Anyone who knows how to hook up a caravan may have experienced the towball being too close to the vehicle or total hitch. The answer can be a tow ball spacer block but the question is, should you fit one?
Simple answer is that you NO you shouldn’t.
Why would you want to fit a tow all spacer block in the first place?
If you use a standard towing ball hitch then you may be Ok, however if you use an Al-Ko stabiliser, then you will find that the head of the stabiliser, will at times, rub against the flange as seen in the picture below. This happens most when maneuvering the caravan, particularly if you are on a gradient.
Many people alleviate the problem by fitting a spacer block between the tow ball and the flange giving several millimetres of extra room.
However there is a problem with using a spacer block…
When concentrating pressure into one single area the pressure is increased. You may have heard how a ladies stiletto high heel concentrates grater pressure on the ground than an elephants foot?
Well this is a similar principle.
If you were to draw a triangle between the bolts holding the tow ball in place and the end of the of the tow ball you will see a greater concentration of pressure at the tow ball.
An extended tow ball is tested to ensure that it can withstand this extra pressure, where as the bolts are not. Further more, you need longer bolts than the original bolts provided by the manufacturer.
This only adds to the variables involved in what is already becoming a very complicated mathematical and equation that would test the best mathematicians and physiatrist amongst us.
I have even read stories of bolts breaking whilst towing caravans that should be well within the limits.
It is possible (but not proven at this point) that a percentage increase in the towball distance can equate to a percentage increase in towing weight.
Further more, it’s not clear until things go wrong how your insurance company may react to retro fitting something if such importance by an unqualified person.
That brings us onto the legal question of using a spacer block that is not tested to be used in combination with your towbar.
The only spacer block that you should use is one that has been supplied by the towbar manufacturer and recommended for use in the supplied instructions.
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So what is the best solution?
The best solution to the problem is to use an AL-KO or AL-KO compatible tow ball.
These are little more expensive than the tow ball extension plates available.
- Forged steel, High reach tow ball
- Suitable for use with Al-Ko AKS and Winterhoff Stabiliser type caravan couplings
- Standard Flange Fitting (M16 Holes)
- Suitable for use upto 3.5Tonne
- Tested to D17.2Kn / S350Kg
Due to the increased distance, your cover is unlikely to fit properly. See below for an alternative cover.
Thank you to Alister at Truckman for his assistance in finding a solution to this problem.