Fifth Wheel Gooseneck Adapter
Those of us who choose a fifth wheel trailer will wonder at some point if there is an alternative to the hitch taking up most of the truck bed. One option commonly considered is a fifth wheel gooseneck adapter, which requires only a vertically mounted ball hitch in the bed of the truck.
I have also considered this option, especially since our Ford truck came with a ball hitch welded onto the hauler back. In this article I summarize my findings and the conclusions I've drawn based on my research.
What is a Fifth Wheel Gooseneck Adapter?
A gooseneck adapter is a device that attaches to the fifth wheel trailer's king pin and extends it down about two feet, allowing it to couple with a vertically mounted ball hitch.
Essentially the adapter converts a fifth wheel trailer to a gooseneck trailer.
Advantages of a Fifth Wheel Gooseneck Adapter
If you have ever seen a fifth wheel hitch taking up most of a truck's bed, then the primary benefit is obvious—to free up the bed. The gooseneck adapter offers these benefits:
Disadvantages of a Fifth Wheel Gooseneck Adapter
Having considered all of the wonderful benefits, I wanted to rush out and buy an adapter. I tempered my excitement long enough to look at the potential disadvantages.
All of the disadvantages stem from an undeniable fact of physics—installing the adapter extends the hitch downward about two feet, increasing the amount of torque placed on the trailer frame. The additional torque brings the following potential problems:
Is an Adapter Right for You?
Now that the advantages and disadvantages have been laid out, how do you decide if an adapter is right for your specific trailer? Before spending time on researching the adapters, I urge you to call the fifth wheel manufacturer for their advice. Ask to speak with a structural engineer and solicit their opinion on how the adapter would affect the trailer. If you receive a go-ahead from the engineering staff, it would be wise to also talk with the service department about warranty issues.
Then, talk to your local RV dealer and see how they feel about warranty repairs after an adapter has been installed. Even if the manufacturer gave you the green light, you will have to work with the dealer for warranty repairs. If you receive a negative response, check with other dealers in the area who can service your trailer. A positive response should be easier to get from a dealer that sells the adapter.
If the manufacturer and dealer are hesitant to approve the adapter, you have to decide if you are willing to take on the monetary risks associated with the down-sides.
First, a few details about our fifth wheel to put my decision in context:
Ford F-550 with ball hitch installed on hauler back for gooseneck towing.
After consider the pros and cons, I decided not to use the gooseneck adapter. This decision was primarily based on my phone conversation with a King of the Road engineer. He gave me what seemed to be his honest opinion about the adapter.
The engineer felt confident that the adapter would cause no frame damage and had no reservations recommending it for some trailer models. However, the sticking point for our model was the bedroom slide near the front.
Fifth wheel hitch installed, after deciding against the gooseneck adapter.
Please do not assume from my decision that trailers shorter than 36' 6" without a front slide are automatically candidates for an adapter. The main point of this article is that you need to check with the fifth wheel manufacturer before deciding on a gooseneck adapter.