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Post Info TOPIC: Fulltime 5th Wheels... A different take on it.


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Fulltime 5th Wheels... A different take on it.


I've seen some observations about rigs that are "rated" for full-time use and time after time I see a distinction being made that doesn't quite add-up in my mind.  And it's not just us as consumers making these assumptions, but it's the entire industry playing into that assumption.

No doubt that there are definite benefits to those 5th wheels that are "designed" or "rated" as full-time units.  Insulation is a big one, the materials used in interior cabinet construction is a big difference, cargo carrying capacity is a HUGE ONE... what I'm really getting at is this perception that rigs NOT rated as full-time rigs aren't good choices and intended for general-camping duty.  

This is where it doesn't add-up for me.

I would contend that a 5th wheel that's supposedly designed for general camping duty actually see's more abuse.   When one is just camping, they're on a schedule, they need to go here and then there and then return home on fairly short order.  They get setup more often, and at least judging by my own camping habits, are more prone to heavier use at sporadic intervals.

The full-timer takes their time, probably park in one spot longer and more often and while the mileage traveled per year may be more, I could imagine the miles to be "easier" miles than those of the weekend warrior.  I also envision the full-timer as someone who would pay closer attention to their rigs than their weekend warrior counterparts.

Have we been looking at this the wrong way all along?

What got me thinking about this, is in my search for a rig, I've looked at a ton of 5th wheels (probably getting close to at least a hundred by now) and I've run across lot's of nice "middle of the road" units that certainly fit my needs and certainly seem to have all the things "I" would consider to be must haves.  The differences?   Insulation not as robust, but nowhere near non-existent as some entry-level models. Lack of washer-dryer hookups (not a biggie for me). Wood work not as ornate, (But still solid wood,) Kitchen size... but this is more of a size issue.  The fixtures aren't as nice... but then again fixtures are an EASY inexpensive upgrade.  So, what am I missing? 

I guess what I'm getting at is that there seem to be more choices out there than just looking at the "rated for full-time" rigs.  I'm seeing a trend where the "full-time" features are making their way down the line to mid-level rigs.  Things like heated tanks, water-filtration systems, large capacity tanks, better CCC, dual pane windows... all of these are features that are either available as standard or optional equipment on lot's of middle of the road 5'ers I've seen.

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You will find those out there who will tell you only the best of the best will do and can give you very convincing reasons why and for the most part they are correct. There are also MANY people who full time in "middle of the road" units without a problem and can also give you very convincing reasons why. Linda and I chose our 5th wheel to full time in because it was what we could afford and met MOST of the criteria of "Rated" full time units.Although we are not full time yet we just finished a month long 4 state trial run with it and were very happy. The 1 air conditioner cooled it at 102 degrees in Apache Junction Arizona and the furnace and tank heaters kept everything  warm and safe in 18 degree weather in Buena Vista Colorado. We had everything we would take with us full time loaded and still weighed under our capacity at the scales. Will we have problems with it down the road ? Yes probably, but if you have followed Howard and Linda's travels they to have had problems and theirs is a highly rated unit. There are units I wouldn't even want to weekend camp in but I feel there are many "middle of the road" units that will work well. Listen to the best of the best people but don't let any one tell you that is the ONLY way to go.

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Many years ago I took an out-of-town job and bought a trailer without any knowledge or research about RVing. I stayed in Kentucky in the winter for a couple of months before I wised up and headed south. My experience was a total disaster because of my choice of trailers and I said I would never own another trailer. "Never say never" A few years ago my wife and I started to explore the possibility of going fulltime. We took our time, researched, and attended "" Life on Wheels" seminars and started shopping for an RV that would hold up for many years on the road and that we would be comfortable in and not have to trade off for another unit. We followed RV Consumers Group recomendations and purchased a "fulltime" 5ver because they do the research into the different units and are unbiased on their findings. We did not think we could afford a new unit so we found a 2 year old one [like new condition] for almost 1/2 the price of a new one. Now we could have bought a new [midline] RV but after 2 years fulltiming we believe we made the right decision.
I will say that from what I have seen and heard that there are more people fulltiming in RVs that are rated "snowbird"[rated for 6 months/ year] units. People can fulltime in anything they desire to, it is a personal choice. Each person needs to find the RV that will serve his purposes. I would recomend that everyone do much investigating before making a purchase so that they will be happy with their RV in years to come.

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Jo and I are planning on living "static" for several years after we get ours.  Once our home sells, we will live in the Oklahoma City area until we retire in about 6 years.  That gives us time to pay everything (including the truck and fiver) before hitting the road.

Since Oklahoma City can get cold at times, insulation is an important factor.  But more than anything else, to me the frame is the important part.  Once the traveling starts, the frame and suspension will be an extremely important consideration.  Someone once reflected that while a mobile home has weak axles, it doesn't matter because the mobile home may only get moved once and then is set up permanently.  An RV is being moved a LOT more, so don't ignore the very "foundation" of the unit.

I was recently considering an Open Range fiver because it was lighter and could be pulled easily by a Ford F350.  With that I could have saved money on both the truck and the fiver.  But after looking under the Open Range at the frame, I became concerned with its quality.  Also, I could find nothing in the Open Range brochure or their website that gave me ANY details on the construction of the unit.  We won't be looking any further at those models.

Terry




-- Edited by Terry and Jo on Tuesday 3rd of November 2009 09:01:44 AM

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We to fell in love with a Prairie Schooner at the Tampa RV show last winter. It was a new model for them I cannot remember it, it was later parked at a dealer where we were. We looked at it again and my husband said "No Way" the frame was diffiently not quality for the fiver. At that time you could not find that particular model on its website as it was a demo model. Whether the company continuted with that model I do not know. Glad we stuck with our Elite Suites from D RV.
southwestjudy


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This is a great post.  We are in the early stages of shopping and I was wondering many of the same questions.  Some of the units we like are rated for snowbirding instead of fulltiming, but they have the arctic package and good insulation so I was wondering if it would really matter.  I'm going to be following this thread closely and learning, learning, learning! smile

-Connie



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Judy just posted on our Elite Suite and I would like to contribute a little also.
I researched a entire winter on websites before we purchased our Elite Suites. I was looking at construction, frame, and CCC.
At one point a dealer was insisting that I make an offer on his Fifth Wheel and I told him that I would have to throw out 1000 pounds of my belongings on the side of the road due to the fact he didn't have the CCC that we needed.
Before purchasing any product that costs what the RV's cost do your homework.
My only recommendation would be to most definetly purchase a "good" used RV and travel several years or you will loose bigtime on a new rig if your fultiming plans change like ours did. I don't have regrets but I assure you that plans can change....
Bob

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Our first travel trailer was probably one of the best examples of short cut building possible. Everything seemed held together with glue, staples and a prayer.

All of the cabinets were built using a 1X1 frames with 1/4 plywood paneling on the outside. The only solid wood were the cabinet doors. Even the walls were frames with plyood panel on the inside and plywood plus metal for outside with some fiber insulation blanket in between.

The trailer looked good from the outside and looked good on the inside. It was well laid out and would sleep 7 comfortably and we could seat 11 for meals or to play games.

The bathroom area had lots of room and closet space.

We had the trailer for 15 years and used it at least twice per month for weekend trips and one or two long trips each year. We towed it a total of 7000 miles on one summer trip to the midwest and back. We were involved in Offroad racing at the time so a lot of the weekend trips were out to remote desert locations accessed over rough dirt roads.

Even with the short cut building process in the manufacture of this trailer, it held up well to all of our use. I remember only have a problem with one of the bench seats coming apart, but was an easy fix with some wood bracing, glue and screws.

I think you'll find if an RV is treated well and proper maintenance performed, even the non-fulltime rated will hold up well.

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Judy wrote:

We too fell in love with a Prairie Schooner at the Tampa RV show last winter.



Funny you bring up a Prairie Schooner!  I ran into one of those at an RV show a couple of weeks ago.  We were intrigued by the different layout it had, it was refreshing!  The fit and finish wasn't the greatest and like your husband found out it's underpinnings are definitely suspect.  I stepped on the slide-out and it bowed about 2-3 inches in the middle!!!  Now I'm a big guy, but I ain't that big!  I had Madonna step on the slide-out and it bowed by the same amount. 

What was even more shocking to me was who builds Prairie Schooner --- Gulf Stream!!   That's a name that SHOULD instill some confidence.

 



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A unit for full time is expected to;

Have someone using it every day while a camping unit may be expecting useage for maybe 30 days a year.

You can see this in some of the warranty wordage.  Where use beyond X number of days a year can void your warranty.

Mallo


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Have you looked at the Jayco's they are Mid-range in price and very well built also backed very well by the company.

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bubbadan wrote:

Have you looked at the Jayco's they are Mid-range in price and very well built also backed very well by the company.



Jayco has been around a long time so they must be doing something right.  In fact we bought a new Jayco Class C back in the early 1980's and had a lot of fun with it, but also didn't use it much due to my job getting in the way! biggrin  However, I don't believe Jayco's are built for full-time use.  

You really have to look at the frame, axles, brakes, fastening of cabinets to the walls (staples or screws),  insulation, etc.  As far as components, for the most part they are the same in the vacation RV's and the full-time RV's.  You also must look at the warranty to see if they cover full-time use.

One of the many things I like about HitchHiker 5th wheels is their use of  Blue DOW rigid foam in the walls for insulation and rigidity.  The Blue Dow Foam is resistant to moisture unlike the usual pink insulation rolls that can breakdown from moisture and movement.

Like I've read many times, pulling a 5th wheel down the road is like exposing your home to a substantial earthquake every mile!   For full-time use I would rather pay a little more to get the beefed up RV designed for full or extended time use.


 



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thebearII wrote:
Our first travel trailer was probably one of the best examples of short cut building possible. Everything seemed held together with glue, staples and a prayer.

We had the trailer for 15 years and used it at least twice per month for weekend trips and one or two long trips each year. We towed it a total of 7000 miles on one summer trip to the midwest and back. We were involved in Offroad racing at the time so a lot of the weekend trips were out to remote desert locations accessed over rough dirt roads.

Even with the short cut building process in the manufacture of this trailer, it held up well to all of our use. I remember only have a problem with one of the bench seats coming apart, but was an easy fix with some wood bracing, glue and screws.

I think you'll find if an RV is treated well and proper maintenance performed, even the non-fulltime rated will hold up well.




That's a great example of the experience I'm looking for!  Thanks.

What has started this whole thing for me is that my original budget for a rig was 15k TOTAL.  That was assuming I could find a suitable used trailer that was towable by my F150.   We saw some decent travel trailers that we thought could fit the bill, and were somewhat confident that we could make that work.  (I can hear you all chuckling already).

Then we ran into the problem of towing capacity and I quickly realized that if I was pulling a trailer that was close to the capacity of my F150 to tow, it would be a vehicle I wouldn't want to drive.  It does a great job with my 3-4,000 lb  off-road PUP (Yes, it's HEAVY for a PUP) but much more than that, and it wouldn't work for me.

So change one to the plan was to upgrade the Tow Rig to an F-250, much better for the bigger travel trailers.

We started looking at some larger travel trailers, then decided that we weren't giving 5th Wheels a chance.  We figured if we're going to upgrade the Tow Vehicle, might as well consider some 5th Wheel's.

Once we started looking at 5th Wheels.... It was over... travel trailers were now dropped completely.  We both agreed that a 5th wheel was the way to go.

Now we could certainly find plenty of slightly older 5th Wheels for around 15K.... some were OK, but most.... were "lacking".

So change 2 & 3 to the plan was upping the tow vehicle to an F350 Dually and looking at new midrange 5th Wheels.

Now the budget more than doubled.... and we started looking at new 5th Wheels.    I've always been a promoter of buying used, it has served me well over the years and saved me a TON of money.  But we just couldn't find anything used that got our attention.  Let me expound on that a bit. 

In recent years it seems like the RV Industry finally woke up to the fact that their rigs were decorated like my grandma's parlor.   I wouldn't have to go very far back in time to see some pretty hideous interiors.  While it may seem minor in the grand scheme of things, it does go a long way to feeling like a suitable home, and I wasn't too keen on the idea of having everything re-upholstered to a more modern and updated look.   That was my issue with buying a used 5er.... The interiors were horrible (IMO).  I've noticed that around 2004 or so the interiors started looking more like a home, problem is that units that new weren't in my target price-range of 15K (Surprise - Surprise)

So, if we have to go newer, might as well just go brand new.

We found an extremely nice 5er that really fit the bill and the price didn't scare the bejeezus out of me.   (Once I found out, I could buy it wholesale).

It's a Forest River Wildcat 31TS.  It's a new floorplan that just became avail in 09' and I've seen a couple used ones out there going for close to what  I can get a new one for.

It's a really spacious rig with a layout that's perfect for us and a cargo capacity I could live with. From what I could tell by climbing all over and under it, it's a decently made rig.

I can get one of these for 32K, fully loaded with all the necessary upgrades I'd want.  (MSRP ranges from about 40K - 50K)  I got this price from RV Wholesalers out of Ohio.

One heck of a deal that doesn't break the bank (We can still have this paid for by mid-2011 along with our nest egg).

The past couple of months we've been trying to play our own devils advocate and trying to find anything in any price range that would make us re-consider... We haven't found it yet!

The closest 5th Wheel that we've seen was a Jayco Designer, and again it was close, but not close enough to jump up nearly 20K in price, And quite frankly if I'm jumping up that far in price, then I may as well start looking at NuWa, Excel... etc.

We've even been able to rationalize the warranty issue. 

I DO NOT know for sure about the warranty provisions on the Wildcat 31TS YET, but I have seen Forest Rivers Warranty on other units that I would classify as entry level rigs, which the Wildcat is not and what I saw was the following verbiage "Warranty valid for recreational and family camping use only"  This was on their Cherokee and Gray Wolf lines.   It's quite possible that the Wildcat will have the same provision.  The way we've rationalized it was that the manufacturers standard warranty was only for one year, which is fine with us because for most of that first year, we won't be fulltime yet.  We figure that we'll get this rig around this time next year, actually a little earlier, that gives us more than enough time to NOT run afoul of their provision. By the time we fulltime, we'll fall under whatever warranty company we decide to go with, not the factory. 

As many have echoed in this thread, the choice of rig depends largely on what you can afford, what you're comfortable with, what compromises you're good with making... it ALL plays a part.   I think another part of our rationalizing is the fact that we aren't intending this first rig to be "IT", and last us 15+ years.  If we were to follow that logic, we'd probably wait a couple of more years to save the funds for that type of 5er.... that's a compromise neither one of us wants to make.  For us we think it's more important to get going into the lifestyle as quickly as possible, and act accordingly once we've done it awhile.  :)

If I had the funds available... there is no doubt I'd be going with fulltime rated 5er's.  But I've already squeezed everything I can into it, and I'm pretty happy with what I've found so far.

The proof will be in the pudding when next year rolls around and we get closer to cutting those ties from the "Rat Race".

Thanks for listening and adding your bits of wisdom... great thread!

(And you all thought Howard was long-winded!)








 



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I understand your reasoning. My personal preference would be to buy the "IT" rig rather than settle for something that doesn't fit the bill. I doubt RV's are going to be any cheaper when you go looking for the rig with the "IT" factor. I think the smart thing to do would be to wait to go FT'ing until you can afford the rig you really want/need/desire.

Do you have previous experience with RV's or is this your first rig?




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Tony/Madonna
I don't know which one wrote this but you go for it, it sounds like you are doing you home work and putting a lot of thought into what you can do. Don't be like me and dream until you are to old to see all the places you read about and stuck in a stick and brick house (whine whine whine) Be easy I am an old man and I cry easy.

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NorCal Dan wrote:

I understand your reasoning. My personal preference would be to buy the "IT" rig rather than settle for something that doesn't fit the bill. I doubt RV's are going to be any cheaper when you go looking for the rig with the "IT" factor. I think the smart thing to do would be to wait to go FT'ing until you can afford the rig you really want/need/desire.

Do you have previous experience with RV's or is this your first rig?



It would be our first 5er, but not our first rig.  We currently Boondock about twice a month in our Starcraft 13RT  "Off-Road" PopUp  (That's the PUP I was referencing).   LOVE IT!

That's the problem, for all intents and purposes this Wildcat has the "IT" factor.... the only problem is that it's not a fultime-rated rig, hence our rationalization that we'd be happy with it until we could step up.  In a few years (5) we'll start to be able to access some of our retirement funds, so that would be the time we could make a move, IF we have to.   We just don't know yet, the future has yet to write itself :)




 



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bubbadan wrote:

Tony/Madonna
I don't know which one wrote this but you go for it, it sounds like you are doing you home work and putting a lot of thought into what you can do. Don't be like me and dream until you are to old to see all the places you read about and stuck in a stick and brick house (whine whine whine) Be easy I am an old man and I cry easy.



LOL  I'll be easy Dan...  But hey, it's NEVER too late, until when.... you know smile.gif

You can pretty much bet that it's Tony that does all the posting, I'm the social butterfly half of Tony & Madonna smile.gif 

But we're so much alike, I feel comfortable speaking for both of us... and believe me, she'll let me know if step over the line!


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Tony and Madonna,

It appears that you have some time before you have to "pull the trigger".  I highly recommend that you hit as many dealerships as you can and check out the RV shows.

While it looks like it would be getting up more in size and price, check out what you think of the Cedar Creek line from Forest River.  I know that there are a few people out there that have been full timing in some of them.  Their 34 series units range around the 36 foot length and one of them seems to have a similar floor plan as the Wildcat 31TS.

While Jo and I are leaning toward the Mobile Suites 38TKSB3, the Cedar Creek line is kind of a fall-back choice for us, although longer than the 34 series.  We will still be looking at other brands, but Jo really likes the kitchen of one of the Cedar Creeks.

Our situation is different than yours.  Once our stix and brix sells, we will have to be finding something fast.  A Mobile Suites like we would want would take about 3 months to build (last I heard regarding factory times), so we might very well be living in our 26 footer until it is completed and arrives.

Good luck to both of you.

Terry


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Terry
If Jo likes the Cedar Creek with the nice kitchen I would take several looks at it, remember Happy Wife Happy life.

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Tony,as Terry mentioned take a look at Cedar Creek( check my signature).MSRP on ours was $ 62,000 but we bought ours for $ 47,000 brand new. Took me 2 years of internet searching comparing price .We are very happy with our 5th wheel.

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Trust me, Dan, I know about that.  Regarding your signature line, there has been more than once that I missed the stirrup on that fast horse.

As for the choices, Jo's opinion of the interior trumps my opinion.  And construction details, outside amenities and towing factors are where she listens to me.  We have been married nearly 41 years, so we almost can read each other's minds.  (Of course, mine now tends to slip a bit, making it more difficult for her.)

Actually, we generally catch all the RV shows, and we've been to most of the Oklahoma City RV dealers, and have even made a trip or two from our home to Springdale, Arkansas.  The Springdale trips are to see specific models that they have in stock.

Believe me, we are both researching like crazy.  We have to know for sure almost right after our house sells.  (Whenever that may be.)

Terry


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Racerguy wrote:

Tony,as Terry mentioned take a look at Cedar Creek( check my signature).MSRP on ours was $ 62,000 but we bought ours for $ 47,000 brand new. Took me 2 years of internet searching comparing price .We are very happy with our 5th wheel.




I actually have seen a few Cedar Creeks, in fact we saw one floorplan that was "interesting" it was the one with the fully separated living-room area, floor to ceiling enclosed wood framed plexiglass with full size door.  Unique for sure.  I haven't seen them all yet, and believe me just like Terry and Jo and are scouring the dealerships and shows, so are we.   Although I'm pondering whether to go to the HUGE show out in Quartzite this year, that place is downright nuts during show week. 

Even with the Cedar Creeks and Silverbacks we have seen... nothing has made us want to jump up... YET.  And believe me, 47K for your Cedar Creek is a good price... but it's 15K more than 32.  Maybe by the time we have to sell the house, we make a "little" and make up for it.

I'll tell you what makes the Wildcat floorplan so appealing.  If you notice everything is pushed to the outside walls, with minimal intrusion into the living area, no counters that stick out, everything is out of the way maximizing the living area, it does not feel like a 31(34 actual) footer at all.

Also note that with the retractable TV down, you have nothing but windows all around.  That also adds to the appeal, and is something nearly NOBODY does.  Believe me I can see the arguments against all that glass, and they're certainly valid ones, but for us that open feeling trumps the downsides.  We upgrade the glass to tinted dual pane, and live with the consequences :)



 



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Tony,Looked at the Wildcat floor plan online. I like your taste. That is a very attractive unit.I would imagine you will compare all others to it. That's what we did. Good luck on the search.

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Thanks George,

You see the conundrum! We definitely compare everything we see to it, and will continue to do so.

As far as layout goes, our must haves:

Open floorplan with as much floorspace as possible. (Opposing slides in living area)
Bathroom & Vanity both separate from the bedroom.
Bedroom slide with windows at both sides of the head of the bed.

The one thing we absolutely hate is the feeling of being in a cave.... we don't like that, maybe it's coming from a pop-up and tent camping for as long as we have that we really like being close to our natural environment.

Mongolion Rim


Want to get away?

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I agree with you about the open floor plan.  I just wanted to make you aware of another unit with a similar floor plan.  The Sundance 3200RE from Heartland is a very nice unit.  We looked at one earlier this year and were impressed with the amount of open space in the living area and with the television down it has windows all around like the Wildcat.  We have a different model Sundance and looked at the Wildcats also when we purchased ours.  They are similar in price and we have been very happy with ours.  We purchased from a wholesale dealer and saved a bunch of money. 

Whatever you purchase I hope you will be happy campers!  Here is their website address:  http://www.heartlandrvs.com/


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You know, I've seen I think 2 Heartlands, but obviously not that one, I'll put it on the list for sure, thanks!

Just for curiosity sake what appealed to you over the Wildcat?

-- Edited by DagoRanch on Thursday 5th of November 2009 06:09:25 PM

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Both units were nice but the Sundance just had a better feel to it.  The fit and finish seemed better, the tanks were larger and overall we just liked it better than the Wildcat.  The Wildcat had been my first choice but after looking at a lot of different makes and models we saw the Sundance and that immediately became our first choice.

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Well there are plenty of decision to make before entering the world of RVing, its a totally different life. I know I'm not very smart but I do know if I keep my wonderful wife happy well then life is awesome. Only thing I ever say to DW is make sure I have Disk Brakes and Hydraulic Jacks with a level up system. Now if we were just week-end camping our decisions would be different. But we prefer RVing instead of Camping, I have had all the Jungle and woods camping I ever want. I have plenty of Trees on our Land and plenty of wild life, so if I want to go to the woods I can. However I prefer full hook-ups with 50 amps. Be Happy life is too short. GBY....

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Delaine and Lindy wrote:

I keep my wonderful wife happy well then life is awesome.


No truer words could be spoken!  Fortunately Madonna's just as adventurous as me :)

 



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Y'all are very lucky that you have a DW or DH that is willing to try the RVing  lifestyle with you.

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Thanks Bubbadan, we are Blessed and we Love Horses but due to our travels it just isn't possible at this time. With our shaky economy Horses may just be our way of travel again. GBY....

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Reminds me of last year when my buddy and I took his Mobile Suites into the dealer in the middle of the winter.  I got talking with the sales rep and he asked what I had for a rig, Jayco Designer Legacy is what I told him, well thats not rated for fulltime use and for sure is not insulated enough for year round use.  I told him that I have been fulltiming for 13 plus years in Ontario Canada, and some winters I camp without power or water for six weeks at a time, in minus 30 conditions.  He did`nt have anything more to say after that.

I trucked my own water and relied on my Honda to recharge my batteries.  I used a 100 pounder of propane every three days and was quite warm and cozy in the trailer.

I almost bought a Mobile Suites last year when I replace our Cardinal that burned, with our current rig, 2005 Jayco Designer Legacy 39 RDQS.  The Jayco one out over the Suites in my opinion due to the pink insulation they use in the walls, I prefer the white bead compressed stuff.  Get a water leak with the pink insualation and now you have a big mess.  The blue foam is supposed to be even better.  Yes you will one time or another get a water leak.

When It comes time to replace my current rig, I will look again to Jayco first.

It`s good that you posted this question here to get real life experience opinions from the people that are actually doing it.  I submit mine and as always it`s just my opinion derived from what works for myself and my family in Ontario Canada.



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Coal,

Undoubtedly you can stay in virtually any rig in cold weather if you're prepared to pay the cost. However at today's price of $2.60 a gallon (Florida), it would have cost you more than $20 a day for propane. Using your numbers, it would have cost you about $885 for propane for the 6 weeks.

I think a lot of people might think that investing in better insulation is a good investment for the long term.

Just a thought.

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As for a Jayco I can't comment. But of the 6 5th wheels we have owned none has had the insulation of the Mobile Suites. And no other 5th wheels has 3 1/4" wall with a 15" frame that has room for plenty insulation. We are using much less propane than other brands we have owned. The floors aren't cold like the other were. But be happy thats the key, your choice is your decision and if your happy I for sure will be happy for you. I'm certainly not saying the Mobile is the best 5th wheel but its the best one for our use. And we aren't full timing but we have been there and done that. Wish we would have bought a Mobile Suites in the begining. But I will say this you will need a big Truck to handle the Mobile Suites if you plan on staying within the tow rating of your Towing Truck. We are very heavy, but again when you see how Drv puts them together you will understand. Again I highly recomend you go to the manufactor and see how they are put together, and the materials used. GBY....

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Hey Coal!

I have a Jayco Designer (2008) new in 2009. Jayco no longer makes the Legacy model of the Designer. I did a lot of research in purchasing our new rig. It came down to our Designer or a Cameo; both are rated "Sno bird" not full time. We decided on the Designer in terrms of lay out and comfort (for us). Luvglass has aCameo which he has been fulltiming in for 4 yrs. One can full time in good "Sno bird" rated rigs. I have developed a lot of respect for Luvglasses' posts over the years. Could you be wrong on the amount of Propane used in 3 days?

Next year we will begin fulltiming (longtiming) in our Designer and feel confident in its ability to keep us comfortable. i believe the designer is one of the most underrated 5'ers on the road.

Doc

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The point of my post was to enlighten people that it can be done in less than a top of the line rig.  Yes my rig is up there too, but I have done it through the winter in lesser units.  Really did not mean to rustle any feathers. 

Yes the propane usage is correct, thats what it takes to live in the real cold, when it does warm up abit it will decrease to 100 pounds per week. 

Yes I know how heavy the Mobile Suites are, I built my buddies truck for him two years so he could handle the extra weight.  Even added a platform for his Smart Car.

http://rvallseasons.blogspot.com/2009/08/bill-sent-me-pics-and-here-they-are.html

here are the pics and info

well informed on the Mobile Suites, even went to the Canadian Rally last summer.

Kinda figure Florida is a wee bit warmer than Canada this time of year, maybe its just me, apples and oranges I don`t know.

Just get tired of all the posts related to fultime year round living and that one has to spend a incredible amount of money to enjoy this lifestyle, mostly because thats what the manufacturer or dealer sales person tells you.  Or the people that have spend the large amount of money and need to justify it.  Many many people get by with a lot less than what the top of the line provides.  I`ve had alot of fivers over the years and they have all had thier problems and each one worked out okay, hot summers and very cold winters every year.

I have two buddies right now camped out on my property in the middle of a field, a 1993 Jayco fiver and a 1996 Newmar unit, guess what they both get by quite comfortalbly.  Again its minus 17 tonite.  Older units, and surely not rated for winter use never mind full time.














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coal wrote:
1.

Just get tired of all the posts related to fultime year round living and that one has to spend a incredible amount of money to enjoy this lifestyle, mostly because thats what the manufacturer or dealer sales person tells you.  Or the people that have spend the large amount of money and need to justify it.  Many many people get by with a lot less than what the top of the line provides.  I`ve had alot of fivers over the years and they have all had thier problems and each one worked out okay, hot summers and very cold winters every year.

2.

I have two buddies right now camped out on my property in the middle of a field, a 1993 Jayco fiver and a 1996 Newmar unit, guess what they both get by quite comfortalbly.  Again its minus 17 tonite.  Older units, and surely not rated for winter use never mind full time.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I pretty much had promised myself to stay off this thread but ....

1.  You wonder about rustling feathers while dismissing people who have bought what you consider higher end units as dups (mostly because thats what the manufacturer or dealers sales person tells you.) or are foolish with their money (spend large amount of money and need to justify it).  Which are you Coal a dup for falling for the sales line with your big fiver?  Or someone who's a fool with his money?

2.  You throw out the two buddies in minus 17 "not rated for winter use never mind full time."  Only the two companies you cite Jayco and Newmar both build Four Season Full time rigs.  Reading that part of your post merely proves to me that you do want to make sure you get the right builder if your going to full time or camp in extreme temps.  Just because the rig is older doesn't prove your point.

Want to impress me tell me about your buddy in a crappy Gulf Stream out there in minus 17 with no wind skirting just parked out there.  Then maybe I'll consider you have a point.

Mallo

 



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My whole point is that, one can fulltime year round in a less than top of the line unit.  My two buddies outside are in trailers that are not rated for fulltime use, nor 4 season capability, but somehow they are doing just fine.  Both older units, each 15 years old.
Yes today Newmar and Jayco both build units that are very well insulated, but back 15 years ago it was a different story.
I can go around the corner here to the local campground that is open all year, some 100 campers in there from a truck camper to top of the line units and everything in between, and they seem to be doing okay.

I gave those real world examples to show that it can be done.  Yes I did spend alot of money for my top of the line unit, but I don`t tell people that is the only way to go if you want to live fulltime year round, because that is simply not the case. 

Further it is not a brand war.  Alot of nice rigs out there for sure,  the op sounds like he is on a budget and maybe can`t afford a top of the line 100 grand rig.  I wanted to show the other side of what some are doing with lesser rigs in extreme weather conditions. 

Fine and dandy that alot of us can spend big sums of money. big rigs and big trucks and the rest of it, but some have to make do with less and that is why in my original post I said it was good for the op to post this question to get real world opinions from people actually doing it.

As for sales reps, how many of them live full time, or have ever done so, not many from my experiences.  Forums such as this one and others, offer a ton more valuable real world experience, than what most sales reps can offer.





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Coal, I used to get upset with the "My trailer is more suited for full timing than your trailer"people but soon learned it's not worth the aggravation . It's human nature to try and justify your personal choice. If you observe long enough you will see just as many full timers in non full time rated units as in full time rated units ,so most already understand you don't need to spend $ 80 to $ 100 thousand to succeed in this lifestyle.Your point is understood . Would also like to say most people on this forum don't get their feathers ruffled and all mean well with their statements. It's a very friendly bunch here.

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coal wrote:

The op sounds like he is on a budget and maybe can't afford a top of the line 100 grand rig.  I wanted to show the other side of what some are doing with lesser rigs in extreme weather conditions. 

In my original post I said it was good for the op to post this question to get real world opinions from people actually doing it.


That's truly the spirit of me starting this thread.  Not only for my sake, but for the sake of others looking to get into the lifestyle.  Truth is, people travel full-time in all kinds of rigs.  From nothing but a backpack and a tent, a pickup camper, teardrop trailer, van, car.... even a cargo trailer to a million dollar motor-home. It really runs the gamut.

Racerguy wrote:

It's human nature to try and justify your personal choice.


How very true!

I have an update too!

The rig search is narrowing down further.

We were still pretty sold on the Wildcat 31TS, we'd been trolling the RV lots looking at ANY unit to see if we could justify a jump in price.  We finally saw some Mobile Suites... sweet rigs for sure!  We also liked a rear kitchen KZ Durango, the first rear kitchen we liked, a Durango LX 355RK, sill too pricey though.  Got a price on a 2011 Heartland Big Country for $38K... great price, but still out of my range.

Lo and Behold, I was cruising the net just to check if the Wildcats were changing in price or anything and I'll be damned if they didn't get rid lot's of options!!!  Now what they did was roll up some options into a new package, but lot's of them went completely away.  Things like hydraulic landing jacks, trailair pin-box and mor-ryde suspension disappeared.  The pin-box and suspension could be added on by the dealer, but of course would cost more than coming from the factory.

So, the Wildcat started to wane in my mind...

The very next day, the sales rep I've been talking to at RV Wholesalers sent me an email wanting me to take a look at the changes Keystone RV has made to their Laredo line.  He knew I was concerned about r-values, and Keystone has done something to the Laredo that is PERFECT.

This is a mid-year change.  Laredo's now have R-28 roofs and R-30 floors!!!  AND a new floor-plan that's nearly identical to the 31TS.

Most everything is included as standard including 50 Amp service, mor-ryde suspension, bigger axles, more CCC.... it's definitely a better rig for our use.

And.... it's actually a tad cheaper than the Wildcat!!!

Now I just need to see one in person.  Nobody around here carries the Laredo line, I'd have to drive to Tucson to see one, but they don't have anything newer or even close to that floorplan right now. Maybe I'll get lucky at Quartzsite next week and one will be there... one can only hope!



-- Edited by DagoRanch on Saturday 9th of January 2010 10:17:39 PM

-- Edited by DagoRanch on Saturday 20th of February 2010 01:58:20 AM

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My wife and I are about to pull the trigger on a 2011 Bighorn 3580RL for fulltiming. We'll be working for 6 more years, so we'll be mostly stationary here in the Palm Springs area(other than 4 months in the mountains to beat the heat), so we can get the truck and coach paid for before we head off.

I just spoke yesterday to Mike Morland, Heartland West Coast Sales Manager, with questions I had on options and systems on the coach. We have a Jayco G2 31RKS presently and will be trading it in on the Bighorn at the same dealer we bought the Jayco from. Getting what we consider a great deal on the trade and the puchase price of the semi-custom Bighorn (built for us with our options).

We have been looking at coaches and studying spec. at dealers and online. It came down to the Bighorn or the Jayco Designer. We feel the Bighorn has everything we can get that will satisfy our needs(layout, ammenities, R factors, size, storage, etc), at a price we can live with. After we retire, we'll be following the sun as much as possible, and feel this coach will handle that very well.

There are many good units by many brands out there, and it really boils down to what you want and like about the specific model of coach.

Happy Trails to all!!

Regards, Hamshog

-- Edited by Hamshog on Friday 12th of February 2010 07:23:06 AM

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The difference in fulltime and camping units is a manufacturer will void the warranty on most "camping" units if they know you are using it for "extended stay". Believe me they can tell if your living in it. There are only a few 5'vers built for fulltime or extended stay now.

Also make sure the insulation the company is using doesn't include foil wrap. This was made for attics and not to be used in an enclosed wall.

-- Edited by suitelifenow on Wednesday 24th of February 2010 09:25:30 AM

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Racerguy wrote:

There are also MANY people who full time in "middle of the road" units without a problem and can also give you very convincing reasons why. Linda and I chose our 5th wheel to full time in because it was what we could afford and met MOST of the criteria of "Rated" full time units.



I just wanted to quote that again, to remind myself about what my initial post was about and to expand on what I've overlooked, and why I overlooked it.

What I've overlooked is what has been mentioned a few times in this very thread and elsewhere and suitelifenow just reminded me of.

And it answers the question of what didn't add up to me.

WARRANTY

Now before anybody gets excited and thinks I've come to my senses and now I'm going to start shopping the full-time rated rigs, I will surely disappoint.

Quite the contrary, you see, I'm the kind of guy who doesn't give ANY value to warranties.  ZERO, ZILCH, NADA.  Never have and I never will.

That's why I had the disconnect between full-time rated rigs and middle of the road rigs.   The difference in materials alone doesn't come close to the large gap in price, the fact that full-time rated rigs are mostly made by smaller companies explains some of it, but it still didn't add up.  The fact that Warranties hold no value for me is the "thing" I was missing.

It comes down to what kind of "risk" one is willing to assume.  It's a judgement call, and individual decision.  There is no right or wrong answer to it.

As far as warranty denial is concerned.  One would be correct, in saying that a company can deny coverage to full-timers.  But do they?  The thousands of happy full-timers out there in Montana's, Cedar Creek's, and other non full-time rigs tells me otherwise.  Besides let's be realistic, even full-time rated rigs have limited warranties.  Limited by scope and limited by time, after that, you're on your own anyway.

Now that I have that out of the way....

I think we've found our number 1 candidate.

The Keystone Laredo 310RE.   We were able to see one locally and were completely turned off.....

Yup, you read that right, we left so underwhelmed, that we went back another time to make sure we really felt that way.  We did the second time as well.

So about now you're thinking I've completely lost my mind.

Our previous front runner, the Forest River Wildcat 31TS had "FLASH", it had just the right atmosphere, it was light, it was bright, the furniture was reasonably comfortable, we fell in love with it, and as Racerguy pointed out to me when he viewed it online, I would compare it to every other rig I'd see and he was correct.

The Keystone Laredo 310RE has a nearly identical floor-plan.

The problem was, it had no "FLASH".  It was darker, duller.. the decor choices were like choosing between presidential candidates, and the furniture was HORRENDOUSLY uncomfortable.

So what does it have to make it my number one choice?  This is really starting to sound bizarre isn't it!

It has these things going for it, that the 31TS doesn't.

1. Better insulation - In fact the best insulation of ANY rig in it's class.
2. Kitchen counter space - One of my peeves about the 31TS was it's lack of kitchen counter space, the Laredo addresses that.
3. Storage space - We thought the 31TS was adequate, the Laredo has it beat by a mile.
4. Cargo Capacity - Nearly 1,000lbs more of it.  Right at the edge of 3,000lbs vs 2,100 for the 31TS.
5. Level Bedroom floor.  The 31TS had a step up halfway in the bedroom, limiting headroom toward the front.
6. I could stand up in the shower in the Laredo without looking out of the skylight.
7. 10" frame vs 8" frame.
8. 6,000lb axles vs 5,400lb axles.
9. 12 gallon water heater vs 8 gallons.
10. Integrated slide out bike rack (powered).
11. 42" Pop out TV at rear console  vs 32"
12. PRICE!!  Just under 30K, not a typo!!!  MSRP $46K

That's why it's now number one on the list.  It's the better built unit of the 2, and it forced us to take the emotion out of it, and choose based on what we're using the unit for.  The pizzaz we can add ourselves, furniture is replaceable, lighting fixtures, fireplaces and ceiling fans we can add.  The important part is that it addresses my pet peeves about the Wildcat, and it does it cheaper to boot!  Leaves me more room for goodies like solar and communication equipment.

I'll probably have it ordered by July, at that time I'm going to take a last look at available used 5ers to make sure there's not something out there I'd be missing out on... you know like a used Mobile Suites for around $30K  (It CAN Happen... Really)





 



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Tony,you have made an informed and very well thought out decision.You made the choice based on what made it feel like home to you.Life is full of trade offs and you made it work for you.I have known people who bought their rig without furniture and added their own style.After all you and your wife are the ones who have to like what you buy.We have done a few things to ours to give it that bright and cheery look and feel with out spending much at all other than our time. I'm with you on the warranty issue. Nice to have but not a deal breaker. Congratulations on finding what you want.

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I originally posted in Nov. and mentioned that I had a disaster with my Coachman bunkhouse because it was not set up as a four seasons unit, just a less expensive vacation trailer, but at the time I did not know the difference. I am posting this so others do not make my mistake but I know that not everyone will heed my warnings. I was staying in NW Kentucky in the winter with extremely poor insulation in my 1 year old trailer. I had heat tape on my waterline outside but my waterline froze inside, my water pump froze under the booth dinette seat, condensation from showering froze on the wall even with the vent cracked, the holding tank froze up and this was while my family was trying to live in it with the furnace in operation. The final straw was the furnace broke down so we headed south. I also had problems with staying cool in the summer. I sold that trailer within the first year. As the years passed I wised up and when I went to make a large purchase I would research before buying.rather than just window shopping. I used Consumer Reports for their unbiased research and reporting. I did not always buy the top rated, highest priced car or appliance but I would buy higher rated units that I could afford or not buy at all rather than than buy lower rated units with poor marks. That is why when I was shopping for an rv I took the advise of RV Consumer Group that have investigated and researched both trailers and motor homes. I wanted a rv that would last longer than average, look better after years of use, have less breakdowns and repairs, be more comfortable, track better, be safer on the highway, have ample carry capacity without being overweight, engineered for balanced weight in trailer and give me more peace of mind. I mentioned before that I didn't feel like I could afford a new trailer so I narrowed my search to 3 or 4 top rated trailers and shopped on line for a used unit that would fit our requirements and desires. It might be a more difficult way to shop but it worked well for us. There are many reasons some units are rated above others.

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KD


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well, I'm a little bit apprehensive to post and ask these questions because we aren't near where many of you are in price range, but ask I will!  We've been looking for months in person and on line, and I'm becoming more confused as I go.  We are planning to fulltime, however our budget will not allow us any more than $15,000.  Our wish list, though perhaps foolish, includes double slides in LR and preferably a rear LR, big windows, workable kitchen (a bit of counter space), space for washer/dryer, and I would truly love a self contained bathroom.

With all the experience on this forum, do we stand a chance of finding what we're looking for do  you think?

Thanks all,
Karen

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Truthfully you are facing an uphill battle to get what you want for what you can spend.Nothing is impossible but it will be tough.Don't be apprehensive to ask questions. This is a friendly forum and any advise you get will be given in the spirit of helping you as much as possible to live your dream.Good luck.

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It definitely can be done, you just have to look around and be patient till an older rig in good condition, in your price range comes on the market. You will probably have to be prepared to travel some distance to inspect it and buy it.

The odds of the right unit coming available in your specific area is probably remote.

Here's to luck,

Fred

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As George and Fred said it is possible but you will have to do some shopping, and the internet is a good place to do it but I would want to see the trailer in person before paying for it. Many rvers do not travel much but maintain their rvs well. Rvs depreciate so like Fred says "you should be able to find an older one in good condition."

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thanks, folks.  another question -- if you're familiar with older RVs, do you have make/models to recommend? I've seen some great advice in other threads and am gathering information.

What a great Forum this is!

Snowing in Ohio.

Karen



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