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bcfilkins

Hitching Up Your Fifth Wheel

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I just had a new 5th wheel hitch installed. I had an experienced friend help me hitch up the first time. The hitch seemed to snap into place as expected. My friend said we were good to go. We pulled out of our spot and got about a quarter mile down the road before the trailer detached and ground to a halt. I realize that we failed to do a pull test like the manual said to do but I wonder how I got so far down the road before it gave way. How can I make sure that the thing is hitched right? Is pull test the only way. Any one with any experience with this?

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I always lock the trailer brakes and do a strong tug test, then put it into reverse and push backwards, the tug again. Our Reece hitch has a metal flag the comes out when the pin in in the proper location. We can't put the safety pin if the flag is not out. Even after all that I look at the hitch to assure I'm not high hitched and look at the back of the hitch to assure I can see the jaw in the correct position. I also added a bed saver from Blue Ox, because being human I'm afraid I'll get distracted one day and screw up.

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Make sure that your safety pin is installed before you do your pull test as well. If you are not not high hitched, you do a visual of the jaws and the safety pin is in place, it will be almost impossible for the hitch pin to come out.

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Our Pullrite hitch wrapped a finger almost all the way around the pin and the pull handle would slide all the way across so I always knew when it was locked in. But, I still did a good strong pull test as mentioned above. Never had a problem. Pullrite makes a great hitch. My only problem was that sometimes the hitch didn't want to unlock unless I had the rig pretty level and I would have to do a rock n roll thing from reverse to forward to get it to release. But even that was not a problem once I figured out what was wrong.

 

 

Ray

Edited by SoCalToolGuy

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I wonder how I got so far down the road before it gave way. How can I make sure that the thing is hitched right? Is pull test the only way. Any one with any experience with this?

 

There is a good bit of friction between the hitch and pin and that may have held things together, you may also have had a partial lock that waited for a bump to pop open.

 

The pull test is the only way we trusted, some hitches offer a great visual indication of lockup but I would never trust anything, even the Holland-Binkley I used for many years.

 

Hitch up, visually check the hitch, secure any locking features on the hitch. Lift the landing legs an inch or so off the ground, hold the trailer brake controller to full-on and slowly roll forward until the trailer stops the truck. The lower the legs the less the drop if the hitch is open but if the legs drag while you are testing you can bend them so adjust the height off the ground to suit your conditions.

 

Any time you are away from the rig visually check the hitch to make sure it hasn't been tampered with, using a lock on it is also a good idea. Leave the key in the lock unless you are away from the rig so you can get it open fast if needed.

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Ray, our Pullrite had an "ulnlocking" procedure in the instructions.

 

Position thr fiver where yoi want it, manually apply trailer brakes & put the truck in reverse & give it a little bump. The hitch would not unlatch if there was any pressure on it, but would after doing this.

Ron

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GOAL

 

Get Out And Look. I always look to make sure the jaws are not only closed, but closed beneath the collar. I suspect that what you did was high hitch and the jaws were closed around the collar. Also beside looking, it is a good idea to make sure the pinbox is slightly lower than the hitch. This way the pinbox will ride up onto the hitch and connect in the center of the pin as it should. The weight of the fifth wheel trailer probably kept it from coming off until you hit a bump.

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Reading the original question, he doesn't mention what hitch he has.

I leave the rv wheels chocked manually lock the trailer brakes and do a little tug. Most hitches have a visual or mechanical clue that the hitch is correctly closed.

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Thanks RonMon, I no longer have the rig but it's good to know as we are getting ready to go back into a fiver and p/u. Our motorhome is just to small for us. And to Glenn West, I'm amazed that you had a problem like that. There has to be more to the story. I've never heard of a PullRite failure.

 

 

R

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And to Glenn West, I'm amazed that you had a problem like that. There has to be more to the story. I've never heard of a PullRite failure.

 

 

R

 

First time for everything.

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Made about a 200 mile tow. Noticed more movement in my hitch. Stopped and found head of several bolts in bed of truck. After inspection found over half mostly sheared. Replaced them all with stainless carriage bolts and kept a good eye on them until I got rid of it. I had towed about a year but not a lot of distance. Most jobs were in south Texas. This could have been very bad. It was rated orginal ly for 18k but Pull rite rebranded it for 20k. This happened with the Teton. Maybe Pull rite was wrong to rerate it.

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Sounds more like an installation issue rather than a product issue. Wrong grade bolts or improper tightening.

 

Ron

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GOAL

 

Get Out And Look. I always look to make sure the jaws are not only closed, but closed beneath the collar. I suspect that what you did was high hitch and the jaws were closed around the collar. Also beside looking, it is a good idea to make sure the pinbox is slightly lower than the hitch. This way the pinbox will ride up onto the hitch and connect in the center of the pin as it should. The weight of the fifth wheel trailer probably kept it from coming off until you hit a bump.

X2

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We do the push-pull test as a number of previous posters have suggested.

 

Something else we did was to paint the jaws white so we could do an easy visual inspects that they are closed beneath the collar.

 

Reed and Elaine

Edited by reed and elaine

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I have the B&W Companion hitch. Never had any problem. I don't think its possible to lock the control lever in place unless the jaws are properly engaged and locked. It is also very easy to see the jaws.

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Sounds more like an installation issue rather than a product issue. Wrong grade bolts or improper tightening.

 

Ron

I've seen installers use the same bolts that connect the bed to the frame instead of using the bolts that come with the hitch. The frame bolts are not rated for the stress of a 5th wheel hitch.

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I have the B&W Companion hitch. Never had any problem. I don't think its possible to lock the control lever in place unless the jaws are properly engaged and locked. It is also very easy to see the jaws.

2X.

Later,

J

PS Agree it is easier to see the jaws because of their light color (galvanized finish). I spray painted the top plate flat-black for better contrast with the kingpin due to the reflective nature of its original light gray finish. Hook up now it is just like lining up a gun sight.

Edited by KodiakJack

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I've seen installers use the same bolts that connect the bed to the frame instead of using the bolts that come with the hitch. The frame bolts are not rated for the stress of a 5th wheel hitch.

Actually it was not installation bolts. It was the the hitch bolts holding the hitch together. I will add also, I never high hitched my Companion hitch, never my current with the brinkley head. I did on the PullRite. Had the thinner Teflon plate on it to. It was also difficult to unhitch at times.

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Using a Teflon plate on a pullrite might be part of your problem with high hitching. with a Pullrite the king pin does not swivel on the hitch receiver plate like a regular hitch. No need for a Teflon plate (nothing rubbing) and it could be counter productive

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