As I’ve mentioned many times on here, I love the ride that the Hensley Trailer Saver BD3 provides. I’ve had the hitch for a couple years now, and it has performed without a hiccup and given us an excellent ride, even when heavily loaded.
Unfortunately, being that I have a standard (6’6″) bed, I’m limited in my ability to make sharp turns. The trailer will make contact with the cab. Hensley’s solution, a relatively common one in the industry, is to implement a manual slider, as seen above. It allows you to move the hitch back about 14″s, to allow for extra clearance between the trailer and the cab. Unfortunately, it has quite a few limitations. First, you can’t tow over 10mph in that mode, and second, you have to get out of the truck to engage and disengage it, while stopped, which actually takes multiple entries/exits.
With our first fifth wheel, we had a Pullrite 2900 hitch. It’s an “auto-slider”, which moves the hitch automatically in the bed of the truck – when you turn, the hitch head follows a diagonal channel so that it pulls the connection point back several inches. It works great, but makes it impossible to pack anything around the hitch when towing, and slops around the bed when disconnected, making a lot of racket and sometimes tactile bangs. We eventually resulted to using a wood block to jam it into place when disconnected. The ride was nothing to write home about, but the peace of mind was nice.
Last year I learned about the Reese Sidewinder – I believe it’s a relatively new product, but I’m not certain of that – which is a pinbox you fit to the trailer that moves the pivot point back 22″. It works by using a wedge to lock the pivot at the hitch connection, so it cannot move, and then a turret under the nose of the trailer that actually facilitates turning. It seems to have been on the market for at least a couple years — with good reviews, and solves the issue of sliders, entirely.
I haven’t really needed to use the slider much – but the headache rack on my truck adds a considerable amount of restriction, and I have been extra careful to map out my routes where I have plenty of space to turn and avoid tight areas due to the restrictions. You don’t want to have to get out of the truck to engage the slider at a busy intersection, for instance, and while I’ve been able to avoid that, it was likely by choosing routes extra cautiously.
The TrailerSaver BD3 was — and remains — a very high end hitch that is worth a considerable amount of money. I ran the numbers, and was able to sell it on OfferUp for enough to cover all but $60 of the upgade cost to the sidewinder and a new hitch. I ordered the above sidewinder, the AirBorne model, which has an airbag in the pinbox to provide, to an extent, the nice ride quality that the BD3 is known for. It should be a happy middle ground. I did look into keeping the BD3, but it’s incompatible with the wedges required to use the SideWinder pinbox. So I ran down the list, and found that the popular B&W Patriot has a custom wedge for it. It’s a fairly inexpensive hitch, and the numbers worked in the above “break-even, or close to it” budget. Here it is in the truck:
I’m still waiting on the SideWinder to come in, but am looking forward to seeing how it all performs.