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  • Turnover Ball and Companion 5th Wheel - Disappearing Act

Turnover Ball and Companion 5th Wheel - Disappearing Act

An innovative 5th wheel and gooseneck ball combo makes way for cargo in seconds!

Larry S. Saavedra
Aug 1, 2008
Photographers: Larry S. Saavedra
If you think you would enjoy all the towing benefits of a conventional 5th wheel, but don't want to give up any truck bed space by permanently mounting it, then a B&W Turnover Ball and Companion 5th wheel is the next best thing.

B&W Trailer Hitches developed its Companion 5th wheel kit as an accessory to its Turnover Ball gooseneck hitch. Together, the B&W combo provides all the usefulness of a 5th wheel and gooseneck setup, while giving you freedom to use the bed for cargo storage whenever we want.

Some permanently mounted 5th wheels and goosenecks can offer great trailer weight towing capability, but the reality is most RV enthusiasts don't need it, and tow only lightweight trailers occasionally, then use the truck for other things the rest of the week. That's what makes this type of system so appealing to the average user. It's available when you need it, and can be hidden away when you don't.

What's more, both the B&W Companion and Turnover Ball hitch are completely bolt-on kits designed for the do-it-yourselfer.
Photo 2/21   |   Tony Becker handled the installation on his Dodge Ram. The only specialized tool we used was a torque wrench. Torque the Companion's pivot arms (to the RV Base) assembly to 80 ft-lbs as recommended.
Turnover Ball Hitch
The first thing on our agenda was to locate a shop in the area that specialized in aftermarket installations, not so much for their technical help, but for their tools. So we called on the Four X Doctor from Burbank, California. You won't, however, need the lift or a roll-a-way full of tools because the installation can be handled with jack stands and a few wrenches. We just wanted to be prepared.

A 2006 Dodge Ram was the test mule for this installation. The truck had a factory bed liner and a standard 8-foot bed. The B&W Turnover Ball kit works on the short-bed version too, but you have to check for adequate clearance between the front of your trailer and truck cab before you start the installation work.

The B&W Turnover Ball works like a typical gooseneck hitch - but as the name implies - features a ball that can be turned upside-down and stored out-of-sight when not in use. The design is innovative and convenient and gives you back the full bed without a ball protruding from the floor.

While the Turnover Ball kit is completely bolt on there were a few things we discovered during our install; the heavy center section of the Turnover Ball hitch assembly could pose a problem for some people to bolt into place. B&W recommended lifting it up by a chain or rope through a 4-inch hole that had to be cut in the bed (see photos) centered over the rear axle. On the Dodge Ram installation, we also had to make V-notch cut to clear the cross member. This V-notch requirement only applied to certain makes and models of trucks.

We also discovered that you can cut through a regular bed liner for the ball insert, but it can be more difficult to locate the midpoint between the wheel wells by doing so. You also have to be sure that the liner doesn't move on you during this step.

Overall, the installation process of the Turnover Ball hardware was easy. For safety reasons, we checked underneath the truck to ensure there are no fuel, brake or electrical lines in the way before any bolts were tightened. Its fit was flawless and we were honestly amazed by how quickly things came together, thanks to the manufacturer's prior R&D of the product.

The B&W Turnover Ball hitch is rated for 30,000 pounds (Gross Trailer Weight) with a tongue weight rating of 7,500-pounds. Because the B&W Turnover Ball is designed specifically for each make and model truck, all the parts should simply bolt-on to existing mounting points from the factory.

Looking back, here's what we got: a hitch made in America that met all OEM (original equipment) requirements, a setup that offered seven towing accessories (kingpins, hi-rise balls, etc) to accommodate all future needs, and most importantly, a gooseneck that coverts from a hitch to a level bed in seconds!
Companion 5th Wheel
Once the B&W gooseneck was installed we moved to the 5th wheel Companion. It was shipped in two boxes: One for the base and another with the coupler. The instructions were easy-to-understand and illustrated to ensure a trouble-free install.

The Companion's hardware included bolts, washers, nuts, pivot arms, base, saddle and coupler. The pivot arms were the first step in our assembly. There were nine different mounting positions for the pivot arms on the base plate. You had to decide which holes to use and that depended on the clearance requirements for turning between the trailer and the back of the truck cab. It will take some getting used, but it's all bolt on so you are never locked into one position.

Once the pivot arms were mounted to the base we secured the assembly to the post that was included in the kit. This post replaced the gooseneck ball. Next came the 5th wheel saddle and coupler. Before the saddle was mounted to the completed base assembly, the arms' urethane bushings had to be lubricated with lithium grease. Then it was just a matter of adjusting and securing the unit with lock pins.

If you've used a 5th wheel with a poorly fitted latching system and kingpin then you know how uncomfortable towing can be when things don't work right. Probably the best thing (aside from being removable) about the Companion is the design of the latching system. B&W used 1- and 1/8-inch locking jaws machined from cast malleable iron. The jaws mate with the kingpin to ensure there's no chancy or violent starts and stops. These jaws operate with a cam so that they unlock effortlessly, even in a 'bind' situation, according to B&W.

The 5th wheel Companion is rated to tow up to 18,000 pounds (GTW) has a fully articulating head, features three vertical adjustments from 14.75- to 16.75 inches and like the Turnover Ball is made in the U.S.A.

It took less than 15 minutes to install and it's worth noting that the Companion should never be installed on any other system other than B&W. Not only will you void the warranty, but also you open yourself up to safety issues.

Here's an overview of the installation process of both units. To make things easier for you to visualize how the Turnover Ball comes together under your truck, we pre-assembled the gooseneck first outside of the vehicle and test fit the parts first.
Photo 12/21   |   The RV Base with pivot arms will eventually mount over an RV post. U-bolts from the RV base will secure the unit to the post.

Sources

B&W Trailer Hitches
Humboldt, KS 66748
800-248-6564
http://www.turnoverball.com
Four X Doctor
Burbank, CA 91502
818-845-2194
http://www.fourxdoctor.com

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