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Old 02-12-2007, 07:51 AM   #1
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Hello,

Being new to even the idea of owning a "home on wheels", this seemed like a good place to ask a few questions...

First, some background:

My fiance and I (and our black lab) are planning to be full-timers for the most of the next couple years.

We have done some research and decided on a fifth wheel, probably between 25 and 30 ft. long. We are pretty sure we want a slide. We are shopping used and have a fairly small budget, but really want something that is high quality and won't break on us continually.

Last night we looked at a 1993 30' Dutchmen Classic that seemed really nice, but I looked up some reviews that said they were cheap and fall apart a lot.

I would love your opinions on good brands for fifth wheels, things to look for/look out for, and any other sites you know of where we might find reviews that would be helpful.

Thank you very much!

Gaia
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Old 02-12-2007, 07:51 AM   #2
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Hello,

Being new to even the idea of owning a "home on wheels", this seemed like a good place to ask a few questions...

First, some background:

My fiance and I (and our black lab) are planning to be full-timers for the most of the next couple years.

We have done some research and decided on a fifth wheel, probably between 25 and 30 ft. long. We are pretty sure we want a slide. We are shopping used and have a fairly small budget, but really want something that is high quality and won't break on us continually.

Last night we looked at a 1993 30' Dutchmen Classic that seemed really nice, but I looked up some reviews that said they were cheap and fall apart a lot.

I would love your opinions on good brands for fifth wheels, things to look for/look out for, and any other sites you know of where we might find reviews that would be helpful.

Thank you very much!

Gaia
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Old 02-12-2007, 08:16 AM   #3
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Gaia, glad to have you here on IRV2.

Dutchman is generally considered pretty much the low end of Entry level trailers. They do not generally have much in the way of drawers for storage in the bed/bath and kitchen. For full time living, you will finds a 30' might get to be a bit small with the two adults and large dogs.

If your budget allows, I'd look at some of the higher end trailers.

Ken
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:49 AM   #4
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Thanks for the input, Ken. What brands would you recommend for good quality fifth wheels from, say, the 1990s?

Thanks!

Gaia
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Old 02-12-2007, 09:58 AM   #5
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One more question to add for all of your helpful people out there!

We are planning to spend time in cold climate (ski locations out west as well as new england), so are looking for something well insulated and winterized (ie. pipes won't freeze up, etc).

1. Are there specific makes or models that are especially warm/winterized?
2. How do you tell if a trailer is winterized if the person selling it doesn't know or isn't a reliable source?

Thanks in advance!

Gaia
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Old 02-12-2007, 10:01 AM   #6
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First we need to see what you have to tow with or will you be buying a tow vehicle as well? The higher end units tend to be a bit heavier and take a larger truck.

Also, what part of the country do you plan to winter and summer. If you plan to stay up north for the winter, you will need to look for a true 4-season trailer.

You might check www.pplmotorhome.com in Houston for a wide selection of used/consignment units.

Let us have some more info and we'll pile on the information.

Ken
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Old 02-12-2007, 10:13 AM   #7
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Winterized refers to the trialer being prepared to be stored in cold weather. Either punp the pink antifreeze into the lines or drain everything and blow it with air.

We have an older 4-season trialer and we have been in it at temps to 15 dF. You have to unhook the water hose and run off of the interior tanks.

To get into the 4-season full time trailer, you will need to look at manufacturers like Teton, King of the Road, New Horizon, Carriage, Artic Fox to name a few. Montana cliams to be rated for low temp use.

Living in the trailer for extended periods of time below freezing will require some adjustments in life style. You must be careful of excessive moisture in the trailer such as showers and cooking. The human body puts out a lot of moisture with every breath.

Your fresh water and holding tanks will need to be in insulated and heated areas in the basement. All piping must also be run in these heated areas.

You will also use propane at what seems to be an excessive amount. In below freezing weather we'll use a 30# bottle in 4 to 5 days, depending on how much sun we have and how hard the wind is blowing. Lots of people that long-term camp in the winter will buy or lease a 150# propane tank to eliminate changing small bottles so often.

No matter what, it will be harder to keep it heated as a tin/fiberglass box is just no as well built and insulated as is a regular house.

Ken
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Old 02-12-2007, 10:36 AM   #8
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Ken,

Thanks once again for all the input. We own and operate our own businesses in Alaska (www.copperoar.com, www.steliasguides.com) from early May to mid-September, so will only be living in the trailer from fall to spring. Our tentative plan is to spend a month or two somewhere warm (likely southern CA), a month or two traveling around the west, a month or two in new england, and month or two wherever the skiing is good in the west. So we'll be in a large variety of climates, including some pretty chilly ones.

We don't have a truck yet - wanted to decide on a trailer first to make sure we get an appropriate truck. So we're open to whatever it takes. Gas cost is, of course, expensive, so the more efficient the better, but the most important thing is that we're relatively comfortable.

Hope this helps and thanks for your input!

Gaia
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Old 02-12-2007, 12:36 PM   #9
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One of the first things I would look for is whether the holding waste valves are in the storage area or are they exposed. Frozen valves will be a severe headache, so no matter how well the trailer is insulated, exposed valves should be a deal-breaker.

In other words the holding tanks need to be up under the bedroom floor above the storage area, not underneath the storage area.
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Old 02-12-2007, 01:02 PM   #10
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If you can find a good used one of these in your price range, you'd be all set.
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Old 02-12-2007, 01:39 PM   #11
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I don't suppose I need to name the brand that I recommend.
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Old 02-12-2007, 05:00 PM   #12
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I admire your excitement in getting into the RV lifestyle, but with a small budget you evidently don't what you are getting into. This is a very expensive lifestyle, such as, vehicle maintenance, insurance on both rigs, rent to park, lots of propane for heat, frozen pipes, tires, and many unexpected things that you never plan on. I would look for other options if I were you and get into the RV lifestype at some later time. Just another opinion! Good Luck!
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Old 02-13-2007, 04:34 AM   #13
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You might want to check out Arctic Fox, they rate as 4 seasons. Okanagan is a brand from western Canada that you might want to look at too. Only you can decide what size you "need" to full time in, DW and I and 2 cats do quite well in 30', and have for two years now. We plan on trading for a 29-5T Arctic Fox this summer as we found out we "need" the bedroom slide, (more storage).
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Old 02-13-2007, 09:13 AM   #14
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Thank you all for the ideas! Keep 'em coming!

Ron & Libby - we realize that living full time in an RV isn't cheap, and we understand the expenses associated with it (at least most of them - I'm sure there are a few that will take us by surprise!). We are drawn to the lifestyle for the flexibility it allows (which we can take advantage of at this time in our lives and may not be able to as easily in the future when we have kids, etc). I mentioned that we were looking for something fairly inexpensive because I know there are some VERY expensive RVs out there, and I wanted folks to know that we don't have an unlimited budget, nice as those homes on wheels may be!

I looked into the Tetons and they look great! Thanks for the feedback and I'll be doing more research after skiing! Must go enjoy the fresh snow...

Gaia
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