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Opinions wanted - Trailer length


Big5er

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Ok, I am currently in a 36 ft fifth wheel. I have been looking at and wanting a DRV 40KSSB which is 40'10", so almost 5 ft longer. I have found a 43ft unit (43'4") that is real nice, in my opinion but that is 7 ft longer than my current trailer.

 

So my question to those of you that have longer trailers, or those of you that chose to stay shorter, what is TOO long? Let's face it, there are places that are hard to get our trucks into already. I know I have seen places that were "fun" to maneuver at 36ft. I figured the 40ft'er wouldn't be that much more but is adding another 3ft gonna make life that much more difficult. I can back, but I'm nowhere near as skilled as some on here.

 

Opinions please......

 

 

PS..woo hoo, just look at that new retirement countdown go...It's already one day less than it was yesterday :)

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As may recall we tend to tow various combos of trailer length AND we have several hitch locations related to our 252 inch avg tandem truck wheel base.

 

In a way you are sorta asking several questions.....

 

First question is....what is the parking space owner willing to allow into the space as far as trailer length, and of course as your trailer length gets longer you can find that your options of available "allowed-to-park" spaces are limited....at times. Once in a while we run into this "only allowed to park here" syndrome in places that are controlled by hired helpers that have a site map that lists trailer max length and they won't allow one inch over the listed length. We have run into this just a few times but as your rig gets longer it can happen as you know.

 

The second part of your questions relates to your perceived ability's to maneuver the entire hitched rig and this situation is effected by many factor's....from the mechanical side the truck and trailer wheelbases and hitch locations interplay will be a big factor in how the entire rig maneuvers AND how it handles at tow speeds.

 

As you may recall you have seen some fairly short rigs that were swerving all over the road and a pain in the keister to back down a boat ramp....on the other hand many stop signs have been knocked down by a long trailer cutting the corner too sharp.

 

Here is the odd thing if you think about it ....some of the longer trailers maneuver very nicely because the hitch to wheel base is good and the tow rig location meshes well with the trailer.

 

What you might consider is asking if you can hitch up to the trailer you are considering and take it for a test drive and back-up test, that way you can get a feel for the entire rig....

 

Of course at the end of the day it's all about what Clint Eastwood muttered to the scumbag....."a man's gotta know his limitations".....of course you have considered your limitations....that's why you are asking these questions...

 

Drive on....(trailer length...depends)

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Trouble with length!

Another thing to factor in is do you mind unhooking for the night? We were towing our 40' NH on this summers trip and found that if you wanted a pull through for one night you were more limited then getting a back-in where you would have to unhook your RV. The truck we had this summer had a 230" wheel base and was not singled so the turning radius came into play a few times, our over all length was 67'.

 

We stayed in 7 parks on the way to VA Beach and had trouble in 3 of them. One park had 80' pull thru sites but only 40' of it was level so by the time I had the RV leveled out my bumper was three feet off the ground along with my rear axle. The other two parks sites were fine but getting through the turns in the park was another story. In one park we were 20' off the road and dodging man hole covers in order to make a turn to get out.

 

I think low hanging branches are more of a problem then our length! If you use a good RV app the information on length is usually pretty spot on and if not the reviews of the park will let it be known.

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Phil, it depends on where you stay more than any other factor. We have been pretty long, for pretty long....if you get my drift. We never really have big issues. But I do look for places that I know will handle our length. It is not really difficult to find them, but you are not just going to randomly roll into a park and expect to fit. Anything 40' or longer is going to fit into this generalization. And if you plan on spending time in the East your problem will be amplified - you will have to look carefully at parks. But even your 36' in the East can be an issue if you do not research the park.

 

I agree with the advice above - buy the trailer that meets your needs/wants. Then work around it. You live in the trailer every day. Finding parks is not that hard.

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I'm sure I will get some heat for this, but I am just at 70' long with my setup. My new trailer tows a LOT different than my last. (New trailer is 43' and old was 41') but its more about the placement of the axles. The axles on my new trailer are a bit further back. The main reason I noticed this is due to we live at the end of a cul-de-sac and I have to spin my trailer 180deg just to get the tail swung around. My old trailer was much easier. Now that I've had it for a year, its not that bad.

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The larger DRVs are showing light pin weights....way lighter than I would like to see, personally. But they are within the RVIA "guidelines" of 16-23%. There are a few things you can do to help these units out, but that is a separate discussion...maybe a good place for that is under the "weights and balance" topic.

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Before they hauled my totaled Teton away, I should have measured how far back my axles had been set by the previous owner. Really needed to know how close to the rear they were, to help determine on my replacement trailer how much more tail swing I have vs. the other one! That has been my main concern. Like Glenn mentioned, ours was built with the axles inched forward a bit to off load the pin weight (which I hate) but it does put a fair piece of the trailer into the tail swing issue.

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We we are 40' and full time. 36' smaller fridge. We like the 22 cf residential unit. We also like our king bed, our dishwasher. Just can't put but so much in a unit 36ish. Our daughter, grandkids come over occasionly when we are in this area. It is a personal choice though.

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The larger DRVs are showing light pin weights....way lighter than I would like to see, personally. But they are within the RVIA "guidelines" of 16-23%. There are a few things you can do to help these units out, but that is a separate discussion...maybe a good place for that is under the "weights and balance" topic.

I have started cobbling up a start of a thread on how to easily hand calculate both trailer weight and balance in such a manner that you might mitigate the pin weights (light or heavy)....by "cargo-distribution"....

 

The part that makes this proposed thread testy is that my geezer-disabled-spreadsheet lack of pasting into the forum input form tool has me just typing the info in manually...not good with fat fingers and a tiny dumb phone....

 

Anyhow maybe in a day or so I can helpvun-solve the MYSTERY of truck and trailer balance or... unbalance..

 

Drive on....(how do I paste into the forum)

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Phil,

Since 1991, we have ordered, and owned five 5th wheels, and every time we ordered a new one we wanted one a little shorter!!! We went from a 27' to a 33' then

35 1/2', then 36', now have a 37'. That shows how smart I am. I'm afraid to tell you my length now, but it is 3' shorter than my last setup of 75'. Do the math!! :wub:

We dry camp most of the time, and oddly enough, that's where we have most of our problems. I can back in just fine, but there always seems to be a tree/rock/drop off, or something that will not allow me to swing the front of the truck around. Plus, when I hookup, many times I have a hard time getting the hitch to "lock" when I back in at such an angle. I also carry too many toys that can get in the way at 90* plus when on an steep pitch. Like stated in previous posts, the trailer axels make a big difference. Our new trailer has the axels back a little farther than our Teton, so it takes a wider swing, also our pin weight is over 25%, of total. Don't plan on EVER going longer than our 37'. :rolleyes: What ever you get, keep it between the lines. B) Dick T

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The larger DRVs are showing light pin weights....way lighter than I would like to see, personally. But they are within the RVIA "guidelines" of 16-23%. There are a few things you can do to help these units out, but that is a separate discussion...maybe a good place for that is under the "weights and balance" topic.

 

Phil, give me a call, I can share some info with you in regards to the subject Jack raises.

 

I also second Jack's thoughts on Northeast camping, lots of old campgrounds, very few new ones that will take a big rig. These are not money making enterprises in North East, the season are way too short. I had issues getting into some with my 36 footer.

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Well, the print next to the entry door on ours shows 44', but I'm pretty sure that is interior. DRV shows 44' 2", but no actual outside measurements. So I'm thinking 46 +, and then add our bike rack.

 

I'm thinking it tracks the same as our old setback axle Teton, but am concerned about tail swing. Haven't had to back it into any tight spots yet, but will be practicing in a parking lot when we start to roll out of the south in the spring time.

 

Our normal spot in the RGV was too short for us, so we are now in the corner of the park with plenty of space to rear and sides.

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I agree with Jack that daily living and preference in layout is most important, than consideration for site access. You have a car so even IF you can't go exactly where you want with the rig, you can do a day trip or recon a site.

 

The trailers with forward set axles will probbally turn and track about like your present trailer but, have much more tail swing. Look at the king pin to axle distance on your trailer and the trailers you are considering.

 

As far as size; my personal preference is the longer trailers usually have larger kitchens, that make a big quality of of life plus IMHO. The other thing with a bigger floor plan is load flexibility. As Dolly mentioned, load shifting can make a tail heavy trailer better and, light bulky items can go in the back. Two things are really important for me in a trailer, kitchen layout and shower, these may not be on your punch list, choose the trailer that fits YOU best. It is far better to compromise where you stay for the night than it is subject yourself to arbitrary limitations in daily living. Space provides options, options you may not even consider until you live with it for a while.

 

Consider the things that will make life most comfortable for you, living with regret for a what IF is a terrible choice. Having to alter your plans once in a while just makes life interesting.

 

Steve

 

PS

I have not been to the North East with an RV nor do I plan to, size may be an issue there.

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If you remember we had a 32 model drv. Actually close to 34'. We were so cramped for space. Small fridge. We had to go to store daily. Little pantry space. Now I still work full time so more clothes and such. This 40' fits our lifestyle nicely. It does cause problems for us with rv parks. Our sisuation is different from most here. I chase construction. Parks are full when we get there. Not much choice. How many parks here, Baytown, can you park your current setup?

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Well, the print next to the entry door on ours shows 44', but I'm pretty sure that is interior. DRV shows 44' 2", but no actual outside measurements. So I'm thinking 46 +, and then add our bike rack.

 

I'm thinking it tracks the same as our old setback axle Teton, but am concerned about tail swing. Haven't had to back it into any tight spots yet, but will be practicing in a parking lot when we start to roll out of the south in the spring time.

 

Our normal spot in the RGV was too short for us, so we are now in the corner of the park with plenty of space to rear and sides.

 

Rocky,

 

DRV measures their trailers from the pin to the rear bumper. You can usually add 2-0" to their brochure length and you will be very close.

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Phil,

You know what I have and have no trouble getting it in any place i want to, but some times I do have to work a little to get it done.

That being said, with a set back hitch anything can be done, but if it is over the axle, well then that is another story.

Here at my parking lot, as you know that is a rv repair facility, they use my truck many times over the ram they have to get the trailer in the shop, no drive throughs. have to back in to all the stalls.

They are glad mine are here to use as needed, and I am glad they use it as I pay no rent.

 

Roger

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Phil,

We just made the same change. We went from a 37'4" Montana Big Sky to the DRV 40KSSB4 at 40'10" (that you like). We fell in love with the floor plan and we were able to make some minor tweaks to it by custom ordering it through Rolling Retreats. We haven't picked the new trailer up yet, but I don't expect 3 1/2 extra feet to make a huge difference in where we can go. We always plan ahead on our stops. That doesn't mean locking in plans ahead of time (although we do that sometimes). Usually that just means making a phone call or two and then checking things out on sat view on Google Maps. I'm sure we will not be able to get into some parks, but there is always a park somewhere in the area we want to go that we can fit in. Get the floor plan you like the best and then deal with the few times you might have to pick a different park or site in a park to accommodate that choice. You will spend way more time living in the trailer than you will finding parks that will work for you.

 

If you want to talk about the 40KSSB4 and what we did with ours, pm me for my number. I'm happy to share what we did and didn't do.

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While mine is supposedly a 40 ft, I think it is actually closer to 42 ft. I have had no problems and my hitch is further back than most which makes it easier. Your axles will only be about 3 1/2 ft further back so that isn't bad. Maneuvering is no more difficult.

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