A recent work trip provided an opportunity to visit RV dealerships in Springfield Missouri. I could see Karen and I purchasing our fifth wheel a year before we hit the road full time. Buying from a relatively nearby dealership would be convenient for service.
This was going to be a very long blog post about different fifth wheel models, pricing, new and used units. I’ve decided to break up the information in several articles. I did a quick study comparing one dealership’s pricing, advertised inside the trailer, that was different than their online advertised price. That might be interesting reading.
Several questions came up which are in black boldface type within this blog post. I’m hoping readers might answer them and that some would have the same questions regardless of what type of RV they are planning to travel in.
This recent tour of fifth wheels included the new 2017 Heartland Bighorn Traveler. This is a slightly scaled down version of the very popular Bighorn. The forums have been fairly active by current Bighorn owners commenting the lessor priced Traveler would basically cheapen the brand and lower the resale value of the “real” Bighorn. More about the Traveler in a future article.
One dealership was located next to Interstate 44 and had several trailers parked next to each other and within 100 yards of the interstate. I found a Bighorn, Montana and Cedar Creek sitting side by side. This provided a unique opportunity to sit inside each trailer and compare the outside noise level. I thought about quickly searching for a phone application to measure sound levels but figured that was not really necessary and doubted it would be accurate. There have been debates on the forums comparing noise levels between trailers with laminated wall construction and hung walls.
Each of the three trailers had similar wall thicknesses and each had dual pane windows. I did not evaluate the insulation value of the walls, ceilings and floors which would make a difference. What’s most important is comparing the hung walls of the Cedar Creek with the laminated walls of the other trailers. This topic demands more research. My unscientific results were; the Cedar Creek was okay unless a large truck came down the interstate. Inside the Bighorn it was slightly louder than the Cedar Creek. And I could hear a lot of highway noise inside the Montana but it was about 30’ closer to the road. I learned having a meter to measure the noise level would have been handy. The nearby highway might have the same results as screaming kids outside at an RV park. Perhaps the best way to influence noise level is by parking trailers in quiet areas to start with! And, to me for privacy issues, what others are able to hear outside the trailer is equally important. I’d appreciate your opinion of noise level differences between laminated and hung walls. A few trailers we are considering have hung walls which are the DRV, Augusta’s Ambition and Cedar Creek.
Along with the Bighorn Traveler, and with purpose, I toured the following trailers:
Keystone Montana 3720RL. This is a 39’7” rear living room floor plan. I wondered if it would be an issue having the furnace hot air exhaust vent on the main awning side? Really don’t want to listen to fans running or having hot air blown on us when seated under the awning. The level-up controls were located to the forward portion of the trailer rather than behind the basement door which I’d think would be convenient while hooking up to the truck. Surely being able to view the hitch would be nice? But then again most level-up systems allow you to first return the trailer pin to the same level it was when you unhooked the trailer. This is going to be an interesting floor plan to write about because of the hallway location and its effects on kitchen counter space.
Keystone Montana 3790RD. This is a 41’1” rear den floor plan. We toured this trailer in 2015 when first introduced. At the time it was an award winner. This is a five slide trailer. I recently read you should not walk on the slide floors when they are retracted for storage inside the trailer. Is that true? I am also wondering what folks mean by looking for slides with flush floors and if that makes a difference if you walk on them when retracted? My assumption is flush floor slides don’t have a big lip on the front where it would be easier to trip. This trailer has two sets of stairs inside. This elevates the bedroom and rear living room, allowing for the best outside storage in any fifth wheel I’ve researched. I also wonder if a “unique” floor plan might hurt resale?
Heartland Bighorn 3750FL. This is a 41’9” front living room plan. Unfortunately, the kitchen slide blocks access to the bedroom. Some say that’s not an issue when stopped for a quick overnight stay at Walmart because they just bring the slide out enough to gain access. Is this true? This is another trailer with two sets of stairs allowing for more outside storage, thereby overcoming the smaller basement issue found in other front living room models. We are trying to stay at or under 40’ in length so this one might be off the list.
Used 2016 Keystone Montana 3402RL with the legacy package. I always try and walk through used trailers to see how they are holding up. Of course, I have no idea if they were lived in full time or not. This trailer looked new other than the carpet was mashed down and it smelled musty inside. Perhaps they should have vacuumed the carpet. I also wondered if running a dehumidifier would make a difference? I run one in the basement of our sticks and bricks home and it draws out maybe a half-gallon of water from the air each day during the summer.
I’ll get right to work on my blog posts regarding what I discovered about pricing, each of the above trailers and the new Bighorn Traveler. Karen and I are still trying to decide what floor plan works best for us in terms of general layout. We are leaning towards a rear living room. Or the front living room if we can find one without a lack of basement space, a dinette slide under the main awning and having full access with the slides in. Hence the reason we are looking at rear dens with the extra set of stairs. These floor plans seem to meet the needs of our expected travel style. The 2017 models may become the year from which we buy a used trailer. I’m also reading everything I can find regarding service after sale by each manufacturer, focusing on owner’s forums for more detailed research