As if that’s not specific enough, I could also add On a Cold Sleety Night, After the Family Had Gone to Bed, While Feeling Renewed Pangs of Hunger. I feel compelled to write this post so that Kate wouldn’t think I spent all that time in the garage playing video games (I wish I could). I was deciding between the Curt and a DrawTite trailer hitch. The Curt seemed more substantial, is made in Wisconsin (the DrawTite is made in Mexico) and as it turned out is surprisingly lighter (lighter being relative, more on that later). Installing the DrawTite requires moving the exhaust pipe out of the way, while the Curt requires drilling a hole. The latter raises its installation difficulty to 6/10 according to a reputable web site. I thought what the heck I could handle a drill, so I went with the Curt. Installation should take about an hour, according to the same web site. It ended up taking much longer than that—I won’t say by how much because it’s rather embarrassing, and that doesn’t even include the amount of time buying tools online and repeated trips to the local hardware store. I could of course have had the professionals at Rack Attack or even U-Haul do the job for reasonable cost, but that would have been a much shorter blog post.
Gearhead that I think I am, here’s the list of tools I used with varying degrees of competency and success:
- Rhino ramps
- Large garden stone masquerading as wheel chock
- Heavy-duty Milwaukee ½” “Hole Shooter” drill
- 17/32” black oxide drill bit, ½” drive
- Tree-shaped tungsten carbide burr bit
- Torque wrench, up to 150 lb-ft, ½” drive
- ¾” socket, ½” drive
- ½” drive extension rod
- Wire guide
- Regular cordless drill
- Assorted screwdrivers
- Pair of pliers
- Silicone lubricant
- Blocks of wood (as headrest)
- Bunch of collapsed cardboard boxes to lie on
- Wearable LED head lamp
- Sharpie permanent marker
- iPhone (to take picture and record video)
Here’s the executive summary: make sure you remove the plastic cover immediately aft of the rear wheelwell on the driver side. Then feel free to skip the rest of this post.
The helpful installation video seemed easy enough. The lack of swearing had me feeling optimistic. After I had the car on the ramps and all the tools assembled, things started off pretty well. The most difficult part was “hanging” the hitch in place so that I could use it as a template to mark the hole to drill on the driver side. It was difficult because I had to hold the hitch with one hand while tightening the nut with the other, and there was little wiggle room. I ended up supporting the hitch with my knee on one end and shoulder/forearm on the other; if it were a yoga pose it would be name “opossum faking death”. It wasn’t pretty or doctor-approved but it worked. Drilling the hole was challenging too because the “Hole Shooter” weighs like a mini-hitch; they do not make things light in Wisconsin. The video mentioned enlarging the drilled hole so that the bulky spacer can be pushed through. I had read elsewhere that instead the adjacent pre-drilled hole could be used with a wire guide to pull the spacer and bolt through. As a test, I was able to get the wire guide through, so this seemed promising. The hole was just a tad smaller than the spacer, so I went to the hardware store to get the burr bit; this wasn’t a wasted trip as I had to return the rental “Hole Shooter”. I was tempted to go with a tapered file rather than the burr bit, but luckily I didn’t or I wouldn’t be writing this until tomorrow at the earliest. Anyways, after enlarging the hole, the spacer fit but seemed to be too long to go through. I dutifully enlarged the hole further until it could fit through. Light at the end of the tunnel, literally. But lo and behold, as I tried to pull it through with the wire guide, something blocked its way. So now the spacer was completely in the whole, but stuck. I had visions of the spacer rattling inside the frame tube for the next few years as I drive down the road, hitch-less. Finally, with the help of screwdriver to nudge the spacer and push it up through another, smaller hole, and a pair of pliers to grab it by the end, I was able to extract the spacer. I peeped through the hole and was able to to make out a semi-circular opening between it and the hole I drilled. The opening must not have been large enough for the spacer to fit, and definitely not for the bolt. That’s the last time I listen to an Internet advice! Well, maybe. So now back to the pre-shortcut plan of enlarging the drilled hole. To make more room, I decided to completely remove the plastic cover.
You see, I had only loosened the cover and pushed it out of the way to access the pre-drilled hole. I violated my own rule of “never take shortcuts”. Removing it wasn’t hard, just pop open 2-4 plastic fasteners and 2 screws. Once the cover was off, I looked around and discovered to my amazement that there was a large rearward opening the into compartment I was trying so hard to get into! It WAS possible to come in through the South Entrance. Afterward it took me about 10 seconds to get the bolt and spacer in place.
This video shows the opening relative to the drilled hole.
Here’s the view from below.
I took this video by sticking the headlight into the opening, then inserting the iPhone right above it. As you can see, there was no way that anything could have been pulled through that semi-circular opening. Overzealous googling led me through a wild goose chase.
The hitch is finally in place and we are in business.