TrailerSaver Air-Ride 5th Wheel Hitch – An Old Doe Hunter’s Tale

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January 1, 2010

The President of the Old Doe Hunters Association, Inc. informed me that he was considering a new 5th wheel to begin his westerly expedition upon retirement. As Treasurer and Chair of the Entertainment & Firewood Committee, I informed him that we had exactly $6.83 in the ODHA treasury. Hizzoner scratched the graying stubble on his chin and looked thoughtful for a moment, then offered his one word solution:


Mind you, I’m not one to suggest a man entering his seventh decade leverage himself into a twenty year RV loan, but I could see he had his mind made up, his decision rendered final by the popping open of a Bud Light (this is not a shameless product plug, those are coming later).

So I set about offering my vast array of knowledge to ensure that Hizzoner didn’t wind up DIW (that’s Dead in the Water for those of you outside Navy circles) on Interstate 75 halfway between the great white north and the land of sunshine. I informed him first that he would need to upgrade his tow vehicle. The ½ ton pickup will generally not work well with fivers worthy of a full-timer. Though some of the smaller varieties have pin weights low enough to work in the standard duty truck.

Once I had the President convinced he needed to buy a new truck with heated seats and XM Radio so he could listen to Dr. Phil, he had to determine whether he preferred the long or short box. Most of us like the short because it’s easier to park and it fits in my garage (but that’s just me). Once upon a time, if you wanted a fiver, you were stuck with an 8 foot bed. Then someone came out with the slider hitch. Then someone got really smart and started designing 5th wheel trailers so that they wouldn’t need the 8 foot bed or the slider. Hizzoner was pleased to learn he could have a “shorty,” making him a less likely target for shopping carts during his trips to Sam’s Club for the free lunch in aisles 3, 7, and 12.

Now that we’d decided he wouldn’t need a slider hitch, giving him one less mechanical device to fiddle with and eventually break, and the next RV show wasn’t for another three months, we settled in to hitch research. Now I could be of true assistance.

“Air Ride,” I advised him (Old Doe Hunters never communicate in complete sentences).

“What fer?” He inquired.

“Your back. The dishes. The trailer frame.” It’s true. While the 5th wheel offers a stable towing experience, it’s notorious for shuffling vertebrate and re-distributing the contents of your fiver. Air-ride 5th wheel hitches are the solution. They come in several forms.
The pin box variety is the most common. Dealers like them because they often come standard from the trailer manufacturer and require no installation. They work well for smaller 5th wheels and short trips, but they’re limited by space. They generally employ one small air bag and a shock absorber.

If you’re looking for true air-ride, get it built into the hitch, not the pin box. TrailerSaver makes the top air-ride hitches in the RV industry. The TS3 22k air-ride hitch (at left) is perfect for the full-timer. It set the standard when introduced ten years ago. The pivot point of the “swing arm” on the TS3 is level with the heavy duty head, giving it the ability to absorb almost all of the up/down and fore/aft motion of the 5th wheel. The TS3 is truly the ultimate in comfort for the 5th wheeler.

The only drawback of the TS3 is the weight. It’s not made for easy removal by one person. That’s why Hensley Mfg. came out with the BD3 two years ago. The BD3 (below at right) also employs two air bags and two shock absorbers to absorb most of the road shock that would otherwise be transmitted into your truck and trailer. But the BD3 is also designed to come apart in two sections, making it easy to remove and install. Perfect for anyone who wished to regain his or her truck bed after the trip is through.

I know darn well that the President of the ODHA will never removed a hitch from his truck bed once it’s in there. He’ll simply stack the firewood around it. So we settled on the TS3 with the Smart Air option, which means that the President will never have to worry about inflating his air bags, because Smart Air does it for him. Now he’ll have more time to sip his “Senior Coffee” at McDonald’s and read the complimentary newspaper.

I can hardly wait to take him 5th Wheel shopping at the next RV show. I should call the dealers and give them fair warning.

For more information on Hensley’s line of Air-ride 5th wheel hitches, call 1-800-410-6580 or visit us online on

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  1. Brad Fuller

    We have a new fifth wheel and should have gotten an air ride pin box installed with the trailer. We have trailair supension on the 5er but that doesn’t seem to be enough to keep from rearranging the dishes in the camper when we head down the highway. We plan on adding the some type of air ride pin box since I have an expensive PullRite Superglide hitch in the truck. If I trade the tuck, I might trade the hitch also. Our Bighorn is supposed to do up to 88 degrees without hitting the back window of my short bed truck.

  2. Sid

    We have been towing a 5th wheeler now for several years and new rig is a Komfort 339 (3 slides 39 feet 15,000#), behind our F250 turbo diesel with air bags. To date we have never suffered from chucking, pitch, yaw or roll and have never had problems with items in the trailer moving around. To put that into perspective, we live in the Pacific Northwest were the mountains are tall and the roads are winding and rough.
    My question is are many of those buying air rid hitches buying into a bill of goods?

  3. Thomas Becher

    Love my TS3 But so heavy to lift and get in and out of the bed I put 2 lifting rings on it and use a cherry picker (engine hoist) that I was able to buy cheap. No straining on my part. My wife and the grandchildern ride in the trailer and they say it’s a good ride. I don’t feel any chucking or bumps in the truck

  4. JC

    I’ve had a Trailsaver Air Ride 5th wheel hitch (my first) for a year and a half now. I love it. It is heavy, but my F-450 doesn’t know that. And, being 70, I have no idea why I would want to remove it so I could load a bunch of stuff. I ordered a 25,000 lb hitch on the internet, and when I got it, the label says 32,000 lbs. Looks like a good deal to me. When you’re hitched up and need to check to see if there is enough air in the bags, you need to be a small person though, because you have to crawl in the bed and be able to lean down far enough to see the marks.