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Old 01-30-2016, 02:14 PM   #1
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5th Wheel Features and Systems - What Say You?

Iím starting this thread in order to collect ideas. You see, after spending 18 months full time on the road in a Class C RV Iíve decided it isnít the rig for me and Iíve begun exploring 5th wheels. Iíve been inside quite a few while on the road and at RV shows, and Iíve started putting together a wish list of features that I hope to find in a rig.

Iíd really like to hear from all of you as to what your fiver is missing or what it has that you really value and why. Is your rig laid out the way you like? Where does it excel or fall short? You might think of it room-by-room, or system-by-system. For example, from the room-by-room point of view, does the kitchen have enough counter and storage space or a big enough fridge? Are shelves movable? If not has that been a pain? My kitchen has a tiny double sink which makes washing larger items very difficult. In the bedroom is there enough headroom or do you sometimes hit your head if youíre not careful. In terms of systems, does your electrical system have enough outlets? Are they in the right places? Does your rig handle enough amps? Do you have an inverter or solar and was it easy or difficult to install? Is there enough space for battery storage?

Tell us anything and everything you like or dislike about your rig; what features youíd like to see that you donít have now, or things that your rig has that you think are a waste or would like to see changed.

In order to get things started, here are some of the things Iíve been thinking about:

Size: Since I want to be able to go to as many places as possible Iíd like a 5th wheel on the smaller side.

Insulation: Iím certain to see some really hot and really cold weather and Iím likely to be off the grid quite a bit so in order to be comfortable and conserve electricity and propane I want a rig that is well insulated, maybe the underside too and I might like some sort of holding tank heating.

Electrical: Iím pretty sure I want a 50 amp system. I had 30 amps in my Class C and it wasnít enough at times. Iíd also like it to be easy to install an inverter with outlets around the coach. I'd like to be able to run the microwave off the inverter at times. I'd also like it to be easy to install solar (pre-wired?) with enough storage space for at least two 6 volt golf cart batteries (on a slide out tray!), a generator, and an indoor location for associated control panels.

Carrying Capacity: Living full-time in a rig means carrying more stuff than you would for week long trips. Weight adds up quickly. 50 gallons of fresh water is 416#, 50 gallons of gas is 325#, 10 gallons of propane weighs 42#, a generator can easily weigh 75# and a couple solar panels another 50#. Thatís over 900# right there. Toss in a couple people and youíre closer to 1200#. Food, clothing, tools, bicycles, etc., and it seems to me that carrying capacity needs to be well over a ton if not 3,000#.

Windows: This is a biggie for me. Itís really important for light to come in and for me to be able to see out. There has to be a good size window at the back. So much of the view is often out the back. Windows on both sides in the living area and at least one, preferably both sides in the bedroom. As to those very cool looking, newer style, frameless windows? Forget it! Those Iíve seen only have a small jalousie-like slat that opens along the very bottom edge. They arenít going to provide adequate ventilation. That dark window tint looks nice too, but it is going to block out a lot of the light. Forget that too. If I want less light I can use curtains.

Leveling System: Do you have an automatic system or not? 4 point or 6 pointĒ Does it matter? Love yours? Hate yours? Reliability? Anything youíd like to see different?

Hitches: What do you like or dislike about yours?

Doorways: Are they large enough to get stuff in and out?

Slides: Do you have enough or too many? Are they deep enough? Is the headroom sufficient or do you need to wear a helmet when in your rig? Have they been problematic and what models? Can you navigate the back of your RV sufficiently well when the slides are closed, for example to make a sandwich while on the road?

There are just so many other things to consider too: fixture quality and function (do you love or hate double or single sinks and your faucets?), build quality, is there space for water softener and filter; closet depth, width and height (is there a place for shoes, umbrellas, long coats, dresses, pants, dirty laundry, trash?). Does your rig have a gas fireplace and if so, is it OK, great, or does it suck and what is the model?

Iíd love to hear from all the ladies and the gents regarding things youíd like to see and things youíd like to see gone, things you love, things you hate.

Last, it would be great if we would keep this thread on point--5th wheel features and systems--and not wander to things like campgrounds, destinations, accessories like lawn chairs, grills or flag poles, unless they are built-in or can be permanently installed. Also, letís not make this thread about RV brands either, but rather just 5th wheel features and systems, those that are great, not so great; features youíd like to see or those you regard as mistakes. What's on your mind? What's important to you? What are your 5th wheel joys and pet peeves?

Now, have at it!
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Old 01-30-2016, 02:51 PM   #2
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You have asked a lot, but I can only suggest a few things that I have found I would not do without if buying again...

built-in generator for power whenever/wherever I want to have it
washer/dryer to keep me out of strange laundromats and carrying a supply of quarters
don't have the self-leveling now, but its a must-have if I get another fiver
50amp also a must-have


I don't find the dark tint windows objectionable, and I would not like to be without it.
carrying capacity--it is what it is whatever you buy, your problem to know this by research.

There isn't going to be any single unit that will have everything you want/need--compromise is based on priority needs/$$$/how much time you want to spend looking at new/used units.

Wishing you luck at finding most of everything you are looking for...

Joe
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Old 01-30-2016, 10:13 PM   #3
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You really want 17.5" tires and rims. Consider an up-graded MorRyde IS suspension. A 50 amp hard-wired power management controller with interior readout. A MorRyde or similar pin box.
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Old 01-31-2016, 08:15 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Jay View Post
You really want 17.5" tires and rims. Consider an up-graded MorRyde IS suspension. A 50 amp hard-wired power management controller with interior readout. A MorRyde or similar pin box.

Definitely agree with this. Very happy we ordered these features.

Besides what has already been listed-
Residential fridge
Heat pump (with quiet intakes)
Slide-out storage tray
AWNING LIGHTS (we were told when ordering that these came standard. Someone must have forgot to put them on...)
Rear hitch

There's probably a lot more that others will cover.

Good luck!
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Old 01-31-2016, 08:40 AM   #5
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There are two things I do not like about our Montana 342PHT. The television is set at a 90 degree angle to the couch. And the bathroom is so small you have to back up to change your mind. Other than those two, it has been a great trailer to full time in for the last 4 years.
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Old 01-31-2016, 08:55 AM   #6
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Get dual pane windows, they will only come as sliding windows and provide plenty of ventilation. Tinted glass is not a problem, you will still get plenty of light inside but more privacy. Most units have too much glass area, my opinion, and single pane, aluminum frame windows are the biggest problem with heat and cold. If someone offered vinyl frame windows in an RV, it would be a game changer.

Don't try picking a brand or unit based on claimed insulation values, they are just about meaningless. If you read the fine print from most manufacturers, they state something like 'best case calculated R-value'. It would take a very long discussion to cover all the issues, but using Reflectix foil and using it incorrectly is one issue. Then in an RV there are just too many areas poorly insulated and not air tight for good insulation to really be effective (windows, slide seals, holes for plumbing/electrical). An analogy would be sticking your foot in a creek and seeing how much water stops flowing, it just takes a different path. So, if you want a well insulated unit, get one with vacuum laminated walls, floor and ceiling, no slide outs and minimal windows, maybe an Airstream trailer for example.

A coat closet near the door is one of my biggest requirements, access to the bathroom with slides retracted is also an absolute minimum. Beyond that, floor plan and amount of storage/counter space depends on individual lifestyle. And pretty much everything else depends on $$ and tow vehicle.
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Old 01-31-2016, 10:01 AM   #7
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We have owned three fivers in the last 10 years with all having improvements over each other. So from experience as to my view point these are some of my must haves.
1. A Trailair pin box to cushion the hitch connection with the tow vehicle.
2. Heavy duty suspension that has wet bolts and is grease able.
3. A 6-point leveling system that self levels and is hydraulic.
4. An electric fire place that provides heat, this way on a cool morning you do not need to run the furnace.
5. Slide Toppers; so you do not need to clean off the slide roof when retracting the slide.
6. LED lights; cooler to operate and uses less electrical power.
7. Residential refrigerator and inverter.
8. 2-12V batteries for your trailer.
9. Room darkening roller shades instead of pleated shades.
10. Ducted A/C runs with returns through out the camper.
11. A central vacuum system DW loves this.


Jim
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:09 AM   #8
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Quote:
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You really want 17.5" tires and rims. Consider an up-graded MorRyde IS suspension. A 50 amp hard-wired power management controller with interior readout. A MorRyde or similar pin box.
Thanks, but lease explain why somebody would want 17.5" tires. I think the fivers I've looked at usually advertise 16" tires. Can the larger ones be installed in their place? Wouldn't that require bigger wheels? Can bigger wheels be put on rigs designed for 16" wheels? How much would all this cost?

In terms of the MorRyde IS... I Googled that and the IS appears to stand for independent suspension. I found one thread online where people were discussing this suspension. Most seemed to like it but it was not unanimous. Please tell us why you recommend it. Also, can you say something about how much people might expect to pay to have it added.

Likewise for the pin box--some people liked it others preferred the Trailair. Please tell us about your experiences so we can understand why you made your recommendations.
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:34 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by halfwright View Post
There are two things I do not like about our Montana 342PHT. The television is set at a 90 degree angle to the couch. And the bathroom is so small you have to back up to change your mind. Other than those two, it has been a great trailer to full time in for the last 4 years.
Glad you mentioned the TV. I think that's a famous complaint about RVs. Isn't it?

When it comes to bathrooms, I also look for adequate storage.

My current rig has an area on the bathroom countertop behind the sink that is impossible to clean. The medicine cabinet is behind the sink and is only a couple inches above the counter. You can't get your hands in there to wipe up. I guess that I'm suggesting people look for designs that might make things that will be difficult or impossible to clean, or on the other hand, easy.

An extendable wall mount mirror in a bathroom is a useful feature for me as I like to trim my own hair and I can see all around my head if I can use the installed mirror and the extendable one in combination. These can be added, of course, if a sturdy place to mount it can be found. I didn't trust the flimsy wall material on my Class C to be able to support one of these.
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Old 02-01-2016, 01:25 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by dayle1 View Post
Get dual pane windows, they will only come as sliding windows and provide plenty of ventilation. Tinted glass is not a problem, you will still get plenty of light inside but more privacy. Most units have too much glass area, my opinion, and single pane, aluminum frame windows are the biggest problem with heat and cold. If someone offered vinyl frame windows in an RV, it would be a game changer.

Don't try picking a brand or unit based on claimed insulation values, they are just about meaningless. If you read the fine print from most manufacturers, they state something like 'best case calculated R-value'. It would take a very long discussion to cover all the issues, but using Reflectix foil and using it incorrectly is one issue. Then in an RV there are just too many areas poorly insulated and not air tight for good insulation to really be effective (windows, slide seals, holes for plumbing/electrical). An analogy would be sticking your foot in a creek and seeing how much water stops flowing, it just takes a different path. So, if you want a well insulated unit, get one with vacuum laminated walls, floor and ceiling, no slide outs and minimal windows, maybe an Airstream trailer for example.

A coat closet near the door is one of my biggest requirements, access to the bathroom with slides retracted is also an absolute minimum. Beyond that, floor plan and amount of storage/counter space depends on individual lifestyle. And pretty much everything else depends on $$ and tow vehicle.
Great comments! For the sake of discussion so that people can think about different points of view (not at all to disagree!), I like lots of glass because I like a well lighted environment and I like to see out when Iím camped in nature which is where I prefer to camp. I know there is an insulation penalty to glass :( I was speaking with a factory rep for Grand Designs who seemed to discourage their double pane window option. This may not apply to all double pane windows, but he said there was very little increase in insulation value with the ones they use. I think it may have been because they didnít use an inert gas between panes and that there was very little space between the panes, but it might have been something else.

I really liked your comment about Reflectix. (For those that may not be familiar with this, itís a product like bubble wrap with a silver reflective foil on the outer surfaces. They may make other products but this is the one Iím familiar with.) I took a look at the Reflectix web site and it seems that dead air space (an area with non circulating air) is required next to the product in order to get the most benefit and without it, as used in some RV roofs, sandwiched between some standard residential insulation and the ceiling, it may be of much less value. Iíve written to the Reflectix people and asked about this. If I get an answer that seems of some value Iíll post it.

On coat closets, you know, thatís not something Iíve looked for near the door. I suppose that doesnít matter much to me. That said, Iím not sure Iíve seen many fifth wheels with such a closet near the door. Why is that location so important to you?
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Old 02-01-2016, 01:37 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by jimcumminsw View Post
We have owned three fivers in the last 10 years with all having improvements over each other. So from experience as to my view point these are some of my must haves.
1. A Trailair pin box to cushion the hitch connection with the tow vehicle.
2. Heavy duty suspension that has wet bolts and is grease able.
3. A 6-point leveling system that self levels and is hydraulic.
4. An electric fire place that provides heat, this way on a cool morning you do not need to run the furnace.
5. Slide Toppers; so you do not need to clean off the slide roof when retracting the slide.
6. LED lights; cooler to operate and uses less electrical power.
7. Residential refrigerator and inverter.
8. 2-12V batteries for your trailer.
9. Room darkening roller shades instead of pleated shades.
10. Ducted A/C runs with returns through out the camper.
11. A central vacuum system DW loves this.


Jim
Thanks for the suggestions!

Does your rig have a heavy duty suspension? If so, what kind? Have you noticed a big difference and if so under what conditions?

Do you think a 6 point leveling system is more important on a longer fifth wheel than say a shorter one, maybe 30-34í? What do you see as the benefits and liabilities of one over the other?

As to an electric fireplace, I actually kind of like those from the point of view of esthetics. If youíre boondocking somewhere, however, I donít think any form of electric heat is going to be usable except when running a generator, and from a purely functional point of view I think Iíd rather have a portable ceramic heater than a fireplace because it would take less space, weigh less, and can be stored when not needed. I think Iíd rather have a catalytic heater instead of an electric fireplace since they run on propane and use no electricity.

Iím with you on slide toppers and LEDs.

How much electricity is required by a residential fridge? Can they be supported while boondocking?

Is there some reason you prefer two 12 volt batteries over two 6 volt batteries? The latter may be larger and heavier, but they may also be more ruggedly built, last longer and store more ampere hours. My memory is a little fuzzy here, but I seem to recall those things.
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Old 02-01-2016, 06:52 AM   #12
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We plan on having our Teton upgraded to I/S. Considered it well worth having. Dual pane windows also. Most of outside temps come thru windows.
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Old 02-01-2016, 07:46 AM   #13
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On coat closets, you know, that’s not something I’ve looked for near the door. I suppose that doesn’t matter much to me. That said, I’m not sure I’ve seen many fifth wheels with such a closet near the door. Why is that location so important to you?
With volunteer work, I don't camp where the weather is ideal and when I come into the RV, my clothes/coat can be pretty dirty. I also like a mid coach entry door which is generally going to be near the bathroom. I've never understood motorhomes where you have to walk thru the living and kitchen areas to access the bathroom.

Regarding the TV location, I want the chairs facing the TV and the couch at 90 degrees, that way I can decide in the evening if I want to sit or lay down while viewing the TV.

Reflectix in the slide out floor makes even less sense, sandwiched between the plywood and the carpet. It is a great conductor of heat and there is almost no infared rays hitting it to be reflected back.

The Mor/ryde IS conversion is around $3k plus or minus. I did it on my last fifth wheel because the original ride was terrible. My new unit is same brand, a few feet longer and 1200 lbs heavier, but it has the Equiflex rubber equalizer. Ride is fine even with a fixed pin box and fixed hitch. I've had the unit 5 yrs now and would not spend the money for IS. But that is a decision you can make later.
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Old 02-01-2016, 09:14 AM   #14
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My answers are in RED so you can see my responses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RussOnTheRoad View Post
Thanks for the suggestions!

Does your rig have a heavy duty suspension? If so, what kind? Have you noticed a big difference and if so under what conditions?

Yes; the suspension system is made by Dexter and is called the E-Z Flex. This is a rubber equalization system with 1/2 links plates and grease zerks along with heavy duty shackles and Bronze bushings. I would read the reviews on why people prefer this over the standard suspension system. Most of the light duty systems last between 6,000 and 10,000 miles and they then need to be replaced.

Do you think a 6 point leveling system is more important on a longer fifth wheel than say a shorter one, maybe 30-34í? What do you see as the benefits and liabilities of one over the other?

My unit is only 37' long so this not too much longer. The reason I wanted a 6-point leveling system is to help in stabilizing the unit. We still get some motion when walking around but not as much when we had a 4-point legs stabilizing the trailer. For extended stays over a week in one place I will install x-chocks which than eliminate 90% of the motion in a trailer.
Liability would be more maintenance on the system over the life of the components such as hoses and the hydraulic pump.

As to an electric fireplace, I actually kind of like those from the point of view of esthetics. If youíre boondocking somewhere, however, I donít think any form of electric heat is going to be usable except when running a generator, and from a purely functional point of view I think Iíd rather have a portable ceramic heater than a fireplace because it would take less space, weigh less, and can be stored when not needed. I think Iíd rather have a catalytic heater instead of an electric fireplace since they run on propane and use no electricity. No Comment.

Iím with you on slide toppers and LEDs.

How much electricity is required by a residential fridge? Can they be supported while boondocking?

Several people on the Forest River Forum are using the Residential Fridge with extra batteries and solar power for boondocking. Here is the link.http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...dge-99864.html

Is there some reason you prefer two 12 volt batteries over two 6 volt batteries? The latter may be larger and heavier, but they may also be more ruggedly built, last longer and store more ampere hours. My memory is a little fuzzy here, but I seem to recall those things.

My battery compartment tends to fit two 12V batteries better and is less costly in price than 8 6V batteries. You would need for boondocking I would think at least 4-6V golf cart batteries to give you the required amp hours you would want before recharging. Most people who boondock tend to use 4-6V golf cart batteries instead of 1-12V battery.


Jim



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