2" receiver hitch on M37

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John Mc

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Monkton, VT
I'm looking to add a 2" receiver hitch on my 1951 M37. I want to keep the stock pintle hitch. I've seen a few pictures of people who fabricated a receiver set up. I'm thinking of mounting a stock aftermarket receiver hitch sold for modern trucks. It seems the frame rail spacing is the same as modern trucks. On another site, a member mounted a hitch he removed off his 2001 Dodge Ram onto his M37. All that was required was drilling the mounting holes in the frame. His hitch had a LOT of drop (necessary to clear the bumper on his modern truck). It caused him to lose more ground clearance than necessary.

I'm looking to find a manufactured hitch that will fit as close as possible under the frame without interfering with the pintle hitch. I'm open to other options, but I don't want to lose the pintle hitch (I dont currently own any pintle hitch trailers, but I like the look, and may own one in the future). I'm concerned about mounting something on the cross member, particularly because the large drop required to get the ball to the proper height (I have 11.00x16 tires) seems as though it would put quite a twisting moment on the cross member when towing. A frame mounted hitch avoids this concern.

Since none of the online trailer hitch places I've checked have any dimensional information online, I'll be making a visit to a local hitch sales/installation place to see what they may have. Since I doubt many places have a huge inventory of hitches waiting to install that we can just hold up for a test fit, I'm hoping someone here has already done this, and has a recommendation for an make/model of an aftermarket, frame mounted hitch that makes for a good fit on an M37. Appearance-wise, I'd prefer a "squared-off" look; I think that would make a better fit with the character of the truck, rather than a hitch made from round or bent tubing.

So has anyone done this? Any leads would certainly shorten my search process.
 

zebedee

conceptualizer at large
Steel Soldiers Supporter
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I am just about done with a QD mount hitch for a M932 that utilises the inner pintle hitch large nut and the outer shackle brackets for a triangulated 2"reciever. Pics soon will give you my approach..
Cross reference for M932 QD Hitch:-
 
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thmpr

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Location
Phoenix, AZ
Be careful with the flat-faced, eBay 2" receivers. M series have an outward structural bend in the rear crossmember below the pintle that would need to be shaved off for the new receiver. Thinking of doing it, but worried about the crossmember bending inward under heavy braking. Maybe add 2 gussets behind the crossmember to compensate?
 

John Mc

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Location
Monkton, VT
As mentioned in my original post: I have 11.00x16 tires, it's likely I'll need a substantial drop from the receiver to get the right height for my 2" ball hitch trailers. I'm not interested in putting that kind of twisting moment on my rear crossmember when towing. This means either reinforcing the rear cross-member, or installing a frame mounted hitch.

I'm still looking for a modern frame mounted hitch that will fit and not eat up a large amount of my ground clearance. None of th etrailer hitch places in my area would take on searching out a hitch that would fit. They go by entering a model and year and look up the part to order. The project took a back burner util I mentioned it to a local auto mechanic. He recently pulled a hitch off a Jeep that he thinks might fit. It's got about a 2" drop from the frame mount to the top of the receiver, which is just about ideal: just enough to clear the little bump on the bottom center of the rear cross member and the bottom of the pintle.

I'll let folks know how it goes - it's going in for a test fit next week.
 

John Mc

Member
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Location
Monkton, VT
Well, I finally found a couple of option for this. I'll describe the first one here. The second option, which required modifying an off the shelf receiver, appears in my next post,

DRAW-TITE #75054
A local mechanic had a hitch from a 2000 Jeep Cherokee (not a Grand Cherokee) that had very little drop. He said it was rated for 5000#, so I asked him to install it using the rivet holes which attach the truck's rear cross-member to the frame as the mounting hole for the rear-most hole on the hitch. The only modiications to the truck were to drill holes in appropriate locations in the frame for the hitch's mounting bolts. On the hitch itself, the flanges that mount to the frame are wider than the frame, so about 1/4" needed to be ground off the outside edge of the hitch flange for about 3.5"-4" from the front end to clear where the rear springs attach.

Overall, the fit was decent. The hutch hung down about 1.5" lower than it really needed to to clear the bottom of the rear cross-member. So it lost a bit more ground clearance than absolutely necessary, but it was the least drop on a commercially-made hitch I could find.

I ended up pulling that hitch off, because it turned out, the 5000# rating was for a weight-distributing hitch (which none of my trailers are set up for). For a regular weight-carrying hitch, the rating is only 3500#. Since I want to use this truck in the woods, pulling around trailer loads of logs, that rating was not enough for me (my empty log forwarding trailer weighs almost 1500#). Unfortunately, I can't find my pictures of the photos I had taken with this hitch mounted on the truck.

If I had kept the hitch, I probably would have slid it forward on the frame a bit more and not used the truck's rear cross-member rivet holes as a mounting point. This would tuck the hitch in just a bit further under the rear cross-member.

The hitch had a RIGID label on it, but it appears to be the same thing a the Draw-Tite # 75054 (Rated for 3500# & 350# tongue weight or 5000#/500 with WD Hitch.)

CURT #13084
It appears Curt Makes a similar hitch rated for 5000# tow / 500# tongue (6000#/600# with WD hitch). See Curt #13084. If 5000# tow rating is enough for you, and you don't need the absolute minimum loss of ground clearance, using this receiver unmodified might just be one of the better "off the shelf" matches out there for an M37. It's hard to tell from the photos, but it appears that it may have the same or only slightly more drop than the Draw-Tite model noted above. If i were mounting it, I think I would slide it forward enough to not use the truck's cross-member rivet holes. This would tuck the receiver cross-bar in nicely under the truck's rear cross member. Take a look at the fit yourself before making a final decision. The price is quite reasonable: currently $112 on eTrailer.

If you need the absolute minimum loss of ground clearance, you could always modify the hitch, similar to what I did to a different hitch as described in a later post.
 
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John Mc

Member
48
20
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Location
Monkton, VT
I ordered a Draw-Tite #41536 receiver hitch. It was the hitch with the least amount of drop I could find rated at 6000# towing weight / 600# tongue weight (10,000#/1000# with weight distribution hitch). It has noticeably beefier construction than the 3500# rated Draw-Tite/Rigid hitch noted in my previous post. Cost was $187 from eTrailer.com.

This post shows how the hitch fits unmodified, using the truck's cross-member rivet holes for the rear-most mounting hole in the receiver. As expected, the drop was more than I wanted, but it was not too bad. It might work fine for someone who did not need every bit of ground clearance.

hitch rear.jpg
I above picture, the top of the hitch cross bar sits roughly 2.5" below the lowest point of the truck's rear cross-member (the rounded part under where the pintle mounts).

Hitch side.jpg
Hard to see in the picture above, but the receiver cross bar is almost centered fore and aft under the lowest part of the pintle. This puts the front edge of the cross bar about 1/4" behind the rear edge of the truck's rear cross member.

Hitch Pintle detail.jpg
There is about 2.5" between the lowest point of the pintle, and the top of the receiver's cross bar. (The top of the receiver tube itself sits about another 2.5" below that.

As you can see from the first picture, at least with the 11.00R16 ties on this truck, the ground clearance is still pretty good. PLenty for on-road use, and some off-road. The ball show installed in the pictures is still slightly higher than standard for my other vehicles. I suspect it would be right where it should be with the receiver insert shown, and something close to stock tires on the truck.

If I were mounting this hitch unmodified, I would slide it forward several inches on the frame rails to tuck the receiver's cross bar in under the truck's rear cross member (this would also mean you would not need to drill out the rivets in the rear cross member).
 

John Mc

Member
48
20
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Location
Monkton, VT
Here is what I ended up doing. I took the Draw-Tite 41536 hitch noted in the previous post and had it modified by a welder (who has far greater skills than I do). He moved the receiver cross bar forward about 2.5" and up about 2.5 - 3" (dimensions are approximate). When using the trucks cross-member rivet hole (which was already drilled out for my attempt with the Cherokee hitch), the fit came out right where I wanted it.

I will be substituting grade 8 bolts in the holes which go through the old rivet holes n the truck's rear cross member, as called for in the frame repair technical manual. The rest of the mounting bolts will stay with the grade 5 hardware that came with the hitch.

Hitch Mod Rear.jpg

Hitch Mod Rear2.jpg

Hitch Mod Pintle detail.jpg

I'm happy with how it turned out. The only tricky part was getting the forward-most mounting bolts installed on each side. The gas tank sits too close to the frame rails to easily get the bolts in place. Fortuantely, the included hardware is carriage bolts, and they ship with rectangular "washer" blocks with square holes in them to capture the square under the carriage bolt head. This locks the carriage bolt in place without the need for a wrench. It took a bit of reativity to get the bolts and rectangular blocks slid up the rail so the bolt would drop through the hole, but it ended up not taking long to figure that out.

Overall, I'm happy with the result. I'm sure Draw-Tite would have fits if they knew the hitch was being mounted on an "unapproved" truck, not to mention the fact that the hitch has been modified. However, I have confidence in the welds, and the only time the hitch will come anywhere close to it's rated capacity is in the woods, where it is moving less than 10 MPH.

If I could live with a bit more loss of ground clearance, I would probably go with the 5000# Curt unit mentioned previously. No modifications to the hitch required, and the odds of me doing serious towing over 5000# with a mostly stock M37 are pretty slim.
 
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