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Recommendations For Hooking Up 5th Wheel Trailer With Reese Elite Series and 5th Airborne Sidewinder

Question:

I am having a problem with hooking up hitching my Reese Elite hitch to a sidewinder pin box every time I try to hook up to my 5th wheel trailer. I am using a Reese Elite fifth wheel hitch and 5th Airborne / Sidewinder combination. I have no problem with the 5th airborne function. It works fine. The problem is that the sidewinder wedge and the funnel in the head must be precisely aligned so that the king pin can enter the hitch head far enough to engage the latching jaw. If not precisely aligned, the hitch pin will not enter the head far enough to latch the jaw. This is always difficult to do. I have had to resort to loosening the wedge, moving it backwards some then, performing the hitch hook up fully latching the jaw. Then, after making the head funnel perfectly aligned with the wedge by pulling the truck forward, I can drive the wedge into the head funnel and re-tighten the wedge bolts to hold it firm. Once this is complete, the sidewinder works as expected. If I do not drive the wedge into the head funnel, the sidewinder will move to the left or right as I brake since there is significant play between the wedge and the head funnel. Any suggestions as to how to make this easier? I have a design modification in mind but any change to these hitch parts will require a significant effort. Thanks.

Expert Reply:

There are a few things you can do to make hooking up to your fifth-wheel trailer easier. Beginning with the wedge, you will want to make sure that the wedge is not touching the king pin. If it is touching, you will need to adjust it. Also with the wedge, if you are using a standard wedge, it will fit, but we do have custom wedges that will fit better. I would recommend using the 5th Airborne Custom Wedge, part # SWW-01, which is designed for Elite, Signature and Select Series 5th Wheel hitches.

Also, on the Elite Series, the front of the head, features a small divot in the front center that faces the cab of the truck. This divot is basically like a gun sight, that you can look down to line up the king pin with the fifth-wheel hitch. You could dab a small amount of red paint in the divot to make locating the divot easier.

Whenever hooking up, you will want too make sure the truck and trailer are on the most level ground as possible to make for easier hookups.

I have linked instructions for the 5th Airborne Custom Wedge, part # SWW-01. Also linked is an FAQ on fifth-wheel trailer hitches.

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