Can you hook up a 5th wheel on an angle?

In this article, we will answer the following question: Can you hook up a 5th wheel on an angle? We will also explain how to properly hook and unhook a 5th wheel. 

Can you hook up a 5th wheel on an angle?

Yes, you can hook up a 5th wheel trailer on an angle, as long as you take all the necessary precautions and safety tips. Still, take into consideration that hooking up the trailer at a different angle will take more time and you need to be more thorough with the process. 

A fifth-wheel trailer is a residential cargo or trailer that is attached to a trailer package mounted between the cab and the rear axle of a truck or van, similar to a gooseneck trailer. 

How to hook up a 5th wheel trailer?

While the mechanical connection is very different from a conventional trailer bumper setup, the wiring is exactly the same. A round seven-bolt plug terminates a seven-conductor harness on the trailer, which is in turn mounted to a corresponding socket on the towing vehicle. Therefore, wiring a fifth wheel trailer hitch is a relatively straightforward project. 

Things you will need:

  • Cable Plug
  • Zip ties
  • Knife
  • Wire Stripper Screwdriver
  1. Purchase a seven-conductor length of trailer cable; it should be as long as the fifth-wheel trailer, plus 12 feet. Trailer cable is readily available at auto parts stores, recreational vehicle dealers, and companies that install trailer packages.
  1. Level the fifth wheel trailer towing, flat place where all-around access is protected from traffic. Block the wheels.
  1. Lay the cable on the ground next to the fifth wheel trailer. Use zip ties to secure the front near the mechanical fifth wheel connection, leaving approximately three feet of cable hanging loose.

Use a utility knife to cut about 2 inches from the outer end sheath, being careful not to damage the insulation of the seven inner wires. Use wire strippers to remove about a half inch of insulation from each of the seven inner wires.

  1. Use a screwdriver to loosen the clasp holding the case in place from a round seven-pin plug, then remove the case from the internal terminal hub and slide it – small hole first – through the wire. 

Connect the wires to the terminals in the following combinations: white to terminal one, blue to terminal two, brown to terminal three, black to terminal four, yellow to terminal five, green to terminal six, and purple for terminal seven – in the center. Reset the case and bra.

  1. Route the cable back underneath the fifth wheel trailer, following the frame rails and chassis, with a zip tie approximately every 10 inches to secure where it will not be susceptible to damage or create a tripping hazard. It matters little which side of the trailer the cable runs underneath.
  1. Use the knife to separate the outer casing on the shaft, and separate the white and blue wires. Attach the white wire to the chassis and connect a branch of the white wire to the output side of the electric brake circuit, these circuits are accessed at the rear of the wheel hubs at the 12 o’clock position. Connect the blue wire to the upstream side of the electric brake circuit.
  1. Continue to route the cable back to the rear of the fifth wheel trailer and connect the remaining cables from the rear light clusters. The colour-coded wires are connected in a conventional way as follows: green wire to the right turn (passenger side) of the circuit, the yellow wire to the left turn (driver’s side) of the circuit, brown wire to the circuit of taillights and white wire to ground circuit. 

The purple wire is intended to serve an auxiliary function, such as turning on the reversing lights.

Other questions you may be interested in

Do 5th wheels have seat belts?

Can you pull a fifth-wheel camper with a 5.5-foot bed?

Can you jackknife a fifth wheel?

How to correctly unhook a 5th wheel trailer?

Unhooking the 5th wheel trailer is also important and oftentimes misunderstood by drivers. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Unplug the electrical outlet connecting your trailer to your towing vehicle.
  1. Lock the parking brake if the trailer is braked or use wheel chocks:
  • operate the locking lever,
  • pivot the handling lever forward by a rocking movement,
  • raise the coupling head to unhook the trailer from the car,
  • use the jockey wheel if necessary
  • Do not manoeuvre the loaded trailer on the jockey wheel.
  • If the safety cable is worn or twisted, replace it before using the trailer.

Tips for hooking up the 5th wheel on an angle

If you decide to hook up the 5th wheel on an angle (90 degree is recommended), here are a few precautions and safety tips for you:

  1. When coupling a walking floor semi-trailer, it is important that the tractor fifth wheel makes contact just before the kingpin. Be sure to back up under the semi-trailer with the fifth wheel low, without touching the trailer hitch plate. The fifth wheel should only be raised just before the kingpin. 

The fifth wheel grease is thus not spread on the front part of the lower part of the trailer but remains where it is needed: around the kingpin. This significantly reduces wear on the tractor and semitrailer by always leaving enough grease at the point of friction. Incidentally, this results in a saving of grease (= cost) and less messy work dedicated to lubricating the fifth wheel.

  1.  When hitching up / unhitching, it is important that the semi-trailer support legs are raised 5 cm above the ground. This is done simply by means of the suspension of the rear axle of the truck. Otherwise, a large force is exerted on the support legs. The lifting also reduces the wear on the support legs and therefore also the costs. 

But it’s not just about that: if the support legs are too often impacted, the kingpin will turn more difficult, which means that more and more forces will have to be exerted. This reduces the ease of use.

You will also find below all the points to be observed for a correct coupling/uncoupling of a 5th wheel trailer:

Hitching:

1. Position the tractor in a straight line in front of the semi-trailer on level ground.

2. Drive the tractor up to 20 cm in front of the kingpin (fifth wheel under the semi-trailer).

    Manoeuvre without touching the semi-trailer, and therefore without losing fat.

3. Raise the tractor until the fifth wheel almost touches the coupling plate.

4. Hitch up the semi-trailer.

5. Raise the semi-trailer until the support legs are 5 cm above the ground.

6. Then check whether the semi-trailer is properly locked by moving forward slowly.

7. Connect couplings, hoses and electrical systems.

8. Then raise the support legs and you are good to go.

Unhitching:

1. Take the trailer to level ground. The tractor must be aligned with the semi-trailer.

2. Raise the semi-trailer as far as possible using the tractor rear axle suspension.

3. Lower the support legs to 5 cm above the floor.

4. Disconnect hoses, couplings and electrical systems.

5. Then remove the kingpin.

6. Drive the tractor forward 20 cm.

7. Let the rear axle of the tractor come down to the minimum height.

8. Now pull the tractor completely out of the semi-trailer without touching it and without losing any grease.

Conclusions

Fifth wheels are best for hauling heavy and exceptionally long trailers. They allow the truck to manoeuvre with ease because the hitch is located inside the cargo box, making it easier to make sharp turns. The hitch is made up of a large horseshoe-shaped plate – the “fifth wheel”. 

Whenever hooking up a 5th wheel, please make sure you follow all the safety tips and necessary precautions. 

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know.

FAQ on Can you hook up a 5th wheel on an angle?

How does the fifth wheel hitch work?

A fifth wheel hitch l works by locking a kingpin in the lockjaw. The kingpin is similar to a hitch coupler and is attached to the semi-trailer, while the locking jaw acts as the receiver for the hitch

Are gooseneck 5th Wheel Adapters safe?

Gooseneck 5th wheel adapters are safe, but not the best option for permanent use. A fifth wheel hitch is best for recreational towing (e.g for a trip), while a gooseneck hitch is recommended for commercial towing. 

What is a fifth wheel hitch?

A fifth wheel hitch is specially designed for the beds of vans and flatbed trucks. With a towing capacity between 5500 and 9000 Kg and a weight capacity between 550 and 770 Kg, 5th wheel hitches are installed just above and above the rear axle of a truck. 

References