The first thing I will do when I get to Chilliwack, BC to pick up Wild Thing is to have the trailer hitch installed in my truck. Many of you are undoubtly are familiar with the standard bumper towing ball hitch used for many types of tag-alongs like boats, utility trailers, travel trailers, even U-Haul type trailers. But towing a 5th Wheel Style Trailer, like Wild Thing, requires a particular style hitch that must be mounted in the bed of a pick-up truck. There are two types of hitches designed for 5th Wheel trailers: a standard 5th wheel hitch, or a goose-neck hitch. Thanks to great advice I received at the Escape Trailer Rally this year, I've chosen a standard style Patriot 16 5th Wheel Hitch for it's ease of use and durability. It was such a help to attend the rally in May and meet Escape Trailer owners from all around North America, talk with them about their firsthand experiences with the trailer, and get expert advice about equipment. The rally is an annual event held in Osoyoos, BC, and sponsored by the great folks at Escape Trailer Industries. It was attended this year by nearly 150 Escape Trailer owners, wanna-be-owners, and (like me) owners-in-waiting! Since I didn't yet have my trailer when rally time rolled around, Steve and I stayed at the Spirit Ridge Resort up the hill and across the vineyard from the campground.
At that time, I was considering the Anderson Ultimate Hitch, but after talking with several owners who used this particular hitch and seeing it in action, I decided it was not the best choice for me. The Anderson Ultimate Hitch is a goose-neck style hitch which means it has a ball that the trailer attaches to. This ball sits atop a metal pyramid that in turn mounts to rails secured to the bed of the truck. The trailer would have a cup shaped apparatus that would seat over the ball to connect the trailer to the hitch. The biggest advantage of this set up is that it is very lightweight and could easily be removed from the truck when not needed for the trailer. The disadvantage though is that when hitching up, I would have to align (almost) perfectly with the ball about 3.5" in diameter. A bit of a challenge for a newbie like me, I don't think I will be quite that proficient at backing up in the beginning!
The B&W Patriot 16 is a standard 5th wheel hitch which means the hitch itself is a big metal plate with a notch in the center. The trailer will have a king pin that slides into this notch. I think I will have better success hitting a plate the size of a meat platter than I would a ball the size of a goose egg! The 5th wheel hitch also has a pretty broad margin for error so that if you get the alignment close, the plate will lift the weight of the trailer up off the front landing gear and slide the pin into the notch. The Anderson Ultimate Hitch does not offer such assurance. If it's not lined up properly, the weight of the trailer may torque the front landing gear and cause damage, not something I want to worry about while I'm learning! I do anticipate it will take me some time and practice before I am entirely comfortable hitching and unhitching but I am confident I will be able to manage just fine with the Patriot 16 hitch.
I have an appointment with Trademasters Automotive in Chilliwack to install the hitch a day before I pick up Wild Thing. They work closely with Escape Trailer Industries and have ordered all the parts I'll need so I can be assured of having a safe and secure connection to my new tiny home on wheels!