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Class A vs 5th Wheel


tilliepeoples

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I have been looking to update my 1990 class A Winnebago .I have been looking at late 90 early 2000 as these are in my price range and have most of what I am looking for.
I recently ran across an 03 5th wheel combo that is within my range and this might be a good alternative to trying to tow a car or my motorcycle behind .
I hate getting someplace and then can't go anyplace .I prefer auto trans ,but see you should not tow them.
I would like to take my 1000# motorcycle and fear this is not going to happen with a fifth wheel .But I would always have a vehicle at my disposal .
My biggest trips are to visit out of state relatives ,but driving the MH back and forth is a pain .
I guess my biggest concern is towing and parking a fifth wheel.

Most of the MH I have looked at are 32 to 35 foot and this 5ver is 33 plus the truck

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I'm not quite sure what your question is, but there are advantages to both types of RV and we have found that which one is better is more a factor of the owner's priorities than it is of specifics. As to not being able to tow a vehicle with an automatic transmission, that isn't true as there are several automatic transmission vehicles that can and are towed on their wheels with no modification. I suggest that you take a look at the Good Sam, Dingy Towing Guide to see what can be towed. In addition there are many others that have modification kits available to make them towable from companies like REMCO corporation.

 

We were fulltime in a motorhome but we have towed trailers as well and we manged to enjoy both. You will get a wide diversity on how easy it is to back and park a fifth wheel, but it comes down to what you are comfortable with and your skill set in driving either one. We could probably give better advice if we knew more specifics of what you wish opinions about.

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Having towed for my entire adult life, towing and backing the fifth wheel has not been an issue for us. Finding a fifth wheel toy-hauler would allow you to take your motorcycle with you... a "have your cake and eat it, too" kind of situation. I've also seen carriers with fairly large/heavy motorcycles on the back of diesel pusher motorhomes.

 

There is a litany of things that can be listed in a pros vs. cons decision matrix for deciding between a fifth wheel and a motorhome. Some of the more commonly mentioned things are:

 

  • With a motorhome, you don't have to get out in bad weather or a location you don't feel safe in for a quick overnight stop.
  • If you have mechanical problems (engine or drive train) and you're in a motorhome, your home goes in the shop. With a fifth wheel, just the tow vehicle goes in and you can live in the fifth wheel (and, in your case, use your motorcycle to get around on if you get the toy-hauler).
  • Foot-for-foot, fifth wheels generally have more living area (since the front of the coach is taken up by the cab area and some of the space in the rear is taken up by engine in the case of a diesel pusher).
  • Both motorhomes and fifth wheels come in different levels of build and quality - basically, you get what you pay for. Motorhomes may seem expensive, but - with a fifth wheel - you have to combine the cost of the RV and the tow vehicle.
  • We have talked with a couple of folks who have full-timed in both fifth wheels and motorhomes. The wives had more to say about it than the husbands and their main point was that they felt they had more storage space in the fifth wheel(s) given similar lengths of RVs.

I'm sure if you search the forums, you'll find other discussions on this, too...

 

Rob

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Its always a tough choice between the two. If I were sitting for long period I would lean towards a fifth wheel but I'm not too keen on using a 1 ton for a run around vehicle...especally if its a dually...been there and done it.....wasnt much fun. But we are snowbirds and travel a lot.

We now have a 40 ft class A motorhome and we like it but we gave up a little bit of space. I like the fact that you sit up high...same level as the semis...so you get visability, also like the smooth quiet ride of a DP, i also like the maneuverability of a motorhome and the fact that we tow a toad which makes a great run around vehicle. It easy to dsconnect the toad and scout ahead with it if needed. my wife likes the fact that she can use the toilet or raid the fridge while underway. Her seat is extra wide with electric recliner and she rides like a queen in that seat. It also nice to be able to pull into a lot, dump the air and level all from the drivers seat. ( I'm usually sitting in my lawn chair outside with a beer watching my travel companions park and unhitch...lol)

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Thanks for the great responses .

I think I'll keep looking for a newer class A.

One reason being that I travel often with my great grandchildren and potty breaks and munchies are a big issue.

Plus putting 4 kids (3 under 5) in the back seat of a pickup for 8 or 10 hours doesn't sound to good either

A DP would be great but because of my budget ,the ones I have looked at are older and more worn than i would like.

If I tow my present car I may have to substitute MPG for GPM .With an updated transmission from my 90's 3 speed i should be able to pull my Avalon ,even if I have to put it on a tow dolly.

The 5ver/truck combo I was looking at was gone 48 hours after hitting craigslist . Not that surprising since it was about 70% of purchasing each separate.

Again Thank you.

I always come away with a lot of good info .

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Why would you be driving for 8 hours in any vehicle, motorhome or truck? 4 hours maximum is a typical driving day for us. Use the 2-2-2 prinicple, 200 miles a day, in by 2:00 pm, stay 2 days. Please don't think you can have kids running around while the coach is in motion.

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never had a 5th, but the inside is so much more room. I will always be a Class A DP type of guy. my class a cost me 40k, put almost 10k into it. tires, a/c. love it. 37ft. i can get in/out of almost anywhere./ my back yard would not allow me to get in/out with a 5th. one thing i love about the class a. wife can get me something to eat/drink while i drive. hahah.

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I know lots do it and I might would too but heaven help you if you get in a wreck. Walking in a motorhome traveling is not safe.

Many, MANY people are injured when moving about in a motorhome that is going down the road. It does not take much to throw you off balance. It is wise to pull over if you need to get up for some reason.

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Three differences;

1- Class A's have more Handrails for entering and leaving A Plus rating

2- Class A's have lots of storage that you have to use the stairs to did to when the weather in bad. A Plus for the FW

3- Women often prefer driving a Class A when pulling a toad as is easier to see who is following behind the toad but backing is a NO NO. Score a toss-up

 

Clay a second FW owner and previous Class C owner

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Many, MANY people are injured when moving about in a motorhome that is going down the road.

While I do agree that this isn't generally a good practice, I have never yet known even one person for whom this was true. At the same time, Pam has moved about some, but only when not in heavy traffic and with great care. Even then it does come with a higher degree of risk and it probably isn't exactly legal since I believe that all states now have seat-belt laws. On the other hand, who can really say that they never take any avoidable risks, even when being careful?

 

Since we are getting into the big, "which is better debate" I still believe that it is a very personal choice but I'll share some key reasons that we chose to fulltime in a motorhome, even though we would sit in one location for several months at a time, each of our 12 years on the road. We like having the ability to have a small, fuel efficient car to drive while the RV is parked and the ability to easily drop the tow car and go check an area before driving the RV into it. We traveled in our RV for 12 years and because we towed a car, we only put 77,000 miles on the RV, while in that same period we put more than 250k on a combination of 3 towed vehicles which were far less expensive to operate and to replace than would have been the case for a big truck. We also made it a habit to get off of the road and relax at the first sign of unusually heavy traffic to wait it out. With the motorhome we just found a place to park, started the gen-set to watch TV or something and had a bite to eat or a cold drink, returning to travel when conditions improve. We also loved the fact that our RV was at comfortable temperatures the moment we stopped, even when traveling in extreme temperatures! We never backed our rig with towed connected, yet in all those years we only disconnected to back two time that I can remember and with the 4-down configuration, it only takes a couple of moments to do so. Because Pam has hip and ankle problems, the flat floor of our class A was far less problem since we didn't need to climb stairs to use the bathroom or go to bed. I much prefer the basement type storage of a class A over the cavernous space in most fifth wheels. I found that what I can't see is seldom used as it is too much trouble, or I'd forget it was there. I liked having an on-board gen-set that uses fuel from the main fuel tank, leaving only one fuel source to deal with. Propane is a poor fuel source for a gen-set if you use it much.

 

But most of all, we chose a class A because it just was what we liked best, and that is the most important consideration of all. If you both find a preference for a particular type of RV, then most likely that is the one that you will like best, regardless of the opinions expressed by any of the more experienced RV community.

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We just stopped traveling with our 40' Travel Supreme fifth-wheel pulled with a Volvo tractor. We are still using the Travel Supreme as our winter residence. We now have a 34' Bounder for travel. We got the Bounder for ease of travel in places like New England.

 

We will say that finding places to stay with only 34' is a lot easier than 65' truck/trailer.

 

The Bounder is great for traveling but we could not full-time in just the Bounder. The storage in the Bounder is significantly less than the stuff we could carry in the Travel Supreme and the Volvo. Since the Bounder is for the summer, we can deal with less stuff with us. The storage in the Volvo is compensated with the storage building at our winter residence.

 

There is no way in the world the CoPilot would walk around the Bounder while moving. Even in the Volvo, the seat belt got unbuckled was to reach into the refrigerator.

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So the debate goes on.

 

I happen to have a 45' 5th wheel. And a Volvo that pulls it. The Volvo is technically a motorhome, and has most of the amenities of a motorhome, except a shower.

 

We can put the car (a smart, that gets in the 40 mpg range) on the back of the truck and go away for a weekend or week. We can pull off the road in traffic and relax in the truck, cook a meal, eat, drink, sleep, etc. Just like a MH.

 

Our 5er has massive storage, and weight carrying capacity. It has every amenity of a high end motorhome (think Foretravel, Prevost, etc), 1220 watts solar, 1200 Ah battery bank, inverter, genset, etc. It is built to OUR specifications and needs (totally custom). The point is - a 5er can be configured just like a motorcoach.....if you want to.

 

What we have would not work for everyone.....as Kirk said, in the end it boils down to personal preference.

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A lot of good information from both sides.

I will stick with the Class A .A lot of that decision comes from the driving a 1 ton pickup as a daily driver and I cannot afford that and two more vehicles to use daily.

My present 90 lacks space especially when the couch is open

The extra room in a 5ver would definitely be a plus but a class A with slide (or maybe 2) should give me room for my granddaughter and her kids without having to step over each other.

I will start my search for a used tow bar .and breaking system .I see there are some universal ones that fit a multitude of cars .

I also think I found a motorcycle trailer that will fit my needs nicely .

I like my 32 foot 1990 winnebago .It's easy to drive and park ,but at 6mpg ,I don't think it works well for running errands .

It's in the shop now for 6 tires ,so I think I will use it until spring and then renew my search .

Actually I will search all winter so by spring I should know exactly what I want .

I also agree that 200 miles or 4 hours is a bit short if you have a destination in mind and don't plan a lot of sight seeing to get there .

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I also agree that 200 miles or 4 hours is a bit short if you have a destination in mind and don't plan a lot of sight seeing to get there .

 

Only if you are talking 'vacation' mode. For fulltimers, there is no hurry to get to the next destination, it will be there when we get there.

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Barb....we are snowbirds not fulltimers.....well...full timers for 6 months a year...lol. Thing is that when we leave Canada we boot it to get south as fast as possible to avoid bad weather and get past the boring stuff. So a couple of 8 hr days is not uncommon. Then we slow down and take our time. Once we are in AZ we rarely travel more that 2-4 hrs.

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I wrestled with is for a long time. It was solved by a Motorhome Salesman no less. Best advice I ever received.

 

Your drive a Motorhome

and you Park a 5th Wheel

 

At first, I thought this was the dumbest things I ever heard.

You can't drive a 5th wheel,

You ain't going to pull a Motorhome

So what else are you going to do with them.

 

The salesman said "No, I didn't understand"

He told me you can part a Motorhome - but that is the worst thing you can do to it.

You can also pull your 5th Wheel and while they are made to be pulled and parked (for long periods of time) if you are only going to stay everywhere you are going for a week or two, at the most a couple of months then having a motorhome is so much more convent.

 

This salesman then asked me what was my idea of RV / fulltiming?

 

At the time our plans were to move once every 3 to 6 months and then move on and stay another 3 to 6 months some place.

 

He told me that I should not really consider buying a motorhome because of that.

 

So my advice to you is figure out what type of people you are? Are you on the move or would you rather stay in one place for longer periods of time? You figure that out and then when you do... the question you will be asking is not 5th Wheel vs Motorhome but rather what kind of 5th wheel or motorhome are you going to buy.

 

Been doing fulltiming for 6 years but only moved 3 times. Love living and doing what I am doing but we are soon going to be hitting the road.

 

 

 

Sonny Theobald

2009 Carriage Cameo

3008 Chevy 3500 Dually

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We figured all the different angles and a fifth wheel was our decision which so far seems to work great. We usually volunteer for 2-3 months at a time. We use a Chevy dually and also have a Honda VTX1300 motorcycle which rides on a swivel trailer mounted to the rear camper bumper. This allows us the choice to use the PU or mostly motorcycle for the local runs. Our rig is 61 ft long and is legal in all states. We have been full timing for 4 years all over the country. Just another option to consider.

Greg

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We're still in the decision about which type RV ourselves. Fortunately, most of the time spent investigating and researching was during the last few years leading up to retirement... which just happened in May. There are so many pro's and con's with each that I often think a coin toss is the best way to decide :D. Presently, a TT has our vote and that is what we're looking for. Considering how we'll use it, cost of purchase, maintenance, registration fees, etc., it seems like the best option.

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We're still in the decision about which type RV ourselves. Fortunately, most of the time spent investigating and researching was during the last few years leading up to retirement... which just happened in May. There are so many pro's and con's with each that I often think a coin toss is the best way to decide :D. Presently, a TT has our vote and that is what we're looking for. Considering how we'll use it, cost of purchase, maintenance, registration fees, etc., it seems like the best option.

Congradulations on your retirement. The argument between 5th wheel and class A is simply a discussion among friends. I have met people in truck campers, travel trailers, and vans that were perfectly happy with the way they choose to live. I think the common thread is that they usually started out in something else and then sort of grew into what they really needed.

Again I say, Happy Retirement! Just get out there in whatever you have, you will then find the life you want to live and the home you want to enhance that life. But you gotta just get out there.

 

Jim

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