Part 2: Towing Upgrades
The Dodge Power Wagon's factory electronic disconnecting front sway bar, 12,000-pound Warn winch, and electric lockers always seem to steal the spotlight, but the fact is, the Power Wagon's foundation is a 3/4-ton truck that's designed for work. In this installment, we're going to capitalize on the Power Wagon's towing capabilities by upgrading it with a few products including gooseneck and fifth-wheel trailer hitches.
From the get-go, one of our goals for this truck was to set it up to tow gooseneck and fifth-wheel trailers in addition to standard bumper towing. Setting the Power Wagon up for fifth-wheel towing will allow us to test a wider variety of toy haulers and other recreational vehicles. The ability to tow gooseneck trailers will give us added flexibility to pull larger flatbed or livestock trailers. Additionally, we like the improved turning radius and weight distribution that these trailers afford.
Our parameters for a hitch system were simple. We wanted a system that allowed us to tow either a gooseneck or fifth-wheel trailer at will, but we wanted the gooseneck ball and fifth-wheel hitch to be completely removable so we could have unobstructed access to the cargo bed. To select a system that would help us meet our requirements, we heeded our own advice from the "Heavy Hitters" story (July '09). We selected B&W Trailer Hitches' Turnover Ball Gooseneck Hitch and Companion 5th Wheel RV Hitch.
B&W Trailer Hitches is a Kansas-based company that was formed in 1987. In 1991, they addressed the annoyance of having a gooseneck ball permanently mounted in the bed of a pickup truck. Their resulting invention was the Turnover Ball Gooseneck Hitch, which allowed the gooseneck ball to be pulled out, turned over, and stowed beneath the bed. Think "vertically mounted receiver hitch," and you'll understand the Turnover Ball. Not only was this a revolutionary idea, but the mounting system they devised bolted to the truck frame and required no welding, drilling, or bed removal to install. B&W then created the Companion 5th Wheel RV Hitch. This slick hitch is an accessory to the Turnover Ball and actually utilizes the Turnover Ball hitch receiver as its mounting point. Today, they offer the Turnover Ball for every fullsize truck on the market.
Matt Dinelli at Attitude Performance completed the amazingly easy install of the B&W Trailer Hitches components on our Power Wagon while we shot photos and recorded video. Here's an overview of the install.
The Bottom Line
It's impressive how easily the Turnover Ball system installed in our Power Wagon. The folks at B&W have done their homework, and the design and quality of the products is impeccable. Since the installation, we've towed a gooseneck livestock trailer with the Turnover Ball and everything worked great. The Turnover Ball is rated to 30,000 pounds gross trailer weight (GTW) and 7,500 pounds vertical tongue weight (VTW). We're using the standard 25/16-inch ball, but B&W offers seven towing accessories including kingpin, inverted ball, eyelet, 4-inch extender, 3-inch ball, high-rise ball, and the Companion 5th Wheel RV Hitch. Speaking of the Companion, we're impressed by the neat way it utilizes the Turnover Ball hitch receiver for mounting. The Companion has an 18,000-pound GTWR and a 4,500-pound VTWR; a patented hydraulic dampener that permits seven degrees of side-to-side tilt; a cam-action latching handle that offers effortless hookup and release; lots of vertical and horizontal adjustability; and vibration-dampening polyurethane bushings to provide quiet, rattle-free towing. We're anxious to borrow a fifth-wheel trailer so we can install and test the Companion hitch. Finally, we're also impressed by the Tow & Stow receiver hitch. We especially like the fact that with the three ball sizes we can tow a variety of trailers without having to mess around with moving hitch balls to our drop hitch each time we tow trailers that require a different hitch ball size.