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Old 07-16-2006, 11:04 AM   #1
David and Jo-Anna
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3400's GVWR low? options=liability risk?

I'm a newby to MOC, and this is my first post. My DW and I are looking to buy our first 5er next spring so we can get it (and us) broken in before starting to full time if I'm able to retire at the end of 2007--our hope/goal. We are looking seriously at Montys in large part because of the positive comments about them that I've been reading on this forum. The DW particularly likes the 3400 because of its kitchen layout. I like it as well but am troubled by its GVRW--I'm worried that the GVWR may be too low for the options I would like to get. I've tried to read all the threads I could find on this site about weight issues. They were extremely helpful, but I still have a few concerns I'd like to address. Here goes.

The 2007 (online) brochure, and the on-line spec sheet, state that the 3400's shipping weight is 11,650# and carrying capacity is 2325# for a GVWR of 13,925#. Rickfox reported that his delivered 2006 3400 weighed 11,860# without the Hi-Gloss gel-coat, dual pane windows, or 2d AC--and I assume without the generator since he didn't mention it. He did have the quad slide awnings (200#?), 1 battery, full propane tanks, fireplace, coffee table and only a small amt (10#) of water. Assuming I went with a similar package on a new 2007, that would leave only 2115# for personal gear, options, water, etc. Richfaa and others have suggested that one should expect personal gear for full-timing to be at least 1500#. While I might be able to start off with less, it seems logical to me to keep that as a target in light of the risk/probability that the weight of personal gear will grow over time. With that target, that leaves me only 615# below GVWR. If I were to fill up the fresh water tank and HW heater, that would be about 600# (72 gal. x 8.345#), meaning there is NO room for any of the big options like the hi-gloss gel coat, dual pane windows, washer/dryer, 2d AC, or generator (unless I put it in the truck). While I wouldn't normally expect to fill the FW tank unless boon docking, I would anticipate boon docking at least a few times while full timing--and certainly wouldn't want to preclude myself from doing so by having used up all my available GVWR with options. And even if I only fill the FW tank 1/3 the way, I could still be carrying 375-400# of liquids if you count in the 10 gal. in the hot water heater and at times upwards of 15-20 gal. in the black water tank (assuming I hadn't dumped the black water because the tank was only half-full or less). So if I'm reading the numbers right, I don't see how I can order any of these options without running the risk of being over the 3400's GVWR. So two questions:

1. Am I missing something here? Can someone show me where my numbers are all screwed up?

2. If my numbers are not all screwed up, can anyone tell me whether the GVWR number from Keystone is a real number such that, if I exceed it, it will damage the 3400 or expose myself to liability in the event of an accident.

Regarding my second question, I would normally take a manufacturer's rating seriously. But Keystone seems to be rather sloppy about weight info--e.g., until recently saying that hi-gloss added 600# rather than 200#, and having GVWR numbers in the earlier brochures that differed from the spec sheets. Plus the GVWR is still working out to be pin weight plus 12,000# even though Keystone has apparently upgraded from 6,000# axles to 7,000# axles. And I believe a number of posters on this forum have indicated that their pin weight exceeded 1975# without any reports of structural damage. Has anyone ever heard anything from a knowledgeable person at Montana that indicated that the pin weight, and the GVWR, have been carefully analyzed and in fact represent the limits (plus a safety factor) on how much load the structure of the 3400 can take?

I would really appreciate any insight or information anyone can provide to help me in trying to decide whether the 3400 is a viable option for us to consider.

David
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Old 07-16-2006, 11:31 AM   #2
CountryGuy
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David,

What a bunch of really intelligent questions. I will let the fellows and gals that have real knowledge of numbers address most of your post.

Will however, add this to the mix: Manufacturers for as long as Al and I have been involved in this sport have underestimated the size, height, weight, pin weight, length, all those numbers. It is a industry wide "thing".

Another thing you will find after some full timing under your belt, weekend camping and full timing are not quite the same thing, many similarities, but many differences. One difference I see a lot of, (my take on what I read) is a reluctance to do a lot of boondocking. Course, maybe that is just cause we are all getting older, and softer is perceaved as BETTER!

OHHHH, WELCOME TO THE FORUM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Carol
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Old 07-16-2006, 12:33 PM   #3
Wrenchtraveller
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I had the same concerns with my 06 2955RL and I have the double pane windows but no gel coat.
The windows I figure add about 300 pounds to the coach. I do have the Splendide washer/dryer and that is 160 pounds. Anyway we went over a government scale on the way home afer 42 days on the road and we had many things we did not need. Several flats of water in the basement and lot's of canned goods as well. My freshwater tank was full and I ended up with the trailer's weight at 12300 which is only 200 pounds over my GVWR. All I had to do was dump half my fresh water to be legal. Now the real good news was I was under my trucks GVWR and that is more of a challenge than overloading the coach. My 05 F350 SRW has an 11200 GVWR and you must have 18" or 20" wheels and tires to get that rating and I was right at 11080 so I only had 120 pounds of payload left.
Again, I travel heavy with an auxilary tank in the box, tools, two big dogs, etc.
Anyway, if you are going to get anywhere near the GVWR of a new 3400, you are going to need a dually to take that pin weight because everthing you add in a fifth wheel ahead of the axle will add some weight to your pin. My 2655RL puts 2600 pounds on the pin which is 21%
of the weight of the Montana.
I just learned from Cat320 that a fiver should put between 15 and 25% of it's weight on the pin. That means that a loaded up 3400 could put up to 3480 pounds on the pin. Far too much weight for any SRW.
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Old 07-16-2006, 01:52 PM   #4
Cat320
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Lots of questions. You'll get lots of answers here, however, I would suggest you call Keystone. I have called them on several occasions, they are very responsive, knowledgeable and helpful.

Here's the published #: 574-535-2100
Here's the unpublished #: 886-273-1451.

You do not mention a tow vehicle...I would recommend you heed Don's advice in the previous post.
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Old 07-16-2006, 03:10 PM   #5
David and Jo-Anna
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Carol--thanks for your warm welcome to the forum. I look forward with excitement to sharing in all the great experiences that members are so willing to share with others. As for boondocking, I don't expect to do it alot, but I want to be able to do so if and when something I want to see or participate in requires boondocking.

Don--Thanks for sharing your experience with loading your Monty. Were there any significant options you had (like the 2d AC or a generator) other than the dual pane windows and the Splendide washer/dryer. I'm very interested to note that your pin weight of 2600# is well over the brochure's pin weight of 1820# for the 2955. I assume you have not suffered any significant structural problems as a result--which reinforces my view that the weight limits in the Montana brochure are not necessarily based on the structural limits of the Montys.

As for the tow vehicle, I don't have one yet--I'm following the general advice I've seen which says to pick the RV first and then the tow vehicle that matches it. However, I've become convinced that I would go with a one-ton pickup to be on the safe side. I figured to address the SRW vs. dually issue after settling on the RV--depending on how high the weight is on the 3400's axles, I might have to keep it's pin weight below yours to stay within GVWR if that's a real number that I have to live with. In fact, I plan to buy a used pickup to keep from busting the budget and have been focused on the 2005 F350 because they seem to be more widely available in my neck of the woods and the '05 seems to have bumped up its towing capacity substantially over the earlier Fords. Have you been satisfied with your F350? And how have you felt about the V10 as compared to diesel?

Cat320--Thanks for the Montana phone numbers. Do you have any individual that I should ask for by name? After reading about all the calling Richfaa had to do to track down someone knowledgeable about the added weight of hi-gloss and dual pane windows, I figure it might help to know who to ask for rather than face just anyone at Montana customer service.
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Old 07-16-2006, 03:26 PM   #6
OntMont
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It is entirely your business of course, but I would suggest that you research dual pane windows very carefully before you decide on that option. There are some downsides to them, particularly in the area which windows will open. It is different with dual pane glass. At least look into it so that you don't get caught with an unexpected surprise.

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Old 07-16-2006, 03:42 PM   #7
Cat320
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I have talked to Mark Krol and Tony Chudzicki.

Re the gel coat...the older brochures (2006, I think) were wrong. The correct information is that the gel coat adds only 200 lbs...nearly $11/lb!

If you do not have a 2007 price sheet, ask your dealer for one.

Re the TV...you are on the right track...350/3500 is the way to go. I have a 2007 Silverado 3500 drw cc D/A on order to pull my 2007 3400RL...which is also on order. I did extensive research on TVs, PM me if you want the details.

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Old 07-16-2006, 04:21 PM   #8
David and Jo-Anna
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Cat320--on the hi-gloss gel coat issue, the fact that Montana was misstating added weight until Richfaa brought the issue to their attention creates doubts for me as to how accurately they analyze the GVRW issue.

As for dual pane window problems, I just tried a search on all forums, going back one year and including archived posts, for any reference in subject or message to the phrase "dual pane" and got no hits. Any suggestions on how better to search for the problems you are mentioning? And are these problems that are likely to be present in 2007 3400s?

David
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Old 07-16-2006, 05:00 PM   #9
Wrenchtraveller
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The only reason I wanted dual pane windows is I take my RVs to northern Alberta in the Spring and 8 weeks ago we spent a week at below freezing temperatures and I could sit next to a window in a T-shirt with no draft. I am wired for the second A/C but I don't know if I will ever need it.
The tools I had in my basement were heavier than a second A/C.
I have driven Ford trucks for the last 32 years and I have bought brand new a 75,80,81,88,95,00,04,and now my 05 F350. I guess you could say I am brand loyal to the point of being stupid because some of my Fords were less than kind to me.Anyway my 95 and 2000 Fords had the 7.3 PSD and they were terrific. I would own another one in a heartbeat.
In 03.5 Ford came out with the 6.0 PSD and there has been many documented articles about the warranty costs to Ford with this engine. I purchased an 04 Ford with this engine and had nothing but trouble with it. Harder on fuel than my two previuos diesels and it stranded me three times.
My dealer took it back and allowed me to order an 05 V10 which I did and so far Donna and I both love it. We just towed our Montana 3000 miles with no problems and I was happy with my fuel use.
You will hear from many people who love thier 6.0 PSDS, myself, I will never own another.

In January of 07 Ford will introduce a new 08 model with a new 6.4 PSD. This engine might be worth waiting for. It has dual fixed vane turbos. The problematic variable pitched turbo the 6.0 has is gone, thank heavans.
I think both the Duramax and Cummins are excellent diesels and they would be my choice over a 6.0 PSD in a Ford. I apologize if my opinions ruffle feathers but the 6.0 was never introduced with only a 4.5 year run intended. Duramax and Cummins have met emmision laws with their same original blocks that have been upgraded. Ford has a lot at stake with the new 6.4 and I hope it is a winner.
The V10 came out in 98 and is still being made in 07. It is a very reliable engine. Take care.
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Old 07-16-2006, 05:12 PM   #10
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I think you'll find that most (not all) full timers are a bit overloaded. I know that when we had Mor/Ryde axles installed, they weighed the rig first and my axle weight was 11,900 lbs. So they put 7,000 lb axles on the rig. This didn't increase the carrying capacity very much because we are still limited by the load range E tires which are rated to carry a max of 3042 lbs each. But I know that we are just a bit overloaded, probably by about 1000 lbs. The last time we were on a CAT scales, we were at 22,000 lbs combined. I have two tool boxes on the truck and the truck is about at its limit. I'm thinking about getting a bigger truck pretty soon.

We found that it's harder to get rid of stuff when we're both active with our computers, I write a newsletter and my wife is a graphic artist. She maintains four websites and has just been contacted to create another one. But we've tried to get rid of some stuff by leaving it in our shed on our leased lot in New Mexico.

Orv
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Old 07-16-2006, 05:28 PM   #11
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To give yourself a more accurate picture of what you can carry, find a dealer with the model you like and hopefully with most of the equipment. On the inside of some cupboard door, you will find a sticker with the actual weigh of the unit plus some other info. It will give you the actual carrying capacity which will ALWAYS be way below what the brochure says. The last 3400 I checked out could only do about 1100#--it was loaded. A couple of days ago got a wag on weights and was told to figure about 1,500# per person for a full time RVer. Our old RV carried a little better than two tons and this one only carries about 2300#, so we had to dump about a ton of our "stuff" (don't miss most of it). Good luck.
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Old 07-16-2006, 05:44 PM   #12
David and Jo-Anna
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Mobilrvn--The only Montana dealer within 50 miles of me has only one 3400 on the lot, and its optinos don't match what I'm looking for--it has the hi-gloss option (which I've pretty much given up as too heavy) and doesn't have the dual pane windows (which I'm wondering if I can afford--weight wise). Also, as for the posted weight inside the RV, I thought that the posted weight in each Montana represent only a "model" or "typical" RV with the "usual" options, not the actual unit one is looking at. Am I wrong on this?
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Old 07-16-2006, 05:47 PM   #13
David and Jo-Anna
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Orv--I assume that no one is reporting any structural problems/damage from being overloaded--which would mean that the GVWR provided by Montana is understated and/or that there is a significant safety margin above the posted GVWR. Just makes me a bit nervous to knowingly going over the GVWR. Much prefer that Montana up its GVWRs to reflect reality. Any chance of persuading them of that?
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Old 07-16-2006, 06:08 PM   #14
OntMont
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by David and Jo-Anna


As for dual pane window problems, I just tried a search on all forums, going back one year and including archived posts, for any reference in subject or message to the phrase "dual pane" and got no hits. Any suggestions on how better to search for the problems you are mentioning?
I did a search just on "windows" and from what I read, a lot of people do seem to favour the idea of dual glass windows, and I guess if I intended to spend much time in extreme temperatures, (hot or cold), I might feel that way too; but my reason for having an RV in the first place is to go where it is comfortable.

The problems I have heard of with dual pane windows mostly have to do with the fact the the large bedroom window has no screen, and therefore can't be used for ventilation, and the bedside windows are quite small. Of course, they are also heavy and prone to seal leakage because of all the bumping around they get on the road.

I don't doubt that they are effective, and I sure do want them on our house in Ontario, (some people even have triple pane windows), but I would find out exactly what changes there are in the windows when you go to dual pane windows in an RV. If you think you need them, by all means go for them, but be aware of the trade-offs that are involved.

Maybe someone with first-hand experience will comment further.
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Old 07-17-2006, 03:44 AM   #15
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Keep looking for those answers on weight. I do not believe that the rv manufactures are being honest with us.The liability approach is a good one. There are folks at Keystone who have the answers..It may take a while to find them.I would like to see the numbers "in writing" We have the V-10 and it does the job..The Diesel is the better motor no question..It is a matter on need, how you use the motor. Our general criteria was..Will we travel 20K miles a year or more, will we keep the truck for 5 years or more..do we live or will we travel in mountainous areas on a regular basis. When our travel changes we will look for a "good" diesel motor if anyone makes one by that time. We are riding with Steve Emmel in a Duramax right now..it is very quiet and very powerfull..we are impressed.
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Old 07-17-2006, 04:59 AM   #16
David and Jo-Anna
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Rich-thanks for your response. Did you see anything in the weight numbers in my initial posting that looked wrong? The numbers from your initial weighing of your 3400 seemed a little lower than Rick Fox's once you deducted 500# for the estimated water you had aboard, and I wasn't sure how to account for the difference in weight between the two of you (he was at 11,860# and you were at 11,396# after deducting 500# for water) since you seemed to have similar options--neither of you had hi-gloss or dual pane, he had the fireplace, coffee table and slide awnings, you had the 2d AC, a second battery and minus one recliner. Did you ever get your unit reweighed once you put your stuff in it and/or what do you think you will weigh in at if and when you load up for full-timing?

As for the liability issue, I'd like to followup with Montana on that after I run this thread a bit more. I suspect that they are trying to understate their GVWRs to protect themselves from getting sued someday, but I think they are wrong. If they stick with a low GVRW knowing that many owners are exceeding that number, and they continue to push heavy options without providing any warning that the options will put the typical owner over the GVWR once personal cargo and water are added, then some plaintiff's attorney is going to use Montana's own low GVWR numbers against them someday if and when a Montana is in an accident and the owner doesn't have the deep pocket to pay the plaintiff the big bucks the attorney will be looking for--Keystone's pockets are much deper than any of us, and you can count on a plaintiff's attorney to go looking for those big bucks.

As for your comments on a tow vehicle, I'd like to followup with you at a later date once I run this thread on GVRW. I've got some concerns I'd like to air about what's an appropriate safety margin to use in determining whether one's tow vehicle can SAFELY stop a 3400 in a panic braking situation.
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Old 07-17-2006, 05:31 AM   #17
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We understand your concerns..We will weigh our 3400 when we get back from this trip as we are well loaded.We cannot account for the differing weights. We have not had to make a emergency stop wth the 3400 but the Ford controller stops the 3400 with little effort. You weight calculations looked good.It is Keystones weight numbers that are suspect. You are are a good quest.
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Old 07-17-2006, 10:37 AM   #18
David and Jo-Anna
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Rich--I look forward to hearing the results of your weigh-in when you return from your trip. I also hope to hear from Rick Fox to see if he has any idea why there is a 400#-500# difference between his initial weight and yours. I wonder how much slide awnings played a role in the difference. Rick had them on his unit--did you have them on yours?

Does anyone have a good number on how much the 4 slide awnings weigh on the 3400?
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Old 07-17-2006, 12:32 PM   #19
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They will all weigh a little different due to the options on each rig. As noted, the factory stated shipping weight for a 3400RL is 11650. But the actual weight is listed as 11900...don't know what the extra 250 are for. But the sticker weight in the kitchen cabinet should indicate the weight of that particular rig, as it sits, prior to any dealer options. That's the weight you should check.
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Old 07-17-2006, 12:38 PM   #20
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My kitchen sticker indicates 11,900.Add the 2nd A/C,100lbs we are told and that would put us at 12k empty.
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