If you tow a fifth wheel or travel trailer, getting to your destination and being there are loads of fun. The problem comes when hitching your trailer up for that next run.
This can be a real exercise in patience. The problem? Once you’ve unhitched and set up your trailer in camp, figuring out how to set the towed unit at the right height to connect the hitch ball or fifth wheel plate can drive anyone crazy.
Here’s the helpful advice one RV website offers about hitching up a fifth-wheel: “Using the front-landing gear, raise or lower the kingpin so that it’s slightly lower than the fifth wheel plate.”
While this sounds easy in practice, it takes a lot of running back and forth between the landing gear switch and the tail of the truck, eyeballing to see just what constitutes “slightly lower.” But, once you feel you have hit that sweet spot, you may be dismayed when you start rolling the truck back and find your height was off.
It’s similar with a travel trailer. But, the problem when hitching your trailer is compounded when you can’t see the hitch ball as it lines up below (or maybe above) the trailer hitch. It`s not until you hear that awful “clunk” that you realize your level wasn’t spot on. But at least one RV aftermarket parts company has come up with a solution.
They’ve coupled a trailer leveler system with a memory function. Got your trailer unhitched and ready to level it? Push a button, and the system “remembers” the exact height required when you unhitched.
When it’s comes time to hitch your trailer, push a button and the leveler cranks your rig up or down as needed for the exact height. The only problem is not everyone wants a leveler system on their rig. You may not have a few thousand dollars to invest in one either.
Try this DIY Hitching Process
The do-it-yourself system we use is inexpensive, easy to install, and a breeze to use. It takes the guessing and cussing out of the hitch-up process.
The heart of the system is a simple bubble level like the one pictured. Simply mount the level on the side of your trailer, near the front of the rig in a convenient distance from your tongue jack (or landing gear control switch for a fifth wheel).
Remember, don’t use the double-stick mounting tape included with the level. Instead, run a screw through the top center portion of the plastic above the level vial.
Snug the screw down only far enough so you can push either end of the level up and down with some amount of force required. It should be tight enough so the level stays where you put it.
Hitch your trailer in a few steps:
- To use, raise the front of the trailer high enough to unhitch (just off the ball in the case of a pull trailer, or just off the fifth wheel saddle plate).
- Next, adjust your new level to where the bubble is showing level.
- You can now level the trailer up or down for livability. Just don’t touch the “hitching level.”
When it’s time to re-hitch, raise or lower the trailer until the hitching level shows “level” again. Now, your trailer is at just the right height to roll right under and hitch up. To hitch your trailer safely and easily, simply take a little time and patience and you can be on your way home or to a next destination.