Categories: RV GearRV Trailers

What Is a Gooseneck 5th Wheel Adapter?

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You did it! You bought your first 5th wheel, and you’re ready to drive into the sunrise on a bright new adventure. Congratulations! Now to a less glamorous purchase: the gooseneck 5th wheel adapter. 

Before buying your 5th wheel, you confirmed that your truck had the appropriate towing and payload capacities. But you’ll also need a specific type of hitch fit for hauling heavy loads, and the gooseneck adaptor could be it. 

What is a gooseneck 5th wheel adapter? Keep reading to find out!

What Is a Gooseneck 5th Wheel Adapter?

There are two main types of trailer hitches designed for towing heavy 5th wheel RVs. One is a 5th wheel hitch, and the other is a gooseneck hitch.  The fifth wheel hitch connects to a special fifth wheel hitch you need installed in the bed of the truck. A gooseneck hitch connects to a ball in the bed of the truck that is connected to the frame of the truck.

King Pin Box
Gooseneck Pin Box

If you want to use a gooseneck hitch in the bed of your truck, but you have a standard king pin pinbox on your trailer, you have a few options:

  • Replace the pinbox with a gooseneck pin box or
  • Install a gooseneck 5th wheel adapter connecting to the kingpin
  • Use a special hitch that connects to the gooseneck ball

There are a few advantages to towing on a gooseneck ball. The largest benifit is that it does not require the large fifth wheel hitch in the bed so the bed is fully usable when not towing. Towing on a ball also offers more flexibility and a very secure connection with minimal play. This frequently improves the ride quality of the truck and trailer.

How Does a 5th Wheel to Gooseneck Adapter Work?

Various gooseneck 5th wheel adapters work differently, but they all allow the fifth wheel to utilize a gooseneck hitch installed in the truck.

Some 5th wheel gooseneck adapters attach directly to the gooseneck ball with an extended tube on the trailer, allowing you to attach your trailer to the gooseneck ball on your truck. These type of adapters are special metal tubes that connect directly to the kinpin on the front of the fifthwheel and reach down to connect directly to a gooseneck ball in the bed of the truck.

This is a standard fifthwheel pinbox that has been adapted to a gooseneck

.Another type of adapter is the raised ball adapter. This type is a special hitch that gets installed in the truck bed and connects to the gooseneck ball of the truck. It then raises the ball up to a point where a small block is installed on the kingpin that allows it to connect to the ball. The most common hitches that do this are the Andersen Ultimate Fifth Wheel Connection and the Pull Rite hitch.

Andersen Ultimate Gooseneck Adapter Hitch

Lastly a fifth wheel can be adapted to connect to a gooseneck ball by replacing the pinbox altogether. Check out our article all about this type to learn more : What is a Gooseneck pinbox for 5th Wheels

This is a gooseneck pinbox

What’s the Difference Between a Gooseneck and a 5th Wheel?

A gooseneck and a 5th wheel are very similar, but there are apparent differences. A gooseneck’s trailer tongue fits over a ball hitch in the bed of your truck. With a 5th-wheel, your vehicle must have a hinged plate hitch where you’ll attach the 5th-wheel trailer.

Both fifth wheel and gooseneck connections are more stable and decrease trailer sway compared to bumper pull connections because the trailer’s tongue weight sits over the rear axle of the truck. The stability also means you can carry a larger, heavier trailer. 

Traditional 5th Wheel

Are Gooseneck 5th Wheel Adapters Safe?

Adapters are safe if you stay underweight. For example, if you have a 12,000-pound 5th wheel and use an adapter rated to 20,000 pounds of gross trailer weight, you’ll be under the weight limit and have a safer experience. 

Gooseneck 5th wheel adapters that use the tube to connect to the kingpin can put undue stress on the trailer’s frame, however, and may even void the trailer frame’s warranty. This is because they add a torsion force on the kinpin when pulling from a low point. Seeking a professional’s advice on this matter will ensure its safe use. 

Gooseneck adapter hitches and gooseneck pinboxes do not have frame stress issues because their geometry is such that the pull force is similar to a traditional fifth-wheel connection.

This is a normal pinbox with the Andersen ball connector installed on it. Note that the ball connection (red part at bottom) is located in the same plane as the kinpin. This means the pulling force is the same.

But while gooseneck adapters can be safe, you don’t want to cut corners. You must consider whether a gooseneck adapter is suitable for your application and, if so, which type of gooseneck adapter best fits.

Can I Convert My Standard 5th Wheel Hitch to Gooseneck?

Yes, you can! You can use a 5th wheel gooseneck hitch and a gooseneck adapter to convert your 5th wheel to a gooseneck.

The hitch will give you a standard gooseneck ball. You’ll then set the hitch into the rails and secure them tightly using the pins. 

What Size Gooseneck Adapter Do I Need?

Taking measurements related to both the truck and trailer is the best way to determine what size gooseneck adapter you need. Also know your trailers weight to make sure your adapter is rated for the weight you will be pulling.

For measurements you need to consider the turning radius of the trailer and height over the trucks bedrails.

Start by measuring from the top of your gooseneck ball to the bottom of your trailer’s king pin plate. Make sure both your truck and trailer are situated on level ground when taking measurements.

Alternatively, if the truck and trailer are not together, measure the hitch ball and coupler heights. Next, measure from the ground to the top of the gooseneck ball and then from the ground to the kingpin plate’s bottom. The difference between those measurements will determine your adapter offset size. Also, measure the height from the top of your gooseneck ball to the trailer making sure you have 4-6 inches clearance over the bedrails. Use this measurement to figure out how tall an adapter you need. However, most have height adjustments of 6-8 inches included.

Consult a professional, giving him or her the measurements you’ve taken as well as details related to your truck and trailer.

What to Consider When Buying a Gooseneck 5th Wheel Adapter

Your trailer must ride level. Some adapters are a fixed height, while others are adjustable. The adjustable adapters are more expensive, so consider your budget when deciding what’s best.

If you decide to purchase a fixed-height adapter, identify the adapter length required for your application. Also, consider padlocks that lock the couplers as well as safety chains. You may also want to consider cushioned adapters as they tend to provide a smoother ride.

Some states require chains for gooseneck hitches, though there may be no specific reference to adapters. Still, the chains are safety items, and your safety and that of your family are paramount! 

Finally, a remote release is an excellent feature because you won’t have to climb into your truck’s bed to disconnect the hitch. A remote release lets you release the hitch using a handle attached to a steel cable.

Would You Trust a Gooseneck Adapter?

Now that you know what a gooseneck 5th wheel adapter is, you’re better positioned to decide whether an adapter is the best option for you. If so, start measuring, obtain that professional guidance, install that adapter, hook her up, and head for the sunrise!

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Mortons on the Move

We are Tom & Caitlin Morton. We gave up the stationary life for one where we are constantly on the move. We live in a fifth wheel RV and travel with our two pups, Mocha and Bella. We enjoy hiking, biking, boondocking, videography, and upgrading our RV to suit our off-grid mobile lifestyle. Our goal is to share educational, entertaining, and inspiring content with our readers and viewers.

View Comments

  • Why are you PUSHING the Gooseneck pin box?
    If they are so great which manufacturer puts them on their 5th wheels?
    Some manufacturers will void warranties for using them. Space in your truck bed should not be the issue — a quality hitch should be.

    • No Pushing, just educating as we have received a lot of questions about it. We have towed on all of them and personally, I would love to see fifth wheels come as gooseneck. Its not the majority however and probably why they never will unless custom. As for adapters yes they will void warranties and we mention that.

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