What Should I Consider Before Moving A Fifth Wheel?
A couple of factors come into play whenever you attempt to move a 5th-wheel trailer. The first is weight. Determine the gross trailer weight of your camper so that you can ensure that any truck or trailer dolly has the proper load capacity. If your towing vehicle does not have an adequate tow rating, it's best to seek out other options.
The second consideration is the distance you need to move your travel trailer. There is a big difference between moving a 5th wheel across town to a storage unit and across the country on vacation. The distance that you are traveling may limit your options.
Moving A Fifth Wheel Trailer Without The Right Hitch
Assuming that you have a pickup truck equipped to pull the gross trailer weight of your RV camper, let’s explore some options for moving your fifth wheel.
Install A Fifth Wheel Hitch
Since you must move your RV trailer when you want to go to the lake or on vacation, you need to consider investing in a proper 5th-wheel hitch. Many companies make affordable fifth-wheel hitches that can be installed in the truck’s bed. One such example is this number one rated fifth-wheel hitch by B & W out of Humboldt, Kansas.
Use the Existing Gooseneck
If you have a truck that doesn’t have a fifth-wheel hitch but a gooseneck or ball mount, you can purchase an adapter to move your camper. Most trailer hitch companies manufacture an adapter that will convert a kingpin into a coupler unit that works in unison with a hitch ball.
One example of a gooseneck adapter is the one made by Andersen Hitches. The all-aluminum frame raises the gooseneck hitch, and an adapter modifies the kingpin to make a connection. This hitch is very popular among RV owners and is one of the best-selling adapters on the market. Other companies make cushioned adapters that convert a kingpin to allow you to move your RV trailer even if you don’t have the right hitch. One of the best adapters for a 5th-wheel trailer is the Reese Goosebox. This unit modifies the pin box to be hooked to a gooseneck ball mount.
Have a Truck With a Bumper Pull Ball Hitch
If you have a ball mount, there are options. The trailer weight of a fifth wheel can create problems for a tow vehicle’s rear wheels, so you need to ensure that your truck is equipped to tow your trailer. Some smaller RV trailers weigh between 5k and 6k pounds so they can be pulled by a standard ball hitch. Anything more than that weight will likely require a special adapter or dolly.
A fifth-wheel dolly is a separate trailer with single or double axles that moves the fifth-wheel connection out of the truck bed and sets it a top of the smaller trailer. The small trailer is pulled by a weight distribution hitch, and the extra set of axles keeps the load off the tow vehicle’s rear end.
A fifth-wheel dolly is expensive, but you will never have to install heavy rails or hitch plates in the truck bed. Many RV owners who don’t want to mess with the hassle of moving a fifth-wheel hitch in and out of their truck will opt for a fifth-wheel dolly. An example of a fifth-wheel dolly is this one from Safety Towing Systems.
It should be noted that many states have regulations concerning how to tow fifth-wheel campers and do not allow fifth-wheel trailers to be moved by a ball mounted to a bumper receiver hitch. You should check with your local Department of Public Safety for specific laws that apply to your situation.
Moving A Fifth Wheel Without A Truck
If you need to move your trailer without a truck, several options are available.
Rent A Truck Or Transport Service
Many rental companies like Uhaul, Budget Truck Rental, or Penske have trucks equipped with fifth-wheel hitches you can rent. The cost for the rental will vary by region, time, and mileage, so you will need to check with your local purveyor to determine if this option works best for you.
Many camper dealerships have one or two dedicated individuals certified to move fifth-wheel campers. While you will have to pay a charge, and you can’t use them for your two-week vacation to the Grand Canyon, if you need a trailer moved across town, this is a great way to go. If the dealership does not have a transport truck you can rent, they can probably refer you to a professional transport service. (If you just bought a camper and haven’t yet purchased the tow vehicle, many dealerships will deliver it to your residence and park it where you want it to sit).
Use A Remote-Controlled Trailer Dolly
Unlike the trailer dollies that you hook to the back of a truck, there is a tow dolly that moves on its own (it looks like a bomb-detecting robot). Trax X2 by Trax Power Dolly Systems is an excellent example of one such fifth-wheel mover. The dolly hooks to the fifth wheel and then is remotely operated by the user. These little robot dollies have caterpillar-like treads and can steer on a dime. This particular unit is rated for 15k lbs GTW, enough to handle most fifth-wheel campers. The only drawback is that a robotic unit will cost in the neighborhood of five grand.
If you wonder whether companies make hand-guided units like car movers that many service centers use to move a dead car into their bays, the answer is yes. However, there is a big difference between moving a 2,000 lb automobile and a 12k trailer. So, most camper dealerships have invested their money into motorized units. (You can ask if the dealer will let you hire them to use the dolly, but many will not due to liability concerns).
Find A Buddy Who Has A Truck
While this request might strain your friendship, if you know someone with a truck and a fifth-wheel hitch, adding them to your Christmas card list might be the next thing to do. A friend’s truck can be a simple and easy solution. More than likely, a friend or acquaintance will be happy to move your fifth wheel to your designated storage unit, but they likely won’t loan you their truck for the cross-country vacation.
What If I Need To Transport Across The Country?
If you do not have a truck or need your 5th wheel transported for long distances (a move, perhaps), your best bet is to hire a transport company. These shipping professionals have the equipment to carry your camper wherever you need it to go. (More than likely, the transport companies will use flatbed trailers). They can come out and assess the weight, the length and the distance you need them to haul and give you a quote.
If you use a transport service, ensure the driver is licensed, insured, and fully bonded (most states require it). You will want to have the estimate in writing, before you hand them the keys to your RV.