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Old 05-24-2012, 02:53 PM   #1
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5th Wheel Hitch Install?

Last week, I bought a 2011 Silverado 2500HD, diesel, crew cab, long bed, 4x4. It it is set up well for towing with the factory trailer brake controller and exhaust brake. I'm not yet sure of how best to make use of the two 125 amp alternators.

This week, I placed an order for a new Palomino, Puma 253-FBS. Our 19' class B was great for weekends, and tolerable for 2-3 week vacations. Now that I'm retired, we've been going out for 6-8 weeks and feeling more than a little bit cramped. The new 27' 5er will seem absolutely palatial. It will be hard to wait.

I plan to get the Reese Pro 20K hitch. The weight rating is overkill (the Puma's GVWR is 11,186), but I like the double jaws better than the slide latch on the lighter hitches.


I had been planning on saving some cash by installing the hitch myself until I read the manual for the (original version) custom kit for my truck. It required dropping the fuel tank and also removing part of the heat shield over the exhaust pipe. I decided to leave it to a pro.

Now, I discover that there is a new “outboard” custom kit that costs about $40 more than the original. This kit uses longer rails (48”), so that the brackets attach to the outside of the truck rails instead of to the inside like on the old kit. There appears to be nothing in the way. This job, I think I can tackle, but I was hoping to find somebody who has done it.

BTW, there is now also and outboard installation kit for some of the Ford trucks.



Joel
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Old 05-24-2012, 04:23 PM   #2
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I have the same 2011 truck but in the short (6.5 ft) bed. I installed the 16K Reese Pro Series hitch using the Reese Fifth Wheel Installation Kit for the Chevrolet Silverado, 2011. The brackets on this custom kit fit on the outer sides of the truck frame rails, which is what I believe you are describing.

I can't agree that there is 'nothing in the way'. Installing the rail kit required removing the spare, the exhaust hanger and a either cutting away a portion of the heat shield or removing a bunch of screws to push it aside in order to gain access to the underside of the truck bed.

The good news is the truck sits up so high you'll probably have room to sit underneath it while you do the install (I did). The bad news is removing the screws from the heat shield is a pain (Loctite!). Cutting it might have been easier but I chose to keep it intact.

The job was tough but doable, even for an old semi-codger like me.
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Old 05-25-2012, 04:05 PM   #3
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Thanks for your response.

I just crawled under and checked my truck again. The entire exhaust system (including all of the hangers and the entire heat shield) is between the two frame rails. The space outside of the rails, on both sides, is completely empty. It doesn't even look like I will have to drop the spare tire.

I would guess that going from a 8' bed to a 6-1/2' bed required moving a few things around underneath.

Joel
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Old 05-26-2012, 09:34 AM   #4
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I just crawled under and checked my truck again. The entire exhaust system (including all of the hangers and the entire heat shield) is between the two frame rails. The space outside of the rails, on both sides, is completely empty. It doesn't even look like I will have to drop the spare tire.
Joel, you may be OK if you don't have wheel well liners, but I suspect you do. (Thinking back, I suppose I could have removed those for access, but not sure how much work that would have been.)

The problem is while the brackets do mount to the outer side of the frame, they are configured so that the mounting holes for the base rails are are directly above the frame (between the frame and the bottom of the truck bed). IOW, the mounting flange on the top of the brackets doesn't curve to the outside of the frame rails, it curves to the inside, on top of the frame rail. This means you have to get access to the small space between the bottom of the truck bed and top of the frame to install and tighten the 8 bolts for the base rails. The only way I could figure out to do that was what I described earlier, which was also what the instructions said was needed.

I don't claim to be anything more than an average DIY mechanic, so you may be able to figure out an easier way to gain access. Please let me know how you make out.
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Old 05-26-2012, 12:22 PM   #5
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Take it down to the hitch dealer, drop it off, go to the VFW,Moose etc. and have a great lunch and some drinks.

Come back to a sweaty, cursing, hurt, bleeding mechanic and just smile knowing it's not you.....
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Old 05-27-2012, 07:27 AM   #6
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Joel, you may be OK if you don't have wheel well liners, but I suspect you do. (Thinking back, I suppose I could have removed those for access, but not sure how much work that would have been.)

The problem is while the brackets do mount to the outer side of the frame, they are configured so that the mounting holes for the base rails are are directly above the frame (between the frame and the bottom of the truck bed). IOW, the mounting flange on the top of the brackets doesn't curve to the outside of the frame rails, it curves to the inside, on top of the frame rail. This means you have to get access to the small space between the bottom of the truck bed and top of the frame to install and tighten the 8 bolts for the base rails. The only way I could figure out to do that was what I described earlier, which was also what the instructions said was needed.

I don't claim to be anything more than an average DIY mechanic, so you may be able to figure out an easier way to gain access. Please let me know how you make out.
You are thinking about the original style kit with the standard rails. I have the installation directions for the original kit and a distinctly different set of directions for the new "outboard" kit.

The new kit (p.n. 56001-53) uses 48" long rails (#30153) that are longer than the standard rails. This moves the rail bolts completely outside of the frame rails. The mounting brackets (#56001) are installed with the tabs facing outward.

In any event, I ordered the system but have not received it yet. I will give it a try and can always take it to a dealer if I run into trouble. I'll let you know how it goes.

In the mean time, I think I'll try to sell the bed liner. I'm trying to decide how much to ask for it.

Joel
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Old 05-27-2012, 08:27 AM   #7
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You are thinking about the original style kit with the standard rails. I have the installation directions for the original kit and a distinctly different set of directions for the new "outboard" kit.

The new kit (p.n. 56001-53) uses 48" long rails (#30153) that are longer than the standard rails. This moves the rail bolts completely outside of the frame rails. The mounting brackets (#56001) are installed with the tabs facing outward.
Gotcha.

That should eliminate having to remove all the 'stuff' between the frame rails, but I'm still wondering about your wheel well liners - won't they be in your way?
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Old 05-27-2012, 05:29 PM   #8
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Wink

There seems to be a gap of about 1-1/2" between the outer edge of the frame rail and the inner edge of the wheel well liner. I am hoping that everything fits in there.

Joel
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Old 05-27-2012, 07:57 PM   #9
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I have a draw tite hitch that was installed in my old 97 Ford. Professional installation.

When I bought my newer truck I decided to save some money and do it myself. I had to buy special bits for my drill because drilling holes in an truck frame is not easy. I also found the specs on the location were so tight that it would go in one location only while there was room for adjustment in my 97.

Not an easy job. I would not do it again. It was just too tough a job for an old man.
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Old 05-27-2012, 08:43 PM   #10
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I am not sure I would even CONSIDER it

I'm too lazy and my expertise is elsewhere !
and the liability that EVERYTHING in the 5th and in my truck, and anyone close to me would be in jeopardy if the hitch failed would be too much of a consideration IMHO
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Old 05-27-2012, 10:20 PM   #11
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I am not sure I would even CONSIDER it

I'm too lazy and my expertise is elsewhere !
and the liability that EVERYTHING in the 5th and in my truck, and anyone close to me would be in jeopardy if the hitch failed would be too much of a consideration IMHO
Dumb for me to try it. I purchased new rails and bolts and did not use my old ones. You may have a big problem if you don't use the right grade bolt. When I drilled the bit would get stuck and drill would whip around and hit my wrist. It really hurt. Cussed a lot. No more,
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Old 05-27-2012, 10:34 PM   #12
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After installing one in the driveway on a warm afternoon, I'll leave that to the pros with the expertise and proper equipment. It was a miserable job. As was mentioned, there is a liability issue and these guys carry insurance.
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Old 05-28-2012, 01:55 AM   #13
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Dumb for me to try it. I purchased new rails and bolts and did not use my old ones. You may have a big problem if you don't use the right grade bolt. When I drilled the bit would get stuck and drill would whip around and hit my wrist. It really hurt. Cussed a lot. No more,
The new custom kits bolt directly into existing holes in the truck's frame rails. You need to drill through the floor of the bed, but that is easy. There is no need to drill holes in the frame rails. Also, all bolts (of the right grade) are included in the kit. The hardest part may be torquing them to the required 220 ft-lbs.
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Old 05-28-2012, 09:52 AM   #14
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Even the older style rail kits have an optional install kit that bolts through existing holes in he frame of the truck. Trying to drill 3/4" holes in the frame is for the birds.
Draw-Tite, Reese Quick Install Fifth Wheel Mounting Brackets 50081
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