terrain coupling
with 360 degree articulation. The head of the coupling is made from
super tough Duplex stainless steel and requires no maintenance. Also
available is a 5.5 tonne version.
out of production
Vehicle Components AT35 COUPLING has a secondary
means of automatically locking the primary locking mechanism in
place. It is rated at 3.5 tonnes capacity &
incorporates variable rate polyurethane bushes which absorb shock,
yet allow the structure to take the maximum loading condition.
Articulation is 70 degrees minimum in all combinations of movement.
The low profile design allows maximum clearance for rear opening
doors & can be fitted with most stabilizer systems. The
Vehicle Components standard handbrake is designed to fit to the
rear mounting bolts of the coupling.
There was an over-ride version of this coupling also.
Components HITCHMASTER DO25 Drop On 2.5 tonne has a two
diameter pin & boss arrangement making it easy to connect just
like a ball coupling. The chamfered area between the two diameters
the pin to slide through the hole in the coupling at whatever angle the
hitch may be. The DO25 has a simple hooking up procedure,
just pull the T bar up & rotate until the locking plate moves in under
the pins head. Simply letting go will let the location pin on the
locking plate drop into its hole & at the same time the spring lock
fixes the locking plate also.
Components HITCHMASTER DO35 Drop On
3.5 tonne, is a bigger version of the DO25. The DO35 is rated at 3.5 tonne & has the same safety
features as the DO25 with two separate locking mechanisms. The machined
surfaces makes hitching up much easier in awkward locations than other
off road couplings that need a pin to be inserted. There is a small poly
block for shock absorption between the trailer & tow vehicle.
HITCHMASTER DO35 V2 is the result of continuous improvement &
rigorous testing by Vehicle Components. It is rated for a maximum load
capacity of 3.5 tonnes and complies with the Australian Design Rules
62/01 and 62/02. The coupling has a polyurethane bush on the pin, a
double locking mechanism and a sleek safety cap which doubles as a
visual aid to ensure the locks are engaged. It is very simple & easy to
connect even on uneven ground. Off road it has full 360 degree rotation
& 70 degree articulation. It is suited to all camper trailers and
caravans for off and on road usage.
The HYLAND uses a ball coupling
with a difference. The hitch is manufactured to give the ball full
articulation with a 360 degree rotation, making it far superior to the old ball
hitch in off-road situations.
The Hyland hitch must be used in conjunction with a 3.5 tonne ball
which has a higher stem than the standard 2.5 tonne ball. This
allows for proper fitment of the Hyland hitch over the ball allowing
clearance without fowling the tow tongue.
information by Rob