Travelling on highways is nothing uncommon for all of us!
So when we are on those wide concreted or black-topped tracks with no access to sideways disturbances, the vision of some bulky trailers being towed down by puny trucks is also prevalent.
Of course, if you are to transport the goods cargos by road, the transportation depends largely on these trailers.
Also, with the travel trailers or you may say camper trailers, designed for adventure trip lovers out there, the movement of trailers around on some short bed pickup trucks has become even more familiar.
But did the thought ever crossed your mind that how exactly are these giant beasts moving all so freely on the road while just hitched on to a small truck?
Why a Fifth Wheel Hitch?
Maybe you were planning to go on a forest trip with your family or planning to transport your house stuff in the same mini trailer while shifting to another city.
But never paid much attention to how exactly are you going to accomplish the task, right?
Let us help you through the matter now. The job of towing those trailers on your short bed trucks is actually possible with the help of a Fifth-Wheel Hitch.
What is a Fifth Wheel Hitch?
Fifth-Wheel Hitch is nothing but a mechanical mount installed on a pickup truck to assist the truck with towing a trailer behind.
The device has already been around for centuries in some of the other forms, for people have used the same mechanism for transportation of heavy goods since forever.
A 5th Wheel Hitch attaches to your vehicle through rails and screws. It contains a hitch plate on top with an opening for screw known as “Kingpin” in the centre. The kingpin is a long screw, 3 inches in diameter on an average.
However, the size can vary for different 5th wheel hitches and different vehicles, from 2 – 3.5 inches.
The pickup truck is connected to the trailer to be towed with this kingpin dropping down from the bottom of trailer front along with a plate which is going to couple with the hitch plate after being connected by the kingpin.
This arrangement is made such that the weight of the trailer imposes between the cab and rear axle of the truck.
The coupling plates continuously slide on each other to facilitate smooth and coordinated movement of both vehicles. This slide also assists the propagation of both vehicles on the turns.
Hence, it is among the bare essentials of the task to grease both the plates properly for a halt free travel or transport.
Is Your Pick Up Truck Ready?
In the very first place, before you even start to reach out for any professional to install a 5th wheel hitch on your short bed truck or do the deed yourself, hold right there!
First, you need to ensure support from the manufacturer of the truck whether the vehicle is certified to bear huge loads as big as a trailer or not.
You may find the information in the customer’s manual and if not, get directly in touch with the manufacturer information centre and validate the specifics.
The diesel trucks in the market come with the power intended for such activities. So once you know that your truck is suitable to tow down an enormous form of the mechanical bombshell, congratulations!
Now, you can go on purchasing the 5th wheel hitch kit along with the rails kit which will connect to the body of your truck.
The hitch kit sits on the rails kit. One more point to be kept in mind here is that your truck's rear frame should be covered with a spray-on liner. 5th wheel hitches do not fix firmly on plastic surfaces.
Purchasing the Hitch Kit
If possible, go for the purchase of a 5th wheel hitch kit which is specifically designed for your vehicle. A customised hitch kit will save you from a lot of frustration which comes with the task of connecting two giant vehicles.
Or, in case you choose to go with a universal kit, be prepared to do a little drilling and welding in your short bed truck. Because the frame of the truck may not contain the holes or fastening crevices in the right places required for your hitch kit, and the screws will need to be secured by welding to the frame of truck to provide a firm fit.
With a customized hitch kit, you will be able to secure the accessories to the truck with all holes in the right place with covers to prevent the accumulation of dust.
How to Install A 5th Wheel Hitch on a Short Bed Truck?
So let’s get on to the steps of installing the 5th wheel hitch to your truck. Follow the steps below;
- Mark the centre location in the truck’s rear frame where the side rails will be fixed and where the centre of the kingpin will rest after coupling of the hitch plates.
- Slide the brackets from the rail kit in place on to the bottom of the base of the truck frame.
- Slide in the rails into the brackets and screw them up to the brackets.
- Repeat point number 2 & 3 for the top of frame base.
- Make sure the position of the rails in top and bottom is perfectly aligned over each other and rails on both sides are well connected to each other with screws through the base of the frame connecting them.
- Drill the hole equal to the size of kingpin in your hitch kit.
- Now, rest the 5th wheel hitch apparatus on the rails, and the hitch plate on the apparatus aligning the position of kingpin opening in hitch plate in the centre.
- Screw up the apparatus to the rails and hitch plate to the apparatus firmly.
- If the 5th wheel hitch is positioned correctly on the rear frame of the truck, it is just a matter of minutes to couple the trailer to the truck with the kingpin.
- Once coupled, fasten the kingpin with the side gear to the bottom of the truck frame and fix or weld it there with screws and washers.
- Make sure all the screw connections are perfectly fitted and firm.
- The whole process may take 4-5 hours depending on the proficiency and experience of the installer. Once all the above steps are covered, you are good to hit the road.
5th Wheel Hitch may be a term you might have heard often, but the information about how it works and how it is mounted on your truck is not something everyone is well acquainted of, which is OK because it is not a part of our daily lifestyle on a larger extent.
But if you are a professional transporter or a frequent traveller and in need of the knowledge required for installing and operating with a 5th Wheel Hitch, we hope that this article will help you with the concern.