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Old 04-11-2012, 04:51 PM   #1
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Fulltiming

What 5th wheel brands are warranted for fulltiming? Heartland bighorns are but the floor plans aren't quite right for us. Any ideas or favorites?
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:09 PM   #2
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Heartland is the new kid on the block. The oldtimer in the full-timer 4-seasons RV market is Northwood, makers of the Artic Fox 5er. Notice this floorplan has a place for a washer&dryer. If it doesn't have a washer&dryer, it's not a full-timer 5er. If it's not a 4-seasons camper, then you're stuck in the SnowBird country such as Phoenix or the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for several months of the year.
Northwood Manufacturing: Arctic Fox
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:52 PM   #3
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Heartland does have a few of their fifth wheels rated for full time use but they are not true full time rigs capable of use in 4 seasons and the abuse that comes with living in year round. They are mass produced units with several hundred a month made. They also have Lippert I-beam frames, which I'm not a fan of. Any mass produced unit is suspect in quality control and quality materials used. High volume + cheaper materials = less overall quality, but offered at a price point many people can afford.

What you may not realize until it's too late is that you could easily go through a couple of these type of units in just a few years. In my experience we went through two new, very popular mass produced units in 5 years due to reasons stated above. The total cost of those two units was more than what we paid for our custom unit we now have that IS built for 4 season use and full timing.

We bought a 2012 Excel. They build a couple units a week and quality control is superb and they use a box frame that is much stronger than I-beam. All wood in the interior is solid hickory instead of just wood facings. Plumbing is what you will find in a stick and brick home with copper fittings. Insulation is pink spun fiberglass like in a real home too. I could go on and on, but instead I suggest you check out their website and watch their construction videos....very informative.

Often custom units are heavier than mass produced, requiring a more capable tow vehicle. But you get what you pay for. Other manufacturers that are known to be 4 season fulltimer coaches are Nuwa, Newmar, Mobile Suites, and New Horizons to name a few.

Many people buy because the interior is nice and shiny, but what is most important to full timing is how it's built, which will determine how long it will last. Once you have narrowed down the manufacturers, start looking at floorplans. Excel had a floorplan we sorta liked but didn't fall in love with. After dealing directly with their President, which is how they do business, they were able to combine three different floorplans and do some other great modifications to create a design we fell in love with. How many other companies do that?!

I hope some of what I've shared is helpful. And mind you, I've injected some personal opinions that should be taken with a grain of salt. When I see people talking about full timing in a coach such as a Heartland, it brings me back to some of the mistakes we made and I hope I can help someone else from making those same mistakes.

Beat of luck! No matter which manufacturer you chose, I have no doubt you will have many wonderful new experiences.
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Old 04-12-2012, 01:08 AM   #4
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Fulltiming

Like the what Smokey and TEAMJ just posted. Do a lot of Reviews as i am doing now. A lot of Knowledge on this forum. I have been looking at the Northwood Artic Foxes also. I figure it will take me a couple of years to get everything set up and weed out what not to get. I will eventually settle what i want in a 5th wheel when i retire form work and go fulltiming.
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:00 AM   #5
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Expect the price to jump up over $100,000 if you get stuck on high quality full-timer rig. Check out the prices for a Mobile Suites, for example. The big ones are over $100k. And I'm afraid to ask the price of an Excel.
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:57 AM   #6
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Expect the price to jump up over $100,000 if you get stuck on high quality full-timer rig. Check out the prices for a Mobile Suites, for example. The big ones are over $100k. And I'm afraid to ask the price of an Excel.
I paid quite a bit less than 100k for my Excel. I had a budget and let Excel know what it was and they did a great job in keeping me w/in my price range. I paid over 50K for each of my two previous mass produced 5ers, which didn't last...that number doesn't include the excessive amount of maintenance I had to do bc those units were so poorly made for fulltiming. You can do the math to see which one is cheaper over time.
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:07 PM   #7
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And with a full-time rig, you are in a well equipped F350/3500 dually or an F450/4500 series truck to tow the trailer. A SRW (single rear wheel) is not suitable for a true full time rig.

We have looked over the Bighorns and they are not a true full time rig.

Ken
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:01 PM   #8
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In a Keystone Alpine 3640r lfor 1 1/2 years now without any problems in Michigan. Minor freeze up first year but taken care of. Artic package and haven't had a problem since. Real wood and a heat pump,fireplace and furnace for the real cold nights. No regrets. You can pick up a 2012 for about 45k$

If it's going to be cold avoid a rear kitchen or 2 bath model. I own a campground and have fulltimers and seasonal workers.

Not sure what you would have to do to wear out a unit in a couple of years
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Old 04-19-2012, 01:26 PM   #9
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I have a Carriage and love it for quality. The problem is they went under last year. I would suggest Mobile Suites as probably the top quality one I have seen so far. Lifestyle is a new company to the list of builders. Most of the Carriage employees went here and I just saw this morning a 36 full wall slide model. The specs are almost identical to my Carriage Cameo 36fws with a couple of improvements???
Stay away from Heartland and comparable companies. I had a heartland Cyclone and had to carry enough tools, glues, screws, bolts, etc. to keep it together.
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Old 04-21-2012, 05:49 PM   #10
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We have been full timers for 12 years. Our first unit was a Thor product. I look back and see how clueless we were back then. I wont bore you with details but I could write a book on the poor quality and lack of customer service. They could not even do parts and we needed a lot of them. The poor coach finally delaminated into trailer heaven and between the Money I pored into keeping it on the road and the loss of resale, my wife and I had to stop fulltiming and get a job to get back on the road. But that is behind us and we are back to enjoying life with a coach we have had for 8 years. Although it's still an RV and still needs some repairs, it has treated us kindly.
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Old 04-21-2012, 06:13 PM   #11
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Excel, Excel, Excel....all models are full time rated and freeze gaurenteed in writing. I pull mine just fine with Dodge CTD/SRW/3500. They will build to suit and back it up with excellent customer care and service.
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Old 04-21-2012, 08:01 PM   #12
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I pull mine just fine with Dodge CTD/SRW/3500.
How much does the CAT scale say you're overloaded over the GVWR of your SRW?
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:17 PM   #13
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Heartland is the new kid on the block. The oldtimer in the full-timer 4-seasons RV market is Northwood, makers of the Artic Fox 5er. Notice this floorplan has a place for a washer&dryer. If it doesn't have a washer&dryer, it's not a full-timer 5er. If it's not a 4-seasons camper, then you're stuck in the SnowBird country such as Phoenix or the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for several months of the year.
Northwood Manufacturing: Arctic Fox


if your retired and fulltiming why would you be north in winter and south in summer anyhow?
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:40 AM   #14
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if your retired and fulltiming why would you be north in winter and south in summer anyhow?
Because that's where the kids/grandkids/great grandkids live? You want to take the grandkids skiing during "winter break" from school, but you can't do that if they're up north but you're stuck in snowbird country.

Not everyone hates the snow country. I read recently that Maine has a greater percentage of retired folks who stay put during their senior years than any other state. A Maine native fulltimer might want to go "home" for Christmas. I lived in Maine for two winters, and believe me it is too often 30 below zero Fahrenheit with three foot of snow on the driveway. So if you want to go there for Christmas or in ski season, then you'd better have a 4-seasons RV.

But south in the summertime? Not for me. I tell my brother in Houston that I'll visit him between October and March, but never during the hot/humid months. We have grandkids and great grandkids in Austin, but I hate going there in summertime because with the humidity it's just too uncomfortable for an old desert rat.
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