Title:
Utilitarian accessory mounting system for a trailer hitch assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus allows one to mount a utilitarian accesory on a pair of mounting arms on a receiver assembly. The apparatus includes a utilitarian accesory and a mounting assembly including a pair of posts that are connected to that accesory. The posts include mounting sections that when engaged with the accesory mounting arms on the receiver assembly define an included angle of between 1-45°, 5-45° or 10-45° with a horizontal plane.



Inventors:
Mccoy, Richard W. (Granger, IN, US)
Lindenman, Thomas W. (South Bend, IN, US)
Application Number:
10/332869
Publication Date:
07/01/2004
Filing Date:
01/13/2003
Assignee:
MCCOY RICHARD W
LINDENMAN THOMAS W
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B60D1/14; B60R9/06; (IPC1-7): B60D1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HURLEY, KEVIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Robert H. Earp, III (Cleveland, OH, US)
Claims:

What is claimed:



1. An apparatus for mounting on a pair of accessory mounting arms of a receiver assembly, comprising: a utilitarian accessory; and a mounting assembly including a pair of posts connected to said utilitarian accessory, said pair of posts having angled mounting sections that when engaged with the accessory mounting arms of the receiver assembly define an included angle of 10-45° with a horizontal plane.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said included angle is about 20°.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said pair of posts are spaced apart to provide a span of about 18-38 inches.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said pair of posts are spaced apart to provide a span of about 28 inches.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein each of said pair of posts is solid in cross-section.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein each of said pair of posts is hollow.

7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein each of said pair of posts has a wall that is circular in cross-section.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein said circular wall has a diameter of about two inches.

9. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein each of said pair of posts has a wall that is square in cross-section.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein each side of said square wall is about two inches in length.

11. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein each of said pair of posts has a wall that is rectangular in cross-section.

12. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein each of said pair of posts is substantially I-shaped.

13. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein each of said pair of posts includes a substantially T-shaped port.

14. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein each of said pair of posts is substantially C-shaped in cross-section.

15. A method for mounting a utilitarian accessory to a receiver assembly, comprising: equipping said receiver assembly with a pair of accessory mounting arms angled upwardly from a horizontal plane to define an included angle of between 10-45° when said receiver assembly is mounted to a towing vehicle; connecting a pair of mounting posts to said utilitarian accessory; and securing said mounting posts on said pair of accessory mounting arms.

16. The method of claim 15, further providing said included angle between 10-30°.

17. The method of claim 15, further providing said included angle at about 20°.

18. The method of claim 15, further including spacing said pair of accessory mounting arms and said pair of mounting posts to provide a span therebetween of about 18-38 inches.

19. The method of claim 15, further including spacing said pair of accessory mounting arms and said pair of mounting posts to provide a span therebetween of about 28 inches.

20. The method of claim 15, further including providing said pair of mounting arms with a circular shape and said pair of mounting posts with a circular cross-section for receipt in said pair of mounting arms.

21. The method of claim 15, further including providing said pair of mounting arms with a square shape and said pair of mounting posts with a square cross-section for receipt in said pair of mounting arms.

22. The method of claim 15, further including providing said pair of mounting arms with a square shape and said pair of mounting posts with a circular cross-section for receipt in said pair of mounting arms.

23. The method of claim 15, including providing said pair of mounting arms with square cross-section with four walls each about two inches in length and said pair of mounting posts with circular cross-section with a diameter of about two inches.

24. The method of claim 23 including providing each of said pair of mounting arms with square shape with necessary clearance to receive a mounting post of about two inch square cross-section or about two inch diameter cross-section and providing each of said pair of mounting posts with circular shape with necessary clearance to receive a mounting post of about two inch diameter cross-section.

25. A method of mounting utilitarian accessories to a receiver assembly, comprising: equipping receiver assemblies with a gross towing weight of greater than about 3,500-5,000 lbs with a pair of accessory arms having a first cross-sectional shape; equipping receiver assemblies with a gross towing weight of less than about 3,500-5,000 lbs with a pair of accessory ports having a second cross-sectional shape; connecting a pair of mounting posts with said first cross-sectional shape to said utilitarian accessories having an expected full load weight W greater than about 3,500-5,000 lbs; connecting a pair of mounting posts with said second cross-sectional shape to said utilitarian accessories having an expected full load weight W less than about 3,500-5,000 lbs; and selectively securing said utilitarian accessories connected to said pair of mounting posts with said second cross-sectional shape on either of said first or second cross-sectional shaped mounting arms and said utilitarian accessories connected to said pair of mounting posts with said first cross-sectional shape only on said first cross-sectional shaped mounting arms.

26. The method of claim 25, including orienting said pair of mounting arms on said receiver assembly so as to angle upwardly from a horizontal plane to define an included angle of between 10-45° when said receiver assembly is mounted to a towing vehicle.

27. The method of claim 26, further providing said included angle between 10-30°.

28. The method of claim 26, further providing said included angle at about 20°.

29. The method of claim 26, further including spacing said pair of accessory mounting arms and said pair of mounting posts to provide a span therebetween of about 18-38 inches.

30. The method of claim 26, further including spacing said pair of accessory mounting arms and said pair of mounting posts to provide a span therebetween of about 28 inches.

31. An apparatus for mounting on a pair of accessory mounting arms of a receiver assembly, comprising: a utilitarian accessory; and a mounting assembly including a pair of posts connected to said utilitarian accessory, said pair of posts having angled mounting sections that when engaged with the accessory mounting arms of the receiver assembly define an included angle of 1-45° with a horizontal plane.

32. An apparatus for mounting on a pair of accessory mounting arms of a receiver assembly, comprising: a utilitarian accessory; and a mounting assembly including a pair of posts connected to said utilitarian accessory, said pair of posts having angled mounting sections that when engaged with the accessory mounting arms of the receiver assembly define an included angle of 5-45° with a horizontal plane.

33. A method for mounting a utilitarian accessory to a receiver assembly, comprising: equipping said receiver assembly with a pair of accessory mounting arms angled upwardly from a horizontal plane to define an included angle of between 1-45° when said receiver assembly is mounted to a towing vehicle; connecting a pair of mounting posts to said utilitarian accessory; and securing said mounting posts on said pair of accessory mounting arms.

34. A method for mounting a utilitarian accessory to a receiver assembly, comprising: equipping said receiver assembly with a pair of accessory mounting arms angled upwardly from a horizontal plane to define an included angle of between 5-45° when said receiver assembly is mounted to a towing vehicle; connecting a pair of mounting posts to said utilitarian accessory; and securing said mounting posts on said pair of accessory mounting arms.

35. An accessory mounting system for securing a utilitarian accessory to a receiver assembly, comprising: a utilitarian accessory; and a mounting assembly including a pair of posts connected to said utilitarian accessory, said posts having a first cross-section when said utilitarian accessory when loaded is expected to weigh more than a selected weight W and a second cross-section when said utilitarian accessory when loaded is expected to weigh less than said selected weight W.

Description:

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/698,742, filed Oct. 27, 2000 which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/162,052, filed Oct. 28, 1999.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] The present invention relates generally to the vehicle accessory field and, more particularly, to a utilitarian accessory mounting system including an apparatus adapted for mounting in a pair of accessory mounting ports of a receiver assembly as well as a related method.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] It has long been known to construct towing hitch assemblies that are mounted to vehicles in order to allow the towing of trailers or the like. In recent years such hitch assemblies have been designed to include a receiver box having a rearwardly directed opening or cavity for the receipt of a hitch or draw bar that carries a hitch ball or other means allowing connection to a trailer. Examples of such a structure include the Insta-Hitch II and Custom Hitch Receiver 3565 as manufactured by Reese Products, Inc. of Elkhart, Ind. Such a hitch receiver is also disclosed in, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,620,198 owned by Reese Products, Inc., the assignee of the present invention.

[0004] In addition to allowing the towing of trailers, a receiver box may be utilized to secure various accessories to the towing vehicle. Such accessories include, but are not limited to, various article carriers such as the bike carrier disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,695,103 to Duvernay et al. and a snow board adaptor for bicycle racks such as described in issued U.S. Design Pat. No. Des. 426,186 to McCoy et al. These accessories are received in the cavity of the receiver box of a trailer hitch assembly in the same manner a hitch bar is received therein for towing a trailer.

[0005] Of course, a trailer hitch assembly incorporating a single receiver box may be used to tow a trailer or to hold a hitch accessory, not both. A more versatile and useful trailer hitch assembly would allow simultaneous use for both the towing of a trailer and the carrying of accessories. Further, it should be appreciated that the receiver box must, by necessity, be adapted to receive a hitch bar for towing a trailer, and consequently its application is limited in some respects by these design restraints. Accordingly, the receiver box is not particularly well suited for receiving certain accessories, such as those that may, for example, require two point connection for extra stability. The present invention recognizes and addresses these concerns and provides an effective solution for attaching various accessories to a trailer hitch receiver assembly. Further, the present invention is also suited for use with relatively lightweight receiver assemblies that are designed only for carrying various useful accessories. Such assemblies do not even include a receiver box for receiving a hitch bar and are not otherwise adapted for towing a trailer.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] In accordance with the purposes of the present invention as described herein, an apparatus is provided for mounting on a pair of accessory mounting arms of a receiver assembly. That apparatus includes a utilitarian accessory and a mounting assembly including a pair of posts connected to the utilitarian accessory. The pair of posts have mounting sections that when engaged with the accessory mounting arms of the receiver assembly define an included angle of from 1-45°, 5-45° or 10-45° with respect to a horizontal plane and more typically 10-30° (e.g. 20°).

[0007] The utilitarian accessory may take the form of any imaginable useful article that might be connected to a receiver assembly. While not being considered limiting, the list of utilitarian accessories could include, for example, a cargo basket, box, container or platform, a tradesman's workbench, a table, a bicycle, scooter or motorcycle carrying rack, a snow board, surfboard or ski rack, an equipment platform with or without equipment (e.g. winch), a utility lighting system, a dump bed or the like.

[0008] In a typical embodiment the mounting posts are spaced apart to provide a span of 18-38 inches and more typically about 28 inches. The posts may be solid (i.e. blade-like) or hollow and have a wall that is circular, square, rectangular or any other shape in cross-section. For example, the circular wall may have a diameter of about two inches and each wall of the square cross-section may have a length of about two inches.

[0009] In accordance with still another aspect of the present invention, an accessory mounting system is provided for securing the utilitarian accessory to a receiver assembly. That accessory mounting system includes the utilitarian accessory and a mounting assembly including a pair of posts connected to the utilitarian accessory. The posts have a first cross-section when the utilitarian accessory, when loaded, is expected to weigh more than a selected weight W (e.g. 3,500-5,000 lbs) and a second cross-section when the utilitarian accessory, when loaded, is expected to weigh less than the selected weight W.

[0010] In accordance with still another aspect of the present invention a method is provided for mounting the utilitarian accessory to a receiver assembly. The method includes equipping the receiver assembly with a pair of accessory mounting arms angled upwardly from a horizontal plane to define an included angle of between 1-45°, 5-45° or 10-45° and more typically 10-30° (e.g. 20°) when the receiver assembly is mounted to a towing vehicle. The method further includes the steps of connecting a pair of mounting posts to the utilitarian accessory and securing the mounting posts on the pair of accessory mounting arms.

[0011] The method further includes the step of spacing the pair of accessory mounting arms and the pair of mounting posts so as to provide a span therebetween of about 18-38 inches. More typically this span is provided at about 28 inches. For most applications an effort is made to match the span between the pair of posts and the pair of arms to the span between the frame rails of the towing vehicle to which the receiver assembly is mounted.

[0012] The method also includes the step of providing the pair of mounting arms with a first cross-sectional shape (e.g. circular) and the pair of mounting posts with the same cross-sectional shape but adapted for receipt in or over the pair of mounting arms. Alternatively, the pair of mounting arms may be provided with a second cross-sectional shape (e.g. square) and the pair of mounting posts with the same cross-sectional shape but adapted for receipt in or over the mounting arms. In yet another alternative the pair of mounting arms are provided with the first cross-sectional shape and the pair of mounting posts with the second cross-sectional shape but adapted for receipt in or over the pair of mounting arms.

[0013] In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention the method for mounting utilitarian accessories to a receiver assembly may be described as including the steps of equipping receiver assemblies with a gross towing weight of greater than about 3,500-5,000 lbs with a pair of accessory arms having a first cross-sectional shape and equipping trailer hitch receiver assemblies with a gross towing weight of less than about 3,500-5,000 lbs with a pair of accessory arms having a second cross-sectional shape. The method also includes the steps of connecting a pair of mounting posts with a first cross-sectional shape to utilitarian accessories having an expected full load weight greater than about 3,500-5,000 lbs and connecting a pair of mounting posts with a second cross-sectional shape to utilitarian accessories having an expected full load weight of less than about 3,500-5,000 lbs. Still further the method includes a step of selectively securing the utilitarian accessories connected to the pair of mounting posts with the second cross-sectional shape into mounting arms with either a first or second cross-sectional shape and the utilitarian accessories connected to the pair of mounting posts with the first cross-sectional shape only with mounting arms with the first cross-sectional shape. In this way it is possible to design a utilitarian accessory mounting system wherein relatively light weight/duty receiver assemblies are only capable of receiving and holding light weight/duty utilitarian accessories while heavy weight/heavy duty receiver assemblies are capable of receiving both heavy duty/heavy weight and light duty/light weight utilitarian accessories.

[0014] In accordance with this latter method there is a step of orienting the pair of mounting arms on a receiver assembly so as to angle upwardly from a horizontal plane to define an included angle between 1-45°, 5-45° or 10-45° and more typically 10-30° (e.g. 20°) when the receiver assembly is mounted to the towing vehicle. As noted above the mounting posts are preferably spaced to provide a span therebetween of about 18-38 inches (e.g. 28 inches).

[0015] Still other novel aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in this art from the following description wherein there is shown and described several preferred embodiments of this invention, simply by way of illustration of several of the modes best suited to carry out the invention. As it will be realized, the invention is capable of other different embodiments and its several details are capable of modification in various, obvious aspects all without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the drawing and descriptions will be regarded as illustrative in nature and not as restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

[0016] The accompanying drawing incorporated in and forming a part of the specification, illustrates several aspects of the present invention and together with the description serves to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawing:

[0017] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one possible embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention and a receiver assembly equipped for receiving that apparatus;

[0018] FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of another possible embodiment of the present apparatus being connected to a receiver assembly that also illustrates the included angle formed by the mounting arms and a horizontal plane;

[0019] FIGS. 3a-3c are schematical illustrations of three possible mounting arm configurations;

[0020] FIGS. 4a-4c are schematical illustrations of three possible post configurations;

[0021] FIGS. 5a-5d are schematical cross-sectional views illustrating, respectively, the interconnection of (a) a square mounting arm and square post, (b) a square mounting arm and a round post, (c) a round mounting arm and a round post and (d) the impossibility of interconnecting a round mounting arm and square post;

[0022] FIG. 6a is a detailed perspective view of a mounting arm with a T-shaped port;

[0023] FIG. 6b is a detailed perspective and partially cross-sectional view illustrating a mounting post with a substantially I-shaped cross-section;

[0024] FIG. 6c is a detailed perspective view illustrating the interconnection of the mounting arm and post shown in FIGS. 6a and 6b;

[0025] FIGS. 7a-7c are detailed perspective views illustrating (a) a mounting arm with substantially I-shaped cross section, (b) a post with a substantially T-shaped port and (c) the interconnection of those components;

[0026] FIGS. 8a-8c are detailed perspective views illustrating (a) a solid mounting arm having a substantially rectangular cross section; (b) a post having a substantially C-shaped cross section; and (c) the interconnection of those components; and

[0027] FIGS. 9a-9c are detailed perspective views illustrating (a) a mounting arm having a substantially C-shaped cross-section, (b) a solid post having a substantially rectangular cross section and (c) the interconnection of those components.

[0028] Reference will now be made in detail to the present preferred embodiment of the invention, an example of which is illustrated in the accompanying drawing.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0029] Reference is now made to FIG. 1 showing the apparatus 10 of the present invention and a receiver assembly 12 adapted for receiving that apparatus. The apparatus 10 includes a utilitarian accessory 14. While the utilitarian accessory 14 illustrated in FIG. 1 is a cargo box, substantially any foreseeable accessory that might have utility when connected to and carried by a receiver assembly 12 could be provided. Such a utilitarian accessory 14 might include a cargo basket, box, tray (see FIG. 2), container or platform, a tradesman's workbench, a table, a bicycle, scooter or motorcycle carrying rack, a snow board, surfboard or ski rack, an equipment platform with or without equipment (e.g. winch), a utility lighting system, a dump bed or the like.

[0030] As clearly illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, a mounting assembly, generally designated by reference numeral 16 is connected to the utilitarian accessory 14. Mounting assembly 16 includes a pair of posts 18 that may be connected directly to the utilitarian accessory 14. Alternatively, the posts 18 may be connected to the utilitarian accessory 14 through a transverse mounting bracket or other appropriate base, support or structure 20. Fasteners, such as bolts and cooperating lock nuts (not shown) may be utilized to complete the connection.

[0031] The receiver assembly 12 may include a cross member 24 and a pair of spaced mounting brackets 26 for anchoring the assembly 12 to the frame rails of a towing vehicle by means of appropriate fasteners such as bolts and cooperating lock nuts (not shown). The receiver assembly 12 illustrated in the drawing figures includes a receiver box 32 adapted for receiving a hitch bar, tongue or other appropriate structure capable of receiving a hitch ball for purposes of towing a trailer. While a receiver box 32 is shown, it should be appreciated that the receiver assembly 12 need not be equipped with a receiver box.

[0032] The receiver assembly 12, with or without a receiver box 32, is equipped with a pair of accessory mounting arms 34. The arms 34 may, for example, be formed from tubular steel material that is welded or otherwise fastened to the cross member 24 directly or through an appropriate mounting bracket (not shown). As best illustrated in FIGS. 3a-3c, each of the mounting arms 34 may include a circular port or opening 38, a square port or opening 40 or a rectangular port or opening 42. It should be appreciated that these cross-sectional shapes are merely presented for purposes of illustration and should not be considered restrictive. Substantially any shape could be utilized.

[0033] As best shown in FIG. 2, the accessory mounting arms 34 are angled upwardly from a horizontal plane H so as to define an included angle of between 1-45°, 5-45° or 10-45° and more typically 10-30° (note 20° angle shown in the figure) when the receiver assembly 12 is mounted to a towing vehicle by means of the mounting brackets 26.

[0034] As best shown in FIG. 1, the mounting arms 34 are also spaced apart from one another so as to provide a span S therebetween of about 18-38 inches (e.g. 28 inches). Thus, the mounting arms 34 are provided just slightly inboard or outboard of the mounting brackets 26. This spacing functions to place each of the arms 34 substantially in line with one of the frame rails of the towing vehicle to which the mounting brackets 26 are secured. As will become apparent as this description proceeds, this allows the weight of the apparatus 10 to be transferred directly to the frame rails of the towing vehicle without introducing any moment arm load factors.

[0035] As should be appreciated when viewing FIG. 2, the mounting sections 22 of the mounting posts 18 define an included angle of 1-45°, 5-45° or 10-45° and more typically 10-30° with a horizontal plane P when fully engaged with/secured to the accessory mounting arms 34 of the receiver assembly 10. Thus, it should be appreciated that the posts 18 project at an angle complementary to the angle of the mounting arms 34. Similarly, the posts 18 are spaced apart to provide a span of approximately 18-38 inches (e.g. 28 inches) to also match the mounting arms 34.

[0036] The upward angular orientation of the mounting arms 34 and the complementary angular orientation of the posts 18 provide a number of useful benefits. Specifically, the angular orientation functions to provide a lower lip 44 on each accessory arm 34 which projects outwardly beyond the upper portion of the arms. Each lip 44 acts as a shelf or shoulder to support the weight of the accessory 10 when the posts 18 are initially inserted into the port of each mounting arm 34 (see particularly FIG. 2). Where the arms 34 include a circular opening 38 and the posts 18 include a circular cross-section 46 sized and shaped for receipt in the arms (see FIG. 5c), the cooperating arcuate walls of the posts and arms serve to promote proper alignment and connection. Accordingly, the apparatus 10 may be easily connected in a convenient and efficient manner even without indexing.

[0037] Of course, other shapes could be utilized. For example, each post 18 could assume a square cross-section as shown at 48 in FIG. 4b or a rectangular cross-section as shown at 50 in FIG. 4c. For example, the square cross-section 48 could have walls two inches in length. Such a post 18 with a square cross-section 48 could also easily be inserted into a cooperating and complementary mounting arm 34 with a square port or opening 42 (note FIGS. 3b and 5a). Likewise, a post 18 of rectangular cross-section 58 as shown in FIG. 4c could be easily received in an arm 34 having a port or opening of complementary rectangular shape.

[0038] The upward angular inclination of the arms 34 and the cooperating complementary angle orientation of the posts 18 also ensures a secure connection of the posts on the arms. Specifically, the upward angular orientation ensures that gravity works with the operator to properly seat the posts 18 on the arms 34 to complete the connection of the apparatus 10 to the receiver assembly 12. When each post 18 is fully inserted and seated in its cooperating arm 34, a stop 52 provided on each post engages the lead edge 54 of the arm 34. In this position opposed apertures 56 in each arm 34 and opposed apertures 58 in each cooperating post 18 are fully aligned. A latch pin 60 (see FIG. 5c) including a head 62 is then inserted in the aligned apertures 56, 58 and a pin clip 64 is inserted through an opening 66 in the pin 60 to complete the connection. Of course, this arrangement is not exclusive and other connection arrangements could be utilized including, for example, the collar lock assembly disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 60/266,251 filed on Feb. 2,2001, the full disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

[0039] The upward angular inclination also functions to effectively raise the apparatus 10 up from the ground so that it will clear most curbs and other like obstacles that one might expect to meet during vehicle operation. Additionally, the upward angular inclination of the arms 34 and posts 18 introduces a moment into the linkage of the apparatus 10 and receiver assembly 12 so that forward acceleration of the vehicle does not produce only rearward movement forces on the apparatus 10.

[0040] It should further be appreciated that the present invention allows one to develop a unique and novel system for the mounting of utilitarian accessories 14 to a receiver assembly 12. That unique system involves the steps of equipping receiver assemblies 12 with a gross towing weight of greater than about 3,500-5,000 lbs with a pair of accessory arms 34 having an opening 40 of first cross-sectional shape (e.g. a square opening of 2″ on each side) and the equipping of receiver assemblies 12 with a gross towing weight of less than 3,500-5,000 lbs with a pair of accessory arms 34 having an opening 38 of second cross-sectional shape (e.g. a circular opening of 2″ in diameter).

[0041] The method further includes the connecting of a pair of mounting posts 18 with a first cross-section 48 to utilitarian accessories 14 having an expected weight W when fully loaded of greater than about 3,500-5,000 lbs and the connecting of a pair of mounting posts 18 with a second cross-section 46 to utilitarian accessories 14 having a weight W when fully loaded of less than about 3,500-5,000 lbs.

[0042] Still further, the method includes the step of selectively securing the utilitarian accessories 14 connected to the pair of mounting posts 18 of second, circular cross-section 46 with either of the mounting arms 34 having a circular opening 38 (see FIG. 5c) or a square opening 40 (see FIG. 5b). Further, utilitarian accessories 14 connected to mounting posts 18 with a first, square cross-section 48 may only be inserted into accessory mounting arms 34 equipped with a first cross-sectional or square opening 40 (note FIG. 5a). As should be appreciated from reviewing FIG. 5d, the corners 66 of a 2″-square mounting post 18 engage the edges 54 of accessory mounting arms 34 with a 2″ inner diameter and therefore prevent insertion of the square posts 18 in accessory arms 34 with circular openings 38. Advantageously, this system allows relatively heavy weight/duty receiver assemblies 12 to receive and hold both relatively heavy duty and light duty utilitarian accessories 14 mounted on square or round posts 18. In contrast, relatively light weight/duty receiver assemblies 12 equipped with mounting arms 34 having circular openings 38 are only capable of receiving relatively light duty utilitarian accessories 14. This allows maximum system versatility while simultaneously matching system components for reliable and proper performance.

[0043] It should, of course, be appreciated that the circular and round cross-sections for the mounting arms and mounting posts have only been selected for purposes of illustration. Other shapes, hollow or even solid (i.e. blade-like) in cross-section could be utilized. The only requirements are that: (1) heavy duty accessories and light duty accessories are equipped with mounting posts of differing cross-section; (2) heavy duty hitch receivers and light duty hitch receivers are equipped with mounting arms having differing cross-sections; (3) the mounting arms of light duty hitch receivers are only capable of receiving and holding the mounting posts of light duty accessories; and (4) the mounting arms of heavy duty accessories are capable of receiving and holding the mounting posts of both light or heavy duty accessories.

[0044] FIGS. 6a-6c show still another alternative embodiment. In FIG. 6a, the mounting arm 34 is illustrated as including a substantially T-shaped port or opening 70 while in FIG. 6b, the solid port 18 is illustrated as having a substantially I-shaped cross section. FIG. 6c shows the interconnection of the mounting arm 34 and post 18 shown in FIGS. 6a and 6b. A pin 60 and cooperating clip (not shown) complete the secure connection by engagement in the aligned apertures 56, 58 in those components.

[0045] FIGS. 7a-7c show yet another possible embodiment. FIG. 7a illustrates a solid mounting arm 34 including a substantially I-shaped cross section. FIG. 7b illustrates a post 18 including a substantially T-shaped port or opening 72. FIG. 7c illustrates these two components connected together and secured by the pin 60 and cooperating clip (not shown).

[0046] FIGS. 8a-8c illustrate another embodiment. Specifically, FIG. 8a shows a mounting arm 34 with a solid, substantially rectangular cross-section while FIG. 8b shows a post 18 with a substantially C-shaped cross-section defining a rectangular slot 74. The interconnection of these two components is shown in FIG. 8c with a portion of the arm 34 received in the slot 74 of the post 18. A stop 76 formed on the arm engages the leading edge of the post 18 when the post is fully seated on the arm. At that point the apertures 56, 58 are aligned for receipt of the pin 60 that completes the connection.

[0047] Another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 9a-9c. In this embodiment, the mounting arm 34 is substantially C-shaped in cross section and defines a rectangular slot 78 (see FIG. 9a). FIG. 9b illustrates a post 18 including a substantially solid rectangular shaped cross section. When interconnected as shown in FIG. 9c, the post 18 is received in the slot 78 and inserted until the tip of the post engages the cross member 24. This acts as a stop to align the apertures 56, 58 for receipt of the pin 60 which secures the connection.

[0048] The foregoing description of a preferred embodiment of the invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Obvious modifications or variations are possible in light of the above teachings. For example, the interconnection of the posts 18 and the mounting arms 34 shown in FIGS. 5a-5c could be reversed so that the post fits over rather than into the arms. The embodiment was chosen and described to provide the best illustration of the principles of the invention and its practical application to thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications, as are suited to the particular use contemplated. All such modifications and variations are within the scope of the invention as determined by the appended claims when interpreted in accordance with the breadth to which they are fairly, legally and equitably entitled.