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Thursday, March 1, 2007

To buy a fifth wheel trailer or not

This woman, a self-proclaimed "minimalist," is thinking of selling her home and living full-time in a fifth wheel trailer. She'll live in it on her property part of the year and then travel to see friends the rest of the time. In questioning whether a fifth wheel trailer is right for her, she brings up some of the common questions that are asked when considering purchasing this type of RV. Video length: four minutes.

To keep up with news and information about Fifth Wheel Trailers be sure to read the blog, Fifth Wheelin.'


  1. I've had the same idea, except I'd be in Massachusetts in the summer and in Florida in the winter. Have a lot her at The Great Outdoors in Titusville and rent a spot in Acton Mass. as well as own 3 apartments in Antigua. Thinking about selling my motorhome and buying a 5th wheel to leave in FL and a class C for traveling. Good thinking on your part as far as I can see.

  2. Wow, where do I start. There are whole books on Full timing in an RV. The question of full timing in an RV is alot more about yourself than about the RV. The RV lifestyle is a great way to see the world, and meet people. You can stay as long as you want and then move on. The change of scenery is availble at the turn of a key. You are already familiar with technology so keeping in touch on the road is pretty easy to do. Many parks have WI-Fi for free or a small charge per day for email or blogging, or in your case Vloging.

    5th wheel trailers offer floor plans that allow more flexibility in some ways than conventional Travel Trailers, due to the space that goes over the bed of the pickup. As for learning to own and maintain an RV there are alot of clubs and organizations that you can join, and even ones specifically for women that offer a great way to learn about RVing. There are DVD's from Mark Polk, (rveducation101) and others that will give you a good understanding on general operation, and he offers an e-book of checklists that can really come in handy for RV'ers, both new and seasoned.

    If you do buy, insist on a full walk thru of all systems and videotape the whole thing. Better yet get a friend to come along and have them videotape it so you can concentrate on what the RV techician is telling you. 7 months from now you can pop that in and refresh yourself on what he said about where the freshwater tank drain is etc. Make sure they shoot the stuff he is saying, and gets details of operating anything that seems complex, you dont want a family momento of you getting the trailer, you want a Video Manual to back up the owners manual for the trailer.

    There are alot of systems on an RV, just like your home, and you are hauling it down the road, so expect some things to go wrong. An extended warranty can sometimes save you from some unexpected expenses, but I have never done one. (others might be better suited to answer about that).

    I own an older Winnebago(20ft), and a Newer Fifth wheel (33ft), and love them both. I have towed travel trailers and boats, and switching to the 5th wheel was easy, but learning to back one is a little different, ok alot different. Not harder, just different. 5'ers as they are called turn much more slowly at first, but after they do start turning they can corner really well, provided you have the trailer to truck clearance. (there is a video posted here showing what happens when you dont). You can tow a Fifthwheel with a shortbed pickup but you need either a extended pin box, or a Slider hitch (or maybe both) to allow tight cornering and cab clearance for the front of the fifth wheel trailer.

    Your comments about Maint/breakdowns and such are founded, since many RV mfr's seem to cut alot of corners on quality. they figure most people are going to use it a couple weeks a year so they can get by with Staples instead of screws on trim, cabnets, etc because it is FAR faster to assemble that way. For full timing you will be using it all the time, and if you are looking at traveling alot with it, consider one that is on the higher end if it is possible within your budget, becuase they are generally assembled a bit better. There are mobile RV repair businesses in most areas, and the local chapter of the BBB can recomend one for you should you need it, or ask around your campground, they know alot about who is good and who to stay away from. They might be able to do the repair themselves.

    I would suggest buying a 2 or 3 year old unit, that way most or all of the delivery/factory issues are already taken care of. Size is another issue that you should look at. For the most flexibility in where you stay under 30 ft is best, and with 4 cats I would think over 25 ft is almost required.

    Also if your gonna have friends over you might want to look into building an inside/outside cat cage. I saw a photo in Camping Worlds RV View magizine this month that was very cool. Traveling with 4 cats, cat box odor is probably gonna quickly become an issue if not tended to quickly and regularly. Some RV'rs dedicate a cabinet with a cutout for their cat box, and another one for them to have some private space to run and hide if they need it. Better to have that space than having them try and climb the curtains! You don't want the crazy cat lady image. Make sure your Trailer has good vents, and install aftermarket fans like Fantastic or some of the other high effiency types of fans, and you might look at doing something like a small fan to vent the kittylitter cabnet to the outside of the trailer. That would be the side AWAY from the awning and front door where your sitting at the dinner table...
    Can a minimalist have an RV lifestyle, absolutely. But there is still alot of stuff you have to drag around with you to make it work and make it comfortable. To a small degree you have to be a minimalist just to be an RV'r or you will soon outgrow the largest trailer. But you will need things like water hoses, sewer hoses, 30 amp or 50 amp extension cables, Stabilizers, wheel chocks for stability when parked, a full set of cookware that works and fits in your drawers.

    Power is another one of those issues, AC power is availble at most campgrounds, as is water, but if your looking at remote sites you are either going to have to run a generator, or live with battery power and no air conditioning/microwave etc. Again, good quality high effiency roof fans, maybe one or all with thermostats will help keep it reasonable inside the unit for you and your furry friends. Remember when you are gone and the AC is off, your trailer can get pretty toasty, so be heat aware for your pets.

    As for trucks to tow it, weight ratings etc, I will leave that to someone else to expand on, but suffice to say, in the 25-30' range a 3/4ton truck will do just fine. Fords seem to have higher capacities for towing but it is mostly personal preference. If your buying a truck, choose the trailer then the truck to tow it. I am very happy with my 2005 F250 Super duty Pickup, It has great breaks and an intergrated brake controller that works with the engine control to help keep the trailer under control.

    On Downhills as you apply the brakes, it automatically downshifts to help slow the rig without you having to use the brakes. (yes I am biased towards Ford, but they do seem to be much more towing oriented than Chevy or Dodge, neither offer intergrated trailer brake controls that I have seen). Gas or Diesel? Again your choice, many like the extra power a diesel brings to the table, but they cost more, are noisy, and some consider their exaust stinky. But you can tow easier, and add an exaust brake to them to help you control downhill speed without having o use your brakes.

    Ok wow, this got really long, sorry anyway, I love the lifestyle, You have a great idea on how to enjoy the world around you, and fifthwheels are gonna fit well into it. If you decide in a couple years that it does not work for ya, ok fine. Sell it and start a new adventure.

    Hope this helps.

  3. If you get a fifth wheel, I recommend getting a fifth wheel lock for added security.


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