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Old 04-23-2012, 01:04 PM   #1
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Newbee Having trouble w hitch

I am new at toy hauler Heartland 415 Road Warrior (had a 40' Tiffin Bus that had to sell in 2008 another story) I am towing with 2011 3500 Dually which was one of the recommended. When I hook up and un hook I have trouble releasing the pin, I get to what I think right height and have to rock truck back and fourth to get just right to release pin. My question is this normal, if so is this a learning curve and will I ever be able to do this solo. Thanks in advance

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Old 04-23-2012, 01:50 PM   #2
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Congrats on the 5er.
Does the connection points have a dab of grease on them and the face of the hitch (or a slip plate)?
What type of hitch is it (manufacturer and model)?
When she comes loose does she drop down a little or does the truck drop?
What kind of toys?

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Old 04-23-2012, 01:57 PM   #3
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With most hitches (details on the hitch you're using would help), you want the 5th wheel a little low when you hitch and unhitch - that is, some pin weight from the 5th wheel should still be on the hitch's load plate. When you unhitch, if you raise the 5th wheel too much, the bottom lip on the kingpin will side load the jaws (pull them up in a vertical direction), making it more difficult for the jaws to open.

When you back under the 5th wheel to hitch up, the pinbox load plate should slide up on the 5th wheel hitch's loadplate. If there's a gap between the loadplates, you risk a "high hitch" where the hitch jaws don't correctly engage the recess in the kingpin.

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Old 04-24-2012, 08:31 AM   #4
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What Rusty said.

To unhitch, raise the trailer on it's landing jacks until you can see just a tiny bit of space between the top of the hitch and the bottom of the trailer. Then lower the trailer just a scooch - not enough to lower the tail of the truck, but enough that the kingpin is not binding in the hitch. Then - provided you have a well-lubricated hitch - the release lever should be relatively easy to disconnect.

If it's still too difficult to move that lever, then it's probably caused by a binding hitch. The hitch binds when the rig is not perfectly level front to rear so the trailer rolls a bit and puts pressure on the hitch connection after you lock the parking brake on the tow vehicle. If the trailer is not level front to rear where you park it, then you need to use wheel chocks on the trailer so it will stay put while you move the tow vehicle a hair to relieve that pressure. You may need to back up the tow vehicle a hair or pull forward a hair to take pressure off the connection between the king pin and the hitch. With a bit of experience you can tell by watching the hitch when it's not binding either front or back in the hitch.

If your 5er hitch does not have 4-way tilt, then both the tow vehicle and trailer must be either level side to side, or leaning at exactly the same angle. Because I often park in the boonies without a perfectly level parking pad, I threw away a Reese 15k 5er hitch that did not have 4-way tilt and replaced it with the more-expensive Reese 16K hitch that did have 4-way tilt.

If you have to move the tow vehicle a hair forward or backward, it's much faster if you have a partner move the tow vehicle a hair while you manhandle the release lever without having to chock the trailer wheels. I've done it by myself, but is much faster when Darling Wife is helping.
Grumpy ole man with over 50 years towing experience. Now my heaviest trailer is a 7,000-pound enclosed cargo trailer, RV is a 5,600 pound Skyline Nomad Joey 196S, and my tow vehicle is a 2012 F-150 EcoBoost SuperCrew.
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Old 04-24-2012, 04:53 PM   #5
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Curt E-16 and yes I do need 2 people which I thought I would be able to do this process alone.
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Old 04-29-2012, 06:10 PM   #6
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You will be able to do it alone if you listen to Rusty and Smokey...keep some pin weight on the hitch.

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