The B&W Companion OEM fifth wheel hitch uses the new and very clever puck hitch mounting system that can be ordered with Ram and Ford trucks in their fifth wheel and gooseneck towing prep packages. This truck option has five “pucks” installed in the bed of the truck: four in the corners to mount a fifth wheel hitch and one in the center for a gooseneck.
The new style fifth wheel hitches that are designed for these puck systems stand on four legs that each have a quarter turn locking mechanism at the foot to secure them into the four pucks in the bed of the truck. This allows the hitch to be installed or removed from the bed of the truck easily. When the hitch is removed, the truck bed floor is totally flat and free of obstacles, because there are no hitch rails to get in the way. Ford, GM and Ram have different puck layouts in the beds of their trucks.
When we were going through the process of buying a new Ram 3500 dually truck, we knew we wanted the best of breed fifth wheel hitch that incorporated this new design for our full-time RV lifestyle. After a factory tour of the B&W Trailer Hitches plant in Humboldt, Kansas, we were sold. You can navigate this page using the following links.:
- Background Info about B&W Trailer Hitches
- Assembling the B&W Companion OEM Fifth Wheel Hitch
- Installing the Hitch in the Truck Bed
B&W Trailer Hitches
B&W hitches have long had a stellar reputation in the RV industry, and when our 36′ Hitchhiker fifth wheel trailer was getting a slew of big repairs done at the NuWa factory service center in Chanute, Kansas, (thank goodness for our RV warranty), we discovered B&W Trailer Hitches was just a ways down the road. So we took a factory tour of the plant.
What struck us more than anything is that B&W Trailer Hitches is a company that cares. They not only turn out a superior product, but they take take care of their employees.
When the RV manufacturing industry went into a steep nose dive in the years following the financial debacle of 2008, many of the employees that had worked at NuWa industries building fifth wheel trailers eventually found employment over at B&W Trailer Hitches as NuWa’s need for workers shrank. And when B&W didn’t have enough work for everyone to do, the company paid their employees to do city maintenance work in their hometown of Humboldt, Kansas.
How cool is that. And how RARE is that?!
We got a taste of just how deeply these community values run when we saw the Biblesta celebration and parade during our visit to Humboldt, Kansas. In an age of political correctness when many people are afraid to express their beliefs publicly, this is a town that has been openly celebrating Christianity in an annual festival for the past 52 years. All the churches in the area — as well as B&W Hitches — have a float in this extraordinary parade. Read our blog post about it here: America’s Heartland – Is It In Humboldt Kansas?
Founded in 1987 by Joe Walker and Roger Baker as B&W Custom Truck Beds, the company long ago became B&W Trailer Hitches. They still build custom truck beds, but the company has grown and now manufactures many other products.
In 1991, B&W invented the clever turnover ball for gooseneck hitches, and that put them in the forefront of the towing industry. For trucks that have a gooseneck socket in the bed of the truck, the turnover ball gets inserted this socket and a fifth wheel hitch can be installed that latches onto the ball and also onto rails that are installed under the bed of the truck. When the fifth wheel hitch is removed, the turnover ball can be turned over to make the bed of the truck completely flat since the rails for the hitch are under the bed.
This makes the entire bed of the truck available for hauling when the fifth wheel hitch isn’t installed, and it also allows the truck to be set up for either gooseneck or fifth wheel towing really easily. This is handy out in ranch country where one truck might tow a variety of trailers, and also be used to haul big loads.
The new puck style hitch mount offered by the truck manufacturers is a similar concept. Rather than just one connection point between the 5th wheel hitch and the truck bed in the center, there are four points of contact in the four corners. The four puck system also allows for an even heavier duty weight rating on the biggest fifth wheel hitches, so larger fifth wheel trailers can be towed.
B&W Trailer Hitches is into quality, and one of the things that sets their hitches apart is that they are made from American steel. Since we have dealt with axle and leaf spring problems on our trailer several times over the last year, we have come to realize just what a huge difference there is between Chinese made steel and American steel. When it comes to something that puts your life on the line because it is carrying heavy loads, American made steel is the only way to go.
Another hallmark of quality in B&W hitches is that the nuts holding the hitch base to the truck are castle nuts. This means you can lock them with a sheer pin so they don’t back out.
Also, just about everything at B&W Trailer Hitches is done in-house. That way, they can retool the assembly line easily, as needed, for instance, if they improve the design or the puck layout is changed by the truck manufacturers.
Lots of metal shavings are generated in the production of hitches on the B&W assembly lines. We were impressed that B&W recycles all the metal shavings at Missouri Metals. Very green!
B&W Companion Fifth Wheel Assembly and Installation
We chose the 25,000 lb. B&W Companion OEM fifth wheel hitch. This is way overkill for our 14,100 lb. trailer, but our goal in our whole truck-and-hitch upgrade was to be able to tow our fifth wheel effortlessly. It also gives us options down the road in case a day comes when we want to replace our trailer with something bigger or beefier.
The whole installation of the B&W Companion OEM 5th wheel hitch could easily be done right in the bed of the truck, but we we got the hitch before we got our truck! So, we did it in two stages. First we assembled the hitch in a friend’s garage. This took 40 minutes. Then, once we got our new truck, we installed the hitch in the bed of the truck. This second stage took 20 minutes because we needed to fine tune the mating of the four pucks and the four legs. In the future, lifting the hitch in and out of the truck bed will take just a few minutes.
So, it’s about a one hour DIY job to install a B&W Companion 5th wheel hitch right out of the box. That’s a huge improvement over paying the fifth wheel dealership to do a two hour installation like we did when we installed our first fifth wheel hitch in our first truck!
These are the tools for the project:
- 3/4″ socket
- 9/16″ socket or 9/16″ wrench
- 15/16″ socket or 15/16″ wrench
- 7/32″ allen wrench
- Needle-nose pliers
- Small hammer
- CRC Lithium Grease – or similar
- Lucas Oil X-tra Heavy Duty Grease – or similar
- CRC Silicone Spray – optional
Our B&W Companion OEM fifth wheel hitch was shipped to our friend’s house by UPS. It came in two boxes.
There is a base and a head (or coupler) and assorted parts. We laid them all out to get a look at them.
There is a one page installation instruction sheet that comes with the kit (also available online here). There’s also a sticker on the hitch base with instructions for mounting the hitch’s two parts into the truck bed.
The first step is to install the big triangular pivot arms that support the hitch coupler (the top part of the hitch). The orientation of these triangular pieces depends on the placement of the hitch over the axles, which varies by truck model. In the case of the Ram 3500 dually long bed, they are oriented so the shallower slope goes towards the cab of the truck.
The hitch has a big orange sticker on the side that faces the cab, so the shallow slope of the pivot arms faces that sticker.
There are four pairs of lock washer and bolts, two for each pivot arm. There are five possible holes, so you can set the height of the pivot arm higher or lower, which will change the gap spacing between the overhang of the fifth wheel trailer and the sides of the truck bed. We chose the middle setting for starters.
The bolts and lock washers screw into the threaded block an the back side of the pivot arms.
The next step is to install the wire torsion spring on the flange on the driver’s side pivot arm that is closest to the truck cab.
The mounting clip (below the spring in the photo above) is attached to the spring. Then the spring is installed so there is 1/2″ of clearance between the top of the spring and the bottom of the rubber bumper on the pivot arm. A few taps with a small hammer secured the clip onto the flange.
Now the pivot arms are fully installed on the hitch base.
The next step was to put the hitch head — the coupler — onto the hitch base and install its handle and three safety pins.
We lubricated the rubber bumpers on the tops of the pivot arms with CRC Lithium Grease.
Then, holding the coupler by the two saddle handles on either side, Mark placed the coupler onto the hitch base. When you set the coupler down on the base, press down on the handles to secure it.
The coupler rests on the hitch base. Saddle locking pins under the two saddle handles prevent it from lifting up. A “hairpin” holds the saddle locking pin in place.
Next, the coupler cam handle gets installed onto the coupler.
The handle is secured to the coupler with two button head cap screws (tightened with a 7/32″ allen wrench), and it is held closed (or open) with the coupler’s cam handle safety pin.
Then lube the inside of the hitch jaws with Lucas Oil X-tra Heavy Duty Grease or a similar automotive chassis grease.
Nice work, guys. 40 minutes by the clock! (I’m glad I was just the camera woman!)
Installing the B&W Companion OEM 5th Wheel Hitch in the Truck Bed
As mentioned above, all of these assembly and installation steps could have been done in the truck bed, but we did not have our truck yet, and we were excited to get started and work on the hitch in the meantime.
Finally our truck arrived and we had a blast with Alice Cooper as part of the purchase!
The gooseneck / fifth wheel hitch tow prep package puck system in our Ram 3500 dually truck was ready for the hitch installation.
Mark and his buddy lifted the hitch base into the truck bed. Back in our article about our truck, a reader noted that he hoists his fifth wheel hitch in and out of his truck bed using a hydraulic lift table. If you are going to be moving the fifth wheel hitch in and out of your truck bed a lot, and you have the garage space, and you don’t have a strong, strapping friend at your beck and call to help you, this seems like a super idea.
The 25,000 lb. B&W Companion OEM fifth wheel hitch has the following weights:
- Hitch base – 131 lbs.
- Coupler – 75 lbs.
Each foot of the base required a little adjustment to fit properly into the truck’s pucks. This was done by loosening and tightening the cap screws on the pilot assemblies on each foot.
Then the tension in the latch handle was set by adjusting the height of the castle nut. We used needle nose pliers to remove the cotter pin and then reinstall it and bend the end once the castle nut height adjustment was set.
It took a little pushing and shoving to get everything in place, but these are one-time adjustments. The latch handles could now be opened and closed easily.
The B&W Companion hitch base was now installed in the bed of the truck.
Next, the hitch head (the “coupler”) was set on the hitch base. The two saddle handles were pushed down and the saddle lock pin was put in place.
Ta da!! The B&W Companion OEM 5th Wheel Hitch is installed in the truck and ready for use.
Great job, guys. Thanks!!
Celebrations behind us, the next day we hitched the new truck up to our fifth wheel trailer and took our home on a joy ride up and down some nice long 7% grades nearby. What a combo!!!
Prior to hitching the truck to the trailer the first time, we cleaned the hitch plate on the trailer and lubed both that and the coupler plate on the B&W hitch with CRC silicone spray.
We ended up adjusting the pivot arms down one notch, and that seems right for our particular truck and trailer.
After ten thousand miles of towing with the B&E Companion OEM hitch, we are happy to report that we have been very happy with this hitch. In early 2017 we heard of a case where this hitch performed extraordinarily well in a fifth wheel rollover accident. You can read about it here:
Fifth Wheel Trailer Rollover Accident and B&W Companion Hitch Performance
Where can you get a B&W Companion OEM 5th Wheel Hitch? At these links:
- B&W Companion OEM Hitch for Ford and “Slider” version for short bed Fords
- B&W Companion OEM Hitch for Ram and “Slider” version for short bed Rams
- B&W Companion OEM Hitch for GM
- B&W Companion Hitch (on rails, no truck bed pucks required) and “Slider” version for short bed trucks
The following info is FYI for those whose truck does not have a Puck System in the bed.
The Gooseneck Turnover Ball hitch is one option which allows you to have a totally flat truck bed when the hitch is removed. The other option is to go with the traditional rail mounted Patriot fifth wheel hitch.
B&W Gooseneck Turnover Ball Hitches:
Unlike the Puck System hitches, the Gooseneck Turnover Ball hitches require installing the Gooseneck Turnover Ball in the bed of the truck with rails mounted underneath. So, each truck bed in each model year has a different kit. The B&W Companion Hitch that mounts onto the Gooseneck Turnover Ball in the bed of the truck comes in two flavors: long bed and short bed (slider hitch).
Gooseneck Turnover Ball Companion Hitches (these are the “couplers” or actual hitches):
- B&W Companion Fifth Wheel Hitch for Gooseneck Turnover Ball (long bed trucks)
- B&W Companion Slider Fifth Wheel Hitch for Gooseneck Turnover Ball (short bed trucks)
Gooseneck Turnover Ball Mounting Kits (the under-bed rail system and gooseneck turnover ball itself):
- B&W Gooseneck Turnover Ball Mounting kit 2003-2013 Dodge
- B&W Gooseneck Turnover Ball Mounting kit 2001-2007 Chevy
- B&W Gooseneck Turnover Ball Mounting kit 2011-2015 Chevy
- B&W Gooseneck Turnover Ball Mountain Kit 2007-2015 Chevy Short Bed Only
- B&W Gooseneck Turnover Ball Mounting kit 2011 Ford
- Don’t see your truck? Check here.
B&W Traditional Rail Mounted Patriot Hitches:
- B&W Patriot Rail Mounted Fifth Wheel Hitches (various weight ratings)
Never miss a post — it’s free!
More info about the B&W Companion Hitches and our truck and trailer:
- B&W Fifth Wheel Hitches – The full line-up of fifth wheel hitches from B&W.
- Official Specs for Our Hitch – The B&W Companion OEM fifth wheel hitch for Ram trucks.
- Where to buy a B&W Companion OEM Fifth Wheel Hitch for Dodge Ram trucks – Great price!
- Installation Instructions for the B&W Companion OEM 5th Wheel Hitch
- Dodge Ram 3500 Dually Truck – Best RV Fifth Wheel Towing – Why we bought the truck we did.
- Alice Cooper Sells Us a Truck – Who we bought the truck from (LOL)
- How to Put DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) in a Truck and Which Brand is Cheapest?
- 2007 NuWa Hitchhiker 34.5 RLTG Fifth Wheel Trailer – The trailer our truck tows and that we live in full-time
Below are some of our most POPULAR POSTS (also in the MENUS above)Buddy - A Journey in Spirit - The story of an event that changed our lives forever. ARTICLE INDEXES
- RV Tech Tips Articles - A one page index of links to all our RV Tech Tips, RV Upgrades & RV Maintenance articles.
- RV Lifestyle Tip Articles - An index of links to all our RV Lifestyle Tips (finances, boondocking, major repairs, work/jobs, etc.)
- Solar Power Articles - Overview and tutorial articles for how to design and install solar power on an RV or boat
- Product Reviews - An index of links to all of our Product Reviews
- RV Heater Installation - Step-by-step guide for how to select and install a vent-free propane heater
- Buying a Truck - Which options turn an ordinary diesel pickup into a massive TOWING MACHINE?
- Winter RVing Tips - How to STAY WARM in an RV
- How to HEAT AN RV - Heating tips for those dastardly blizzards on mountaintops!
- The Ultimate Flashlight for RVers and Boaters - The 4000 lumen search FLASHLIGHT we rely on
- Battery Charging Primer - The low-down on RV and marine batteries and how to charge them effectively.
- B&W Fifth Wheel Hitch - Why we chose this hitch for our fiver plus an easy 5th Wheel Hitch Installation Guide.
- How to change a dually truck's inner rear tire - Tips for changing the inner rear tire on a dually truck.
- Wet Cell vs. AGM Batteries - Which is better, why we upgraded, PLUS wiring tips to optimize battery life
- Increase Your RV Storage Space - Add precious storage space at the RV dinette with storage benches!
- Which Solar Panels are Best? - Which is better: FLEXIBLE or RIGID?? 12 or 24 volt?? monocrystalline or polycrystalline???
- RV Solar Power Made Simple - An overview of how solar power works on an RV
- Trailer Disc Brake Conversion - Massively improve trailer stopping power with electric over hydraulic disc brakes
- Truck Engine Upgrade - How we improved performance, towing power and fuel economy with an engine tuner
- How to Defrost an RV Refrigerator in 20 Minutes - It is actually a cinch to defrost an RV fridge!
- Solar Charge Controllers - Understand and OPTIMIZE your RV / marine battery solar charging
- Suspension Overhaul on a 5th Wheel - A Total Re-design for our Suspension: Hangers, springs, shocks & more!
- Can you run SOLAR POWER and SHORE POWER together? - What happens when you're on solar and you plug in?
- RVing Tips & Tricks - Tips and tricks to make RVing easy
- Converters, Inverter/Chargers and Engine Alternators - How do these battery charging systems REALLY work?
- How to BE COOL in summer! - Tips for cooling off your RV!
- RV Budget, Costs and Expenses - A detailed analysis of RVing expenses over 7 years of RVing full-time
- RV Extended Warranties - Is an RV warranty a good investment or a waste of money? Our personal case history.
- Working and Living on the Road - How do you make money on the road and who lives this nomadic lifestyle?
- Sell or Lease the House? - Is it better to SELL or LEASE your house when you start a life on the road?
- Mexican Dentists - Are the Dentists in Mexico any good? Just how cheap are they? Here are our PERSONAL experiences.
- How An RV Warranty Saved Our Bacon - Literally! - One repair on our RV practically paid for our RV Extended Warranty
- Still Smiling After 3 Days at the RV Repair Shop - Why? Our RV Warranty put us $2,000 ahead of the game!
- 5th Wheel Suspension Replacement - When our trailer's suspension failed, we $aved $$$ Thousands getting it replaced.
- RV Toilet Replacement - Our RV toilet quit flushing (ugh!) but our RV warranty saved us again. Now we're $6,700 ahead!
- RV Boondocking - Tips for how to live in an RV off the grid
- Which RV Is Best for Full-Time Living? - Transitioning from a house to an RV - Which RV makes the best home?
- Full-time RV Lifestyle Tips - Full-time RVing Logistics - Mail, Domicile, Insurance, Warranties, Saving Money at RV Parks
- What are the MOST IMPORTANT FEATURES in a Full-time Fifth Wheel? - For anyone planning to live in an RV!
- Internet & Phone Access for RVers - An inexpensive, minimalist solution for internet access on the road
- RV Dump Stations & Compost Toilets - How to do the dirty deed at the RV dump PLUS RV Composting Toilet tips
- Choosing a Trailer for Full-time RVing - Why the payload capacity is so important
- Learn RVing the Fun Way!! - Go Cheap, Go Small, Go NOW and have a blast in little RV!
- Free RV Campsites - Resources for locating campsites for boondocking
- Glimpses of the Full-time RV Life - Anecdotes from the road and essays about living the RV dream.
- Travel Photography Tips! - All the cameras, gear, books, blogs and tools we used to learn to take great pics!
- Gear Store - A list of the goodies, equipment and gear we've found useful in our RV lifestyle!
Our most recent posts:
- Granite Dells at Watson Lake near Prescott AZ – SPECTACULAR! 05/25/23
- Lynx Lake, Arizona – Great RV Camping Near Prescott! 05/17/23
- How to Fix a Car or Truck Key Fob in Minutes! 05/04/23
- RV Keyless Entry Door Lock Problems? Try this quick fix! 04/28/23
- Fossil Creek Waterfall – A Pretty Hike to a Scenic Cascade 04/14/23
More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!
All the factory tours, wow!
I’ve done the homework long ago on the hitch system, was pleasantly suprised that you guys had the B&W hitch systems. None better, farm/ranch, hot shot industries are solid users of their products.
What I learned here, is the new twist locking systems on the hitches. I do not have that on my truck, but it’s available, so another must have!
Thanks for another great article! Enjoy the warmer temps Mark & Emily!!!
One of our favorite things to do as we travel is to do factory tours. It’s so fascinating how things are made and to see the inner workings of a company. The twist locking system on this hitch is very cool and is definitely something to consider down the road. Thanks for being such a loyal reader, Daniel!
I was wondering if this hitch system can be installed in my 2016 2500 chevy?
I know it comes from facotry in dodge and ford but can it be bougth and installed in my Chevy. Any info would be great, Thanks
Does your Chevy have factory installed pucks in the bed of the truck? If so, I’m sure B&W will be designing a hitch for the GM factory installed puck system soon. If not, you can get a B&W Turnover Ball Companion hitch which is very similar but can be installed in any pickup truck bed. The turnover ball hitch is installed with rails that lie below the bed of the truck and a single gooseneck connector in the bed. The hitch is removable from the truck bed just like this new puck mounted hitch, but it connects to a single “turnover ball” that sits in the gooseneck connector.
I just purchased a new 2016 3500HD with the Factory Mounting Kit… I have the 6.5′ box and need a 17K# slider type 5th wheel hitch… and I have learned NO ONE makes one yet! Now i’m stuck until someone comes through. The only hitch that will fit as of today is the Curt “Fixed Leg”… any help?
I’d call B&W and see if they are working on one, and if so, when they think it will be on the market.
Roads less traveled, First, I love your website. We have a lot in common regarding trucks. I just traded in my 2006 Dodge Ram 3500 SRW for a 2017 Dodge Ram 3500 DRW w/ the Ram Puck system and installed a B&W 3600, 25K hitch (installed today). We got a new rig too. Our new rig is much heavier than our previous rig. Love to read your joy between your last truck and the new one. We have not hooked up the new truck to the new 5th wheel yet. I used the lowest height setting on the hitch (glad to see you moved yours down too). Questions – What is the distance between your truck bed rail and 5th wheel? Also, how heavy is your 36′ NuWa Hitchhiker? Trying to gauge your experiences with what I will soon seeing with my rig.
Thank you so much for the compliments, Scott. I really appreciate your enthusiasm! I’m sure you will love your new truck. We’ve got around 19k miles on ours now and we still love it as much as when it was brand new.
Our rig is around 14,300 lbs. with full water tanks and empty grey/back tanks, which is the way we travel. It has gained a little weight over the years, lol.
I believe the distance between the truck bed rail and the 5th wheel is about 7 inches. We aren’t hooked up right now and won’t be for a few days, so I can’t measure it, but measuring my thumb/pinky distance (which is what I remember it being) I come up with 7 inches. I hope that helps. Enjoy your travels!
Roads less Traveled,
Thanks for the response. I finally hooked the new truck to the new rig and I too ended up with about 7-8″ between the bed rail and 5th wheel (a nice safe distance). The auto leveling was interesting… I had our new rig in our Pole barn for winter. After hooking up to the new truck, I discovered that the new match (truck & hitch) made the rig too tall to get it out of the barn. A few minutes with a circular saw and a saws-all made a nice new opening – talk about raising the roof! All in all, another day, another life lesson.
Love the “Tech Tips” and “Product Reviews”. Many thanks. Be safe and Happy travels.
Yikes! What a story, Scott. I’m glad you got that trailer out of the pole barn and that you’re off and running. We’ve got lots more tech tips and product reviews coming, along with plenty of travel tales. I’ll have a tech tip about the auto-leveling feature on the Ram trucks soon. Thanks for reading and appreciating!