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Old 05-20-2015, 08:52 PM   #1
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What to include when comparing 5th Wheels

It's a little way off but I want to start comparing 5th wheels for future purchase. I want to make a spreadsheet with just the basic facts I might want to look at - to help me decide what best suits our needs. So far, I have: Manufacturer, Model, Length, GVWR, Hitch Weight, and price range. For now, I'm not interested in things like fresh water tank size, furnace, etc. I just want to compare 5th wheels with floorplans I like to see what size to tow, about how much to pay, and if we can pull it with our GMC Sierra 3/4 ton pick up. Can you think of anything important that I'm missing?
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Old 05-20-2015, 09:47 PM   #2
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My most important factor for our new unit was the axle and tires. Some go light on axles and add pin weight.
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Old 05-20-2015, 09:47 PM   #3
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If your considering using the 5er in anything but the summer time , you have to factor in , insulation, heated tanks and dual pane windows, the manufacturers reputation for producing an all weather comfortable RV, there are some out there that won't work if the temp drops into the 40's.
Cargo Carrying Capacity, not just the size of the compartments, but the weight you can carry without over loading the RV.
If you haven't all ready , read this post, you may be surprised at the limits your 3/4 ton puts on your search.

Tow Vehicle Sizing & Weight Calculators
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Old 05-20-2015, 09:51 PM   #4
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You will need a light pin weight. You should move that to the top of the criteria.

Then Frame size...10" I-beam, 12" I-beam, stacked box frame. Axle capacity. 5,000lb.6,000lb, 7,000lb, or 8,000lb. Tire weight rating 'D', 'E', 'G' or 'H'. Dual pane windows, then maybe insulation rating. Pin box plain, or mor-ryde, air-ride or any other improved pin box.

With a 3/4 ton truck your 5th wheel selection will be limitited to only shorter lighter 5th wheels.
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Old 05-20-2015, 11:04 PM   #5
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I really believe that you are neglecting the most important factor, which is floor plan. I know that floor plan in hard (if even possible) to put into a spread sheet, but you do yourself a disservice.

Sure, weight is important, but hardly requires a spread sheet. Your truck will have a maximum 5th wheel weight. You won't even consider any model that is heavier. Once you decide what you want in a floor plan, you will have defined a fairly narrow range of lengths.

You would be amazed at the number of owners who end up ripping out the dinette, in order to install a free standing table and chairs. Almost as many end up throwing out their table and installing a dinette. Some folks feel that having the toilet separated from the bathroom sink is essential. Others could care less. Some swear that they must have a rear kitchen. Others swear at it. Personally, I prefer having a hure rear window.

You get the idea. Go visit a lot of dealers. Spend a bunch of time sitting in a lot of models. Try to imagine living in them.

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Old 05-21-2015, 12:08 AM   #6
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I didn't realize my 3/4 ton truck was such a bastard unit when I bought it new 9/2002. But it looks and runs like new, and I'm not about to get rid of it. 3/4 ton trucks are just not capable of handling very heavy kingpin weights of full size trailers and toy haulers.

I was looking for a 11K pound fifth wheel with a 2K pound kingpin weight to be a little conservative in weight carrying.

Fortunately I found the Grand Design Reflection 323BHS--a 37' 4 slider bunkhouse model that fully suits my family's needs.
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Old 05-21-2015, 06:01 PM   #7
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J Birder: I agree about the floor plan. Right now we are trying to decide between a front and a rear living room. I heard that a front living room is heavier and if that's true, we'll probably go with a rear living. For right now, I am looking at floor plans and then gathering data about 5ers with floor plans we like. I like the planning and learning process and I love analyzing data to make comparisons. I want to keep it simple but I don't want to miss anything important. There is so much to learn and I'm trying to keep it all sorted in my mind. Maybe a spreadsheet with help. If not, it'll keep me busy and out of DH's hair. He'll like that!
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Old 05-21-2015, 06:04 PM   #8
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tuffr2: You gave ma a lot to think about. I didn't know anything about I-beams or axle capacity. I'll have to look into that. So much to learn! Thanks everyone for your answers.
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Old 05-21-2015, 10:33 PM   #9
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Have you given any thoughts about actual king pin/trailer weights vs actual ? You will be surprised once you start putting in stuff how the weights change. Most rv's list the dry unloaded weight of the unit somewhere on it. If you find a unit you like get the truck and truck /truck & trailer weighed so you know where your starting pont is.
With regards to the truck is it gas or diesel? Does it have 3.73 or the 4.10 axle ratio (hopefully the 4.10 if it is gas). Like previously mentioned do not look at trailers that already weight close to the maximum rating otherwise you may regret performance/maintenance problems. Of even is more concern is SAFETY. Do your homework and avoid being a statistic.

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Old 05-22-2015, 08:26 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrebele View Post
It's a little way off but I want to start comparing 5th wheels for future purchase. I want to make a spreadsheet with just the basic facts I might want to look at - to help me decide what best suits our needs. So far, I have: Manufacturer, Model, Length, GVWR, Hitch Weight, and price range. For now, I'm not interested in things like fresh water tank size, furnace, etc. I just want to compare 5th wheels with floorplans I like to see what size to tow, about how much to pay, and if we can pull it with our GMC Sierra 3/4 ton pick up. Can you think of anything important that I'm missing?
Yes! How much are you willing to spend $$$$$ amount. This above all else will determine what type of 5er you will buy.

I would also list the warranty period; some like Jayco are two years or like Forest River you can purchase a second year for a nominal amount. Others only offer one (1) year. This may not mean much but it will tend to tell you if the manufacture will support the trailer. To me a one year warranty does not say much for the trailer.

I would also look at the leveling system do the manufacture offers a 6 point or just front landing gears and rear stabilizers. The higher end units tend to offer the 6 point system either as an option or standard.

I also agree with tuffr2 and what he stated this is addition to.

Jim W.
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Old 05-25-2015, 09:19 PM   #11
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I'm with JBirder - once you get past budget and tow needs and finding a quality unit, floorplan is everything - sit it as many units as possible - lie on beds and pick your side and then imagine it's dark and you need the bathroom...sit at the dining room table and imagine that the guy in the MH next door shows up with free beer and steaks...look at the storage bay and imagine all your stuff (x2) down there. Good luck!
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Old 05-26-2015, 11:59 AM   #12
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.sit at the dining room table and imagine that the guy in the MH next door shows up with free beer and steaks.

I need to start camping where you're camping.
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