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Old 09-28-2019, 06:55 PM   #1
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5th Wheel Mounting, Factory or Aftermarket Prep

All,

My wife and I have been camping for 10+ years now (1/2 ton with bumper pull), and getting ready to trade up to a 5th wheel. That means a new truck as well. We've already decided on a Forest River Sandpiper, hence why I am posting here.

In looking for trucks, I have been surprised at how few come prepped for a 5th wheel hitch installation from the factory. What are the pros/cons of having it done from the factory, vs. doing it afterwards?

What my research has lead me to believe is that, in general, the factory jobs cost less, and are typically welded to the frame, vs bolted. Most hitches I have researched have various options for mounting to the factory prep system, so I have lots of options there.

(I want an underbed mount so my bed is free and clear when hitch removed, if that matters).

(I also have not decided on what hitch to buy yet, still researching that as well).

However, and my real question/concern - if I buy a truck without the factory prep, and decide to install, for example, a B&W hitch. I can buy the underbed system for that, and take it somewhere to have them do the drilling and installation. If I do that, is that mounting going to limit me to only B&W hitches (or even a subset of B&W hitches)? Or would I be able to, a couple years down the road, swap to a different hitch, say a Curt or Reese? (I'm just throwing out hitch brands, again, have not decided yet).

From what I have been told thus far, the underbed mounts are specific to each hitch manufacturer. Reese underbed = Reese hitch. Demco underbed = Demco hitch. Etc etc etc.

That seems rather limiting to me, whereas the factory prep would allow me to install virtually any hitch, and change down the road if there was a compelling reason to do so.

Hope this makes sense, appreciate any input you all might have.

Thanks.
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Old 09-28-2019, 07:15 PM   #2
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You can get for instance on a Ram, the factory 5'th wheel prep installed by the dealer. I bought a new ram a few months ago and had the 5'th wheel pucks, and 7 pin put in the box.
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Old 09-28-2019, 07:29 PM   #3
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Thanks, rat4spd.

I've been looking at GM's, and when I spoke to one of the service departments, they said they send them out to a local facility for installation. When I called that facility, they told me they sell and do installs for a few different hitch manufacturers, which lead me to believe it was going to be a "hitch-specific" installation, not GM OEM.

That's interesting info, maybe I should call a different dealership and see what they can do.
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Old 09-28-2019, 09:30 PM   #4
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I'm not familiar with what GM puts on their frame. If I had wanted the gooseneck puck, it would've been sent out because that requires welding.
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Old 09-28-2019, 10:20 PM   #5
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My B&W didnít require welding, I know on my F350 they drilled hole for pin release but not sure on the Ram. Now I glanced a few months back and GM offered 5th wheel for around 800 plus the prep 200 . Itís cheaper than my campanion but I know if I trade again my campanion will still be good
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Old 09-29-2019, 01:13 PM   #6
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on my 17 Ram 2500, i didnt have the 5th wheel prep. i used the B&W turn over ball. mounted to the frame under the bed, then i used the companion slider for that application. it was fantastic and would recommend it. the only drawback was when i went to a GM truck now. i opted for the 5th wheel prep. the B&W turnover ball is a square shank so the hitch isn't compatible with the gooseball connection in the GM (round receiver in the bed). so now i have to get the OEM base for my companion hitch to work in the OEM pucks.

not a huge deal, but an added 800 or so CAD. I like the ease of the OEM pucks, but to be honest, the single point attachment of the B&W design was flawless. i have no idea if there is a strength difference, but i would imagine the 4 point OEM attachment vs the single point attachment may have a difference, but i felt good either way with he same 14K 5er.
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Old 09-29-2019, 01:46 PM   #7
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I factory ordered my GM with the 5th wheel prep package. Accepts a Curt hitch which works well for me. I like the fact that the hitch was probably installed before the box was put on at the factory. Trucks of today have a lot of obstacles in the way to work around.
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Old 09-29-2019, 02:05 PM   #8
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To the OP. I might have missed something here so excuse me if I misunderstood your original post. But to my knowledge all the truck OEMs have slightly different OEM puck system dimensions. Thatís why each hitch manufacturer makes different versions of the same hitch to specifically fit each truck (ford, gm,ram, etc). You buy the specific hitch to fit your your truck, not the puck system to fit your hitch. Iím not certain but maybe if your only installing a gooseneck ball then you could possibly do this. Just my two cents.
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Old 09-29-2019, 03:09 PM   #9
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I see the advantage to the B&W under mount ball if you need a clear bed ... I did not get the under-mount ball because I would lose the use of my Turning Point pin box and the advantage of moving the pivot point back 22 inches and never worrying about turning radius / no need for a slider ... I have not had the need to remove my B&W Patriot 18K ... best of luck shopping
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Old 09-29-2019, 03:17 PM   #10
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SecretSquirrel -

I think you hit on my real question:

"You buy the specific hitch to fit your your truck, not the puck system to fit your hitch."

Assuming my truck does not have the OEM prep installed, I have to add that. While I dont know what hitch I am going to buy, I am going to end up installing the puck system that goes with it (Curt, Reese, B&W, etc). I think that means that if I go with, for example, a Curt puck system, I *have* to have a Curt hitch. The only "universal" puck system, that most/all the hitch manufacturers work with, is the OEM system. Correct?

Still plan on calling around tomorrow but am not finding much info online about adding the GM OEM system aftermarket. Only systems made by the various hitch manufacturers.

FWIW, I have no intent of ever using a gooseneck. If it's there as an option, great, but I doubt it will ever have the cap removed.

Thanks!
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Old 09-29-2019, 04:13 PM   #11
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B&W Hitch

Quote:
Originally Posted by jj95 View Post
SecretSquirrel -

I think you hit on my real question:

"You buy the specific hitch to fit your your truck, not the puck system to fit your hitch."

Assuming my truck does not have the OEM prep installed, I have to add that. While I dont know what hitch I am going to buy, I am going to end up installing the puck system that goes with it (Curt, Reese, B&W, etc). I think that means that if I go with, for example, a Curt puck system, I *have* to have a Curt hitch. The only "universal" puck system, that most/all the hitch manufacturers work with, is the OEM system. Correct?

Still plan on calling around tomorrow but am not finding much info online about adding the GM OEM system aftermarket. Only systems made by the various hitch manufacturers.

FWIW, I have no intent of ever using a gooseneck. If it's there as an option, great, but I doubt it will ever have the cap removed.

Thanks!
jj95
I know that B&W and others make puck hitches for all the major manufactures of truck. GM cater to CURT hitches Ford and others cater to other hitch company's. B&W makes puck hitches to fit all puck system but they are not interchangeable with the truck makes. If you are on the fence about what hitch to buy you will not be disappointment in a B&W hitch. If you buy a GM,Ford or Ram product with a puck system you are not limited to the hitch they cater too.
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Old 09-29-2019, 04:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jj95 View Post
SecretSquirrel -

I think you hit on my real question:

"You buy the specific hitch to fit your your truck, not the puck system to fit your hitch."

Assuming my truck does not have the OEM prep installed, I have to add that. While I dont know what hitch I am going to buy, I am going to end up installing the puck system that goes with it (Curt, Reese, B&W, etc). I think that means that if I go with, for example, a Curt puck system, I *have* to have a Curt hitch. The only "universal" puck system, that most/all the hitch manufacturers work with, is the OEM system. Correct?

Still plan on calling around tomorrow but am not finding much info online about adding the GM OEM system aftermarket. Only systems made by the various hitch manufacturers.

FWIW, I have no intent of ever using a gooseneck. If it's there as an option, great, but I doubt it will ever have the cap removed.

Thanks!
JJ, I think you may still be missing the point. There is no such thing as a
"Curt puck system". There are only the OEM pucks installed by each truck manufacturer. Because each truck manufacturers puck system is a little different each Hitch manufacturer makes their hitch specific to each truck (i.e. if you have Ford truck and you want the B&W Companion hitch then you would order the B&W Companion for Ford pucks). They would make the same hitch to match up with the Ram, GM, etc.. Hope this helps.
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Old 09-29-2019, 06:34 PM   #13
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We have a 2018 gmc 2500hd and ordered the 5th wheel prep and now use the goose ball with a Andersen 5th wheel hitch works great and if I were to change trucks it would work as long as the new truck had a goose ball, any brand of goose ball. I think from the factory install is better but any quality aftermarket properly installed would work but cost more.
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Old 09-29-2019, 08:31 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jj95 View Post
SecretSquirrel -

"You buy the specific hitch to fit your your truck, not the puck system to fit your hitch."

Thanks!
You can use any hitch that uses standard rail mounts by using the OEM or aftermarket "picture window." An added benefit of this, much like permanently mounted bed rails is that you can put a gooseneck plate on it. Why buy a new hitch when your old one will work?

https://www.amazon.com/Reese-30154-F...=fsclp_pl_dp_9

This is the Reese version for Ram.
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Old 09-30-2019, 10:21 AM   #15
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I have the universal rail system in my 2017 F350. My hitch is a B&W Patriot 18K. I can move the hitch in and out by myself, but the bed is not clean and flat. Life would be so much easier with a factory goose neck(with a turnover ball) and a Anderson hitch.
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Old 09-30-2019, 10:30 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jj95 View Post
SecretSquirrel -

I think you hit on my real question:

"You buy the specific hitch to fit your your truck, not the puck system to fit your hitch."

Assuming my truck does not have the OEM prep installed, I have to add that. While I dont know what hitch I am going to buy, I am going to end up installing the puck system that goes with it (Curt, Reese, B&W, etc). I think that means that if I go with, for example, a Curt puck system, I *have* to have a Curt hitch. The only "universal" puck system, that most/all the hitch manufacturers work with, is the OEM system. Correct?

Still plan on calling around tomorrow but am not finding much info online about adding the GM OEM system aftermarket. Only systems made by the various hitch manufacturers.

FWIW, I have no intent of ever using a gooseneck. If it's there as an option, great, but I doubt it will ever have the cap removed.

Thanks!
The OEM puck system is typically added at the factory when building the truck. Very FEW dealers will install the OEM system in a truck that doesn't have it from the factory. Some will but most do not.

If it does not come with the OEM puck system and you cannot get your dealer to install it, you have just a few options...
1. Get an aftermarket gooseneck ball/mount installed and use a hitch (of your choice) that adapts to that.
2. Have R/V industry standard rails mounted in the bed. Use a hitch (of your choice) that mounts to the rails.
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Old 09-30-2019, 11:00 AM   #17
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JJ, I think you're on the right track looking at factory puck systems from the OEM. As has been said, each OEM can supply a below-bed puck system so that when you take out the hitch, you have a clean bed. We did this with our F350 and I've been really pleased with it.

You will most likely have to order a truck to get the OEM puck system when you take delivery. We never found a new truck on a dealer's lot with them. You might find a used truck with it, but that's a crap shoot too especially if you're looking for a late model truck. You can order the puck kit after you have the truck, and install it, but that is a lot of trouble to go to when you're buying the truck to begin with. The bed has to be removed and lifted up to do the install (I know for Ford, probably the others too) so it's not a small job. Also, for Ford this spring, the kits were all backordered at dealers although that might have been a temporary thing. Oh, and for Ford... when you get the puck option, it comes with an additional trailer receptacle mounted on the side wall of the truck bed. That is really nice for hooking up a fifth wheel trailer, the outlet is right there not down on the bumper. You still get the bumper outlet, the one in the bed is additional.

Another nice thing about the puck system is that you can have the bed coated if you want, it won't interfere with it. I have LineX and love it. Doesn't interfere with the hitch at all.

I have a BW hitch, and aside from being a solid easy to use hitch, it is also easy to get in and out of the truck. The BW is a two-piece system so that each piece can be handled separately. Together they weigh maybe 140-150 lbs, which would be a lot but since it breaks down into a base and the plate unit, it is just awkward but totally doable. I like it a lot.

Anyway, in your position I ordered a new truck with the factory pucks. I am really happy with that and I'd encourage you to do it if you're thinking about it and especially since you're getting a new truck and new hitch anyway.
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Old 09-30-2019, 02:48 PM   #18
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I'm not familiar with what GM puts on their frame. If I had wanted the gooseneck puck, it would've been sent out because that requires welding.
Have not read all the posts, but my 2018 Silverado 3500 dually came with a 'factory' installed conventional hitch, and a 5th wheel prep which is a bolt on, made by Curt. By the looks of the bed and the factory spray in liner and puck hole covers, I would have to guess it really was a factory install. It came with the ball and chain attaching parts in a neat little kit. This was already on a truck sitting on the dealer's lot, so I didn't have to special it. Works well for me, and,,,,,,,,,, I'm using and Andersen Ultimate so I have full use of the bed when we're not towing the 5er. Good luck in your research!
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Old 10-01-2019, 09:03 AM   #19
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I had a '16 GMC 2500HD. I purchased a Demco Hijacker auto slide. It was an 'in the bed' mount. Even when the hitch was removed, the rail mounts were still in the bed. I hated that. I, recently, purchased a '19 F350 DRW with the factory puck system. Even though I don't need the auto-slide feature, I didn't want to pay for an all new hitch. I was able to buy new adapter plates that mount to the side of the hitch, that are specifically for the Ford pucks. I changed out the plates, and now my existing hitch works perfectly well in my new truck. As has been said already in this thread....Different hitch manufacturers will make hitches that are compatible with different truck manufacturers puck systems.
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Old 10-01-2019, 11:56 AM   #20
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All,

Thanks for the feedback. I am still a little confused, so I will try and simplify.

Demco makes an underbed system:
https://www.etrailer.com/Fifth-Wheel...DM8551004.html

Reese also has one:
https://www.etrailer.com/Fifth-Wheel.../RP30868.htmll

And I presume B&W and Curt and others do as well.

(these might not be specific to the GM I am looking, in fact some of the hitch manufacturers are still finalizing their parts for the new 2020 GM frame, but thats somewhat irrelevant I believe.)

If I ended up buying, for example, the Demco Hijacker autoslide (one of them I am considering), then would it work in either underbed mount (Demco, Reese, etc)? Or would it only work in the Demco underbed?

Thanks!
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