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Fifth Wheel towing with the Lightning

Easycamper

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Here’s where I plan to document my journey hooking up a fifth wheel RV to my Lightning. After considerable overthinking, I decided to give it a try.

We just purchased a Reflection 150 278BH. By coincidence my dealer is Can-Am RV of London, ON, which you’ve probably heard of if you’ve been around the Internets for a while. They just happened to have this model in stock so here we are. But if there’s any dealer that will help me set this up, it’s Can-Am. Here are a couple of pics I took of their other tow vehicles while I was there.

BE01D3BA-49B5-44BE-991D-D7F54190A934.jpeg

512A8DEA-A9B7-482D-AAEC-1AB2660A5294.jpeg

I’ll be towing the Reflection with my 2015 SuperCab 5.0L (Payload 2030 lbs) until whenever my Lightning is ready. That will give me a good chance to check out all the weights, etc. and see how it handles for comparison.

After much research I’m confident that a hitch can be safely installed one way or another. There may never be a set of “no drill” hitch plates available for the Lightning, but a universal kit possibly with some modification will work.

This 278BH has an empty weight of 8500 lbs, a GVWR of 10,195 lbs and is advertised with an empty pin weight of 1300 pounds. It’s designed to be half-ton towable, so no bedroom slide and the heavy appliances are at the back.

 

NCMike

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I'm sorry, but any dealer that would hook an RV up to a Chrysler 300 or a mini van should not be trusted. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. I'm not saying you shouldn't use your lightning to tow a fifth wheel. I do believe F150s can be used for 5th wheel trailers safely if you are within all weight ratings and the vehicle is setup properly. I just would not trust a RV dealer to do this properly and within all weight ratings when they hook up RVs to mini vans and sedans.

Good luck!
 

vandy1981

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That fifth-wheel trailer will be about the worst-case scenario from an aero standpoint, aside from towing a parachute. I'm fairly confident that you will hold the record for the highest kwh/mile with that rig.

It will be an adventure, but please be safe.
 
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Easycamper

Easycamper

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Thanks for the thoughts. Not sure where I’ll get the hitch installed or if it will be DIY. If I’m getting custom hitch work done, to me it makes sense to at least consider a place with over 40 years of experience with custom hitch work.

My range expectations are modest. I typically do only one trip per year over 150 miles / 250 km. Since 90% of my usage is closer to home I’m not really concerned about it.

May 20 is our pickup date for the trailer. First stop will be the nearby CAT scales to see what the weight distribution is like empty.
 
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Easycamper

Easycamper

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Good news: The holes for the eight bolts that attach to the frame brackets are outside Ford’s “do not drill” areas.

The two centre bolts *are* in the no-drill area. These bolts just go through the sheet metal, and as I understand it are primarily to support the rails under the stresses of a slider hitch, which I don’t plan to use. So I’ll assess what the potential interference is and decide whether or not to install the two centre bolts.

Ford specifies a 2-inch gap between installed fasteners and HV cabling. For obvious reasons this will be important to observe or otherwise mitigate.
7713A791-9337-46CA-A43D-9C1135131ADA.jpeg



4DF0E900-D9A4-4525-9715-0BB72888DE10.jpeg
 
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Easycamper

Easycamper

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Picked up the trailer yesterday. Took it straight to the CAT scale and verified the empty pin weight is 1350 lbs.

CBC7AAA1-0097-4D6E-B6E1-1353066C5EF7.jpeg
 

hturnerfamily

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my thought is that there is going to be fifth-wheel manufacturers coming out with 'attachment plates' for the LIGHTNING, where a much larger 3/8" or thicker steel plate will cover much more of the bed, allowing for IT to be attached to the truck, then allowing the fifth-wheel mechanism to easily attach to IT, instead of the truck bed, itself....
 

VTbuckeye

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my thought is that there is going to be fifth-wheel manufacturers coming out with 'attachment plates' for the LIGHTNING, where a much larger 3/8" or thicker steel plate will cover much more of the bed, allowing for IT to be attached to the truck, then allowing the fifth-wheel mechanism to easily attach to IT, instead of the truck bed, itself....
I am not familiar with 5th wheel mountings, but would a plate that exactly matches the bed shape/contour and uses the bed bolts (new bolts required for install) to hold it and the bed in place be sufficient to act as an anchor for the 5th wheel mounting. I assume that there would also be some accomodations for the 5.5ft bed and limitations imposed from the short bed. One of my coworkers has a sidewinder 5th wheel hitch on her camper on a short bed f150.
 


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Easycamper

Easycamper

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I am not familiar with 5th wheel mountings, but would a plate that exactly matches the bed shape/contour and uses the bed bolts (new bolts required for install) to hold it and the bed in place be sufficient to act as an anchor for the 5th wheel mounting. I assume that there would also be some accomodations for the 5.5ft bed and limitations imposed from the short bed. One of my coworkers has a sidewinder 5th wheel hitch on her camper on a short bed f150.
Fifth wheel hitch rails are attached to the frame. The rails are thick steel channels that the hitch then attaches to. The bed has little strength itself, which is why I’m comfortable leaving the centre bolts off since they only go through the sheet metal.

Honestly I think the market for fifth wheel hitches for the Lightning is going to be too small for hitch manufacturers to invest in. I expect to be adapting a universal hitch mount.

This trailer has a Sidewinder on it. I’m not using it with this truck since the 6.5-foot bed gives be enough room to back the trailer at about 60 degrees to the truck, which is all I need. Not sure what I’ll do with the Lightning yet.

I don’t really like Sidewinders since they move the pivot point of the hitch behind the axles, which reduces stability. But the Lightning is so much heavier anyway (about the same weight as a gas F-250) that it might be an okay tradeoff.
 

TRP

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What hitch manufacturer are you planning to use?

I've reached out to B&W to see if they plan to offer a gooseneck hitch but at the time they had not seen a Lightning to make that determination
 
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Easycamper

Easycamper

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What hitch manufacturer are you planning to use?

I've reached out to B&W to see if they plan to offer a gooseneck hitch but at the time they had not seen a Lightning to make that determination
I’m not sure. I likely won’t be towing until next summer so maybe something will be out by then. Otherwise it will be a custom job.

 
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