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Old 09-11-2015, 03:43 PM   #1
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It's RIG time, almost

Somewhere between an egg trailer and a 53' custom semi trailer is a great fifth wheel rig that we plan to call home. Yes, another member here to ask the question, ‘which rig is best ‘ …but please don’t close the thread just yet…. Forgive the length of this post, but I have given my best attempt to explain the progress to date.

My Wife and I, along with our three children, (currently 15 months, 2.5 and 4) plan to head out on our FT adventure in fall 2016. Having only spent a few weeks of my life RVing, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed at the decisions and preparation ahead; yet, surprisingly, I am enjoying the research thus far. I figured it was time to weigh in on the opinions of this wonderfully opinionated and experienced group.

Floorplan options and purchase cost are the main reasons we have decided on a 5er over a MH. Now, WHICH fifth wheel- bunkhouse, toyhauler? What manufacturer and model? What amenities do we need, which layout do we like? Either way it’s going to be big, did I mention the three kids already? What features/options do we need? (or think we really want because we have never actually done this before)

We would love to hear from FT families, especially those with young kids, please help! What do recommend we add or delete on our list of ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. I have heard of many FT families with toyhaulers and others with BHs. Pros and Cons?

Our list so far:
Minimum 3 bunks for the kids (a fourth convertible bed/couch in bedroom would be ideal and 2 opposing slides make for a lot of space where it is really needed), King Bed in master (not a ‘need’, but highest on our list of ‘wants’ since at lease one child finds a reason to join us before the night is over) 1.5 bathrooms, large residential-style refrigerator/freezer (min 18 cu ft), large black and gray tanks to extend times between tearing down camp to go dup the tanks. We will be spend a great deal of time set up in backyards of family/friends.

Toyhaulers offer a lot, but there are challenges on using the ‘garage’ as the kid’s room. Many have ‘porches’ which I count as living space and think I would really enjoy. However, they are heavier and cost more than BH models, especially since we don’t have immediate plans to haul any motorized toys in the garage. My wife is also resistant to a tow vehicle any larger than Ram3500/F450 dually, and the energy-drink-inspired decor has nearly killed the idea already.

This brings me to quality and manufacturers. Reading recommendations for FT rigs can get confusing. We have all heard that a '4-season' trailer does not necessarily mean its built for FT use, especially with kids. But there lies the dilemma. Floorplan options and budget are limiting. At a top budget of $80k I like the value argument for buying used. Our first choice would be a pre-owned New Horizon, Excel, Carriage. These high-end rigs eventually fall into this price range, but I have not found one with a BH floorplan in my 4 months of searching. A used DRV would be nice too, but they only make a model with 2 bunks, not 3.

I next began to search for newer-used offerings from the big mass-production industry. Unless I have missed one, NONE of the Forest river, Heartland, Keystone, etc offer a BH floorplan in their luxury/top tier models. A select few may have offered them in past years, but that is difficult to research. PLEASE reply if you know of one.

So, that leaves me looking mainly at new(ish) 'Full profile', 4 season rigs offered by the big manufacturers. We don’t plan of staying in extreme, prolonged cold weather, but it will get snowed on a few times a year as well as spend some time in the southwestern desert summers. I still think there is value in buying a year or three used, but some of the rigs we like just came out this year or last, making a used one hard to find. Favorites include (in no particular order):
Alfa Gold 3805BH
Heartland Gateway 3650BH
Keystone Avalanche 361/391TG, Montana Mountaineer 346LBQ,
FR Blueridge 3715 BH, Dynamax Trilogy 37BH
Redwood CY38BHR
Grand Design 365DEN.

Very soon, I plan to sign up with RV Consumer group RV Consumer Group - We Rate RVs
Please suggest other resources if you have them.
So, there you have it. I look forward to comments or suggestions about my selection process to this point.
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Old 09-12-2015, 05:06 AM   #2
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I would take a look at the Cedar Creek Silverback, not their high end but built well and right on the same line as the Cedar Creeks, now it might not be insulated like you want but then most of what might fit your needs probably won't either. Plus they have a bunk house with the things you are looking for. Another nice factor is their customer service, I have had great service from them and they actually just did a lot of work on our unit at the factory at no charge and it was quite of few items taken care of and we are 5 years out of warranty. Good luck on your search.
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Old 09-12-2015, 08:01 AM   #3
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...now it might not be insulated like you want but then most of what might fit your needs probably won't either.
That's what I am finding. I had excluded the Silverback because of the smaller bunk room with only only slide. But we are headed to the RV show on Hershey, PA next weekend and I hope they have one for us to look at. Thanks for sharing your experience with customer support.

Capt
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Old 09-12-2015, 08:41 AM   #4
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My folks just traded a 2012 Montana Mountaineer 346LBQ to Windish in Longmont CO. They ordered it new. Pulled less than 7k miles and was shedded when not in use. They ordered it with bedroom AC dual pane windows and a host of other options. It was like new and used very little. Just throwing that out if it would help you.
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Old 09-12-2015, 10:53 AM   #5
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You really need to go look at the Heartland Gateway 3650bh. We love ours and it has everything on your list. Large double slide bunk room, 1.5 baths, residential fridge, tons of counter space, king bed, washer/dryer hookup, 5 slides (430 sq ft), outside kitchen, great insulation, standard tank heaters, 4 TVs, and we'll under your budget.
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Old 09-12-2015, 02:21 PM   #6
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You really need to go look at the Heartland Gateway 3650bh. We love ours and it has everything on your list. Large double slide bunk room, 1.5 baths, residential fridge, tons of counter space, king bed, washer/dryer hookup, 5 slides (430 sq ft), outside kitchen, great insulation, standard tank heaters, 4 TVs, and we'll under your budget.
I agree. As I mentioned, that exact model is on our list of favorites. I also want to look at the 3700 PBT Because I really like the idea of the elevated patio and glass sliding door, but not sure I am willing to trade it for the 2 opposing slides in the kitchen/living area. On the surface the 3650BH nearly satisfies our entire list. However, as one of the cheaper models on our list, I have to wonder where the sacrifices were made compared to more expensive rigs with similar floorplans and features. I am very interested in your frequency of use and your honest opinion of the quality and systems reliability. As a full time rig, our kids are going to throughly challenge the structural integrity of everything they can get their hands on. Robust systems are also very important. (plumbing, electrical, gas, slides, leveling gear, etc). Thanks for the reply. (btw, I owned 3 different Broncos in my high school and college years, so I appreciate your profile picture)
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Old 09-12-2015, 07:31 PM   #7
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Look at the DRV FullHouse line of toyhaulers.
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Old 09-14-2015, 01:08 PM   #8
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I agree. As I mentioned, that exact model is on our list of favorites. I also want to look at the 3700 PBT Because I really like the idea of the elevated patio and glass sliding door, but not sure I am willing to trade it for the 2 opposing slides in the kitchen/living area. On the surface the 3650BH nearly satisfies our entire list. However, as one of the cheaper models on our list, I have to wonder where the sacrifices were made compared to more expensive rigs with similar floorplans and features. I am very interested in your frequency of use and your honest opinion of the quality and systems reliability. As a full time rig, our kids are going to throughly challenge the structural integrity of everything they can get their hands on. Robust systems are also very important. (plumbing, electrical, gas, slides, leveling gear, etc). Thanks for the reply. (btw, I owned 3 different Broncos in my high school and college years, so I appreciate your profile picture)
We aren't full time yet, still working but everything is holding up very well so far. The slides are hydraulic and work very well, it has a 12" frame and is very stable on the road and while setup. I've had no leaks in the roof or pluming. The space in the kitchen and amount of storage is very nice (my DW likes to bring everything along). I did not get the auto level because we bought off the lot but it does have electric stabilizers and sets up easily. Seems to be well insulated, we have camped in the low 20s with just a small space heater and it stayed very comfortable. The main Dometic A/C is the only thing we have had problems with. They have replaced it under warranty twice so I hope it's good now. I did buy 3 more years of warranty just in case.

Ya gotta love a Bronco, I've had 6 since High School, here is my current 77.

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Old 09-14-2015, 01:27 PM   #9
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Nice Bronco!
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Old 09-14-2015, 03:07 PM   #10
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Look at the DRV FullHouse line of toyhaulers.
Holly crap. Sorry kids, mom and I are selling the house and you are on your own...we will send postcards and good luck.

Got a little sticker shock.
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Old 09-15-2015, 12:07 AM   #11
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It's RIG time, almost

We had a 43ft Travel Supreme (now out of business, but easily serviced anywhere). We had a trundle bed installed under the bottom bunk to make 3 beds at bedtime. TS made many bunk room models and were constructed of the highest quality (ceasing production in 2008).

You may wish to look at used Travel Supreme fivers. I would stay away from the River Canyon model.

Here is an excellent deal on a top of the line TS "Select" as a point of reference (I just saw this online--I have no connection whatsoever with it). It is a 2 bedroom model, but the rear bedroom has a queen bed--easy to convert.

http://www.rvtrader.com/dealers/Camp...REME-115549761

We currently have a Continental coach with 3 bunks and love it, however it is very, very heavy.
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Old 09-15-2015, 12:20 PM   #12
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Had not heard of TS. Thank you for posting the link. Its a nice rig. I will add it to the research list.
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Old 09-15-2015, 06:09 PM   #13
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We have a Montana Mounaineer 345DBQ....

We have slept in our Mountaineer 345DBQ in over half of the states with two kids, but it is now time to upgrade. If you are looking to start out with a used BH 5er, are in the upper Midwest and want to look at it, let me know.

I am happy to hear you are planning on a dually. We had a blowout on the freeway which was a bit disconcerting. Fortunately it was on a rear tire so I could pull off the freeway into empty parking lot and even put myself in the shade to change the tire. With a SRW pickup, it could have gotten dicey.

Jeff
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