Installing a fifth wheel hitch on your truck can be very simple with the proper tools. You also have to make sure that the load capacity of the trailer does not go over the load capacity of the truck. There is usually a 20 percent leeway given for trailer weight to avoid stressing the suspension of your truck. When placing the hitch, it should be placed toward the beginning of the back axle. Depending on the kind of hitch you will use, such as a sliding king pin, this will vary based on the length of the truck bed. Sliding king pins are preferred for short bed trucks. The fifth wheel hitch is the most popular for longer bed trucks.
Step 1 - Preparations
You will need to begin by measuring for the hitch. For a long bed, measurements should be 56 inches back from the cab and for a short bed the measurement should be 36 inches back from the cab. You want to get as close as possible to the center of the truck bed. Mark the spot, as this is where you will be placing the hole for the bolt.
Step 2 - More Measurements
This time you will start at the tailgate and measure 28 5/16 inches to the center for a long bed. It will be 26 5/16 inches for a short bed truck. This is where you will place the mark for the bolt hole. This will be the location of the fifth wheel rear rail.
Step 3 - Installing the Rear Rail
Depending on the year of your truck, you may or may not have to drill the holes for your fifth wheel hitch. Should the holes not be there, you will have to drill two holes: one on both sides of the rail and place the bolts with nuts. Using the proper tools, tighten them down.
Step 4 - Installing the Fifth Wheel Hitch
You will need to line up the bolts with the holes and install just the bolts for the moment. Lay the fifth wheel on top. Then you will be installing the front rail from underneath the fifth wheel. Again, you will line up the holes and install the bolts only.
Step 5 - Installing and Securing Bolts and Nuts
If there are no holes for the end bolts, you must drill them. Then install and tighten them down. With the fifth wheel hitch in place you can install the nuts in the front and rear to secure the fifth wheel in place.
Step 6 - Installing a Sidewinder Fifth Wheel Extension
Short bed trucks will need to have an extension installed. This will attach right to the king pin. It will give an extra 20 inches of room from the pin box on the trailer to the truck king pin. The extension is normally locked when being used, but when you park, the front pin gets locked and the rear portion is unlocked, so you will get the swivel to give the cab of the truck more room to turn with the fifth wheel hitch.