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 > The more I learn, the more I realize what I don't know

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way2roll

Wilmington NC

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Posted: 06/19/20 06:55am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So still on the fence about a FW vs MH and shopping continues. having owned 2 Class A's that's my comfort zone. But Since I need a new truck and FW's have a lot more space for the buck, I am leaning that way. However, the more I shop and learn, the more I realize I how much more I need to learn. You folks have graciously answered all my questions so far, but I have more.

First, one of the biggest hangups is frankly intimidation. Backing a FW into a tight camp site is intimidating. So is fueling up. Sure practice, practice etc. I've never really been great at backing trailers or boats. Now either of my Class A's I could put within inches of where I wanted to be. Will practice really overcome this - maybe some of you had this same feeling?

In shopping brands I have NO CLUE, what I am looking at in terms of brand hierarchy. I can tell you down to the nuts and bolts of every newer Class A out there but literally know nothing of FW's. Our budget is going to put us at 40-50k. No idea what brands/features or pitfalls to look for in that range. I also know some of this is clouded in personal opinion- and that's Ok. Opinions come from experience.

Generators - do most FW's really have no generator? Seems that way in my price range. We used our Genset a lot in our MH but of course we were in it at the time.

Stopping and using things - on long travel days I assume you can use the FW for a snack/lunch/bathroom etc. I assume either elec or lp fridge can stay on during travel, but many floorplans don't allow access to the fridge with slides in. Do you bump them out at a rest stop? I assume AC is out of the question. If you wanted to overnight and dry camp, seems without a generator you have pretty limited power via batts right? Provided you are fairly level, can you use the FW - slides out etc - , while hooked up to the truck?

Build quality - I was told (don't shoot the messenger) that despite price range, most FW's are built pretty much the same. That most of the extra price is in better appointments (cabinets, furniture, trim - this is largely true for MH's). I did see that some of the frames and suspension might be beefier on bigger ones. I was also told that tires on a cheaper FW can only last 5-10k miles? Is this true?

Maintenance - I don't want to assume, but seems like a FW is a lot less maintenance than a MH - mainly there is no engine, genset or transmission. Just regular maintenance - seals, plumbing, roof, batts etc. Am I right? I see a lot of noise about packing bearings etc, no clue what that's about.

Hooking up - again, looks intimidating. I see some come with electric, adjustable pins, sliding receivers, auto leveling to help some of this. But I wouldn't know a good FW receiver from a stick. Just how hard is hooking up? What does a decent receiver cost?

Seems like FW's in my price range don't come with a lot. They may have W/D hookups, but you have to buy the appliances. You have to buy the TV's, solar prep but no panels, etc. Just seems like there is more to buy to "finish" out the camper than a MH. Maybe it's just my price range and perhaps that's why my price range exists.

Pricing, I know what the %off MSRP is on MH's. It usually hovers around 26-30%. Does the same math apply for FW's. Will they throw in a hitch, or W/D, extras. I know this is negotiation (we are looking at new) but generally speaking.

As always I am probably over thinking most of this, but I want to have almost zero reliance on a salesmen. They have an agenda. I would like to actually know what I am talking about.

Thanks again for all your help in schooling me. I remember taking 5 years to pick our first MH. I really want to make a decision by fall on this one.


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garyemunson

Reno, Nevada

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Posted: 06/19/20 07:23am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The reason I abandoned towing is, as I got older, my appreciation for just pulling into a spot and only have to do my hookups and push a levelling button increased a lot! Most of the time spaces are not long enough to stay connected so you have no choice but to immediately unhitch. If the weather is bad, that's something that you can't put off until the rain stops like just temporarily "boondocking" with your tanks, propane, and batteries until the cloud passes. I should also add we no longer drag a toad as that caused the same issues. Most all the "destination" RV places with things to do have an Enterprise car rental close by. Not having anything behind us makes parking and just general navigation in tight areas so much easier. One example is most Cracker Barrel restaurants have dedicated RV parking but in most locations they just designated two end to end spots as the "RV" spot. Fine for a motorhome or average bumper pull TT but with a 5th wheel you won't be eating there. As a motorhome owner I'm sure you reached the level of proficiency where you were never fearful of driving it around a corner where if you were pulling something, the need to back up if you encountered something that you could not get by would have cause a BIG problem.

guidry

Texas Cajun

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Posted: 06/19/20 07:25am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you can put a motorhome within inches after practicing, you will be able to do the same with a FW after practice. If you have a spotter and a camera that always helps. I used to just get out, look, then back a few inches and repeat. Hooking up is fairly easy too. I think the main difference is with a motorhome you can get out of bed and start driving. That's good if there is an emergency or raining. In a FW you'd have to get out and walk to the truck to drive off. Floor plans; you are right about wanting to get to the fridge and bathroom during a quick stop at a rest area. I have two smaller Honda generators. I thought about having a big generator in the FW compartment but I can use the Honda's at home too. I just haul them in the bed or my truck and when we stop at night I run the cord to them and run them all night if I want. Some rigs can have a generator compartment with a remote start. While driving you could start your generator to run the AC for an hour before stopping and when you stop the rig will be cool. Auto leveling is a must luxury! push a button after unhooking and wait. One of the best hitches is BW; easy to use but heavy if/when you want to take it out of the truck bed. But worth it in my opinion. Not sure what the cost is because when I bought my FW, the dealer included it. As to quality, there are several well made FW's out there. But, the general RV industry uses the same ingredients (fridge, AC, etc). Maintenance is important as you probably know. FW vs Motorhome; from what Ive seen, a Motorhome you would probably need to tow a small car to get around after you stop for a while. FW, you just unhook the truck. When I looked at buying my FW, I searched online and found a dealer in Texas and drove from CA to get it. Well worth it since I have relatives there I could visit. The price and service was excellent. Tires: on a FW you will want to quickly upgrade to a higher load rated tire. The ones the manufacturers put on are the lowest bid and cheapest. They don't last and will blowout and damage your trailer's siding. Good luck, I hope I answered some of your questions.

2oldman

New Mexico

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Posted: 06/19/20 07:38am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Backing a FW into a tight camp site is intimidating.

I've found it's not so much getting the 5er in there, but making sure the front end swing of the truck doesn't take out campground signs, posts, or shrubs.

Our budget is going to put us at 40-50k.

That's not a big budget for a good quality unit, and quality usually comes with price. You could double that - but isn't that often how it works out?

Generators - do most FW's really have no generator?

No, they usually don't, but I'm sure it's an option in many.

Build quality - I was told (don't shoot the messenger) that despite price range, most FW's are built pretty much the same.

No, I don't agree with that. The 'lite' models will be pretty poor build quality.

Dick_B

Palos Heights, IL USA

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Posted: 06/19/20 07:43am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Make your life easier. You need a new truck and, unless you have lots of extra money, a FW is the answer. I think the advice is to buy the truck then buy the FW that works with the truck.
Now, isn't that simpler?


Dick_B
2003 SunnyBrook 27FKS
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work2much

Jackson Ca

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Posted: 06/19/20 07:50am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Were just bought our first 5th Wheel. Previous RV's were truck campers.

We went with a Grand Design 2930. You can access the fridge, the bathroom and the bed with all 3 slides in. That wasn't a big selling point for us but it is handy running in to use the bathroom or grab something from the fridge. We choose this brand after spending considerable time on several brands owners group forums. FWIW people seemed happier with the after sales service the company gives them. We purchased ours new at 30% of MSRP + T&L

Some of your other points:

Backing up. I am no expert having only towed ski boats in the past but haven't found backing up to be an issue. Ours is 34'-4" pin to back wall. Take the trailer to an empty parking lot and spend some time with some cones. There are some good videos on YouTube with some tricks. If possible have a spotter and work together learning to communicate. Typically when I see couple struggle to back their trailer in it is due to poor communication.

Generators are often an option. It was on ours but we chose to go without. The built in propane generators are usually expensive, noisy and heavy. Many people opt to go with a quieter inverter generator and tote it along in the bed of the truck. We went with a large solar generator but that's not for everyone due to cost. We also have a small 2000 watt inverter generator that can supplement the solar if/when needed.

Hooking up. I found this to be much easier than loading our truck camper. I just look over my shoulder out the back window to line up the kingpin. Super easy. You will need to get out and adjust the height of the kingpin once you are close. Again many good YouTube videos on this subject.

Fueling. We have ordered a combo tool box transfer tank. Our plan is to buy fuel where it is the cheapest and hopefully we can coordinate that when the trailer is disconnected. Fueling on the road with the trailer is usually pretty easy. We will be able to go over 1000 miles between fills. Use an app on the phone to find truck stops where lanes are wide and approach and departure lanes are straight.


2017 Ram 3500 Laramie CTD DRW Crew 4x4 Aisin 4:10 Air ride.
2018 Host Mammoth. 1080 Watts solar. 600 AH usable LFP battery. Magnum 2800 Watt inverter.
2020 Grand Design Solitude 2930RL 2400 watts solar. 600ah lithium. Magnum 4000 watt inverter.

jdc1

Rescue, Ca

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Posted: 06/19/20 07:58am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I paid $200 for my Reese receiver. Hooking up becomes second nature after a couple of times. No different that a trailer. A trailer that has aluminum framing and siding will outlast a wood framed, filon sided trailer. I haven't seen a 5th wheel yet that you can't open the fridge with the slide in. I have solar and 3 batteries. I can dry camp for a few years on that. Nobody uses televisions now. Laptop computers are the rage....unless you are parked on a concrete slab in a fancy RV park, hooked to cable (not camping).

tomman58

Southeast Michigan

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Posted: 06/19/20 08:02am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

we've had a really large TT for years and never had a FW. Like it as we don't need to go up stairs for the bed or bath. That said 1. I rarely camp where we have to back in. I can do it but why? most have pull thrus and we don't unhook a lot when just on the road. 2. we always use truck stops as they are easy and I would think you'll have a diesel. I will say you get what you pay for in any rig although there are plenty that are not build well but built for looks. We go to RV shows and like to watch and listen to folks make comments on rigs that a really bad but they see one thing they like and latch on like a large fish in a pond. Never hurts here on this site to ask about the make and model you are thinking of. Good luck.


2015 GMC D/A, CC 4x4/ Z71 ,3.73,IBC SLT+
2018 Jayco 338RETS
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It must be time to go, the suns out and I've got a full tank of diesel!
We have a granite fireplace hearth! Love to be a little different.

ETCrockett

Greenwood, IN

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Posted: 06/19/20 08:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My wife and I had your same dilemma whether to buy a FW or MH when it was time to trade the TT. I have never owned a MH but parents have. In fact, they are on their third class C MH. In the same 17 years, I have owned 1 TT for 14 years and 1 FW for the past 3 years. It seems to me it is the “auto” portion of a MH that wears out long before the living area. For this reason and the fact you either have to have a toad or rent a car at your destination just seemed like additional expense that could be avoided with a towable.

Generator: It is an option and the dealer will add one for an extra 4-5K on the price. Our FW is pre-wired for a generator but I opted for a portable generator and enjoy the extra storage space in the FW. We only dry camp at sporting events and that is currently not enough times to justify the extra 4-5K in price. I can run the residential fridge off the batteries for 8-10 hours. We run the fridge while traveling and the TV keeps the battery charged. If our destination takes more than a day to reach, we plan our trip and choose a campground for over night so we can get shore power.

Backing in: I recommend you add an observation camera if your choice does not come with one. I did as some suggested and practiced with cones in an empty parking lot. I even use the cones when backing into a campsite. Most campgrounds offer pull-thru sites as an option. Like anything else, practice and repetition will increase your confidence.

Price point: Many brands are putting out their 2021 models. This means you can find deals on 2020 models. We saved an extra $10K off a 2016 after the 2017’s were out. This savings can help you get the extra perks like W/D, satellite, or hitch. I suggest you shop for the extras before negotiating with the dealer. Find your best price on the add-ons you want. The dealer should beat or match it.

I hope this helps you in your journey.


Eric & Andrea
2016 Jayco Pinnacle 38FLSA
2009 Ford F450 DRW

BB_TX

McKinney, Texas

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Posted: 06/19/20 08:55am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

$40-$50K does put significant limits on your choices. A budget in the mid $60s range would expand those choices a lot, but you do not want to over extend your finances. Careful shopping you will find that units with an MSRP of over $90,000 can be found for an actual sale price of something in the $60s. Getting all the extras for free or discounted depends on your negotiating skills and how bad the salesman wants a sale.

Yes, a generator is typically offered as an option, at least on mid and higher range units.

Newer 5ers now (again mid or higher) typically come with, or have option for, push button leveling just like a MH. Hitching up is not difficult at all. The hitch is essentially self aligning. The pin will slide into the hitch slot as long as you are within an inch or two of being aligned.

Backing is one of those things hard to explain. For some, it comes so easy it is hard for them to understand why others can't do it. For me, it has always come easy. For a good friend of mine, he has struggled with backing any trailer all his life. But I do feel anyone can do an adequate job with practice. When I bought my 5er I bought some cheap orange cones from Walmart and went to an empty local football stadium parking lot on a Sunday and practiced until I felt I could handle it.

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