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Old 01-08-2021, 10:48 AM   #1
als049
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First Timers-New Journey-First Chapter

After much research and many RV dealer visits over a 4 year period, we decided on a Montana 3781RL and a Ford F-350 DRW to transport us on
our next journey/chapter in life. We have had great advice and help getting to this point. Now as we wait for our Montana to be delivered, we begin the
almost overwhelming task of sorting through all the information concerning
RVing for first timers. We would welcome all info on good RV parks, personal touches for our coach, maintenance tips, towing tips, where to look for info on this forum, traveling check lists, discounts available , well you get the idea. All help would be greatly appreciated. As life gets back to "somewhat normal" in 2021, we look forward to meeting y'all along the way!
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Old 01-08-2021, 11:02 AM   #2
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All I can say is great truck and camper.
Enjoy
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Old 01-08-2021, 11:06 AM   #3
Mikendebbie
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Welcome to the forum! Plenty of good info here!
I grew up in East TX not too far from you and lots of my kinfolks
call your town "Shreeez-po-ert". All attempts to set them straight have failed.
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Old 01-08-2021, 12:24 PM   #4
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Arris,

Welcome to the forum!

Take it slow to start. Do a few short trips close to home to sort out your rig and decide what you want to add. Resist the temptation to buy every gadget out there.

If you haven't pulled a tall trailer before - watch your vertical clearance. You are no taller than a 18 wheeler so you generally will not have issues with bridges and such - those shorter than 13.5 feet are marked pretty well but look out for trees and overhangs in gas stations. If in doubt stop and get out to look.
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Old 01-08-2021, 01:33 PM   #5
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Welcome and hope you have many great camping experiences.

My advise? You don't need to pack a lot of stuff to have a happy and successful first camping experience. Take only what you need and only what you know you will use. More is not needed. Eventually, you will be camping where something different is required. When that happens, then get it. Until then, keep it simple to start with and grow as your experiences grow!

I do suggest though, you outfit your camper with nice stuff. Too many outfit with used, left over, old stuff, or stuff stowed away in the attic of your house. This is OK and a great starting place. And this is exactly how we started. But eventually, it was really, really nice when we bought a frying pan that did not stick on the bottom, and coated electric frying pans that were easy clean up. And nice sheets and fluffy pillows and soft, warm, and new blankets to feel really, really good and snuggly when you go to bed at night. (Just a suggestion ... turn your camper into a "love shack" for you and your mate and make it as plush as possible). You are not back-packing camping any more! You've just stepped into luxury!

Enjoy!
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Old 01-08-2021, 07:44 PM   #6
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Welcome to the forum, if you look under files you'll find some of the info and checklists you're looking for. May your new rig bring you many years of wonderful memories.
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Old 01-09-2021, 09:29 AM   #7
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Welcome! And talk about starting off with a bang. At least you have the potential of getting a rig right the first time. Not swapping trailers and trucks saves a ton of money in the long run. I would just say load it up and go for it. Drive safely and enjoy. Go to places you haven't been and do what you like to do.
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Old 01-09-2021, 10:00 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by AZ Traveler View Post
Arris,

Welcome to the forum!

Take it slow to start. Do a few short trips close to home to sort out your rig and decide what you want to add. Resist the temptation to buy every gadget out there.

If you haven't pulled a tall trailer before - watch your vertical clearance. You are no taller than a 18 wheeler so you generally will not have issues with bridges and such - those shorter than 13.5 feet are marked pretty well but look out for trees and overhangs in gas stations. If in doubt stop and get out to look.
This is all great advice, but I would take that even one step further.

You didn't indicate how much time / experience you have towing a trailer this long. It's one thing to tow a 10' garden trailer. It's something COMPLETELY different to tow a FIFTH wheel 40'+ long. The pivot point differences between these two setups coupled with the length, causes the fifth wheel to track behind you in an entirely different manner, especially when making turns.

My advice would be, hook on, and just drive around KNOWN areas locally to you. Areas that have BIG approaches at corners, and wide lanes, and just go out and practice making turns, especially right turns, but left turns too. Learn EXACTLY what your trailer does when you turn. Look at the rear view mirrors when turning, to see where the tires are and commit that to memory.

Also, you have to learn to back with mirrors now. Looking over your shoulder shows you nothing but a big wall. Go to a big empty parking lot somewhere, and just practice backing.

At the end of the day, the only way that you get better at this stuff is practice, and for a first time setup like yours, I think that local practice until you're somewhat comfortable is paramount before you hit the open trail.

Happy and safe travels!!! You've got this!
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Old 01-09-2021, 11:10 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by CADman_KS View Post
This is all great advice, but I would take that even one step further.

You didn't indicate how much time / experience you have towing a trailer this long. It's one thing to tow a 10' garden trailer. It's something COMPLETELY different to tow a FIFTH wheel 40'+ long. The pivot point differences between these two setups coupled with the length, causes the fifth wheel to track behind you in an entirely different manner, especially when making turns.

My advice would be, hook on, and just drive around KNOWN areas locally to you. Areas that have BIG approaches at corners, and wide lanes, and just go out and practice making turns, especially right turns, but left turns too. Learn EXACTLY what your trailer does when you turn. Look at the rear view mirrors when turning, to see where the tires are and commit that to memory.

Also, you have to learn to back with mirrors now. Looking over your shoulder shows you nothing but a big wall. Go to a big empty parking lot somewhere, and just practice backing.

At the end of the day, the only way that you get better at this stuff is practice, and for a first time setup like yours, I think that local practice until you're somewhat comfortable is paramount before you hit the open trail.

Happy and safe travels!!! You've got this!
Great advice!

Here is the one thing I would add... a big issue when turning that can get missed is how far your backend will go in the opposite direction from your turn; and it's the part you cannot see in your mirrors, at all.
For example, imagine you are in the right lane and turning right at the lights. You are worried about clipping the curb with your wheels, so you've given yourself lots of room by being on the left side of the lane. But as you make that right turn, the left rear of your Montana will swing way to the left; perhaps even into the nearby lane.
I drove semi for years and never had to worry about this, as the axles are at the back of the trailer. But, to limit pin weight on pickups, the wheels on 5th wheels are placed way ahead of the rear bumper, which allows that back end to move so much. And that is a complete blind spot.

Because of the above, I am looking forward to seeing how well the sideview cameras of the Legacy package will help with this as they will give visibility to this former blind spot.

Anyway, I hope this helps and I totally agree with the advice to find a parking lot to practice. Maybe even take some safety cones to guide you. And, get a spotter and talk to them on the phone while you do these slow speed maneuvers, especially have them watch your blind spots.

5th wheels do tow amazingly stable and I think you will really enjoy it!

Brad
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Old 01-09-2021, 11:41 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by kowbra View Post
Great advice!

Here is the one thing I would add... a big issue when turning that can get missed is how far your backend will go in the opposite direction from your turn; and it's the part you cannot see in your mirrors, at all.
For example, imagine you are in the right lane and turning right at the lights. You are worried about clipping the curb with your wheels, so you've given yourself lots of room by being on the left side of the lane. But as you make that right turn, the left rear of your Montana will swing way to the left; perhaps even into the nearby lane.
I drove semi for years and never had to worry about this, as the axles are at the back of the trailer. But, to limit pin weight on pickups, the wheels on 5th wheels are placed way ahead of the rear bumper, which allows that back end to move so much. And that is a complete blind spot.

...

5th wheels do tow amazingly stable and I think you will really enjoy it!
That is a GREAT addition!, and 100% correct!

I consider myself a "seasoned" fifth wheeler. However, I got myself in a situation just this last summer, that could have ended very bad. We were turning into a gas station, off of a busy street, and I thought that I had swung far left to avoid hitting an 8" curb with the right side tires. About half way thru that turn, in the mirrors, I realized that we were going to clip the curb, by a pretty fair amount, and I had no choice but to stop. I threw the rig in reverse, and backed up, to adjust to make the corner without clipping the curb. One thing that I do like about the Montana's is that they have reverse lights. The people behind me started backing up immediately!!! LOL...
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Old 01-09-2021, 12:14 PM   #11
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Good advise above. Coming from a life time of pulling bumper pull utility trailers and travel trailers (longest 35.5 feet), it took an entire year before I really felt comfortable towing with the fifth wheel. And yes, backing up and the turning pivot point is completely different than a bumper pull trailer. Practice, practice, practice in an open lot. And every trailer and every truck length combination is different.
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Old 01-09-2021, 12:28 PM   #12
CADman_KS
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Originally Posted by DutchmenSport View Post
Good advise above. Coming from a life time of pulling bumper pull utility trailers and travel trailers (longest 35.5 feet), it took an entire year before I really felt comfortable towing with the fifth wheel. And yes, backing up and the turning pivot point is completely different than a bumper pull trailer. Practice, practice, practice in an open lot. And every trailer and every truck length combination is different.
ABSOLUTELY agree!!!

I said that I was a seasoned fifth wheeler, and it took me a while to get comfortable going from a 32' to a 42'. It was a huge difference in towing. I have to pay a lot more attention turning with the 42', which makes sense, but I think that backing the 42' is easier than the 32' was. I've gotten the 42' into some spots on the first try, that some didn't think we may even make it into!! I don't know that I could have been as successful with the 32'...

Practice... Practice... Practice...
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Old 01-09-2021, 02:15 PM   #13
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I agree about turning WIDE when towing. My first Monty was 33 ft. It took me over a year before I stopped running over curbs on my turns. One piece of advice - I there is a turn lane and a break in the oncoming traffic, just go as far forward before starting to turn and then turn pretty sharply. That allows the wheels to clear a center curb before you start turning. Now if there isn't room to pull forward, you just have to be more careful.
And with all my curb run-ins my tires never blew out because of sidewall damage, so maybe I was lucky. Of course I use Michelin tires that are really solid - weigh about the same as Salins that is all the rage now.
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Old 01-13-2021, 02:40 PM   #14
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Great choice, we love ours and could not be happier!!
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Old 01-13-2021, 02:57 PM   #15
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You will enjoy the journey!
I pull a 2020 3931FB with a 2017 F350 DRW. Can’t imagine a better setup!
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Old 01-13-2021, 03:07 PM   #16
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Practive before you go

I had to learn after being thrown in the deep end last year. My advice, once you get the trailer is to practice. Hooking up (with a checklist). Drive some, backup some. Unhook (with a checklist). Get level and understand what you need to do to get power, water, and dump waste water. Do this multiple times before you travel.

Every hitch is different, and many people are almost religious about their brand. You need advice (Youtube or Dealer) for your exact setup, so you have to discard much advice as not applicable.

Your checklist will evolve. Lots of examples on the web to start with.

Turns are one thing, but also you have to think 3 dimensionally. Overhead wires, branches and bridges are much more impactful than an uninvolved observer might think.

It will be stressful to began with. Hold on to patience, and it will get better.
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Old 01-13-2021, 04:34 PM   #17
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Great rig. Get a good GPS that is designed for RVing. Take a short maiden voyage not too far from home so that if you have problems or forget something really important, you won't have far to go to get back to comfort. Know the dimensions of your rig when it is hooked up and ready to tow and program those dimensions into your GPS so that it routes you around problems.
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Old 01-13-2021, 04:44 PM   #18
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Ok, about to be long winded. These are not the gospel, just starting points.

RV parks: Picking an RV park can be daunting at first. What am I looking for ?
Full hook up, 50amp, pull thru, amenities, price, large resort, mom and pop, overnight stop, extended stay, etc. Am I a weekend warrior, a part-timer, long timer or maybe looking at full time ? Camping World sells a Good Sam camping guide with thousands of campgrounds listed along with map locations. If you have AAA, you can get camping guides from them. If you are military or retired military, look for military FamCamps. Read online reviews about parks. Personally, I don't trust those reviews but they give me info to think about. Talk to others about specific parks you are interested in. Listen for their excitement or lack there of. There are no cookie cutter parks. (KOA comes close) You will learn something different at each park.

Personal touches: Its your home, decorate as you see fit. Rugs, runners, new bed spread, maybe change the curtains, hang pictures, etc. Available space and your personal style will determine what you do.

Maintenance tips: Your owners manual may have some basics listed. I advise that you do a thorough walk around after you set up camp. Look for anything loose or out of place. Fix it then.

Checklists: Do a google search of RV checklists. You'll get plenty. Modify to your personal needs. You'll find one for outfitting your RV. Stick to the basics for now. Someone mentioned earlier about getting what you need when you need it. You do not need all the bells and whistles. When outfitting, remember lighter is better. You don't need a months worth of clothes. You don't need 3 cast iron skillets. You don't need an 8 place setting of stoneware. Find items that are multi use. The most important checklist for me is one for "breaking camp/hooking up". Follow it religiously and don't allow yourself to get distracted.

Discounts: Good Sam Club. You get discounts at many RV parks, Pilot/Flying J truck stops, Camping World, etc. KOA offers a Value Kard that gets you an instant discount at their RV parks. You also earn extra discounts based on your stays. Some parks also offer AAA and military discounts. Another option is membership parks. Not for everyone. Be wary, research thoroughly, wait till you figure out what kind of camper you are.

Final thoughts: If you have never driven a dually before, get used to that. Guaranteed, until you do, you will kiss the curb a number of times with your right outer tire. Also, like many others have stated, practice hooking up. Practice turning. Practice backing. You mentioned "we" so I am going to assume (which I shouldn't) there is a spouse. Develop a means of communication when one of you is spotting. Hand signals, walkie talkie, whatever. We use cell phones on speaker.

I hope this helps. Good luck and safe travels.
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Old 01-14-2021, 06:10 AM   #19
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OK OK OK So the one thing most deadly is the IDIOT that will be in a hurry (to get buried) and try to pass on the right as you swing to get into the parking lot of a dealer/repair shop/ parking lot with a small/partial blocked entrance.
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Old 01-14-2021, 06:32 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by DaveW View Post
...

Turns are one thing, but also you have to think 3 dimensionally. Overhead wires, branches and bridges are much more impactful than an uninvolved observer might think.

...
It was mentioned in a previous post about checking/knowing your height, and while that's important, that statement misses the "think 3 dimensionally" aspect. That's a great phrase!

Once you know the number for your overall height, it's super easy to figure out if you can go under a bridge or not. But, I've never been on road, highway, or interstate that marks the heights of trees! It's important then to develop an understanding of how high 13'4" is off the ground, and make that quick judgement call when you're approaching trees. When you see low hanging trees, do you swerve? Are they above 13'4", and you continue on? The unfortunate reality is that there will probably be times that trees get you. I know for us, when we take our 5er to our church camp, there's a spot that we can't avoid. The branches are small there, and we just take it slow, and try to find the spot where the trees are the highest. Not ideal, but at least I'm aware, and taking whatever precautions I can...
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