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2nd Gen Bumper Ball Shank Sizes

Discussion in 'Towing' started by mattygabe, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. Feb 25, 2011 at 2:05 PM
    #1
    mattygabe

    mattygabe [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Hey all, just wanted to document (if it hasn't been already) the specific sizes required for attaching a ball to the step bumper for doing light duty Class I/II towing (generally 2,000 or 3,500 lbs or less). Maybe I suck at searching, both in the Tacoma manual in my glove box, or on TW (but I think that's due to the fact that 95% of people end up getting a $150 Class IV hitch and attach it to the frame instead). For posterity, here's my truck's specs and the specs of the shank for the bumper:

    2011 Base SR5 Access Cab
    4x2 4-cyl, no towing package

    The bumper on this truck is in the Class II classification, which means a 350lb tongue weight and a max of 3,500lbs of total tow weight (cargo + occupants), so don't worry about getting a ball that does any more than that.

    The shank is also crucially important, make sure you order the correct shank diameter (width/thickness) and length, as the generally accepted setup is that at LEAST one thread remains after your washer and nut are secured to the shank on the bumper.

    [​IMG]

    Shank Diameter (B above): 1.0" *
    Shank Length (C above - minimum): 3.0" **


    (for posterity, A in the graphic above is the Ball Diameter, and D is called the Standard Lift. Thanks to Offroaders.com for the diagram and information)

    * The shank diameter is non-negotiable. It's not suggested to try and bore the hole larger, or use a shank that's smaller. The suggested smallest gap should be no less than 1/16", so it's gotta be pretty snug.

    ** I believe the minimum shank length is somewhere around 2.5" (but if you know the precise minimum here, let me know). Obviously slightly longer isn't unsafe or a bad thing, unless you think it looks like crap, but you must make sure the washer and nut for the shank have enough excess behind them - I believe at LEAST one thread on the shank must be visible below the nut on the shank).

    I just ordered a Class II 1 7/8" ball from etrailer.com, who seem to have just about every piece of equipment you'd need for towing. (Just FYI - didn't order this ball because it was Class II, a Class I would have absolutely more than sufficed for what I'm going to be doing, it was the only ball that had the correct diameters and length I need).

    Let me know if anything above is incorrect, I'll try to keep it updated. Seems that those of us who use the bumper ball to tow light loads are in the minority (for obvious reasons), but figured I'd provide some clean information for those of you looking.
     
  2. Feb 25, 2011 at 9:22 PM
    #2
    mattygabe

    mattygabe [OP] Well-Known Member

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    bump(er)
     
  3. Feb 28, 2011 at 8:56 PM
    #3
    mattygabe

    mattygabe [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I'm curious if anyone knows if the Tacoma's minimum shank length is pretty standard for both midsizes AND full size trucks, or just trucks in general. I understand that a 2" hitch on the frame is generally used, and the drop-forged hitch receivers generally need smaller shanks, but was curious nonetheless as to what was needed. I had to go online and only found 2 on a site that specializes in towing accessories... Geesh!
     
  4. Mar 2, 2011 at 2:30 PM
    #4
    mattygabe

    mattygabe [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Updated the minimum shank length from 2.5" to 3.0" after I got my 3" ball in today. No way you'd be able to use a shank any shorter. I had to use the wrench after tightening the nut behind the washer by hand. By the time I had my required torque, though, there were more than 1 shank thread showing, so it's more than "barely" long enough, but I can't see you getting by with anything less than 3.0"
     
  5. Mar 3, 2011 at 9:05 AM
    #5
    mattygabe

    mattygabe [OP] Well-Known Member

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    That would, of course, require a proper hitch mounted to the frame. If your only intention is light duty Class I or II towing, there's really no need. Especially if it's as infrequent as a weekend fishing trip every month or so, I feel the bumper ball more than suffices.
     
  6. Apr 11, 2011 at 10:30 AM
    #6
    mattygabe

    mattygabe [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Another update... For those of you towing with your step bumper (as I am), curious to see how everyone hooks the safety chains to the bumper. I almost attempted to find a couple I-hooks to put into the two holes outside of the bumper ball, but decided instead to just buy a couple of Grade 8 bolts with a flat washer on top, and a lock washer underneath. I slip the S-hook of the chains around the bolt, and then tighten the bolt to the bumper.

    Took my jonboat out on the water this weekend, and everything worked very well, including the 4-wire aftermarket Y-adapter for the trailer lights.
     
  7. Feb 28, 2013 at 10:37 AM
    #7
    mattygabe

    mattygabe [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Just another update... This still works great.

    I recall quite a few folks warning of never using the bumper ball, and warned I would be threatening my own and the safety of other drivers around me. Hogwash!

    I've towed several different Class I and Class II trailers and loads on such. The biggest piece you must understand is to KNOW WHAT YOU TOW. If it's over the maximum load capacity for both the truck and/or the trailer, or if it's unevenly distributed, etc. it will cause issues. But this will cause issues if you do so with a frame-mounted hitch, too!

    Do your research. Bumper balls work just fine :)
     
  8. Mar 2, 2013 at 9:51 PM
    #8
    rickmeseke

    rickmeseke subaru of america

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    +1

    i tow with mine all the time. i have a 4.0 although, but i tow a trailer+riding lawn mower= no problems

    2000 seadoo = no problems

    2000 18foot boat = no problem << although that is almost pushing it, my truck handles it fine. i towed worse with my dodge, i used to tow a pontoon boat all the time loaded with cases of beer, with the bumper, never an issue.

    if its rated to tow it, it'll tow it. just dont gun it off the line and youll be fine, obivously
     
  9. Apr 2, 2013 at 12:08 PM
    #9
    Duhrel

    Duhrel Member

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    thanks for the fantastic info.
     
  10. Apr 5, 2013 at 3:38 PM
    #10
    Crooked Beat

    Crooked Beat Well-Known Member

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    Are you happy with how you attach the safety chains to the bumper?
     
  11. Apr 12, 2013 at 7:01 AM
    #11
    mattygabe

    mattygabe [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Happy, not particularly. I know with a proper hitch you just slip the S-hooks into the hitch holes and you're done, what I did was use two grade 8 bolts.

    At first, I was tightening it with my ratchet and wrench, but lately with my flatbed trailer Ive just been tightening by hand, or at least a quick twist from the ratchet. Otherwise it becomes a process to detach the trailer from the truck (more so than it needs to be, at least).

    If others have a better method of attaching the safety chains to the bumper, I'm all ears. Mine works, and it's solid (the chain will probably break before the bolts do!), but it's a bit cumbersome.
     
  12. Apr 16, 2013 at 2:09 PM
    #12
    Crooked Beat

    Crooked Beat Well-Known Member

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    I haven't found a better method yet.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2013
  13. Oct 12, 2014 at 6:57 PM
    #13
    pidro_el_pirata

    pidro_el_pirata Lean Mean MPG Machine (best = 27)

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    Already done: mats, bed cover, CB radio, sub and deck, red dash lights to match deck, chrome rims, towing kit, aftermarket horn, deck plate mod, K&N drop in filter. On the way: automatic locks w/alarm, powered windows, scan gauge...
    Old post but I towed with my bumper occasionally and had an easy solution for the chains. I spanned between my frame rails with a stronger chain and shackles. Never had any problems in three years towing that way. Makes for an easy attachment point.
     
  14. Oct 12, 2014 at 7:01 PM
    #14
    pidro_el_pirata

    pidro_el_pirata Lean Mean MPG Machine (best = 27)

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    Already done: mats, bed cover, CB radio, sub and deck, red dash lights to match deck, chrome rims, towing kit, aftermarket horn, deck plate mod, K&N drop in filter. On the way: automatic locks w/alarm, powered windows, scan gauge...
    Also no problems passing inspection at Uhaul with that setup. Just had to convince them I understood my weight limits when I rented the 6x12 trailer with my low capacity bumper hitch :p
     
  15. Oct 15, 2014 at 11:40 AM
    #15
    oldstick

    oldstick Middle Age Member

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    Bumper = Fine for the size trailers the OP is talking about. I used to bumper tow a 5 x 8 utility trailer with a 4 cyl. Izuzu pickup all the time.
     
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