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Old 02-06-2005, 01:22 PM   #1
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Hi everyone -

We currently own a motorhome, but are thinking of switching to a 5th wheel. Right now we do not own anything capable of towing a 5th wheel, but our old Ford Windstar is on its last legs, so if we need to replace it, we would like to replace it with something we could use to tow a 5th wheel if we decide to go in that direction in the future.

We prefer to keep our vehicles (other than the motorhome) in our garage, but full size pick ups are too long. Is there any smaller pick up that is powerful enough to tow a 5th wheel that fits into a standard size garage?

Thanx in advance for any suggestions.
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Old 02-06-2005, 01:22 PM   #2
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Hi everyone -

We currently own a motorhome, but are thinking of switching to a 5th wheel. Right now we do not own anything capable of towing a 5th wheel, but our old Ford Windstar is on its last legs, so if we need to replace it, we would like to replace it with something we could use to tow a 5th wheel if we decide to go in that direction in the future.

We prefer to keep our vehicles (other than the motorhome) in our garage, but full size pick ups are too long. Is there any smaller pick up that is powerful enough to tow a 5th wheel that fits into a standard size garage?

Thanx in advance for any suggestions.
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Old 02-06-2005, 01:50 PM   #3
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To tow a 5er of any size, you will need a 3/4 ton truck and that will limit you to about 32' max if it is a diesel. Over 32' you need a diesel, 1 ton dually. If you want to stay in a 1/2 ton truck, you will pretty much look at 24' or less. These are pretty general limits, but do hold fairly true.

The biggest problem you will have with a 1/2 ton truck is the limited GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) and the pin weight.


Be sure and do your homework on weight ratings and limits. Two thngs to remember when shopping:

1. Never believe RV or truck sales people.
2. Sales people lie.

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Old 02-06-2005, 03:39 PM   #4
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I agree with Ken, to tow a fiver you will need a minimum of a 3/4 ton truck. I would strongly recommend a 1 ton diesel dually as your tow vehicle. It will give you alot more options when searching for the right fiver. I have a crew cab long bed Chevy and it wont fit in the garage either, so it sits outside. Oh well, adjustments have to be made and my truck dont care. Good luck on whatever you decide.
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Old 02-06-2005, 04:00 PM   #5
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Our truck (see signature) fits on the "double" side of our 3-car garage with 1-1/2 inches to spare between the rear bumper and garage door. Even if it didn't, I certainly wouldn't scrimp on getting a tow vehicle that's capable of pulling the 5th wheel you want.

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Old 02-07-2005, 05:43 AM   #6
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1) GVWR is usually more of a problem than power, so don't focus on engine power (but don't ignore it either).

2) With Dodge and Ford (don't know about GM), you can get any 3/4 body size in a 1 ton for a few dollars more. There is no visible difference, but in my case, the 1 ton has 900 lbs more GVWR.

3) See the link in my sig on RV towing weights.

4) Good luck and be safe.
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Old 02-07-2005, 06:12 AM   #7
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Gentlemen -

Thank you. All I can say is "WOW"!! I had no idea this would be so complicated.

The URLs on your signature lines probably save lives, Ken.

We are in quite a quandry. Still 3 years from retirement, and we do not travel much during late spring and summer as we are avid gardeners. We used to be tent campers long ago in our 20's and 30's so when an opportunity arose to purchase a used 1993 Cobra Monterey MH with only 36,000 miles on it for very little money, we bought it intending to "try out" the RV lifestyle to see if it is something we might like to do when we retire.

We like being able to move around the MH when one of us is driving, but its size makes it impossible/too scary to drive into cities with narrow streets and no RV parking where we like to visit museums, historical sites, etc.

I guess we should just try towing a car, but not sure if the MH engine is strong enough for that, and we would have to spend even more money on a rig we may not keep to purchase the towing equipment (we already put $2,500 into repairs).

I have never been in a pickup truck, but am wondering if we must purchase a full size pick up, how much smaller (and less scary) it would be than driving our 24 foot MH in cities with narrow streets.

Since we will have to replace the Windstar sometime this year, and need a vehicle large enough to haul stuff from Home Depot, etc. we were hoping to buy a small pickup, with an eye towards the possibility of buying a 5th wheel at some point in the future.

WE could go the SUV and trailer route, but many folks have told us 5th wheeels are much easier and safer to tow than trailers. Any comments on this long ramble? Thanx again.
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Old 02-07-2005, 08:31 AM   #8
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What you're asking is how to get a square peg into a round hole. Your desires for nimble handling and small size conflict with the size and power required to safely handle a fiver. You can either: buy the 3/4 truck recommended in previous posts, or get a small truck and tow only very tiny, ultralight fivers. You can't have it all in one package.

FWIW, I've driven nothing but pickups for many decades and IMHO, they are no harder to get around in in a big city than anything else. Harder to parallel park maybe.

Sorry to hear that you have been given incorrect information on towing bumper pull type trailers. While it is true that some TTs tow poorly, a properly set up TT with a tow veicle of sufficient size will tow exactly the same (or better) than a fiver IF a Hensley Arrow or Pullrite hitch is used.

Here's a good rule of thumb: If someone begins to tell you how they owned a TT then moved to a fiver and the fiver towed a lot better... stop them and ask what sort of hitch they used. If it was NOT a Hensley or a PullRite... discount anything else they say about TT handling. How about a nice Suburban and a TT?
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Old 02-07-2005, 08:48 AM   #9
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My only concern here is you keep saying "small" pickup and 5th wheel. To tow any 5th wheel, you will need a full size pickup(1/2 ton or larger), preferably 3/4 ton or bigger. I don't think there would be much dirrerence between driving my F350 crew cab long bed dually and your 24' motorhome down narrow city streets. You can look at standard cab short bed trucks that are much smaller, but you compromise on interior space and bed space in the back of the truck. You would also need a slider 5th wheel hitch with a short bed truck, or something in between the big duallies and the short bed standard cabs. Bottom line there an number of trucks capable of pulling a 5th wheel that are very manageable in city driving situations. As for fitting in a garage, if you are fulltiming in two years, you won't have a garage to fit it into.

Also Remeber, any money you invest now in a new car and equipment to tow that car behind your current motorhome, can be transfered to a new motorhome when that time comes.

Tough decision. Good luck on your search!
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Old 02-07-2005, 09:14 AM   #10
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First, I agree with the previous posts. To put things in perspective, your MH is the same width as the big trucks (semis etc.) on the highway. Also the 1 ton Dually is almost the same width as you MH. Most Rvs (except the wide bodies and maybe some very small RVs) are the same width as your MH. It looks to me like you may want a larger (longer and enough power & load capacity) MH and tow a small car. The tow bar or a 5th wheel hitch are going to cost approx. the same and either can be moved to another vehicle. If you decide to go the TT & SUV route be sure to get a SUV with the 3/4 ton chassis and that is going to be about the same out side demensions of a full sized PU. If you think driving your MH on narrow streets is scarry, then try a TV that is too light for the job going down a freeway in a cross wind. Now that gets scarry. My best advice is don't get a boy to do a man's job.
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Old 02-07-2005, 12:29 PM   #11
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Bee:

My wife felt very leary of having to drive a 3/4 ton Pick-Up around town and shopping centres. We bought it, along with the fiver, and within a month it was our only vehicle. She now loves it and I doubt she would go back to sitting on the ground in a "regular" car!!

We have had our rig for five years now and we travel from 4 to 6 months every year. Our trailer is a 28 footer with one double slide. It's no full timer's rig but suits the two of us to a tee.

My wife has driven the full rig and was amazed at how well the fiver handled while underway.

As someone pointed out, other than parking this larger vehicle, they are super to drive. They do not make trucks the way they used to!

I suggest you get to a dealer and cruise one around for a while, that should serve to appease any anxieties.

Oh yes, our truck will just fit in our garage, but I would have to take down some shelving at the back end, and it's a short box!!!

Good Luck to you.
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Old 02-07-2005, 12:37 PM   #12
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I need a glossary, guys!!

What is a dually?

Thank you. Rick - I have been trying to e-mail you about the rally in june....
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Old 02-07-2005, 02:52 PM   #13
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Dually = 1 ton pickup with dual rear wheels.

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Old 02-07-2005, 05:36 PM   #14
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Bee, really suggest you get by a truck dealer, Ford, Chevy or Dodge and take a drive in a 1 ton dually and see what you think. My wife drives ours and I use it as a daily drive. It is 8' wide at the hips and 21' long bumper to bumper. With our 36.5" 5er we are 53' long, noe to tail.

My wife drives the rig on the highway willingly, but will turn over the driving to me in the city. SHe can do it if she has to, but would rather not. On our trip to Houston last Xmas, she ran for about 3.5 hours at night from Dallas to Houston...65 MPH without a hickup. Coming back she ran a few hours in some pretty miserable rain.

Like some have said, small pick up and 5er just don't really go together. But we don't know if you are looking for a small 5er or a larger one. With a properly equipped 1/2 ton truck F-150 or 1500), you will hit you max around a 24' trailer. So not knowing what size trailer, we are trying to paint with a really broad brush to give you the facts.

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