Goosenecks Goosenecks have been used primarily in agricultural and commercial markets for more than 40 years. Gooseneck setups typically handle larger weight fluctuations—consider the weight difference between a trailer carrying six horses or none at all—and heavier duty cycles for commercial and agricultural applications. In the beginning they were cheap, a hitch ball welded to a steel plate in the bed of a pickup. Today’s goosenecks are far superior and all hitch manufacturers offer stout packages to meet your needs. A gooseneck uses a hitch ball to allow the trailer to pivot in all directions, which is great because the trailers frequently are used on unpaved, uneven terrain.
In general, gooseneck hitches are less expensive than fifth-wheels, although fifth-wheel tow ratings have generally been lower than goosenecks. Gooseneck trailers typically have an angled frame over the bed, which allows a tighter turn without cab interference. On a gooseneck application, the coupler is part of the trailer, and these trailers require safety chains in most states.
As mentioned, this coupling system is more commonly used for and better suited to livestock, utility, and heavy equipment trailers, and other types of commercial applications. Like fifth-wheels, goosenecks bear on average from 20 to 25 percent of a trailer’s weight right on the hitch ball.
Compared with fifth-wheel setups, goosenecks take up less room in a pickup bed, and all modern systems are either retractable or removable so you can get full use of your pickup bed when you’re not towing. When in place, about all you have in the bed is the hitch ball and the eyelets for the safety hooks. Modern goosenecks are superior in strength because they tie in to the frame rails beneath the bed, which are much more robust than the sheet metal in the bed itself.
While the gooseneck design shortens the overall length and tightens your turning radius, you will still need a lot of room to make wide turns. Of course, there are lots of different gooseneck options depending first on your requirements, then on your preferences. Like fifth wheels, there are removable balls, and even systems that let the hitch ball fold down and out of site when not in use, but again, these hitch systems will require drilling holes in your new truck. Some trailers use regular 2 5/16-inch balls and some heavier-duty setups use larger 3-inch balls. Again, it depends on the load you’re pulling. Like fifth-wheel setups, goosenecks work with pickup trucks only. SUVs won’t work. Most of the time you won’t have to remove the factory tailgate for towing. A gooseneck isn’t as easy to connect as a fifth wheel. With a gooseneck, you must get the hitch ball directly under the coupler. The good news is that you can see the ball and the coupler at the same time. Once you have the ball beneath the coupler, lower the trailer onto the ball, climb into the bed, latch the coupler and attach the safety chains. Then lift the trailer stands to their upper most positions. Be sure the receiver sits all the way down on the gooseneck ball and the coupler is engaged. Properly engaged, the locking mechanism actually will lift the rear of the tow vehicle a bit. Like fifth-wheel setups, gooseneck trailers also require wiring extensions long enough to reach from the connector under the bumper to the connector on the trailer. Now check your lights, turn signals and brakes.