How to Tow Your Log Splitter
Before you hitch up your log splitter, watch this video to learn how to tow your log splitter. From the basics to the finer points, we cover safety tips, towing hardware, and even a few pointers on how to back up without jack-knifing.
Welcome back to RuggedMade. I'm Jared. Today, we'll be going over some basics of how to tow a log splitter. If you've recently purchased your first log splitter or you're considering it, we think you'll find this video helpful.
Most log splitters need at least a little bit of preparation before towing. For example, this 500-Series needs to be in the horizontal configuration, as you see it here, and to get the 700-Series into towing mode, you would take the bottom half of the log lift out and store it in the top half. This catcher tray would mount like this to the blade. Turn the fuel petcock off on the engine. This will prevent raw fuel from getting into the cylinder and working its way down into the crankcase. If it gets down there, it'll contaminate your engine oil. You'll need a vehicle that's set up for towing, but you don't need a big truck just to tow a log splitter. The vehicle and the hitch receiver just need to be rated for the amount of weight you'll be towing. Most log splitters weigh between 500 and 1,000 pounds. Most log splitters don't have trailer lights for braking and turn signals, so you won't be connecting to your tow vehicle's wiring harness, but some people do like to add an inexpensive set of trailer lights that can attach magnetically.
You'll need a ball mount with a hitch ball. Ball mounts come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. This one comes straight out of the receiver. This is about a 1” drop mount. This is a little more extreme. This is about a 6” drop, so if you had a lift kit on your truck, you don't want to be towing your log splitter down the road nose up. You want it level or parallel with the ground, so a big drop like this might help. And there are even adjustable ones.
Most log splitter couplers take a standard 2” ball. These are secured to the mount with a big nut, but they can be an integral part of the mount like on this welded tri-ball and they can even be detachable like on this really slick convertible hitch ball.
The most common receiver size is 2” x 2”. And, we'll secure the ball mount with a cross pin and secure the pin with another pin. To get the coupler onto the ball, you need to lift this end of the splitter, so be careful not to hurt your back. Some splitters like this 500-Series are very nicely balanced. Other models, like our 700-Series, have quite a bit of tongue weight. Depending on the height of your ball above the ground, you may need to retract the support leg before you get it onto the ball. Once the coupler is fully seated on the ball, rotate this latch to the horizontal position and that will lock the coupler onto the ball. And then, test to make sure it's secure. It is possible for the coupler to look like it's on the ball and the ball is in the socket when it's really not, so test it. A quick visual inspection is all you need. You don't want to stick your fingers in there.
Put a small hitch pin through the hole in the latch and secure it. This will prevent the latch from releasing while towing. These little pins come in all different shapes and sizes and they even have locking ones. Connect the two safety chains to the tow vehicle. Best practice is to cross them but check your local state's laws. If you didn't have to retract the support leg before, do that now, and keep in mind some log splitters like this 500-Series have two support legs.
It's almost ready to tow, but now's the time to go around and double-check everything before you drive off. Check your tire pressure and the condition of the tires. Make sure there's nothing loose or dangling. Make sure your fuel cap is tight. Double-check that your coupler is securely latched and that your safety chains are connected. Then, you're ready to roll.
Let's talk about speed. These are meant to be towed across town to your brother-in-law's house to do some splitting. They're not meant to be towed from Maine to Montana. Most splitters have no kind of suspension like leaf springs or a torsion bar. That means they tend to bounce around a bit, so you need to take things slow. Top speed of about 40 to 45 miles an hour in most cases. And, they're also pretty narrow and top-heavy, so you’ve got to take it easy on turns and on hills. If you really need to take one of these hundreds of miles away, we recommend putting them in the back of your truck or on a trailer or just take the slow, scenic route.
Towing a splitter is pretty straightforward. When you're going forward, where things start to get a little more interesting is when you're backing up. Most people seem to agree that the steering inputs when you're going backwards have a very counterintuitive effect on where the splitter goes. It’s something you can really only learn by trial and error and practice. The main thing to watch out for is to avoid jackknifing the splitter. This can damage your splitter and your vehicle and it can happen really quickly, so the key is to make small but early steering inputs and don't hesitate to stop and pull forward to make a correction. And, be grateful that your backing up skills (or lack thereof as the case may be) aren't on display for all to see as they would be if you were trying to launch a boat at the local boat ramp.
Once you've arrived at your destination, it's time to disconnect the splitter from the vehicle, so make sure you're on some level ground so that the splitter can't roll away as soon as you disconnect it and if you can't find any level ground you can use a set of wheel chocks like this. Make sure your tow vehicle is in park or in gear, and the parking brake is set. And, basically, this is going to be the reverse of the process we use to get the splitter hooked up to the vehicle.
Disconnect the safety chains. Release the latch pin and then pull this trigger to lift the latch. Now, even if we can't deploy this leg fully, I like to let it hang down so that it'll be ready as we lift the splitter up. So, lift the splitter off the ball and straighten that leg out. Lock the support leg down. Move the vehicle out of the way, and you're ready to split. Let us know in the comments if you found this video helpful, and send us suggestions on other topics you'd like us to cover in future videos. Thanks for watching, and happy splitting.