Bumper Pull To Gooseneck Conversion

If you are struggling with maneuverability or are looking for a safer way to tow your bumper-pull travel trailer, a bumper pull-to-gooseneck conversion may be a great solution.

Gooseneck connections have long been used in commercial applications for pulling large trailers. This bed-mounted hitch provides a lot of benefits when towing, without the challenges of a 5th wheel hitch.

This is becoming a popular option for travel trailer owners. If you like your larger bumper-pull RV but want a smoother, safer way to pull your rig, this conversion could help. In this article, we will take a closer look at what it takes to make the bumper pull-to-gooseneck conversion.

What Is A Gooseneck Trailer?

The defining feature of a gooseneck trailer is the curved neck that extends from the front of the trailer. This feature is where the name “gooseneck” comes from because it looks long and curved like the neck of geese.

The gooseneck part of the trailer extends over the bed of your truck and is attached inside the bed. This is similar to the 5th wheel hitch but they connect differently. Gooseneck trailers attach to your truck using a ball hitch located over the rear axle of your truck. This hitch is essentially identical to the one that you would have mounted on the bumper of your truck.

Gooseneck attachments are not typically used for travel trailers. The gooseneck however is very popular for commercial trailers used for hauling equipment, livestock, and other heavy objects. This type of connection offers more stability, a smoother ride, and better control than a bumper mount connection.

Is A Gooseneck The Same As A 5th Wheel?

Close up of a gooseneck hitch sitting above the ball in the bed of a truck - bumper pull to gooseneck conversion

We alluded to this above, a gooseneck and a 5th wheel trailer or hitch are not the same things. Sure, they both mount to the bed of the truck, but a 5th wheel hitch is a little more complicated than a gooseneck hitch.

Most 5th-wheel trailers have a feature called a kingpin that is attached to the hitch. The fifth wheel hitch has jaws that clamp around the kingpin. This connection is considered to be very secure and is used most often for large travel trailers.

The term “fifth wheel” is a reference to the pivot point that was used to give horse-drawn carriages and trailers a tighter turning radius.

Gooseneck hitches use the simpler ball hitch to make the connection. This connection while secure and providing better turning, does not provide the same level of comfort and smoothness when traveling.

The real benefit to both gooseneck hitches and fifth wheel hitches is that the weight of your trailer is placed over the truck’s rear axle. With the weight of your trailer centered over the axle instead of the bumper, you have the ability to tow more weight.

The gooseneck hitch and trailer generally can haul more weight than the 5th wheel option. That is why it is such a popular option for commercial and livestock trailers. 

Advantages Of A Gooseneck Trailer?

Large gooseneck trailer parked in a lot with palm trees - bumper pull to gooseneck conversion is

Many travel trailer owners love their bumper pull camper and are not ready to trade it in for a new travel trailer. A bumper pull to gooseneck conversion offers many advantages that are appealing to said travel trailer owners.

The general advantages of a bumper pull-to-gooseneck conversion are safety and maneuverability. Though simpler than a fifth-wheel hitch, a gooseneck hitch works much like a fifth-wheel hitch, in terms of maneuverability.

Gooseneck trailers tend to be easier to turn and have a tighter turning radius. This makes it easier to back into tight camp spaces or to make the tight turns.

When considering safety, the gooseneck trailer is a very safe option, and along with the safety benefits it provides added comfort. When you move your connection point from your bumper to the bed of your truck you get a lot less sway. Reducing sway makes it safer to tow your trailer. It also makes the ride a bit smoother than you have with a bumper-mount trailer. 

Adding to the safety factors of the gooseneck hitch is the improved weight distribution. When you place the weight of your trailer over the axle of your truck, you provide more support for the weight of your trailer.

This adds to the smoothness of the ride and also contributes to less sway. You also gain some added flexibility when it comes to loading your travel trailer with gear. You still need to be mindful about where you stash stuff, but the gooseneck trailer will allow you to store more items closer to the front of your camper. 

Can You Convert A Bumper Pull To A Gooseneck?

Bumper pull to gooseneck conversions are a thing. Though you won’t see them frequently. For most travel trailer owners, the conversion from a bumper pull to a gooseneck is limited by the cost.

Turning your bumper pull travel trailer into a gooseneck can be fairly expensive. Combine that with the limited availability of companies that make conversion kits and you have a tough decision.

For those who do decide to move forward with this conversion, some specialized skills are needed. The most important skill is the ability to weld and fabricate metal. Most conversion kits do require some amount of welding at least.

However if your conversion kit does not fit well, modifications may be necessary. You may be able to find a welder who has experience in these sorts of conversions. Or your local RV dealership may have someone on staff who can do the work. 

Bumper Pull To Gooseneck Conversions

Unless you are an expert welder and metal fabricator, a gooseneck conversion kit is your best option if you are ready to move from your bumper pull travel trailer. Even these conversion kits require welding skills that are above and beyond what most DIYers can accomplish.

Two manufacturers sell bumper pull-to-gooseneck conversion kits. Both BP Conversions and Folkman, Inc. offer pre-fabricated, conversion kits. The conversion kits utilize the frame and tongue of your current travel trailer.

Before you begin your conversion, you will have to remove the bumper hitch and a portion of the tongue. This is where it is helpful to have welding and metal fabrication skills.

The BP Conversion kit tells you that you do not need to do any welding or fabrication as the kit uses simple pre-made attachment points. These utilize heavy bolts instead of welded points. However if for some reason the kit does not fit quite right, you will need to have metal fabricating or welding skills.

The kits from Folkman, Inc. are similar. They are prefabricated hitch kits, that in theory, do not require any welding skills. Their kits come pre-wired so you do not have to do any added electrical work.

The conversion kit aside, you will also need to be able to install the ball hitch inside your truck bed. This will require you to drill bolts into the bed of your truck in the proper location so that you have proper turning and weight distribution. If the hitch is not installed correctly, you will create an unsafe traveling condition.

If you are committed to making the conversion from bumper mount to gooseneck, make sure that you have any work done on your trailer DOT inspected. There are mobile services that will come out and ensure that the kit meets the highway safety rules.

This is a really important step, as you do not want to find out your gooseneck conversion does not meet regulations while you are on the road.

Is A Bumper Pull To Gooseneck Conversion Worth It?

For some people, the cost and effort due to a bumper pull-to-gooseneck conversion is a much better option than purchasing a 5th-wheel travel trailer. There are several reasons why this may be preferable.

First, you may just love your large travel trailer. If you are one of those people who has everything you need in your travel trailer and just cannot see the value in trading it in, a gooseneck conversion may be a worthwhile investment. You keep the camper you love but acquire added safety and better weight distribution.

Second, if you are a super handy DIYer and have welding and metal fabrication skills, a bumper pull-to-gooseneck conversion could be a piece of cake. In this case, the conversion is likely to be much more affordable than investing in a brand-new 5th-wheel trailer.

Next, if you are looking to improve the safety of towing that travel trailer that you love but have no other reason to move to a 5th wheel, you may find that a conversion is a more affordable option.

Final Thoughts About Bumper Pull To Gooseneck Conversions

If you find yourself considering a bumper pull-to-gooseneck conversion for your travel trailer, make sure you do plenty of research before purchasing a conversion kit or hiring a company to do the work for you.

Your modifications should be safe and meet all Department of Transportation safety requirements. This not only keeps you and other motorists safe but also protects your travel trailer from damage. 

Though not common yet, bumper pull-to-gooseneck conversions are slowly becoming more popular. For travel trailer owners who want a safer and more comfortable towing experience, converting from a bumper pull to a gooseneck connection can be an affordable and practical option.

Related Reading:

How To Release A Trailer Hitch That’s Stuck On A Ball
-How To Stop A Trailer Hitch From Squeaking
A Closer Look At Andersen Ultimate Hitch Failures And Problems
Should You Grease Your Trailer Hitch Ball Or Not?

About the Author:

Jason Gass is a full-time freelance writer and part-time RVer whose goal is to share great stories around a campfire with good friends.

When he’s not working, he spends most of his time camping, searching for the best breweries, and road-tripping in his teardrop trailer with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.