5th Wheel Hitch Installation - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 01-23-2019, 08:50 AM   #1
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5th Wheel Hitch Installation

I am going to pick up my new 5.0TA next month, and I need to get my hitch installation taken care of. My tow vehicle is a 2013 F150 SuperCrew short bed, and I am going to use the rail-mounted Andersen hitch. I have browsed the Forum and seen nothing but good things said about Trademasters, and I have a quote from them to do the work. However I save about $300 if I buy the parts on eTrailer and have a shop here in Maryland do the work, and avoid spending an extra day in Chilliwack.

I have a couple of questions:
• Although my experience with hitches is exactly zero, identifying the parts required seems straightforward: the Andersen hitch only comes in one flavor for the rail mount, and it appears that you add to it a truck-specific kit which includes the frame brackets and the top rails. eTrailer sells both the Andersen hitch and kits made by Reese and DrawTite that are labeled as fitting the 2013 F150 short bed. Am I correct that part selection is as straightforward as I think it is? Is there any other part I would need (besides the chains)?

• The local shops I have spoken to have plenty of experience installing 5th wheel hitches on F150s, but none on short beds and none for the Escape (I think I will be the 2nd 5.0 TA owner in Maryland). However they say that’s not a problem, because the frame/rails/hitch go where they are designed to go (so they say). My understanding is that the frame of the F150 has pre-drilled holes for the hitch bracket. Is that correct? I have read on the Forum that some of the hitches for the Escape have been shifted rearward by 5 inches, and I believe the person I spoke to at Trademasters made a comment about shifting the hitch to the rear. What can you tell me about locating the hitch: is it in fact variable? What is the downside/upside of any such shift? Does this require drilling new holes in the frame? Is this custom work that would be informed by experience with the Escape trailer?

• Given all this, is there any particular reason to have Trademasters do the job?
I very much appreciate taking the time to share your thoughts/experience/expertise.
Rick
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Old 01-23-2019, 09:28 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChesapeakeRick View Post
I am going to pick up my new 5.0TA next month, and I need to get my hitch installation taken care of. My tow vehicle is a 2013 F150 SuperCrew short bed, and I am going to use the rail-mounted Andersen hitch. I have browsed the Forum and seen nothing but good things said about Trademasters, and I have a quote from them to do the work. However I save about $300 if I buy the parts on eTrailer and have a shop here in Maryland do the work, and avoid spending an extra day in Chilliwack.
Rick
I can’t speak to the fifth wheel questions, Rick, but don’t forget the parts and labor quote from Trademasters is in Canada dollars. Trademasters is “very” familiar with Escape Installations and have a direct line if any questions arise. Good Luck and Enjoy!
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Old 01-23-2019, 09:45 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Steve Clark View Post
I can’t speak to the fifth wheel questions, Rick, but don’t forget the parts and labor quote from Trademasters is in Canada dollars. Trademasters is “very” familiar with Escape Installations and have a direct line if any questions arise. Good Luck and Enjoy!
The exchange rate makes a difference. I just had TradeMasters install a gooseneck ball on my Tundra yesterday. They also switched out my exhaust system. (Long story) Total cost ~$1,600 CN = $1,200 US. Dropped off my truck at 8:00 am, was finished at 1:00 pm. I was very happy with their work and customer service.

Also if you go with them, the Sure Stay Best Western hotel gives ETI customers a nice discount on room rates. Be sure to ask for it.
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Old 01-23-2019, 09:48 AM   #4
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Rick, do you mind sharing the amount of your quote for those of us that are considering using Trademasters?
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Old 01-23-2019, 10:27 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ChesapeakeRick View Post
I am going to pick up my new 5.0TA next month, and I need to get my hitch installation taken care of. My tow vehicle is a 2013 F150 SuperCrew short bed, and I am going to use the rail-mounted Andersen hitch. I have browsed the Forum and seen nothing but good things said about Trademasters, and I have a quote from them to do the work. However I save about $300 if I buy the parts on eTrailer and have a shop here in Maryland do the work, and avoid spending an extra day in Chilliwack.

I have a couple of questions:
• Although my experience with hitches is exactly zero, identifying the parts required seems straightforward: the Andersen hitch only comes in one flavor for the rail mount, and it appears that you add to it a truck-specific kit which includes the frame brackets and the top rails. eTrailer sells both the Andersen hitch and kits made by Reese and DrawTite that are labeled as fitting the 2013 F150 short bed. Am I correct that part selection is as straightforward as I think it is? Is there any other part I would need (besides the chains)?

• The local shops I have spoken to have plenty of experience installing 5th wheel hitches on F150s, but none on short beds and none for the Escape (I think I will be the 2nd 5.0 TA owner in Maryland). However they say that’s not a problem, because the frame/rails/hitch go where they are designed to go (so they say). My understanding is that the frame of the F150 has pre-drilled holes for the hitch bracket. Is that correct? I have read on the Forum that some of the hitches for the Escape have been shifted rearward by 5 inches, and I believe the person I spoke to at Trademasters made a comment about shifting the hitch to the rear. What can you tell me about locating the hitch: is it in fact variable? What is the downside/upside of any such shift? Does this require drilling new holes in the frame? Is this custom work that would be informed by experience with the Escape trailer?

• Given all this, is there any particular reason to have Trademasters do the job?
I very much appreciate taking the time to share your thoughts/experience/expertise.
Rick
Hello Rick,
I have a 5.0 on order and struggled with this dilemma as well.
I found lots of information regarding this topic but no definitive answers. Some F150 short bed owners have tapped their trucks with the trailer, some need to raise / lower their tailgate before finishing hooking up / or dropping.
Be sure to look at the thread "Bears Hitch Setup", it helped me a lot. It appears he mounted his hitch 7" behind the axle.
From what I found Escape says you need a minimum 30" from the rear window of your truck (that distance does not allow for a 90° turn (I am not sure that being able to do 90° is important, but I think some have found 30" to be very close in their maneuvers. For me (2015 F150) 30" would put the midpoint between my rails approximately 1.5" behind the axle. I compromised and went 33.5" behind the window (about 3.5' behind the axle). I wont know how that turns out until June when we pick up our trailer.
Regarding the custom brackets, I believe if you buy the custom rail mounts you will end up with the midpoint slightly in front of the axle. I instead ordered the universal brackets (Reese #RP30035) and the installation went very well. I took it to my local mechanic and we did the installation together, it was very beneficial to be able to raise the truck, rather than trying to work with it lowered.
As far as Trademasters, I am not sure they will mount the hitch rearward, check out the thread "Home Sweet Home" #39 (1/31/2017 3pm) where he says he was told by Trademasters that they "no longer install behind axle".
Good luck, please update us on your results due to you picking up your trailer soon and our pickup isn't until June.
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Old 01-23-2019, 10:31 AM   #6
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Having a 5th wheel hitch installed here at home and then driving to Chilliwack for pick up turned me off on the 5.0 model. Too many variables and if these were eliminated I would still have Trademasters do the work as they will make it right. Imagine driving out and not being able to hook up your new 5th wheel Escape. This is the reason why I switched my choice back to a bumper pull, no hidden surprises, been there, done this!
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Old 01-23-2019, 11:00 AM   #7
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I did my own install on my 2016 F150. Did it in 1 day and if I had to do another could probably cut time in half. You are correct about the bracket and rails, mine are Reese. Once installed if you wanted to you could use a conventional 5th wheel set up. The brackets are specific to truck, no drilling required. The only holes you need to drill are in truck bed. Measure twice drill once😁 If you plan on locating other than standard location you would use universal brackets that would require drilling and possibly relocating things like brake lines, exhaust brackets,etc. Doable but a lot more work. The only other thing I would recommend is adding a 7 pin plug inside the bed.
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Old 01-23-2019, 11:40 AM   #8
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Re: pricing from Trademasters: the estimate with tax is $1,655 Canadian. Converting to US at the exchange rate, plus the costs of the currency exchange that equates to about $1,275. I can buy the hitch + frame/rail kit for $784. The local shop will charge $275 for labor = $1,059.
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Old 01-23-2019, 11:43 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Having a 5th wheel hitch installed here at home and then driving to Chilliwack for pick up turned me off on the 5.0 model. Too many variables and if these were eliminated I would still have Trademasters do the work as they will make it right. Imagine driving out and not being able to hook up your new 5th wheel Escape. This is the reason why I switched my choice back to a bumper pull, no hidden surprises, been there, done this!
You have articulated my nightmare: arriving with a hitch that doesn't work. But the Andersen hitch DOES work - many users with 5.5 beds use it - so I cannot figure out a way that an Andersen hitch properly installed (i.e. properly bolted to the frame) can't work. Right?
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Old 01-23-2019, 11:49 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ChesapeakeRick View Post
Re: pricing from Trademasters: the estimate with tax is $1,655 Canadian. Converting to US at the exchange rate, plus the costs of the currency exchange that equates to about $1,275. I can buy the hitch + frame/rail kit for $784. The local shop will charge $275 for labor = $1,059.
I installed the rails myself with a custom install kit from etrailer. It was pretty easy and even came with a bracket to move a piece of the emissions that was in the way. It probably took 1/2 a day, a bit of swearing, my wife to hold a couple of the bolts, and some basic sockets and wrenches. I put it in the stock location which works fine for me in my 2012 Toyota Tundra with a 6.5 ft bed.

Call and speak with Reece at ETI and he will tell you what works and what does not for YOUR truck and give you all the measurements needed. That way your shop at home will have the right info so that your hitch will work with your new trailer.


BTW I have the Anderson and love it.
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