We are just beginning our search for a 5th wheel to meet our needs. We pretty much know what floor plans we like and the features and options to include. I've seen several post discussing build quality, generic comparisons of one brand verses another brand and high end manufacturers. What I need help with is how to specifically examine the quality of a new 5th wheel. What should I be looking for regarding the build quality, materials used, frames, brakes, and the internal systems of an RV?
The size of the frame will tell you a lot, also tire quality and load rating. Disk brakes and air ride suspension are nice. Actual wood cabinetry not just photo finish luan wood. Actual fantastic fans not copys.
Look for lightly used NU WA, Cariage, or Mobile Suites and save thousands! I did!
2011 Ram Laramie Longhorn 3500 Dually Long Bed, Cummins 350/800 HO, Towin Machine
B&W Companion Hitch, Maghytec Trans and Rear Dif Covers, AMZ/OIL Top To Bottom
2007 1/2 Mobile Suites 36 SB3 27,000# Combined
Ditto. Might include Excel in your list and recognize that Carriage recently went bankrupt, materials and supplies auctioned off and is... gone. Subsequently, the most recent offerings (@ the retail price) might be somewhat suspect with regards to quality and no factory backing. Wouldn't hesitate to consider an older model already beyond it's period of warranty. They enjoyed a good reputation when things were running smoothly.
There are many suppliers of RV Components whose equipment seems to show up on most brands. Atwood, Norcold, Suburban, Coleman, Dometic, Magic Chef, etc.
Same with chassis frames, same with lighting fixtures, hardware, locks, doors, windows, faucets. Dexter brakes, Lippert Frames, EZ-Lube axles, MOR/Ryde, Carlisle and so on.
High end manufacturers are generally smaller RV Builders that build new RV's one at a time, a few employees toiling over it until it's sent out the door to a awaiting buyer who likely ordered it from an extensive build list...and plunked down some serious cash! Slow and careful=quality.
Us common folk have to go to a RV dealer, do some research and take a huge leap of faith as to if the RV we buy is NOT going to be a nightmare.
Just about every RV Manufacturer has a lineup that includes what they consider as "High End" or "Luxury" RV's. Usually they are thinly disguised lower end RV's with more whipped creme and a cherry on top. Everything under the fluff, full body paint and cosmetics is same-o-same-o as the 5th wheel that is $15,000.00 or so LESS!
To a certain extent...like everything else we buy from someone...if we like it and it is as it's supposed to be..and makes up reasonably happy...we'll buy it again AND tell everyone we know how good it is!
Word of mouth is a wonderful thing, huh?
That's why Toyota and Honda kick a$$ against "American" brands. And talk about owner loyalty!
Now a few RV brands..just a handfull really, show a great deal of confidence in what they build by giving their new owners a 2 year warranty. If they produce poor quality units...the warranty costs are going to kill them. Literally! Their financial future is in Jeopardy!
Some other brands seem to throw you to the wolves and forget your face after the 1 year warranty they give you runs out! Admitedly a few will step up and try to meet you in the middle for out of warranty issues.
Then there's longevity, how long have they been in business...Winnebago, Jayco, Airstream, KZ RV, etc that have been doing RV's for 40 years and more. Thru thick and thin, bad years and good...thru Republicans and Democrats! Still plugging along and doing well.
There are some newer RV Builders like Heartland, Redwood, Open Range etc that are new companies, ran by veteran RV industry guys, and have shown they "get it" when it comes to customer service and quality.
And your job is to wade thru this and evaluate, calculate, compare, explore and dig around. And find the right RV for your needs.
RV Shows are a great place to start, visiting local dealers, going to some RV Companies and taking a tour, talking to owners...and hanging out here helps too!
Remember that RV Companies and dealers will put there best foot forward to a new buyer...beautiful looking wood cabinets, glitz and glamor, mirrors and cut glass, hoard surface counter tops, chrome!
But look inside of cupboards, under the sofa, dig around...are the wires and plumbing supported and are the holes they run thru protected with plastic grommits...or thru rough splintery wood? Are there a lot of screws loose and construction debris left inside cabinets. Etc. THATs what quality, pride and workmanship is all about!
And a great, supportive dealer close to you is a very nice way to get stuff done on your new RV quickly and properly.
My posts shouldn't be taken for factual data, and are purely fictional, for entertainment purposes, should not be constituted as related to scientific, technical, engineering, legal, religious, spiritual, or practical advice. After all it's FREE! Amen.
I tell everyone to spend time in each unit. Look around from a chair. Sit on the commode, get into the shower. Do doors open close well?. Drawers operate smooth, are cabinets real wood inside and out. Remember weight is major factor in construction so it will not be exactly like a home. That said the corners on walls the molding should look professional. Fit and finish is number one think most don't see until after they buy. Do things look like they won't hold up under normal wear and tear? It's when your alone and just observe you will see it or not! Simple advice...
neatness of construction: look for sawdust laying around inside cabinets and spaces. If they're not neat enough to clean up after themselves, or do a neat job of running pipes/wires, then what did they NOT do with the rest of the fifth wheel.
are the countertops and flooring products names you recognize from brand names you would use in your own home???? Such as Corian countertops or Armstrong flooring.
Is the toilet plastic or porcelain??? How about the kitchen faucet and shower head?? Plastic or metal??
Check the thickness of outside cargo doors from various brands.
Please, please check out how the kitchen drawers and bedroom drawers are made. NO, repeat, NO staples or plastic runners. Dovetailed, metal runners, same heavy duty quality here you would want in your home.
The Mad Norsky, Doll, Logan and Rocky
2014 Ram 3500 w/ Cummins/Aisin
2003 Hitchhiker Discover America Quad Slide
2008 SnowRiver 10-8 D/S Torklift, FastGuns, StableLoads
RV'ing since 1991
You get what you pay for. Top grade stuff like Weakend Warrior might be worth looking into, JOKE ;o)
I really like my Eclipse Attitude so far. I did have a little saw dust, but thats about it. Only been out once in it. I looked around for quite a while and have read pretty good stuff. Well built.
Good luck on your hunt and have fun.
Call them at least an hour ahead of time if there is a model you want to see so they have the A/C on already. Keeps the ol lady more interested in staying.
I'd add that while the best warranty is the one you never use its nice to shop brands that have a bumper to hitch warranty of two years and a bonus are those with structural warranties. When someone says I'll cover everything two years AND for five years that structure is warrantied that's a commitment.... Ford mentioned some of my favorites; Redwood, Jayco, KZ, and others like Artic Fox, Excel, Doubletree, etc.
2013 Jayco Eagle 334RBTS Disclaimer for the daft: Don't confuse my opinion with facts.