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Mizzougrad10

New to RV life but need help with 5th wheel and any advice

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My wife and I are brand new to The RV lifestyle. We have a 19m old and want to continue growing our family. I have decided to go back to school to become a physician and my wife would like us to get a large 5th wheel (minimum 36 ft) for us to live in while I’m in school for the next 10 years since we don’t know where all my school/training will take place. We’ve done some research but thought it would be good to post here as well..

Is there a more reliable brand? Would you recommend buying brand new or used? Anything we need to know or be aware of? We want to buy something that’s going to last. We have read people recommend keystone brand, Jayco, grand designs but when I look up reviews they don’t seem very good. We have a diesel ram 3500 that has a 21000+ lb towing capacity, so any size rig should be fine for us to haul.

 

 

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First what area of the country?  Even a well built 4 season unit is a chore to full time unit in winter can be a tough.

You will do much better on cost and quality with a gently  used 5er.  I would stay away from anything from Thor or Forest River.  That pretty much cuts down the field since they own over 80% of the RV manufacturers in the USA.

Used, I'd look at HitchHiker, Excel, Cameo, DRV (Mobile Suites), Lifestyle, Teton, ....Of these, DRV is the only one currently being built and Thor now owns them.

VanLeigh and Grand Design get fair reviews for new ones.  But if you go new, expect lots of problems the first year or two.

A 4 season trailer is heavy, so yo need to really look at what your truck tow and the pin weights can overload many single rear wheel trucks long before you reach the towing capacity.  The pinweight on a typical 4 season 5er is 20% of the trailers GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating).  DO not believe any of the brochure pin weights.  These are dry weights and for full time use you will be close to GVWR.

Sign up for the Escapees Online RV University and you will learn a lot.

Ken

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This online calculator will accurately and safely match a prospective 5er and tow vehicle. I suggest buying the 5er first, then matching the truck to tow that 5er. If you buy the truck first, you are limited to it's capacities when 5er shopping. Been there-done that; had to trade-in a really good 3/4T Dodge CTD for a 1T dually to tow our new 5er.

On the other hand; you may buy a 5er, and have it moved wherever you are assigned by  such a service. Those RV towing services may be found by talking to local RV sales companies. This way you can have a family auto instead of a  truck.

 

 

Edited by Ray,IN

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34 minutes ago, Ray,IN said:

This online calculator will accurately and safely match a prospective 5er and tow vehicle. I suggest buying the 5er first, then matching the truck to tow that 5er. If you buy the truck first, you are limited to it's capacities when 5er shopping. Been there-done that; had to trade-in a really good 3/4T Dodge CTD for a 1T dually to tow our new 5er.

On the other hand; you may buy a 5er, and have it moved wherever you are assigned by  such a service. Those RV towing services may be found by talking to local RV sales companies. This way you can have a family auto instead of a  truck.

 

 

They already have a Ram 3500 as listed in their original post. Jay

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15 hours ago, TXiceman said:

Used, I'd look at HitchHiker, Excel, Cameo, DRV (Mobile Suites), Lifestyle, Teton, ....Of these, DRV is the only one currently being built and Thor now owns them.

I'd add New Horizons to this list, too.  They are still in business.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! If I were you I would look for New Horizons as a first choice, then perhaps Grand Design and Vanleigh, assuming that you are looking new or near new. As you go older then include Hitchiker, Heartland, DRV, and possibly a few others. It would be helpful to have some idea of what your budget is. I would also keep weather in mind as you consider what schools to attend since no RV is really well suited to the harshest of winters without a great deal of preparation and maintenance. It is also important to remember that RV appliances do age out and are very expensive to replace. Most of them will last for about 10 years under heavy use so an older RV will need more appliance maintenance and replacement and may cost more in the long term than a newer one. 

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I agree with Kirk that buying used and expecting it to last 10 years may cost you more in the long run with repairs and replacement of old appliances. Also take a look at 5th wheel toy haulers. The rear garage often has drop down beds for the kids and a air conditioning unit and most new ones have a rear bath so the garage can be used as the kids room. 

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Being mobile is good if your job or training / education dictates you being mobile. But living fulltime in an RV can be just as expensive as a stix and bricks home or apartment. You really have to work at it to make it cheaper and with very minimal debt.

You want to stay mobile, OK.

What do you say people, 80-85% of RVs, regardless of manufacturer, all use the same appliances, microwave/convection oven, water heater, AC units, refrigerator, stove, so on and so forth. Most of the manufactures, on new units, have a one year warranty on appliances. A lot of these items fail often new and need repair or replacement. A lot of new units have problems right off with the pex plumbing leaks in the water systems.

Buying a new 5th wheel in the 36-39 ft range, mid price point is going to run you $60-75,000, are you ready for that? High price point RVs over $100,000. I would not go cheap low end light weight RV here, they will not last. Travel trailers can be a little cheaper, maybe,  but are susceptible to the same problems as 5th wheels.  

I know you have a 1 ton truck, but a lot of the RVs have huge pin weights, in the 3300 - 4000+ pound range depending on the RV. Always use 20-22% of a 5th wheel RV GVWR for an estimate of pin weight. 12-14% for a travel trailer tongue weight. Truck Payload capacity is far more important than towing cap for a truck. Also think about RV cargo carrying capacity. Some RVs look great, but have very low CCC, in the 2000# range. That is not a lot for all your stuff! Some have very high CCC, like ours 4,478 pounds, but that also means its heavy on the truck and heavy to tow.

RV livability - where in the country will you be staying a lot of the time? Hard winters in an RV takes a lot of work preparing for and expensive, think propane. You have to keep the RV furnace running to keep the water pipes from freezing. Two 30 pound tanks are not going to cut it. You can not relay on just electric heaters. Then think about Skirting along the bottom of the RV to keep the cold wind out. You can not go cheap light weight RV here, the bottom side of the RV, walls, roof had better be insulated well, maybe even double pane windows. Staying in warm climate, southern states, you better have two AC units to keep the coach cool.

Also, today they are cranking out a lot of new RVs to keep up with demand, a lot of short cuts are being made, shoddy work, meaning a lot of new RVs, regardless of manufacturer, have problems in the plumbing and electrical systems right off the bat. Do you have time to drag the RV back to the dealer for repair? RV dealer service centers are overwhelmed with repair work. A lot of dealers will not work on your repairs if you did not buy it there. You might be waiting weeks to get it repaired, now your hold up in a hotel/motel. Are you knowledgeable and handy with tools? Can you fix it yourself?

Just to add RV maintenance - RVs are not buy them and forget maintenance. I have 4 pages of maintenance items that have to be done monthly, quarterly, biannual and annual. Can you repack wheel bearings? They need to be done annually. What type of suspension does the RV have, leaf springs, shackles and bushings? If so the bushings better have wet bolts for greasing quarterly, more or less depending on how often its towed. Never lube bushings or bearings, don't trust them. Independent suspension and disk brakes = higher end RVs with higher initial prices. 

This is only the beginning of what you need to educate yourself on. I am not trying to kill your dreams but you better be realistic and well educated on RVs before jumping in.

Edited by Steven@146

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17 hours ago, Jaydrvr said:

They already have a Ram 3500 as listed in their original post. Jay

That is the reason for my last sentence. We owned and towed with a dually 4x4 for 8 years, it was unhandy for shopping, sightseeing, etc., great for towing a 5er and for use around our farm.

I also said I doubt they will be moving more frequently than once a year. 

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1 hour ago, Ray,IN said:

 it was unhandy for shopping, sightseeing, etc., great for towing a 5er and for use around our farm.

Different stroke for different folks, I guess.  The dually I have has been of a minimal negative impact as a daily driver/sightseeing vehicle.  Yes, there are some jeep trails I should not have taken, but we made it thru.  As for shopping, walking from the far end of the parking lot is a minor issue, IMO.  8 years half-timing and 1 1/2 years fulltiming.

Edited by remoandiris

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1 minute ago, remoandiris said:

Different stroke for different folks, I guess.  The dually I have has been of a minimal negative impact as a daily driver/sightseeing vehicle.  Yes, there are some jeep trails I should not have taken, but we made it thru.  As for shopping, walking from the far end of the parking lot is a minor issue, IMO.

  IMO it would be harder when you have a small child like  Missougrad10.

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2 minutes ago, remoandiris said:

How so?  

She would have to carry the 19 month-old  from the  distant spaces of the parking lot to the building. Then deal with handling the groceries and the child back to the truck. If the weather is hot, that makes it more strenuous. 

Edited by Ray,IN

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1 hour ago, Ray,IN said:

She would have to carry the 19 month-old  from the  distant spaces of the parking lot to the building. Then deal with handling the groceries and the child back to the truck.

The only difference between the dually and any other vehicle will be the walking distance.  Still have to deal with groceries and the child back at any vehicle.

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28 minutes ago, remoandiris said:

The only difference between the dually and any other vehicle will be the walking distance.  Still have to deal with groceries and the child back at any vehicle.

We agree.

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6 hours ago, Steven@146 said:

What do you say people, 80-85% of RVs, regardless of manufacturer, all use the same appliances, microwave/convection oven, water heater, AC units, refrigerator, stove, so on and so forth. Most of the manufactures, on new units, have a one year warranty on appliances.

While most of the appliances are from the same manufacturers, they do not all use the same models of those appliances. In addition, the construction materials, vary a great deal, as does the quality and amount of insulation, the interior finish materials, upholstery, carpet, and even the amount of engineering involved. That is very different from the top line manufacturers to those who build the cheapest RVs. Get a cheap unit and you can expect more in expenses for maintenance, repairs and the cost/ability to heat and cool them. 

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5 hours ago, Ray,IN said:

That is the reason for my last sentence. We owned and towed with a dually 4x4 for 8 years, it was unhandy for shopping, sightseeing, etc., great for towing a 5er and for use around our farm.

I also said I doubt they will be moving more frequently than once a year. 

That may be true, but they seem to be currently of the opinion that's all the truck they need. Often, it's not an option to purchase another expensive truck when you already have one. This is the impression I got from their post. Jay

Edited by Jaydrvr

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Location, Location....sounds like you are buying a house without knowing where you will build the house yet....places to park your rig, may not be desirable because of the neighborhood by your school and nice spots are too far away...

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