Dave and I have both towed small boats forever. As hitches went from being indivually mounted to being a receiver and ball arrangement, they’ve also become really, really noisy. They just rattle and rattle — even worse if you’re going down any road that isn’t freshly paved. We tried all sorts of things to keep ours quiet. Nothing worked. (Tip: don’t try pounding wooden shims in — they’ll be almost impossible to get out. Trust me.)
We asked at the local hitch shop and they didn’t have anything. Others who raced the same type of small boat had the same complaint . . . and no answers.
Then, in the fall of 2014, as we prepared to go to our new-to-us boat, we got a hitch-mounted cargo carrier. And the accompanying documentation suggested that we use a hitch tightener with it. Hitch tightener? What’s that? Our local trailer shop had no idea what we were talking about.
Looking online, it was easy to find one on Amazon (of course). Basically, it’s a U bolt with a slightly bent heavy steel plate that presses against the hitch to keep it from moving.
It installed in less than a minute and both stabilized the cargo carrier and — as a side benefit — totally stopped the hitch rattle. What a difference!
The only “trick” to it is to get the nuts good and tight and remember to toss the wrenches in the car if you intend to remove the hitch when you get to your destination. We’re now using it on our “small boat” trailer (no, we don’t tow our Gemini, but we still have the one-design dinghy that we’ve raced for years although it’s up for sale as we transtion to being full-time cruisers again).
Turns out that RVers use hitch tighteners as a matter of course, but somehow most boaters have never heard of them. I’m out to change that — it’s the best $20 we’ve spent on the trailer!
- StowAway Hitch Tightener on Amazon (fits both 1¼” and 2″ receivers)
And for those wondering about our cargo carrier, it’s a lightweight aluminum 50″ x 20″ one that we also got on Amazon. One piece construction and much lighter than the steel ones we found in local stores . . . with the added bonus of costing less! It worked well for us and our two big plastic bins in the photo above didn’t come close to its 500-pound capacity.