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Old 08-19-2018, 05:16 PM   #1
mikec557
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Drilling holes for a 5er Hitch

Okay, we don't own the 5er, nor the hitch yet. But we are very close to buying a new GMC 3500HD Duramax. I noticed that it is not pre drilled for the 5er hitch.

Down the road, less than a year, when we upgrade from a TT to a 5er, who would you suggest I have drill the holes? Are the holes, or rails, universally located or do you have to have/know the exact hitch and drill for that?

I don't expect the dealer will move much on the price because we're already about $10k below msrp. I was wondering if it might be reasonable to ask they drill the holes and install the 7pin connector in the bed.

But then the paranoid in me awakes and asks, what if they do a poor job drilling and I don't know it for 8 months and am then 2000 miles away from that dealership.

Thoughts?
Thanks Mike

Prospective truck:
2018 GMC 3500, SLT with Z71 pkg, 4wd,duramax pkg, SRW, Standard 6.5ft box.

Not sure which 5er we'd like but it will be on the small to medium size.
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Old 08-19-2018, 06:18 PM   #2
JRTJH
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I'd suppose that your Chevy dealer has installed one or two hitches in the past several years. That doesn't really qualify them to be "experts" in drilling the holes. It doesn't mean they can't, but they really won't have much experience.

To compare, do you want someone who is an expert in diagnosing heart disease, but hasn't done heart surgery in the past 3 years doing your surgery? Or would you want someone who does heart surgery every day???

Chances are the hitch installer/hitch dealer in your local area has installed more hitches in the past 6 months than your local Chevy dealer has in the past 6 years..... If it were me, I'd choose a competent hitch installer to do the rail installation and let the dealership take care of warranty work and oil changes. YMMV
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Old 08-19-2018, 06:33 PM   #3
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Best to buy a 3500 with the 5er prep package with the puck system. If can't find one then buy the system as a kit and have it installed by the dealer or hitch shop.
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Old 08-19-2018, 06:42 PM   #4
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Find a B&W turnover dealer to install the turnover ball system, no rails in the bed, then get the 5th wheel companion hitch, either 18 or 20k. Made in America, reasonably priced, great customer service, easy to hitch/unhitch & made in 2 pieces so light enough to remove without help. Highly recommend! They also should have the hitch if by chance the truck has the puck system.
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Old 08-19-2018, 07:30 PM   #5
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I have the towing package it comes with puck and inside bed fiverplug in the bed . Installed fiver system on my 13 duramax ordered from e trailer templets everything was complet , it's a lot of work .
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Old 08-19-2018, 07:49 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone above. I think I'll abandon the idea of trying to get that "little bit more" from the dealer. I'll research the puck system and the turn over ball system. And then I'll ask more questions after I learn a little more about what I don't know. LOL
Thanks again
Mike
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Old 08-28-2018, 04:33 PM   #7
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In my case, the Camper dealer has a Hitch Shop, whose employee do nothing but put in hitches in all makes of trucks. Normally, if you are buying a camper, that dealer will install the hitch at COST, as part of the camper sale. My truck was equipped with the prep, so I set in my B&W companion 25K hitch ready to go, but the hitch shop still inspected my work, and tested the factory wiring operation, before they hooked it up to my new 5er.
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Old 08-28-2018, 05:16 PM   #8
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The puck system would be the best recommendation for a clean bed. The 2016 and newer GM's have threaded inserts on the frame rails which will work with Curt brackets to make the underside brackets a bolt on affair. With the universal rails in the bed it's pretty simply measure twice, drill pilot hole and enlarge it. I installed my hitch in about 4 hours without a lift, probably quicker if you can get a helper to keep from having to crawl under as many times. The rails and brackets are about $250 and prolly saved $400 installation. Keep in mind you need to re-torque the bolts periodically even if a installer does it. On GM's with the tow package, there should be a pigtail tie wrapped up on top of the spare tire for the inside the bed 7 pin plug, just need the plug and it can be wired in.
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Old 08-28-2018, 06:29 PM   #9
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whoa. don't buy anything yet. forget the deal, another one will come up. they all are reducing their prices for the 2019s. but, if you buy the one ton you are talking about go to an installer since you won't have the puck system....which you should have.

first off, figure out what trailer you want first. you may not want a one ton if you get a small trailer of 5th wheel. you may really just need a 3/4 or even a 1/2 ton if it is lite. one ton diesel trucks get 8-10 mpg pulling and around 12 mpg around town, just for information. ram has a big gas engine that can pull well too.

If you are just starting out find something used...lots out there.
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Old 08-28-2018, 08:28 PM   #10
mikec557
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K_N_L View Post
The puck system would be the best recommendation for a clean bed. The 2016 and newer GM's have threaded inserts on the frame rails which will work with Curt brackets to make the underside brackets a bolt on affair. With the universal rails in the bed it's pretty simply measure twice, drill pilot hole and enlarge it. I installed my hitch in about 4 hours without a lift, probably quicker if you can get a helper to keep from having to crawl under as many times. The rails and brackets are about $250 and prolly saved $400 installation. Keep in mind you need to re-torque the bolts periodically even if a installer does it. On GM's with the tow package, there should be a pigtail tie wrapped up on top of the spare tire for the inside the bed 7 pin plug, just need the plug and it can be wired in.
Interesting. I saw that inside the back wheel well I have some pre-threaded welded on nuts where brackets could be bolted onto the side of the frame. Are you saying that a curt universal rail kit would simply bolt on using that rather than fishing the bolt and square washer thru a hole method?

On another note, I watched a YouTube of an after market 5 puck system being installed. That was more than I could handle, though I would have preferred a puck system.
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Old 08-29-2018, 02:35 AM   #11
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One other thing to consider if the system you go with requires you to drill the frame, once you drill holes in the truck frame it is an altered vehicle and some dealers will not take it on a trade-in!

Ask me how I know!

Go with a factory installed puck.......
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Old 08-29-2018, 02:59 AM   #12
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Fish, you came this far with the story, I guess we might as well hear how a 5th wheel hitch installed in the bed of a pickup gave cause to you not being able to trade the pickup. This should be good.
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Old 08-29-2018, 04:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikec557 View Post
Interesting. I saw that inside the back wheel well I have some pre-threaded welded on nuts where brackets could be bolted onto the side of the frame. Are you saying that a curt universal rail kit would simply bolt on using that rather than fishing the bolt and square washer thru a hole method?

On another note, I watched a YouTube of an after market 5 puck system being installed. That was more than I could handle, though I would have preferred a puck system.

Yes - Curt is the OEM supplier for GM, and its not a universal kit but vehicle specific. The same very sturdy brackets fits my '15, but I had to fish the bolts thru as you mentioned. The installation kit included bolts for both setups. That part of the install would be very quick.
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Old 08-29-2018, 05:42 AM   #14
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For most 2015+ GM's not equipped with the prep from the factory you can get a complete 5th wheel setup from the dealer, (PIC-Link) not sure what the installation time and cost would be. There should be no new holes drilled on the frame, unless it's a "fits everything" universal bracket kit. So if you find a deal on a truck without the gooseneck or puck system, you have options. There are lots of hitch choices, my 20K Curt works fine for me. Others can relate their experiences with their setups. Buy more truck that you need, trailers always get heavier and bigger.
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Old 08-29-2018, 06:26 AM   #15
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DO NOT DRILL HOLES IN THE FRAME OF YOUR TRUCK!!!

I know - people have been doing it for years. Hitch manufacturers have frame side plates available that are truck brand specific and will bolt up to existing frame holes. When we installed the Reese hitch on our Ford the frame plate kit bolted to the existing holes and also located the bed rails properly so that the king pin was correctly positioned. we still measured six ways from Sunday to make sure - but - the plates made locating the rails a snap.

FWIW, if you drill holes in your frame and the frame fails - it's on you.
Get a truck with the factory puck system - or buy a kit with the frame plates. JMHO
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Old 08-29-2018, 06:43 AM   #16
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[QUOTE=mazboy;304718
first off, figure out what trailer you want first. you may not want a one ton if you get a small trailer of 5th wheel. you may really just need a 3/4 or even a 1/2 ton if it is lite. one ton diesel trucks get 8-10 mpg pulling and around 12 mpg around town, just for information. ram has a big gas engine that can pull well too

There's not much difference in price between the 1 ton & 3/4, if you ever plan to upgrade rvs with the 1 ton you're good to go.
As for fuel mileage that big gasser will get 8-10 mpg towing, maybe, & 12 mpg around town, maybe & get it in the mountains, maybe 6 mpg at 40 mph, maybe, going uphill!
My diesel 1 ton dually gets 8-11 mpg towing a 16.5k 5er, about 15 mpg around town & 17-18 mpg on the highway, not to shabby for a big truck.
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Old 08-29-2018, 04:47 PM   #17
mikec557
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Puck system

I've watched 2 videos of adding a 5 puck system to a truck that did not have it installed at the factory. In 1 video they lifted the entire bed up about a foot off the frame. In the other video, removed the box bolt downs entirely on one side and loosened them on the other side in order to block the bed up with some 2x4s.

Has anyone added a puck system to their truck, and if so and you don't mind, what did that cost? The above videos would make me think it's an expensive undertaking, and then there's still the 5er hitch to buy.

Thanks for your thoughts
Mike
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Old 08-29-2018, 05:00 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRTJH View Post
I'd suppose that your Chevy dealer has installed one or two hitches in the past several years. That doesn't really qualify them to be "experts" in drilling the holes. It doesn't mean they can't, but they really won't have much experience.

To compare, do you want someone who is an expert in diagnosing heart disease, but hasn't done heart surgery in the past 3 years doing your surgery? Or would you want someone who does heart surgery every day???

Chances are the hitch installer/hitch dealer in your local area has installed more hitches in the past 6 months than your local Chevy dealer has in the past 6 years..... If it were me, I'd choose a competent hitch installer to do the rail installation and let the dealership take care of warranty work and oil changes. YMMV
Coming from a previous gm mechanic we never installed hitches we subbed them out to a hitch place. That is all they do. Cut out the dealer imo cause they get a commission on it. Just saying.
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Old 08-29-2018, 05:35 PM   #19
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Jim

On my previous truck 2500 Silverado gasser my local hitch installer used a off the shelf generic system that required drilling holes in the frame. When I decided to move up to a diesel I went to Carmax to work a trade and they apologized and said they couldn’t take the truck with an altered frame same with lifted vehicles they won’t sell them.
I ended up driving a little farther into horse country where the Ram dealer was happy to make a fair trade!
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Old 08-29-2018, 05:56 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikec557 View Post
Puck system

I've watched 2 videos of adding a 5 puck system to a truck that did not have it installed at the factory. In 1 video they lifted the entire bed up about a foot off the frame. In the other video, removed the box bolt downs entirely on one side and loosened them on the other side in order to block the bed up with some 2x4s.

Has anyone added a puck system to their truck, and if so and you don't mind, what did that cost? The above videos would make me think it's an expensive undertaking, and then there's still the 5er hitch to buy.

Thanks for your thoughts
Mike
Cant speak to a Chevy or Ford install, but I did my own install in the last two Ram trucks I've owned (a 2015 2500, and a 2017 3500). Its not hard to do, if you have basic mechanic skills and patience. The 2500 was easier, as the pucks are held in place by plates which bolt to the frame from either side, on the rear and the puck flanges bolt to the frame in the front (one side is more challenging due to the placement of the fuel tank), and the bed does NOT need to be lifted up or off.

On the 3500, the bed has to be lifted about 5 inches on either side, as the pucks drop into bosses which are welded to the frame, otherwise is really no more difficult than the 2500 install.

The most challenging/tedious part is measuring and drilling the holes in the bed. I have a writeup i did on another forum, which lays out the way I did it, following the manufacturers directions, but also using a template, and it works great. In fact, another member on the other forum thanked me for my ideas, as he was able to get his holes generally dead center.

Its my understanding for Ford, the pucks are in a frame which sits between the bed and truck frame, necessitating the lifting of the ENTIER bed at once.

I do not know how the Chevy/GM pucks are installed/attached.
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