5th Wheel Trailer Hitch

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threeful

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 30, 2005
Posts
358
I will be purchasing a 5th wheel in the very near future and would like some guidance on hitches.  I have a 2004 Dodge 2500 Diesel SB and would like an auto slide because of the SB.  I dont't understand the "makeup" of the hitch, king pin, rails, 16K vs 22K, etc., (my trailer fully loaded will be less than 13K lbs).  Before making a decision on which hitch to buy and install I want to understand the terminology and function of each part.  Is there a place I can go to get this type of information, or can someone give a 5th Wheel Hitch 101 course?  I've looked in the library and elsewhere on the forum but haven't been able to locate any.  Also,  is there much difference in the quality of the different manufacturers?  If anyone has a recommendation it would be certainly appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any help.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
76,634
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
I'll try a "primer" and see if that helps.

The hitch has a base that mounts through the truck bed to the frame. This is permanent and some are designed to be less obtrusive than others, though most new ones are pretty much minimized.  Depending on what you may want to carry when the hitch is removed, you might select a different design of base - some go crosswise and some lengthwise. There is no "best" - it's personal preference.

The side supports of the hitch attach to the base and then the "fifth wheel", a large slotted plate, attaches to the sides. In some hitches the fifth wheel crosspiece is detachable from the side supports, which makes it somewhat easier to remove the hitch because the weight and size of the components are smaller.  None of this is important if you never remove the hitch.

The fifth wheel plate is what the trailer King Pin rests on and latches into. The king pin is simply a very robust knob that protrudes down from the flat plate on the trailer's nose piece. It's what gets pulled or pushed by the tow vehicle. The weight of the trailer front end (the kingpin or hitch weight) is carried by the matching circular flat plates, one on the trailer and one on the truck's fifth wheel hitch.  These plates area standard size in Rvs, so matching them up is not a problem. There will be a cross bar on the fifth wheel hitch that latches behind the kingpin when it is in the hitch. A slot in the king pin prevents the pin from lifting up and out once the latch is engaged.

The fifth wheel plate is mounted such that it can swivel in the fore and aft direction, providing a flexible joint that allows the trailer to dip or rise without lifting the trucks rear wheels off the road.  Better hitches also "rock" from side to side, which allows the trailer to lean without twisting the truck or lifting one wheel off the road.

The slide mechanism (which is not needed on all truck/trailer combinatons) may be manual or automatic. It is used only when backing up and is needed only if the trailer front end could strike the back of the cab in an extreme turn.  Many, perhaps even most, will not hit anyway, but lots of folks would rather be safe than sorry. An automatic slide engages by itself whenever you back up. a Manual slide requires that you get out and move a lever when you want it to slide back.

Some hitches now offer air springs (bags) to help cushion the interaction between truck and trailer. These can also be easily added afterwards, so it is not necessary to decide on that up front. The air spring can be mounted to either the trailer side of the hitch or the truck side. I'd probably wait to see if this extra goodie was needed.

Hope this helps - ask further questions as needed.

I don't think there are any "bad" fifth wheel hitches on the market, but perhaps some are more convenient than others. I'm somewhat out of date on actual experience, so I'll let current fifth wheel owners suggest their favorite brand. We had an RBW Little Rocker on our fiver and it was an advanced design back in 1999. Now many brands have similar features.
 

joelmyer

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 5, 2005
Posts
1,058
Location
Georgia
I have a 2004 Dodge 3500 SRW Short Bed and the Pullright Super Glide.

I love them both.

Downsides to the super glide are it's big, heavy, expensive.  The plate on the trailer has a little "fence" on it that fits in the slot in the plate on the hitch.  So when the truck turns, the fence turns the hitch and it slides back.  That means the little fence has to come off if you ever need your 5th wheel towed by a "normal" hitch.  Hasn't happened to me.

Upside is all the times I haven't smashed the fith wheel into the truck cab.  I met a man who didn't buy his Superglide until after he did that.
 

BigDieselDawg

Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2006
Posts
7
Look at the Reese Signature series hitches.....I put one in my new Dodge 3500 and they are AWESOME!!!  Most of it mounts under the bed out of site..the only thing left in the bed when the hitch is removed is 4 holes that you put plastic plugs into, other than that you have your whole bed with no obstructions to use for whatever you need it for. The hitch itself mounts by putting 4 small feet into the holes in the bed, and locking the 4 levers so the feet turn and lock in. The hitch is light enough for me to remove and install myself (But I am also Large and very strong) but 2 people can easily pick it up, it also does come apart to make it 2 lighter pieces if needed.
Here is the site to check...I have the 18K one on the left.    http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/rv-hitches/reese-signature-5th-hitch.htm

Hope this helps.
 

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