Buying a 5th wheel...advice?

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  #1  
Old 06-23-12, 03:51 PM
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Question Buying a 5th wheel...advice?

We plan on buying a 5th wheel in late summer...and don't know the first thing about the important things to look for when we start shopping around for one. We aren't going to look for one that's too big, it's just two of us, plus two dogs. A lot of the use it will get will be during the winter months, if that means anything.
We will be looking for one maybe 20-22 ft. long with a pull out. We will be looking at 'new used', I don't think we can afford a brand new one.

Anyway...maybe some here can give me a few pointers, some advice, suggestions as to what to look for...I would assume the plumbing and electrical stuff would be important. Also the heating and air conditioning units. I also wonder about gallon capacity...I have seen 50 gallons capacity for a lot of the 5th wheels...is that enough water...how long would that last if you take a quick shower everyday?
How about the hookup...some use regular gooseneck hookups, others a special one made for a 5th wheel camper trailer?

Anything you can throw my way would be appreciated.
Thanks.
 
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Old 06-23-12, 05:46 PM
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You mention that your use will be during winter and you are from WY. If your primary use will be during freezing times I would pay close attention to the water and waste system and how they are protected against freezing. Nothing can freeze tanks and lines like a 60mph wind going down the highway on a cold day. That cold air will find it's way into every nook and cranny. How well are the tanks and lines insulated and are there auxiliary heaters if you will be using it in harsh conditions? Next, you can consider how well the trailer is insulated. None are great compared to homes but if you will be using it long term it can be important since your propane supply is generally limited and annoying to refill. Extra insulation is not sexy like other features but if the furnace is running continuously when the outside temp drops below 25f it can become important.

Having gooseneck work trailers I like the gooseneck hitch over a fifth wheel for commonality. I also like the gooseneck sytyle because it generally takes less space in the bed of the truck and is lighter but they generally have a lower capacity and a rougher ride. On the plus side for 5th wheel hitches is that they are easier to hitch-up.

I think the water, gray and black water tank capacities depends on how you will be using the unit. If you are just towing it to a campground and tying up to hook-ups it does not matter. If you will be going off the grid you really need to look at how long you want to go between refills, how frequently will you be moving and over what terrain. Larger tank capacity will allow you more time/use between servicing but water is heavy and you will have to tow all that extra water. If doing a marathon trip through the mountains, moving every day then light weight might be more important than long showers.

Next I'd consider your power usage and where you will be staying. Will you be in campgrounds with hook-ups or will you be in the bush of Alaska running off batteries or a generator? Do you want no generator, a built in generator or a separate portable unit?

Now that all the important stuff is out of the way you can start thinking about the "fluffy" things like the size, layout and quality of furnishings. Personally I'm all about the bathroom. I hate tiny little camper bathrooms where the toilet & toilet paper get wet when I shower. My wife is not so concerned about the bathroom but wants the entire thing to be kitchen.
 
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Old 06-23-12, 06:03 PM
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Hold your horses.....

Before you do anything your tow vehicle dictates everything.

Forget about everything else at this point. What are you going to tow with? Once that is determined we can guide you further.



Mike NJ
 
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Old 06-23-12, 07:09 PM
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I will reply to both you gentlemen...
first, we'll be using a Ford F-250 to haul. It's already set up for a Gooseneck horse trailer and it's 4 wheel drive.

In reply to the other stuff...good thinking...thanks...

indeed it can get mighty cold... we'd stay in the western part of the country...west of us, so we better know this thing will be well insulated overall and that the water & waste tanks can take freezing temps...since we'll be buying it here, I would think, but will make sure, that the ones sold here are made to our climate specifications...like the modular and trailer homes are made for this area.
I know my husband would rather use the regular 5th wheel gooseneck setup, just so he doesn't have to change it out when we use the horse trailer...I guess he will decide on that when the time comes, but it's good to know about the weight and rough ride issue...wouldn't have thought about that.

I said short showers...like about 6 minutes (I have long hair so it takes a little while)...hubby probably can take a fast shower in 3 mins.

The only way we'd stay in a campground with hookups would be if there are no, or not many, other campers there...we don't enjoy camping around tons of other folks...I guess since alot of this will be done off season, the campgrounds would not have many, if any, folks in them, but it also might be hard to find that type of campground open during off season...I have no idea

so I guess we'd need a larger water capacity than 'normal', and a generator...we farm for a living, so my husband is really good at things like generators or battery power sources...in fact, one of our sons just got a bumper pull camper and my husband got him hooked up with batteries...I expect he'd know how big a generator we'd need, or batteries...but how much water capacity would be too much?

Does the waste system have anything to do with your water supply system? Or is that completley seperate?

Thanks you guys....I appreciate your help...will wait until you have time to reply again.
 
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Old 06-24-12, 05:31 AM
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The waste systems are separate from the fresh water system and many campers have separate gray and black water systems. Black water takes the waste from the toilet while the gray collects sink & shower water.
 
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Old 06-24-12, 07:37 AM
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Thank you...I guess then we'd need to be sure there is a sperate system for toilet waste and sink & shower...jotted that info down too...yes, I'm taking notes!!
 
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Old 06-24-12, 02:22 PM
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Two separate waste tanks increases your waste disposal flexibility. Everywhere you travel the black water (poo) must be dumped into a proper waste location like a pump out facility at a campground. In some areas you have flexibility with the gray water. Check the local regulations but because it's just sink and shower water it can sometimes be dumped wherever like a meadow (do not dump it near a stream or river).

Two waste tanks may sound silly but it can greatly extend your time in the bush. Since you can go through a lot more water washing clothes & dishes and bathing the gray water tank can fill quickly. The black water can take much longer to fill since it's only toilet flushes. So, if you are out in the wilderness you can sometimes dump the gray water regularly and only have to travel to civilization every week or two to pump out the black water tank.

Again, check with the regulations where you will be traveling if you can dump gray water and where. Even if it's not stated in the regulations I think it should never be dumped near a stream or river.
 
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Old 06-24-12, 03:54 PM
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Thanks so much...I'm glad I posted, getting some good info. We will check regulations...don't want to do anything stupid, or illegal...we'd never even think of dumping the grey water near streams or anyplace we think is not a good place...we don't hug trees, but care for the enviornment and consider other people.

Thanks again.
 
  #9  
Old 07-01-12, 04:24 PM
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Buying a trailer

Since I was in the business of buying and selling trailers and there many thing to consider when buying used one.

Look for a soft floor at the entrance and infront of the sink, water leaks in the ceiling also the fridge is a big thing make sure it works. Tires and Brake should work and not be a surprise once on the road.

Happy trails.
 
  #10  
Old 07-02-12, 03:48 PM
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Thanks for the tips...I would think we'd sure look for anything like what you mentioned, and a lot more.
When we get ready to buy, we'll be looking at them via dealerships, rather than a private sale...I wouldn't feel comfortable buying from a pwerson with one for sale, too many things they can hide, at least with a dealership, you have a little backup.

There sure is a lot more to this that I thought, but little by little, I'm getting good information.

Thanks again
 
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