I'm pretty certain that an upgrade from our existing travel trailer to a fifth wheel is imminent, so I've been researching options for fifth wheels. Note that my truck does not have the factory hitch prep. Here are my constraints:
1) Capable of a 90 degree turn while backing without connecting/disconnecting the trailer
2) Can connect/disconnect at significant angles
3) No bed obstructions/rails when hitch removed
4) Compatible with fifth wheel trailers in general; does not require significant modification to trailer kingpin
5) Compatible with gooseneck hitches/trailers
6) Compatible with "sidewinder" style pin boxes
These constraints eliminate the following options for the noted reasons:
1) Andersen Ultimate, due to (1) and (6)
2) Single anchor point FW hitches such as the BW, due to (6)
3) Demco Hijacker Autoslide due to (2) and (6)
4) Pullrite Superglide due to (4) and (6)
That basically leaves me with two options for under-bed rails: Reese
or factory prep retrofit
(note that there is a second part number
for this rail kit as well, and it's not immediately obvious what the differences are -- perhaps bed length). Turns out that finding an image of this part on the internet is just damned impossible, so I had one of the parts guys at Paramus Chevrolet email me a PDF illustration. Here it is in image form.
Regarding factory vs. Reese, I am leaning toward Reese for the following reasons:
1) Installation tutorials/videos are readily available; I'm sure I could shoehorn the factory rails in there but there will almost certainly not be any guides available to guide me through the intricacies. That's assuming I don't want to pay the dealer $780 plus tax to install it, which would be a valid assumption (note that their price for the part was $1,065).
2) It's less expensive and can be purchased on Etrailer.
3) There is a rail adapter plate
that essentially converts the Reese pucks into industry standard rails. The adapter plate
for the factory rail kit does not appear to offer the same universality.
4) It turns out that -- as far as I can tell -- the puck pattern on the Reese kit is identical to the puck pattern in Ford's factory underbed kit. That means that ANY hitches/accessories/whatever designed to work with a Ford equipped with the factory fifth wheel kit will work with a truck that has the Reese underbed rails. This does not appear to be advertised anywhere. If you go on Etrailer and specify your vehicle as a Ford with the factory fifth wheel prep and search for fifth wheel hitches, you get the Reese ultimate hitch (among others), which you'll also get if you specify your vehicle as a GM without
the prep kit. I verified with Etrailer that this hitch fits both puck systems, although they did not say explicitly that the two puck patterns are identical. I'm almost certain that they are, however. Note that there are a lot of fifth wheels designed to fit directly into Ford's system, whereas the same cannot be said (based on my Etrailer searches) of GM's puck system.
Now, the only remaining question appears to be the actual hitch. Assuming (4) above is correct, that means I can go with the Reese Ultimate (outrageously expensive
-- does anyone know why? Is it worth it?), as well as any other hitch designed for Ford's prep kit, or I could just get the adapter plate and a hitch designed for standard above-bed rails. The possible downside to the last option is that the adapter plate may raise everything up a bit, but I'm not sure how significant it will be (I figure an inch above where standard above-bed rails would sit at the most).
Does anyone have experience using the Reese underbed rails, adapter plate, and a standard-rail hitch (preferably a slider)? This is what I'm leaning toward, so any information is much appreciated. Thanks!