what to look for in a TT?

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scale obsession

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Wife and I have been looking at travel trailers for a months now. We thought we had it all figured out and, thought we were going to get a brand new, shiny rockwood 1905bh. Until I decided I wanted upgrade the tow vehicle to make things a bit safer.

This has us look looking at and researching slightly larger units. 24-28ft. I keep reading things about new travel trailers being a terrible idea, and leaks and problems ect. Almost makes it sound like they are all junk. Aside from looking at the cabinets building material and floor plan, is there really anything we should be looking at to determine, what is quality , and what isn't ?

I want to make this purchase once.
 

SeilerBird

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Virtually no one gets it right the first time. You have no experience at camping so you have no clue as to what it is you actually want or need. It takes a good year of camping before your wants and needs really crystallize. Buying new the first time is a huge mistake. RVs lose value like a sinking rock in a pond. So in one year when you go to trade it in it will not be worth a lot of money. But there is no way around this problem other than to recognize it and be prepared. Buying new the first time is not a good idea. Find a nice gently used RV a few years old and let someone else take the huge depreciation hit. RVs that are a few years old generally have all the main problems solved. Don't worry about the quality of the RV, worry about the condition. You are only going to keep it a short time so don't get hung up on finding the perfect RV. Because if you do find the perfect RV it won't be perfect in a year.
 

SpencerPJ

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Well, you mentioned upgrading your Tow Vehicle, to purchase 24-28'.  I'l be the first to say, I hope you bought more than a 1500 anything.  You will be at limits with 24', and since safety is a concern (smart), you might start research exactly what you have, then what you can pull.  I think the Rockwood 24' would be an excellent TT, and I certainly like my Puma TT.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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The aspects of quality have been discussed here often.  There are production defects, i.e. errors in the assembly process, design defects (bad design choices), components defects (faulty equipment purchased from suppliers), and what I'll call cheapness defects (intentional cost-cutting that results in poor reliability or function).  Cheapness cuts across the other three categories, leading to hurried assembly procedures, poor worker training, junk materials, pressure on suppliers to deliver lower cost vs higher quality, and design choices driven almost entirely by cost.  The RV industry is rampant with all of these issues, especially at the lower end where price is the overwhelming concern.


I'm sorry to say it, but nearly the trailers in the size and type you are looking at exhibit most of these faults.  The market is highly price competitive and few buyers are willing to pay extra for better quality. Are you prepared to buy an Airstream instead of a Rockwood?  $70k vs $20k?  Airstreams aren't perfect either, but they focus much more on quality than price.


So, what to look for in a moderately priced travel trailer?  Besides the cabinetry, try to assess upholstery and floor covering materials, look at the chassis specs to for carrying capacity, axle ratings, tire capacity and brand (RV makers are notorious for barely adequate capacity, junk brand tires), peek behind things to see if wiring and plumbing are well protected and neatly installed, see if plumbing has shut off valves and electrical has separate fuses/breakers for each appliance and area, check for signs of sloppy workmanship inside and out (implies shoddy assembly process), water tank size, and so on.    Since few buyers have the "eye" to readily detect such things, or the tech knowledge to review and understand weight and capacity ratings, RV makers can and do get away with a lot of shortcomings in all these things.  Buyers are influenced mostly by bling and price, so that's where the manufacturers are focused.
Are they all junk? Probably, in an absolute sense, but often they are Okay for light duty use.
 

QZ

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As far as quality is the frame one piece rails or a welded together"I" beam. If it's a lightweight model the floor may be a foam sandwich that sometimes gets soft spots. If you plan on dry camping is there more room for batteries. What are the tank sizes. Is the roof crowned or flat. Consider tire upgrading in the deal. How useable is it with the slide in. How close is the furnace to the bedroom.
 

Optimistic Paranoid

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FWIW. There's a site called RV Consumer Group that rates the quality of various RV brands.  This is NOT a free site, they charge for their products.  I bought their rating book on Truck Campers and found it interesting.  I have not looked at any of their Motor Home or Travel Trailer books.  I'm not recommending for or against them, I'm just calling this site to your attention.

https://rv.org/

If anyone else here has used their products, perhaps they could chime in.
 

lynnmor

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When I go to an RV show, the first place I look is in the storage area and look up at what holds the bed.  That saves a lot of time because at least half of the units are eliminated by a 10 second glance.  I will never buy another trailer with 3,500 lb, 2-3/8" diameter axles.  I will never buy another trailer with the pieced together frame as mentioned above.  I don't want the refrigerator in the slide where it needs battery wasting fans to work in hot weather.  Look at carrying capacity, if it will be close to being maxed out with 1,000 lbs added, forget about it.  I could go on and on, but just these few things should weed out a lot of junk.
 

Optimistic Paranoid

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You should also be aware that there are numerous small forums devoted to one brand only.  For instance, if you were seriously interested in a Jayco trailer, you would Google "Jayco RV Forum" and would find a Jayco Owner's Forum where the people who own them can talk about the good and bad points of their trailers.
 

Alfa38User

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Optimistic Paranoid said:
FWIW. There's a site called RV Consumer Group that rates the quality of various RV brands.  This is NOT a free site, they charge for their products.  I bought their rating book on Truck Campers and found it interesting.  I have not looked at any of their Motor Home or Travel Trailer books.  I'm not recommending for or against them, I'm just calling this site to your attention.

https://rv.org/

If anyone else here has used their products, perhaps they could chime in.

Note that the ratings produced by this organization are NOT produced by any kind of physical inspection. The are created (AFIK) by reading, documenting, and interpreting the specifications and brochures of the trailers, RV's etc  and then rating them. Not knocking the organization either but just pointing this out. The CD produced by them is a good place to find the specs of the hundreds of vehicles/trailers available for comparison purposes.

The book How to Select, Inspect and Buy an RV by JD Gallant (the founder) was first written in 2001 and has been updated several times at least. (My copy is dated 2005).
 

Koodog

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SeilerBird said:
Virtually no one gets it right the first time. You have no experience at camping so you have no clue as to what it is you actually want or need. It takes a good year of camping before your wants and needs really crystallize. Buying new the first time is a huge mistake. RVs lose value like a sinking rock in a pond. So in one year when you go to trade it in it will not be worth a lot of money. But there is no way around this problem other than to recognize it and be prepared. Buying new the first time is not a good idea. Find a nice gently used RV a few years old and let someone else take the huge depreciation hit. RVs that are a few years old generally have all the main problems solved. Don't worry about the quality of the RV, worry about the condition. You are only going to keep it a short time so don't get hung up on finding the perfect RV. Because if you do find the perfect RV it won't be perfect in a year.

X2.
There are many awesome used RV's out in the market.
We have all been where your at. Ask us how we know not to jump into it.
Floorplan is the #1 deal. If you don't like the layout, you won't use it. You will not know what works for you until you do use it.
I'm on my 4th TT. Better, but still not ideal. Mostly because our desires change with how we camp.
For us having 2 different RV's seem to fit the bill. We also have a class A. Neither of which was purchased new.
 

scale obsession

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Great information here guys! Thank you! We purchased a '16 silverado 1500 for our upgraded tow vehicle. Keep in mind, when we initially went into this , we were using a '12 honda ridgeline. Buying used is more than likely not happening. I realize that it may not be the smartest idea, but I'm just not into the idea of buying a used TT. At this point, we've been in 100+ different units and have a reasonable idea of what is going to work for our current situation. Next year, the plans may change. I used to go through motorcycles about every 2 years due to changing riding styles. I realize thats just part of the natural progression of things. I believe we have decided on a rockwood 2509S, but I wanted to pick the brains of you fine folks, and see what little details really make one unit better from another besides just the floor plan.

http://www.forestriverinc.com/product-details.aspx?LineID=204&Image=5058&ModelID=3326#Main
 

kdbgoat

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Yep, check your numbers just be sure, but unless that 1500 is really heavily optioned, you should be good. That trailer only grosses a bit under 6700#.
 

SpencerPJ

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camp4fun said:
Check your numbers, I think this rv is a little heavy for a ?16 Silverado 1500.

Seriously, check and recheck your numbers.  The Trailer salesperson will tell you what you want to hear,  they just love to sell Trailers.  Read previous posts concerning this topic.  That is too much trailer for that truck.  I have more truck than that (1500 Yukon XL, 4wd, tow package) and wouldn't dare pull that trailer.  Flat land, calm days, maybe ok,  That is not reality, camping areas have hills, and it is windy on the road sometimes.
 

SeilerBird

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spencerpj said:
Seriously, check and recheck your numbers.  The Trailer salesperson will tell you what you want to hear,  they just love to sell Trailers.  Read previous posts concerning this topic.  That is too much trailer for that truck.  I have more truck than that (1500 Yukon XL, 4wd, tow package) and wouldn't dare pull that trailer.  Flat land, calm days, maybe ok,  That is not reality, camping areas have hills, and it is windy on the road sometimes.
Spencer is right. A half ton can pull a 737 but the real problems are can it stop in time and how does it handle semis passing and high wind. A half ton towing in a wind can be a real white knuckle experience.
 

scale obsession

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kdbgoat said:
Yep, check your numbers just be sure, but unless that 1500 is really heavily optioned, you should be good. That trailer only grosses a bit under 6700#.

Numbers have been checked. From what I'm seeing the way my truck is setup , its rated for 9100lb. As you stated, the TT grosses just under 6700. Unless I'm missing something terribly wrong here, it should be fine. PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong. This is all a learning process.

This is directly from my trucks owners manual.  I have a 5.3 , crew cab standard bed 4x4 with 342 gears.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
 

kdbgoat

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Not only does a vehicle have to tow a trailer, it must also "carry" it. Between 10 to 15% of the loaded trailer's weight should be on the tongue of the trailer. The tow vehicle must carry that load. Open the driver's door and look for a couple of stickers. One of them should give the maximum payload. The weight of the people in the truck, and anything else placed in the truck including the weight of the WDH must be subtracted from that weight. What's left over is how much tongue weight you can carry.
 

scale obsession

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My thread has derailed off topic a bit, but I'm intrigued enough now. Sticker number 1 says 7200lb is the GVWR. Sticker number 2 says cargo should not exceed 1625.

I understand you have to take into consideration for all the gear,supplies, hitch etc. This is why we ditched the ridgeline. Its max towing was 5000lb, leaving us nothing in reserve.

So, the owners manual says the gross combined weight is 15,000lb. Obviously, to get exact numbers, I'd need to stick my truck on the scale but unless I'm really missing something here, even with the GVWR of the trailer at 6694LB and the truck fully loaded at 7200LB, that comes to a combined 13,894LB.
 

SeilerBird

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scale obsession said:
My thread has derailed off topic a bit, but I'm intrigued enough now. Sticker number 1 says 7200lb is the GVWR. Sticker number 2 says cargo should not exceed 1625.

I understand you have to take into consideration for all the gear,supplies, hitch etc. This is why we ditched the ridgeline. Its max towing was 5000lb, leaving us nothing in reserve.

So, the owners manual says the gross combined weight is 15,000lb. Obviously, to get exact numbers, I'd need to stick my truck on the scale but unless I'm really missing something here, even with the GVWR of the trailer at 6694LB and the truck fully loaded at 7200LB, that comes to a combined 13,894LB.
The reason it is derailed is because it is a lot trickier to buy a successful truck/trailer combination than most beginners think. You really don't know what your RV will weigh until you own it and stock it and start camping. You must buy a vehicle that will safely pull your load before you know what your load will be. This is why it is best to be very conservative. It is easy to overload an RV. Be glad you are here before you purchase. We get about one person a month here who bought impulsively and listened to the salesman and ended up with a very bad situation.

Here is the problem. If you tow with an underpowered/undersized rig you risk catastrophic failure. We want you to be safe. Take your time with your purchase, ask us a million questions and we will help you get on the road safely.
 
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