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Old 09-27-2010, 06:51 PM   #1
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Question Selecting the right 5th wheel hitch

I've completed my first hurdle on the road to getting on the road. I bought a 2007 Dodge 3500 quad cab, diesel, automatic with DRW (73,000 miles). I will be pulling a 2003 NUWA Snowbird 34', with 3 slides. Unfortunately, I don't have the pin or tow weights because the trailer is in California, in storage. Now I have to choose the right 5th wheel hitch. I've done some research, but am overwhelmed by all the choices: Pullrite, Reece, Curt, and more.... I am guessing I will be safe with a 20k rated hitch that handles approx. 5k pin weight? Am I on the right track? I don't think I need a slider? I don't want to spend more than necessary, but I don't want to skimp either. Pullrite seems very expensive? Anyhow, There's a lot of knowledge out there I'd love to tap. Help is greatly appreciated.

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Old 09-28-2010, 03:49 AM   #2
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I’m looking at hitches as well, your right it’s a little overwhelming; I think you need to get a few more pieces of information to make the right choice.

Regarding the trailer weight, can you pick out your rig from these floor plans: http://www.nuwa.com/archives/2003/snowbird/index.html most have the weight shown (probably except for your model). Seems like yours could be the 33 RK TG SE? The weight isn’t listed but it could be around the same as the one above (10-14K). If we use that as an example, you wouldn’t need any more than a 16K hitch, 20K would be excessive unless you planned on upgrading in the future and didn’t want to buy a new hitch. Remember, the beefier these are the more they weigh, and someone has to get them out of the truck.

Some of the key criteria I used are:
· Jaw type – I like the idea of a “wrap around” jaw, over the bar or dual jaw.
· Positive lock – some way to tell if the jaw is actually closed before you pull.
· 4-way pivot (front/back, left/right)
· Slider or not – I need a slider, you didn’t mention your bed size, if it is short you should consider a slider as SnowBirds don’t seem very chisled in the front.
· Rail mounting system (under/over bed) – if you want a clean look to your bed after you remove the hitch, try to find an “under the bed” rail, otherwise a conventional above rail is typical.
· Maintenance – like the Curt claims to be maintenance free.
· Weight – many are the same but there are a couple that seem to be just heavier, you can read that as a good or bad thing depending on how much excess capacity your setup has.
· Cost – I’m using www.etrailer.com and tweetys.com as benchmarks for the prices.

I suggest you look at each brand (Reese, Hijacker, Husky, Valley, Curt, etc) and pick one hitch in each brand. Then compare those hitches between each other. At the end of the day they all do a good job and you could spend hours/days reading posts of people’s opinions, getting nowhere. For example: personally I’m leaning towards the Valley PowerPull 480 because I like the jaw, positive lock, 4-head pivot. The Reese 2-piece jaw scares me a little and the single-bar jaw seems a bit unimaginative.


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Old 09-28-2010, 07:07 AM   #3
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a 16K hitch would be adequate. So a 20K s fine. Pick the one you think will make you the happiest, buy it and go camping.
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:12 AM   #4
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If you have a short bed truck, strongly consider a sliding hitch - if you don't, you don't need a slider. If you plan on using the truck for anything besides a tow vehicle, I'd recommend a hitch design that leaves a clean bed floor when it's removed. We use the B&W turnoverball gooseneck with the B&W companion 5th wheel hitch (rated 18K for 5th wheel and 30K for gooseneck), but some of the more conventional 5th wheel hitches now have clean floor designs as well.

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Old 09-28-2010, 05:34 PM   #5
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I currently have a Valley 26,000 LB 5er hitch. I do not like it. Firstly, there is no lock on the release handle. That's really stupid. Secondly I use my truck all the time for hauling stuff requiring me to remove the hitch. The Valley head comes apart from the rails but breaks down no further. It's simply too heavy to mount and unmount by myself and my wife can't help at all. It weighs about 175 lbs. My old Reese 22K hitch was way better. The head came apart from the base with 2 pins and each weighed about 75 lbs. I can lift it myself into the truck and then bring the head in separately. It also had a release handle lock that you could lock with a padlock. When I bought my truck I just sent up 10,000$ and told the dealer I wanted the largest 5er hitch, a brake controller, and wiring added for the 5er in the bed and a spray in bed liner. They put in a Valley hitch and all the other accessories at the truck stop a place that specializes in truck accessories about a 1/2 mile away. When I drove to the dealer to pick up the truck, my wife couldn't get in without help... I drove right back to the truck stop and installed side steps so she could get in. I enjoyed helping her in with a boost from below but sadly, she wanted help without my hands. She won and we got side steps
Look carefully at all manufacturers for the features you want, but I like Reese.
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:18 PM   #6
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Having been down this road, I suggest buying a higher capacity hitch than what is necessary. I had a Reese 15K hitch already when we bought a 5er with a GVW or 15.5K#. Towing our new 5er was just OK with the old hitch. I could feel some unsteadyness in the rig. I bought a used Reese 20K hitch, which fits the same bed-rails. Towing became quite firm and steady immediately.
The most recent Reese is upgraded from 20K to 22K, looks the same in a picture.
I bought that used 20K hitch (after inspection) for $300 including bed-rails. The frame mounting kit is not movable from one truck to another, as new bolts must be used every time. I phoned Reese, told them I was repainting my hitch and they sent me a new decal, label kit for my 20K hitch at no charge.
You might contact several hitch installation business's and inquire about a used hitch if it fits your plans. I had one of these business's sell my 15K hitch for me, and got $200 for it.
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Old 09-28-2010, 09:47 PM   #7
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I've had several Reese hitches over the years and been very happy with them. A 20k Reese will serve you nicely.
As said above, if your truck is a short box, you will need a sliding hitch with that snowbird.

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Old 09-29-2010, 04:09 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by RustyJC View Post
I'd recommend a hitch design that leaves a clean bed floor when it's removed. We use the B&W turnoverball gooseneck with the B&W companion 5th wheel hitch (rated 18K for 5th wheel and 30K for gooseneck), but some of the more conventional 5th wheel hitches now have clean floor designs as well.

I liked the idea of a clean bed as well, but I've been underwhelmed at the options. As far as I can see there are 3 basic types:
  • Puck - need to drill 2 1/2" holes for each puck, that's removing allot of metal. Pucks still stick-up.
  • Gooseneck - one receiver in the center, places tourque on the bed surface (my guess).
  • Post - for 1 1/4" holes for posts that remove.
Personally I gravitate to the post idea, seems the least intrusive to the bed and the hitch never touches the bed. Unfortunatly I don't really see a manual slide 16K hitch made for my Mega Cab with a post design.


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