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Old 02-25-2012, 06:24 AM   #1
Earthcreeper
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First 5th wheel RV, mistakes to avoid?

We are just about ready to pull the trigger on buying our first fifth wheel and we think Montana is the way to go. What I am unsure of is what are the mistakes the first time buyers make? Size? 2AC units or not? On and on. We are looking at the 3100RL. We like the floor plan and admittedly the storage is not huge but we like to added rolling island option for additional storage and are considering no fireplace to make even more storage. I also wonder, how do we handle computing and location a printer in a coach with no desk. Anyone out there have a 3100RL with some hands-on information? All feedback from any of you veteran MO's would be greatly appreciated.

In addition, we have a Chevy 2500HD Duramax 6.5" box. Do we need a slide? Do we need airbags? Advice please.
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Old 02-25-2012, 06:33 AM   #2
southern thunder
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I am new to 5th wheels also, but I had rather have a slider hitch and not need it than to need it once and not have it. I think you will love the Montana
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Old 02-25-2012, 06:43 AM   #3
seahunter
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Earthcreeper

We are just about ready to pull the trigger on buying our first fifth wheel and we think Montana is the way to go. What I am unsure of is what are the mistakes the first time buyers make? Size? 2AC units or not? On and on. We are looking at the 3100RL. We like the floor plan and admittedly the storage is not huge but we like to added rolling island option for additional storage and are considering no fireplace to make even more storage. I also wonder, how do we handle computing and location a printer in a coach with no desk. Anyone out there have a 3100RL with some hands-on information? All feedback from any of you veteran MO's would be greatly appreciated.

In addition, we have a Chevy 2500HD Duramax 6.5" box. Do we need a slide? Do we need airbags? Advice please.
Welcome, you're in the right place. Ask questions like this, but also try to read as many posts as you can. Size - a lot of people always wish they had more room, not less. Second AC or other options - a lot easier and cheaper to get them installed right off the bat. The labor to add options later, unless you can do it, I find is usaully more than just having it factory installed once you figure your discount off msrp on the trailer. Level-Up seems to be a very popular upgrade right now. Many like the fireplace because you can use it for heat without using up your propane so no additional cost if you're hooked up at a campground. Small portable laptop desks work great. A wireless printer could go anywhere you have a small space. Good luck researching!
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Old 02-25-2012, 07:29 AM   #4
patbarton
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If you don't have a desk, the dinette table is a good place to compute. It's (a) bigger and (b) usually cleaner than the desk. There's more light at my dinette than the desk, too, thanks to the big windows. I in fact have a desk in my 329RLT, but it's not comfortable to use, and very small. I can't watch TV when I'm working, either.

Lots of wireless printers out there; I own a little Hewlett-Packard H470WBT and I use it in the Bluetooth mode when I travel. This one prints better than my big DeskJet and has a built-in rechargeable battery to boot. It's small, too; I keep it on my little desk!

I wouldn't want a fireplace myself. Just a big moving nightlight, actually. A lava lamp on the desk would give me all the ambiance I'd want.

If you have the option of a leveling system, don't pass Go, just get it. Wish I had one. Leveling is a pain, especially if you travel alone a lot.

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Old 02-25-2012, 07:49 AM   #5
lfw
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We usually sit our laptops on the table.. we have no desk.. as far as the printer goes.. we put it in the drawer under the sofa.. it is not a wireless printer. . I have the printer cable run to a 4 port usb hub.. Also have a Maxtor backup hard drive in the drawer also and connected to the usb hub.. works good that way.. not out on the table..
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:04 AM   #6
Art-n-Marge
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There's lots we can add to a Montana, but most new 5er owners biggest mistake is not having enough of a tow vehicle to satisfy the weight ratings, otherwise you'll be a member of the approximately 40% of owners who are overweight somewhere (rear axle, gross weight, combined gross weight).

When buying a trailer, salesmen will sell it to you with the shipping weight in mind and not more realistic gross or actual weights. Then they'll also try to tell you that just because you have a strong diesel and trans then you are good to go. This is not the case.

Finally, anything you add or take out of the trailer will affect the weight accordingly. Just because there's storage space, doesn't mean you can fill it with something that then becomes a weight issue.

Being overweight can cause excessive tire wear and failure, suspension failure, abnormal wear of the tow vehicle. Hopefully you are getting the idea.

It sounds like a nice trailer, but I fear the 2500HD might be a little too light. A slider hitch (or even better an automatic sliding hitch) is highly recommended. Some short bed owners have admitted they don't have one or feel the need to use one, but I've seen so many short beds with damaged cabs, I'm guessing it's just a matter of time.

Airbags only improve the ride by raising the rear end from sag. They DO NOT increase the Gross or Tow ratings. They also getting the headlights back down so they aren't turned into high beams (oncoming traffic will appreciate that). I love mine!
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Old 02-25-2012, 09:33 AM   #7
ols1932
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One of the big mistakes I have seen made by first-time fifth wheel owners is not realizing that the rig doesn't track the truck wheels like a pull trailer does (one connected to the back bumper of the tow vehicle). You have to remember when you are turning that the the fifth wheel will track on the inside of the tow vehicle's wheel track. This can make for some nasty gouges in the fifth wheel. Once you get used to it, it will become second nature to allow enough turn radius when turning. That's why you see the signs on the back of a lot of semis, "This vehicle makes wide turns."

Orv
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Old 02-25-2012, 10:02 AM   #8
DQDick
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I'm surprised after all the posts that have been on here no one mentioned tires. Have your rig come with the Goodyear 614's, not the standard Marathons. If you get the Marathons and start reading ANY forum, by the middle of the summer you will have read of numerous blowouts of Marathon tires with the accompanying rants on damage to the rig and being stuck on the side of the road. Peace of mind is worth a lot more than the better tires will cost you.
Don't let the desk thing bother you. We have a 21" Mac on one side of the room and a full size HP All-in-one on the other side of the room and also use a Ipad mostly all at the same time. When you find a rig that fits you, you'll work out the other issues.
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Old 02-25-2012, 11:35 AM   #9
snfexpress
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Our two cents are:

Have the 2nd air wired but not installed at factory and negotiate to have a Penguin or Coleman low profile installed at the dealer prior to delivery. Go with the ducted system. We like having the LR one going when we are sleeping - less noise;

Have the tires upgraded as Dick said;

Look at the largest trailer you think you want and then look at the next largest one. Not knowing what year D/Max you have, I would suggest that you look at a 1 ton, perhaps even a dually. Parroting Art, there is no sense in buying a 5er that you can't safely tow and stop;

Keep the fireplace. The ambiance and the heat is nice on chilly days. And, there is lots of storage behind many of them (not sure about your 5er);

Have the 5er generator prepped just so that all the wiring is there if you later want to add another shore power inlet or solar, etc;

Pop for the Level Up. Makes setup a breeze. If you can, get the rear stabilizers installed too;

Get a double refrigerator (do they even make Montana's with single door ones anymore?);

Have the 5er satellite prepped. You can do this (I found out after) because you can get it with a KVH satellite installed (although we went with MotoSat). If it is satellite prepped, you will find that the cables are where you need them, typically in one of the LR slides and the bedroom;

Have the delivery price include changing out the underbelly screws with stainless steel - less than 50 bucks in materials and about an hour and half labor;

If you have a waste valve handle under one of the slides again have the dealer replace it with an electric one for a little over a hundred bucks, retail. When they are replacing the underbelly screws they can get to the galley tank and install the automatic opener (it bolts around the existing Valterra valve);

Have the dealer check for the baffling above the refrigerator coils (where the heat is exchanged). You will see it if you take the top exterior cover off;

Have the dealer tighten all electrical connections in the panel;

Research pin boxes. Our preference is GlideRide by Demco. There are other good ones out there;

Order your 5er with 3 Fantastic Fans - one each for the kitchen, bedroom hallway (to vent the humidity while taking a shower, especially) and one in the bathroom;

Have the dealer install a quick disconnect propane fitting properly plumbed into your existing propane piping. I hear that these couplers are going away and they sure are handy for the BBQ;

We put our printer in the overhead cabinet above the desk in our 340RLQ (3400RL).

I'm sure I'll come up with some more suggestions, but you be best assured that you are in the right place for intelligent discussion about our Montana's.

Welcome,

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Old 02-25-2012, 01:00 PM   #10
HOOK
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The easiest and most common mistake to make is to by too small. Buy the 2nd A/C in the deal. We just came from a 2 wk excursion in which the only heat we used was the fireplace and 1 small quartz heater. Very comfortable not to mention the money we saved. We find that we rarely use all the interior storage in our 3455sa, and it is nice to not struggle with what to leave behind. Sometime during the next 2 yrs. we hope to spend as long as it takes to go and see this great country. We would not be happy if we felt we were cramped. If I could change anything on our coach, it would be to add the Big Sky package up front. We already have the G614 tires but would love to have the Levelup and the full body paint. Had I known they were coming I would have waited. Good Luck, Larry
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Old 02-25-2012, 01:48 PM   #11
cjohnson
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We have had the 3100RL for about a year now. We have lived in the unit for about eight months of that year. We have found the storage ok. We have also thought of a small island/table to extend counter space. Fireplace, we use every morning and thru out the day, during the colder months, propane at night keeps basement warmer. Last year during 105 deg, took both AC units to keep cool. I would recomend penguin unit for height consideration. With full AC and G615's we are at 13'5". We removed one of the recliners and the little end table. Replaced with little round ottman for the couch, also provides a small storage space. Added a wally world small desk where 2nd recliner was for desk and a small three draw plastic unit next to desk for storage and printer. Works well.
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Old 02-25-2012, 02:22 PM   #12
grampachet
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I have my wireless printer behind the bedroom TV, which was replaced with a flat screen TV/computer monitor. Another new doodad is the winegard sensor pro. It is a digital device that helps you fine tune your batwing antenna. If you have satellite it wouldnt apply.
Montana's are made to help enjoy leisure life much more comfortably. Enjoy.
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Old 02-25-2012, 03:27 PM   #13
ALSAN
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one thing that has not been said yet is remember your 5ver is TALLER then your truck so watch out for low bridges and tree limbs and such, and go have fun you will learn as you go what you like and what works for you, I do agree get rid of the china bombs (tires) been there done it replaced 11 tires two different trls in two months
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:32 AM   #14
Earthcreeper
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I sure appreciate the warm welcome to your community. You have all provide invaluable information and insights that I know have cost you all something to learn them; thanks for sharing. My truck is a 2011 Chevy 2500HD/DMax short box. After reading your input I guess my first mistake is not buying the 1-ton. I sent a couple of you PM to get clarity on a few things. I have done the math and it seems to me we are within the rating limitations that Chevrolet has set out. The combined GCWR is 24,500 on this vehicle but I now have found that payload of the Duramax is overstated. They show in their sales slick and also told me it is 3123 but it is really 2792.

I hope I can afford all the options that sound like they make sense. Regarding the 2nd AC, why not have it installed at the factory? Seems inexpensive and I haven't asked but I assume they make it ducted as well. Right, wrong? In terms of clearance, is 13'6" too high for practical purposes after having the 2nd AC installed?

I can't thank you all enough. Safe travels!!
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Old 02-26-2012, 08:03 AM   #15
Art-n-Marge
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13' 6" is too high for the state of Colorado, however, that sounds too high even for that Montana but will be affected by how high the rig sits on your truck. If you beef up your suspension too much you'll sit higher. Then if you have more than the recommended 6" truck bed rail to 5er overhang clearance this could affect height, too. I have over 7" of clearance and my rig is still about 12'6" and if I had the 2nd A/C it would be positioned on the downward slope so it wouldn't add too much height, which is why someone recommended a low profile A/C unit.

Note the height of the unit should only be measured when it's attached to your truck hitch in towing configuration. Even if your rig is as tall as mine, the point made by another poster is that you become VERY conscious of height at ALL times. It's easy to forget as you are driving along and if you only pay attention to the tow vehicle, that it's the tallest point of the RV that counts! There are enough Youtube videos of many drivers that lapsed in that part of their judgement.

For any option, I believe the prices of the actual units installed at a factory or the dealer and this adds too much markup and it's better to have the labor of the wiring and ducting done at the factory, but you have a much better chance you can get a better deal in the after market for the same or even better units. And if you are mechanically inclined you can even save more money by installing it yourself if it's already been prewired and preducted. You will save even more money because the labor in the aftermarket will be lessened by the pre-work done in the factory. There's been some pretty good advice on what to get in the factory and what to wait for the aftermarket (and not necessarily the dealer).
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Old 02-26-2012, 08:03 AM   #16
Earthcreeper
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If you have 2 AC units but only need to run 1, can you then use a 30-amp hook up or does the 2nd AC do something that stops the flow of air to the bedroom without the 2nd AC turned on and therefore you are fully 50-amp at all times? Or am I missing something?
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Old 02-26-2012, 09:59 AM   #17
seahunter
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quote:Originally posted by Earthcreeper

Regarding the 2nd AC, why not have it installed at the factory? Seems inexpensive and I haven't asked but I assume they make it ducted as well.
I can't thank you all enough. Safe travels!!
I say factory installed. It cost me $458.70 ($695 - 34%) to factory install the 2nd AC unit and yes it is ducted. I don't think you can buy an AC unit and have it installed for that price. If you're hooked up to 30 amp service you can run just one AC unit.

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Old 02-27-2012, 05:44 AM   #18
stiles watson
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What you get in a fifth wheel is very, very personal. Everything is a trade off. Example: If you include a washer/dryer, either stacked or combo unit, you lose the space for something else. Since we fulltime, we find the w/d to be essential, but we lost the closet space to accommodate it.

We bought a new Big Sky off the dealer lot, so it already had a fireplace. Now I am happy we have it. I thought it was just a frill and virtually useless. I was wrong. It has become an integral part of our heating protocol saving us propane costs. On most winter days, it provides enough heat along with the ceramic heater for colder days.

Full timers have to take it all with them, so learning what you really need is essential. We continue to trim what we haul around. If it has been in the closet or drawer for over a year, you probably don't need it in the first place. Having the courage to get rid of "perfectly good" stuff is key to lightening the load.

For us, a double wide refrigerator is more important than the one extra foot of cabinet space. Even with the double wide, we have to plan what we are able to buy to fit the space.

One critical area for decision is the kitchen, particularly what kind of small appliances to include, i.e., blender, coffee maker, toaster oven, food processor, knife rack, electric skillet, crock pot, etc., and how you travel with your choices. A RV is not a 1500 or 2400 sq ft home, so the economy of scale must be different.

If you are a weekender or part timer, then you just plan the trip and put in what you need for that tour. You can swap out what you carry for the next trip. How you will use the RV will determine the considerations that challenge you. Remember, you don't have to justify your choices to anyone but yourselves. I have seen some posters that sound as if they have to do that. If it fits you, it is good.
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Old 02-27-2012, 02:55 PM   #19
snfexpress
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When negotiating a new rig purchase, the dealer will often provide items at cost to sweeten the deal. A Penguin AC can be obtained jobber for around $450. Labor is less than an hour - the hardest part is to get it up to the roof; I know, I installed ours.

With our satellite dish we are 13' 3". With factory air we would have been 13' 4". Now an inch may not seem that much, but let me tell you that when you go under 13' 5" and you are sucking up the leather in the seat in hopes that you don't hit something, an inch can be a lot - especially when the road department comes along, repaves (adding an inch or more) and doesn't re-measure and re-post the height signs!

JMO...
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Old 02-28-2012, 02:42 AM   #20
subra1228
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We decided not to go for the fireplace option as well and use that space for a printer, and it has worked out very well. My only suggestion would be to use the rig a few times before buying a ton of stuff that you may find out that you don't need. Also, secure all food items in large bins - on case a jar breaks in transit (only has happened once to us in 10 years RVing), this will reduce the mess.

Congrats!
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