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Old 09-17-2021, 03:25 PM   #1
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Who do you hire to get under the back of a fifth wheel and install a 2" receiver?

We own a 2016 Forest River Cardinal 3825fl. It has a covered under belly and an end cap with no rear bumper. There is an indentation made in the end cap where you mount your license plate.

We need a 2" receiver to mount a bike rack on. We think it will require cutting into the end cap and welding a receiver to a cross member that will also need to be welded between the two I-beams of the frame. Maybe just above the license plate and maybe just below it.

I called Camping World and they are not interested in doing the work. I called an RV repair shop in Las Vegas that also does remodeling of campers, and they said they send welding work to an outside person.

So do I just go find a welder to add the receiver? I doubt he will add a trim piece over the receiver to hide the cut going through the end cap.

Going underneath the end cap is not an option I am looking at. It would add heavy metal below the existing low part of the frame and end cap that would very likely drag on the pavement when we pull off the roadway into steep driveways.
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Old 09-18-2021, 04:38 AM   #2
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I can tell you that in all probability no hitch shop is going to want to mess with that (I assume) fiberglas cap. It would require a precision cut that MUST be done right the first time. Might I suggest to you a custom auto shop that specializes in fiberglas repair. They all do welding work, but that isn't your problem. Getting someone to cut that cap is a huge deal liability-wise for a lot of shops.

I would also give you a heads up on custom body shops: Most of them are super busy and won't promise you a rush job. Be prepared to leave it for a while. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure you won't get anything done right away. The other thing you could do is check the manufacturer of your rig and see if they have a cap that already has the hole pre-cut, which means they might also have a matching plug for it. Call 'em. Worst they can do is say no.
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Old 09-18-2021, 07:15 AM   #3
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If you can mount a receiver to the front of your tow vehicle, I think you will find that to be a cheaper route. I have one and like the idea of being able to see the bikes out in front of my truck instead of worrying about them on the rear of my 5vr. I did this several years ago and it works best for us.
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Old 09-18-2021, 07:35 AM   #4
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I made my own a few years back and the only difference is you would have to cut a 2" hole in your rear end cap.
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Old 09-18-2021, 08:38 AM   #5
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hitch

i had mine done at a ranch / horse trailer dealer. co- horse in texas sells fancy ,fancy ,horse equipment. from rvs to live in horse trailers.
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Old 09-18-2021, 08:40 AM   #6
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I made my own a few years back and the only difference is you would have to cut a 2" hole in your rear end cap.
And therein lies the entire problem......
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Old 09-18-2021, 12:36 PM   #7
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I went to a custom trailer shop, but I wanted one for double towing my quad trailer. They welded it on and wired it for lights, and its good for 300 / 3000 lbs. That cost 1000 CAD.
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Old 09-18-2021, 12:46 PM   #8
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Smile hitch on the back of Cardinal.

I am a former Cardinal owner, I believe you will find that Cardinal quit putting 2" receivers on the back of their trailers several years ago because people were over loading them and then claiming manufacturer liability. The only hitch you can get from Cardinal now is the 1 1/4' which is strictly for a bicycle carrier. I'd suggest you call Cardinal ( NOT FR) directly for guidance.
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Old 09-18-2021, 07:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by RockDodger View Post
I can tell you that in all probability no hitch shop is going to want to mess with that (I assume) fiberglas cap. It would require a precision cut that MUST be done right the first time. Might I suggest to you a custom auto shop that specializes in fiberglas repair. They all do welding work, but that isn't your problem. Getting someone to cut that cap is a huge deal liability-wise for a lot of shops.

I would also give you a heads up on custom body shops: Most of them are super busy and won't promise you a rush job. Be prepared to leave it for a while. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure you won't get anything done right away. The other thing you could do is check the manufacturer of your rig and see if they have a cap that already has the hole pre-cut, which means they might also have a matching plug for it. Call 'em. Worst they can do is say no.
I've been trying to solve this issue for months while I've been waiting in line for a 2022 F-350 to pull the Cardinal. I've had several good suggestions. Some have tried to explain how they would add a receiver to the back of the Cardinal. Others suggest putting a receiver on the front of the F-350. There are some who have fabricated receivers they welded onto the top of the 5th wheel king pin box.

Everything you said is probably going to be true. In just two phone calls, Camping World told me they have no interest in doing this work and another shop said they job it out to someone who is backed up.

I think what I'm going to need to do it seek out the least worst idea that is also not ridiculously expensive. Although it is my last choice, I'm leaning towards mounting a receiver behind the front license plate. It's not a complicated job and the parts are readily available. Sadly, our bikes are tall and will block our field of view while driving. On the good side, we only plan to be pulling the camper about 25 days per year.
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Old 09-18-2021, 07:33 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by lazyjj View Post
If you can mount a receiver to the front of your tow vehicle, I think you will find that to be a cheaper route. I have one and like the idea of being able to see the bikes out in front of my truck instead of worrying about them on the rear of my 5vr. I did this several years ago and it works best for us.
Do you have any pictures of your bikes mounted on the rack, taken from the cab of your truck? I don't like the idea of bikes blocking my view, but after all my research, this is the simplest and least expensive solution.
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Old 09-18-2021, 07:43 PM   #11
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And therein lies the entire problem......
The cap does have an indentation molded into it to mount a license plate. Similar to mounting a receiver on the front of the truck, you can hide the receiver behind a spring-mounted license plate, so when not using the bike rack, the license plate bracket flips back into place, hiding the receiver.

Some law enforcement officers will stop vehicles if the license plate is blocked from their view. Some bike rack manufacturers design a license plate bracket that can mount on the rear of their bike rack. and remain visible when bikes are mounted to it.

The beauty of this option, for the camper, is that I would be more likely to find a shop willing to cut into the end cap, if the cut was behind where the license plate is mounted. I wouldn't need any custom trim to hide the cut.
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Old 09-18-2021, 07:47 PM   #12
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I went to a custom trailer shop, but I wanted one for double towing my quad trailer. They welded it on and wired it for lights, and its good for 300 / 3000 lbs. That cost 1000 CAD.
I called one custom trailer shop in Las Vegas and they told me they send all of their welding out to someone else. They are busy doing custom remodels of 5th wheels. I'm hoping to find another welding shop in Las Vegas to do the work because we have relatives we can stay with while the work gets done. We are hoping to schedule the work in mid to late November, then take the camper to Phoenix, where we are booked into a park until May.
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Old 09-18-2021, 08:01 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by BMullins46 View Post
I am a former Cardinal owner, I believe you will find that Cardinal quit putting 2" receivers on the back of their trailers several years ago because people were over loading them and then claiming manufacturer liability. The only hitch you can get from Cardinal now is the 1 1/4' which is strictly for a bicycle carrier. I'd suggest you call Cardinal ( NOT FR) directly for guidance.
Liability for what? Did something break as a result of owners pulling large loads in a second trailer?

I would never mount my bikes on a 1 1/4" receiver.

I'm thinking of removing the cover over the under-belly to expose the frame's big I-beams and allow a shop to determine if they want to weld bracing between the beams and then weld a receiver onto that brace so that it fits flush through a hole behind the license plate. Then when the rack is not in use, the plate can be remounted over the receiver, hiding it.
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Old 09-19-2021, 08:12 AM   #14
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Bike Rack View

See attached pic of view from cab with bikes out front.
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Old 09-19-2021, 10:50 AM   #15
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What about installing a receiver on front of truck and using a drop hitch to lower the bikes for better visibility? You may have to be careful about curbs etc. but the hitch is close to the front wheels so normal ups and downs on the road surface should not be a problem. Just a thought.
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Old 09-19-2021, 04:27 PM   #16
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What about installing a receiver on front of truck and using a drop hitch to lower the bikes for better visibility? You may have to be careful about curbs etc. but the hitch is close to the front wheels so normal ups and downs on the road surface should not be a problem. Just a thought.
Once you look at the front of a 2022 F-350, you'd have to decide if you want to butcher the front air dam and mount a receiver down low so it sticks out through the cutout in the air dam vs. hiding the receiver behind the front license plate so it will be completely covered by the license plate when you are not hauling bikes. But then the bikes are going to stick up a lot more.

The deciding factor for us is knowing we will only be pulling the camper about 25 days per year, with a need to transport the bikes. The other 340 days per year, the truck will be a daily driver and we will transport the bikes by either placing the bike rack into the trucks 2" receiver, or just laying the front wheel of the bikes over the tailgate, using a soft pad designed to secure the bikes and protect the tailgate.
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Old 09-19-2021, 04:42 PM   #17
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It doesn't look like to me that you have many easy, inexpensive, or aesthetic choices. I don't know how many bikes you transport, but perhaps placing them in the interior of the RV is an option. We have some friends that just prop them against a couch with protectors, and another that actually built a bike rack on top of their table/bed area.
We have carried our two bikes inside the trailer many times when I'm too lazy to secure them in the regular carrier, especially if we are not going far.
We are looking at new RVs and I am amazed how many no longer have a rear bumper or an easy way to weld one on. We are trying to avoid those, but it may not be possible.
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Old 09-19-2021, 05:21 PM   #18
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I don't know how many bikes you transport, but perhaps placing them in the interior of the RV is an option. We have some friends that just prop them against a couch with protectors, and another that actually built a bike rack on top of their table/bed area.
We have carried our two bikes inside the trailer many times when I'm too lazy to secure them in the regular carrier, especially if we are not going far.
That's what we did in our tt. We put them inside and tied them down.
We've run across more than one person who was frantically searching a campground store for a part that fell off their bike carrier and made transporting bikes on the back of their trailer impossible.
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Old 09-19-2021, 05:35 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by cariboo camper View Post
What about installing a receiver on front of truck and using a drop hitch to lower the bikes for better visibility? You may have to be careful about curbs etc. but the hitch is close to the front wheels so normal ups and downs on the road surface should not be a problem. Just a thought.
Maybe something like this to drop bike rack down from the hitch behind front license plate? This what came to mind when I read caribou camper's reply.Click image for larger version

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Old 09-19-2021, 07:58 PM   #20
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It doesn't look like to me that you have many easy, inexpensive, or aesthetic choices. I don't know how many bikes you transport, but perhaps placing them in the interior of the RV is an option. We have some friends that just prop them against a couch with protectors, and another that actually built a bike rack on top of their table/bed area.
We have carried our two bikes inside the trailer many times when I'm too lazy to secure them in the regular carrier, especially if we are not going far.
We are looking at new RVs and I am amazed how many no longer have a rear bumper or an easy way to weld one on. We are trying to avoid those, but it may not be possible.
You are correct. The choices are between bad and not as bad. Expensive and even more expensive.

We are considering hauling our three bikes inside the 41.5 foot long Cardinal. But what can happen is, for example, we stopped recently in Wallace, Idaho to ride on the famous Hiawatha Trail, an old railroad grade in the mountains that passes over 10 trestles and through 8 tunnels. The first tunnel was over a mile long and water was raining down on us and the trail from some sort of spring in the mountain. The clay soil stuck to us and our bikes and made a mess. I would not have wanted to load those bikes into the camper, if we had the camper with us (which we did not).

We use to own two bike bags to stow bikes into. Our current bikes are what are described as 29ers. That means the wheels are 29 inch diameter vs. the traditional 26 inch wheels. Plus I ride an XL size frame with extra wide handle bars and a long seat tube. I'm not sure they make a bike bag large enough to hold the bike without taking it apart.

It can still be done if we want to save money on the other options. There is space near the front entrance to store 1-2 bikes. We could also store bikes on the two sofas in the front upstairs living room. I would imagine bringing in the two front slides until the two sofas push together and then carefully lay the bikes on top of several heavy moving blankets.

Now that I think of it, that might be one of the best ideas yet. Two bikes upstairs and the third bike wrapped with a blanket near the front door. Simple and yet elegant solution.
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