Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Snowmobile Tow Hitch

In the winter our primary means of transportation is by snowmobile.  Most of the time when you are snowmobiling here you are pulling a sled.  All of this sled pulling puts a lot of wear and tear on the tow hitch.

The factory made tow hitches that come with snowmobiles are never tough enough.  I replace a lot of them for people.  Here is a collection of broken and wore out hitches.  Many of these are the type that fit into a tube on the rear bumper and they are held in place by some type of pin.  The pin is never strong enough, it eventually bends.  Frequently the hitches are made from metal that is too thin or they have inadequate welds.  Another source of trouble is the latch that keeps the sled connected, the springs fall out or the latch bends.

Over the years I have come up with a replacement that solves all of these problems.  I build my tow hitches with a 1/2" clevis, a 3/4" bolt and a nyloc nut.  If you use a quality clevis they are made with an alloy steel that seems to wear better than the typical mild steel factory units.  The shape of the clevis also makes for a better tow hook than the usual "J" hook.  The clevis is narrow at the top and keeps the sled draw bar from coming out.  The shape works so well that I often don't screw the clevis pin in the top.

After grinding the galvanizing off the clevis I clamp them together for welding.

This is a very important weld that must be done carefully.  These are the tools that I use to clean the slag off between weld passes.  The top three are typical welding tools, but the bottom one is one of my favorites.  It is a standard Stanley awl.  If you hold it loosely with one hand and tap on the end of it rapidly with the wire brush of the side of the chipping hammer it acts like a mini needle scaler.

Here is a close up of the completed weld.  An old well driller that I used to work with would say that a good weld "looked like a stack of dimes."

This is the completed hitch.  The nyloc nut holds it much more secure than a little pin through a hole.

Here is the new hitch on the back of a Polaris.

1 comment:

  1. Hello. impressive job. I did not expect this. This is a splendid story. Thanks!