Towing Service Bakersfield CA
Tow Trucks Bakersfield CA - Fifth Wheel Trailer Towing
To continue our discussion on RV towing in Bakersfield CA from the last blog post, here is more useful information from Woodall's RV Owner's Handbook's. This is in light of the heavy number of towing Bakersfield CA needs for people who are driving to visit nearby attractions. Keep in mind our tow truck Bakersfield CA service when you come to visit the Sequoia National Forest, Pyramid Lake, Fort Tejon State Park, and many more amazing places during your adventure. Be sure to keep our tow truck Bakersfield number handy when you need any help when in the area. This handbook is written by Gary Bunzer in the updated 4th edition. Here is an excerpt:
Towing a Fifth-Wheel Trailer
Most RVers do not think of having much in common with truckers other than driving the same highways, but when it comes to fifth-wheel trailers, there is much similarity. For instance, the fifth-wheel got its name from the trucking industry. The "fifth wheel" is actually that smooth, round hitching disk that is easily identified on the big tractors when the trailer is not attached.
Also the jacks that poke out from their retracted positions on semitrailer front ends have counterparts on the RV fifth-wheel trailer, where they perform the same job of supporting the trail when it is disconnected from the tow vehicle. And thirdly, the mechanics of joining the tandem via a pin on the trailer that locks into the jaws of a plate mounted on the truck is a direct steal from the trucking industry.
Ideas are liberally borrowed for a reason. In the case of the fifth-wheel, the plate pin arrangement provides a means for hitching and unhitching that is easy and almost maintenance free. There are some demanding aspects; some muscle is needed to pull the handle that operates the jaws or to manually crank the jacks, but both chores are no more taxing than coupling a travel trailer.
This plate pin arrangement is so well accepted that many fifth-wheel owners would tow nothing else. They are a dedicated bunch bound by the much touted advantage of fifth-wheel towing – exceptional handling. It is an idea firmly rooted in reality. With the hitch weight placed directly over or just forward of the tow truck's rear axle, these trailers are quite stable in their tracking. Also, the fifth-wheel design pretty much eliminates trailer sway.
While turning and backing, a fifth wheel develops less of an angle to the tow vehicle than does a conventional travel trailer. This allows a quick recovery after a turn, but also causes increased tire wear because the two vehicles do not round corners on the same turn radius. This forces the trailer tires to "scrub" against the pavement somewhat. For the most part, fifth-wheel towing equipment is maintenance-free, and the tasks for the responsible owner are the ordinary pre-trip checks that any RVer would perform.
Flitches differentiate in design, however. The hitch installed on the tow vehicle must be compatible with the hitch that is installed on the trailer by the manufacturer. The first-time buyer has a head start on these decisions if he or she has some understanding of how fifth-wheel hitches differ and the relative advantages of each.
Choosing the Tow Vehicle
Although some fifth-wheel trailer manufacturers produce specialty trucks that are packaged with their trailer, most owners can find a suitable tow vehicle among the stock units manufactured by the auto industry. There are, however, special considerations.
In most cases, a hefty truck is required for fifth-wheel towing. There are several reasons for this. One is that whereas the hitch weight of a travel trailer is usually about 12 to 15% of its gross weight, the pin weight of a fifth-wheeler generally runs about 20 to 25% (for a 6,000-pound trailer, that is 1,200 to 1,500 pounds!). Also, the higher profile created by the second level bedroom of the trailer causes more wind resistance and consequently, more drive train power and better cooling are needed, as well as beefier brakes.
Although some small fifth-wheel trailers can get by with a properly equipped half-ton pickup truck, generally a three-quarter-ton truck is the smallest tow vehicle found for most fifth-wheel trailers. Some larger coaches require a one-ton truck or larger. The overall weight of the trailer is the primary concern since most fifth-wheel rigs weigh substantially more than conventional travel trailers.
All pickup trucks used for towing fifth-wheel trailers should always be equipped with a towing package. Stock towing packages generally include any or all of the following:
Another recommendation for trucks that pull fifth-wheel trailers is a Gear Vendors under/over-drive auxiliary transmission. This addition to the tow vehicle will provide an additional gear in between each of the stock gears in the existing transmission. This results in more power to the drive wheels, less wasted energy and better performance, including an increase in fuel efficiency.
- Bigger engine
- Specially geared rear axle
- Higher capacity alternator
- Larger radiator
- Transmission oil cooler
- Trailer wiring harness
- Heavy duty suspension
- Powered minors
Though fifth-wheel hitches do not share classifications with the ball-type hitches for conventional travel trailers, they are however, rated by weight in the form of design loads. Fifth-wheel hitches typically have design capacities of 15,000 pounds, 22,000 pounds and 25,000 pounds depending on the overall length of the unit. Similarly, the pin boxes are also rated in those terms; therefore, the fifth-wheel hitch installed in the pickup should be equal to or greater than the pin box rating on the fifth-wheel trailer.
Some pin boxes are adjustable, meaning they can be telescoped in or out of an outer sleeve to adjust the ride height of the fifth-wheel trailer for optimum towing. The recommended clearance space between the bed of the truck and the bottom edge of the fifth-wheel overhang is about 5-1/2-inches.
Four basic fifth-wheel hitch designs are in use today:
- Crossbar or side rail design
- Pedestal or floor mount
- Inverted or gooseneck concept
- Air hitches
The most popular designs, the crossbar/side rail and floor mount types, share many of the same type of components. Each has a circular plate or "fifth wheel" mounted in the truck bed. Each type requires a pin protruding from a box mounted on the trailer overhang (the king pin). Both have spring-loaded levers for releasing the locking jaws in the plate and both have locking pins for preventing the lever from being accidentally dislodged from the locked position.
They differ only in the way each hitch connect to the truck bed.
Side rails create a support structure for the hitch plate. Side rails are made up of steel side mounted on each side of the truck bed and a box-like crossbar that contains the plate. The crossbar is bolted to the side rails that are, in turn anchored to the truck frame on either side of the wheel well.
Side rails are either mounted over the fenders just inside of them. The over-the-fender has the advantage of leaving more of the bed open for storage items, but it does not provide as firm an anchor as the inside the fender choice.
The advantage of the floor-mount design is that the hitch takes up little space in the truck bed and the plate is easily removable so that the time truck can be put to other uses. This is accomplished with a metal framework that is bolted to the truck bed floor and to ribs that tie in to the truck frame.
Some fifth-wheel crossbar platforms in the floor area of the bed tilt fore and aft to adjust to dips in the roadway while driving. Those that tilt only fore and aft are called standard platforms. Others are designed with a fully floating platform and tilt fore and aft as well as side to side. This design offers the maximum flexibility and handling while towing.
This hitch is a marked departure from the others since it has neither hitching plate nor pin. Instead, a larger, heavy duty coupler, similar to standard coupler found on the A frame of a conventional trailer, is welded onto a pin box which is mounted on the trailer. The term gooseneck comes from this coupler mounting which resembles the silhouette of... you guessed it, a goose's neck.
A flat steel base plate is secured to the bed of the truck and to the frame of the truck. The hitch ball, again, similar to an ordinary trailer hitch ball except larger and heavier, is attached to the base plate. Some gooseneck designs are such that the ball actually can be recessed into the bed of the pickup and either popped up or flipped over for use when towing, such as the Turnover Ball (www. turnoverball.com) and the Flip-Over Ball (www.popuphitch.com). When not towing, it disappears from sight leaving the bed completely flat and usable for other tasks.
PopUp Industries (www.pop-uphitch. com) has also developed a unique adapter that modifies the typical king pin on a fifth-wheel trailer and converts it to a gooseneck design.
This is a viable option for those fifth-wheel trailers that ride too high in the bed of a pickup using a traditional pin box and crossbar hitch.
Fifth-wheel hitches, as with all hitches, should only be installed by an experienced, qualified shop. Some manufacturers recommend mounting the hitch directly over the axle, and some say no, it should be two inches in front of the axle. While it is always prudent to follow the manufacturer's recommendations, it may not always be possible since all truck beds and fifth-wheel trailers are not the same. That's why it's important to rely on the expertise of the qualified installer.
Newer designs of fifth-wheel hitches are available for the plethora of short-bed pickup trucks. Some incorporate ingenious sliding mechanisms and are worth looking into if you favor the short-bed design in a tow vehicle. In some cases added space between the rear of the short-bed pickup and the front bulkhead of the fifth-wheel trailer can make a huge difference, especially during turns. That extra space can be obtained by the addition of a fifth-wheel adapter. The RV5 by the aforementioned, PopUp Industries, adds 10-inches of clearance."