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DRV (Pre-Thor) vs New Horizons


Chad&Jen
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Ideally for those full-timers that have owned/experienced both, how would you compare the overall build quality of pre-2015 DRV (Mobile/Elite Suites) versus New Horizons?  NH's reputation seems to be very close to the gold standard when it comes to "built like a tank", but DRVs were the most prevalent brand at the Kansas rally we attended, so it seems they make a good product as well.  I'm leaving Spacecraft out of the discussion at this point as they seem to be on another level altogether (with prices to match).  

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You won't find many used Spacecraft's that are conventional RV's - many are oriented towards special needs. 

I've owned three custom New Horizon Majestics. And I'm VERY familiar with DRV's, having worked on many of them installing electrical modifications. 

You are really talking apples and oranges when comparing them, in my opinion. The DRV has a very nice interior and is well designed. The NH will have higher quality components inside; for example, drawer boxes will be maple and dovetailed and fully finished. Just one example. But the DRV interior is very nice. 

The difference is in the infrastructure. Depending on how it was speced the NH will have more advanced elements in its infrastructure, and the wiring, in particular, will vastly exceed what is in the DRV. So will the price.  As with anything related to the RV industry, it is all about the tradeoffs you are willing to make. There is nothing wrong with a DRV - they are quite nice. But they will not have the same construction as a NH.

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I would agree with Jack.  I currently own a DRV and it is very nice and I am very happy with it.  I too have spent a lot of time installing electrical and other upgrades on multiple DRV’s so I am pretty familiar with them.  Overall, it is a top of the line unit for a production unit.  I can’t really say it has flaws, but there are some things I would change if I could.  These things are infrastructure things.  Some are minor, but others are not.  I am not saying there is anything specifically wrong with my DRV’s infrastructure though.  It is top of the line when you look at comparable units (of which, there are very few).  My biggest complaint is the number of axles.  I have a 42’ DRV (40KSSB4 model).  I tried very hard to get DRV to build it with a third axle, but they would not do it.  They will do some custom work, but nothing that extensive.  The next size larger DRV from mine comes with a third axle, but nothing my size or smaller does.  A New Horizons unit of the same size as mine (or even shorter) will have three axles standard.  My trailer does have dual 9k lb rated MorRyde IS, so it isn’t exactly running on light weight gear, but I would really like it to have a third set underneath it for stability and carrying capacity.

New Horizons on the other hand, are definitely a step above.  I have not owned a New Horizons, but I have toured the factory and spent a lot of time climbing in and around various New Horizons trailers.  The framing is just better.  The running gear is the same that DRV uses, but they use more of them on their trailers.  The wiring is more professionally installed as well.  The side walls and insulation are also very different between the two.  DRV uses a “hung” wall with residential style insulation.  New Horizons uses a pressed wall with pinch rolled lamination with high density styrofoam insulation.  

I could list many other differences, but I think you get the idea.  They are both good units, but they are not apples to apples comparable.  This is why New Horizons cost significantly more than DRVs.  DRVs are not exactly inexpensive, but a similarly sized and equipped New Horizons will always be more expensive.  In my mind you can’t go wrong with either one, but if money is not an issue I would go New Horizons every time.  

My dream rig is a New Horizons.  I have a pretty specific plan on how it would be designed and equipped.  Unfortunately for me, I have a budget when it comes to my RV choice (more specifically my DW has an averse reaction to spending large sums of money ;)).  I was able to get relatively close to what I wanted in my current DRV at a reasonable (to me and more importantly my DW) price.  I then spent a lot of my own labor and some additional money to add more stuff to it after I custom ordered it from DRV.  This all got me reasonably close to what I could have gotten from New Horizons equipment wise, but not completely infrastructure wise at a significantly lower price than the New Horizons would have cost

This is a somewhat long winded way of saying they are both good units, but not directly comparable.

Edited by Chad Heiser
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I had an 2006 Drv. It was a nice unit. We wanted a unit larger as this was a 32TK3. We found this 2003 Teton and latched on to it. And I can honestly say, Teton is a step above the DRV. Now if Teton had remained in business, one could compare them to New Horizons. But even at that , Teton didn't have the flexibility of the build NH does.

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Three years ago we decided to upgrade to a new fifth wheel.  We looked at both DRV and NH along with several other brands.  As others have said, NH is definitely a step up from DRV and for us more than we wanted to spend.

As you can see by our signature, we ended up going with the Luxe.  For us it was better choice and although DRV makes a very nice unit we were attracted to the factory direct model of The RV Factory (makers of the Luxe) and the ability to customize our unit.  We were also impressed by their innovated approach of a residential structure and feel.

I'm not an advocating for a Luxe over a DRV and I think it comes down to a personal choice.  I'm just suggesting if you want an apples to apples comparison, DRV and Luxe would be two good units to look at.

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5 hours ago, Roger & Margaret said:

I'm not an advocating for a Luxe over a DRV and I think it comes down to a personal choice.  I'm just suggesting if you want an apples to apples comparison, DRV and Luxe would be two good units to look at.

1

I agree with that assessment. I'm also very familiar with the Luxe, and it compares very closely and favorably to a DRV. 

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On 2/13/2019 at 8:46 PM, Chad Heiser said:

 My biggest complaint is the number of axles.  I have a 42’ DRV (40KSSB4 model).  I tried very hard to get DRV to build it with a third axle, but they would not do it.  They will do some custom work, but nothing that extensive.  The next size larger DRV from mine comes with a third axle, but nothing my size or smaller does.  A New Horizons unit of the same size as mine (or even shorter) will have three axles standard.  My trailer does have dual 9k lb rated MorRyde IS, so it isn’t exactly running on light weight gear, but I would really like it to have a third set underneath it for stability and carrying capacity.

I do not have a dog in this fight, but, having done a fair amount of Weight & Balance calculations on several DRV units I can state that the tankage (fresh, grey, black, propane) in the DRV often has the POTENTIAL to overwhelm the listed legal carry capacity (payload) of the units with minimal food and personal gear in the units.

The POTENTIAL non-tankage-payload limitation is further compromised by the fact that is somewhat difficult to obtain a normal Balance due to the fact that the DRV tends to carry fairly light percentages of pin weight relative to the total weight of the unit since the majority of DRV owners need / desire to tow with pickup trucks that are load limited to near max even with the fairly light pin weight common on many DRV units.........

Did Jack mentioned....... trade-offs.........

Of course with careful weight management one might keep fresh, grey, black and propane levels low to save weight for somewhat higher payload potential however .........how low do you want to go with your tanks????

Chad hits the nail on the head........more carry capacity (3rd axle?) and better balance would be nice.......

 

Drive on.........,(RV trade-offs......,.,how much money saved is......too much saved?)

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DT, some of the GVWR listed on the DRV's are not quite what they appear. In our case we have an Elite Suites 38RSSA with two axles and a pin weight that is about 23% of the total. What is stupid is that we have the exact same running gear as a Mobile Suites 38RSSA that has a 20K GVWR but our Elite has a 21K GVWR, No difference other than paying for the Elite and getting a different rating. That gave us a cargo capacity of 3,900 pounds not counting a load a water (890 pounds or so). Roughly a 3,000 cargo loadout with full fresh water tanks.

They CAN build them right, they just don't WANT to. They would rather build for the pickup truck crowd with their new "super" pickups that are rated to tow 35,500 pounds. Those guys keep spouting off the SAE J2807 towing tests and the fact that the trucks all passed it without even knowing what the test consists of. There is ONE, repeat ONE braking test in J2807 and your truck has to pass it ONCE. that test is as follows:

"Combos with a maximum tow rating of more than 3,000 pounds are required to stop completely from 20 mph in 80 feet or less. During this stop test, the trailer must remain within an 11.5-foot-wide lane throughout the entire stop. In addition to the active testing, the parking brake must be able to hold the truck and trailer firmly in place both upward and downward on a 12 percent grade when it is at the maximum GCWR."

Wow, from 20mph to 0mph in 80 feet and you also use the trailer brakes. Want to make a bet the truck companies are using the biggest set of hydraulic disk brakes they can put on that trailer for the test? Brake fade? What's that? We only have to test once. Tow in the mountains? Sure, just don't go down the mountain, just stay up there.

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  • I am of the opinion that the absolute worst thing that happened to the RV industry was the switch to frame and suspension components manufactured by Lippert.  With that, the inclusion of electrical components manufactured by WFCO, which are low-end products that may be OK for occasional RV use but do not compare to products from (for example) Progressive Industries.  Jack mentioned the use of maple cabinetry and dovetail joints in the NH.  It goes further than that with some RV's that have nice cabinet doors of Oak or Maple that use "paper wood" for stiles and other structural components.  These products are covered with a printed veneer and are extremely susceptible to peeling, distorting and are destroyed by any ingress of water.  Having owned what I believed at the time were exceptional RV's that were riding on Lippert frames that had major structural issues with welds, support beams and the size of the steel components I can honestly say I will NEVER buy another RV with a Lippert frame.  The frames of two of these units literally broke between the axles and at the pin box requiring extensive modification and reinforcement to be acceptable.  We now own a fifth wheel that is not built on a Lippert frame, has high-end electrical components, Dexter slide-outs, suspension and disc brakes, No paperwood, solid maple cabinets with dovetail joints, Moen faucets, authentic Corian counters - all the stuff RV builders across the industry have forsaken in favor of lesser quality components to keep cost competitive.  The sad part is that to avoid lesser quality construction you have to go to an older well built pre-Lippert rig or pay the price for a custom built or high-end unit that avoids using all Lippert and low-quality Chinese electrical/electronic components.  The old saying "beauty is more than skin deep" definitely applies to the decision of what fifth wheel trailer you decide to purchase if you are looking for durability and full-time living comfort. 
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@RandyA  Don't disagree.  My surmise is the RV industry is focused on the unit that goes to the lake in May and comes home in October, maybe a 2 hour drive away.  Glitz sells, structural integrity, not so much.

@Georgia Hybrid  The recent (say last 10 years) of pick up do have a decent tow/haul feature on the transmission, usually a functional exhaust brake or variable turbine, and a 5 or 6 gear transmission.  They can be controlled on descent if you pay attention.  We hauled a brakeless TT 500 miles thru Canada on the Alaska Hwy until we could get all the issues repaired in Whitehorse.  Also towed a 15,000 lb 5th over the passes in ID and MT using the truck Tow/Haul and Engine Brake (turbo) and never touched the service brakes, actually had to hit the accelerator to maintain a reasonable descent speed.

Net of everything I see heavy construction equipment  hauled on a gooseneck behind a 250/2500, and heavy toyhaulers on 5ths behind the same class of trucks.  

The customer is price sensitive and sees the glitz and usually does not comprehend the structural quality tradeoffs.  

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Georgia Hybrid   You will never convince the numbers ONLY guys. They have no common sense. 40 MPH head wind, the long hills of Iowa or the mountain passes of Colorado OR flat Nebraska. These conditions all made a difference on the test. For me I would rather have too much truck than not enough!

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I think many get into the rv'ing game, with no back ground in things mechanical.  They're not dumb, just inexperienced.  They study the specs, and talk to salesmen, which leads them to the conclusion that a certain class truck is adequate.  None of their sources discuss the need for "margin", in case things don't follow the script.

Hopefully, they gain experience before someone gets hurt.

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Trade-offs........Jack often mentions trade-offs because the RV gig is often so many different things to each RV owner/ operator.....even within a married couple ......I get a hoot out of many of the comments from guys on the forum who are scared-little-boy-toy-slaves who just cringe trying to keep the wife happy with a mobile-manson with Five-$lides, bath & 3/4 and Bluetooth toilet lids and wifi window shades.......NOT me......heck no......shucks whatever Dollymama ....thinks..... Dolly-tha- paint-horse....Might want / need is ALL I have to do.......that's all.....

Yesterday we took a wonder-2-Tecopa Hot Springs to soak our ancient bones and we rattled to the springs in the Dollytrolley v2.05 motorhome and parked next to a tiny Scamp 5er eggshell trailer.....the Scamp owner was so proud of his new electronic fireplace that he forced me into his bat-cave to look at the fireplace in operation.....he had to hop up on to the overhead bed so there was enough room for me to see the fireplace.....it was nicely installed....he was as happy as a pig-in-mud AND he gets 16MPG towing.....more pig-in-mud-trade-offs.....

So not to be outdone I forced the Scamp owner to climb up into the Dollytrolley to look at the new herringbone plank flooring that we just cobbled in to replace the carpet......he gazed in awe as Dollymama was walking around the full size massage table in the living room and commented......"OMG with ALL this room....do you folks ever get lost"?

It's a hoot.....if all our tanks are full they weigh more than his Scamp full..... trade-offs......

Drive on.......(how B I G / small is your.... trade-offs???)

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59 minutes ago, Dollytrolley said:

 from guys on the forum who are scared-little-boy-toy-slaves who just cringe trying to keep the wife happy with a mobile-manson with Five-$lides, bath & 3/4 and Bluetooth toilet lids and wifi window shades

ROFLMAO!!  Thanks, I got a great laugh from that!  As funny as that is, it's a shame you see way too many of those in campgrounds.

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19 hours ago, RandyA said:
  •  I can honestly say I will NEVER buy another RV with a Lippert frame.

I have not researched this, so I will ask you and others here.  Is there a site that lists what manufacturers use these frames?  My RV is a 2002 and has a Lippert frame, so far no problem but we are looking ahead, going to shows, stealerships, etc.  Is there a frame you would suggest is better?  We are looking for an RV between 15-18K loaded, Not for full timing at the moment but will be heavily used, including snow-birding atleast 3 months a year/winter.

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On 2/18/2019 at 11:56 AM, NDBirdman said:

I have not researched this, so I will ask you and others here.  Is there a site that lists what manufacturers use these frames?  My RV is a 2002 and has a Lippert frame, so far no problem but we are looking ahead, going to shows, stealerships, etc.  Is there a frame you would suggest is better?  We are looking for an RV between 15-18K loaded, Not for full timing at the moment but will be heavily used, including snow-birding atleast 3 months a year/winter.

Again, in my opinion, and from my perspective, Lippert has virtually taken over as the primary component supplier for the towable RV industry.  Dexter sold their slide-out division to Lippert "about" six years ago so Lippert is now the only one making the prior assembly.  Since buying this particular Dexter division they have reduced the size of the slide support arms containing the rack gear from 2-1/2" to 2" in the name of saving weight and materials cost.  Some problems have been reported on various forums of distortion (bending) in these downsized arms with resultant damage to gear packs.

I am surprised that your 2002 has a Lippert frame.  It wasn't until 2004 that they began to make their way into production trailers big time - primarily Fleetwood, which has since left the towable market.  I suspect the one on your 2002 may be of better quality than those today.  By 2008 they were used almost universally in the "blue collar" models with a few hold-outs like Sunnybrook that still built their own frames until its acquisition by Winnebago.  IMHO, we lost a lot of quality towables with strong frames and superior construction in the 2006 RV industry meltdown.  Many of those models are in strong demand for renovation and re-use due to their structural design.  By 2006 it was hard for manufacturers to remain cost competitive without switching over to Lippert's components.   Buying these mass produced frames was less expensive than building their own or purchasing from a few small volume secondary suppliers.  While DRV used Lippert frames even before being purchased by Thor they apparently realized the possible structural issues and either spec'ed a heavier frame or added their own needed structural bracing.  The major issue lies with the so-called standard "fits all" frame used by various manufacturers that do not add or specify additional structural bracing or bother to examine the quality of the welds - many of which do not look any better than those made by my 8th-grade shop students from many years ago.  Again, in my opinion, Lippert was (and is) a growing octopus that extended its tentacles to suck up, copy or buy out numerous RV component manufacturers increasing their named presence in the RV industry.  I have reason to believe they "may" be improving some of their products as a result of frequent failures on the front end of their growth, but other components appear to have suffered from even more decline in quality and durability in the name of weight saving and cost containment.

A Lippert frame can be modified to be "acceptable" but there are cost and time involved.  The major weakness is with the piddly little leaf spring hangers and the lack of adequate cross bracing in the axle area.  One fix is to abandon the stock suspension and install a MorRyde IS which adds significant cross bracing. The other is to add an external "window" shaped subframe made from 2"x 2"x1/4" steel tube crossing the frame at the spring hangers with new, heavier, wider spring hangers welded to the new subframe.

Welds in the pinbox area need to be carefully examined, often by removing some plastic molding, and if they do not meet professional welding standards they should be repaired by a professional welder.  If not, frame cracking and pin box failure are imminent.  A prominent clue for excessive flexing in front of the Z frame on fifth-wheel towables is the separation of the connecting molding across the front outside wall edge. The I-beam frame extensions behind the axles in numerous cases are not strong enough to maintain the original frame camber.  Therefore, the back of the frame can sag - especially in rigs with rear slid-outs or those that have a little too much weight in the back.  This will be evidenced by hairline or larger cracks in the fiberglass exterior at the top of the side corners of the trailer wall where the slides go in and out.  Alignment of the slide-outs will become difficult if not impossible.  Lippert's "fix" for this issue is to heat the frame with an electric welder causing it to bow and restore proper camber.  Often this defect can be prevented by adding additional 2" square tubing to the frame aft of the axle.

Personally, I see all of this as a sad state of affairs.  The saying "They don't build them like they used to" is true when it comes to frame integrity in the modern towable industry.  Unfortunately, unsuspecting buyers or those unfamiliar with the necessity of a strong foundation for any towable overlook this all-important factor.  A significantly large majority of these owners may never experience a problem as they only tow their trailer a 1,000 or so miles a year on smooth(?) highways when vacation time rolls around.  Those of us that live in our towables with these "standard spec" Lippert frame units full-time or long-time and tow thousands of miles cross country will surely come face-to-face with problems from these structural shortcuts.

Note:  While the opinions expressed here are strictly my own, I have found many others that share the same opinions. I have personally experienced all of the stated failure issues (and more) on either one or both of my previously owned towables - each from a different manufacturer using Lippert frames.  I have observed the identical problems on other towables.  I believe I have enough engineering knowledge and experience to clearly see what is happening in today's towable industry.  Costs must be contained to remain competitive thus "something" has to give or go so that the glitz that sells can be included.

Edited by RandyA
spelling error corrected
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Let me add, it's folks like Randy that helped us when we decided to upgrade.  I asked about toy haulers, and the general consensus was to find a Carriage or Newmar.  We now have a Newmar X-Aire, which was discontinued several years ago.  

I'm thankful for such a knowledgeable group.

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  • 1 year later...

 We switched from a Class A to a 5th wheel and wanted something as stout or at least as close as we could get to what we were accustomed to in a Class A so after much research we ended up going with a New Horizons even though we (I) really wanted to save the money and go with a DRV. But after touring both factories we bellied up and and paid.

 Now, it's crazy" but we are wanting to go bigger and once again I look at DRV because building a new rig and then selling within 2 years is not a very financially sound thing to do and by switching from a New Horizon to a DRV would dampen the sting BUT, I don't think we can make ourselves do it. We find ourselves coming to the same choice of going with another New Horizons, that must say something about them.   

   

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12 hours ago, hdrider said:

 We switched from a Class A to a 5th wheel and wanted something as stout or at least as close as we could get to what we were accustomed to in a Class A so after much research we ended up going with a New Horizons even though we (I) really wanted to save the money and go with a DRV. But after touring both factories we bellied up and and paid.

 Now, it's crazy" but we are wanting to go bigger and once again I look at DRV because building a new rig and then selling within 2 years is not a very financially sound thing to do and by switching from a New Horizon to a DRV would dampen the sting BUT, I don't think we can make ourselves do it. We find ourselves coming to the same choice of going with another New Horizons, that must say something about them.   

   

You will be severely disappointed in going to a DRV from a NH.  It may be the right length or floor plan, but the quality is not there.  We are considering moving from a 2017 DRV Memphis (46'overall) to a 2013 or 2014 New Horizons just so I don't have to fix something every time we move.... or it rains...

Edited by Alie&Jim's Carrilite
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59 minutes ago, Alie&Jim's Carrilite said:

You will be severely disappointed in going to a DRV from a NH.  It may be the right length or floor plan, but the quality is not there.  We are considering moving from a 2017 DRV Memphis (46'overall) to a 2013 or 2014 New Horizons just so I don't have to fix something every time we move.... or it rains...

 Yup, you are probably right and I think if we do it we will go with NH again. We are in a 40' now and think we want to go 44'. We will be at NH early next month for our just over a year warranty run and will no doubt talk to them about our options. The bummer is they don't do trades.

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