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Author Topic: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need  (Read 610 times)

bulldog4road

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Hello everyone,
Long time reader here and decided to register finally.
I read too many posts and you guys really know what you are talking.

So I have couple of limitations when I think about a 5th wheel.
It is just me, my wife and our 9 months old English Bulldog right now but who knows what life will bring in the future.

I have been doing my homework and researching for a long time. It is just the financials game after this.
I checked all my options and seems like 5th Wheel is the best way for us to go.

Our budget is up to $30-$35K for the 5th wheel.
We don't want a brand new unit. Something maybe up to 7 8 years old (newer is better of course). We can go older. The reason is we want to spend some time and modify and repair the interior( when I say we, it is actually my wife, she wants to change all old style RV stuff inside and maybe even paint the cabinets.)
We want something up to 32 feet. Nothing bigger. We want to be able to easily go in and out everywhere. So this also means I need something durable and strong.
We don't need washer and dryer.
Also when we feel like it, we want to be able to boondock up to a week. This is why we are looking for an older rig. I want to spend some money to modifications and add-ons like Solar and batteries. Something solar ready is always a plus but not a must.
For that we need big water tanks. Minimum 60 gallons fresh water.
Also we feel like we will always travel to warmer areas but I want the option to spend some time in cold weather. Insulation is a must and also heated plumbing system and tanks.
We need a living room with that fits at least 1 pull out sofa and 2(at least 1) recliners. So anything smaller than 29ft probably too small and also there are not many options out there smaller than 29ft.
We are thinking about moving every 2-3 weeks. Easy set up with auto leveling jacks makes everything easy but not necessary.

So far Grand Design REFLECTION 27RL / 150 series 29-5L and Arctic Fox 27-5L  (maybe Glacier Peak too, not sold on the water tank 60gl seems not enough) looks like great fits but they are hard to find used. And for these models, do I need a 1 ton diesel truck or can I go lower than that. If you think about the future, maybe 1 ton is the better choice. Maybe for Grand Design Reflection 150 series 29-5L, I can get away with 3/4 Ton.

What else is out there? Which make and brand 5th wheels? Thank you

Thank you very much

Gizmo

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2018, 10:03:54 AM »
Grand Design seems to have a good reputation and many happy owners, but for full-time, if you prefer Grand Design, I would look at their Solititude models because as I understand the GD lines, the Reflection while some nice models, are built more for lighter weights to minimize the size truck required to tow.  While this is fine for a recreational user, the lighter weight trailers generally will not hold up as well for full-time use as their heavier counterparts, because heavier weights generally translate to more durable construction.  Artic Fox a Northwood product have a good reputation and the AF is a heavy trailer because of the more substantial build and would be a good choice for full time. The Glacier Peaks are also very nice and are built pretty well, they seem to have a lot of similarities with Artic Fox and the factory is in La Grand, OR, same as AF. The only down side I can see with Glacier Peak for you, is you mention wanting buy used and sounds like you might prefer an older unit, as such you should know Glacier Peak is a relatively new product, so there may not be many used on the market and of those out there, they are likely to be newer approx 2014 or newer.
Regards, Bruce, Lin An, Kenji & Suki
2017 Eagle Cap 1165 Truck Camper With Tork Lift Fast Gun Tie Downs & T.L. Wobble Stoppers
2015 Ram Big Horn 3500 CC Cummins TD Dually 3:73 Gears & AISIN Tranny
Gone But not forgotten:
2014 Northwoods Snow River 246RKS &
2013 Aliner Expedition

bulldog4road

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2018, 10:29:22 AM »
Grand Design seems to have a good reputation and many happy owners, but for full-time, if you prefer Grand Design, I would look at their Solititude models because as I understand the GD lines, the Reflection while some nice models, are built more for lighter weights to minimize the size truck required to tow.  While this is fine for a recreational user, the lighter weight trailers generally will not hold up as well for full-time use as their heavier counterparts, because heavier weights generally translate to more durable construction.  Artic Fox a Northwood product have a good reputation and the AF is a heavy trailer because of the more substantial build and would be a good choice for full time. The Glacier Peaks are also very nice and are built pretty well, they seem to have a lot of similarities with Artic Fox and the factory is in La Grand, OR, same as AF. The only down side I can see with Glacier Peak for you, is you mention wanting buy used and sounds like you might prefer an older unit, as such you should know Glacier Peak is a relatively new product, so there may not be many used on the market and of those out there, they are likely to be newer approx 2014 or newer.

You are right about the weight but Grand Design Reflection series are pretty heavy for their length class. On the other hand they also have Reflection 150 Series. This is where they become lighter. I checked both series and quality seems pretty close but 150 series lack couple of features like auto leveling. Their insulation ratings are the same. For example Reflection   29RS has GVWR   10995 lbs and Reflection 150 Series   295RL has GVWR 10195 lbs.

grashley

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  • Western KY for now.
Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2018, 08:38:59 PM »
You are wise beyond your post numbers  :)  This is what we did.

Last November, we got a '09 Grand Junction FW  Not the one you want, at 39 ft, but it fits us fine.  It sold for $73K new, we paid $26K from a private seller.  Bottom line - what YOU want is out there in that age and price range. 

Take your time shopping.  My favorite sites were PPL consignments in TX for ideas because of a super user friendly web site,    RVTrader.com  (where we found the one we bought),  RVT,    RV's for Less   (Knoxville, TN has higher end FW at great prices.  Lots of inventory turnover), and local RV sales locations.

Good luck in your search!!
Preacher Gordon, DW Debbie
09 Grand Junction 35 TMS  Progressive HW50C
Andersen Ultimate hitch
2013 F350 Lariat LB SRW Supercab diesel 4X4   TST TMS  Garmin 760
Nimrod Series 70 popup (sold)
It's not a dumb question if you do not know the answer.

bulldog4road

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2018, 08:32:35 AM »
You are wise beyond your post numbers  :)  This is what we did.

Last November, we got a '09 Grand Junction FW  Not the one you want, at 39 ft, but it fits us fine.  It sold for $73K new, we paid $26K from a private seller.  Bottom line - what YOU want is out there in that age and price range. 

Take your time shopping.  My favorite sites were PPL consignments in TX for ideas because of a super user friendly web site,    RVTrader.com  (where we found the one we bought),  RVT,    RV's for Less   (Knoxville, TN has higher end FW at great prices.  Lots of inventory turnover), and local RV sales locations.

Good luck in your search!!

Thank you a lot. I check out most of these websites already but there are couple of them I never heard of. I will check them out.
I have time. not in a rush. I like doing research and I actually enjoy it (if I have enough time).

ksbowman

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2018, 09:58:35 PM »
We have a 2016 GD Reflection 303rls and are extremely happy with it. Very good quality and more quality than our two previous 5th wheels. It falls within your price range. It is not in the light weight range in my opinion and is at the upper limits of most 3/4 ton pickups, but still no problem to haul and stop.

bulldog4road

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2018, 07:58:23 AM »
We have a 2016 GD Reflection 303rls and are extremely happy with it. Very good quality and more quality than our two previous 5th wheels. It falls within your price range. It is not in the light weight range in my opinion and is at the upper limits of most 3/4 ton pickups, but still no problem to haul and stop.
Yes 303rls is in my price range and dry weight should be 9,125 lb if I am not wrong. Does yours have auto leveling?
And what truck do you use for it? I never had a chance to tour one but very similar layout to other reflection models.
Thank you

ksbowman

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  • Posts: 128
Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2018, 05:51:18 PM »
Ours does not have auto leveling, but I'm not sure I would want it. It is very easy to level without it and if kept as long as I plan to it would only be one more thing to go wrong. We tow with a Dodge quad cab 2005 5.9 diesel auto with a 3.73 rear gears. I thought it was 9200# empty with a 1650# pin weight. We do have the 2nd air unit but, didn't need it and our stays in Kansas and Colorado on the plains were both in the 90's. Anyway we just get on the highway, set the cruise control and it handles it beautifully. We took a trip to Colorado in Sept. and went over a down 5 different passes with no problems.

grashley

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  • Western KY for now.
Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2018, 07:06:54 PM »
I found NADA/RV a great site.  It lists almost all campers made in the recent past.  Their data includes not only pricing, but how many axles, how many slides and dry wt.  This can really help with used campers.

Note the dry wt is NOT a number to use!!!  Nobody goes camping in an empty camper, and your truck needs to carry the weight of the fully loaded camper!!

You have not mentioned your tow vehicle.  Please do this for your own safety.
Look on the driver door latch post for a yellow border placard stating  the maximum weight of all passengers and cargo shall not exceed XXXX pounds.  This is exactly what it says.

Add together the weight of all passengers who will travel with you, including pets, car seats, tools, firewood, toys, 150# for a hitch and 20% of the FW  GVWR as a good estimate for pin wt.  Again, the published pin wt is useless.  It does not reflect the pin wt of a ready to camp FW.
Preacher Gordon, DW Debbie
09 Grand Junction 35 TMS  Progressive HW50C
Andersen Ultimate hitch
2013 F350 Lariat LB SRW Supercab diesel 4X4   TST TMS  Garmin 760
Nimrod Series 70 popup (sold)
It's not a dumb question if you do not know the answer.

bulldog4road

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  • Posts: 12
Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2018, 09:17:53 AM »
I found NADA/RV a great site.  It lists almost all campers made in the recent past.  Their data includes not only pricing, but how many axles, how many slides and dry wt.  This can really help with used campers.

Note the dry wt is NOT a number to use!!!  Nobody goes camping in an empty camper, and your truck needs to carry the weight of the fully loaded camper!!

You have not mentioned your tow vehicle.  Please do this for your own safety.
Look on the driver door latch post for a yellow border placard stating  the maximum weight of all passengers and cargo shall not exceed XXXX pounds.  This is exactly what it says.

Add together the weight of all passengers who will travel with you, including pets, car seats, tools, firewood, toys, 150# for a hitch and 20% of the FW  GVWR as a good estimate for pin wt.  Again, the published pin wt is useless.  It does not reflect the pin wt of a ready to camp FW.

Thanks for the advice. You are absolutely right. I did my homework and decided on either 3/4 ton or 1 ton diesel. If I go with 3/4 ton it has ta be something with good cargo capacity. I want to stay under the limits. Some people say cargo capacity of most of the trucks are more than they state on those sticker but I would rather stay in the legal limit.

grashley

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  • Western KY for now.
Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2018, 08:18:34 PM »
Normally, I would say to forget about ton trucks, but you are looking for a small FW and understand how to calculate payload.

With that said, I still suggest a 1 ton SRW.  Used, and 1 ton pickups are very close to the same price.  At least with Ford, the packages and options available are identical.  With the Big 3, all body dimensions are within inch for identical body, drivetrains.  Ton typically have a 10,000 GVWR while the 1 ton has 11,300 - 11,500 GVWR.  This means at least 1000# more payload.  More payload means more safety factor and the ability to upgrade to a heavier camper and keep the truck.

To other readers:  This does NOT say a 1 ton SRW pickup can tow ANY FW.  Larger, heavier FW require a dually and some require even bigger TV.
Preacher Gordon, DW Debbie
09 Grand Junction 35 TMS  Progressive HW50C
Andersen Ultimate hitch
2013 F350 Lariat LB SRW Supercab diesel 4X4   TST TMS  Garmin 760
Nimrod Series 70 popup (sold)
It's not a dumb question if you do not know the answer.

wmtired

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2018, 12:04:48 AM »
Ran into 2 campers this summer who ditched their Grand Design 5th wheels because of broken leaf springs and leaf spring mounts. 

If you are full timing you need a heavy 5th wheel with a heavy frame, heavy duty axles, and above average construction.


If I were in your shoes, I'd find an Artic Fox 5th wheel. 

DearMissMermaid

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    • DearMissMermaid.Com
Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2018, 04:54:56 AM »
I never thought I would end up in a 5th wheel but a year ago I stumbled into a 1992 Holiday Rambler 36 foot with two slide outs. One slide out is huge, it's 4 by 16 feet.

I was so impressed with the layout, the solid oak cabinetry, the aluminum roof and sides, though the end caps are fiberglass, not sure why but they are. I was planning to park it and not tow, so I didn't factor in weight. It came with lots of extras like washer, dryer, dishwasher, 2 AC's, a fireplace heater and the usual  furnace.

Anyhow, the age didn't scare me since it was in great shape and looked beautiful. Even still had the original parquet flooring in kitchen and entry.

The price was a song and a dance. Owner had moved to hospice and kids were anxious to dump it since they knew nothing about it.

I've been living in it for almost a year now, having a blast.

Look around, you may find a fabulous bargain that suits your lifestyle.

One of my favorite RV places is
http://www.portersrvsales.com/

They have every rig unlocked. No salesman follows you around. You can spend the day there just touring everything and get a fabulous education. Their website is tiny compared to the HUGE lot in South Carolina. Well worth the trip to the lot.

Good luck!

http://DearMissMermaid.Com

Living, working. playing  in a 1992 Holiday Rambler Imperial 36' 5th Estate, formerly 8 years 24/7 in a Class C, 1994 Tioga Montara, 28'

Pack half the stuff and twice the cash.
http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/

bulldog4road

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2018, 12:23:27 PM »
Ran into 2 campers this summer who ditched their Grand Design 5th wheels because of broken leaf springs and leaf spring mounts. 

If you are full timing you need a heavy 5th wheel with a heavy frame, heavy duty axles, and above average construction.


If I were in your shoes, I'd find an Artic Fox 5th wheel.

Yeah I saw this problem on my research. Actually GD knows about it and probably take care of it on the newer models.
Since I will go with used, I may have extra money for an upgrade.

bulldog4road

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  • Posts: 12
Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2018, 12:26:59 PM »
I never thought I would end up in a 5th wheel but a year ago I stumbled into a 1992 Holiday Rambler 36 foot with two slide outs. One slide out is huge, it's 4 by 16 feet.

I was so impressed with the layout, the solid oak cabinetry, the aluminum roof and sides, though the end caps are fiberglass, not sure why but they are. I was planning to park it and not tow, so I didn't factor in weight. It came with lots of extras like washer, dryer, dishwasher, 2 AC's, a fireplace heater and the usual  furnace.

Anyhow, the age didn't scare me since it was in great shape and looked beautiful. Even still had the original parquet flooring in kitchen and entry.

The price was a song and a dance. Owner had moved to hospice and kids were anxious to dump it since they knew nothing about it.

I've been living in it for almost a year now, having a blast.

Look around, you may find a fabulous bargain that suits your lifestyle.

One of my favorite RV places is
http://www.portersrvsales.com/

They have every rig unlocked. No salesman follows you around. You can spend the day there just touring everything and get a fabulous education. Their website is tiny compared to the HUGE lot in South Carolina. Well worth the trip to the lot.

Good luck!
Thanks . Porters Rv Sales is driving distance to me. I will check it out on my trip to south.

wmtired

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2018, 11:10:33 PM »
I'm in a 2009 Forest River Wildcat 5th wheel.  It is build pretty solid and all of the stuff on it not made by Forest River seems to be of better quality.  My air conditioner, fridge, hot water heater, microwave, and hot water heater are all original and have never failed me.  So many horror stories on new RV's of these items failing prematurely. Can't blame Forest river for junk that Dometic, Norcold, Suburban, Atwood make nowadays.  Even seems that new water pumps on rv's don't last long either nowadays.  Maybe manufacturers are forcing these suppliers to keep their costs down and they are doing it by cutting corners.

Did have some rear wall delamination but it was mainly cosmetic as rear wall wasn't compositive but stick build.  A new fiberglass outer layer and fresh glue did the trick.

Good luck in your RV search.

DearMissMermaid

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    • DearMissMermaid.Com
Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #16 on: November 11, 2018, 04:17:06 AM »
Spend the day at Porters.

The salesman will give you a list of rigs and prices then leave you on your own to go see them all.

I wish every lot did business this way!
http://DearMissMermaid.Com

Living, working. playing  in a 1992 Holiday Rambler Imperial 36' 5th Estate, formerly 8 years 24/7 in a Class C, 1994 Tioga Montara, 28'

Pack half the stuff and twice the cash.
http://dearmissmermaid.blogspot.com/

Lou Schneider

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2018, 01:02:22 PM »
Their insulation ratings are the same. For example Reflection   29RS has GVWR   10995 lbs and Reflection 150 Series   295RL has GVWR 10195 lbs.

You want to compare the Dry Weights, not GVWR if you want to use weight as an estimate of build quality and insulation.  GVWR is the maximum weight the unit can weigh and is the Dry Weight plus payload.

bulldog4road

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2018, 12:10:23 PM »
You want to compare the Dry Weights, not GVWR if you want to use weight as an estimate of build quality and insulation.  GVWR is the maximum weight the unit can weigh and is the Dry Weight plus payload.
You are right about that.
Now makes more sense.

Sandhill Guy

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2018, 07:42:21 PM »
I have a 2015 Grand Design Reflection 27RL with a GMC 3500 diesel SRW tv. Its a great combination and at 10,000 lbs gross weight and 31 ft its easy to tow. I would recommend a one ton vehicle as the price its not that much different. I have taken many trips of a month or more and its probably ok for full time but I would move up to the Grand Design Solitude 310. Its 34 ft and 15,000 lbs gross weight but its more suited for full timing. Cost a good bit more also but probably within your budget if you can find a 3-4 year old model. I have loved ours and would buy another one.
Doug and Barbara
Our girls in fur suits Abbey and Meg


2015 GMC 2500HD Duramax 4x4
2015 Grand Design Reflection 27RL
Sanford, North Carolina

RVRAC

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2018, 11:28:43 PM »
I suggest you look at Columbus.
2017 Leprechaun 311 FS
Toad: 2016 Jeep Patriot
American Dolly
Home: WI
Snowbird 6 months/yr.

kdbgoat

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2018, 04:41:43 AM »
A lot will depend on how much money you want to spend. Spacecraft, Horizons, etc., are really top of the line, but expensive. We looked at Pinnacles and North Point by Jayco, and for us, felt the Pinnacle was better than the Solitude. We ended up with a used Redwood in fantastic condition. I would recommend looking at Redwoods during your search. The are two Redwood forums that are a great help. On older Redwoods, the big issue was marginal axles and suspensions, the insulation in the front cap falling, (easily accessed in most models), and the washing machine drain in some models being plumbed with hard pipe and no flex. A lot of Redwood owners put 8000# axles with Mor-ride suspension and 17.5" wheels under them. The factory actively looks at the two forums and has listened enough to upgrade the axles, suspensions, and wheels on the newer ones. The cabinets are solid cherry that's predrilled and screwed together. No vinyl over processed wood product like a lot of Solitudes are now. Over on another forum, there's a couple of guys there that whine and cry about Redwood,s channel frame and the fact it's not a box frame. I haven't been able to find any references to a frame problem on a Redwood yet. Some folks feel they have to really run down something they don't own to justify why they spent more money for something else.
I know you believe you understand what you think I said,
But I am not sure you realize what you heard is not what I meant

2012 Redwood 36RL
2016 Leprechaun 319DS

bulldog4road

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Re: Full Time Living 5th Wheel-Which brand? I know the specs I will need
« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2018, 02:59:49 PM »
A lot will depend on how much money you want to spend. Spacecraft, Horizons, etc., are really top of the line, but expensive. We looked at Pinnacles and North Point by Jayco, and for us, felt the Pinnacle was better than the Solitude. We ended up with a used Redwood in fantastic condition. I would recommend looking at Redwoods during your search. The are two Redwood forums that are a great help. On older Redwoods, the big issue was marginal axles and suspensions, the insulation in the front cap falling, (easily accessed in most models), and the washing machine drain in some models being plumbed with hard pipe and no flex. A lot of Redwood owners put 8000# axles with Mor-ride suspension and 17.5" wheels under them. The factory actively looks at the two forums and has listened enough to upgrade the axles, suspensions, and wheels on the newer ones. The cabinets are solid cherry that's predrilled and screwed together. No vinyl over processed wood product like a lot of Solitudes are now. Over on another forum, there's a couple of guys there that whine and cry about Redwood,s channel frame and the fact it's not a box frame. I haven't been able to find any references to a frame problem on a Redwood yet. Some folks feel they have to really run down something they don't own to justify why they spent more money for something else.
I gotta admit Redwood have some good looking units. Fresh water capacity is also very good. I have to dig a little deeper and read some feedbacks from other owners but seems like you like yours.
Thanks for the advice.