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Old 01-20-2021, 09:19 PM   #1
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What is it REALLY like to tow a 5th Wheel?

Hello!

We've owned three diesel pushers (two Allegro Buses and one Dutch Star) and are currently between RVs. I'm seriously considering a 5th wheel around 38-40 feet and a new diesel pickup (either a 3/4 ton or 1 ton SRW). I have gotten conflicting stories from guys about what it's like to drive long distances towing such a big trailer. We typically traveled about 400-450 miles per day in our motorhomes and would hope to do the same in a pickup with a 5th wheel.

Some guys tell me they can hardly tell the trailer is behind them, while others have told me it's a white-knuckle experience. I'd love to know your thoughts on this issue. What has been your experience?
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Old 01-20-2021, 09:38 PM   #2
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We owned two fifth wheels before getting our Newmar, a 36í and 38í Cardinal. At no point did I ever consider the towing experience to be a white knuckle affair. Both rigs tracked very well and were an easy pull. Did I know they were back there, yep, but anyone who has towed or driven a big rig should be actively driving and ultra aware of everything going on around you. As for 400-450 miles day, easy stuff in a comfortable truck. I will say, when itís break time, I really enjoy the motorhome over the fiver experience.

Now, as far as pulling a 38í to 40í fifth wheel Iím going to say you are in 1 ton territory and possibly dually territory depending upon the weight of the fifth wheel you choose.

Good luck.
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Old 01-20-2021, 09:40 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by kmghmg View Post
Hello!



We've owned three diesel pushers (two Allegro Buses and one Dutch Star) and are currently between RVs. I'm seriously considering a 5th wheel around 38-40 feet and a new diesel pickup (either a 3/4 ton or 1 ton SRW). I have gotten conflicting stories from guys about what it's like to drive long distances towing such a big trailer. We typically traveled about 400-450 miles per day in our motorhomes and would hope to do the same in a pickup with a 5th wheel.



Some guys tell me they can hardly tell the trailer is behind them, while others have told me it's a white-knuckle experience. I'd love to know your thoughts on this issue. What has been your experience?


Drove 18 wheelers for 35 years and l own a 5th wheel so l do have some trailer dragging experience . Driving a big old air ride Motorhome is a totally different experience than a 5er . The ride is somewhat rougher in a Truck . You will need a one ton dually for the size trailer you want .
Backing up is a skill you will need to acquire .
Smaller interior driving space . A little bit more involved in setting up a 5er . Quality all depends on price point and care in building the product . You will be a bit more tired at the end of a 450 driving day . Much simpler and fewer systems . 5ers are much more stable in cross winds and passing Semis than Gas class A , C and tow trailers . Usually taller then some MH . Tires are much cheaper . If you get one get Disc brakes on it . You are used to air brakes and electric brakes really suck when compared to disc or air . Good luck !
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Old 01-20-2021, 09:49 PM   #4
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I have towed my 14K 5th wheel with a 3500 SRW since 2006
YES I know it is back there.....but at no time have I EVER experienced a 'white knuckle' because my truck/trailer are Matched

Set up level and 5vr tows very well
No sway
They do track inside trucks wheels when turning at corners...so go wide
Tail Swing can get you...pay attention to your hinny
And LOOK UP...5vrs can be VERY tall (actual measurement vs brochure)

3/4 ton....forget it and get the 1 ton
Depending on GVWR of that 38'/40' you MAY need to consider a DRW vs the SRW
(IMHO anything above 15K for NEW 350/3500 SRW and you are in DRW territory----otherwise you WILL have a white knuckle event!)
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Old 01-20-2021, 09:49 PM   #5
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DW and I have been camping for forty years. We have had three travel trailers, one motorhome and now a 38 ft Winnebago Destination 36 RL fifth wheel for two years. We pull it worth a Chevy Silverado 3/4 ton 4x4 HD Long bed with duramax diesel and Allison transmission. What a great combination. Love our rig and truck and it’s a pleasure traveling down the road. No problem being pushed over by 18 wheelers at all. Don’t even know they are passing. Safe travels a d God bless.
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Old 01-20-2021, 10:15 PM   #6
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After you match the new truck to your 5th wheel, then you'll need the right hitch. Several good options. I suggest anything air ride or bagged. I use a Reese Goosebox because payload is close for me and I like my bed clear when not towing. Also, the Hensley Trailer Saver 5th wheel hitch is a fan favorite.
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Old 01-20-2021, 10:19 PM   #7
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Thank you all very much for the information. Your experience and advice are greatly appreciated!
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Old 01-20-2021, 10:21 PM   #8
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Do any of you fifth wheel owners ever experience "Chucking"?

Friend of mine has a fifth wheel and it has that problem.
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Old 01-20-2021, 10:34 PM   #9
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Your #1 priority for matching a 5th Wheel Camping trailer to an appropriate size truck .....payload capacity of the tow vehicle. Let me say that again.....Payload of the tow vehicle. Many folks who are not educated about towing dynamics look at the wrong thing first....the towing capacity of the truck. 5th Wheel camping trailers will normally put between 20-25% of their loaded weight down as pin weight on the truck. With a 38 to 40 foot 5th Wheel camper, you could easily be in the 16,000 to maybe even 17,000 lb GVWR for the trailer. So if it is loaded close to or at the GVWR (let's say 16,000 lbs for this example), you could have anywhere from 3200 lbs of pin weight (20%) all the way up to 4000 lbs of pin weight (25%). Then of course you need to consider the weight of the 5ver hitch (175 lb to maybe more than 200 lbs for a slider hitch). Then there is passenger weight, maybe a toolbox in the bed of the truck, maybe an aux. tank in the bed of the truck....basically anything and everything that goes in/on the truck counts against the available payload. So let's assume you don't have it loaded all the way to GVWR..maybe 15,000 lb. That would still put at least 3000 lbs of pin weight on the truck, plus the hitch, plus passengers, etc. etc. It's pretty easy to see that you could have 4000 lbs of weight on the truck. So a big NO to any 3/4 Ton truck....and possibly NO to a SRW 1 Ton truck, depending on how big you go.

5th Wheel campers are very stable when towing and as stated in a previous post, they definitely track to the inside of the turn AND you have to be aware of the tail swing and the height of the trailer. Backing skills are a must for those times when you can find a pull through site at the campground...or even putting it in your parking spot at home. You soon learn that they are slower to react when you start backing up than a tow behind trailer, but that too soon become natural and easy to learn.

And as a reference point, I drive a CrewCab Dually 8' bed truck and tow a Momentum 394 that is around 44' long from the tip of the nose to the back of the trailer and GVWR of 20,000 lbs. And I'll be honest with you, I was scared to death of it after I decided to buy it. I had towed trailer for almost 50 years but never a 5ver and never anything that big. I had/have very good backing skills, but it was still a bit of a learning process....learning when to start a turn, how wide to swing with knocking the backend of the trailer off on a stationary object, and of course backing it in. Towing it will never be a white knuckle experience if you have enough truck to carry the weight of the trailer and not let the tail wag the dog. Hope this helps you a bit and good luck in finding and getting exactly what you want.
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Old 01-20-2021, 11:18 PM   #10
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Thanks so much for the helpful information!
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Old 01-20-2021, 11:51 PM   #11
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Prior to my buying our F450 and fifth wheel, I'd never even so much as driven a pickup truck so it was a major learning process for me. It took some time for me to get used to the size of the dually and it's width. I had to learn to drive looking at the rear mirrors which point down at the rear tires to make sure I'm centered in the lane.

The fifth wheel was easier than I thought once I took some lessons. Even though our fiver is only 11k lbs GVWR, towing it with a dually really feels very secure. We never get blown about by winds or semis passing us. The truck handles the trailer with ease. The most important thing to remember is to leave plenty of room in front of you and always turn wider than you think you might need. Don't be afraid and be assertive and take both lanes to turn. If other folks honk, let them honk. Never let someone else who's annoyed or in a hurry, cause you to be less than deliberate and safe and end up in an accident.
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Old 01-21-2021, 04:13 AM   #12
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I completely agree with Xrated. I had a 38 ft Jayco that was in limits on a 2500 longbed. We traded for a newer 35 ft Blue Ridge and I was shocked when we scaled it on the first trip. The pin weight was so much more it kicked us into 3500 dually territory. I like margin and the dually gives me that. I also like pre emission diesels for the simplicity. The newer 3500 SRWs do have higher payload and rear axle ratings but I didn't want to go there.
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Old 01-21-2021, 06:55 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by kmghmg View Post
Hello!

We've owned three diesel pushers (two Allegro Buses and one Dutch Star) and are currently between RVs. I'm seriously considering a 5th wheel around 38-40 feet and a new diesel pickup (either a 3/4 ton or 1 ton SRW). I have gotten conflicting stories from guys about what it's like to drive long distances towing such a big trailer. We typically traveled about 400-450 miles per day in our motorhomes and would hope to do the same in a pickup with a 5th wheel.

Some guys tell me they can hardly tell the trailer is behind them, while others have told me it's a white-knuckle experience. I'd love to know your thoughts on this issue. What has been your experience?
Your in the right place for your question. All of the above posts contain great advice and your journey through RV’s reverbs of may of us.
I too am a supporter of DW one ton when getting into the range of fiver being considered. However, when I owned a DW I didn’t think much about maneuverability in crowed areas I just road around until I found the widest parking space, now as I get older I choose the SW as it makes life a little easier.
I don’t like suggesting this because your are looking at a new TV, but think about going up to an H rated tire on a SW to get that margin of safety due to the weight coming to bare on your TV. An H rated tire is not cheap but that is what is required on buses. Maybe a deal breaker when shopping?
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Old 01-21-2021, 07:04 AM   #14
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My wife and her ex used a SRW truck Chevy 2500HD to tow a 5th wheel. I used a dually truck to tow my 5th wheel. When we got married and she was riding in the dually truck as a passenger she said it felt different than a SRW truck. She said there was a lot less movement in the dually truck side to side.

How many rattles do you hear in a motorhome, from the side windows, plates, and other things that rattle. You hear none of that in a truck.

Before I bought a 5th wheel and dually truck I test drove 4 motorhomes. All rattled and had vibration. My friends had a 5th wheel, sold it, and bought a new class A gas motorhome. They were always complaining that the side windows would rattle. They only had the motorhome for 1 year and bought another 5th wheel.

My 5th wheel had a cushioned pin box so I did not get any 'so called' chucking. I would know I was towing but on a smooth road at night I would wonder if the 5th wheel was still back there.

I would tow longer distances as a snowbird. I had 975 miles to tow from Columbus Ohio to Crystal River Florida in November and visa versa in early May. One time I did non-stop but mostly it was 800 miles the 1st day and 200(ish) miles the next day. I would tow about 72mph. Cruise control worked on my truck while towing on the flat. I would pass all single axle motorhomes, but those tag axle motorhomes would pass me.

If you get an upscale Ford truck it will have heated, cooled and massaging seats. With satallite radio it makes a nice place to be.
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