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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I recently installed the Reese under-bed rail kit in my truck. It seems like a good setup (although I have not yet towed with it), but there are some aspects of the installation that are not addressed in the instructions or Etrailer's videos, so I figured I'd share my experience. The complete photo album (including videos) can be found here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/yfduMNbTn1bzAGJj8

My wife and I are upgrading to a fifth wheel camper shortly and our truck did not come with the factory fifth wheel prep, so we decided to purchase the Reese under-bed rail kit. This kit has the same puck pattern as the Ford OEM fifth wheel prep, so any hitches or adapter plates designed to work with Ford's system will work with this one as well.

The following are some tools and items I recommend having available when you begin this installation (I'm only mentioning things that are not obvious and are not identified in either the instructions or Etrailer's materials, so read/watch those first):

1) High-torque, 1/2"-drive impact wrench and complete impact-rated socket set (the big bolts in this kit have 1-1/4" heads, I believe) with extensions and a swivel adapter; you'll need up to 18" of extensions so a 12" and 6" will work
2) An assortment of drill bits compatible with your hole saws (these are usually hex-drive, like an impact driver); more on this later.
3) A small grinding tool like a Dremel, along with compatible cutting wheels and grinding/sanding bits or attachments
4) A long (approximately three feet) pry bar or galvanized steel pipe, no more than about 1-1/4" in diameter
5) A short length (about a foot is fine) of 4x4" lumber
6) A mallet (at least 2 lbs)
7) Someone to assist you (there is one part of this installation that is almost impossible to do without two people)
8) EITHER a lift OR a creeper, jack, and jackstands (or just a jack if it has a mechanical lockout device -- like mine -- so that the weight of the truck isn't supported solely by a hydraulic piston)
9) A crappy and small (about 1" across) ratchet strap that you don't care much about (it might become frayed)
10) A set of ratcheting box-end wrenches for removing heat shield bolts

Due to the weight of all the pieces and the awkward work areas (especially if you're doing this without a lift), I'd say this was one of the more physically demanding installs I've done. If you're not comfortable lifting 100 lbs or manhandling 30-40 pound parts with one hand you'll definitely need a second person to help you apply brute force. On a related note, if you're doing this without a lift and haven't done this exact install before, I think you should anticipate this taking a full day. Start to finish for me was eight hours.

The first step is to identify and mark the centers of the holes you'll be cutting into the bed. You want to measure from the edge of the bed, as in the pictures below (note the little white '+' signs in the second pic). THERE ARE ISSUES WITH THE MEASUREMENTS GIVEN IN THE INSTRUCTIONS; read this entire post before drilling!





When you drill your holes, you'll want to have a block of wood available as a "stop" so that you don't accidentally drill into anything below. Also, having something soft to kneel on will make this less unpleasant.

This is where you'll want to make sure the drill bit on your hole saw extends about an inch or so beyond the teeth on the saw. Mine didn't; in fact, the bed corrugation is actually deeper than the drill bit extension, so the pilot holes were almost useless. Having an extended drill bit will make this much easier. In the photo album link at the top of the post you'll find several video clips of the frustration that ensues when your drill bit isn't long enough.



You'll want to grind down the edges of those holes before painting them; I used a Dremel and some AC Delco black touch-up paint.





Next, remove the bed bolts on one side of the bed (I did the driver side). These bolts are under a good bit of torque even though they're just holding down the sheet metal bed, and because they're threaded into sheet metal they don't come out so obediently even after having been fully loosened. I tried to do this with my hex-drive impact driver at first, but upgraded to the 1/2" impact wrench almost immediately and it was much easier that way. You'll need a 12" extension and swivel adapter for this. Note that I did not even loosen the bolts on the other side; there's enough flex in the sheet metal to get this done without loosening them. One less thing to reassemble.



Contrary to the instructions, I did not remove my heat shield. However, you will need to remove at least the front bolt of the heat shield or it will interfere with the rails later. You can see that I made the mistake of leaving it in and had to remove it later with much difficulty. Fortunately I have a couple sets of ratcheting and pivoting box-end wrenches; without these, it probably would have been impossible. If you do this before the rail is in place it will be a lot easier.



Etrailer says to just remove two of the torx screws that secure the fender liner, but I removed the liners entirely. This made it pretty easy to use a metal pipe to pry the bed up off the frame and slide the rails in (I recommend watching the video).





Next, hand-tighten the rails to the L-brackets. Note that the brackets are wider on one end than the other; if I remember correctly, the wider end goes toward the back.

After that, it's time to fish the carriage bolts and blocks through the frame. This is almost impossible to do by oneself because the only hole in the frame rail that's big enough for the block is not even close to aligned with either of the bolt holes; you'll have to fish the wire through and wiggle it around while your helper prepares to "catch" the wire with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Hand-tighten all hardware for now.



Now it's time to haul the gooseneck hitch head up to the frame rails and thread the bolts in. What I did was I dropped the end of a crappy ratchet strap through the hole in the bed and hooked it on the hitch head, pulled it up from the bed, and hooked the strap on one of the bed tie-downs to hold it in place. I don't know what it weighs but if you're doing this while laying on a creeper the workspace is just too awkward to hold that thing up with one hand and thread bolts with another.



Now it's time to seat the hitch or adapter plate into the pucks. You should do this now because there's some play in how the rails and brackets sit, and you want to make sure that the spacing is exactly right.



Now let me detour for a minute and discuss the gooseneck hole location. This photo is from Etrailer and you'll see that the gooseneck looks like it's too far back in the hole.



Lo and behold, after following the same instructions, so does mine. Note that this picture was taken after I cut about an additional 1/4" of metal away from the back of the hole because it was actually interfering with the insertion/removal of the GN ball.



My conclusion is that their measurements are off by about 3/16" (the hole should be about that much closer to the tailgate). I'm annoyed but not enraged. Also, I acknowledge that my GN hole is off on the side-to-side axis by about 1/8"; I'm not sure why this is, but like I said earlier, there's some slop/play in the placement of the brackets and the GN hitch head.

What I recommend you do now is tighten everything partially; a hex-drive impact driver with 1/2" drive adapter and extensions/swivels is perfect for this. Remember to keep your hitch installed into the pucks during this step, because if you don't, I guarantee the hardware is going to move a little bit as you tighten things; the result will be that nothing fits when you're "finished." Once you've done the partial tightening, make sure the hitch or adapter can be easily inserted and removed from the pucks, and that your GN has not shifted significantly off center. After reinserting the hitch or adapter, leave it in the pucks for the final tightening. Before moving on, though, measure the length from the edge of the bed to both sides of the rear of your hitch or adapter. If the measurements are equal, this guarantees that the rails are aligned properly.

At this point what I did was I used my mallet and a block of wood to smash down the adapter plate to make sure that everything is seated as far down as possible, since there's some play in the brackets as mentioned.



To tighten everything down you'll need a torque wrench capable of 260 lb*ft. My 1/2"-drive torque wrench only has markings to 250 lb*ft, but if I do one more rotation with the collar I believe it gives me 260, so that's what I used. Note that the bolts holding the L-brackets to the frame are all the way up against the frame rail and require 170 lb*ft; this means you'll be using up to 18" of extensions on your torque wrench. If the person assisting you is physically strong, have him or her support the wrench head at the extension while you apply the torque. My wife does not have the strength to support this much force, so I had to simultaneously support the wrench head and apply 170 lb*ft of torque. Because you have to support the wrench head, you cannot rely on your weight to apply the torque. This is possibly the most physically demanding part of the installation. Video here.

As for the 260 lb*ft on the GN hitch head bolts, I have no problem admitting that I just could not see any way to do this with a torque wrench. I used my impact on the highest setting because they're so difficult to get to. Now, I know what you're thinking: But that impact wrench applies 700 lb*ft of torque! This is true, but that's 700 lb*ft of instantaneous torque at the drive point. Because the torque is produced by impact (rather than constant torque from a motor like in an electric drill), the actual torque delivered at the bolt is a decreasing function of the mass moment of inertia of all the extensions, swivels, and sockets you have attached to the impact wrench*. That's not just academic bullshit: in addition to the GN bolts, I used my impact to start all of the rest of the hardware too, and what I found was that with 18" of extensions and a socket, I still had a little bit of tightening left to do with my torque wrench on those 170 lb*ft rail-bracket bolts even after the impact had almost stopped turning.

[*The torque applied to a fastener by an impact tool is related to the ratio of the mass moment of inertia of the stationary base applying the torque (i.e., the wrench itself, and your hand and arm, etc.) over the mass moment of inertia of everything to which the torque is applied; extensions, swivels, socket, and bolt/nut.]

Note that in order to reach the bolts on the L-brackets you will need to raise the rear of the truck several inches.









After fully tightening everything, make sure your hitch can still be easily inserted/removed from the pucks, and you're all set. Reassemble and crack a beer.



Don't hesitate to ask if you've got any questions. I'll post an update after I get my hitch installed and pull something.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Great write up man.

I’m with you on the hitch spacing. That would really annoy me.
Thanks buddy. On the topic of spacing issues, check out what happened when I tried to install my Andersen (ISR version) into my Reese adapter plate.



And the adapter plate has exactly 22.5" spacing on the slots (far side to far side), which matches ISR spec perfectly. So it's the Andersen that's out of spec.



And Etrailer said I could use "a hammer" to bend the tabs so it'll fit! I literally LOL'd and told them to send me a return shipping label for the Andersen. No way I'm trusting 3k of pin weight and a 15k trailer behind my cab to a part with such poor quality control. That's aside from the impossibility of deflecting a 1x1x0.5" steel tab by 1/16" with a hammer and not compromising its structural integrity. If I really cared to make it fit I'd just grind it down.

My Blue Ox Super Ride should be here today, so when I get home from work tonight I'm hoping it'll all go right together.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Got the Super Ride installed. With the height on the lowest setting it just clears my bed cover despite the height of the adapter plate. I hope this is low enough for the trailer.





 

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You're going to like the Blue Ox. We have one and it has performed flawlessly so far. You should have went with the Blue Ox right away and you could have gotten by with just the gooseneck install!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You're going to like the Blue Ox. We have one and it has performed flawlessly so far. You should have went with the Blue Ox right away and you could have gotten by with just the gooseneck install!
Thanks! I thought about that, but I guess I just like the idea of having the hitch mounted directly to the frame without the bed having to support any loading. I know, I'm paranoid. ;)

On that note, the RMA for the Andersen with Etrailer is rapidly progressing into "nightmare" territory. I'll post a complete description once it's concluded.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Went to the scale last night. Full fuel tanks (main and auxiliary), adapter plate, hitch. Some tools and other crap in the passenger seat to simulate a 100 lb wife. 180 lbs in the driver seat.

Rear tire capacity is 7050 so it looks like I have about 2900 lbs pin weight capacity with this configuration.

 

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Discussion Starter #8
Okay, @zsdenalihdl5p, here it is on our way home from the RV dealership. This was my first time pulling a light duty fifth wheel and it felt great to me.



However, I definitely do not understand how folks claim to have "never needed" the sliding functionality of their hitch in a short bed. This is how far I made it with the hitch in the forward position; there is only about an inch of space between the cab corner and the trailer. I know for a fact that I have made numerous maneuvers with my TT in which the truck and trailer were at a much more extreme angle than this. I'm seriously considering swapping this hitch for a Demco autoslider at this point; the only thing that bothers me about that is its immense weight and the accompanying difficulty I'll have getting the damn thing in and out of the truck.



Also, I did have an issue with the Super Ride hitch. The hole for the pin that locks the slide adjustment lever is too small; I had to drill it out to make it fit smoothly. Not a huge problem but it doesn't say much for their quality control process.

Video of the above, if it was unclear.

And here's a clip of the sliding functionality itself.

Here's the weight ticket. Trailer is completely empty (tanks too), but the truck has about 100 pounds of tools in the bed and a bunch of stuff in the cab, as well as a 180 lb driver and 105 lb wife. Note that with my Super Ride hitch on the Reese ISR adapter plate and the pin box in its second-from-highest position, the height I measured to the top of the front air conditioner is 13'4". GD quotes this trailer's height at 13'5". I am fine with that because I'm fairly certain that as long as you're under 13'6" you have nothing to worry about on interstate and U.S. highways. Not to mention the 13'6" clearance under the power lines in front of my house. :oops:



The rear end is only 250 lbs under the combined tire rating of 7050 lbs. Here's my weight ticket without the trailer or tools (just full fuel tanks -- including 50 gallon auxiliary -- and hitch):




I also had a bunch of crap in the front seat so you can ignore the front axle weight. Given these numbers, 6800 - (4160+100) = 2540 lbs pin. Grand Design quotes the pin weight on this trailer at 2584, so I'd say they are just about dead on. But once I fill the 91-gallon fresh water tank (I always roll with a full fresh water tank so I can stop and spend the night anywhere I want without having to find an RV park), a washer/dryer, the monster power pack + inverter/charger I'm planning (subject of a future DIY post), various items for daily life, and some precious cargo (see below) I think I'll be way over 7050 on the rear end. Guess I'll be upgrading to 295/70R18s. Stay tuned.

 

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Do you have any pics of the clearance in the rearward position ?
 

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