Back in November 2018 I started to break down the reasons Karen and I have selected the 35’ Vanleigh Vilano 320GK as our next home. That was followed up with a briefer post concerning resources you could go to and find out more specific information from the manufacturer. I’ll continue with a few details in this article for those interested. This might be worth reading as it could provide a few ideas when selecting your own fifth wheel. This is part three of what is becoming a four part series.
I’ll continue with the specifics from where I left off in November, having already covered available options, customer service and the appliances Vanleigh installs. This posting will cover furniture, electrical, trim and insulation. Part four will include foundation, plumbing, mechanical systems, cargo capacity and additional comments about the exterior and interior.
Furniture: This is a category we test in every fifth wheel Karen and I considered. You quickly learn there are brands like Thomas Payne (by Lippert) and then the others. Over the years I paid particular attention to brands used by some of the more upscale trailers as well. Regarding the bed mattress; we are leaning towards a queen size to allow more walking room around the sides. In most new trailers it’s common for dealerships to ask that you not lay on them. Well, we snuck in a few tests anyway. Personally, I prefer one with inner springs but mostly you find some form of foam used. Vanleigh uses a cool gel memory foam and without living with it for a while I can’t give an honest opinion of its comfort. As this fifth wheel is a wide-body it comes with a full-size 80” sofa while still retaining enough room for small shelves at each end. In this short of a trailer you should also consider the width of the theater seating which in this case, and all 2019 Vilanos regardless of trailer length, is 60”. In the mid- 2019 models they started using Franklin furniture which is custom built for Vanleigh. I first noticed this brand as a luxury when finding it in the 2016 DRV Mobile Suites. As a side note many manufacturers including Vanleigh are installing theater seating with power recliners. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to operate the seats when not connected to shore power or a generator. A good way to see if you are looking at the most updated 2019 model is to look for the power seat button which was moved from the back inner portion of the seat arm to the front where it is more convenient. Small details like this really help when shopping for the most current version of a floor plan.
Electrical: There is a lot to cover here but I’ll try and be brief. If you are looking to limit the number of things that could go wrong in an RV, then the Vanleigh Vilano might or might not be the brand for you. Tiffin took their 40 years of motorhome construction experience and transferred some of that knowledge to their fifth wheel. Their Spyder Multiplex wiring system is one of those systems. You will not find many old-style switches for lighting in the Vilano. Panels are well positioned around the RV on touch pads. This includes the main control panel. The lights are dimmable inside which is huge to me. And there is a vendor working on a Bluetooth wireless interface for your phone. Just like Keystone’s inCommand system, you can control the awnings and more from the interface. This system is standard in the Vilano. Motion sensing lights are used in key areas. If it’s important, the living room television is 50” but is not on an arm to view from the kitchen as far as I can find; presumably because the TV also sits on legs for stability when traveling. The Vilano “solar prep” is a joke where you can only add a portable panel plugged into the front of the trailer. Compared to a Keystone Montana who includes wire runs to the roof. Lighting on the celling is recessed for a cleaner look. The trailer is setup with two batteries and an electric cord reel for that heavy 50-amp cord is standard. Personally, I would rather have a manual winding reel. What’s different here is the cord reel is tucked out of the way with the guts concealed behind the wet bay. As far as I know Vanleigh has not added any preparation for WIFI or cellular connectivity which Keystone is now doing. Here is a big one; Vanleigh uses external water and sewer tank level monitors rather than the ones that are installed inside tanks which corrode or cover with toilet paper. Owners on their Facebook page seem to be satisfied with the tank monitors. Of course, as with others in this price point, they are using LED lighting. But go a step further by including LEDs on the outside of the trailer. I have no idea what brand of power converter they are using and can only hope it has multi-stage charging which is more efficient. Nor do I know what brand of inverter they use in the case of the residential refrigerator option other than it is pure sine wave. Twelve-volt tank heaters are standard. I appreciate how they hang the ceiling fan down from the ceiling attached to a large box for better air flow. Like the appliances the stereo and TVs are Furrion brand. They brag about wrapping electrical runs in plastic wire looms to reduce the chance of wires rubbing against framing. USB ports are everywhere but I could never find a 12-volt cigarette lighter style plug which would be beneficial for a portable inverter and more. I’ll probably add an inverter connected to an outlet or two (and the electric recliners) after the fact. And finally I appreciate the whole house vacuums hose feeding from and to an enclosed area in a wall rather than having to store the hose in a closet or otherwise.
Trim Work and Cabinets: If folks buy what they can see, then they will buy this trailer. It’s beautiful with diesel motorhome level trim work and cabinets. This feature, as well as others, might be a reason the cargo capacity is not so great in most of the Vilano floorplans without the 8,000-pound axle option. Although that’s not an issue in the shorter 320GK as I will report about in part four of this “book”. The solid wood cabinets are tall, extending to the ceiling line. This includes within the 8’ slide heights. Karen liked the drawer and cabinet hardware in the 2018 models but not so much in the 2019s as they are knobs rather than handles. She is going to need a stool with two steps to reach the top shelf. With the 320GK being a relatively shorter trailer, the extra cabinet space could come in handy given the basement storage area is smaller than what you get in a 40’ trailer. The drawers are not soft closing, like the Cedar Creek, however I believe they are a tad better constructed than the Cedar Creek, Montana and Bighorn. There are two stain options and several finish gloss selections where the factory will apply whatever glossiness you want. They use off brand shades, meaning something other than the preferred MCD brand. There is no worry of light coming around the shades as the valences are solid wood which extend well around the corners of the shades. I also like the fact there is no carpet, to include the bedroom other than under the theater and dining seating. Another feature in the Vilano is a soft touch vinyl ceiling. I truly believe, and they advertise, the soft touch ceiling is good for noise reduction. The hardwood wainscoting on the bedroom sidewall is a nice residential touch. It seems minor but I really wanted a trailer with cabinets over the theater seating which is included in this floor plan. I think it will be convenient. The reason this is sometimes not found in other trailers is first, other trailers don’t have 8’ ceilings in the slides like the Vilano. And second, the extra cabinets cut out a good portion of what would be a large window on the entrance door side of the trailer. Fortunately this 35′ floor plan does come with a pantry in the kitchen!
Insulation: The fully enclosed underbelly is a common feature. Perhaps not so common is the heating duct to the basement area has a return air for circulation. R45 ceilings and floors with an R11 sidewall that’s slightly better than average. The ceiling has a thermal wrap. There is no venting of the attic space like in the Montana which is used to vent off condensation. Better rolled insulation is used to cover the attic space rather than cutting and filling gaps with foam insulation.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comment section. I’ll be back later with the final chapter regarding the features of our trailer decision which we thought were important. Then maybe I’ll have time to announce we bought a truck this past week. It’s a slightly used 2018 Ram 3500!