Solved the Coastal Hitch droop and bend problem

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Accessories & Modifications' started by mtsarpilot, Oct 24, 2006.

  1. mtsarpilot

    mtsarpilot Junior Member

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    Like many others have noted in previous posts, the coastal hitch bends downwards when you put much weight on a bike rack. After doing this for a while, the hitch permanently bends and does not return to it's original position. I found that if I put 2 bikes on the rack it bent down enough to be concerning, and it bounced a lot whenever I hit much of a bump. Railroad tracks were really scary. The problem is the hitch being cantilevered back over a foot from it's crossbar, then the bike rack is another foot back plus however far back the bikes are on the rack. That's a long moment arm for the small crossbar to take, and it twists.

    There is no metal structure above the hitch to weld to to strengthen it. On top of that, the welder I worked with pointed out that you really don't want to weld to this car frame, and would not even weld on the hitch while it was on the car, for fear of blowing out electronics. They have had simpler electronics blow out in cars. The solution we went with is elegant and simple. We took the hitch off, welded an arm from the crossbar forward to the pedastal that sticks down in front of the spare tire well that is the center rear jackpoint. I wanted the hitch to be removable if need be, and we did not want to weld to the frame anyway. So we put an L-bracket on the arm to reach under the pedestal, then bolted the two together through the two holes that are already in the bottom of the pedestal. We counter-sunk the bolts in the L-bracket so the surface is still flat surface such that the pedestal can still be used as the jackpoint. The end result is a rock solid hitch that can't bend downwards. Downward force is transmitted back to the pedestal with the crossbar as a fulcrum. The pedestal receives a small upward load, far less than it is stressed for as a jackpoint. When I hit a big pump and the rack bounces upward slightly, the hitsh is just as stable because the bolts hold the L-bracket from seperating from the pedastal in a downward direction. This also keeps it from slamming back up at the pedestal which it is not designed for. Check the below pictures:

    [attachmentid=5465]

    [attachmentid=5466]

    This took 2 hours for a professional welder. Well worth the time, effort, and money.
     

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  2. silentak1

    silentak1 Since 2005

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    Wow. I thought I was crazy for thinking that my steel hitch was starting to bend, but indeed I'm not crazy.

    This sounds like a cleverly elegant idea, would you mind telling us your final cost?
     
  3. HTMLSpinnr

    HTMLSpinnr Moderator
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    This may explain the amount of flex on my wife's 02 when we carry her wheel chair back there. We hit some serious bumps and the chair seems to drop down a good 3-5 inches. While there's some play in the carrier itself, it doesn't seem that much.

    I'll have to examine it more closely next time the chair is on (once every few months for all-day "walking" events).
     
  4. Godiva

    Godiva AmeriKan Citizen

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    From what I'm reading there doesn't seem to be a hitch that doesn't require intervention (and $).

    The Coastal requires the extra piece welded on.

    The Curt requires the tailpipe be modified or it will melt the underbody and possibly the bumper. (Unless you get the modified one, then again there's no trackrecord or guarantee with that one either.)

    I guess I'll wait some more. I don't really *need* a hitch. I have a removeable bike rack with ample padding that straps on.
     
  5. mtsarpilot

    mtsarpilot Junior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(silentak1 @ Oct 24 2006, 10:05 PM) [snapback]337822[/snapback]</div>
    No, you are not crazy. The hitch dropped as much as an inch from the bottom of the bumper when I had 4 bikes on the rack. There was a string on this where someone mentioned that after bending to a point, their hitch did not come back up when the weight was removed and they had to leave their bikes behind, could not bring them home on that drive. I searched but could not find the string. It's the string that got me watching for the problem.

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(htmlspinnr @ Oct 24 2006, 10:31 PM) [snapback]337830[/snapback]</div>
    This would explain what you are seeing, and I would guess 3-5 inches is pretty likely at the end of the lever arm when it bounces. The hitch pin is about 12 inches aft of the crossbar, then any kind of sizable rack means the weight is cantilevered 2 to 3 feet out from the crossbar. A 1 1/4" crossbar just can't stand up to that much lever arm and weight, and it twists. I understand Coastal's desire to keep the hitch light and inexpensive, but by doing so they have reduced the functionality drastically. It would have been much better designed with a 2 inch crossbar like most hitches have.

    To see the crossbar twist, try this simple experiment. Put a pipe wrench (or any other locking wrench) on the crossbar. Put your rack in the hitch and have someone step on it. As the rack bends down, watch the motion of the wrench. You'll see it moves in relation to the car. Great way to visuallize what is going on. That experiement showed us what the problem was. From there the solution becomes more obviousl


    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(silentak1 @ Oct 24 2006, 10:05 PM) [snapback]337822[/snapback]</div>
    Turned out a little more than I had planned. Original guess was $60 for labor plus material. Took 2 hours instead of 1, so the bill was $120 labor and $5 material. Now that we all know the design, the next guy can probably do it a little cheaper.

    Another option would have been to remove the 1 1/4" crossbar and replace it with a 2". But that would have taken more welding, more time, and was not guaranteed to work because we did not know the stiffness of the brackets hanging down. This was going to be an elegent sure fire fix.

    While the cost was more than I expected, specially on top of the cost of the hitch, it is still worth it to me. I need to be able to carry bikes and have my son in the back seat at the same time. So a hitch rack solution is a must for me on the Prius, bikes inside is not an option. I'm glad Toyota had something there for us to hook to for such a simple solution.
     
  6. MtBiker

    MtBiker Junior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(mtsarpilot @ Oct 24 2006, 04:12 PM) [snapback]337663[/snapback]</div>

    mtsarpilot,


    I plan to buy the Coastal hitch for use with a relatively heavy bike rack. I like your idea and would like to have it welded up before I mount it to the Prius. To save me time, do you have the dimensions/a drawing for that support arm that you'd be willing to share? If so, send me an email and I'll give you my address. Thanks.
     
  7. argonzero

    argonzero New Member

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    Sorry to bring the thread back from the dead...

    I think this is the best idea for ensuring that the hitch will be able to handle the weight of a hitch bike rack. Although I'm not going to be loading 4 bikes, I will be loading 2 heavy downhill bikes. This along with the suspension straps idea seem like the best solutions to me.

    Just out of curiosity, how has the hitch held up over the years?
     
  8. bac

    bac Active Member

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    FYI, the new (Curt) models works very well. There is no issue with the exhaust at all. I saw pix of the old (now discontinued) model, and see why the exhaust was an issue.

    It also doesn't sag. :)

    ... Brad
     
  9. 9G-man

    9G-man Senior Member

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    Dude, stop. Don't buy the Coastal Hitch, it has a serious design flaw that shouldn't require additional welding and support straps. Thats stupid.
    Even the mod referred to in this thread does nothing to support the reciever, which is what carries the load and is otherwise unsupported.
    That mod supports the crossmember, which does little to fix the problem.

    All the other hitches, Curt, DrawTite & HiddenHitch have been modded to eliminate the exaust burn problem. They are proper in design and strength. The Curt is really overkill and weighs the most.
    You can buy the DrawTite for $94.00 at e-trailer.com
     
  10. argonzero

    argonzero New Member

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    Yea, I went with a Curt hitch. It should arrive tomorrow. From what I've read, it seems as though 4 XC bikes would pretty much bend anything, and I'm planning on holding two DH bikes (about 40 lbs each). I have some Yakima Hatch Hooks to help out with the weight and sway also.

    So from your experience, the Curt model should not need the extra metal welded onto it? If thats the case, it'd save me quite some time.
     
  11. rayxoxo

    rayxoxo New Member

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    I bought a curt off of ebay from Carparts.

    Total cost including shipping was $119.95. Arrived in great shape and very fast.

    I haven't had the time to install it as yet. But it looks good from what I can see.
     
  12. MR.K

    MR.K New Member

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    I got a Curt as well.... but soooo heavy ....do you think an aluminum one work since were not to tow trailers anyway? Thought I might try to copy the Curt design and use the mod from the beginning of this thread to beef it up ...I just really want a bike rack .....
     
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