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Old 09-25-2016, 09:55 AM   #1
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Those of you that have upgraded to high-end 5th wheels - how did you get there?

I am doing a lot of research on 5th wheels here. I am looking to make the transition to one being a full time residence. Contrary to what constitutes the majority of "full timers", I would be stationed in one location with a few trips around the midwest, for the most part, a year. The climate here can never see above 0, with lows around -20, in the winter to high temps in the summer climbing over 100.

My question is - those of you that have upgraded to a higher end 5th wheel - what led you there? Why did you go with what you did?

In my research I have Grand Design at the top of my list (Solitude line), I like what I have seen and they have a loft floor plan I like. However, I spent some time this weekend looking at DRV's. I am not so much for their floor plans and they are a lot heavier, but they are also a lot more solidly built and hold temperature better.

I would like to be careful and wise to lower quality manufacturers. I have never had an RV before. In looking at this as my primary residence quality and livability is extremely important. With issues such as frame failures that I have read about - if my "house" breaks that is a pretty big problem and I won't have a retreat to get to while the RV is waiting for 4 weeks for repair. I expect there will need to be some extra precautions necessary for me to make it through such cold winters, but that having been said I don't want to go in to that time of year without the best foot forward on build quality and insulation.

So if you have made your way through some different brands/builds - what led you to what you have?


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Old 09-25-2016, 10:23 AM   #2
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I like you live in my full time for convenience. For the past 3+ years I owned my 5th Wheel, but at 16 years old was beginning to show it's age. I began looking over a year ago and set a budget of about $40 to $50K. I had to limit my search based on my tow vehicle have a 12500 limit of towing and didn't want to have a truck payment also. I was looking for a few things in mine: 28 to 32 ft, leveling system, outside entertainment if possible (l like to watch baseball and don't like to be inside), theater seating, nice kitchen, sub 0 package, and not white outside. I started by going to many different rv shows, walking dealer lots, and researching online. I came down to 3 different RV's: Cougar 1/2 ton 283(can't remember the letters), Forest River 29 footer, and 2 from Grand Design Reflection 29RL and 303 RLS. The GD were about $12 more than the others.

I decided that quality was more important than price, since I was buying my home and it would be the unit I retired with (7 years). I was out with my grandkids in one of our parks and ran into a gentleman who had a GD and spent about 3 or 4 hours taking to him about his unit (both good and bad). After that I went online to researched GD through none colored eyes. As a teacher I am used to looking for everything in what I read or research. A few weeks later the local dealer received a 303 in and I went to look at it. After seeing the quality in person and spending about 2 hours walking through it I made the decision to spend the extra money and to finally have a payment (it's been over 10 years). I picked it up last Saturday and couldn't be happier. Yesterday I finally was able to put all my gear in and still have plenty of room. The only problem is I can't figure out how to work the furnace (haven't read the manual, what man does).

I hope this helps.
Enjoy the process

2017 Grand Design Reflection 303 RLS
1997 GMC Sierra 3500 Dually
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Old 09-25-2016, 10:39 AM   #3
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I'm a weekend warrior with a low end 5th that works well enough for the family. I frequent RV shows and when I think of something to full-time in someday the Redwood brand always catches my eye.
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Old 09-25-2016, 10:53 AM   #4
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Our first 5th wheel was a 2000 Avion we bought in 2005. It had little insulation and the wall surrounding the bed was so cold. We looked at new ones and considered buying a Presidential or a Montana. There was just something about them we didn't like, quality. We saw a Drv Mobile Suites and were floored. We knew our truck wouldn't pull it and the salesman never told us they had a "lesser" model, Select Suites. We found out when some friends of ours ordered one. We ordered one over the phone, picked it up 8 weeks later and lived in it for 5 1/2 years. Then we bought a Mobile Suite (and new truck) and have lived in it for almost 5 years. As you said, they hold the heat & cool really well with those 3 1/4" walls and dual pane windows. Quality woodwork throughout. The things we've had issues with are things Drv doesn't build, ac's, frig, circuit board on furnace. If we had the $$ we would buy another one now. They aren't perfect but pretty darn good. There are many owners that have purchased 2 or 3 Drv's.
Jan & Thomas
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Old 09-25-2016, 11:02 AM   #5
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Also look at the older Carriage brand. Pre 2013. The Cameo line was very well made, with the Carrilite and Carriage Presidential series being the top. They are heavy though. We have fulltimed in our 2009 since 2012.
Alie & Jim 2009 CarriLite Max1
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Old 09-25-2016, 11:13 AM   #6
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We have full time for like 7 years. We started off with a 32' DRV and was not happy with it. Sold it and got our current unit, 2003 Grand Freedom Teton. Great full time unit but it is heavy. Need a big truck. Gave 30k for it and replaced a few appliances. Very content with it.
2003 Teton Grand Freedom. 2006 Freightliner Century 120 with Detroit 14L and Ultrashift.. Full time going from job to job. Building and maintaining plants across the USA. Sold 2006 Mobile Suites 32TK3
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Old 09-25-2016, 02:05 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by glennwest View Post
We started off with a 32' DRV and was not happy with it.
What didn't you like about the DRV? Was it more the layout/floor plan? Or was it something about the functionality (slides, leveling, etc)? Or something about the construction methods? If it is related to these - how does your Teton compare?

Teton has come up a few times as an option. It looks like they have been out of the RV business for several years now.
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Old 09-25-2016, 06:40 PM   #8
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Those of you that have upgraded to high-end 5th wheels - how did you get there?

A quality full time 5th wheel will cost lots more than $50K and will be very heavy. Things you need to look for are a house made frame, 17.5 wheels hydraulic brakes, Moryde IS suspension, and leveling system. . I would look at used Carriage, NuWa, Travel Supreme, DVR, and then custom builders. Most people only look at the pretty inside. Look fort the quality "bones" and then find a floor plan you can live with. A used high end 5th wheel is a much better deal than many of the new 5th wheels manufactured today in my opinion.
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Old 09-25-2016, 07:14 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jpharley View Post
A quality full time 5th wheel will cost lots more than $50K and will be very heavy.
That is what I am discovering. I am curious what high end rigs people have upgraded to and how they made their way to what they have.
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Old 09-25-2016, 07:21 PM   #10
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Yes forget floor plan and don't be fooled by pretty pictures. As others suggested, Mobile Suites, Carriage (Carriage became Lifestyle). I'm sure others will add Augusta or other custom brands. Look for a leftover Lifestyle - their parent company went belly up and they can be gotten cheap. The problem with rv's is that they use poor quality materials and poor quality construction. They are made to look nice, but fake wood, plastic sinks, shoddy construction are not acceptible to me. I wanted real hardwood, a strong frame, hydraulic jacks, morryde suspension, etc. There are a lot of things to consider. There are only a few that are made really well because most people want something like a Cougar to take out a few times a year. Look carefully at the materials and construction. Is that real tile behind the stove, or is it paper that looks like brick? Does it have 6 weak electric lifts, or 4 excellent hydraulic lifts? I won't even get started because there are so many details to consider.
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Old 09-25-2016, 07:26 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by FlyFishn View Post
The climate here can never see above 0, with lows around -20, in the winter to high temps in the summer climbing over 100.
You wisely identified one good criteria for a good 5th wheel.

Check out these two brands

Northwood | Arctic Fox Fifth Wheels

ORV | Glacier Peak
Ram 2500 6.4L, Creekside 23RKS, Smyrna, Ga
Previously - Casita 17' w/Dodge Dakota 3.9L
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Old 09-25-2016, 08:46 PM   #12
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Check out Kansas RV Center if you haven't already, located in Chanute, KS in the old NUWA Hitchhiker Factory. They sell new and used RV's, also refurbish used ones before selling. They sell of course used Hitchhikers, but also new and used DRV, Lifestyle, Redwood etc. the high quality RV's made today. One of the main reasons I like them is when they closed the manufacturing plant they were the only RV manufacturer that honored the full warranty on the 5th wheels they built after closing up. Also they still have a RV repair facility that never closed, and still have parts for their Hitchhikers they built besides all the aftermarket vendors that all RV manufacturers use. Call them up or look at their website, they are the most honest RV people I've ever dealt with. kansasrvcenter.com. Mike Mitchell the owner/ceo can probably help in many questions you have about the different manufacturers and products JMHO.
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Old 09-26-2016, 04:04 PM   #13
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A second to Kansas RV. Of course we have a HitchHiker so we are biased. Their service center is superb.
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Old 09-27-2016, 08:04 AM   #14
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You might want to take a look at the 5th wheels that Augusta RV manufactures. They make both the Ambition and the Luxe. We have an Ambition and just love it. We have been full-timing over 7 years now. Our old 5th wheel was turning 9, and we were not in the market for a new trailer but the design and construction of the Augusta units changed our minds.

When you look at a unit, let the little woman check out the interior while you have the dealer take off the wall in the basement to look at the quality of the plumbing and electrical in the unit.

Our trailer was at an RV show with the wall removed and you could see all the plumbing and electrical was neatly routed and secured. Any exposed wiring outside the basement was in wire looms. The junctions are in actual junction boxes, not in a bunch of electrical tape.

Donna & Don Full-timing across the USA for over 7 years and still loving it!
2016 Augusta Ambition 38RL
2016 RAM 3500 Laramie DRW
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5th wheel, upgrade

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