Like many of you, I spend a lot of time on various forums researching ways to improve or at least make my towing experiences less stressful for me. During one of my searches, I was more than intrigued when I came across the CURT Manufacturing CrossWing hitch for fifth-wheel trailers. The CrossWing is a recent addition to the CURT lineup, so, not much information was available. That prompted me to get one and let you guys know more about this new hitch design.
The CrossWing Hitch — Far From Traditional
Unlike a traditional fifth-wheel hitch, the CrossWing is a lightweight option composed of three main components. First is the base. This framework gets its strength from the “bridge-like” truss construction. This design delivers the strength required to tow 20,000-pound trailers, yet it is light enough to be easily installed and removed by a single person. At 60 pounds, the base is 65 percent lighter than a traditional fifth-wheel hitch.
Next is the center section (the head) of the hitch. This is the heaviest portion of the hitch but is still very manageable, even when combined with the base. This portion offers three points of height adjustability ranging from 17-1/2 to 21-1/2 inches. The design of the head is where CrossWing really differs from any other fifth-wheel hitch. Instead of a traditional plate and clamp, CrossWing has a unique trailer-coupler design that makes connection easy with a contact surface that connects with the upper coupler (third component) that is connected to the king pin. This upper portion of the CrossWing uses bolts to securely retain it to the kingpin and can easily be moved between various trailers.
Although the CrossWing has designs compatible with industry-standard rails, the thing about CrossWing that intrigued me almost as much as the trailer connection was the fact there is a version that can be attached to a truck via a gooseneck ball. Now, I will say that this does raise the question of safety chain usage. With a traditional king pin and fifth-wheel plate connection utilizing a latch, safety chains are not required. Since the CrossWing does utilize a trailer-mounted king pin and also a gooseneck ball to attach to the truck, some states might require the use of chains. Since there is a “grey” area, it is a good idea to utilize the safety chins and avoid any extra state-imposed roadside expenses. CURT does offer safety chain kits: P/N: 16614 for gooseneck ball connection and P/N: 16612 when using traditional in-bed rail connections. It is always a good idea to check the laws where you live or the states in which you will be traveling.
A Turning Point Of Contention
Another thing to consider with the gooseneck-mounted CrossWing comes about when turning with a fifth-wheel trailer connected. Since the ball is a single connection point, in theory, the hitch could rotate in the bed of the truck when turning in a parking lot or backing onto a camping or unloading spot. CURT has thought of this and designed non-skid bed protectors (P/N: 16040) that are placed under the CrossWing base. These do not attach to the CrossWing or the truck, but rather, the weight of the CrossWing keeps them in place. Again, there is no drilling or welding required to use this hitch and once removed, there is no evidence it was ever installed.
Getting back to the lightweight construction, I cannot express how easy it is for one person to get it in and out of the truck bed without the need for extra help. While I am able to remove the hitch as one complete unit, by removing the center heigh-adjusting bolt, the center head can be removed making the CrossWing even easier to remove from the truck bed in two pieces. The CrossWing has grip handles on each side of the frame to grab for lifting.
Making The Connection
One thing you will need to keep in mind when using the CrossWing hitch is if you have factory puck-mounted safety chain connections in the bed of your truck, they will be in the way of the CrossWing base. All that means is you will need to unlatch and remove the connectors to utilize the CrossWing. To use the CrossWing safety chains, you will simply place the CURT chain connection under the gooseneck ball before installing the hitch.
When it comes to physically connecting the trailer to the truck, simply back up to the trailer and the V shape of the receiver head allows the king pin-mounted upper connector to simply slide into place. Even if you need to make your connection and need to back in at an angle, simply pivot the Kingpin-mounted upper coupler to where you need it. Once you are backed in and the connection is made, secure the connection with the easy-to-reach slide-in pin on the side of the hitch.
A No-Shock Surprise
When it comes to towing a fifth wheel, you will immediately notice how the CrossWing differs from any traditional fifth-wheel hitch. CURT uses what they call ShockDrop technology. This utilizes a rubber cushion in the center receiver section that allows it to not only support the trailer but also soften any chucking or jerking that will inevitably occur when towing. A traditional fifth-wheel hitch does not offer any cushioning.
That said, I asked Kristi Feeney, Marketing Manager at CURT about CrossWing’s ability to pivot and rotate when encountering uneven terrain, and she had this to say, “The pivoting happens at the CrossWing head and kingpin attachment. The ShockDrop rubber isolator allows fore and aft motion. But the design also allows for side-to-side play as the “V” receiver on the cast head is 10 degrees wider than the “V” on the king pin adapter, allowing for lateral articulation.”
Include the ShockDrop technology with the other features of CrossWing, and you definitely have a winning combination. Another aspect that needs to be mentioned is great news for you guys with short-bed trucks. The CrossWing is a fixed hitch design, but the mounting point with the gooseneck ball actually moves the trailer connection point rearward in the bed of the truck.
The hitch-to-king pin connection is also behind the hitch’s center point, and according to Kristi, “this offset provides 8.4 inches of rearward offset – providing many users the added clearance needed to ditch a slider system.” This means more trailer-to-truck-cab clearance. However, that does not mean every application will have clearance with all fifth-wheel trailers as trailer design varies, but most will have ample room.
Final Thoughts About The CrossWing Hitch
If you have ever used a traditional fifth-wheel hitch, you have probably dealt with having to grease the receiver plate to lubricate the trailer connection swivel point. That is a thing of the past as CURT includes a Delrin-like lube plate, so no grease is required. As I mentioned, the hitch has a 20,000-pound weight rating but I forgot to mention it has a 5,000-pound pin-weight (vertical load) limit. These weight capacities make the Crosswing a perfect hitch for nearly every fifth-wheel-equipped camper being pulled on the road.
Towing with the Crosswing is very much like towing with a traditional fifth-wheel hitch, with the benefit of the rubber, shock-absorbing cushioning. However, The benefits of simple installation and removal from your truck bed as well as the ease of making the trailer connection make the Crosswing hitch a winner.
The Crossing hitch is a unique design that incorporates strength with versatility and ease of use. The next time you’re looking for a fifth-wheel hitch, this might be an option you really need to consider.