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Post Info TOPIC: Fifth Wheel Hitch - Rail mount vs Puck mount?


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Fifth Wheel Hitch - Rail mount vs Puck mount?


We have had a pull trailer and two motor homes and we are now looking to purchase our first fifth wheel. Most set ups that I see use the rail mount for the fifth wheel hitch. I use my truck a lot and feel the rails are going to be in the way every time I want to haul lumber, dirt gravel or pallets of products. I am interested in finding out more about the puck mounting systems. Are many of you out their using those? I would appreciate any opinions either way on the two systems. I know the puck system is more expensive but it sure frees up the truck bed. 

 

Thanks, 

Craig



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Craig Sanders


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I’m assuming your thought is purchasing a new/used truck that has the puck system factory installed. My Ram has the puck system so to me it was a no brainer to go with that system when I purchased a B&W companion hitch. Very quick and easy install.

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Same for us - a Ram with puck system towing a Landmark.  Very pleased with B&W Companion hitch performance.  It's also easy to remove the hitch if necessary.



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If you intend to use your truck as a truck and not just a tow vehicle ... and your trailer weighs less than 16K ... you might want to look into a Reece Goosebox (I think that's the name). It allows the use of a gooseneck ball without introducing all those funky stress forces that a "regular" Gooseneck adapter causes. It is approved by Lippert (I think they sell them on their website) so the stress thing has been evaluated and approved.  Remove the goose ball and viola!, you have a clean truck bed.



-- Edited by RonC on Wednesday 25th of July 2018 02:09:22 PM



-- Edited by RonC on Wednesday 25th of July 2018 05:21:48 PM



-- Edited by RonC on Saturday 28th of July 2018 03:25:45 PM

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CraigAs wrote:

We have had a pull trailer and two motor homes and we are now looking to purchase our first fifth wheel. Most set ups that I see use the rail mount for the fifth wheel hitch. I use my truck a lot and feel the rails are going to be in the way every time I want to haul lumber, dirt gravel or pallets of products. I am interested in finding out more about the puck mounting systems. Are many of you out their using those? I would appreciate any opinions either way on the two systems. I know the puck system is more expensive but it sure frees up the truck bed. 

 

Thanks, 

Craig


Craig:

Short version - puck - hands down. IMO

Having owned and used both:

The hitch most likely will move / rock in the rail system.  It's almost impossible to to keep a rail mount hitch from moving slightly and that makes trailer chucking (moving back and forth) worse.  Even with shims it moves some.

The puck system will allow one to really "torque down" the claws and the hitch doesn't rock.  At least mine didn't.  Also there are plugs for the for the puck system which can help keep debris out of the female connectors mounted to the frame of the truck (which the rails many time are not) when the hitch is removed. 

The puck system also gives one an almost perfectly flat deck.

Several hitch manufactures provide a puck mount system - either OEM from the truck manufacturer or after market.  So one can do this after market and select the hitch of choice be it Curt / Reese / etc.  (I'll not get into the Ford / Chevy hitch discussion here.)  You will find you can do the puck system after market for less money if I am not mistaken.  Check e-trailer.

Bill

 



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Puck system hands down as you are connected directly to the frame not some stamped out piece of steel that your hitch will rattle around in. Curt 5er hitches are Made In China along with REESE and others. Curt's head pivot point is several inches below kingpin connection and causes chucking as reported by many people, also they are very hard to unhitch if TV and RV are on different planes.

B&W hitches are US Made and are a simple solid no question if you are hitched or not design.

Puck and B&W is the very best conventional setup you can buy. 3 years full time use of mine towing a combined 33-35K.

i.imgur.com/ghgKTs2l.jpg">



-- Edited by Cummins12V98 on Thursday 26th of July 2018 07:48:40 AM

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Cummins12V98 wrote:

Puck system hands down as you are connected directly to the frame not some stamped out piece of steel that your hitch will rattle around in. Curt 5er hitches are Made In China along with REESE and others. Curt's head pivot point is several inches below kingpin connection and causes chucking as reported by many people, also they are very hard to unhitch if TV and RV are on different planes.

B&W hitches are US Made and are a simple solid no question if you are hitched or not design.

Puck and B&W is the very best conventional setup you can buy. 3 years full time use of mine towing a combined 33-35K.

i.imgur.com/ghgKTs2l.jpg">



-- Edited by Cummins12V98 on Thursday 26th of July 2018 07:48:40 AM


 Cummins, we all know you love B&W hitches.  A very fine hitch indeed. However, I've towed some 135,000 logged miles with Reese and Curt hitches all over the US, Canada and Alaska.  (I now run a Trailer Saver due to rig weight and truck size.)  I have never had hook and un-hook issues including off-level / different planes, etc., including connecting at close to 90 degrees truck off center and off truck level. If one has an issue its an operational issue, not a hitch issue, IMO.  My trailers ran perfectly level due to the wide range of height adjustment on all the Reese and Curt Hitches I've used.  Naturally YMMV.

(BTW, we couldn't use a B & W in the past due to its limited trailer weight ratings which have recently been increased with new product.  But until recently they were limited to 20K trailers with "lighter" pins. So they never were an option for us due to this load spec limitation.) 



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While I've not had quite the experience of Bill, especially with respect to RV's, I've also not had any problems with towing with Reese hitches, or with hooking up and unhooking.  But then, I'm almost fanatical about the security of our hitch's connecting correctly.  I even went to the trouble of closing the hitch jaws and painting the back-facing part of them with white paint.  Even in low light, I can be assured that the jaws are completely closed.  In addition, after hooking up, the wife and I BOTH look at the hitch to verify closure.

I also went with Reese because, at the time, B&W's hitches weren't up to the weights that I knew our RV would weigh and allowing for some "cushion" in the weights.  Even with rail mounts, we don't get much chucking, but a lot of that is because our RV has both air suspension and the Tri-Glide pin box by Trail-Air.

Terry



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To expand a bit from rail or puck systems, I feel the need to really stress that when choosing a truck that one NOT get a short bed with the need to have a slider hitch.

When we were at the RV park in Kanab, we had two different occasions when folks showed up with short beds and sliders.  I don't know that this is a problem with the configuration of the hitches or as a problem with the "operators," but in both cases they told me that they HAD to be PERFECTLY straight with the RV or their hitches wouldn't unhook or hook back up correctly.  Sorry, but as one that has driven 18-wheelers and a fair bit of towing fifth wheel RV's, I couldn't get my head around that issue.  But, I also didn't want to alienate anyone by questioning why there was a problem.

Terry



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Terry and Jo wrote:

To expand a bit from rail or puck systems, I feel the need to really stress that when choosing a truck that one NOT get a short bed with the need to have a slider hitch.

When we were at the RV park in Kanab, we had two different occasions when folks showed up with short beds and sliders.  I don't know that this is a problem with the configuration of the hitches or as a problem with the "operators," but in both cases they told me that they HAD to be PERFECTLY straight with the RV or their hitches wouldn't unhook or hook back up correctly.  Sorry, but as one that has driven 18-wheelers and a fair bit of towing fifth wheel RV's, I couldn't get my head around that issue.  But, I also didn't want to alienate anyone by questioning why there was a problem.

Terry


 Terry I will echo, loudly, the recommendation not to purchase a short bed truck for towing.  I.e. get an 8 foot bed.  Slider hitches, besides sometimes being "cantankerous," just exacerbate the chucking problem (more slop in the connection to the truck) among other bad things.

From my experience most connecting and dis-connecting problems are due to two issues: 

1) not having enough or too much weight on the hitch when sliding the pin into the receiver when connecting

2) when disconnecting the too much or not enough weight on the hitch is still true but one needs, once the landing legs are down and some weight is off the truck, not all, slightly back up the truck - that is just a pinch of rearward movement to release the pressure off the hitch claws.

Do these things correctly and one doesn't have an issue. (Sometimes the reward movement isn't necessary but we just do it to make the hitch release with minimum effort.)

I have no idea the hundreds of times Linda and I have connected and dis-connected trucks from trailers.  But I know the above works. There is just no problem.  I've had some hitches that "work" better then others.  But none have been a issue if operated with the above in mind. 

Do what works for you but if you are having an issue try the above suggestion.  Once it is mastered things go very smoothly.

BTW, ALWAYS do a pull test before retracting the legs fully.

Pull test?:  Once connected - lift the landing legs about an inch off the ground so they can't drag.  Use the manual trailer brake controller and put on full trailer brakes. Put the truck in gear. With the left foot on but not pressing the truck brake pedal gently try to pull the trailer.  If the truck is connected the rig shouldn't move being held by the trailer brakes. I also gently backup a pinch, still holding the trailer brakes on manually, then do a forward pull test a second time.  If all good, retract the legs fully and press on. 

I keep my left foot right above the brake pedal so IF the trailer is not connected I can immediately stop the truck. Worst case, the trailer drops 1" and it will be loud but will not damage the truck or trailer from that 1" drop.  The trailer has endured far worse on bad roads.

This may not work as well without trailer disc brakes as the old style trailer brakes don't "grab" immediately like disc brakes.  But a pull test is always a good idea.  Professional semi-drivers do this every time as well albeit with a slightly different procedure but with the same idea in mine.

My 4 cents.

Bill



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OK... so I'll throw a little wrench in the works, here. There are actually three systems: 1) factory puck system, 2) rail-mount system, and 3) turnover/gooseneck ball mount (NOT a gooseneck hitch - this is where the conventional fifth wheel hitch mounts to the truck bed using an existing gooseneck ball in the bed). Ball-and-socket systems are a bit harder to line up when hitching up (I've used them a lot).

This said, I have towed with a rail-mount hitch and, though my current truck is equipped with both a gooseneck ball and the factory puck system, I'm using a hitch that utilizes the factory puck system. I am very happy with it. Though we towed our first 13K miles full-timing with a 6.5' bed and a non-sliding hitch (just had to be a little careful), life is more stress-free and flexible with an 8' bed.

Rob



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Second Chance wrote:

OK... so I'll throw a little wrench in the works, here. There are actually three systems: 1) factory puck system, 2) rail-mount system, and 3) turnover/gooseneck ball mount (NOT a gooseneck hitch - this is where the conventional fifth wheel hitch mounts to the truck bed using an existing gooseneck ball in the bed). Ball-and-socket systems are a bit harder to line up when hitching up (I've used them a lot).

This said, I have towed with a rail-mount hitch and, though my current truck is equipped with both a gooseneck ball and the factory puck system, I'm using a hitch that utilizes the factory puck system. I am very happy with it. Though we towed our first 13K miles full-timing with a 6.5' bed and a non-sliding hitch (just had to be a little careful), life is more stress-free and flexible with an 8' bed.

Rob


 Rob, all true. But that "just had to be a little careful" is the reason for an 8' bed as you are aware.  Many reading this forum for information say "they will be careful."  There are pictures on the internet that can be found of what happens when a turning situation occurs, especially with a manual sliding hitch, and the driver can't be careful.  They are forced into a turn and the trailer cap and the truck back window pay the price.  Hopefully nothing worse.

I say all this in a attempt to inform (warn) those who are new to the RV game and would like a heads up before they make a costly mistake. 

 



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Another follow-up on my part, one which I recently discovered when the wife and I went to move from Utah back to Oklahoma.

Our Mobile Suites has the electric-over-hydraulic braking system, meaning that the electrical impulses from braking activate a hydraulic system in the trailer.  When we went to leave Utah, I went to do the "pull test" with the trailer brakes, and they didn't hold.  I found out that I was low on brake fluid in the reservoir of the trailer's braking system.  Topped that reservoir up and went on.  When we got to our first night's stopover, I again went into the belly and topped off the reservoir with just a wee bit more fluid.

Obviously, if one's trailer doesn't have an "electric-over-hydraulic" system but electric only, this is not a factor.

Terry



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Terry you pointed out a BIGGIE!!! If the brake fluid gets low that will allow air into the system even after filling with the system too low. Keep an eye on your fluid levels folks!!!

"I don't know that this is a problem with the configuration of the hitches or as a problem with the "operators," but in both cases they told me that they HAD to be PERFECTLY straight with the RV or their hitches wouldn't unhook or hook back up correctly."

PullRite Auto slider needs to have the truck nearly inline with RV to hitch/unhitch from what I have read.

YEA, I am a B&W fan for good reason. If I wanted an air bag hitch it would be a Hensley as they have basically the same latching mechanism as B&W along with being a quality US Made product.

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Bill, thanks for your input. You have said pretty much what I have been thinking. I have a 2017 F50 Super Duty crew cab, long box and from everything I have read, the puck system let's me use my truck for other things. I have seen several hitch companies talk about how their fifth wheel hitch comes apart so that it is easier (lighter) to unload. How heavy is your hitch? 

 

Craig



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Craig Sanders


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Craig,

 

We have a Ford and went with the B&W Companion RVK3300 (20k).  The coupler comes off separately and weighs 75 pounds, the base weighs 78 pounds.  Neither are light but I can move them separately with a little effort! :) 



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Thanks to all of you for the great suggestions. One thing I didn't mention is that my intention is to buy an aftermarket puck system as my truck did not come with one installed.

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Craig Sanders


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CraigAs wrote:

Bill, thanks for your input. You have said pretty much what I have been thinking. I have a 2017 F50 Super Duty crew cab, long box and from everything I have read, the puck system let's me use my truck for other things. I have seen several hitch companies talk about how their fifth wheel hitch comes apart so that it is easier (lighter) to unload. How heavy is your hitch? 

 

Craig


 Craig, our hitch weighs about 325lbs. It's a Trailer Saver TSL2B 32,000 trailer w\ 7,500 lb pin.  But that #325 doesn't include the relatively massive steel plate Classy Chassis installs into which the hitch is bolted under the bed and then bolted tot the truck frame. (Remember, we have a Class V MDT with the Ram 5500HD.) It, IMO, has turned out to be an excellent hitch.  It can be rail mounted but, IMO, one needs to carefully "do the math" and make sure your truck's rear axle (regardless of brand) can handle that extra hitch weigh when coupled with pin weight, tools, fuel, etc.  (You didn't type the first letter of the F?50.  It it's a 350 it has more rear axle capacity then the F-450.)

Trailer Saver does make a similar hitch rated at 25,000 lbs and a 4,500 lb pin the TS3.  It is no less robust for its ratings but with just two air-bags they have to limit the pin to 4,500 lbs.  Don't recall its weight but its relatively heavy.  It can be rail mounted.  It is not, IMO, a convenient hitch to take out and reinstall even via rails. 

Following up on the "operational" issue with hitches; on a trip to the NWT in Canada I was not pleased to see how much trouble someone was having with the Trailer Saver hitch and it concerned me.  Well, it was all user, "****pit trouble."  Once Linda and I operated the hitch about 3 times it became clear what the individual's issues were.  We don't have them.  All operational mistakes.  Not the hitch's fault.

As an aside, if one can't have an air-ride hitch then I would definitely have an air-ride pin box if at all possible if the trailer is in the mid-weight class.  It really reduces the strain on the trailer's frame.  I have a friend who broke his and IMO with an air-ride pin-box or hitch that would not have happened.  Just my opinion.  The MORryde pinbox does a good job as well at reducing "chucking."  I'd recommend that as well FWIW.  It's all about total design, not just one thing.

PM me if you would like to discuss.  I really don't have a particular favorite. It's about specs and total system design based on the specific truck and trailer's capacities and weights.  Not just brand.

Bill



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2014 New Horizons Majestic F37RLTSS 96

2016 RAM 5500HD \ 4-Wheel Drive \ Link Air Ride
Classy Chassis RV Hauler Bed Conversion \ Aux Fuel Tank 



RV-Dreams Family Member

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Terry and Jo wrote:

Another follow-up on my part, one which I recently discovered when the wife and I went to move from Utah back to Oklahoma.

Our Mobile Suites has the electric-over-hydraulic braking system, meaning that the electrical impulses from braking activate a hydraulic system in the trailer.  When we went to leave Utah, I went to do the "pull test" with the trailer brakes, and they didn't hold.  I found out that I was low on brake fluid in the reservoir of the trailer's braking system.  Topped that reservoir up and went on.  When we got to our first night's stopover, I again went into the belly and topped off the reservoir with just a wee bit more fluid.

Obviously, if one's trailer doesn't have an "electric-over-hydraulic" system but electric only, this is not a factor.

Terry


 Terry, thank you for expanding on the "pull test."  I forgot to mention how that test also checks the brakes in addition to checking the hitch connection.  This is true with our without disc brakes (which I strongly recommend on an trailer.)

Bill



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Classy Chassis RV Hauler Bed Conversion \ Aux Fuel Tank 



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Since this is partly about removing the hitch so that the truck is bed is useable ... FWIW ... leaving the hitch (we have a puck mounted Hensley air ride hitch so it's pretty easy to disconnect from the truck) connected to the trailer and using the trailer’s front landing gear to just lift the hitch out of the bed a few inches and drive out from under it. It looks a little funky with the hitch hanging off the trailer, but it is the easiest way to remove and to install a hitch in a pickup truck bed if you don't have a hoist or several buddies. It even solves the “where do I store the hitch” question.  If you use the same padlock you secure the latch when towing, you also have an effective anti theft feature for your hitch while it remains attached to your trailer.



-- Edited by RonC on Saturday 28th of July 2018 03:48:35 PM



-- Edited by RonC on Saturday 28th of July 2018 03:50:54 PM



-- Edited by RonC on Saturday 28th of July 2018 03:52:25 PM



-- Edited by RonC on Saturday 28th of July 2018 03:55:30 PM



-- Edited by RonC on Saturday 28th of July 2018 05:13:22 PM



-- Edited by RonC on Sunday 29th of July 2018 12:17:51 PM

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2016 Ford F350, King Ranch, DRW, 3.73's, 4x4, CC, 6.7 Powerstroke, remote control air lift system

2017 Durango Gold 381REF (41 ft, 5 slides), MORryde IS, 8K Disc brakes, GY G114  LR H Tires, 27,320 lbs CGVW

Full Timers class of 2016

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