Pin Box/Goose Box

Unit came with a Lippert straight steel pin box. Truck has the nice puck system. We were in a time crunch when we got this to make a date in Florida so I just went out and got a straight steel 25K B&G companion hitch. (Not a slider I have a long bed). Keep it simple.

This got us back and forth to Florida quite nicely, in fact I was impressed with the ride. Almost no chucking and only the worst holes in the road made us flinch. Counted them on one hand in 2000 miles. Impressive and due, in my opinion, in no small part to the improved design of the RAM. Let’s just say we remembered the 2011 Cyclone and one ton dually Chevvy and we were holding our breath as that was a bad ride and one of the reasons we went to a class A 5 years later, in spite of the 5 (five!) bags I had in the pin box, suspension and hitch. (TS-2)

Still, some “give” in the setup is better for us and for the trailer so I started looking. Then I came upon the “goose box” concept. Basically a bolt on goose neck like contraption with some dampening in it that connects to your goose ball in the truck. The latter part of a $295 kit from Curt. Bal and safety chain connectors (need those with a goose ball but not with a fifth wheel, don’t ask) drop right into the puck system. And the whole heavy steel chunk lives on the trailer! So when you disconnect it takes seconds to remove the goose ball and viola you have an empty truck bed instead of lifting out a 150 lb hitch.

There are two main players: Reese and GEN-Y. Reese is exclusively distributed by Lippert and “approved” for their chassis. GEN-Y is not and MAY void your warrantee. No one has had this happen yet. Lippert also wanted sole distributorship for the GEN-Y and then it too would get “approved”. Each have pros and cons. The Reese has a bag in it so you can adjust for the tongue weight. Problem is, it’s max is 20,000. The GVWR on the trailer is 20,000 No margin. The GEN-Y is good for 25,000. It comes in a variety of tongue weights and instead of relying on a bag for dampening like the Reese it has torsion rubbers built in. And it does have a crude gauge for your tongue weight. There are other Goose neck conversions for fifth wheel trailers that may put some undue strain on the trailer. They are different in design altogether, and have given this concept a bad name. They were not under consideration for me. Again these are the only two products for this application one should look at.

I went with the GEN-Y. Ordered it from eTrailer (I like those people) and saved some hassle by picking it up from the freight terminal. 200 pounds including the chains and pallet.

First the demo…. Quick and easy:

Remove the screw out of the breakaway switch as it is attached to the pin box.

Then I removed all the nuts (15/16″) and all but two bolts, one on each side. Now, you can get a helper and do some manly man team wrestling with the steel things. I had no helper but I do have a nice little compact tractor. Put the forks on it and some 2 by’s and put it right under there. Pulled the last bolts and then after some “persuasion” (tap, tap, tapety tap) she dropped right out.

Fortunately the power cable and box are mounted on the bracket so need to mess with that.

Then I loaded up the GEN-Y. Unpacked it in the truck and slid it on the tractor.

Got it to the ground at got it right side up. Didn’t really want to “sit” nice that way so I put some clamps and a board in place to secure it. Piece of chain for safety.

And up she went……

The GEN-Y flanges flared out about 1/4 wider at the top than the bracket but a clamp on there to squeeze it in and get it started did the trick. Then there was some wrestling and figuring out which holes to use as there are a LOT of them with various patterns for various different trailers. In retrospect I should have made a template of the bracket and figured it out beforehand. But I got it to where I had the holes almost lined up. Then I used this centering tool to get the bolts in. Do NOT attempt this job without this tool……it does the trick better than anything else.

All of about three hours at a leisurely pace, including waking up the tractor etc etc. All that was left was to torque the ten bolts/nuts to 160 ft lbs, and to tidy up the loose ends.

Except there was one unanswered question. How does she sit? Before I torqued the bolts I connected and let her down on the ball. I mounted the hitch in the highest position, so front of camper down. There is one other setting which will bring the nose up 2″. But there are also goose balls with different heights. And that’s a lot easier to change out than moving the goose box.

So I hooked ‘er up and it looks pretty good. However my driveway slopes in all kinds of directions so I will have to cast the final eyeball on the next trip….. I’ll post that pic when I get it, meanwhile here is the “load gauge” that the GEN-Y comes with. Showing me at 20-ish% which I find reasonable. When I did the math as to which hitch to get (the 4.5 or the 5.5) I came out right in the middle. So I went up. So being empty at this point, we’ll add some weight in the kitchen and bedroom when we go on a trip, and she’ll come down a little. The garage is pretty much loaded the way it will be. Also, there is a break in period, GEN-Y says 1000 miles, for the rubber in the torsion links. With a little luck we’ll eventually settle down right at 50%.

In the end I am not doing this so much to improve a bad ride, see above, but more so to get the darn hitch out of my bed. And that it did.

Note the chains. No idea why, but with a fifth wheel you do not need chains, with a goose ball you do. But, the ball kit I got had two rings for the puck system, and e.Trailer sold me some nice chains. The camper side locks into two slots in the side of the Goose box.

Some people complained hooking up is harder than a fifth wheel…… it is. Even with the epic camera system on the RAM it is hard to judge distances and alignments and end up over the ball instead of ramming into the pin hitch with the old one. Oh well. I don’t mind jumping in and out a few times. And, I pulled the ol’ ball on a magnet stick out of retirement in the workshop. It helps a little.

So last thing was to re-install the break away switch. I stood there for a while wondering how many drill bits I was going to murder going through the GEN-Y……Then I noticed a hole…… just the right size. In a good spot. A little close to the proud edge so it would not sit flush. Using an oversized nut as a spacer I bolted it in. (All stainless). Suggestion to GEN-Y is to add another hole a little forward, but I like this ok.

Last thing I did was clamp an S-hook on the eyelet that guides the release cable to hang the stuff from when hooking up/un-hooking.

And viola…. there she is:

Last thing to do was the test drive. To Florida. About 500 miles in to it she started creaking like the Mayflower in a Cat 5. A quick call to GENY and they recommended a dollup of grease on the ball. I should have thought of that….. And it did the trick. Now 1000 miles in and she’s still chooching nicely. I’d say the ride is about the same, MAYBE a little rougher. That said, our last trip was in December in above freezing temps. 6 weeks later the roads have been in the freezer for weeks. As in teens and singles. That doesn’t do a whole lot to keep them smooth. A lot of variables. To support that theory it got better when we crossed the NC/SC border and temps went into the 40’s. GENY says they take about 1000 miles to break in, and lo and behold, the pin weight gauge is now showing 50%…. perfect.

1200 miles in. Still good, still sitting at 50%.

So, overall I would say I would do this again, and I would recommend it to others. There is one minor note, see below. Nothing I can’t deal with.

=======================================================================

Copy if email sent to GEN-Y

When I lowered the hitch on the ball the latch did NOT close, it stood almost straight up. I had to physically move it to the latched position. After disconnecting I worked the latch and it is free but it is NOT providing the positive spring action one would expect. (Especially with a spring on it…..)

One thing that wasn’t helping was that it was 36ºF outside, and you had squirted the thing full of grease when you made it. That grease was not exactly soft at this point. So, I’ll give a few points there.

But upon closer inspection I found the one thing I wasn’t happy with on this whole installation. Around the opening of the actual latch, inside the hitch, was a build up of hard crud. Not steel hard, but hard enough to hurt your fingers grabbing it. I suspect that the hitches are coated with the latch in place and either poorly masked or they are cleaned up later. Either way the crud was very much there and binding on the latch.

Following pictures with the latch in the un-latched/retracted position.

I cleaned it up best I could with picks and a slow Dremmel and the hitch now latches (almost) all of the way by itself.

So you crawl in there and push it all the way down and you’re all set. But, not exactly the idea of “automatic” that I paid extra for and was a sales point of importance……..

My recommendation to GEN-Y, I was told to email the info by the customer service person that answered my feed back so I sent them a link to this page, is that this area receives some more attention during production, after all the whole show is hanging on that pin……

UPDATE a few weeks later….. Crickets from GEN-Y….. and yes, I STILL have to crawl in there and push the latch the last 1-2″ down. However I still REALLY like the fact that I don’t have an oil rig in the back of my truck so I’m still happy with it.

LATEST and FINAL update. GEN-Y did wake up, and apologized for dropping the ball on this. Yes, they’ve had some issues with the latch and, as I suspected, it’s caused by caking from the baking. The cure is to do exactly what I did, plus take the pin out and clean it up too. If I was comfortable with doing this myself they would refund me $150 for my trouble. (the added cost of the automatic feature).

So that’s what we did. In the end I commend them for doing the right thing. I am now 100% happy, and I still would do it again, and recommend it to others.