New from Alberta

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f350-fan-tum

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Jan 17, 2006
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Alberta
I am changing RV's and am looking for advice from people on travel trailer towing (eg. how large is too large, etc.) and will be inquiring as to what experience/success/problems people have had with specific makes/models.  I have recently sold an older 24' motorhome and purchased a 2004 f350 super duty with 6.0 diesel.  We are looking for something that the wife and I can live in for a few weeks at a time, yet feel comfortable towing. We live in Alberta and are likely to go just about anywhere.  We will also use it for occasional trips with the grand children as well.  Hopefully, I will get my inquiries into the appropriate threads.
 

Frank B

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Larry:

Well, a fellow Albertan!  :)

We bought a Travelaire 23' lightweight 5th wheel recently (we live in Calgary and bought this unit in Lethbridge).  Travelaire is a Red Deer company, and known for making decent stuff.  I'm in the process of setting it up for winter camping.  There are several campgrounds (Sandy McNabb, Mt. Kidd, Crimson Lake, and others) that are open all year around.  We like the quiet, and if it ever snows this year, the cross-country skiing as well.  :)

FWIW, here are a few observations:

If you will be doing a lot of traveling, then I have found a 5th wheel type to be very stable.  They tend to be a bit heavier that travel trailers for the same interior dimensions, however.  5th's, in my limited opinion, just tow better.  The disadvantage is that you have a 'half height' front bedroom unless you get one of those behemoths with a full-height front end.  However, they push a lot of wind, and that will both slow you down, and suck up a lot of fuel.

Travel trailers don't tow quite as well, but they are not as tall, and you get a full-height bedroom by default.  So, if you will travel a while they stay for a long time in one place, they may be a better option.  They also leave the bed of your truck free for other items.  I find a travel trailer easier to park as well, as the 'pivot point' is behind the axle of the truck, giving you some 'leverage' in putting the TT into a tight spot.  I find the 5th harder that way as the pivot point is over the rear axle.  You have to get the axle in just the right place to get the trailer in just the right place.

We bought a bunk model this time for reasons similar to you.  Our daughter is at the age where she will be wanting her girlfriends to come with her from time to time.  With the bunk model, the beds are always made up, and always available.  Some models will have a double bed in the rear, with a single bunk overhead, and if you can give up some space in the bathroom to accomodate them, they are very practical.

Any floorplan with a hallway is a waste of space.

We travel mostly in the summer, so spend a lot of time outdoors.  We aren't TV watchers either, so have always considered the living room sofa a bad idea in a trailer.  Just wasted space.

So, there you have it.  I'm not a frequent contributor here, but have been associated with this forum since the time when it was still part of CompuServe.  You will find a lot of knowlegdeable people here that will be able to give you some good information.  Welcome!

Frank.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I pretty much agree with Frank B., except that I don't consider a full-height fifth wheel a behemoth and don't think the fuel economy impact is very large. But at today's fuel prices maybe any impact on fuel economy is worth considering.  :eek:

Your new Ford will tow most anything about to about 13,000 lbs, so few things are "too big". It's mostly a matter of what you are comfortable with and the types of campgrounds you frequent. Some places don't readily accomodate rigs over 30 feet and  there are those where even 25+ is a stretch. A 29-30 footer with a slide or two is plenty of space for two people, though.

Canadian-built RVs are generally of excellent workmanship and good materials, so you should have some nie rigs to choose from. We know some folks who have an Okanagan fifth wheel and they give it high grades.  Okanagans are built by West Coast Leisure Homes in BC.
 

Frank B

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Gary:

>We know some folks who have an Okanagan fifth wheel and they give it high grades.  Okanagans are built by West Coast Leisure Homes in BC.<

Our previous unit was a 1981 Okanagan.  It was very well built -- better than the Travelaire we have now.

>I don't consider a full-height fifth wheel a behemoth and don't think the fuel economy impact is very large.<

You don't find that a full-height 5th pushes more wind than a TT?  I don't have a lot of experience here, but I do know that wind is the major consumer of fuel.  Going across Montana a few years ago, I could not even maintain my speed going into a headwind, and that was with the little 18" 5th we had then.  It sure made a difference to my fuel economy!  Even travel in the mountains allows you to 'gain'  on the downhill what you lost on the uphill.  Not so when pushing wind.  Total frontal area is a big factor, with speed being closely related, also because of pushing wind.

There is also the issue of the way fuel economy is perceived as the numbers get lower.  The difference between 12 mpg and 10 mpg, being only 2 mpg, does not sound like a lot.  However, if you plot the function, it comes out as a curve, not a straight line.  20 to 22 mpg is also just 2 mpg, but the % difference is about 10%  However, between 10 and 12 mpg, the difference is about 16%.

In any case, I'll defer to your greater experience here.

Frank.
 

Carl L

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You already have the truck and a truck of good towing capacity so there is no problem there.  Do learn the tow rating of your truck tho -- you will need it in choosing a trailer.

The story of travel trailer (TT) vs. 5th wheel has been flogged to death around here.  First of all travel trailers are excellent towed vehicles -- providing you have set them up with good weight distributing hitch system and anti-sway control.    But then you have to properly set up a 5er's hitch mechanism too -- both cost money.

The TT will track the tow vehicle more accurately than a 5W especially in backing.  The TT presents a lower cross-section to head and cross winds.    The TT has a flat floor plan and more living space per foot and pound.  OTOH, 5Ws tend to be larger in overall size and often has basement storage available.    With a TT you have the use of the bed of the truck.  The overhang of a 5W can conflict with the cab of a truck in the shorter bed lengths.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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You don't find that a full-height 5th pushes more wind than a TT?  I don't have a lot of experience here, but I do know that wind is the major consumer of fuel.  Going across Montana a few years ago, I could not even maintain my speed going into a headwind, and that was with the little 18" 5th we had then.  It sure made a difference to my fuel economy!  Even travel in the mountains allows you to 'gain'  on the downhill what you lost on the uphill.  Not so when pushing wind.  Total frontal area is a big factor, with speed being closely related, also because of pushing wind.

Indeed it does push more wind, Frank, and I would not suggest otherwise. However, ALL trailers (and motorhomes too) push a LOT of wind, so the question is how much difference is there for any given front end size and shape.  Total front end area is a major factor in wind resistance, but it is impossible to rely or calulcate based on that factor alone.  Air flow is a complex thing and involves the tow vehicle as well as the trailer, the shape and smoothness of the sides and roof, projections on the sides and top that disturb linera air flow, etc. You woud need a wind tunnel to make any meaningful comparisons or estimates for two specific configurations of tow vehicle and trailers.

My opinion (and it is only an opinion) is that the fuel economy difference between a full height fiver and a travel trailer of similar size is modest, probably in the 0.5 to 1.0 mpg range. As you note, that may still be a significant percentage, since the base figure is probably in the 10-13 MPG range.
 

Okotoks Camper

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Okotoks, Alberta
Another Albertan? Good stuff!

There are some topics that will come up frequently on the Forum forever, I think. Once of those is TT vs. fiver. IMHO it boils down to an examination of the pros & cons of each type, then if that hasn't decided you, an affinity for a particular floor plan. Only you can ultimately decide. The rest of us are limited to our own experiences and prejudices. In your case with the big truck the field is pretty much wide open for you as opposed to someone trying to tow with a small TV.

One Canadian made fiver to think about is the Titanium by Glendale in Ontario. Their (patented) front end design gives an almost full height front bedroom with much reduced front end profile. They claim 10-12% better fuel mileage than a conventional fiver of the same size & weight. Also, the pin is back of the front of the trailer and this means you tow less length. We have a 26E31, which means our trailer is approx. 31 feet long, but we only tow 26 feet. They are also well insultated and quite light for their size. Something to consider anyway.

I also believe that Okanagan make a good product. Not as big on the Travelaire as I've seen some poor finishing on some. But then, as I said earlier, we all have prejudices. BTW, I think Cedar Creek and Open Road are good brands as well, at least in the fiver group.

Welcome to the site. I know you'll find a lot of help here. I sure have.

Cheers,
John B.
 

Frank B

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Gary:

>My opinion (and it is only an opinion) is that the fuel economy difference between a full height fiver and a travel trailer of similar size is modest,<

Well, you certainly have more experience here than I.  I do agree that the DIFFERENCE may be small, and especially if one has a powerful tow vehicle to begin with.

Frank.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I have experience towing a TT, a low-rise fW and a full height 5W over similar terrain, but unfortunately NOT with the same vehicle, so I can't make an objective comparison about the fuel economy differences.  Perhaps somebody else can contribute a better comparison, one with the same or nearly the same TW and the different trailer types.

Like you, I have encountered head winds and the effect of that is HUGE!  I have experienced a 2 mpg hit on fuel economy with both a 5W and motorhomes.
 
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