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Old 10-19-2018, 04:13 PM   #1
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Newbie...need advice

Hi! I have been watching this forum and see lots of good advice so I thought I would post our situation to get your input. My husband and I will retire within year or two and want to get an RV/trailer for retirement. We plan on traveling quite a bit and will likely work some from the RV/trailer. We don’t want anything big as we value being to go wherever looks interesting over having all the amenities. We have been to some shows and have narrowed it down to 2 choices: a small (24-26 ft) lightly used diesel RV or a small, new (24-26ft) 1/2 ton series 5th wheel. We would get a diesel truck for the 5th wheel and would like to go with a F150 diesel truck (new one coming out I hear). We live in the city so don’t want or need a bigger truck. We will likely put travel a lot of miles so fuel consumption is an issue for us (hence the diesel for mpg and durability).
We have driven many gas RVs so know what that lifestyle is like but have never towed anything but 5th wheel seems doable.
I see advantages of diesel RV as likely better mpg (but higher maintenance), smaller over footprint so better availability at campgrounds (I should mention we are not likely to stay much at private campgrounds and are more national park/boon docking type people). At under 27ft we should be able to get into just about any campground.
Advantages of 5th wheel would be having a separate vehicle from RV which makes other areas available to us at least during day. With diesel 1/2 ton truck mpg should be reasonable (and better than gas). Also, we have a home in Tahoe area and so need a 4WD vehicle for winter up there and the truck would serve that purpose as well. Also, 5th wheel would have more inside room than similarly sized RV.Down side of 5th wheel would be length of total rig that would limit our options for campgrounds somewhat and would likely be more difficult to drive than small RV.
When I look at costs, a lightly used diesel RV can be had for approx 70-80k and a small 5th wheel with new diesel truck would cost about the same.
My question to you all is whether I am missing something from the equation and are there other considerations I should be making. Some of my reluctance with 5th wheel option is not being able to rent one to try it out. (We don’t presently own a truck so would need to rent both truck and 5th wheel).
I would love to get any input you might have!
Thanks in advance,
Lori
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Old 10-19-2018, 05:43 PM   #2
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Very few 1/2 ton pick ups (F-150 or 1500s) are truly capable of towing a 1/2 ton rated fiver. You would need to be very aware of the cargo capacity and towing weights of the 1/2 ton pickup and the true pin weight of the fiver. As an example, we recently owned a F-150 Platinum Supercrew 4x4 with the 3.5 Ecoboost engine and the Max Towing package. It had a cargo capacity of 1,625 lbs. A dealer tried to sell us a so-called 1/2 ton fiver, but the pin weight would have exceeded our cargo capacity. Perhaps if you bought a really stripped down, plain Jane 1/2 ton pickup you might get enough cargo capacity to handle it, but I don’t think it would be a very enjoyable experience.
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Old 10-19-2018, 06:35 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by bfisher003 View Post
Very few 1/2 ton pick ups (F-150 or 1500s) are truly capable of towing a 1/2 ton rated fiver. You would need to be very aware of the cargo capacity and towing weights of the 1/2 ton pickup and the true pin weight of the fiver. As an example, we recently owned a F-150 Platinum Supercrew 4x4 with the 3.5 Ecoboost engine and the Max Towing package. It had a cargo capacity of 1,625 lbs. A dealer tried to sell us a so-called 1/2 ton fiver, but the pin weight would have exceeded our cargo capacity. Perhaps if you bought a really stripped down, plain Jane 1/2 ton pickup you might get enough cargo capacity to handle it, but I don’t think it would be a very enjoyable experience.


Thanks for your comments. I have heard that some dealers will try to sell you 5th wheels that they say will work with 1/2 ton pick ups but really don’t work. However, I have looked at the specifications of some of the 1/2 ton 5th wheels and the “hitch weight” can run anywhere from 1100 or more. If the hitch weight on the 5th wheel was 1200lbs would that be a problem for a 1/2 ton pick up with a payload of 1600lbs. I am new to towing so please excuse my ignorance on this issue. I think another consideration in addition to payload is the weight of the 5th wheel as some 1/2 ton pickups have limited overall towing capacity. I have found a few that do seem to work with the f-150 though so I want to make sure I am looking at this correctly.
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Old 10-19-2018, 06:58 PM   #4
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One more detail about the truck I am considering. 2018 F-150 diesel rates at payload of 2020 lbs and towing capacity of 11,400lbs per car and driver
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Old 10-19-2018, 10:55 PM   #5
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I've checked out some of the "Half Ton towable" fifth wheels such as Eagle HT, Eagle HTX, Cougar, Durango, Highland Ridge Lite and Grand Design 150. The problem I see is most of these start at 28'-30'. I didn't see one at 24 ft. They all have GVWR at just under 10,000 pounds. My fifth wheel tows at 10,000# and my diesel has half again as much torque and horsepower as the 3 liter units. I find my power to be adequate, but just so, wouldn't want to do with less. I do see a lot of light fifth wheels in campgrounds being towed with F150s, most likely higher powered gassers.

You might check out the Escape 5.0TA as it will fit all your needs plus you could tow it with a smaller diesel engine. Trailer Life Magazine had an article about one being towed with a Canyon (or Colorado) 4 cylinder diesel. They are small though. Good luck with your search.
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Old 10-20-2018, 06:23 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Lstyles View Post
Thanks for your comments. I have heard that some dealers will try to sell you 5th wheels that they say will work with 1/2 ton pick ups but really don’t work. However, I have looked at the specifications of some of the 1/2 ton 5th wheels and the “hitch weight” can run anywhere from 1100 or more. If the hitch weight on the 5th wheel was 1200lbs would that be a problem for a 1/2 ton pick up with a payload of 1600lbs. I am new to towing so please excuse my ignorance on this issue. I think another consideration in addition to payload is the weight of the 5th wheel as some 1/2 ton pickups have limited overall towing capacity. I have found a few that do seem to work with the f-150 though so I want to make sure I am looking at this correctly.


Keep in mind that the hitch weight you mentioned is most likely the hitch or pin weight of an empty or dry trailer. A good rule of thumb is to multiply the GVWR of a trailer by 20% to get what your max pin weight could be. To answer your specific question: and assuming the pin weight you mentioned of 1200 lbs on a truck with a cargo capacity of 1600 lbs, that only leaves 400 lbs. You must also add somewhere around 200 pounds or more (my new B&W Companion Slider weighs 265 lbs) for the fifth wheel hitch, plus driver and other occupants’ weights and anything else you will carry in the truck. As you can see in our example we can quickly exceed the 1600 lbs of cargo capacity.
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Old 10-20-2018, 07:25 AM   #7
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Buy a 3/4 ton. Minimal additional investment and it opens up your rv choices 10 fold. It makes no sense if your buying a truck anyway to limit your rv choices to a small handful and you will most likely regret or a least constantly second guess your decision.
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Old 10-20-2018, 08:21 AM   #8
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All good advice and kudos to you for asking advice prior to jumping in!

Questions to consider:

How much will the pin weigh when loaded?

How much weight will be in the truck cab? All weight must be considered.

How close to capacity do you want to run? I prefer margin.

How long until you upgrade to a larger trailer? Often your first RV is not the last.

Will an upgrade in trailer require another truck purchase? I have more truck than I need.
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Old 10-20-2018, 09:24 AM   #9
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You are getting some good advice. While the half tons are really nice the footprint of a 3/4 or one ton will be the same if both have the 6 1/2 foot beds. The ride will not be quite as good but even our dually is great on the highway. Ford came out with the new F250/350/450's with the 2017 models. The diesel engines are tested and doing very well from what I can see, at least ours is. Since they've been out a couple of years you may be able to find a nice used one and save some money there.

Our Winslow is 35' 5" and we have never had an issue getting into any park and we have been over a lot of this country and part of Canada. We do tend to stay in private campgrounds. There have been a number of threads on this forum about shorter fifth wheels so they are out there. I'm sure it is not always the case but my concern would be does lighter mean less quality. Hope your search goes well.
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Old 10-20-2018, 09:29 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Lstyles View Post
When I look at costs, a lightly used diesel RV can be had for approx 70-80k and a small 5th wheel with new diesel truck would cost about the same.
My question to you all is whether I am missing something from the equation and are there other considerations I should be making. Some of my reluctance with 5th wheel option is not being able to rent one to try it out. (We don’t presently own a truck so would need to rent both truck and 5th wheel).
I would love to get any input you might have!
Thanks in advance,
Lori
If you go with a Diesel RV you will need to tow a car ... add that to your costs and mtc. You don't want to drive a Diesel RV just to do some shopping or sight seeing.

1/2 ton pick ups don't work well with most 5ths - research it.
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Old 10-20-2018, 11:22 AM   #11
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Thanks everyone for the great advice! To try and address these comments with what I am thinking after reading all the thoughtful advice.

Approx 25-26 ft diesel RV:
Reports are I should get 16-18mpg if I don’t drive too crazy (and I do drive carefully). I will not tow a car but will have a scooter/small motorcycle on hitch rack for short trips. This is one of the reasons for getting the small diesel RV...easier to drive around. Downside is that we won’t have a car to use when not traveling (we have a Subaru Outback now for around town and trips to our home in Tahoe).

Vs

2018 Ford-150 diesel pick up (2020 lbs payload and 11,400 towing capacity) with grand design 230RL (28 ft, GVWR 9495, hitch weight 1195).
New f-150 diesel rated at 30 mpg on highway! Expect to get 1/2 of that while towing so similar mpg to diesel RV. Has added benefit that using the F-150 while not towing I should get about 25mpg for regular driving (similar to Subaru and will be good for snow travel). If I add 20% as suggested above (about 1800 lbs) to GVWR, I am right at about tow capacity of the f-150 diesel. With hitch weight of 1195 I have over 800lbs left over to use for hitch weight and I don’t intend to put anything in truck bed. We are sailors so are quite used to traveling light in terms of stuff added to “vehicle/trailer”.

We could get a bigger truck but mpg will not be even close to what we can get with F-150 diesel and for everyday driving the bigger diesels would likely get less than 17 mpg while not towing.
Fuel economy is important to us not only for financial reasons but also for philosophical reasons ( ie like to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible and our “other car” is electric).

Does my logic above make sense? I know there is quite a lot of debate about tow vehicle size but I am trying to apply some science (ie engineering, physics, math) to calculations rather than just “bigger is better/safer” argument.

Thanks and look forward to your additional comments!
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Old 10-20-2018, 12:00 PM   #12
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My first question is why are you talking used motorhome but new 5er? I would buy a used 5er. I did buy a used 5er and we are full timers and have lived in it nearly 9 years. I pulled a 27' 5er with a heavy 1/2 for 9 years before that with no problems. An F-150 with a 7700 lb. package. Pulling is easy. Stopping can be hard.
You are getting some good advice here and I would look at 3/4 ton truck. And used 5er.

I explored the scooter idea for awhile and it would have turned out to be a bad idea. If you want the motorhome I would definitely get a small car to tow.


I also keep seeing mention of fuel mileage. My opinion on this is that if you have to worry about MPG this is not the correct hobby for you. Not being critical just stating opinion. If you have to worry about it you can't enjoy yourself so why bother.


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Old 10-20-2018, 12:04 PM   #13
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I towed with a 1/2 ton and did not feel safe (Jayco Eagle HT). Truck was rated for 12,000lb, trailer was about 9000lb loaded. Upgraded to a 3/4 ton diesel and won't look back. Get about 17-18mpg around town, 20-22mpg on a trip, 12-13mpg towing. Get the larger vehicle your trip will be much more enjoyable.
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Old 10-20-2018, 12:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lstyles View Post

2018 Ford-150 diesel pick up (2020 lbs payload and 11,400 towing capacity) with grand design 230RL (28 ft, GVWR 9495, hitch weight 1195). !

Fifth Wheel Weight Calculator


Fifth Wheel Weight Calculator


2020 lbs payload
- options added by buyer, not included in above #
- hitch
- passengers
- driver weight over 150 lbs
- tools
- 1,195
- added pin weight for items added to 5th by owner not in 1,195

= ??????????????

Use the calculator and let us know what it says

You should use the comments here as a starting point.
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