Time to prepare for the cold, wet, winter months. The beginning of autumn is a good time to address coupling/pintle hitch maintenance, before the inclement weather conditions make maintenance a more difficult task.
Start by thoroughly cleaning the coupling/pintle hitch with a non-corrosive liquid detergent and a stiff bristle nylon brush. After the coupling/pintle hitch has dried, it can be closely inspected for any worn or damaged components. Parts kits are available to replace worn latch components. Be sure to inspect critical body areas for damage or fractures. If such issues are found, the product may need to be taken out of service.
Premier Mfg Co has wear gages available for all of its couplings/pintle hitches. These allow for a quick check of the amount of wear in the cross-section of the pintle hook. The beauty of these wear gages is that they are simple to use and they are in alliance with the Federal out-of-service-limits, so you are testing the same way as would be performed by an inspector. For coupling/pintle hitch brands other than Premier, please follow the specific manufacturer’s recommendations for out-of-service-limits, as these do vary by manufacturer.
When everything is determined to be good with the coupling, it is now time to apply lubrication to the pivot points of the latch system. Some couplings/pintle hitches have lubrication ports that deliver the lube right to the lubrication point, making the task very simple. Always consult the product manufacturer for specifications of what they recommend and make certain that lubricant is kept away from the pintle hook and drawbar eye contact points. If any lube gets in or on these areas, clean it off thoroughly, otherwise the lube will attract road debris, which will accelerate wear.