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Freedom5er

Seeking 5er Recommendations

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Hello All!

My wife and I, (Nitalu and Paul), are retired, as of the beginning 2017, and we've decided to hit the road, full time. Our  journey is still in it's infantasy and the more we learn, it seems, the more we need to know! This life style is all new to my wife, however, the last 3 years of my single life were spent full-timing to accommodate my work, which took me all over the country and eventually culminated in meeting my bride several states away from 'home'. All that happened over 20 years ago.

So, here we are, a couple of greenhorns, seeking the knowledge and wisdom of our future neighbors and friends, with the hopes of making our impending journey even more exciting, pleasurable, and certainly, more memorable than we already anticipate.

I'm an experienced  5th wheel guy. Hence, we're looking for a 5er - one that's been used but not abused! Any recommendations on which brands to stay away from? I thought I liked Keystone and Forest River,  but then... I started reading horror stories. Now I'm looking at Heartland units. Any advise would be most appreciated.

Best Regards, The Freeman's

 

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Welcome to the Forum. I have a couple simple suggestion and not knowing where you expect to travel and type life style. I agree the FW is the favorable choice.

Some people want toy haulers or front living room each there own. Visit dealers and RV shows to firm up your decision of floor plan.

On the this and other forums read the Fifth wheel section and the Begining RVing that you posted in. There are lots suggestions made there.

I personally want a RV designed from the ground-up not a unit build with lots charm from the floor up.

Clay   2016 DRV MS 38PS3   Towed with a Class 5 Freightliner

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! We are happy to have you join us and we will do all we are able to assist you.

While the preference of a fifth wheel is not a bad one, I suggest to you that making that choice based on the limited knowledge you describe is a poor choice. Like most other things, the RV market has changed dramatically in the past 20 years and your wife seems to have had no voice in the choice at all. The best choice of RV is the one that fits the people living it in and I believe that you would be very wise to spend some time as a couple looking through all of the available choices of RV before you restrict your choices to a fifth wheel. You will read many theories on who prefers what type of RV and why, but in my long RV experience I have found that it is more a personal thing than it is any specific travel pattern or lifestyle. Frequently the thing which makes a particular type of RV good or bad for people is something that is a very personal thing. As an example, we love some things about a fifth wheel but my wife has difficulty negotiating stairs, which means that even though we might prefer to own one, for us it would never work. But there are other more personal things that sometimes influence the best choice and the reasons may not be clearly explainable, they just are. 

I am not saying that the fifth weel choice is wrong, but only that you need to make sure of that before you start to seriously shop. The best choice is the which makes both of you happiest living in it! 

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I doubt I will ever by a Heartland again.  The 2014 Cyclone I had was such a piece of junk, I got rid of it the next year.  No doubt others love their Cyclone.

IMO, since you plan to buy used (very smart), no matter what you buy, you may not lose your shirt if you trade it in if it doesn't work well for you.  Seeing it on the lot is WAY different than living in one.

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Thanks for the replies!

Clay, I agree. The foundation that's under the floor has a higher priority than what's above it.

Kirk, I've lived in a 5th wheel and prior to that I had a smaller bumper-pull, so my choice is based in that 3 year, full-time, experience. My wife could care less what 'type' of unit we buy so long as it meets our creature-feature requirements. My roll is mechanical, safety, security and value.  Our formula has been working for 20+ years and we're quite content with it!

Remoandris, what was it about the Heartland that you didn't care for? I'm open to investigating any brand 5er on the market and I'm hoping forums like this will help eliminate the really bad ones!

Thanks again for the replies folks. Happy Thanksgving!

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I strongly suggest you look a gently used higher end units over new lower end units.  A true full time, 4 season RV is more costly and heavier than the normal 3 season RVs.  Adding some tank heaters and aluminum wrap in the basement does not make it a true 4 season RV.

A real 4 season trailer will even be better in the summer, being able to keep it cooler.  

There are lots if RVs out there that have lots of flash, bling and glitz, but you need to look at the foundation or bones.

To find one that suits you and your life style, sit in the trailer and pretend you live there.  See how you would go about getting ready for bed, getting up in the morning or fixing a meal.  See where clothes fit, linens fit, storage of pots and pan, food, etc.  Is the TV set for comfortable viewing, you do not look at it sideways.

For full time living, I want better furniture, carpet, Sleep number bed, residential refrigerator, Mor/Ryde IS suspension, oversized brakes or disc brakes, Wineguard Travler satellite antenna, washer/drier and dishwasher.

If i were in the market for another 5er, Id be looking at Mobile Suites or Arctic Fox.

 

Ken

Edited by TXiceman

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If looking at a mass produced unit versus a custom built one I will suggest the brand we have. We have a 2017 River Stone Legacy 38 mb model. It is a new line produced by Forest River and I will say we have been very happy and satisfied with it, no real issues to complain about and hope to think it was built to a higher standard then most. Their build time is 2 weeks versus a day and that does not include time for the full body paint work. They are considered more of a full timer unit and come standard with 8,000lb axles, hydraulic over disc brakes and Goodyear H rated tires. Take a look for yourself and form your own opinion, good luck on your search and if interested in our type unit feel free to ask any questions.

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We have our Thor Hurricane MH for sale (yes I know a louse time of year to try selling) and we are looking at USED

Keystone Cougar 333 MKS 5th wheel to replace it.  We bought the MH new because my wife loved the floor plan

and interior colors.  Never again will I buy new and take that hit.

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On 11/23/2017 at 12:51 PM, Freedom5er said:

Remoandris, what was it about the Heartland that you didn't care for? I'm open to investigating any brand 5er on the market and I'm hoping forums like this will help eliminate the really bad ones!

 

I had a litany of problems with the coach, some repeat issues after they were supposedly fixed.  HL customer service was a goat rope for authorizing repairs.  A well made coach shouldn't, IMO, need repairs from day 1 to day of trade-in.  

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I would dare state that any unit thrown together on today's assembly lines are troublesome. You might get a good one but that would likely be an exception. Hast makes waste. Proven fact. We we're so disappointed when we were shopping that we sought out older high end units. 

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Paul, you asked for some specific recommendations, so I'll give you what we had when we thought a 5'er might be in our future. They are worth every penny you pay for them. <grin>

Continental (Forks), New Horizons, and Spacecraft are all custom builders. Their coaches are going to be heavy, but well-built and intended for full-time use. It is likely that you will want a fairly strong truck to tow with. Some people use a converted semi and carry a Smart on the back for running around.

The DRV line is probably where you will get the most bang for your buck. They are semi-custom, meaning that they will make changes within reason. The Elite Suites are the top of the line, and can get heavy (granite), but when we toured the factory a few years ago they said that you could delete the heavy things, saving some pounds and dollars. The Mobile Suites is somewhat less expensive, but still has what you will need. The big "plus" for DRV is that they have thicker walls than most, so there is more insulation. FWIW, my personal choice would be a Mobile Suites. These coaches aren't as heavy as the custom ones, but you are still going to need a strong tow truck (think F450 or F550 or similar).

My suggestion is that you join the owners' forums for any brands you are interested in and ask about known issues. For example, Heartland has had problems with their Lippert frames for several years now. DRV is now part of Thor, just like Heartland, and at one point rumor had it that they were going to put the DRV line above the Landmark like and call them all Heartlands. Don't know if that is actually how it ended up.

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You will hear horror stories about every brand if you make your choice on horror stories you will not buy any brand.

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"You will hear horror stories about every brand if you make your choice on horror stories you will not buy any brand." Very true. That's why I suggest people join the owners' forum for any brand they consider. Ask about known issues and how they are resolved. Heartland has had troubles with welds breaking on their 5'ers for several years. I don't know if that has been taken care of with Thor's purchase of them a few years ago, but that would something to ask about. Airstreams from the late 90's have problems with the clearcoat that were taken care of in 2000.

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Another one to investigate if you are interested in more of a mid level fiver is Arctic Fox. They are built on heavy frames and are as solid as any high level fiver (my opinion) but the amenities are more mid line. 

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A lot of good opinions here....all good advice.  We have have had fifth wheels for 20 years now.  The older units (early 2000s) were usually pretty solid, but since 2008 most of the "high end" manufacturers have gone out of business for one reason or another.  What we have discovered is there are now two types of fifth wheels - what we call "weekenders" and "full time".  We purchased a new weekender and it was fine for the intended use...but once we started on the road for months at a time we found it could not hold up to the every day bumps, twists and overall use after only one year of travel.  We traded it in and took a bath, but now have a coach that seems to be of better quality.  However, we are still fixing issues that should have been taken care of at the time of manufacture.  My point - the assembly line products seem to believe that it is the customer that needs to identify the problems and have them fixed within the one year warranty.  If I had to do it again I would probably be looking at a USED New Horizons or Continental.  Something that has been taken care of and all the bugs worked out.  You will pay more money for them, but will get it back in peace-of-mind and resale value down the road.  Just my opinion....

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On 11/22/2017 at 9:29 PM, Freedom5er said:

 we're looking for a 5er 

 

Cherokee Arctic Wolf 

Edited by rm.w/aview

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On 11/24/2017 at 12:10 PM, GlennWest said:

snip - We we're so disappointed when we were shopping that we sought out older high end units. 

^ this can work well...

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Spent quite a bit of time researching before we ended up going with a Class A instead. Many of the same shopping principals carry across from trailers, fivers and Class A's. Here is advice I've just a few months ago given a friend who is now shopping:

-Pick a budget range, and retain a hunk of coin to do any catch up maintenance, and or customization to make it 'your RV'.

-Research and choose the highest quality manufacturers and models that you both like. You have to be able to live in the thing, so if you don't like a specific model - it does not matter how good it is. Don't be afraid to drop years to remain within budget, while still purchasing the higher quality units. Quality lasts. And a quality built unit, will have a better 'foundation' to start from. (And of course, even a quality unit, can be abused and neglected so much to just move on...)

-Go shopping, and be ready to move fast when the unit you like is found. And also IMO, don't get hung up on getting the absolute 'best deal/lowest price'. I'd rather pay more for an RV that has obviously been well cared for, had upgrades and refreshing, and components added during the years. No matter what you buy, it's not an financial investment as much as an emotional investment. So getting a 'creampuff' at an over rock bottom costs - could pay dividends in the emotional side of enjoyment. 

As you have not mentioned budget range, I'll add a NuWa Hitchiker and Teton and Carriage to the lists. These are not at the same level as the New Horizon or Spacecraft, but certainly compare week with the DRV. 

Most of the higher end units, are going to be heavier, which ripples then to the vehicle used as a tow vehicle... 

Best of luck to you both, and have fun along the way,

Smitty

 

 

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