Our Bighorn Gets A New 5th Wheel Pin Box

By:  Emily Rohrer

20th Dec, 16


*Emily Rohrer (OwnLessDoMore.us) is a contributor to HeartlandRV's blog. All opinions expressed are her own.*

When Tim said, "Honey, I'm gonna order a new kingpin," my mind went to drug lords and crime bosses.

I should have known he meant something RV-related. I swear sometimes it feels like that's all we buy.

For those who are unfamiliar with fifth wheels, the pin box and kingpin assembly are located on the "nose" of the trailer. The pin then locks into a hitch located in the bed of the truck used for towing.

We'd been wanting to upgrade to a smoother ride for our 2008 Heartland Bighorn, and after the usual massive amount of online research, Tim ordered the Flex Air Pin Box Long Jaw by Lippert Components, model 328492. Its integrated shock absorber and air bag should give us a lot less shake, rattle and roll than we're used to, in both trailer and towing vehicle.

As with any upgrade that is expensive and/or heavy, you'll want to consult with both the item's and your RV's manufacturer before ordering, and make triple sure of all measurements to avoid costly returns. This pin box weighs in at about 240 pounds, and it was delivered on a pallet, so we definitely didn't want to risk the hassle of sending it back!

Then came the fun part: off with the old, on with the new. We knew we were going to need a few more sets of hands for that.

Luckily, when it comes to living around other RVers, help is there when you need it, and sometimes you don't even have to ask. Just put up the hood of your car or truck, and within a minute or two help will arrive. "Hey, man, what's going on?" ... "Oh, you got a busted thingamajig? I've got a tool for that." ... "Let me tell you about the time this happened to me…" and so on.

I call it the Batman Beacon of the RV park. Just lift the hood, and you'll bring all the heroes to the yard!

We were lucky to have park hosts Ed and George, and our neighbor, Dave, show up right on time to help us get the job done that morning. Or maybe they just caught a whiff of the second best way to bring the boys to the yard: set out food and drinks. In this case, it was fresh pumpkin muffins and piping hot coffee. Feed them, and they will come.

The process took about three hours spread out over the whole day (you know how it goes), but included only one trip to a hardware store. The new assembly didn't come with bolts, and the ones from our old unit were too short, so off Tim went. Another thing that didn't come with the new pin box? Instructions! Be prepared to spend some time on the phone or online with Lippert if you decide to buy one of these.

At the time of this writing, the new pin box is attached, with air bag inflated and bolts adjusted to the proper torque — but we haven't gone anywhere with it yet. Its maiden voyage is coming soon.


Emily Rohrer

Emily Rohrer


Own Less, Do More

Goodbye suburbia. Hello, 2008 Heartland Bighorn! Rolling by the seats of our pants, searching for home.