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Old 11-23-2017, 05:01 AM   #1
EricHarmon
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Pre-purchase question from newbie

Good morning, all, and Happy Thanksgiving!

My wife and I are in the research stages of purchasing our first 5th wheel. This will be used for full-time living. We haven't decided yet whether I'm going to work a little bit from the road (I'm a software developer) or if we're just going to retire for good.

After researching and looking at numerous options, we've decided on Montana but have yet to select a definitive floor plan. Different floor plans have different appeal to me (The 3950BR has the bonus room that I could use for an office if I decide to continue working a few hours a week, for example).

One question that keeps nagging at me is the question of length, for two reasons, and I'm hoping that someone might be able to offer some suggestions here.

1) I see that some campsites around the US have a 40' limit on trailer length. While I don't envision us hardly ever boondocking, we will be traveling the entire country including Alaska, and I don't want to make it needlessly difficult to find an RV park. If we get a model that is, say, 40' 9", do you envision that making our lives a lot more complicated than if we get a model that is 39' 6"?

2) Other than towing a car behind a UHaul truck a couple times when moving, and towing a flatbed trailer behind a Chevy Suburban on rare occasions, I currently have no towing experience. Of course I will practice practice practice in an empty parking lot before heading out on the road for any serious travel. I'm wondering, though, if a 40' model is going to be noticeably more difficult to tow than, say, a 35' or 36' model? I don't see us settling on anything shorter than about 36', so I'm wondering whether for all intent and purpose I can consider a 36' RV to be the same as a 39' or 40' RV in terms of towing experience, difficulty, and so on.

Thank you so much in advance for any advice that you can offer, and I hope you all have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving :-)
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Old 11-23-2017, 05:40 AM   #2
Phil P
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Hi

As far as the length ours is 39 feet and I have had problems getting in some parking places and wife and I have decided not to go longer.

I have had a class A CDL sense they were required.

I would recommend you stop by one of the CDL driving schools and at least talk to an instructor before towing a fifth wheel trailer. The off track of a large trailer is of concern and you need to be aware of it and use your mirrors a lot. Also the axles are a good bit further forward on the RV fifth wheel trailer and you need to be very aware of the arc the rear bumper makes when you turn.

I have had 2 events where someone collided with our trailer the first was a new fifth wheel driver in the parking lot of the dealer I purchased from. We were parked and it was the off track that cased the problem and resulted in extensive damage to the other trailer. The second one was a CDL driver backing into the side of our trailer and had nothing to do with towing at all.

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Old 11-23-2017, 05:45 AM   #3
EricHarmon
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Thank you, Phil. I am definitely going to take a course. I'm aware of the tracking differential between the tow vehicle and the fifth wheel in concept, but of course not having towed yet, I haven't experienced it firsthand on such a large vehicle.

I wish I could find a 35' RV that had a floorplan that included everything we want. So far, that just hasn't been the case. I hate the thought of purchasing a 35' RV knowing that a year later I'd be trading it for something a few feet longer. I'm still hunting for that RV that is 25' long when towing and 45' long when parked!
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Old 11-23-2017, 05:51 AM   #4
Phil P
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Hi

The advertised length is commonly short some times as much as 3 ft. ours is advertised as 36 ft and with tape measure it is 39.

We find ours to be very acceptable and will be full time if I can ever get my airport sold. LOL

Phil P

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Old 11-23-2017, 05:53 AM   #5
EricHarmon
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That's a little scary! So if you're registering for an RV park and they ask the length of your vehicle in feet, do you tell them 36 or 39? I guess I'll be taking a tape measure with me to dealers...
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Old 11-23-2017, 06:56 AM   #6
WeBeFulltime
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During my 20 years trucking when I needed an empty trailer from the drop yard I would ALWAYS choose a 53' over a 48' if both were available because to me the 53' actually pulled better and wasn't any harder to back. Of course with a longer trailer you have to be more careful of "tail swing".
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Old 11-23-2017, 07:20 AM   #7
EricHarmon
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Thank you Sir :-) I was kinda thinking that the concepts would be about the same with a 36 vs 40, but just more exaggerated on the 40 (tracking differential and so forth). But with no experience, I didn't want to assume that just because something seemed logical that it would necessarily be true.

I wouldn't go out of my way to search for something longer, like a 42 or something like that. I'm just trying to figure out if there is any compelling reason to try hard to stay under 40'. So far it doesn't seem like I should make that somewhat arbitrary length a limiting factor for me.

Very interesting that the 53 pulled better than the 48.

-Eric
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Old 11-23-2017, 08:15 AM   #8
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Never had had an issue towing 40 footers or finding a site. For state parks, we always check availability. The problem more often is not the site itself but rather maneuvering around inside the campground.
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Old 11-23-2017, 08:25 AM   #9
rmthelen
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I suggest that you go with the floorplan that you really like and not worry so much about the length, especially if you are planning to fulltime. You will adapt to the length and become more comfortable as you progress. There may be sites that won't accommodate your length but you will manage to find one that will.
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Old 11-23-2017, 09:02 AM   #10
waynemoore
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I agree with rmthelen. I am on my third rig and wished I had bought the 39 footer in the first place. One more thing, do yourself a favor and decide on the rig FIRST then buy the truck to fit the weight of that rig.
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Old 11-23-2017, 09:56 AM   #11
mhs4771
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Our first 5er was a 35' Montana 2955, once we started Snow Birding we realized it was too small. Moved up to a 40' SOB that was great, but still not the perfect floor plan for us. We now have our perfect unit at 43'. Never noticed that much difference in towing between the units. Now we stay at a few State Parks and Corp of Engineer parks that list max length as 40', so when making reservation we list ourselves as 40', after all our model number is 39MB, but using Google Maps or such you can zoom in on the Sat view and see if there is anything that would prevent you from backing a little further into the site.
We've been from Florida to Alaska and back, from Florida to the Canadian Maritime, including New Found Land and always found a spot where we would fit.
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Old 11-23-2017, 10:27 AM   #12
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We also have never had a problem with our 40' or longer rig in over 70K of traveling. Remember, your going to full time, so storage and a layout you really like is what's important.
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Old 11-23-2017, 11:16 AM   #13
richfaa
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Two montana's both in the 40 foot length range never a problem with a campsite just tell them how long and how many slides.I would suggest like others a driving course if you have never towed a long RV before.Since you are full timing, we are long timers, I would suggest the longest RV you can afford.You are going to live in it you will need the room.
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Old 11-23-2017, 11:18 AM   #14
carl n susan
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We went from a 35' MH to a 32' Montana. Then we moved to our current 40'+ Montana. Length has never been an issue when driving. Backing it is a little different but you quickly adapt. We camp in OR and WA state parks all the time. They all have big sites. Of course most private campgrounds accommodate large rigs. Imagine a 45' DP pulling a pickup and you are well over 65'. You will see them everywhere in private parks.

As others have said, get the floor plan which meets your needs and don't worry so much about the length.
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Old 11-23-2017, 12:07 PM   #15
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I have to agree with Webefulltime. Longer the trailer the easier it is to tow. The difference in a few feet won't make any difference in most campgrounds (with an occasional exception) but as you are already seeing a couple of extra feet can make a BIG difference in how the floor plan feels!


I haven't heard anything about a requirement for a CDL to tow a 5th wheel? Maybe if you have a motorhome with air brakes?
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Old 11-23-2017, 04:27 PM   #16
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In Colorado state campgrounds are up to date and almost all are good for 40ft or so- federal lands campgrounds not up to date up here. Most feds I would not even try, these are in the wooded areas, camping by lakes are usually good as state parks. I am 38ft.
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Old 11-23-2017, 07:29 PM   #17
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I agree with Richfaa, buy the longest trailer you can with the floodplain you want. We have a 3791rd which is about 41' and would have bought a 45 footer if I could have found one with a floor plan we liked. I have pulled many different types and lengths of trailers and this is my opinion, if you can handle a 36 footer then you can handle a 40 plus footer. And you should also remember this, when you are living in your trailer and you ended up buying a shorter one you will probably eventually say, this thing is too small. But if you buy a larger trailer you will NEVER say, Wow this thing has way too much room in it!
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Old 11-23-2017, 11:11 PM   #18
rohrmann
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When we purchased our rig, which has an advertised length of 39' 1", we had a choice of the 3400Rl, at 37' 6", and, the one we bought, a 3402RL, which is only 1 1/2 ft longer, and just that little extra length made a huge difference in the bath area, large shower/tub and the extra vanity sink. I'm not sure about the rest of the trailer, but it was the deciding factor in our purchase. When we call ahead for a space, we just usually just tell them 40 feet. If you get into an older park, where the difference of 5 feet in length, say 35 feet vs 40 feet, you will not really want to stay in the one that can't handle the 40 footer, because you probably won't be able to get in any easier, and may not be able to easily get your slides out or the awning either. We've been in a couple parks where we were placed into a pull through, but due to the tightness of the park, had to go around and back into the space because we couldn't make the turn, and the extra 5 feet would not have made a difference. Go with the longer one if the floor plan works for you, and you will figure it out as you travel. We've even gone back to the office and had them move us to a different space due to problems getting into it.
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Old 11-24-2017, 07:13 AM   #19
mtlakejim
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Rohrmann hit the nail on the head. Most new parks are setup to handle longer rigs with multiple slides. Older parks may or may not be.


Nearly everyone on here has probably stayed at one of the nightmare parks at least once where you are literally boxed in like sardines.


Best advice is to get a Woodall's reference book, look at online reviews and talk to REAL fellow campers here and elsewhere. Folks are constantly telling me to go online to get information and that is a good idea but nothing like talking to REAL people, even if it is on this site! Part of the adventure is checking out campgrounds you haven't been too yet and SOCIALIZING with your fellow campers.....
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Old 11-24-2017, 11:15 AM   #20
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Find the layout you like, a few feet either way will make little difference in what parks you can get into. Check with your home state on license requirements. Many or most states do not require a CDL for a RV even if the total weight goes over 26,000 lbs. Your home state determines license requirements not the state you are driving in. Enjoy the forum.
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