First Questions of Many!

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waterdog

Active member
Joined
Nov 20, 2005
Posts
31
Hi all.? My name is Roger.? My wife, Phyl, and I have renewed our interest in RVing after selling our latest camper..a 2001 3280RL Montana 5th Wheel pulled by a 1999 Dodge Quadcab 2500 Ram 4X4 Cummins diesel (long bed).? We had the rig for about 2 years and then sold it because we figured to stay put for the winter months in a little home we bought in Baja, Mexico.? Wrong...we miss the freedom and adventure of being nomadic.? So back to finding another 5th Wheel and maybe a beefier tow vehicle also.

Our type of adventure RVing will take us to Canada and Alaska in the summers and fall...winters to Baja to camp.? We love to fish and hunt.? ?We will want to tow a boat behind the 5th Wheel.? Guess that limits us to a max of 32ft. for the 5th Wheel as 75 ft. total for triple hauling in the most I could find allowed in our areas of interest.? A few states we will have to avoid because of the length restrictions.?

Now comes our most important questions:? We have the boat and trailer already, but we need to decide on a 5th Wheel and probably a different pickup or medium truck.?

First, what brands of 5th Wheelers are considered by you experienced RVers to be the best for these purposes?? I don't have much of a clue as to what are the best made for lots of towing miles.? We will be almost full-timing in this rig and traveling a lot.? I hear Teton is the best made, but they are expensive and maybe too heavy?? The Montana we owned was okay, although we did have some wheel bearing and tire problems..and a couple other aches and pains, although mostly minor.? We pulled that camper maybe 15,000 miles all told before selling.? Could you give us a list..say, the top 3 brands to choose from?? We looked at RV Traderonline but there are way too many different brands that we know nothing about.? (A 32-33ft 5th Wheel with at least 3 slides would be our choice)

The Dodge 2500 diesel gave us some problems.? Maybe it was too light a vehicle for the load?? I weighed ourselves at a truck stop...pickup and camper=24,000 lbs.? We had to replace the tranny and rear end while in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada.? ?A wait of 10 ten days for parts to arrive and mucho bucks.?(Plus someone stole our bikes off the RV rack!..but I got those back myself after the RCMP could not!!)? Also, the engine's overheating was cured by replacing the thermostat with a good one.? We had most all things optional from the factory in the Dodge for towing, etc.? Don't know as I would want to attempt another camper of comparable weight with this rig again...maybe the new ones are better?? ?So we need some good advice on a tow vehicle for this camper, too.? What standard pickup, 3/4 or 1 ton, could do the job?? Brands with the engines and trannys capable of towing this size load?? ?I would consider a medium truck conversion, but we would have to use it as a primary vehicle most times...a little unhandy for parking and casual driving.

Well, I have asked a lot...and appreciate any responses from you experts.? Thanks.
 

Carl L

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Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
The whole thing will pivot on the Combined Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of the truck compared with the boat+boat trailer scaled weight plus the GVWR of the 5th wheel plus the GVWR of the truck itself.  Get to the Trailer Life ratings at http://www.trailerlife.com/output.cfm?id=42175, get out a pencil and piece of paper and start calculating.  My guess is that you will be moving into medium duty trucks fairly quickly.

You will have legal problems with a double tow depending on state.  California will require a Class A license with special endorsement for towing two vehicles.    Furthermore, they limit the heavier tows depending on GCVW, to tow vehicles over 4000 lbs weight.  California is darn near unavoidable for you traveling to and from Baja. 

Legal problems aside, you are entering into a whole new arena of driving adventure with a double tow.  I do not know about you, but as I get older, I find whole new arenas of adventure a bit much.  ;D


Now I am a devout trailer trash myself, but I have to ask if you are barking up the wrong tree here.  Just maybe you want a motorhome not a trailer.  There are a lot of motorhomes that can pull a boat trailer fairly easily.  You will suffer from the lack of a dingy no doubt.  However, unlike boating dingies, it is fairly easy to rent a automobile for touring.  You could arrange a close warm relationship with Enterprise Rent A Car for instance.
 

Smoky

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 11, 2005
Posts
3,589
Location
wherever we are parked
If I were in the market for a fifth wheel (am not as we own a motorhome) I would certainly at least give the Newmar Cypress a look see.? We spent several years researching MHs and decided on our Newmar based on the high quality of the manufacturer.? Since the 5th wheels go up on the same assembly line (owned and staffed primarily by Indiana Mennonites) I would think the same care and craftsmanship would be in play.? Newmar makes all their own cabinetry on site and prepare, sew and install all the fabrics including upholstery, drapes, valances, bedspreads, etc.? Nothing like handcrafted Amish work.

Take some factory tours of the final short list you developed.? You can learn a tremendous amount by visiting the factories.

Also I don't know if you can test drive fifth wheels but if you can then make every effort to do so.? Our test driving of motorhomes changed our minds completely on several critical issues.? We were encouraged to do so by members of this forum and we are so VERY glad we listened and followed the advice.
 

waterdog

Active member
Joined
Nov 20, 2005
Posts
31
Hi Carl & Smoky.? Thanks for those helpful replys.? I knew this would be a good source of RV info.

Carl, to better answer your response I should say that we need a seperate vehicle to make short daily fishing trips with just the tow vehicle and trailer.? We plan to leave the 5th Wheel at a 'home-base' lakeside campground for a couple months and make 50-80 mile round trips fishing the other nearby lakes which we have fished before.? Great spot up north for this called the Hanson Lake Road.? Also we will be camped 1-2 months time in the fall at another site up north where we will be hunting waterfowl and need a vehicle to haul blinds, decoys, and my wife's great lunch setup.?Here we would be driving into stubble fields, harvested peas, etc.? ?We have already tripled-towed the 32' 5th with 18'boat/trailer behind from lower Baja through California to Saskatchewan to North Dakota and back to Baja.? Maybe 15,000 miles all told. But like I mentioned earlier, the 3/4 ton just wasn't quite up to the challenge in the mountains or high-heat of the deserts.

I guess I just needed to know what brands of 5th Wheels in the 32-33ft range are the best for full-timing....and what I should pull it with?? I have seen a few 2500 Dodge diesels out there pulling heavy loads..but think I am better off going 3500...Ford 450..or as a last resort a medium truck (although this would create a handicap with boat launching and cramped areas, plus making hunting/scouting less fun.)

Also any tips on factory options to get..or after market items.  I think an exhaust brake would be useful.  Any tips would be appreciated for sure.  We are going to make ourselves as self-sufficient as possible as we are used to boon-docking....and gunk-holing too!

Smoky, thanks for the tip on a Newmar.? I am not familiar with that name, but will search them on the Internet.? Sounds like a quality item if made by those gentle craftsmen.
 

Smoky

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 11, 2005
Posts
3,589
Location
wherever we are parked
I have never owned a fifth wheel but I owned a trailer before we went motorhome.  One option I would have gotten had we graduated to a fifth wheel instead would have been a genset.
 
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