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ob1jeeper

OB1's 5th Wheel

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With the potential of an extended trip through Canada looming as a possible this year, and knowing that if that came to pass, I was not going to be comfortable setting up and tearing down a tent that was soaked with dew (or more likely rain), on a daily basis, and the prospect of doing that with my little motorcycle towable tent-trailer was not all that appealing either.

 

So, approx 6 months ago, I picked up a 1/2-ton towable 5th wheel. Because the planned trip was looking like it was going to be 12-15,000 miles, I decided on a lightweight, low profile hard-side trailer, for the better aerodynamics (IE: fuel economy). I also preferred for this long a trip, to have the stability when towing of a 5th wheel trailer.

 

Here is what I found, and since I was going to be gone for a few weeks starting the day after I purchased it, and not having enough time to get the hitch installed, my friend, and the former owner, delivered it to my driveway, while I was on the road visiting family.

 

Here is what we started with:

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Once we returned from our trip, and after looking at all the "inside the cargo-box" 5th wheel hitch hardware, that would fill the bed of my truck, I elected to convert it to a Gooseneck. After some online research, I decided upon using a "Pop-up"gooseneck adapter, with an off-set of the goose ball, to accomodate the shortbed cargobox of my truck, and keep the trailer from hitting the cab of the truck when turning.

 

Upon attempting to install the adapter hitch to the 5th wheel pinbox, I discovered that the pinbox's 5th wheel bearing surface was no longer flat, but instead, the center of the bearing suface plate, where the kingpin is welded, was bent in a convex shape downward, so that it was lower than the outer edges of the plate by 3/8-1/2"… :(

 

To repair this, I first removed the pinbox assembly, then heated the plate with a large rose-bud torch, and using large "C"-clamps and a heavy piece of rectangular tubing, slowly compressed/bent the center of the plate upwards, until it was once again flat.

 

Fearing that if it bent that easily once before, it would likely only bend again. So, I cut an additional 1/4" thick plate, approx 1" larger than the original plate, and welded this "doubler plate" over the top of the original, then installed the goose adapter, by drilling and tapping completely thru the now double thick bearing plate with 16 holes for the supplied grade 8 bolts that came with the adapter.

 

I then leveled the trailer, and backed the truck up next to the adapter, to set adapter height adjustment of the adapter. Oops… :eek: Seems that with the trailer sitting level, even with the adapter adjusted as short as it would go, a 2WD 3/4 ton PU obviously sits significantly higher than a 1/2 ton… :o And at this adapter height adjustment, the bed rails of the cargo box would not even clear the bottom of the trailer body.

 

After adjusting the adapter high enough to get the trailer to clear the truck body, the front axle of the trailer was for all intents, almost completely unloaded. :(

 

DRAT !!! Seems I was now going to have to perform a spring over lift, to get cargo box-to-trailer clearance… :eek::P

 

While thinking about how best to attack this, I discovered that Dexter even makes the kit for this "spring-over lift", so $40/axle later, I had the kit, and performed the installation of the kit.

 

While this made it "almost" level, with the adjustment of the hitch adapter once again, to obtain the necessary cargo box clearance, it became apparent that the new tires that were on it when purchased (13" tires… :rolleyes:) were going to have to be replaced with something a bit larger. So 15" tires and wheels were sourced and installed, and voila… It finally sat level, with both proper carbox clearance, AND with equal loading on the trailer axles… :cool:

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Hmmm… Not sure why two fo the above pics turned sideways, but will try to sort that out later…

 

Anyway, with the above upgrades/repaires done, I decided that I also wanted a rack on the back of the trailer, as there was not much storage room for things like a stack of firewood, etc, without putting it in the bed of the truck, where I feared that loose wood, may tumble into the pivot area, and minimally be messy, and at worst, get lodged in between the bed and the trailer hitch, and may bend the bed…

 

I also decided that it would be a nice feature to be able to tow my small 14ft aluminum fishing boat to the white mtns, etc., or the sand rail or quads to the dunes behind the 5th wheel trailer, so the rack was going to also need to incorporate a hitch and trailer wiring, etc.

 

I began, by removing the rear stabilizing jacks, and the "drag gards", then welding 2x2 sq tubing under the rear frame rails, which essentially extended a similar tube which had been used under the forward portion of the frame extending rearward to just aft of the suspension mounting.

 

I then completed the framework for the rack by building it up above this added tube, and fabricating a rear bumper which incorporated both a Class 3 hitch reciever, and LED "in-tube" lights for protection of the lights, topped with 3/4" sq tubing funning left-to-right, spaced at 5" intervals, with a surround of 2" angle, with the vertical legs of the angle, drilled on 6" spacing to provide for a multiple tie-down capability.

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With this done, we deemed it was ready for our maiden voyage, so off to Kingman we went for a long weekend, to the top of Hualapai Mtn, for a bit of R&R.

 

During that trip, I noted that the trailer had an uncomfortable fore-aft jerking, on certain undulating surfaces, or train crossings, etc. During the years I had towed 5th wheels and goosenecks at work, I did not recall such motion. But after reading up on some RV forums, it seemed that was a common thing amonst the RV'ing community towing 5th wheel trailers. :rolleyes::confused:

 

I also spoke with a couple different RV repair shops, and they essentially gave me the same story… :( So, I began to think about what I could do to combat this.

 

Several weeks passed by, and I needed to move the trailer from in front of my shop, to do some similar rack & hitch work for a friends "new" RV trailer. Uopn moving the trailer, I had not totally cleared the 2x4's I had been using for wheel chocks, so when the trailer finally moved, it hopped ove the block of wood, and IU happened to be watching in the rear view, and noticed the pinbox-to-trailer body moving in relationship to each other. After completing the work on my friends trailer, I pulled mine back up in front of the shop, and began looking carefully at it, while using a jack to raise & lower the trailer, with the jack placed under the goose ball hitch.

 

What I doscovered was that the trailer frame was not only bending enough to allow nearly and inch of up and down movement, at the forward end of the frame rails, but that there were 5 cracks in the framework surrounding the pinbox, welded attachment to the frame rails… :eek::eek::(:(:(

 

Grrrr… So out came the drill to stop-drill the cracks, then the cuttoff wheel to grind the cracks out, and the welder to weld the cracks closed.

 

Finally, with the cracks repaired, I noted an approx 50% improvement in the movement of the pinbox. Knowing again, that if it cracked before, it would only be a matter of time before it would again, I then added additional materials longitudinally, to transfer and distribute the loads from the pinbox in an improved manner.

 

Once completed, I noted less than 1/8" total movement of the pinbox-to-trailer body, and only then under hard bouncing across dips and Rail Rd crossings, and it now tows perfectly, and like I had originally expected it to. It is certianly not as bad as my empty bumper-pull car hauler… :D:D:D

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With these repairs made, I added a bit more material to the rear rack, and a slight modification to the loading ramp, in order to be able to haul the trail 90 motorcycle along with us.

 

And while I was at it, I fabricated a new bracket to hang the spare tire under the trailer, rather than having it on the rear rack.

 

Since initial purchase, the trailer also was treated to a new awning, an upgrade to the landing leg jacks by installing an electricly operated motor and switch (as opposed to having to manually crank them down), and some minor interior repairs/upgrades (such as: new bedding, drapes cleaned and mini-blinds re-strung, tub/shower resealed, a small plumbing leak repaired, dinette seats reworked to ease use for underseat storage, roof re-coated, roof vent covers replaced, AC hood replaced, storage compartments treated to some fresh white paint, etc., etc.)

 

Other than adding supplies and clothes, it's just about ready for our big adventure… Looking forward to seeing what the road has to offer… :D:D:D;)

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wow - you've been busy!

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That's a sweet travel trailer Ob! I hope your trip is just fabulous!

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The Ob1 Jeep Spa now has an RV division!!! Nice work Steve!

 

I've seen some of these mods in person and I have to say, the pictures don't do justice as to the quality of the work.

 

Happy Motoring!

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Nice love shack Ob. ;)

 

G:cool:

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It is good to know we have an RV repair specialist within our group. Are reservations required? :)

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