View Full Version : Started The Plan

Trail Rider
10-29-2018, 07:09 PM
Hello fellow 5ers. Did I spell that right? We have decided to be mobile in our retirement and have decided to use a 5th wheel for our travels.
We enjoy cycling on rail trails and plan to travel to ride. Looking forward to hearing from those of you who have traveled the road before us. So we will have many questions regarding a good size-not too big 5er for a couple and the appropriate towing vehicle. Thanks in advance for your input!

11-06-2018, 08:23 AM
If you are going full time don’t go too small or you will go nuts. We have a full package for sale 2014 38RsB3 and 2017 Ford F-350 DRW.

11-06-2018, 10:28 AM
Trail Rider,
Welcome to the forum.
Lots of options, surely you need to do a lot of research before you buy--check out RV shows for floorplans you like, then go to RVtrader.com for pricing on used units. Suggest you go used first purchase to avoid the huge depreciation right off the lot--that way if you change your mind later about what you need for taking bikes along.

half dimes
11-06-2018, 01:07 PM
...We enjoy cycling on rail trails and plan to travel to ride. ...So we will have many questions regarding a good size-not too big 5er for a couple and the appropriate towing vehicle. ...
Plan ahead on how you want to carry your bicycles. Toting expensive bikes them on a carrier on the back of the rig can get them really dirty. Putting them in bags designed for the purpose helps but may block taillights or license tag. Toy haulers are nice but probably overkill for just a couple of bikes. After going the rear carrier route for our long wheel base recumbents, we finally removed the sofabed from the rig and I built a custom platform attaching the bikes with fork clamps. The bikes rode inside across the back wall of the rig, out of the weather and more secure.

Size wise, we found our 37' rig with four slides to be ideal for our purposes. We weren't full timers so the rig was big enough to be out for a couple of months, but short enough to be able to fit into almost any campground.

After 20 years, 49 states, and several Canadian provinces, we're about done with RVing. We don't regret a minute of our time on the road. Have fun in your search for the right rig.

Trail Rider
11-08-2018, 10:36 AM
Thanks everyone for your responses! We have been looking at all the used ones out there so will definitely go that route. We are wondering if a bunk house can be remodeled to install an inside bike rack as Half Dimes did without affecting he integrity of the trailer. Leave the upper bunk in for storage and remove the lower bunk for access from an outside door. Would make it easy to get them in and out. We are trying to pin down our needs/wants. Others have said to buy a cheap one first then after you have traveled in it a while trade it towards what you want. I would rather skip that step if possible and do the additional research up front. Let me know what your suggestions and experiences are about this please. And thanks again. Hope to see you on the trails someday.

11-08-2018, 10:43 AM
Taking a bunk out and installing the bike rack shouldn't be difficult--putting in an outside door would be a deal for a knowledgeable/competent RV tech. Or finding a model with 2 doors, maybe--they make them in fivers.

Trail Rider
11-08-2018, 12:19 PM
Wingnut60, we have seen bunkhouse 5ers that have an outside access door already installed. Not full size but look big enough to roll the bikes out. So there's that. Then there's the whole gas vs diesel shortbed vs longbed considerations. I like the idea of an extra cab longbed for the clearance. Not convinced about a diesel though. Seems like a big cost difference per gallon. Still have time to figure these things out. Planning to hit the shows starting next year.

11-08-2018, 09:29 PM
If you don't go real long/heavy, then one of the new Ford 6.2L gas trucks should work.
Ford is also rumored to have a new 7.3L gas engine coming out soon.

Trail Rider
11-18-2018, 08:53 AM
Half Dimes, I would be curious to see a picture of your recumbent bike rack whenever it would be convenient. They make a quick release fork mount that can be installed just about anywhere. My concern would be how to mount it to the floor. Thanks!

fjr vfr
11-24-2018, 09:06 PM
Friends of ours have one of these. They have recumbent trikes and mountain bikes. They love the side door loading and have a king bed out back. Their trailer is a few year older so the designation might be a different number. Keystone makes several of this type. They're not 5th wheel but you might consider one?


You don't say if you'll be full timing. One word of advice. You can have a truck that's too small, but you can't have one that's too big. If you go to the 5th wheel don't worry about tow capacity...it's nearly meaningless. Hitch weight and cargo weight is your concern. And don't go by the hitch weight listed on the trailer because that's not the loaded hitch weight. It will be about 20% more. Good luck finding the right set up for you.

Trail Rider
11-26-2018, 07:53 PM
fjr vfr, yes we will be full timing. And unless we see something special at the rv show next year we are focused on using a 5er. Gas prices are coming down in my area which may support looking at a diesel truck in the near future.
Until then we have lots to let go!

fjr vfr
11-26-2018, 10:08 PM
IMHO, if you are going full time and getting a 5th wheel I'd get a diesel. Our 5th wheel is a Laredo 265rl which is 30 ft overall and 10,600 lbs gross. We have a diesel 6.7 cummins and I am so glad. We previously had a gas truck and the diesel pulls the trailer soo much better. The fuel mileage doesn't drop off nearly as much when towing either. The only negative is the up front cost. As for fuel prices, you can never count on them being stable. They will always be changing good and bad.
I find my diesel costs a little less on fuel because even though diesel is more expensive I get better mpg especially when towing.
Good Luck and best wishes

Trail Rider
12-30-2018, 10:31 AM
I would like to hear from the experienced campers about how you first got started in a 5er. Did you just buy the truck and rig without any experience and drive it home? Did you have it delivered and strike out on your own from your house? Or maybe you rented a unit or 2 before making a purchase. We have been researching renting but have not found units that include the truck also. I suppose that no one wants to rent their rig to someone who has never driven one before. So a little advice here would be much appreciated. Happy New Year.

12-30-2018, 11:39 AM
Have not seen any place that rents a travel trailer/fifth wheel and the tow truck. Scary to me to send someone off with new-to-them equipment and no experience. Wow, the liability......
We started out with old pickup, small travel trailer and just kept up sizing--along the way we also picked up experience the old-fashioned way, mistakes and corrections....
HAVE seen many dealers who will sell any type of towed vehicle to anyone with a truck/car, experienced or not...

Trail Rider
12-30-2018, 03:24 PM
Thanks Wingnut60, we are thinking we would buy the trailer first. But would also be great to find both at the same time from the same seller. The search goes on.

12-30-2018, 03:45 PM
Just spend a lot of time looking--RVTrader.com--Craigslist.com--several others. Not rare for someone to lose a spouse and quit traveling, selling a combo ready to go.

12-30-2018, 07:47 PM
When we decided to go the full time route, searched the pros and cons with motorhome and 5th wheel. Decided to go 5th wheel and truck combo from someone selling used as a unit. We lived in Detroit area, and found a combo in southern California. I flew out to inspect, see and drive the truck and made a deal. Flew home and then within a few weeks drove a lease car we were going to turn in out there, picked up the unit, and turned in the car. Had the owner help me get the rig to a local RV park, where I had pre-arranged to have a driving instructor teach my wife and myself how the heck to drive it back to Michigan. We paid for 2 days and having NEVER driven anything like that before was we felt, needed.
Well worth the money, I'm sure that education saved us a few scrapes and bumps plus a couple of $1,000 deductibles on the trip home. We figured if the right combo was found from a caring owner we would be much farther along than buying a new trailer and truck. If we decided we just didn't like the full time life style, we could sell it off and not be losing a ton of cash. We stayed in the full time life for 8 years. Did upgrade the trailer after about 1 year to a nicer/better trailer.

12-31-2018, 12:12 PM
Started in 85 with a used tent trailer. Moved up to a 16' TT. Then 20' used TT. 22' new TT was next. Next came 26' new 5th wheel no slide. 30' used 5th wheel one slide. In 2001 bought new Montana 34' 2 slides. 2003 34' Teton three slides. 2014 39' 5th wheel toy hauler three slides. Now used 37' 2011 Mobile Suites four slides. I don't see any more RV's in my future.
Oh there was a used 43' Monaco DP three slide in between the toyhauler & Mobile Suites. Only had it for 18 months. Needed to get back to my 5th wheel routes ;)

Suite Sweets
01-01-2019, 10:11 PM
TrailRider: Choose your 5th wheel first, then the truck. 5th wheels are made for either 1) becoming virtually a park model, which spends most of it's time parked, or 2) for traveling. If you're looking for a park model, this letter is NOT for you. If you're going to be traveling, then this letter if FOR you. For traveling, you want a strong frame. That means New Horizons, DRV, and Luxe. Why a strong frame ? My mid-level 5th wheel didn't have a strong frame. The frame flexed so much, that any caulk I applied, and I tried many brands, cracked within 2 days of travel. In my constant fight against water intrusion, I was constantly caulking - trying to seal those cracks. The used DRV I recently purchased has nice tight caulk lines. Some of those caulk lines have opened up since it was made in 2013, and I'm recaulking the whole unit. But I expect to do that annually, or semi-annually, not every 3rd day.

Our first 5th wheel had (not independent) springs, drum brakes, 16" wheels, adequate axles, awful tires, blah frame.. It was a mid-level name ordered cheap from the factory because the factory allowed the dealer to order cheap, and trade on the value of the name. I bought the name, and didn't know all the ways to build cheap. But I do now.

Next, choose brakes and wheels. You want disc and 17-1/2". I had drum and 16". Stopping, I attribute to the quality of the F350 brakes, not to anything on the 5th wheel. And yes, I had the brakes re-done by a pro, and checked by another pro. What I had was all I was going to get.

In my first 5th wheel, I had 13,000 lbs (empty) on 2-7,000 lb axles. The 2nd 5th wheel has 18,000 (empty) on 3-8,000 axles.

Others have recommended buying used - find the floor plan you like, make your learning mistakes with a less expensive unit. I concur. But I concur in that I recommend you buy one of the brands listed above, but older as needed to suit the budget you've allocated.

You're full timing. 36' is fine. We full-timed for 5 years and just bought a 43'. Down the highway, I find no difference. This one is 101" (vs 96"). I didn't pass anyone with the first 5th wheel, and I'm not passing anyone with the 2nd. We go to truck stops with the 2nd. Most gas stations just not spacious enough, and I've got 3 axles - hate to make those tight turns pulling the tires on that 3rd axle sideways on the concrete. It's said that any size you purchase, you will find to be too small in the campground, and too long on the road. I was counseled by an old hand, that when he stepped up to 42', he found no difference in pulling, and I agree.

Diesel vs gas. Consumers Reports says there is no justification for buying diesel - BASED ON EXPECTED LONGEVITY of the motor. I find the diesel dirty, expensive (14 quarts of oil in one change, and fuel, air, filters are more expensive than I ever spent on a gas engine). OEM recommendations of engine size are based on nationwide driving - mountains to seacoast, 2 lane highways to Los Angeles interstates. I mostly drive in a crescent from Texas to Maine - all relatively flat. I don't need the OEM's horse power and torque recommendations. Will you ? All that said, I love the hell out of my diesel. It's fast, powerful, quiet. A crew cab, long bed, on 20" wheels, we rule the parking lot. How likely is it you will drive your truck - gas or diesel - 250,000 miles ? Not likely.

If you decide to purchase your 5th wheel new, here's what you're fighting. You'll be laying out $100,000. And you want $100,000 worth of value in product and service. The manufacturer, if it sells through a dealer, has got to cut the dealer in for $15,000. That means the manufacturer is getting $85,000. But the manufacturer is going to net 5% after taxes on that sale (check out Thor's P+L, it's on the internet). So for any issues you've got with a new unit, again, you want $100,000 worth of value. While under warranty, the dealer is happy to provide you with whatever the manufacturer will reimburse. But the manufacturer only has $4250 in profit to please you. So if you have an issue of consequence, that manufacturer approaches you at a 100 to 4.2 disadvantage in the likelihood of making you happy. I have written other blurbs (not the same as a blog) about new RV pricing structure (manufacturer specific). If I were buying new, I'd look to be buying direct. Because the manufacture's business model has itself, not the dealer (and not you), pocketing the dealer's profit, there is a much greater likelihood of the manufacturer making you happy. The manufacturer has the profits to be able to so do.

Buying used, all seller's are on a level playing field. As Wingnut advises, spend a lot of time looking and talking. One other observation. If you go a long way to look at a unit for purchase, you feel the need to come away from the trip with what you went for - to show something for your efforts. Try to stay close to home, or, tie in other objectives with your trip to look and buy the RV. Visit you child, play golf at a fantastic course, etc. That way, if you don't buy, you have other objectives that you will meet, and the trip will not feel like such a loss.

Good Luck

01-02-2019, 12:38 AM
Suite Sweets,
What make/model truck do you have?

Suite Sweets
01-02-2019, 06:29 AM
Joe, It's a 2011 F-350 Lariat. It's been a good truck