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Post Info TOPIC: Tripple axle verses shorter length 5th wheel


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Tripple axle verses shorter length 5th wheel


In our search for a 5th wheel there are questions I would like to ask those with experience.  We have been looking at toy hauler 5th wheels because they meet the needs of how we plan to travel.  We were in the market for a Class A diesel until we saw a toy hauler 5th wheel at an RV show this spring.  It was a Grand Design 351M, 39 feet long.  It looked like it would fill our needs much better than a Class A.  That is until we started to look at other 5th wheels that are longer in length with different floor plans.  An example of other 5th wheels we are interested in is the Grand Design 394M (42 ½ feet long) and the Jayco Seismic 4250 (45 feet long).  I realize the extra length is going to limit camping facilities as I have spent some time researching the topic and calling around to areas we are interested in staying at.

Pertaining to the number of axles of the 5th wheel when moving from site to site.  I realize the triple axle is needed to safely tow the weight of the longer 5th wheels.  What are the pros and cons of pulling a longer 5th wheel with triple axles as compared to a shorter 5th wheel with two axles?  Is tire wear/damage more prevalent with the triple axle, increased maintenance issues?

Do previous 5th wheel owners tend to move up or down in length when purchasing their 2nd 5th wheel.  I haven’t found many 5th wheel toy haulers under 39 feet and am struggling somewhat to get a feel of the cons of moving from the 39 foot length to the 42 or 45 foot length to get into the different floor plans.

 

Thanks for your input!

 

Jon

 



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A couple of things to keep in mind:

CONS-
Longer 5th wheel will require a tow vehicle with the capacity to safely tow it. You may need to go with a 3500/350, 4500/450 or HDT.
More tires to replace
Maneuverability in town or RV Resorts/campgrounds

PROs-
More room should mean more comfort


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I will buy a new 1 ton diesel 4x4 DRW that will safely tow the 5th wheels we have looked at. Is there any reason to stay to the shorter length 5th wheel just for the sake of avoiding the triple axle? We like the idea that the longer trailers have a more roomy living area with the garage as an additional living area for visitors after the motorcycle is outside.

Thanks for the reply!

Jon

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Cyride wrote:

Pertaining to the number of axles of the 5th wheel when moving from site to site.  I realize the triple axle is needed to safely tow the weight of the longer 5th wheels.  What are the pros and cons of pulling a longer 5th wheel with triple axles as compared to a shorter 5th wheel with two axles?  Is tire wear/damage more prevalent with the triple axle, increased maintenance issues?

Do previous 5th wheel owners tend to move up or down in length when purchasing their 2nd 5th wheel.  I haven’t found many 5th wheel toy haulers under 39 feet and am struggling somewhat to get a feel of the cons of moving from the 39 foot length to the 42 or 45 foot length to get into the different floor plans.

 


 Jon, having experience and lots of miles with both 2 and 3 axle trailers let me address that question, FWIW.

The 3 axle trailer is a bit, not much, more stable and has better braking with 2 more brakes. That's come in handy during some failure "events" where I've had to run on 5 brakes with no concern.  While there will a little more tire scuffing / side wear due to the turning issue in reality my 3 axle tires have 56,000+ miles on them and they are far from worn out; very similar to the 2 axle rig. They are G114 Commercial grade tires - highly recommend as opposed to lighter duty "G" tires sometimes provided.  Had these "H" rated tires on the 2 axle trailer as well so the report is apples-for-apples.  Both trailers had MORryde independent suspension on them so all reporting conditions are the same.  The MORryde IS makes a big difference in all regards to any spring based suspension including ride, safety and tire wear, IMO.

Obliviously the cost to replace tires and brakes and potentially bearings is more with 3 axles.  Depends on the miles per year.  If those costs are a limiting factor then one must rethink the whole project, IMO. 

We've owned many trailers in the last 40+ odd years of doing this RV thing.  We've actually tended to get a bit larger over time and then stayed the same on the last two rigs albeit the current one weighting a lot more due to stuff.  But our needs changed.

The one strong recommendation is to choose the trailer, then the truck.  Do not go purchase a pickup of any brand or badge (350/3500HD whatever) until you know for sure about the size and weight of the trailer.  Many people under size their trucks making this mistake and toy haulers are ripe for needing more truck.  It's not how much the truck is rated to tow.  It's can the truck control and stop the trailer both of which have nothing to do with the tow rating.

Good hunting.

Bill



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Thank you Bill, that is what I am looking for. We originally looked at 1 ton SRW trucks but it did not take much convincing to get me into the DRW trucks. We have time on our side as we will not purchase anything immediately. Our plan is to try to have the new truck and RV for next year. I will know what size 5th we are purchasing before committing on the truck. If I remember correctly the Jayco came with the H rated tires. Two options I was thinking about adding to the trailer, should it not come with it, is disc brakes and independent suspension. Do you think these changes to the trailer would void any trailer mfgr warranties?

Jon

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With regards to Bill's comment about size of trucks, this next that I say needs to be considered knowing that the trailers weighed were DRV Suites models, most all of which are/were heavy trailers.

There was a couple that went around to rallies and other events and weighed RV's wheel by wheel, in other words, getting the weights on each and every wheel, including the weights on the trucks towing those RV's.  His last year of weighing was 2010, so that needs to be considered as well.  He posted a "summary" in a pdf file showing the weights of the various models and sizes of trailers.  Then he had this to say about the weights on the trucks:

"100% of single rear wheel (SRW) trucks were overweight on GVWR, based on the sticker on the door.

60% of dual rear wheel (DRW) trucks were overweight on GVWR, based on the sticker on the door."

It was eye-opening to see that he stated that 60% of duallys were overweight.  It made me glad that we had a 2008 F450, which was better suited for the weight of our fifth wheel.

He also stated this:

"28% were over the tow vehicle's RAWR, based on the sticker on the door.

24% were over on the tow vehicles tire capacity rating.

30% had underinflated tires for the load they were under."

Terry



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Makes me glad I have the HDT. We have owned 2 heavy 5thers. A 2006 DRV Mobile Suites and our present 2003 Grand Freedom Teton. DRV was 2 8k axles. Teton is 3 7K axles. The 3 axles are more stable but both units were stable. Both units had high pin weight. 4800 on DRV and just shy of 6k on Teton. This makes a very stable tow. Light weight on pin is main problem with towing stability. But this also is a problem with LDT. Easy to go over the axle rating. A 2 axle toyhauler isn't going to have much living room space. 4' really eats away living space. Really take note of Terry's post. Just because it is a dually with 30k rating doesn't mean you can't overload axle. 3500 dually have 9750 rating. Full tank of fuel, tools, hitch and 5ther pin can go over this. Also not trying to sway you but I only have 32k in my truck with all the mods I have done also. Just another option to consider.

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Thanks Terry, very good information, I will definitely keep that in mind. I answered my question if the brake and suspension upgrades would void warranties. I Called Jayco with the question, they said any changes to the brakes or suspension could affect the warrant (changing the suspension would be a definite problem).

Something I have learned about toy haulers, and probably most trailers in general, is how the weight is distributed in the trailer can make quite a difference. Every manufacturer I have talked with said by adding our motorcycle to the garage of the trailer will remove pin weight from the truck. My Goldwing is 950 pounds so I would expect it to have a helping effect on the pin weight (reducing pin weight). My dad was a truck driver, we have had conversations on proper loading and balancing of loads. I also take into consideration there may be times when we do not take the bike. That being said I plan to be very careful with the purchase of the truck.

I can't believe while visiting dealerships we have seen numbers of huge toy hauler 5th wheels on SRW trucks. The last one I saw was a young family of 4 pulling their new 5th wheel toy hauler (probably a minimum of 42 feet long) away from the dealer. Who knows, maybe they were safe?

Jon

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Glenn, what would be considered "too light" on the pin? Is it within a certain percentage of the over-all trailer weight? Just wondered if loading the rear of a toy hauler with the motorcycle and a golf cart could get into that area?

Thanks,

Jon

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20% pin is considered good. I have 25% and tows great. No sway at all. I would be weary of anything less than 20%. With too light a pin you get a " tail wag" situation.

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Had the "tail wag" happen on a boat and trailer that I replaced the existing outboard with a new larger, heavier outboard. Had to move the axle back a little, made all the difference!

Thanks,

Jon

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Jon our TH is 42'. We haul a Yamaha Rhino approx 1200#. With it in the TH we ride level across all 3 AC's at 13'5". With it out we're 13'3" on the front AC and 13'7" on the rear, so we always travel with unless we know every overpass we may travel under.

We had a 2 axle 5th wheel that we put IS suspension on and it rode very smooth. With the 3 axle TH the ride is similar to the IS suspension with correct track. Enough so that I can't spend the dollars to upgrade to IS.

Hope that helps.

Red

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Bill is right on with his comments on control and stopping as well as picking the trailer first. The towing capacity of the truck is almost irrelevant with a 5ver...the rear axle limit will pretty much always be the first one you reach and that gives you the max pin weight...and there isn’t much you can do to change that. Don’t forget to figure out what the solo truck axle loads will be when configured for towing with fuel, people, tools, hauler bed, and any other cargo in the truck...the numbers in the book are usually with one person, no cargo, and minimal fuel. 



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Cyride wrote:

Thank you Bill, that is what I am looking for. We originally looked at 1 ton SRW trucks but it did not take much convincing to get me into the DRW trucks. We have time on our side as we will not purchase anything immediately. Our plan is to try to have the new truck and RV for next year. I will know what size 5th we are purchasing before committing on the truck. If I remember correctly the Jayco came with the H rated tires. Two options I was thinking about adding to the trailer, should it not come with it, is disc brakes and independent suspension. Do you think these changes to the trailer would void any trailer mfgr warranties?

Jon


 

No, putting on a MORryde IS or upgrading the tires or brakes will not void a warranty unless those upgrades are used to overload the OEM's original GVWR rating AND you break a frame.  Not likely to happen but I do comment  and people have done just that.  This upgrade is done all the time.  In fact, MORryde puts IS suspensions on production DRV's all the time, for example, taking off the spring suspensions.  Putting on disc brakes, "H" tires and the "IS" is, IMO, the most important safety upgrades one can do for a rig. The difference between disc and drum brakes is amazingly good.

In addition I make this comment which Terry reminded me of:  Be careful about the "badge" on the side of the truck.  By badge I mean F-350 / F450 / 3500HD, etc. - especially as pertains to rear axle capacities.  It depends on the year and the brand.  There are 3500HD trucks which have more rear axle capacity then the pickup version of the F-450 - depending on model year.  The F-350 actually has more rear axle capacity then the F-450 pickup in some years but not as much towing capacity.  It depends.  Both are very fine trucks but one has to read the specific specifications for each specific truck in a particular model year.  Terry’s combination is an excellent choice for the trailer and truck in the model year he operates.  Plenty of headroom.  But specs change and the buyer really needs to look at each truck individually.  Not just by badge.



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Glenn West wrote:

20% pin is considered good. I have 25% and tows great. No sway at all. I would be weary of anything less than 20%. With too light a pin you get a " tail wag" situation.


 FWIW I fully agree with Glenn.  There are some new trailers being built by a well-known higher-end manufacture that has moved the axles forward to reduce the pin load and make it "possible" to use "1-Ton" pickups (3500HD / F-350 / F-450) to tow them without overloading the rear axle.  Trouble is, these trailers with low pin weight percentages 15% - ~18%,  "wag."  In fact there is an after-market shortened pin box made to increase the pin weight so the trailer tows better (correctly?).  Naturally one needs a true MDT / HDT to handle the increased load on the rear axle - but that was required in the first place IMO.

As another aside, wag and stability is another safety reason why dual rear wheels are really the best option even if a SRW will handle the weight load.

 

There just is no free lunch with this equipment.

 



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The trucks I am looking at are 2017 and newer since we will purchase new. Looks like I will soon be able to see what 2019 has to offer! I originally chose the 2017 and newer year models since the Ford line up started the aluminum body in '17 for the SD. However, in looking at the trucks, I like the Ram quite a bit more than I would have expected (since I have always owned Ford or GM products) and it appears I can get more truck for the money going with Dodge. I qualify for the "X" plan through Ford with the company I work for, the Ram salesman said I also qualify for their corporate plan. GM wants me to provide a "corporate code" before they will give me a corporate discount quote.

The only way I can respond about the "voiding warranty" concern is that I called Jayco warranty directly and specifically asked the question of upgrading the brakes and suspension. What I was told is the 5th wheel we were looking at does have disc brakes as an option however, he said if the trailer we purchased had drum brakes and we changed them to disc brakes that would cause a problem with the warranty as the trailer was not as it was assembled in the factory. I asked Jayco if the dealer selling the trailer made the brake change or if I took it to the Jayco factory and had the brakes changed if that would void warranty. He said for the purpose of the warranty any changes made to the brakes after the trailer was originally assembled at the factory would cause warranty problems (now that made no sense to me).

As for any changes in the suspension, Jayco said the change would defiantly void the warranty.

Jayco already has the higher grade of tires on this line of 5th wheel.

It would be hard for me to make the changes knowing right out of the box I could have warranty problems with Jayco. I plan to talk with the other manufactures about the same changes and warranty concerns.

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Cyride wrote:

The trucks I am looking at are 2017 and newer since we will purchase new. Looks like I will soon be able to see what 2019 has to offer! I originally chose the 2017 and newer year models since the Ford line up started the aluminum body in '17 for the SD. However, in looking at the trucks, I like the Ram quite a bit more than I would have expected (since I have always owned Ford or GM products) and it appears I can get more truck for the money going with Dodge. I qualify for the "X" plan through Ford with the company I work for, the Ram salesman said I also qualify for their corporate plan. GM wants me to provide a "corporate code" before they will give me a corporate discount quote.

The only way I can respond about the "voiding warranty" concern is that I called Jayco warranty directly and specifically asked the question of upgrading the brakes and suspension. What I was told is the 5th wheel we were looking at does have disc brakes as an option however, he said if the trailer we purchased had drum brakes and we changed them to disc brakes that would cause a problem with the warranty as the trailer was not as it was assembled in the factory. I asked Jayco if the dealer selling the trailer made the brake change or if I took it to the Jayco factory and had the brakes changed if that would void warranty. He said for the purpose of the warranty any changes made to the brakes after the trailer was originally assembled at the factory would cause warranty problems (now that made no sense to me).

As for any changes in the suspension, Jayco said the change would defiantly void the warranty.

Jayco already has the higher grade of tires on this line of 5th wheel.

It would be hard for me to make the changes knowing right out of the box I could have warranty problems with Jayco. I plan to talk with the other manufactures about the same changes and warranty concerns.


 Jon:  Everyone gets an opinion so here is mine:  If upgrading the suspension, tires and brakes voids a warranty then look elsewhere.  Yes, these upgrades are that important assuming you plan to travel in the RV, IMO.  If just "residing," that is just living in the RV but not moving, then obviously the upgrades don't matter. But I don't believe that is your plan.

Having said that, I never considered the Jayco product when doing my research concerning purchasing 5th wheel trailers.  No other OEM I did consider had one problem with those upgrades.  Disappointing to hear that from Jayco which is, in reality Thor now, I suppose.

PM me if you wish to discuss this further.

Good hunting. 



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Cyride wrote:

Thanks Terry, very good information, I will definitely keep that in mind. I answered my question if the brake and suspension upgrades would void warranties. I Called Jayco with the question, they said any changes to the brakes or suspension could affect the warrant (changing the suspension would be a definite problem).

Something I have learned about toy haulers, and probably most trailers in general, is how the weight is distributed in the trailer can make quite a difference. Every manufacturer I have talked with said by adding our motorcycle to the garage of the trailer will remove pin weight from the truck. My Goldwing is 950 pounds so I would expect it to have a helping effect on the pin weight (reducing pin weight). My dad was a truck driver, we have had conversations on proper loading and balancing of loads. I also take into consideration there may be times when we do not take the bike. That being said I plan to be very careful with the purchase of the truck.

I can't believe while visiting dealerships we have seen numbers of huge toy hauler 5th wheels on SRW trucks. The last one I saw was a young family of 4 pulling their new 5th wheel toy hauler (probably a minimum of 42 feet long) away from the dealer. Who knows, maybe they were safe?

Jon


 Jon,

With regards to that above, the couple with the kids may very well have bought the toy hauler so they could make bedroom(s) in the back for the kids and not for "hauling toys."  In which case, they would need to move some of the "cargo" towards the rear to equalize the weight, unless they were putting beds back there to equalize.  However, they still might have issues with the SRW.

One other point (that may have already been mentioned) is that the trailer needs to be pretty level when towing to prevent too much weight being on one of the trailer axles.  If the trailer was riding nose-high, there would be more weight on the rear axle(s), especially with toys in the trailer.

Terry



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Jon,

One option you did not mention is a motorcycle lift on the back of the fifth-wheel. Most fifth-wheels do not have frames that can adequately support the weight, but some can. We have a few friends with fifth-wheels (37’ and 40’ triple-axle fifth-wheels) that carry a motorcycle on a lift, at least one of them carries a Goldwing. Advantages of this set-up can include rear picture windows, shorter RV as well as more dedicated living space. However, you will likely need at least a Ram 5500, or equivalent, tow vehicle with that set-up (i.e., heavier RV combined with the Goldwing).

Regardless of the RV you select, make sure you understand the cargo carrying capacity, after all options, since your 950 lb Goldwing will be part of your cargo.

Pertaining to your original question about triple-axle RVs, we tow a triple-axle fifth-wheel with 8k MorRyde axles (installed by the manufacturer). We have no problem towing the RV and would not hesitate purchasing another triple axle RV.

Lynn



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Thanks for all your help! I talked to Grand Design, they indicated that making changes to the suspension and brakes of their trailers would not void any warranties. I checked on line to see which RV manufactures were owned by Thor corperation since it was pointed out that Thor had purchased Jayco, what an eye opener. Not that it is a problem for me, just interesting to find out who owns who these days!

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If you need/want to buy the truck first you could just use the numbers from the 5'ers you are considering. For example, if the heaviest coach you are looking at has a GVWR of 20,000 pounds, then you can use 5,000 pounds for the pin weight. Add a couple hundred pounds for the hitch assembly and whatever more you want to add for the rest of the stuff that manages to ride in the bed of the truck and you will have a pretty good guess about the weight on the rear axle. No, it won't be as precise as if you had gotten the truck ready for travel, loaded it with all of the people and stuff, then attached the loaded 5'er and gone over the scales, but it will be close enough for you to decide whether a particular truck is suitable or not.

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The ones we looked at mostly for 6 to 8 months had 16.5k as gross, while we considered a couple around 19k. We had no idea during that time we would end up with one with a gross of 24k. I am glad I waited.

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