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Fifth Wheel To Gooseneck Conversion Pros and Cons
Many travel trailer owners whose RV's have a fifth wheel type towing hitch are choosing to convert to the simpler gooseneck hitch favored by farmers and ranchers.
What Are The Advantages Of A Fifth Wheel To Gooseneck Conversion?
If you use your vehicle frequently for other purposes, having a large and bulky fifth wheel hitch in the back of the pickup bed can be an annoyance. They take up space and are not easily removed and stored. If you happen to need your bed for hauling unexpectedly you have to leave the fifth wheel hitch somewhere. Farmers and ranchers prefer the simpler gooseneck style hitch because it does not take up any bed space. Gooseneck hitches are available in the "hide a ball" variety that drop down out of site while not in use. The installation of a goose neck hitch in a new pickup can cost as little as $400. Gooseneck hitches are capable of towing just as much weight as a fifth wheel style hitch. Models such as the one pictured above may feature a remote disconnect lever that can be placed on the rear of the trailer's hitch for easy access.
Another advantage of using a gooseneck hitch is versatility. If the pickup owner needs to tow a gooseneck trailer there is no conversion necessary. For this reason you will see gooseneck conversions on many northern farmer- snowbird's RV's.
What Are The Disadvantages Of A Fifth Wheel To Gooseneck Conversion Kit?
The fifth wheel hitch as used by RV'ers and also the larger variety used by truckers provides a smoother towing platform. Since the fifth wheel swivels with bumps in the road this decreases some of the motion that would have been transferred to the trailer. Some trailer manufacturers will choose not to honor the frame warranty if the owner converts it to a gooseneck hitch. This is non unusual since any alterations to the frame of an RV, such as extended rear bumpers, roof racks, etc, give them an excuse to void the warranty and blame any problems on the owner. Issues with towing smoothness are not that great with smaller trailers. Some more expensive conversion kits feature a shock dampener.
Many owners of trailers as large as 35' in length have converted to a gooseneck hitch with no problem. One step that makes using a fifth wheel to gooseneck conversion kit slightly inconvenient is the need to use two safety chains. Another is that gooseneck converted trailers are slightly harder to back up to since you must have the trailer hitch almost exactly over the location of the ball before lowering your jack stands.
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Safety Issues With Fifth Wheel To RV Conversions
A properly installed gooseneck conversion will include a hitch that is attached to a welded cross member under the bed. If no factory cross member is available the shop will have to weld a steel I beam across from one side of the frame to another. When properly installed a gooseneck ball is just as strong as a fifth wheel hitch. Always have a trailer shop install your fifth wheel to gooseneck conversion kit. In addition, after towing with the hitch for a few miles tighten the bolts that attach the conversion kit to the RV frame. Do this a couple of times over the next few months to ensure that all bolts are tight.
Most RV fifth wheel to gooseneck conversions come with safety chains. These help keep the RV attached to the vehicle in the highly unlikely event the gooseneck hitch were to become detached. You should always keep these chains in place when towing the trailer.
If you do not own a very heavy fifth wheel RV and are not afraid of frame warranty issues then you might want to join the thousands of RV'ers who have already converted to a gooseneck hitch for the added bed space.