If you have an RV and you want to go on a vacation trip with your family, yet you do not know how to hook up a 5th wheel hitch, then learning how to safely connect the truck and a fifth wheel trailer using the hitch is a must.
To help you do this job, here is a friendly 5th wheel hook up guide that you can follow in setting up your RV before you hit the road.
Connecting trucks and trailers using fifth wheel hitches comes easy especially when you are following the instructions properly. It is also recommended to do the job by two persons: one person to drive the truck and and the other as a guide to ensure safety and make the necessary connections.
If you do not want to have it as two-men task, then you can do it yourself. However, it is going to take so much of your time.
The Installation Process
Before starting the fifth wheel hook up process, make sure that the tailgate of your pickup truck is placed down and all doors at the front of your cargo trailer are closed. Then, chock the wheels of the trailer to prevent it from suddenly moving forward or backward and causing untoward accidents.
Now that you have secured everything, move your truck backwards to align it to the trailer. Move it close enough to make an eyeball measurement. Make sure that there is enough clearance to get under the kingpin.
*In cases when there is not enough space to open the tailgate, then the guide will tell the driver to stop the truck, then put the tailgate up while moving it a bit closer to the trailer until the kingpin is clear.
With the use of the landing gear, adjust the trailer’s height so that the bottom play will be closer to the trailer’s pin box, setting it from 1/2 to 1 inch lower than the skid plate on the 5th wheel hitch.
*Before proceeding further to the 5th wheel hook up procedures, do not forget to put the hitch’s handle in an open position to avoid mishaps.
Ease the hitch’s back under the kingpin. There is a little resistance once the hitch and the kingpin are already in contact with each other. However, such occurrence is normal, so there is nothing to worry about.
Usually, the lubrication channels on the fifth wheel’s skid plate, which has been designed to incline as the kingpin slides into place, raises the trailer a bit higher.
*It is important to remember to allow the skid plate to push the trailer up as it slides and guides the kingpin to its proper position. Trying to exactly level the connection with the fifth wheel hitches and kingpins to avoid scratching the former can lead to high pinning.
*High pinning happens when the kingpin’s wider part is above the hitch’s jaws, which lock the kingpin inside the equipment. If this occurs, it can either break the jaws while in the middle of a fifth wheel hook up, result to an unsecured closure or cause the jaws to miss the kingpin. To avoid such circumstance from happening, it is much better to let the hitch and trailer’s kingpin interact like how they were built for.
As the kingpin comes in contact with the hitch, the jaws automatically open to let the kingpin in, then close once there is already a positive connection. Apparently, there are some hitches that have jaws, which need to be opened and closed manually using a locking handle.
Once the kingpin is safely inside the jaws, you have to make sure that the connection is also secured by closing and pinning the safety latch.
After locking the latch, get the pullout breakaway cable from the pin box and tie it to a permanent and stable part of your pickup truck. By doing this procedure, it will ensure that the brakes on the 5th wheel hitch will engage if it’s going to be disconnected from your vehicle.
Raise the truck’s tailgate, then connect the 7-way trailer cord from the fifth wheel to your vehicle. After linking the cord, do a Hitch Pull Test to make sure that the connection of the truck and trailer has been secured.
Hitch Pull Test
- The driver should activate the brakes of the trailer manually.
- Then, release the truck’s brakes.
- Slowly, step on the accelerator as if the driver is just moving the trailer a few inches. The trailer should keep the pickup truck in place.
*If the connection separates, stop the vehicle and hitch it again.
After successfully testing the 5th wheel hook up, completely raise the landing gear and remove the wheel chocks, then you are set for you vacation.
The Unhooking Process
The process of unhooking fifth wheel hitches is also easy since you only need to the reverse process of connecting the hitch.
Start by chocking the wheels and pulling down the landing gear to make the trailer go up – enough to lift the weight off the hitch. Then, disconnect the 7-way trailer cord and the pullout breakaway cable. Unlock/unpin and open the safety latch, then pull out the locking handle to its open position to disengage the jaws.
Make sure that the tailgate is open. Once it is down, let the driver drive the vehicle slowly out from under the trailer’s kingpin, unhooking the kingpin from the hitch.