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Yakima Exo install

12880 Views 67 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  thefinnisher
Decided to take the plunge and ordered a Yakima Exo swing base, top shelf, gear locker and backdeck for my Metris. I got mine through REI and had it shipped to the store. Free shipping plus I will get 10% back in dividends next year. So anyways here goes, hopefully I can get the pictures in order.
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This is the unit in the box. The first issue is the included hitch pin and lock is not compatible with the stock Mercedes trailer hitch. The included pin is too long. It may work if you just want to use the clip, but that wouldn’t be theft proof. I had an aftermarket pin I purchased from etrailer a few years ago that should have worked, but it never tightened down and ended up stripping before I got to 100nm the directions say to tighten the bolt.
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The rest of the installation pretty much followed the instructions.
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The one thing I was unable to do myself was to drill the hole in the eye bolt and replacement 10.9 bolt. I figured it would be extremely difficult with a battery operated hand drill, and I also wasn't sure what kind of drill bits I would need. Thankfully I found a local metal shop who helped me with the drilling.

I had the holes drilled with 5/16 in diameter. I based this on the padlocks I had chosen, which shanks were the same measurement. I knew this might be tight but figure I could peel off the plastic sleeve of the locks if needed (since the shank was stainless)

I bought a set of 2 padlocks with Abus model ABUS 70IB/45 KA. I figured it would be nice to have the same key, for my modified "CURT" eye bolt lock, and the other 10.9 lock on the rack.

Before I mounted the eye bolt I cut out a closely matching 6mm heat shrink piece. It probably wasn't necessary but I thought this would protect the M6 screw some, so that the threads wouldn't as easily go bad, and then when uninstalling cause harm to the Yakima anti-wobble hex insert.

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I put a little anti-corrosion on the threads before tightening.

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I did end up having to trim the vinyl padlock cover but used some heat shrink that was a hair thinner and got it in the hole. It doesn't rattle at all because of this. (if you plan on doing something like this, use a drill bit a tad larger than 5/16 and it should be good without having to trim the vinyl sleeve)

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I ended up trimming about 10mm off of my 130mm eye bolt. It could have worked but got a little too close to the spare tire I thought. I don't have a vice so I temporarily used the rack itself as a place to secure the bolt for sawing.

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And here is my padlock installed on the backside of the hitch with a washer and two thinner hex nuts (I used to lock them in place). There is about 25mm between the end of the eye bolt and spare tire.

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Here is another shot from a little further away.

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Because the Yakima Eco SwingBase has a separate hitch insert to the rack, and two unsecured bolts that hold the rack, I used the drilled 10.9 M16 bolt to secure the rack to the hitch insert. Same principle with the padlock. I only replaced one of the two bolts with a lock, and used the factory bolt in the other position.

Because the 10.9 bolt didn't have threads all the way, and not ideally in length, I added two stainless washers on the head side.

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Here is the second padlock which secures the 10.9 bolt and rack to the hitch insert. To it's right you see the other factory M16 bolt with the nylon hex nut. I used the factory nylon hex nut but noticed that the cutout hole does strip some of the nylon as it's being tightened. I did tighten both to factory 100Nm specs so I think it should be good. In any case there is now a padlock securing it in place. I didn't cut this bolt shorter yet, because I didn't see a good reason to.

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I think it's somewhat a shame that Yakima doesn't provide at least a shorter bolt (I would be willing to buy it separately if they made one). At least now I made an attempt to secure it, and have to put my faith in the karma chameleons.
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Did you consider simply cutting the pin shorter and grinding a notch for the lock?

To me the above short pin looks like it's for a 1 1/4 receiver.
After some pondering and reading some reviews I realized that the Yakima lock would be pretty much worthless anyhow. Given the huge size of the hitch bolt and the anti-wobble system, somebody would just need to start wrenching and the lock would most certain release like a pop-corn.
Most locks are pretty much worthless. I started watching lockpickinglawyer and thought he was an idiot savant (and he is, by the way) but bought a lock picking set for $10 off amazon, started playing with it, had my roll top desk picked in 5 minutes, a master lock #5 5 minutes later, and my front door lock 10 minutes thereafter, with no prior experience.

Yeah, new door locks on my house, and they aren’t kwikset, Defiant, or Schlage (or anything that use those keyways!)
@pounce No I didn't consider cutting the factory hitch pin bolt shorter. If I had a metal machine shop maybe... but probably even then, I would rather keep the Yakima bolt in tact. I think the bolt Yakima supplies might be longer to work with one size up hitch receiver. With the 2 inch on the Metris it is slightly long (and because of the electrical connector bracket)

@BlauBlitzen2016 I have gotten caught up in watching those lock picking videos myself. I guess it's good knowledge for the public to know what you are against. Nothing is completely secure and one can only provide the best theft deterrent possible. I'll know now who to call if I need a lock specialist. :)
I purchased the Eco SwingBase as well and wondering more how people solved the anti-wobble hitch pin issue with the electrical connection bracket on the factory hitch.

@Vercingetorix I saw your post about using an older version of a hitch pin. Do you know what length it has, and does it have the anti-wobble threads at the beginning of the bolt?
If you are referring to the interface between the provided Yakima hitch pin/lock and the angled bracket on the Mercedes hitch, I "solved" the issue by threading the pin in a couple of turns, put the Yakima-provided lock on, and then tighten the pin to the prescribed torque. Reverse for removal.

After a year of using the system (swing base, upper shelf, gear locker, 2-up bike rack, top shelf, and LitKit) I have had no issues with use, quality, or reliability with the exception of the rather flimsy plastic cable brackets for the LitKit. When using just the lower attachment shelf, I take the upper shelf tower out to avoid interference issues with the 2-up bike rack module. Haven't lost the upper shelf securing knob yet, but expect that to happen sometime down the road. I keep trying to remember to order a second one just in case. In the pic you can see the last of the "Yakima" stickers - all of the others have come off and people are regularly asking what rack system it is ("Is it custom?"), looks like Yakima need to use a better adhesive if they want free marketing. Highly recommend the system for the Metris.

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@Le Manchot I tested the length and clearance of the bolt and there did not seem to be enough room between the hitch and angled electrical connector bracket. Perhaps only 2-3mm when measure. Without the lock sure it would fit, but with, it would have been pushing it. Obviously I think torquing it down to 100Nm would probably have worked (like you stated) but could have caused the bracket/ and/or to bend a little. And maybe no harm in that. At least it worked for you, and obviously the easiest solution.

For your reference here are couple of photos of the Yakima bolt and where it meets the bracket without the lock and being torqued down.

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Awesome to hear the rack system is working well for you. I have not yet had a chance to put it into much use. I only bought the base along with the Yakima cleats to see what I can cook up.

I have not yet attempted to remove the stickers, but was planning on it. I think the ginormous Yakima labels are hideous, but understand why some would want them, and of course why it would be helpful marketing to the manufacturer.
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@thefinnisher I took a few pics of my EXO hitch/pin as installed as I described. I think there is about 1-2mm clearance with the lock attached. It is not clear why yours is different so I also took some dimensioned pics of the pin and lock in case they are, for some reason, different than yours. My hitch assembly does not have the Westfalia sticker but it otherwise looks identical to yours. My van is a 2021 passenger.

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@Le Manchot I really appreciate your latest photos along with the dimensions. That looks good and solid to me!

Now that I think of it... and perhaps this is where there could be a slight difference in our hardware. My Exo Swingbase was delivered to me without absolutely no hardware to begin with. The box had no visible holes and after communicating with the seller, they shared that there had been some other customers with the same issue. So I called up Yakima and they sent me an Exo hardware installation package with the hitch pin and two bolts. I didn't get the hitch lock in that shipment but after inquiry I received that one in a separate shipment. I also didn't receive the wrenches but Yakima offered to reimburse me for the tools. Luckily I wasn't in a hurry to have it installed.

I'm hoping I didn't mislead any future Metris / Yakima Exo installers with my post. I think I am still pretty happy with my installation and locking solution.
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