Trailering is a vital function of any diesel truck. Beyond the sounds and sights of a churning turbocharged oil-burner, most owners that pick up a diesel hope to get their use out of the truck. And what do you do with a vehicle that’s more torque than it is trouble? You put it to work.
One problem that affects many diesels of yesteryear, however, is a lack of options for towing. Tag-style towing is the most widely used method, but it doesn’t suffice when it comes to heavier trailers like RVs or large enclosed ones. The hitch to hook them up with would put too much strain on a tag-style hitch, so moving up to a gooseneck hitch is the only way.
Enter B&W Trailer Hitches and their highly successful Turnoverball (PN GNRK1062). An aftermarket solution, the Turnoverball has been around since the early 1990s and given hundreds of thousands of trucks a new lease on towing life. And when Johnny Colman showed up to our shop in a 2005 Chevy 3500HD, lamenting the lack of a solution to his needs, we knew the Turnoverball could turn over a new leaf of capability in his rig.
The Turnoverball is B&W’s flagship product. Designed as a way to give regular truck owners the ability to hitch up gooseneck trailers in a discreet package, the Turnoverball is best summarized by Beth Barlow, the marketing manager for B&W: “It’s a hitch when you need it, and a level bed when you don’t.”
The kit comes with all of the correct hardware and components to make installation simple and straightforward. “It’s an easy installation without removing the bed or drilling through the frame,” commented Barlow.
Rest assured, B&W put a lot of time and effort into making the Turnoverball as materially strong and reliable as possible. As Barlow shared, “We use steel that is specified for strength and flexibility. We also test our designs in both static and dynamic tests according to J-2638.”
Hooking up a truck with a Turnoverball is no small feat. That isn’t to say it’s impossible, but it can be done with preparation and focus. A truck like the one we’re working with is incredibly large and heavy, and thus rules out the use of a two-post lift like we might use on other jobs. For this project, we worked right off of the floor of our garage, using jack stands and floor jacks to raise the truck up.
Under the bed, we removed the spare tire, heat shield, and exhaust bracket. We then moved back topside and looked at the bed. A four-inch hole would have to go in the middle of it, a little over four feet from the back. The truck did not have a plastic bedliner, which made finding the hole location easier. We used a four-inch hole saw to make the hole, and made sure it went all the way through.
Next was the crossmembers. These long metal pieces act like the crossmembers found on the frame, reinforcing the structural integrity of the chassis and adding the necessary support to handle heavy loads. With the truck lifted on jack stands, the rear tires drooped down and let us access the gap between the bed and frame. We had to make a notch in the frame for the front crossmember to slide in, while the flatter rear crossmember slid in between the gap effortlessly. After sliding in the crossmembers, we rotated them upright for their final positioning.
The center section was next. We oriented the center section so that the socket top pointed up and the latch pin out to the driver’s side. This part was tricky, as we had to navigate around fuel lines and wiring from the fuel tank, but we made it happen. Once it was in place, we supported it with a jack stand and slid the crossmembers until flush with the center section. All that was left was bolting the pieces together.
Up next were the sideplates. These came in two pieces and needed half-inch-diameter bolts to come together into one assembled piece for either side of the center section. The front bent flange portion affixed to the front crossmember with a half-inch-diameter bolt, while the rear did the same on the bent flange as well, once again using a half-inch-diameter bolt.
Adding security to the Turnoverball’s placement were U-bolts. These wrapped around the frame rail and went through holes in the sideplates. On top of this, a slotted hole in the frame was used to install a three-quarter-inch-diameter bolt, using a B&W-provided insert. Once all of the bolts were installed, we torqued them to the proper specifications as listed in the directions.
The latch pin was next. We inserted its release handle into the driver’s side of the center section. Looking carefully, we aligned it with the square hole of the latch pin, making sure the handle’s eyelet was inline with the latch pin, and secured it with a 5/16-inch-diameter bolt. The latch pin was now in place, and worked correctly with the tow ball as it ought to. We tested it to make sure and then greased the tow ball on all four corners to allow for easy deployment and stowage.
All Wrapped Up And Ready To Tow
The truck is now back together and ready to get out on the road again. The owner, Johnny Colman, is excited about the enhanced capabilities of his truck. He knows that having the Turnoverball will add a new dimension of towing ability to his big Chevy dually.
“I’ve been looking forward to this,” he said. “The Turnoverball is one of the most trusted towing kits out there, and being able to hitch up to gooseneck trailers is awesome. Now that I have the Turnoverball installed, I can do more with my truck, and still use the bed when I need to.”
Given how simple and straightforward the Turnoverball’s installation was, it’s a sensible modification. It greatly increases the usefulness of a pickup truck while retaining the bed’s utility to store cargo at the drop of a hat. Be sure to check out more on the Turnoverball by checking out B&W’s website, and don’t forget to follow their Facebook page.