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Old 06-14-2014, 08:49 AM   #1
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Going from trailers to 5th wheel - what to expect?

Hi all, we are looking at getting our first 5th wheel. Will stay with something under 34 feet for smaller campgrounds.

Have always pulled trailers and never had any issues backing etc. Have heard some horror stories about how hard 5th wheels are to back and heard they are so easy everyone should have one. I understand that both types of stories are true for the person telling them - and everyone agrees they tow better, hitch faster, and that inside you get way more space.

So, what makes a 5th wheel harder to back or easier?
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:11 AM   #2
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The person backing it.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:26 AM   #3
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I can back both fairly easily, but back different lengths and types all day. It's just a different pivot point with the axles in a different spot. It just takes practice, and you'll be great at it.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:36 AM   #4
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The person backing it.
I figured that was coming
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Old 06-14-2014, 10:07 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by 2wiresdave View Post
Hi all, we are looking at getting our first 5th wheel. Will stay with something under 34 feet for smaller campgrounds.

Have always pulled trailers and never had any issues backing etc. Have heard some horror stories about how hard 5th wheels are to back and heard they are so easy everyone should have one. I understand that both types of stories are true for the person telling them - and everyone agrees they tow better, hitch faster, and that inside you get way more space.

So, what makes a 5th wheel harder to back or easier?
As someone said the person backing it is a factor. However I think that works about the same for both TT and 5er.

I like backing the 5er slightly more than a TT as I can and have upon occasion "jack knifed" the 5er. (You need a long box or a traveling 5 wheel to jack knife a 5er otherwise your cab takes a beating.) This can make it possible to get into some tight spots that a TT can not.

I think it also has to do with how the swing can be predicted. When backing up a TT the pivot point on the truck hitch will swing slightly adding to the turn of the trailer whereas the 5er is over the rear axle. Minor differences that are easily learned IMO.

If you are happy backing up your TT it will not take long to make the transition to 5er.
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Old 06-14-2014, 11:25 AM   #6
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I made the switch last year...here's what I found: backing is a little different in that the pivot point is different - that was about a 5 minute transition. My 5er is a rear kitchen model and I was amazed at how much stuff bounced around back there! I needed to tie things down and get some smaller trays and so on to get things under control. 'Chucking' (front to back when going over bumps) was a big bother to me. I was going to get a MorRyde hitch or something to take care of that, but my new Demco superslide took all of the chucking out, so no need for the MorRyde.

It is heavier (DUH) and I got into some soft ground and it made ruts...it is taller so I was a bit nervous about over passes and such, but that was a quick one to get over...

We went from a 26' Sunnybrook (no slides - nice trailer!) to a Holiday Rambler with 2 slides - LOTS of room! Cabinets are higher so you will need a stool if you are vertically challenged...

Love the change!

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Old 06-14-2014, 11:40 AM   #7
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Having towed both for years, it won't take you very long to figure out how much to lead it when backing. When you first get it, go to a vacant parking lot and practice a little. Your concerns will soon evaporate. Oh, and one more thing, get used to looking up for overhead obstructions.
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Old 06-14-2014, 02:31 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by 2wiresdave View Post
Hi all, we are looking at getting our first 5th wheel. Will stay with something under 34 feet for smaller campgrounds.

Have always pulled trailers and never had any issues backing etc. Have heard some horror stories about how hard 5th wheels are to back and heard they are so easy everyone should have one. I understand that both types of stories are true for the person telling them - and everyone agrees they tow better, hitch faster, and that inside you get way more space.

So, what makes a 5th wheel harder to back or easier?
Backing up a 5th wheel is a bit different, all you see is one rear corner while you can see one rear and one front corner when backing up a "bumper pull trailer" but as others have said if you can back up one you can back up both.
When driving in a crosswind situation a 5th wheel would be much more stable than a bumper pull even though it is taller.
You are correct about the additional living space in a 5th wheel, they are both measured from the pin/coupler to the rear bumper. You have to watch the additional weight of a 5th wheel trailer and the extra weight it puts on the TV.
I doubt you'll find many folks that would go back to a travel trailer once they made the transition.
Go out and annoy a few sales people .
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Old 06-14-2014, 03:41 PM   #9
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The pivot point makes the difference. On pull trailers it is quite a ways back behind the rear axle. On a pickup the fifth pivot is actually 1-2 inches in front of the axle, it's much easier to jackknife the pull trailer vs. the fifth and the ability to jackknife makes backing easier. A long pickup (like a crew-cab) makes backing more difficult too. Pickups do not have much front wheel cut (turn angle) and since the regular truck and crew-cabs have the same wheel cut a longer truck will turn less (have a larger turning radius).
Backing a fifth of any length becomes a child's play with an HDT. The fifth hitch is normally installed behind the axle, sometimes six feet back as on this truck.

This makes the this arrangement similar to pull trailer and in addition the 55 degree wheel cut makes the front end of a commercial truck almost move sideways making any maneuvering a cinch.
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Old 06-14-2014, 03:55 PM   #10
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I will say once you have a fifth wheel,you will never go back to a bumper pull
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Old 06-14-2014, 04:20 PM   #11
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It took me 20 years to notice a difference. Just looked in the mirror and backed in the site. Went from bumper pull service trailer to fifth many times and just watched where the trailer wheels needed to go.

My neighbor traded his TT on a fifth wheel and told me his discovered difference. It was then that I realized there is actually a difference.
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Old 06-16-2014, 11:12 PM   #12
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I agree....lots of control with a 5th wheel. But pulling our 36ft rig is no big deal. My buddy on a long trip said pulling his TT wore him out. Not sure if he was being dramatic or not.
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