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Old 02-08-2021, 10:16 AM   #1
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Class A to 5th Wheel

I am considering to trade my 31' Gas Class A with toad for a 34' 5th wheel and truck (like a diesel F250/F350). While it is well equipped and we really like the coach for the camping part, there are numerous things we don't like:
- lousy ride of the F53 chassis in spite of added stabilizer and track bar, needs constant steering input.
- wife does not drive due to swaying when windy or uneven road surface
- very loud engine and road noise in the cockpit, hard to talk or hear radio
- atrocious captain chair seats that give us leg cramps after a few hours driving

Question to the folks who have driven both: Do I expect too much improvement with the change (especially the ride quality and wind susceptability)?
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Old 02-08-2021, 10:30 AM   #2
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I've not driven a class A but I'm going to comment anyhow. With the rig in my profile I don't experience 3 of your 4 bullet points. My wife doesn't tow the trailer because she doesn't want to and I enjoy it. She could if needed as the truck is benign (albeit slower) with the trailer attached. My truck is 17 years old, the new ones would be a true pleasure to tow with.
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Old 02-08-2021, 10:40 AM   #3
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I also have not driven a Class A but I have driven a lot of trucks.

A lot of your questions will depend on what truck you go with. My 2016 is quiet, smooth, comfortable and has lot of power. My 2004 was still nice, but nowhere near the same. Of course we can go back though the years and compare but that would not provide value here.

Ultimately if you are looking at trucks, go drive a few and see if they hit your wants/needs list. I would also say get a good idea of what trailer size, more importantly weight you will want to haul. Typically with 35' 5th wheel you should be looking at 350/3500 and if you ever think you will go bigger, look at a dually.
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Old 02-08-2021, 11:06 AM   #4
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Pretty subjective but. I've owned a early 90s 34 class a gasser. I now pull a 40 ft 5th with a newer 3500 truck. Now I know that class As improved over the last 30 years but here's my experiences.
Class A traveled nice and set up was quick when you got to site, was pretty nice to grab a snack on the road. Gasser was loud in cab and a bit power challenged. But vehicle sway and having no flat towing toad was a bit of a road block, we needed a toad once located at a site and did not wish to replace a fairly new car. Wife would not drive this rig at all.
Truck and trailer, drives as well as you would expect a newer pickup to drive, truck and 40ft 5th wheel seemed more versatile while traveling. Once disconnected, you have a vehicle to drive around.
I'm happier with truck and trailer.
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Old 02-08-2021, 04:56 PM   #5
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Towing a 15000 lb fifth wheel with a dually is not in the same league as my sister’s 35’ Tiffin class A. Cross winds , head winds or tractor trailers have little or no effect on us. I generally don’t know how hard the wind is unless I check my fuel gauge. BIL did many steering and suspension upgrades on the tiffin due to poor ride and handling. Finally sold it and bought a DP.
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Old 02-08-2021, 06:36 PM   #6
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I had a Newmar gasser that I loved, but over the years I have always much preferred to drive and tow than drive an MH. I LOVED the easy setup of the MH but for all the reasons you listed, i traded ours in after 12 years and much prefer the driving. I do miss the levelers most as the trailer is no where near as stable and we notice movement we didnt have before. We are glad we made the change, but i still miss the Newmar...
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Old 02-08-2021, 07:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Burks View Post
I am considering to trade my 31' Gas Class A with toad for a 34' 5th wheel and truck (like a diesel F250/F350). While it is well equipped and we really like the coach for the camping part, there are numerous things we don't like:
- lousy ride of the F53 chassis in spite of added stabilizer and track bar, needs constant steering input.
- wife does not drive due to swaying when windy or uneven road surface
- very loud engine and road noise in the cockpit, hard to talk or hear radio
- atrocious captain chair seats that give us leg cramps after a few hours driving

Question to the folks who have driven both: Do I expect too much improvement with the change (especially the ride quality and wind susceptability)?
New trucks are so luxurious these days - even the not so top end trim levels. Sooooo many driver features available. They are built for driving. IMO - Class As simulate a nice driving experience but can't compare to those of a vehicle designed around driving vs. around living in.

We went from a 2011 Class A diesel pusher back to a 5th wheel and never looked back. All those things you don't like in the Class C go away with a truck and 5th wheel.

With a diesel you won't have a screaming engine underneath your feet either. Sure - you'll hear it a bit up a serious steep and long hill, but it won't be screaming like a gasser.

You are NOT expecting too much making the change.
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Old 02-09-2021, 06:24 AM   #8
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Owned two Newmars F-53 & Spartan DP frames over about a ten year period. For just about all the reasons you touched on all the rattles inside the coach and engine noise, the biggest thing for me was the maintenance cost, I did not want to afford them anymore.
DW and I are now back in a fiver that does not have a lot of bells and whistles so much easier to maneuver, maintain and wife enjoys diving the rig.
For us the real satisfaction comes in knowing that when issues arise on the road we can have repairs done at any Ford dealership including tires if needed as for fiver maintenance most if not all parts can be dropped wherever you are staying for a few days.
No more hopping a tech at the RV center understands how a Cummins engine works with a Spartan frame and all the versions of everything that a coach manufacturer uses to construct the motor home.
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Old 02-09-2021, 10:17 AM   #9
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Thanks All for the valuable opinions and info.
We decided to go for the 5th wheel.
Now...hope we can sell that motorhome soon.
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Old 02-09-2021, 05:10 PM   #10
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Interesting as we are thinking of the reverse. Love our fifth wheel, love our Duramax but want to downsize to a small class a for retirement. We figure a gas couch will be cheaper to maintain than a diesel and we want short for National Parks, etc. Plus, we think the parking and set-up break down will be easier. I have heard of some handling issues on the F-53 but most seem to be able to correct it. Noise and rattles are a concern, too.
What brand and model coach did you own? Thanks and good luck.
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Old 02-09-2021, 08:31 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jdpm View Post
Interesting as we are thinking of the reverse. Love our fifth wheel, love our Duramax but want to downsize to a small class a for retirement. We figure a gas couch will be cheaper to maintain than a diesel and we want short for National Parks, etc. Plus, we think the parking and set-up break down will be easier. I have heard of some handling issues on the F-53 but most seem to be able to correct it. Noise and rattles are a concern, too.
What brand and model coach did you own? Thanks and good luck.
Ah....think about it twice. We have a 31' Jayco Alante 31V with Ford V12. You are right that parking and set up is easy and the toad unhooks in 2 minutes. I also like the opportunity to go pee while driving (the passenger, that is) and stop quickly, turn on the generator and make a coffee. The experience while camping is just what we need. Tons of storage.

Now, we did improve the ride as much as we could with steering stabilizer, track bar, precision alignment but there is only so much you can do. I got used to the stupid ride quality but will tire with the constant attention when a bit windy or uneven road. My personal acceptable max is 250-300 miles. My wife will just not drive that thing if she can avoid it.

The engine is LOUD and conversation means yelling. You can insulate the "dog house" and that is supposed to help somewhat but a big project. We never turn on the radio because talk and music are just drowned out. The captain chair seats are o.k. for a while but too high /backward and only moderately adjustable. After a few hours we get leg cramps. You can get aftermarket seats but we did not find anything to test sit.

Care and maintenance is surely a bigger issue with the motorhome. You can not just go to the next Ford/Chevy/Dodge dealer to get something fixed. And the motorhome specialists are rare and charge an arm and a leg. If you want to do something yourself, the engine area is really convoluted.

Anyway, we just signed for an Alliance 34' 5th wheel today and will pick a truck next. We travel a lot and nice seats, comfy and quiet ride, easy access to repairs will hopefully compensate for the (minor?) disadvantages. We would have considered a Diesel Pusher or Super-C but they are too big or just too expensive for us.

I guess I have a Class A motorhome with toad to sell. Send me a PM if interested (Fort Collins, CO)
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Old 02-09-2021, 08:54 PM   #12
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What is the cost of truck and 5th wheel vs a new Class A gas motorhome. I ask this because I heard the new gas Ford F53 Chassis has been greatly improved. To ride and handle better. Also the new 7.3 V8 Godzilla engine is better than the old 6.8 V10.

I will say that towing with any newer truck is pleasent, relativly quiet and not a bad way to RV. 5th wheels are comfortable and tow nice. An upscale Ford truck will have massaging seats and be easy to drive for hours. Ram and GM also have easy driving trucks have their own unique features.
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Old 02-09-2021, 09:43 PM   #13
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What is the cost of truck and 5th wheel vs a new Class A gas motorhome....
Good question.

- We paid about $82k for the motorhome in 2019. Maybe another 6k in upgrades. That was a year where you could get huge discounts.

- We will pay about $130k for the 5th wheel and F350 in 2021. Not much discounts available with the current demand. But this is a MUCH better quality RV so it is not apples to apples. And the truck is also quite nice. At the lower end we had been looking at maybe $110k, not that much more than a new coach.

One thing that bothered us with the Jayco motorhome (once again, in many aspects we like it a lot) is the shoddy quality and build control which seems to be typical for the lower end coaches of all brands. We received it rusted all over from below (apparently normal but fixed for free by our dealer), the cabinets are cheaply made, the wiring is a ratsnets, plumbing was leaking, rained into the water heater compartment, shower leaking etc. Relative minor compared to what other buyers have reported and our dealer was very responsive to fix things. But it just seems to be the way they do business nowadays. I was sometimes wondering if the opioid epidemic has something to do with the lack of qualified (and quality-focused) workers.
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Old 02-09-2021, 10:36 PM   #14
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I have never driven or even ridden in a motor home, but I did drive many cab over semi’s, and I always worried about having a wreck with only a foot or so of thin sheet metal in front of me. I much prefer the five foot or so of engineered steel crumple zone a modern pickup offers. Both types of RV’s have their pros and cons, you just have to decide what’s important to you.
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