Correct swivel for 2.5″ tongue

Question: I’m looking for a swivel coupler for the tongue of a trailer I’m making to pull behind my motorcycle. The tongue width is 2-1/2″ and the holes, center to center, are 2-1/2″. Which type swivel coupler on your web page will fit? I didn’t find any name of coupler on the original fixed coupler or tongue.

Answer: The swivel units I sell are designed to fit into a tongue that has an interior height and width of 1.75″. That’s the standard width of a steel tongue that’s 2″ square. For applications like the Harbor Freight trailer, you need a couple of extra pieces to account for the added width of the tongue.

I sell a swivel for the Harbor Freight trailer that includes spacers and a new coupler for the front. The spacers make it fit snug in the tongue and the new coupler allows you to bolt it onto the front with the proper hardware, eliminating the possibility of binding that comes with trying to fit a 2.5″ coupler on the front.

You need to make a small modification to the tongue of the Harbor Freight trailer to get the best fit. I did a video on this a while back that shows how to make that change.

Hitch on a 2005 Road King

Question: I am interested in putting a hitch on my 2005 Road King Classic. I like the look of your black powder coat hitch. It appears not to require a liscense plate relocation. Some kits say minor adjustments are needed for the leather bagged Classic (minor usually meaning a pain in the neck!). How difficult is this to put on (how much disassembly of the bike)?, and how extensive is the wiring job for pulling a trailer?

Answer: I’m not aware of anything special needed to install this hitch. It attaches to the two fender struts on the fender and to the exhaust brackets, so I don’t see where it would require any modification. You don’t need to take anything off the bike to install the hitch, just take out a couple of bolts to put the straps in place. Pretty straightforward.

The wiring is a plug-and-play setup, so you find one plug under your seat (on the rear fender in the backrest bracket location), open that up and put our t-connector in place, then plug in the rest of the kit. That’s pretty much it. As far as wiring goes, it doesn’t get much simpler.

Got a question about trailering? Feel free to send it to dale@openroadoutfitters.com and I’ll try to answer as best I can. Thanks!

What’s Under the Time Out Camper?

Question: Dale, I’m just wondering, what kind of frame is under the Time Out Camper? Is it all metal or is it partially composite or something else all together? I have not been able to determine this from any of the brochures or web sites that I have visited. Thank You. Dan C.

Answer: Dan, I’ve spent some time under there on my Time Out. It’s a powdercoated steel box frame. I know this because one of the first times I towed the camper, I forgot to tuck the front jackstands. When I got home, they caught on the front edge of my garage slab floor where the driveway has sunken. I twisted up the jackstands pretty badly, to the point that I had to replace them, but the frame was unharmed. It’s pretty tough.

If I can answer any other questions, or help you when it’s time to order, please let me know. I really enjoy my TO. I’ve camped with others, including the Mini Mate, which I also like a lot. But the TO gives me a ton of room and I really like that l-shaped awning.

Got a question about trailering? Feel free to send it to dale@openroadoutfitters.com and I’ll try to answer as best I can. Thanks!

Matching Trailer and Bike Wiring

Question: On the TriGlide hitch you sell, what kind of wiring harness comes with it? My trailer has a round 6 pin plug.

Answer: The TriGlide hitch comes with a five-pin receptacle and plug. This works for most trailers, even those that have a six pin plug. Most motorcycle trailers have four signal wires and a ground wire for a total of five wires. If that’s the case with your trailer, you can use the five-wire harness that comes with the TriGlide hitch, you’ll just need to change the plug on the trailer.

Some trailers come equipped with an extra wire for an interior cargo light. In that case, you can do two things — you can find a six-pin receptacle to match your six-pin plug (not difficult), or you can combine the cargo light lead on the trailer with the running light circuit. This means your interior light will only work if the bike is keyed on, which some folks prefer as a way to prevent leaving the light on and draining the battery.

Whatever the case, you can feel free to change up the plug on the trailer to match up whatever works best on your bike. I talk to some folks who are afraid to change it for fear that something new won’t work, but there’s no magic to the plug that’s on it. You just need to make sure the new plug has the right number of pins to accommodate all the functions on your trailer. Five is usually enough.

Got a question about trailering? Feel free to send it to dale@openroadoutfitters.com and I’ll try to answer as best I can. Thanks!

Wiring Motorcycle Trailer to Work on a Car

Question: Is it difficult to adapt a motorcycle trailer to work on a car as far as lighting goes? I know the trailers are usually five-wire and my car uses four. How does that work?

Answer: It depends. Often it’s not too tricky, but sometimes the setup throws you a curve. The reason a conversion is necessary is because, as you say, a motorcycle trailer usually has five wires and four-wheelers use a four-wire setup. Motorcycles, unlike cars, has a brake circuit separate from the bike’s tail lights. Most cars/trucks have brakes and tail lights that share the same bulbs.

Easiest: If you haven’t yet ordered your trailer, ask your manufacturer if the trailer can be wired for a four-wire system. Some accommodating folks will do this for you just for asking. Put a four-wire harness on your bike, and you can swap the trailer between your bike and car with no conversion.

Simple: If your motorcycle trailer has turn signals with red lenses, you’re in luck. All you need to do is hook up the ground, running light circuit, and two turn signal circuits on your trailer to a four-pin plug and ignore the wire for the brake circuit. This will plug up and work with a car/truck with no problem. You can actually rig up a converter to go between the existing plug on your trailer and a four-wire plug to match the car side without doing any re-wiring on the trailer or your bike. When you want to tow with your bike, just remove the converter.

Less Simple: If your turn signals are amber, you can’t use them as turn and brake. Brake lights must be red. The next simplest thing is to source red lenses for your lights. Many trailer makers use off-the-shelf lights which are available in either color.

Harder, but doable: If you have a trailer that uses proprietary turn signals, like those that match the Honda Gold Wing, you have more engineering to do. That’s because neither the old style (01-05) nor new style (06+) offer tail lights with red turn signals. In this case, you need to do some re-wiring. The easiest way to accomplish this is to move the turn signal wire down, replacing the brake wire on both sides. This is a permanent change, so you’ll want to confirm that by doing this you will still have running lights. You will also need to put a four-wire harness on your bike to run the new system. You are not building an adapter like the “simple” process above, you are making a permanent change to your trailer.

As always, with any wiring project, test your work before you make it permanent, and always do a shakedown run. Don’t do this the night before you take a long trip! If you aren’t comfortable making wiring changes, enlist the help of a buddy from your club or if someone at your dealership is knowledgeable about trailers, ask them for help.

Got a question about trailering? Feel free to send it to dale@openroadoutfitters.com and I’ll try to answer as best I can. Thanks!