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researching stage for 5th wheels, what advice can you share with me?


usaperuvian

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About us: Alberto 66, drove a big rig truck for 2 years before retiring. Joani 53, nervous disabled companion :P

 

I read that 5th wheels don't have a lot of sway and my husband is considering one. So we need to start researching quality and affordable ($35,000 to $45,000) RV's that have a homey feel to it. Would like 3 distinct living areas. It is for me, my husband, and two small dogs. I am disabled but not in a wheelchair so I don't have to worry about that. We plan on traveling full time for at least 2 to 4 years then settling down and living in an inlaw unit with our son and then traveling part time.

 

I know we should look for quality over cosmetics (at first I was just looking for fireplaces and other amenities). We plan on purchasing a 1 ton truck so would like a RV that can be towed with that, but will not purchase truck until after the RV. We have to learn about weights and stuff like that too.

 

What else do you suggest that I look into? What are the quality brands? I've heard that it's hard to finance a Class A over ten years old .... Does that apply to 5th wheels too?

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I have never had any sway issues with a 5er and a DRW truck. Your questions are mostly answered in your other thread.

 

In your price range, you should be looking at used trailer by Doubletree (Mobil/Elite Suites), Excel, NuWa (HitchHiker), New Horizions. These would be at the top of my list. I would say Carriage Cameo, but they have had slide drive mechanism problems.

 

For full time, dual or Thermopane windows are really nice.

 

I am presuming your budget is trailer only and does not include a truck. If it includes the truck, that is going to make things more difficult.

 

Three distinct living area will be hard unless you consider a Toy hauler or a bunk house model. Most 5th wheel trailers have a bedroom area, a bath area (some have a walk through bathroom), and a large living area combining the living room and kitchen. There are a few front living room area units, but in our experience, they are lacking in kitchen storage and bedroom storage for our use.

 

A lot of people use trailers buy Redwood (Thor), Montana, Cardinal, Cedar Creek and a few others for full time use, I feel that these are one tier down from the earlier listed trailers.

 

One big question is where will you be spending the summers and winters.

 

On an RV that is 30' or larger, two A/C units are a must have as is 50 amp power.

 

We have found that the fireplaces are just a pretty waste of space. They take up a lot of storage room, are not moveable and produce the exact same heat output as the $30 quartz heated from the big box store. For cool weather we like the heat pumps, but they are pretty much useless below about 39 degF outdoors.

 

As the RV age approaches 10 years old, the finance term will get shorter and the interest rates generally higher.

 

Ken

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Every one's needs are different.

 

As stated in the other post, by both TXIceman and I (and you really nee a wider viewpoint) we would start with a dually diesel pickup (for pricing in your budget anyway). The wife and I (andfur kids, 70# German Shepard and 2 cats) spent 5 months in our 2000 - 30' American Star (Newmar) in south TX last winter. It was 'cozy' but doable. It travels well, has a fair amount of storage. I tow with a Mountain Master Hitch (air ride) - http://www.mountainmaster.net/hitches/airhitchcom.html - and we have towed with that from Maine to Montana to Texas (and many points in between).

 

We are moving up to a larger truck and trailer, not because we didn't like it (had it for 8 years), but because we are going full time next year and the wife wanted some more space (she says that I have too much stuff). It would be pullable by a single wheel truck (weight wise), but I liked the stability of the dually.

 

I'll be putting it on the market in the spring, really ready to go now but I don't have the time. We're supposed to be in Kansas now but I'm still building a frame for the hitch on the new truck.

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Each person's requirements and opinions are different. I would advocate that you make sure in whatever layout you decide on that you have access to the bathroom and refrigerator when all the slides are in. I would also suggest you go to Escapee's Boot Camp first. As to towing capability and weights do not trust the salesmen, they lie. Do all your own research........Check on the forum..........Do not get caught up with all the "deals" and fluff if you go to RV shows.

 

We have a Heartland who has a superior customer service. They are equivalent to the Montana level, we have a Big Horn model. In addition, there are dealers who heavily discount Rvs. We bought our Big Horn from such a dealer. Go about 35% off of list and he did a good job prepping the trailer. We have never been back, never had any warranty issues.

 

So much depends on the dealer and the day of the week the rv was made. Just like cars. We had 3 lemon cars in a row(different mfgs) and totally gave up on American mfg. cars.

 

You might want to look into used also, just take your time and don't get pressured.

 

Addition: We tow with an International MDT 4700.

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We bought a 6 year old quality fiver. This is our fifth year fulltime in it. We have had some repairs but not anything different than any house or vehicle, the big expenses were tires and brakes both things that need replacing when they're carrying or stopping your home.

Ours is 33 1/2 inside 35 ft pinbox to rear cap. 3 slides. We have not found anywhere we could not fit, though there have been some tight fits, and our preference is to stay in state parks. When traveling I use reserve america or state reservation systems, not that we reserve sites but there is site size information on those systems.

We tow with a F350 DRW

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We like our Hitchhiker. Been full-timing in it ten years. One thing I would have done differently is had a bedroom A/C. Did have one added later on.

 

When looking we took along a notebook. Wrote down the name, model and number. Checked it out. 98% of the RVs were dropped because of my height. At 6 ft. 4 in. I refuse to have to stoop. Have to think about when you are in a trailer on can you live comfortable in it. If something isn't just right, don't say oh I can live with it because you will hate it later on. Keep looking.

 

When you think you found the trailer come back in a couple of days to a week. Check it again. Be sure. Don't get pressured by the salesperson. Take your time.

 

As for a truck to pull it with. I know nothing about pickup trucks other then some sure look small pulling big 5th wheel trailers. To me, very scary.

 

Good luck in your search and have fun.

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When we ordered ours I didn't pay sufficient attention to the suspension system. We upgraded the standard spring, shock & axles plus G rated stock tires to MORryde Independent Suspension and Goodyear H rated tires after a stock tire blowout. No problems since 2009. We like having 2 A/C units and because we move about often the Quadra Big Foot auto leveling system was a great investment. If you don't move much or just snowbird it might not be worth the investment.

I'm not sure about 3 distinct living areas unless you get a toy hauler which often don't have the same quality level as a fifth wheel.

Depending on your physical situation a fifth wheel has 3 or 4 steps plus one into the RV to climb. There are after market manufacturers that made better portable steps that are easier to use.

We enjoy watching TV so the automatic rooftop dish makes set up easy and quick. In 7+ years we have not been able to use it due to obstructions 4 or 5 times. Be aware of the type of campsites you plan to frequent, especially if you want to be under trees.

Because we always stay in campgrounds and always have 30a or 50a power we upgraded the RV fridge to a household one when the RV fridge died last year. The new one is much better.

We were not satisfied with RV furniture so deleted several pieces when we ordered the RV and have since replaced other pieces with better quality furniture.

I hope what we learned can help you.

We are very pleased with our HitchHiker and the new F350 dually does a GREAT job towing the 17K pound fifth wheel.

Here's a link to a dealer in KS we trust, they use to be NuWa manufacturing and when they stopped manufacturing HitchHikers they kept service and parts open and now sell new quality fifth wheels and used units. http://www.kansasrvcenter.com/ Greg

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We selected our Heartland Bighorn 3670RL specifically because it "felt" like three distinct living areas. Here is the floor plan. We bought a "gently used" unit from a dealer for about $33k.

 

You mentioned your wife having a disability. Many (most, maybe all) of the 5th wheel floor plans have about 4 steps up to the bedroom (or living room on a front living floor plan). She will need to test those out to see whether she is comfortable with the steps.

 

Look at floor plans, look at demo models, look at RV Shows - you will find floor plans that feel right for you, and ones that don't. If you are going to be full-time, look at the better quality manufacturers, many of them have been mentioned above. The Heartland Bighorn, Big Country, & Landmark lines have also been well regarded. Not everyone loves JR Consumer RV Reviews, but we found them to be helpful in narrowing the field down to a few product lines that were of good quality and that we could afford.

 

There are lots of threads here and on IRV2 that will provide opinions and insights. Good luck in your search.

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Depending on your disability, you'll want easy access inside and out with handrails on stairs and fairly open floorplan. Then chairs that fit and allow you to get up and down easily.

 

My knees and back have gotten worse over the last 10 years. We went from an L-shape kitchen counter to an Island. The L limited how far I could bend over to access something in the cabinet. The bathrooms are also a consideration. Some showers are quite small. We upgraded from a 2009 Suite to a 2014 mainly because the shower is larger. I can actually bend over and pick up the soap if I drop it now. It got harder and harder to bend down in the corner shower.

 

DH usually adds blocks at the bottom of our 4-outside stairs, so I don't drop too quickly and hurt my knee. Especially tough, carrying groceries in, if I had to step up too high.

 

For some - travel trailers are actually a better choice. But for us, we prefer all the features that a 5th wheel gives us.

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