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Old 12-24-2013, 04:37 PM   #1
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Default Air hitch VS Air pin

We are looking to buy a HDT that is already converted, but has a non-air fifth wheel hitch. I am leaning towards using a air pin on the 5 r rather than buying a air hitch due to the cost,. Any discussion on this would be appreciated
Thanks !
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Old 12-25-2013, 07:02 PM   #2
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I can't speak to the air pin box, but I have a Trailer Saver air ride fifth wheel on my GMC 6500 mdt and couldn't be happier with it. I tow a 23000# 40' trailer with 5000# pin weight and it rides very nice. My truck has leaf springs and I am convinced without the hitch it would beat the trailer to death. You can push up on the front of the trailer with your hands and easily bounce it up and down about 3", so I figure every bump is getting absorbed by the hitch. One plus to a hitch vs. a pin box is that I have it hooked up to a air switch in the cab (with air tank and compressor) and when I unhook all I have to do is crank the landing gear until it touches the ground, then dump the air out of the hitch and pull out. Same when hooking up, back under the trailer with the air out, latch it, and air it up and the landing gear is already free, just crank it the rest of the way up.

I also didn't want to bite the bullet on price, but I wasn't in a hurry and watched ebay on a daily basis. I missed a couple of them but finally got a used one in like new condition on ebay for $1500 which I figure is a bargain as they are $3000 new, and particularly in my case as I was looking at $1000 for a new Reese mdt 30000# hitch anyway.

If your truck has leaf spring suspension, you absolutely need some sort of air cushion between the truck and the trailer. Fifth wheel campers just aren't built with that kind of truck in mind, and there are some horror stories out there of bent frames and pin boxes on the trailer from towing with a hdt. If you have air ride on the truck, not so bad, but you will have to be able to adjust the air pressure appropriately for the light load of a camper or they are still rough. In the campground we are in right now there are 2 hdt's plus my mdt and all 3 have the trailer saver, that should tell you something.

check the hdt rally forum, there are some great tech articles on there as well as the escpapees forum.
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Old 12-25-2013, 09:14 PM   #3
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Hot Rod,
Thanks for the info. I agree with what you say, just didn't want to spend the big bucks on this style of hitch. Watching eBay is a good idea. I should know if we are going to get the truck in a few weeks. If so it will be a scramble to get the rear axle moved up,frame bobbed, painted , and the hitch installed before we head back out in late March. luckily the interior is done and it is already registered as a MH. in Ohio. My other question, How hard and expensive is it to swap transmissions from a 15 speed to an automatic, and which one should I use.? I am grateful for any info or advise.
Thank you,

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Old 12-26-2013, 09:23 PM   #4
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just learn to love a clutch. lol. way cheaper. once you get a few miles in your left foot and right hand will do their thing without needing the brain to tell them anything.

I used to search "air fifth" on ebay in the rv parts section of ebay motors to get the results for air hitches. worked for me. good luck.
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:05 AM   #5
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Isn't there another concern with the hitch and an hdt? I think the standard p/u truck type 5th wheel hitch is the wrong height to easily mount to the frame on a hdt, isn't it? I thought I heard something about that. Henry's ET Hitch is made to easily mount on an hdt. Pretty sure you don't want to use the commercial hitch on the truck because those don't allow any side to side pivot. I think you've got to have a head that pivots in all directions? I've been to the HDT Rally 4 times and it seems like most everybody there says "get an ET." Might want to google "ET Hitch" and then maybe give Henry a call and talk to him. He's quite the talker. Might learn something too. I've had several conversations with him and every time I learn something.
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Old 12-27-2013, 01:47 PM   #6
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trailer saver makes two different hitches, one designed to drop into standard rails on a pickup box, and one with a flat plated designed for a mdt/hdt. I used the mdt/hdt version, and yes it has to sort of recess down between the frame rails to get the pin height correct as does the ET hitch. I don't know of any air hitch that is a "bolt on" for an hdt frame, they will all require mounts to be fabbed.

Exactly where you place the hitch depends on the frame height of the truck vs. the pin height on the trailer you want to tow. I did see one picture of a trailer saver on a hdt where they had it on a flat plate directly on top of the frame rail, but other than that all the ones I have seen have been recessed.

The one is mine before and after I built the bed:
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IMG_0255[1].jpg   IMG_1111[1].jpg  
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Old 12-27-2013, 01:53 PM   #7
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Seems to me there's some difference between the ET and the ET Jr. in the location of the mounting?
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Old 12-28-2013, 06:53 PM   #8
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I had looked at the ET in the past, but hadn't seen the ET Jr. It looks like they designed it to have the same approximate footprint and mounting as the Trailer Saver, i.e. bolt down to a flat plate as opposed the the more complicated mounting on the standard ET.

To me it looks like the biggest difference between the Trailer Saver and the ET Jr. is the ET uses two link bars between the frame of the unit and the hitch head mount, working similar to a 4 link on a race car or hot rod which would keep the hitch head mount parallel to the frame of the truck. The Trailer Saver uses a single link, basically the hitch head mount is one big piece that pivots all the way at the front. In theory the mount would change angles a few degrees as it moves up and down through its arc of travel, but that really doesn't matter as the hitch head pivots in both directions anyway, and the air bags certainly don't care if they are off by a degree or two from parallel. I still like my Trailer Saver, it is a fairly simple design and has worked well for me so far, I put about 10,000 miles on this year with a 23000# trailer and no problems.
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:03 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for your help. Just setting my first one up. It is good to have the input. I also ran across this one the other day...
5th Wheel Hitch, Air Ride Hitch and Towing Equipment | Precision Custom Hitches, LLC | Stoughton, WI

any comments? I kind of like the design and the fact there are few moving parts to deal with. Your thoughts please?

Thanks again !

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Old 12-29-2013, 10:54 AM   #10
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I'm not overly impressed with that one compared to a true air hitch. I'd say it's better than a solid hitch but those cellular rubbar (foam) bumpers can't possibly give the ride and travel of a true air bag. True, no need for a compressor or controls, but I like my ability to air up/down for hitching up, plus I can adjust the air pressure on the fly to load or road conditions. I do like the permanent "grease plate", I go through one of the little rings every year, not that they're expensive, just annoying to have to go find a new one. One thing that worries me is that they advertise it at only 165# like it's a good thing, that's about half the weight of my Trailer Saver and the only way they could accomplish that is a lot less or thinner steel. And who cares how heavy it is? You bolt it on the truck once and forget about it. Maybe more of an advantage on the pickup box version where you may take it out once in a while.

I'd say it's an economical step up from a solid hitch, particularly when you figure you don't need air for it, but not in the same category as an air hitch.
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