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Old 01-02-2007, 02:01 PM   #1
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Newbie Montana Owner, what I have learned so far

As I have now owned my 3057RL for 4 days and have it safely at the storage yard; I thought I would pass along what I have learned so far.

1. Make wider turns! I ran over a curb on the right at the dealers and a curb on the left at the RV Park. No damage done. I have calculated that I have made 5 left turns and 9 right turns so far.

2. It really is much easier to hitch a 5th wheel than travel trailer. You can see the hitch to line it up and it closes on contact.

3. Trailer Saver hitches are really cool, easy to hookup, quiet in use and you donít feel the 5ver hit potholes behind you (Thanks Orv).

4. Having the Montana and the dually the same width some how makes it easier to tow.

5. Chevy 3500 dually Silverado has tons of power, moves the 5ver down the road and up the hills without even thinking about it.

6. That 50 AMP power cord is heavy and it doesnít roll neatly back up.


Things to learn next:

I have not yet attempted to back up with the Montana attached to the truck. Nor have I driven any road than wasnít four lanes wide. Only 100 days until the Spring Rally at Flying Flags! But then they only have pulls troughs so maybe I don't need to learn how to backup.
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Old 01-02-2007, 02:23 PM   #2
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I haven't backed up yet either as our 303 won't be here until spring but my little brother(did I say little!) backs his with ease but can't back a regular trailer to save his life. Must be something to the stories that 5ers are easier to back up. Glad to hear that the trailer saver hitch is so nice, it is on my short list.
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Old 01-02-2007, 02:29 PM   #3
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Hi Grant, Sounds like your doing well...yes, drive deeper into corner before cranking the wheel so you can be sure to not drag the poor Monty over curbs and especially when in gas station you do not want to hit those pumps!!! I gauge my ability to clear objects by tracking the Monty rear tire once it is alongside the obsticle I know I'm clear, law of physics still holds it isn't gonna jump sideways.
Backing up in comparison to travel trailers is much less agressive so you'll probably have to work to get it to cut using any previous TT feel, least that was my experience 2 trailers ago when I went through the TT to 5er change.
Good luck and take your time,
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Old 01-02-2007, 02:31 PM   #4
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I could back up my 17 foot travel trailer but it wasn't pretty. It looked like a snake pattern and never was straight.

So I guess that was a good thing I will be able to do better with a 5th wheel like your brother.

I plan to practice this coming Saturday before I forget how to hitch it to the truck.
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Old 01-02-2007, 02:50 PM   #5
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You will need to learn to back because a pull through doesn't always mean you are in the correct position on the first try. You may have to back up and pull forward a couple of times. Plus if you are coming to Shasta in May, you will need to know how to back up. Of course in all instances, you will have help unless you are the first one there.
It is good to hear you are liking your new Monty and your 3500 DRW. We love ours also.
Happy trails..................
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Old 01-02-2007, 03:09 PM   #6
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Sounds like your sure getting the hang of it. Home Depot sells the orange caution cones for cheap. Pick yourself up 2 of them and find an empty school parking lot. Practice backing up between the cones, go straight back, angle, and jack knife. Before long you will be an expert.
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Old 01-02-2007, 03:49 PM   #7
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Hi Grant, those are some very nice toys you have there. Sounds like you are well started on the learning curve of pulling a 5er. You will do just fine, we all have been there too. Dave's advice on the empty parking lot is a good one, well away from the stress of traffic. You can learn a lot in a short time without any presure.
Darwin & Maureen DeBackere
Minnedosa, Manitoba, Canada
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Old 01-02-2007, 06:01 PM   #8
Tom Gina 06
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Also practice backing up in the parking lot long distance. You never know when it will be easier to back up than go forward. Had to do it today, backed up over a block because of the situation. As stated earlier it doesn't matter how careful you are, the day will come when you will have to do it. Remember your mirrors are your friends when backing.

Congrates on your new Monty it will give you many moons of happiness.

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Old 01-03-2007, 07:10 AM   #9
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Grant - doin good!

First thing I DID NOT miss about my TT was those dang equalizer bars. I broke an arm and a rib with those stupid things when I wasn't paying attention.

It is hard to get used to the less reactive backing on a 5er over the TT. Like others have said, you need more room to put an angle on it than your TT. In fact, when I triple towed with the boat on the back I was surprised to see I could actually back out of a gas station as if I knew what I was doing. The moderation of reaction when turning really helped.

I am still extremely bad at backing with the angle to the right side. Once I loose sight out the right mirror, I'm blind and done. I can do pretty good on the left just by hanging my head out the window and looking back. Unfortunately most of the campsites we hit require a right turn backing. Someday I'll figure out what the secret is.

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Old 01-03-2007, 07:11 AM   #10
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Knowing how to back up your 5er will also strengthen your confidence so that when you do find yourself in a construction zone, dead end road due to wrong directions, accident in front of you, washed out road, etc. you won't be "sweating it". Yes, these have happened to us.

I was worried when we got our 3400, so a Highway Patrol Trooper friend and I set up cones, like Montana Sky suggested, in a large parking lot and practiced scenarios and backing for about 6 hours. Then we hit the freeway and practiced "panic" braking using the manual override of the Prodigy brake controller, to see how short a distance could be achieved on various surfaces (dirt vs. pavement). This practice paid off more than once in our travels so far.

One more piece of advice, if I may. Don't trust the bridge height signs. When DOT comes by and repaves (adding a couple of inches of macadam), they don't always re-measure and post a new sign!
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Old 01-03-2007, 09:08 AM   #11
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Hemet to Mt Shasta for a three day weekend!! That's got to be 1,400 miles round trip! You must REALLY love that rally. Even from here Mt. Shasta would be a 600 mile round trip for just a three day weekend.

You wrote "Don't trust the bridge height signs. When DOT comes by and repaves (adding a couple of inches of macadam), they don't always re-measure and post a new sign!"

If you can't trust the DOT sign what do you do? You can't possibly tell the height just by looking at a bridge.

It also brings up what do you do if you are driving along and you do come up to a bridge that says it is too short. If they warn you in advance you can get off that road but if there is no warning you are now blocking the road with nowhere to go.

This is truly my greatest fear moving up to a 5th wheel. Someday I will suddenly be blocked by a tunnel or bridge on a narrow 2 lane road and no place to turn around with the last turn out or driveway 3 miles back and uphill.

I have always wondered why I don't see RVs stuck in the tunnels leading into to Yosemite Valley. People come from all over the world many in rented RVs and suddenly are confronted by arched tunnels on a narrow 2 lane road with a cliff on one side and no turnout.

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Old 01-03-2007, 09:23 AM   #12
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Measure your 5er height by using a level across the highest point and a plumb bob to the ground. Add 4 inches and don't go under anything lower without stopping and getting out and looking. As far as blocking traffic, oh well!

Be sure to look at gas station height signs, too.
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Old 01-06-2007, 12:31 PM   #13
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I got a chuckle out of your post, Grant. You're right, you can do this.

1. I guarantee that's not the last curb you will catch!

2. On the 50 amp cord, your dealer may have given you a laundry basket. Feed one end into that basket, then rotate the basket as you feed the cord into it. Much easier that way although still a bit of a bear. The colder the ambient temperature, the more obstinate that cord. When we left Kansas City at 28 degrees a couple of years ago I just threw that cord into the bed of the truck until we reached warmer temperatures!
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Old 01-07-2007, 07:15 AM   #14
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My first day of proud ownership of a 5er we checked into a campground without firt checking the site. I told the clerk we were at 39+ feet and needed a pull thru, wellll, we we directed to a 25ft back in about 400 yds up a narrow dead end road, and I do mean NARROW. Right then and there I got my first lesson in backing a 5er. To heck with the traffic or anything else. The wife walked in back and warned the locals off the street and we backed out to whole length of the place.

I have to admit the 5er backs much easier than our previous TT and we got out without to much trouble. Since then backing has been a breeze.

Enjoy your unit and your travels.
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Old 01-07-2007, 05:01 PM   #15
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Yesterday 01/06, we headed to the storage lot and hooked up the Monty for some backup practice. Two hours of backup practice is all our 35 year marriage could endure. We where never good at backing up our 17 foot travel trailer and so far we aren't good at backing up our monster 5th wheel. In our simulated campground of cones we hit 3 lamp posts.

Next we drove to Campingworld about 15 miles taking only back roads to get practice on narrow roads and in traffic. I just missed a guard rail at the first turn out of the storage lot. Must make WIDER turns.

Stopped at Campingworld and I got to practice making turns in a parking lot without hitting other RVs, light poles or trees. Why would a place intended for RVs have obstacles in the parking lot? Also, does Campingworld have any competition? You can get some RV stuff at Walmart but, only limited supplies.

We then went for a one night stay at an RV Park 25 miles from home (pull through); I got to practice driving on crowded, busy two lane roads. Overnight low 28, this is California it isn't suppose to be cold. We did pretty well remembering how to setup, unhitch and re-hitch. We busied ourselves arranging the cabinets and adding the "permanent" things to the Monty.

Then the three of us (80 pound Golden Retriever added) settled into watch the DVD of RV in our new home. We still can't believe it's ours, nor can we believe how big it looks when attached to our already really big truck.

So I have learned:

2. The heater really works great
3. Backing up is HARD!
4. I can do this as long as I always have a pull through.

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Old 01-07-2007, 07:28 PM   #16
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Sounds like you had a good weekend. Half of the fun about RVing is the learning. That never stops. Backing up a 5ver is not too hard.
Deciding when it should turn, while backing up is the hard part, that comes with practice. You are right, backing up a 5ver can be hard on any marriage, but again it gets better with time.

Campingworld seems to be in a world of their own, but up here in the Northwest there is some pretty decent RV sales lots with good stores.
More & more places are getting involved with RV stuff all the time. I guess with the Baby boomer's gearing up for the RV world it is going to be a very big business. Watch out for crowded RV parks in the next few years.

Can relate to your 80 pound Golden Retriever, We have a 80lb Border Collie - Shepherd cross, or at least she used to be (80lbs).
I can go out to the trailer in the front drive way (just to do some work on it) & she'll howl until I let her come out to help.
I think she thinks she going to be left behind. Glad to hear you are enjoying your new toy.

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Old 01-07-2007, 08:19 PM   #17
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Grant, I enjoy reading your posts, keep it up please. You see, I am the owner of a 3400RL that has never pulled even a small TT. I have not pulled my rig yet as it is in storage until we thaw out up here (late April, early to late May, Jun, sometime). I am considering a professional driving course here in Anchorage, but don't know if one exists. May try and talk the dealership guys into some lessons. Other than that it will be the local high school parking lot and lots of cones and a tape measure. Allready have the walkie talkies. Boy I can't wait. Looking forward to it for sure.

The one thing I won't do is worry about it though. I was a pilot who flew into many villages here in AK and if I can land a single engine plane with a 40 kt crosswind sideways on an icy runway, I can drive a truck and trailer.

Keep up the practice and be safe. Remember, if in doubt about those low bridges, then DON'T try it without measuring.

Phil P.
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Old 01-07-2007, 10:07 PM   #18
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The backing is just experience and practice. Soon you'll be backing into places you thought impossible. And you are right about the turns! Make them wider! I've hit my share of curbs cutting too soon.

This past summer I ended up a road about a quarter of a mile that I had to back out of. We had pulled off thinking there was a nice parking lot just up the road. Well the parking lot, if there was one, was about 4 miles up the road! We didn't want to got that far so my wife got out and walked back while I backed the rig out. At the end I had to make a 90 degree turn to get lined up with the oncoming traffic. This has always been my worst nightmare. As it turned out it wasn't too bad. Fortunately there was no traffic on the road I was backing on. But still I think it is best to avoid these situations if you can!

Keep practicing and Happy Travels!

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Old 01-08-2007, 12:09 AM   #19
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BirdingRver, love these post. You have me re-living some of my early days pulling 5vers. Someone said that is having fun, well at the time it's not but when you look back on it - yeah we had fun. Like the advice we got to get walkie talkies. I give one to the wife and told her to guide me and I would not respond because I would be busy listening and driving. Then I turn mine off and continue to back. She has gotten better with directions and I leave the walkie talkie on now.
I hate to bring this up but a word of caution. Those tires you curbed with (we all have done it) watch them very carefully for bulging in the sidewall area. Running over curbs is a big reason the sidewalls get weakened and later turn into a zipper rupture or tread separation.
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Old 01-08-2007, 02:40 AM   #20
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Hang in there. It will get easier. Soon you will be a old pro at this.
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