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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-30-2019, 01:46 PM Thread Starter
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Trailer Hitch / Storage Tray

Not sure if this is the right forum for this topic, but it seemed like the best fit.

I'm thinking about adding a trailer hitch / storage tray combination off the back of my car to carry drag radials and skinnies without completely filling the interior. Doesn't need to be particularly heavy duty because the most weight I would put on it would be about 200 lbs plus the tray itself. Looking under the car, I don't see much structure to attach to, so my first concern is whether a hitch can be installed and used without damage to the unibody.

The only MN12 I remember seeing with such a setup was KevinM's car which was a '96 with a body kit. My '97 is lowered such that there is only 11.5" (static) between the bottom of the rear fascia and the ground. So, my next concern is: is that enough to take suspension travel, leave some clearance to the fascia, and not ground the trailer hitch?

My final concern is about the impact of overhung rear weight on the handling of the car. Not limit handling, just around town and highway operation.

Anybody have good or bad experiences to learn from? Any big do's or don't's? Brands of equipment to seek out or avoid? Would appreciate any input!

MikeB
1997 Thunderbird Sport
5.0L-2V PI S/C
540 RWHP / 492 RWTQ
11.28 @ 123 MPH
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-30-2019, 02:17 PM
50 years of Mercury Cougar 1967/2017
 
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I have a uhaul hitch on my 96 cougar. The ball mount just touches the bottom of the stock bumper cover.
The hitch attaches to the two subframe parts that are inboard of the mufflers.


Rick

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-31-2019, 05:50 PM Thread Starter
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After posting this yesterday, I searched and found some posts on here which seemed to indicate that the U-Haul hitch is no longer available. Checked into that more today, and they currently advertise two versions for the MN12: a “heavy duty” version and the discontinued but not yet unavailable “sport frame” version (both are Class II). I purchased a “sport frame” and will have it installed in early September. I also found a storage tray which is big enough for my tires and mounts to a Class II receiver. Most of the storage tray / basket accessories I found online are set up for the larger Class III receiver, which would have required an adapter. Hoping to have the setup in place and a trial run completed before heading off to the Midwest Bash!

MikeB
1997 Thunderbird Sport
5.0L-2V PI S/C
540 RWHP / 492 RWTQ
11.28 @ 123 MPH
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-31-2019, 06:28 PM
No, Mr. Lemmywinks, No!!!

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IDK about putting a hitch on; when I was bending Lazarus back from the wreck, it amazed me how easy that whole section is to bend.

I'd measure the bumper resting height off the ground, and compare it when you get home; there might be changes.

Red '96 Cougar XR-7 240k mi. '02 4R70W, PST DS : '03 PI engine, 04 maf, 24lb injectors, 2.5" exhaust, '02 4r70w + Jmod, DirtyD0g TC + cooler + 3/8" lines, 255 walbro fp. Alpine system.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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I think it will be OK with the limited weight I plan to carry. The hitch is designed to spread the load over the rear body rails as well as the bumper beam. That said, I would be hesitant to tow a 3500 pound trailer, which the hitch is rated to do.

MikeB
1997 Thunderbird Sport
5.0L-2V PI S/C
540 RWHP / 492 RWTQ
11.28 @ 123 MPH
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 02:44 PM
Kind of slapped together
 
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I just wish I could find a 2" receiver for my Cougar; Pam (the wife) looks like she may be in a scooter the rest of her life now, and all the scooter carriers I find require a 2" receiver.

Not a prob on the Dakota; but dang it, the Cougar is HER car!

(Not that I mind driving it, and with her in a scooter, I'll BE driving it ... )

RwP

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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You can get an adapter from 1.25" to 2.0" from U-Haul. That should allow you to fit a scooter carrier, as long as it isn't over 350 lbs with the scooter (maximum tongue load on the 1.25" receiver).

MikeB
1997 Thunderbird Sport
5.0L-2V PI S/C
540 RWHP / 492 RWTQ
11.28 @ 123 MPH
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-01-2019, 08:39 PM
Kind of slapped together
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeB View Post
You can get an adapter from 1.25" to 2.0" from U-Haul. That should allow you to fit a scooter carrier, as long as it isn't over 350 lbs with the scooter (maximum tongue load on the 1.25" receiver).
That's good.

So as I'm rebuilding Ruby Jean (the Cougar), I'll include that on my "Schtuff to Buy" list.

RwP

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-03-2019, 06:56 AM
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I've got one of the U-Haul hitches on my 96...mostly to protect my bumper when people rear end me but also for a convenience if I should need to tow anything. It is true some of the hitches are good for 3500 lbs or something like that but I believe the car is only designed to tow 2000 lbs...including the weight of the trailer. I wouldn't exceed that.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-03-2019, 08:41 AM
50 years of Mercury Cougar 1967/2017
 
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I put the hitch on my cat to have a trailer mover. I have towed the fast cat to the now closed 1/8 mile track.
It was a 20 mile tow without any issues. I was just trying to be cute. Now the hitch is a bicycle carrier receiver.

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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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I heard from my local U-Haul that they could not get the "sport frame" hitch receiver, but they have one of the "heavy duty" models in-transit. Looking at the two part numbers online, I don't see a difference in the designs, although there is about $40 difference in price. hopefully it arrives and can be installed next week.

MikeB
1997 Thunderbird Sport
5.0L-2V PI S/C
540 RWHP / 492 RWTQ
11.28 @ 123 MPH
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old Today, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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U-Haul installed the hitch I bought from them, and it didn't fit very well. The receiver was pushing the middle of the rear fascia up, and when I installed my storage tray, the central bar was also touching the rear fascia. So, I took the hitch back off today and modified it in two small ways. First, I elongated the holes where the hitch mounts to studs on the back of the pumper beam. This let the receiver end drop slightly. Second, I swapped spacers between the points which mount to the rear rails and those which mount to the tie-down brackets. That allowed the forward end of the hitch to be a bit higher. Net effect was to change the angle enough that the receiver isn't pushing the fascia up, and the bar on the tray isn't touching it either. After completing the mods and re-installation, I loaded up my drag tires and went for a test drive. Initial impressions are good - handling was not noticeably affected, the straps all stayed tight, etc. Attached are a couple of pictures of the setup. Not sure what I did wrong, but I can't seem to rotate the images - sorry!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_1514a.jpg (1.52 MB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_1513a.jpg (1.33 MB, 0 views)

MikeB
1997 Thunderbird Sport
5.0L-2V PI S/C
540 RWHP / 492 RWTQ
11.28 @ 123 MPH

Last edited by MikeB; Today at 02:19 PM.
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