Towing is one of the primary reasons for owning a pickup, which is why a receiver hitch can be found on almost every fullsize pickup. But there are times when towing needs exceed the weight-carrying capacity of the factory receiver hitch, the weight of the trailered load requires using a weight-distributing hitch assembly, or the trailer we want to tow isn't even of the "bumper tow" type.
The latter issue is common when it comes to the larger flatdeck trailers many of us use to transport our off-road toys. The most common configuration for a larger equipment-type trailer is a gooseneck, which attaches to a tow ball mounted in the center of the pickup's bed. This setup moves the weight of the trailer over the vehicle's rear axle, as opposed to a receiver hitch at the tail end, resulting in weight distribution that is more balanced. It's the reason vehicle manufacturers give pickups towing with a gooseneck hitch (and fifth-wheels) the highest towing capacities.
A gooseneck trailer also allows sharper turns and easier maneuvering in tighter confines than a trailer sitting on the hitch ball, and gooseneck trailers will generally work well with cross-bed toolboxes and fuel tanks, which can be an issue with some fifth-wheel trailers.
Another benefit of a gooseneck over a fifth-wheel setup is that it only requires a hitch ball mounted in a pocket in the bed, and often the ball can be quickly and easily pulled, leaving the bed unobstructed for other uses. A fifth-wheel requires more time and effort to remove from the bed, and it has more parts to keep maintained.
One of the easiest gooseneck hitches to install and use is B&W Trailer Hitches Turnoverball, a gooseneck hitch that allows the tow ball to be inverted and stored in the hitch box's mounting hole so it's always there when you need it—and out of sight and out of the way when you don't.
The installation can be done by just about any DIYer that has basic handtools and a 4-inch hole saw. The Turnoverball kit we used consisted of the hitch box, two crossbraces that sit on the truck's framerails, and two framerail side plates that tie them all together under the bed.
It took Ruben Villalobos, a senior tech at Mobile Diesel Service in Oakland, Oregon, less than three hours to install the kit on our '15 F-350 longbed dualie 4x4. A few days after the Turnoverball gooseneck was installed, we loaded the 30-foot trailer with a rock buggy and heavily modded 4Runner to enjoy some serious weekend wheelin' with other four-wheelers a half-state away. The trip was as smooth as the installation.
B&W Trailer Hitches Turnoverball gooseneck hitch kit for the '11-'16 Ford Super Duty (PN 1111) isn't complicated, which makes it easy for just about any DIYer to install. We converted this '15 F-350's bed from a fifth-wheel setup to gooseneck in less than three hours.
The first step required us to remove this heat shield pad from beneath the bed so the two B&W framerail crossbraces could slide into place. If the pad isn't removed, the top of the braces can catch and wad up the heat shield. The pad can be reinstalled after hitch installation.
The rear section of the exhaust on our 6.7L-powered F-350 had to be lowered, which was accomplished by unbolting the rear exhaust hanger.
We also had to loosen the bolts that hold the exhaust pipe to the diesel particulate filter to get the exhaust pipe to drop enough for the crossbraces to slide into place. This was far easier than prying the exhaust off the rubber hangers.
The bed of our Ford already had a flat area in the center for a gooseneck installation. We just had to measure to find the center point.
After the center point of the bed was marked, Rubin Villalobos used a 4-inch hole saw to cut the opening where the gooseneck ball would eventually be located.
The B&W gooseneck hitch box needs to be held tight against the underside of the bed until it's bolted to the crossbraces. We used a 2x4 placed across the bedrails and a small ratchet strap to hold the Turnoverball hitch box in place.
Two small notches, one for each crossbrace, had to be cut in the protruding edge of the bed crimp above the driver side of our Ford's framerail to allow enough clearance to slide in the two mounting braces.
The brace with three notches was slid in behind the hitch box. Note the small notch we'd cut to allow enough clearance to get the crossbrace to fit between the bed and frame.
The second crossbrace was slid in just forward of the hitch box that was being supported by the strap in the bed. Notches in the two rails allow them to be slid along the framerails so they can be bolted to the hitch box.
Here you can see the crossbraces and Turnoverball hitch box ready to be bolted together. Make sure the ball release is on the side you prefer. This customer wanted the release on the passenger side. It can be positioned either way.
A 3/4-inch bolt slid through a factory hole in the Ford's framerail, and a special spacer was used to clear the smaller factory bolt heads that held existing items to the framerails.
The B&W side mounting plates aligned perfectly to the F-350's framerails, so the mounting bolts and nuts were easily installed and handtightened.
After the crossbraces were slid up to the hitch box and rotated, we bolted them tight to both the side plates and then to the hitch box. The kit came with all the mounting hardware.
The release lever for the Turnoverball extends outward from the framerail just enough to easily grab, but not far enough to come into contact with the rear tires of our dualie.
The only drilling required is to pop four 1/2-inch holes through the bed from underneath so the U-bolts for the gooseneck safety chains can be installed.
B&W provides two cone-shaped springs to keep the safety-chain U-bolts from rattling around and to keep them flush against the bed when not in use.
After the Turnoverball gooseneck hitch was installed, we used the extension bracket that came in the kit to re-hang the exhaust pipe so it wouldn't hit the hitch box or its rear crossbrace.
The Turnoverball gooseneck hitch can be changed from tow mode to stow mode in mere seconds. You simply pull the ball-release lever inside the wheelwell, lift up the ball, turn it upside down, drop it back in the hole, and let the spring-loaded release re-engage. Now the bed is open for other uses.
Towing a gooseneck trailer, like the 30-foot "beaver-tail" flatdeck we hauled our 4x4 toys on, is the most convenient and smoothest way to transport multiple off-road vehicles.