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fishermark 10-31-2013 07:30 PM

Making the switch to a 5th wheel
We have a 38ft Monaco Camelot 2003 with over 100k miles on it. My husband wants to move to a 5th wheel. The MH is costing more to move down the road than he says a 5th does. We stay in it 8 months out of the yr and workkamp. We have looked and looked to the point of exhaustion. The high end ones like DRV, Lifestyle are either too heavy or have limited floor plans. I guess my question is any advice for you 5th wheel people on what to look for. He is concerned about the frame and the stability of the 5th but I want to know can I get to the bathroom when the slides aren't out. :) Are there any comments on what side is best for the TV as far as viewing. So much to think about when making the switch from a MH. What other well built ones should we be looking at?

chief02 10-31-2013 07:37 PM

Check out Excel...we love ours. Fully boxed frame designed and built by Excel. most floor plans allow bath, fridge and kitchen access with slide in. Well built for full time use. Great customer service after the sale. Yup I'm biased.

jesilvas 10-31-2013 08:14 PM

How much is it costing to keep the MH going? A fifth wheel and truck comparable to your MH will cost you just as much, so don't go at it from that point.

huntnski 10-31-2013 08:25 PM


Originally Posted by jesilvas (Post 1789356)
How much is it costing to keep the MH going? A fifth wheel and truck comparable to your MH will cost you just as much, so don't go at it from that point.

X2, we made the switch from a 5er to mh in Feb. if there is much difference in operating expense it's greatly out weighed by in increase storage, ease of moving and floor plan. If you want a 5er go for it, just don't expect to be saving a lot, some, but definitely not a lot.

450Donn 10-31-2013 08:26 PM

Have never seen a fifth wheel floor plan where you could not access the potty room when the slides are closed. Typically the bath room is in the overhead area so open the door walk in and use the potty. Worry about frames? Then buy from a manufacturer that builds their own frames. Northwood Mfg is one such manufacturer.

JDT 10-31-2013 08:38 PM

We have been thru what you are considering. We sold our Holiday Rambler diesel pusher last year after 7 years of ownership and went back to an Excel. I say back because we have owned 2 other Excel's previously so this was not new to us. I just got very weary of the upkeep and expense of owning a diesel motorhome. I have to have a truck anyway so driving our 1 ton as my daily driver is no big deal. We averaged around 8 mpg on the motorhome and on a 4500 mile trip this summer we averaged 11.4 if you are looking for a comparison.

There are a number of good fifth wheels out there but we are partial to Excel because the folks at Peterson Industries are very easy to work with and are very flexible with making changes if you order a unit from them. We added a few things from the Limited line on our Winslow that are not listed as available options for it, like padded ceiling, residential fridge, upgraded tires and disc brakes, faucets, return air ducted in the ceiling, no gas oven and 3 large drawers in its place and convection microwave. So far we have only had a few minor things which showed up in the first month but since then, nothing. When we got home from our 4500 mile trip all I had to do was wash it and put it in its garage. That would never have happened with the motorhome.

I think you will find you may have more useable living space in a fifth wheel, at least we did. Admittedly, going down the road is not as good for the passenger but we spend a whole lot more time parked than we do driving. Our bathroom is fully available with the slides closed. We do have to partially open one if we need the fridge, but if we are going to travel all day we generally pack a lunch in a small ice chest and may eat while driving.

The one big plus for me is I now sleep better at night not worrying about what large expense will hit next. A diesel motorhome with a semi truck sized drivetrain and tires can get real pricey when something goes wrong. We had pretty good luck with our motorhome but I'm glad it is gone. Others feel a motorhome is the only way to go and there are pluses of which I am sure you are aware. I am just coming at it from my personal experience which means nothing to no one but me.

Kro1957 10-31-2013 08:46 PM

We have never had a MH. Had 3 5vrs. Our truck is our transportation. We like that independence and like the roominess in our 37' Quad slide. I guess each to his own. I think there is perhaps more work with a 5vr, not a lot but hooking up for travel and unhooking process is what I am talking about. Only takes me about 10 minutes but that is 10 minutes you don't spend with a MH. Our 5rv with all 4 sides in we can still get at every area of the living space, kitchen, fridge, bathroom. We have friends that would not even think of giving up their 5vr and those who feel the same way about their MH. We really love the 5th wheel ownership and have no plans of changing any time soon.

fishermark 11-01-2013 07:08 AM

Thank you all for your input. I know it is a personal decision but it helps to have other opinions. My "driver" does not always see through the same glasses as me. We also only have a 3/4 Ton Super Duty Diesel 4x4 which will limit us. We are new to this forum but I can already see the advantage.

fishermark 11-01-2013 07:12 AM

The new tradition has only 1 floor plan that allows you to get to the bath with the slides in.

RustyJC 11-01-2013 07:20 AM


Originally Posted by fishermark (Post 1789291)
The high end ones like DRV, Lifestyle are either too heavy or have limited floor plans.

Any of the true full-time 5th wheels 36' or longer are going to require, at a minimum, a DRW 1-ton truck, so I wouldn't disqualify the best units for full-timing simply due to weight. Thicker walls, floors and roofs, more and better insulation, double-pane windows, heavier frames and running gear, solid wood cabinets, higher end appliances and systems, etc. are going to weigh more. Since it appears that you'll be purchasing a truck as well, pick out the 5th wheel you want, look at its GVWR and loaded pin weight (assume at least 20% of the 5th wheel's GVWR for sizing purposes), then purchase a truck that's equipped to tow it within ALL the manufacturer's ratings (GCWR, GVWR and GAWRs).

As far as limited floor plans, most of the manufacturers of true full-time 5th wheels will work with you on reasonable customization of a rig if you find a floor plan that's close to what you want.


jojolima 11-01-2013 05:28 PM

Several other comments: When you have a problem with the truck/5th wheel there is no shifting of responsibility. You know exactly where to take it for service. Also, if I have a truck issue (any of the 3), there should be 1 tech. that knows this truck and can do adequate service. You can also usually have any part overnight. This is not true of a motorhome. A dealer may be miles away and not really interested in your business.

A 5th wheel is better once you arrive. A motorhome is better going down the road.

This is a personal decision. The residents of snowbird parks in Florida tend to shift from their motorhome to eventually a 5th wheel. You can not have a motorhome and let it set.

Ray,IN 11-01-2013 09:22 PM

Fuel mileage is a wash IMO. We had a 40' 5er and a dually truck (GCW of 23,000#) for 8 years, it averaged 10.5 MPH. We traded for a 40' diesel pusher MH with a GVW of 31,000#, it gets, 7.8 MPG.
When we transferred the contents of the 5er to the MH, we could not get everything into the MH, not as much storage area(or the way I loaded the MH).

oldbeek 11-02-2013 09:50 AM

Sounds like you want new, but there is a 2003 Alpenlite 3 slide 32ft on craigs list in Kalispel MT asking $19,000 it has all the bells and whistles for full time. Could be pulled with a 3/4 ton with caution. Also in Alpenlite travel club on facebook.

txdutt 11-02-2013 03:08 PM

Just made a similar switch this year. Got tired of the MH being a money pit. As others have said, not as convenient to travel in-but definitely nicer having the extra room when you get to where you're going, not to mention tons more storage both in & out....

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