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Old 01-16-2014, 10:16 AM   #1
M2D
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My husband and I have been researching trailers and fifth wheels off and on for about seven years now. I retired last year and my husband will be retiring this coming summer.

We have friends who own everything from a Casita to smallish fifth wheels. The fifth wheel we are most familiar with is a 2003 Jayco Eagle. I think theirs is around 27 feet. They live in Canada. Our friends with trailers are all "in dogs" meaning that they travel to attend canine events. We are expecting to make a cross country trip in tandem with our dog friends from Canada in 2015. We will be attending the Border Terrier National Specialty in California. We live in Massachusetts.

We are currently in the group that ends up in a motel dragging all of our dog necessities in and out every day except of course when we drag doubles of everything so that we can fully outfit both our motel room and our minivan which is our "working out of" vehicle while at the event.

We want to tour the US and Canada in our retirement and bring our dog/dogs with us. Right now we have one small dog but might have another soon as we lost our 17 year old girl last winter. We would be traveling east west as well as north south in various seasons spending time in many areas to view natural wonders and visit historic sites and enjoy meeting people and sampling various parts of the country.

We are in the market for a smaller 5th wheel as it will be just the two of us and the dogs. We want the opportunity to camp in national parks along the way so do not want to be too big.

I have been on several forums over the years, I post little but research a lot. We have learned so much about proper towing procedures and weight issues. My husband used to be a merchant ship officer many years ago as well as having towed his personal boat over the years. He has been comfortable moving big objects around so I think he will take to parking and moving a trailer. he has owner trucks over the years as well. We plan on getting a new truck for the trailer.

We have been to several RV shows over the years and will be at the Boston show this weekend. The Springfield, MA show is next month.

I have spent hours reading the Gallant information online and have a recent copy of the Randall Eaton guide.

These guides have kept me up to date on which manufacturers have gone out of business and which have been bought out by others.
All of my reading has made me aware of how some trailers are not the trailer lines are not what they once were in terms of quality.

My current issue is that the various trailers recommended here and by others do not seem to be sold in my area. I become interested in say a Northwood or an Outdoors trailer or several other well respected brands mentioned here only to find that no one anywhere near us sells them. I have checked online used trailer sites to see that the trailers that have caught my attention are not for sale anywhere near us either.

I have been paying close attention to the importance of the frame quality and other signs of good construction. I would like to find a private trailer mechanic in my area who might be able to look over a used trailer for us. We are not opposed to buying new. It just seems from what I have read that the quality is not really there in many current brands. The disastrous 2008 and 2009 years raised havoc in the industry.

I am grateful to have been warned about not listening to what a salesman tells you about what size truck can tow a given trailer.

I have come to realize that the dealers we meet at the shows may handle several more brands than what they have on display. Space and cost is off course a factor at these events.

I am currently a bit confused and disappointed in the choices in my area.
I have printed a list of the brands we will be able to see this weekend. There will be Coachmen, Dutchman, Forest River, Gulfstream, Heartland, Jayco, Keystone, KZ, Lance, Palomino, Prime Time, StarCraft, Thor.

We are not looking to buy at the show and are not in a big rush. I have not yet looked at the site for the Springfield show. I will do that today. You do see some different dealers there you do not see in Boston.

I will be grateful for any advice you might be able to offer us in finding a quality unit.

Thank you,
Michele
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:21 PM   #2
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Even though you might not have an Excel dealer close to where you live, I strongly recommend you visit one - even better yet, go to Kansas and visit the factory. Also, call and talk with someone at Peterson Industries - I believe if you are not close to a dealer and have a problem with one of their rigs, they will work with you on getting it fixed at a RV place close to home - or where you happen to be at the time. Remember, you will be traveling, so if you bought a more mass-produced brand, you still might not be close to one of their dealers.

We are almost 600 miles from the nearest dealer of our current rig. And for the next rig we buy for full-timing, we will be about 200 miles from the nearest dealer - of course, that distance can be closer or farther depending on where we are at the time.

IMHO getting a high quality rig that you will be happy with, and for which you will get excellent service from the manufacturer, is a higher priority than buying one from a dealer that is near your base.

Jim
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:29 PM   #3
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I was just at the Tampa show. A 5th wheel that was really not on my radar was Heartland Big Horn and Heartland Landmark. I spent a lot of time learning all the build differences between the Landmark and Redwood. I came away with much more appreciation for the Heartland Landmark and Bighorn.

These rigs might be too big for what you want to do. Check out the smaller Bighorns as they might make a 32' model.

NuWa and Excel built/build smaller 32' models also.

If you really want to travel as worry free as you can get a full-time small rig with 17.5" wheels/tires, 7,000lb axles with at least a 12" frame.

Good luck at the Boston Show. Take a tablet and pen and write down what you see and likes / dislikes.

Diesel trucks were really improved in 2011. I would advise a 1ton SRW diesel truck for a quality 32' 5th wheel.
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Old 01-16-2014, 05:18 PM   #4
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Michele,
It sounds as if you are doing a good job with your homework. May I make a suggestion to help you keep everything straight. As you lookat a unit mark down the make and model, along with the size. Also if you like or dislike the floor plan. Take your time in each unit and move around in it, including the bathroom.
If you have any dealers in your area, look at these for floor plans that you may like, or dislike. After about 20 units they will start running together when you try to remember which ones that you like.
Frank
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Old 01-17-2014, 06:40 AM   #5
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May I chime in from the point of view of someone who couldn't research quality before I bought? I live overseas so I had to rely on the pretty pictures in the brochures...
A lot of makers of trailers subcontract out their frames to other unnamed companies. I have seen A LOT of threads in other forums about axles and/or tires that were the BARE minimum for the trailer, misaligned axles, and axles that were improperly installed so the wheels didn't have enough clearance and the resulting blowouts/damage. Check these items regardless of your choice.
Find the floorplan(s) you like, and research the maker(s). You get what you pay for when it comes to trailers.
Full-time forums would also be a good place to research. They like trailers like DRV, New Horizons and Continental if I remember correctly, but not everyone can afford them, so there are a lot of other brands that full-timers like.
My priorities would be maker quality, then floorplan. That's my two cents. I hope it is of help. Please post pics when you finally decide! (pics of your dogs, too!)
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Old 01-17-2014, 09:34 AM   #6
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Let me ask some questions that you should ask your self when buying a trailer.

One; how much are you willing to spend on a trailer?

Two; Are you going to live in the trailer full time or just destination camping and weekends?

Three; Can you fix items your self?

I am not hung up on brand name of campers such as Nuway or Excel or Landmark campers. I have one of the low cost 5th wheels that everyone says not too buy; a 318SAB Cougar bought new in 2010 now what has failed on this camper--- nothing. Granted the front decal is showing some sign of wear but it has been in service for 5 years and is exposed to the elements every day. We have towed the camper for approximately 24,000 miles and I have had to replace the tires only after a year and a half. Would I buy a Keystone product again YES if this is what met our needs and the DW like the camper?

My advice is to buy a 5er that fits your needs and budget. I knew going in that our 5er is not a full time model and is only good for three season camping. But the price was what we wanted and I could pay in full for the camper with no payments with trade in of the older 5th wheel we own. We camp only in the spring, summer and fall go where we want and enjoy the experience of camping.

Jim W.
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Old 01-17-2014, 09:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by jimcumminsw View Post
Let me ask some questions that you should ask your self when buying a trailer. One; how much are you willing to spend on a trailer? Two; Are you going to live in the trailer full time or just destination camping and weekends? Three; Can you fix items your self? I am not hung up on brand name of campers such as Nuway or Excel or Landmark campers. I have one of the low cost 5th wheels that everyone says not too buy; a 318SAB Cougar bought new in 2010 now what has failed on this camper--- nothing. Granted the front decal is showing some sign of wear but it has been in service for 5 years and is exposed to the elements every day. We have towed the camper for approximately 24,000 miles and I have had to replace the tires only after a year and a half. Would I buy a Keystone product again YES if this is what met our needs and the DW like the camper? My advice is to buy a 5er that fits your needs and budget. I knew going in that our 5er is not a full time model and is only good for three season camping. But the price was what we wanted and I could pay in full for the camper with no payments with trade in of the older 5th wheel we own. We camp only in the spring, summer and fall go where we want and enjoy the experience of camping. Jim W.
X2. Well said. Floor plan , budget and enough TV is how we went about it. We chose a mid kitchen floor plan because we have access to the fridge , pantry and potty without opening the slides. Comes in handy when traveling and stopping for a lunch or a break in the rest area or wherever.
Happy camping .
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Old 01-21-2014, 09:54 PM   #8
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We bought a Jayco 30' fifth wheel (our second RV) mainly because they have a 2 year warranty and are a privately held company. Now that we own the Jayco we have discovered that their customer service is very good as well. Good luck with your decision.
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Old 01-23-2014, 04:52 AM   #9
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I would look for a good used unit and have it checked out as you stated-you can save a tremendous amount of money and there are many units out there!! Good luck.
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Old 01-26-2014, 06:57 AM   #10
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Thanks to all for your suggestions. We are carefully considering all that has been said.

We like to make informed decisions about things and all of you are so kind to advice newbies.

Michele
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