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Open Roads Forum  >  Fifth-Wheels

 > How old is too old?

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SeeingStars

Desert Southwest

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Posted: 09/23/10 09:03pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

After a year of researching, we've begun the process of purchasing a fifth wheel, hopefully in the next 4 to 6 weeks. I have my eye toward a high-end used rig for the best combination of quality and price. There's been a lot of discussion about getting a 3 year old rig for 1/2 of retail price, but what can I expect in terms of structural soundness going a little older than that?

With this being our first RV, I'd like to get by without shelling out $35k to $40k on a rig that's going to have to suffer through our learning process. I'm thinking of something more like under $20k.

I have an eye toward a couple of rigs so far that are representative...

a 2002 Cameo, a 2002 Kountry Star and a 2000 Hitchhiker that are all good fits in terms of floor plan, size/weight and storage. Do these rigs (generally) still have a few years of life in them at that age? It won't be used for full time living, but it's expected they'll see a lot of use for long weekend camping trips and extended vacations over the next couple of years.

Your thoughts?

FYI - the tow vehicle is a 2009 GMC 3500HD SRW with a scaled weight of 7800#....so the big, heavy old rigs are probably too much for the truck....looking more in the range of 14k GVWR or less.

Thanks,

Mike

romore

Canada

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Posted: 09/23/10 09:23pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We are in a similar situation. You should find some pretty nice rigs in your price range. Do you have a friend or relative with rv experience, he/she would be a valuable resource. Go through the entire unit with an open mind and a critical eye. Be wary of water stains, obvious signs of rot, plumbing and electrical problems. Make sure everything works.
You are very wise keeping the weight within your truck's capabilities. When you find the right unit let us know and don't forget pictures.

ice2fire

Summer = Ontario. Winter = Arizona

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Posted: 09/23/10 09:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

In general, the younger the model the better, although there are exceptions. Be aware that some campgrounds say that rigs over 10 years may not be admitted, or only with management's permission.

Try to get reviews on particular models or brands by doing a search on this forum. Also words like "brand x problems" on a Google search can uncover problems. Look at tires, make sure one edge is not worn more than the other. Check spare. Look at roof - no splits or it's looking "tired". Roll underneath the trailer and check for rust. Look for dents in bodywork. Roll out the awning and check its condition.

Open up the furnace, frig, and water heater doors and look for problems.

Inside make sure ALL the equipment works: furnace, stove, water is hot, pump. Does it have a water heater by-pass, etc. etc !

Good luck


1) 2008 19' R-Vision Trail-Lite TT. TV = 2012 GMC Yukon, 3.47 axle, 5.3L, V8, SLT trim 2) 2010 30' Heartland North Country, on a permanent site in Tucson, Arizona.

Earl E

Green Valley, AZ

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Posted: 09/23/10 09:44pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

For the first 20 years of RVing I'm not sure I ever bought anything newer than 10 years old. I think you can find many great rigs in that age bracket.Just have to be really careful in checking the structural integrity--bearings, water leaks, delamination, that kind of thing. But many, many people buy a rig and hardly use it; or it sits in one spot and just gets light living by an older person. As long as you don't expect it to look like something brand new, and you don't mind the more outdated style you will be fine.


2007 Northwoods Arctic Fox 32 5S Fifth Wheel used for fulltiming for several years--SOLD
2011 Keystone 23rks Hideout to poke around the smaller parks in the great Southwest
2007 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD Diesel
Prodigy brake control

Brent and Gina

Arkansas

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Posted: 09/23/10 09:34pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I found an 09 Cameo for $35K. You can surely find plenty of close-to-new for near $20K. I found many 04/05s in that range if I remember correctly. Anyway, you have to look and beyond local too. Good luck!

RockRiver

Panhandle of Texas

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Posted: 09/23/10 10:07pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hello Mike,
Well, it sounds as though you have done some studying on this, and I commend you for that.

I think you're taking a very logical approach toward this purchase. If you get the right used unit (and yes, there are a ~lot~ of them out there), you will save thousands & thousands of dollars and you will have a RV that will probably serve your purposes as well as a brand new one.
On the flip side, if you purchase a hunk o' junk, it might very well tarnish your views toward RV'ing, and make you where you don't want to do it anymore.

If the 5th wheel has been taken care of, and the normal maintenance performed on it, I personally would not be afraid of something more than 3 years old. I'm not sure where this '3 yr. old' number came from, but I can tell you this:
My 5'er is a 2003 model, and it is just as sound (structurally & otherwise) as the day it rolled off the Holiday Rambler assembly line. I recently had a gremlin in what turned out to be my pickup's brake controller, but all we knew when the problem arose was that we had a problem with the 5'ers brakes. I took the trailer to the place where I do my trading, and they immediately figured out/fixed the problem, but while the 5'er was there, I had them do a "check up" on the unit. Anyway, to make a long story a little bit shorter, our trailer came back A+; and again, it's now 7 yrs. old!! We are keeping our fifth wheel for a ~while~ longer, too! No more than we get away, it fits our needs to a tee, and this sounds a whole lot like what you're gonna do with one, also.

It sounds like you know what you want in a 5'er, so now you need to make sure that the one(s) you are considering purchasing are indeed of sound quality. If you know somebody that has a 5'er, and knowledge about these type things, take him along. Look at the roof, the water lines, the appliances, etc etc. Make sure it does not have water damage! That will kill the fun quicker than anything!


2007 Chevrolet dMax/Allison(LBZ), one ton, dually, crew cab w/PPE Standard
2003 Holiday Rambler Alumiscape, 34'


sirdrakejr

Las Vegas, Nevada

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Posted: 09/23/10 10:46pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Check this site RV sales online to get an idea of what is out there for the money you want to spend.
Frank


2011 Palomino Maverick 1000SLLB on a 2004 Dodge Quadcab CTD Ram3500 SRW long bed equipped with Timbren springs, Stable Load bump stops, Rickson 19.5" wheels/"G" range tires and a Helwig "Big Wig" rear anti sway bar.


Dutch & Di

Livingston, TX

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Posted: 09/23/10 10:55pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I can only tell you we purchased our 1996 Carriage Conestoga brand new and have been fulltiming in it for 14 years. It is still structurally sound. The interior after 14 years looked good but colors were a bit dated. The exterior was good too but the graphics were showing wear and the fiberglass a bit oxidized even though Dutch waxed it regiously. We looked at new last year and decided instead to "redo" our Carriage inside and out. A good decision for us. Happy hunting and let us know what you end up doing. Diana

SeeingStars wrote:

After a year of researching, we've begun the process of purchasing a fifth wheel, hopefully in the next 4 to 6 weeks. I have my eye toward a high-end used rig for the best combination of quality and price. There's been a lot of discussion about getting a 3 year old rig for 1/2 of retail price, but what can I expect in terms of structural soundness going a little older than that?

With this being our first RV, I'd like to get by without shelling out $35k to $40k on a rig that's going to have to suffer through our learning process. I'm thinking of something more like under $20k.

I have an eye toward a couple of rigs so far that are representative...

a 2002 Cameo, a 2002 Kountry Star and a 2000 Hitchhiker that are all good fits in terms of floor plan, size/weight and storage. Do these rigs (generally) still have a few years of life in them at that age? It won't be used for full time living, but it's expected they'll see a lot of use for long weekend camping trips and extended vacations over the next couple of years.

Your thoughts?

FYI - the tow vehicle is a 2009 GMC 3500HD SRW with a scaled weight of 7800#....so the big, heavy old rigs are probably too much for the truck....looking more in the range of 14k GVWR or less.

Thanks,

Mike



2014 Western Brown Pearl single cab Ram 3500 Dually. Aisin Transmission, Pace Edwards auto rolltop cover.
1996/2010 Triple Slide Carriage, Mor/Ryde Susp, Kodiak Disc Brakes, Big Foot Auto Leveling System, TST TPMS

SeeingStars

Desert Southwest

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Posted: 09/23/10 11:02pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the replies everyone. As I've shopped and done my research it just seems like the older higher end rigs are still in better structural condition than a lot of the lower priced new fifth wheels out there. Knowing that the first fifth wheel is going to be a learning experience, I'd rather get something solidly built, but inexpensive.

We do a lot of tent camping now in the Southwest where we're out in the middle of nowhere for 2 or 3 days at a time hiking or enjoying the super dark skies with a telescope. So it'll see a lot of use for short boonddocking trips about once a month.

Additionally, as a consultant who travels as much as anybody, the trailer will likely see some double duty as my hotel room when the work location is relatively nearby.

After an enormous amount of research, discussion and tire kicking I'd come to the conclusion that I could buy a hitch and fifth wheel to go with it for under 20k total if I was willing to go with an older rig of 7 to 10 years old. It sounds like my conclusion was reasonably correct. Thanks.

oldbeek

lancaster CA

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Posted: 09/23/10 10:49pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have a 93 Alpenlite 27sl 5th wheel. It has 100,000 miles of towing. Just returned from 13,000 mile trip to Alaska. It is solid with some wear. Alpenlite has things no others have. Are you a boondocker? 100 gallon fresh water. 100 ga black, 100ga waste tank. Not always looking for water and sanitary dump. Full belly pan for aerodynamic flow and lots of insulation. Iron centered window glass. You can see out, outside can't see in. No rolled down curtains all day for privacy. BIG axles wheels and tires. Shock absorbers. All a must.Look at an Alpenlite and then compare. I plan to run this rig another 10 years and possibly another 100,000 miles.


1994 27sl Alpenlite, 2001 Dodge Cummins auto 3.54 stock

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