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Old 05-21-2016, 07:26 AM   #1
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Pulling vs long 5th wheel

I will be buying a fifth wheel and truck within the next month and I have never pulled one. I keep hearing conflicting stories about pulling them. Some say the big ones are just the same to pull as the smaller, (salesman). But I've also seen people saying they're only for long term stays because moving is such a chore.
I will be full timing and expect to move every 1 to 4 weeks. I would really like to get one with an office space or garage which means big but I'm a little worried. I don't want to feel stuck because its to difficult to move.
Any advice or clarifications would be appreciated.


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Old 05-21-2016, 07:43 AM   #2
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Like anything else, practice makes perfect. We use walkie talkies and go slow when its tight. The longer trailers will drag the back end sooner/easier so you must be mindful when entering parking lots etc.

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Old 05-21-2016, 07:55 AM   #3
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I should have added that I will be solo. I think there are cameras that would help backing up.
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Old 05-21-2016, 08:03 AM   #4
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Backing a 5th wheel is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Even though my wife is out watching me as i back up.....I always get out and do a walk around before backing our 37 foot 5er. And remember to always look up....Thats where low hanging branches that can damage your rig are.
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Old 05-21-2016, 08:12 AM   #5
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I've gone from a 30' to a 38' and now a 40' with no issues other than having to get a 1t TV. Since you're solo, you should first practice in a large empty parking lot to determine how the FW reacts to your steering. It might be a good idea to find someone with a lot of experience to help you. It's also a good time to determine, if you get a short bed TV, how far you can turn before getting close to hitting the cab corner and the FW corner. Get an auto sliding hitch if you're concerned.

The first few times you back into a CG space, yes, you'll be nervous, but take it slow and easy. Since you won't have a spotter, start your turn and stop and walk back and see how you're doing. Do that several times as necessary. Remember to look up for overhanging branches, etc. Ignore anyone just standing around waiting to see if you make a mistake. A decent person will ask if you need assistance. Don't worry if you have to go back and forth several times to get the FW exactly where you want it; no one's keeping score.

A rear camera came with my 40' but I've not hooked it up yet so I don't know yet if it would be of any assistance. Lastly, since you'll be full-timing, I recommend you get whichever FW fits you and your living style for the long-term. If that's a longer FW, go with it and learn.
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--2016 Montana 3711FL, 40'
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Old 05-21-2016, 08:20 AM   #6
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Pulling a 5er is no big deal if you have enough truck. You will have learn to make your turns a little wider than you do in a car and you'll need to keep an eye out for low hanging trees, limbs and bridges. Interstates and most federal and state highways will not be a problem but local and county roads can be.

Learning to back a trailer is not difficult, it just requires practice and common sense. A spotter can be very handy, even if it is the camera type. Pull thru spots are your friend, but not always available. Truck driving school is also an option.

You will either need a DIY attitude and a willingness to learn or deep pockets. Things will malfunction and adjustments will have to be made. DIY is not for everyone.

Last, welcome to the life style. It can be great fun and full of great people. As I say, many many friends I just haven't met, yet.
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Old 05-21-2016, 08:28 AM   #7
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It's like everything else. Once you establish procedure you'll see that it is done very quickly. I was in Jackson Hole last summer and a fella in a 42' Raptor had it set up in less then 1/2 hour. Not a big deal! My opinion is that if you are planning to full time in this, get the one you want to live in. If it takes you a bit longer to set up and break camp, so what? What ever length you decide on you will adapt to it quickly.

Good luck with your decision!
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Old 05-21-2016, 08:28 AM   #8
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Well, two years back when I was 70 we went on a 9 week vacation from Virginia to NM and AZ. Last year at 71 we went on a 10 week one all the way to San Francisco & back. This year it's to Montreal and New Brunswick. Ours is six years old now and 38 foot long. It isn't any more work to set up or take down & hook up than our old 28' TT. While we don't do much more than 65 mph and I have to do all the driving (wife is intimidated by it's size), I can manage up to 350 miles a day pulling it. While backing up can be a little difficult by myself, I've done it quite a bit. Sometimes have to get out and look where things are, but it's not that hard.
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Old 05-21-2016, 10:38 AM   #9
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We have had both travel trailers and 5th wheels. By far the 5th wheels were easier to back up. Our new one which is 42' turns a little slower than our previous 39' when backing up. That just means we start backing up from a little farther down the road!

The practicing in a parking lot is a great idea! Here's a suggestion we use all the time. When backing up, grip the bottom of the steering wheel with your hand. Move your hand in the direction you want the back of the trailer to go and that's the way trailer will move. It only takes about 1/4 of a turn. Takes a lot of thinking out of the equation.

Also, always start backing up with the trailer and truck located on the road side closest to the site you are backing into. If you don't, you may run out of room for the front of the truck to stay on the road or clear anything on the other side of the road.
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Old 05-21-2016, 10:57 AM   #10
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I think if most people were really honest they would tell you that their wives or whoever they have watching for them while they back up are just a safety net. I know mine is. I always walk around before backing in and don't really trust the instructions of anyone behind the trailer.
It usually goes like this:
her: "go to the left"
me: "my left or your left?"
her:"just left"
me:"how far back?"
her: " quite a bit"
At this point I get out for a 2nd time and walk back to see what I'm dealing with and find that I'm right where I thought I would be and all this yelling is not necessary.
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Old 05-21-2016, 12:13 PM   #11
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Orion, I just peed my pants,,,that was a funny explanation. Would it be safer for her to steer and you direct? I don't think so

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Old 05-21-2016, 02:07 PM   #12
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Thank you for the advice everyone...and the laugh Orion.
I'll feel a lot better about just focusing on what I really want.

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Old 05-21-2016, 02:21 PM   #13
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Just like the semi-truck drivers You need to make wide turns as the 5th wheel will track way inside the path of the truck.

I am often surprised how close I come the curb when make a right turn.

Backing a 5th wheel is easier that a TT.
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Old 05-22-2016, 04:30 PM   #14
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My Grand Design Reflection 323BHS is 38' and weighs 11K, with 2K kingpin weight approx. It's not too big and not too small. I deleted the dinette and got the SuperSofa option--12' of leather recliners and loveseat. If you need an office, go for a bunkhouse model, as it has a leather J bed that can be replaced with a desk.

Towing a fifth wheel is much better than a travel trailer. You must change your way of "thinking big" which also means look up. These things are tall.

I would suggest you shop for a trailer first and truck second. If you go any larger than 11,000ish, a dual wheel one ton truck is needed. The limitation of single rear wheels is the kingpin weight.

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