Tag: RV Trailer
Things are changing in the world today. More retirees than ever are purchasing RVs and the occasional RV trailer in order to spend the remainder of their productive lives enjoying the sights and visiting friends and families while still maintaining a home. The only difference between this home and the one they maintained when they were still working is this one just happens to have wheels on it and can travel all over the country.
You will find many variations among the full timers: some still have physical homes in warm localities where they go to visit during the winter while others choose to sell their homes and invest all the capital into the purchase of a recreational vehicle that will carry everything they need as they leave their brick and mortar homes behind. The majority choose to gradually move into the RV lifestyle and gain the knowledge over time that they can use a little bit of ingenuity to recreate the comforts they had when they were living in a stationary home.
While there are many varieties of RVs available, they all fall into one of two categories: motorhomes that you drive or a trailer RV that requires the use of a tow vehicle. Motorhomes are a little pricier because they have an engine. You can purchase them in a variety of sizes with prices that range from inexpensive to extremely luxurious. These RVs fall into three different categories:
The class A motorhome is what usually comes to the minds of most people when they hear the word. These RVs include built in living accommodations—or at least they play an integral part of the vehicle. It’s possible to find models as long as 44’ in length, but most of them are a few feet shorter.
The Class B is also called a conversion van and is much smaller than the Class A; as the description implies, it is approximately the size of a van. These RVs are great for camping and overnight trips, but they are not recommended if you plan to spend any extended period of time traveling.
The Class C RV is built on a truck chassis and has the cab section attached. You will notice an overhanging cab attached; this extends over the driving area and while it is usually used as sleeping quarters, some people use it as an entertainment area to house televisions and stereo equipment. The size of a Class C RV usually falls between the Class A and Class B.
The majority of people who drive a Class A or Class C vehicle usually tow a car as well so they are able to make side trips without having to drive a big recreational vehicle down city streets.
While there are actually many other varieties of RV trailers, most full-timers travel in one of two models, both of which look very similar. The only difference is the method used for towing.
A travel trailer is a one-level unit. It is necessary to have a bumper or frame hitch for towing this type of RV. This particular type of RV is the least expensive alternatives for full-time RV living.
The second alternative is the 5th wheel. This type of RV has two levels and requires a pickup truck that is equipped with a special hitch in the truck bed for towing. In spite of its additional cost factor, the 5th wheel is considered safer to tow. 5th wheelers are nice to stay in.
The reason it is less expensive to own a RV trailer that you tow instead of an RV you drive is because they don’t have engines. Instead of a costly engine, you just tow them to wherever you’re going and then unhitch them when you get there. You can then use the tow vehicle to get to local places you need to go.
Which vehicle should you choose? The selection is a personal choice; some people like the open look of a Class A, B or C along with the fact you can pick up and drive away without going to too much trouble. In addition, you have more flexibility because you are able to tow a car or motorcycle trailer easier than you are able to do with a trailer RV.
On the down side, a travel trailer or 5th wheeler basically restricts transportation to the tow vehicle. You can certainly tow a utility trailer behind you, but it’s a little difficult. They certainly do have their advantages beginning with the fact the inside space is devoted completely to living accommodations. They are also less costly, so they are excellent choices for those who aren’t quite sure about spending long periods of time in a travel trailer. I love trailers.
The world is becoming a smaller place and the widespread use of English means that the exposure to American ideas and American culture can often lead people to believe that we live in a mono-cultural world.
It isn’t quite true, however: While, as an American, you might have no trouble finding a can of Coke in Paris compared to, say, an American looking for a Coke in Paris in the 1930s, I find that there are still huge gaps in culture and nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of the enclosed trailer.
Last summer, I spent three months living in seven different countries in Europe. I was working on a period novel set in 1890 so my research into current-day cultural differences made a pleasant change of pace for me. As well as that, I was travelling in and living in an rv trailer. The thing is that in Europe, nobody calls them that. They have a variety of names for them, but the Brits and the Irish call them camper vans or large camper vans (or, in Ireland, “feckin’ huge camper vans!”) For most Europeans, they’ve never heard of the term RV trailer except in American movies and, despite the fact that Europeans seem to be addicted to American films, this particular word has not crept into common usage. Hurray for American films.
I started my travels in Ireland and the first place I stayed in was in a camp site about two hours south of Dublin. I picked up my vehicle at Dublin Airport. It was a large one – the biggest camper van that they had and something that we in the States would call a car hauler or a toy hauler. But, as previously explained, the Irish tend to call it an oversized camper van.
The county is Wexford in a region that the Irish call “The Sunny South-east”. The word “sunny” was furthermost from my mind as a pulled into the site with my huge camper van. Contrary to popular opinion, the roads in Ireland aren’t so narrow – at least not as narrow as I had expected them to be. It was essentially a four-lane highway all the way down to Wexford. When I got there, the place looked really quaint. Camp sites in Ireland seem to be a lot smaller than they are at home and so well equipped. On that evening, there were a lot of people – mostly from abroad. There seemed to be a lot of what looked like converted equipment trailer vehicles from France and the occasional fifth wheeler from Germany. Plenty of English too, many of them with tents packed into flatbed trailers. I love trailers.
The atmosphere was really hospitable and multi-cultural. That was another surprise – the different nationalities there. I had expected to find that on the Continent proper, but Ireland sure seems to get its fair share of other visitors. We sat late into the night drinking cans of black beer and talking about flatbed trailers, with me educating my new friends on the subtle differences between American terms like toy hauler and atv trailer.
The next day, it was time to explore the rugged South-west of the country. The rain got heavier and the landscape got much prettier and it all reminded me of so many movies I’d seen at home. Then it was time to catch the ferry to see some more of Europe.
There’s a good ferry service from Cork to France and I joined a bunch of other Irish enclosed trailer owners on the Brittany Ferries ship and sailed to warmer climes. I’d only once before been on a ferry and had real rudimentary expectations. It turned out that the Irish and French really travel in style when visiting one another’s countries by boat. The ship was packed and they had a cinema on board, restaurants, bars, entertainment, a swimming pool, shops… you name it. I had a blast with all the folks I met on board.
The next morning at 7am, we disembarked. I was at the very back so I made a point of counting all the camper vans that drove off. 52 in all, with a large German-registered car hauler, a Dutch fifth wheeler and an Italian atv trailer. That’s a lot of trailers.
If you’re getting yourself tires, you’ll need to know exactly how to term what it is that you have. If I had a nickel for every time someone described their “RV”, when in fact it was something different, I’d have quite a few nickels. There is a tendency to use those two letters to cover a multitude of vehicles that vary like crazy.
For example, if like me you have a toy hauler trailer that weighs 8,000 pounds, then you’re probably going to need a 75R15C/ST205 set of tires and you need to inflate them to no more than 50 pounds per square inch (psi). When you’re driving that sucker down the highway, you should do no more than 65mph.
This is the sort of knowledge that is so lacking with so many of 5th wheeler owners. Well, when I say 5th wheeler people, I really mean all folk who have an RV type of trailer. There is a dangerous tendency for people to ignore or shun the information that’s necessary to maintaining the tires on their vehicles, which in turn is necessary for maintaining their lives.
I’m not exaggerating for effect here. Only last fall, there was a huge pile-up on the Interstate outside of Buffalo. The cause was a guy towing a heavy duty trailer. Police said that he was going at 70mph. That’s just about within the speed limit, but the point is that it was dangerously fast for those tires towing that weight. Luckily, nobody got killed but over 12 cars were involved and 15 people were injured. All because a guy didn’t read the manual when it comes to tires. I love trailers.
The main message I want to get across to you is that there is no need to be afraid of learning a little about tires, which ones to get, how hard to inflate them and how fast you can go with your particular trailer. In fact, there is every reason to be afraid if you continue to not educate yourself.
One guy I was talking to on a forum last week told me how he had blown out his tires on his 5th wheeler no fewer than three times. The trailer had a weight of 8,000 pounds and he finally found his solution by this dangerous process of trial-and-error in the Maxxis ST225/75R15D tires. These are tires that offer more than enough protection for even a 10,000-pound dump trailer and they need to be at 65 pounds per square inch. Since his epiphany, that same guy has had no more blowouts in over eleven years of towing his toy hauler trailer over 10,000 miles. Wow, get the right tires.
Personally speaking, I am inclined to go for the overkill. As far as I’m concerned, you just can’t be safe enough, so if I’m going to need to cover an 8,000-pound cargo trailer or whatever, then I’d far prefer to have tires that can take an 11,000-pound load without any problems. That way, I can relax as I go from site to site, happy in the knowledge that at least I won’t get a blowout. Or, if I do, then it won’t be my fault. The ones that are known as ‘ten-ply’ (also available from Maxxis) are the ones you need for this level of tire security.
I also tend to go for an LT tire on my cargo trailer. It’s one of those outsized ones and in my job, I’m often required to tow loads of 12,000 pounds and more. And, I’m always in a hurry, so I want to be able to travel at the maximum speed with it. The thing to know about your LTs is that there are LTs and then there are LTs… And if you want to feel secure, then you ought to spend big.
The best in the business or either Goodyear or Michelin. The LTX from Michelin is great for the likes of a pickup truck but I personally would much prefer the Goodyear on any sort of trailer. The big advantage of the Michelin LTX is that it’s rated for up to 99mph. I don’t know if maybe they go a lot faster on the highway in France. I’m told they do. In any case, if you want to travel safely and quickly with your dump trailer, that’s the one to go for. I like all trailers, you can find a use for your needs.
If you’re trying to make a decision about buying a new RV trailer, there are two possibilities that might meet the needs of most people. Have you thought about your next recreational vehicle? For some people the choice may be between two types: a 5th wheel travel trailer or a teardrop trailer. Why would either of these choices work well for the average RV owner? There are several things you may want to consider before making a choice.
The downturn in economic conditions and most especially in the housing market has made the purchase of huge mansions an economic disaster for many potential home buyers. It’s possible recreational vehicles will soon see the same fate. With the high cost of fuel, it’s not difficult to see how the concept of “less is more” theory can also refer to the RV industry.
Full-Time RV Living
Many people are considering the concept of living full time in an RV trailer, especially after retirement. The other thing that comes to mind is new vs. used, but many times it’s quite possible to find a good used RV for just a modest investment. They are less costly than new RVs and provide a great means for vacationing and even living full-time for those who desire the over the road lifestyle.
What is the best vehicle for full-time living? While this will vary from person to person, a great choice is a used 25 foot 5th wheel trailer that includes a modest size living room slide out. The slide out trailers offer more room. To add additional space you might want to consider the bunkhouse model even if there will only be two of you traveling.
Some of the things you may want to consider when you are looking for the right trailer RV or 5th wheeler to buy include the following:
- It is substantially cheaper to buy a used model. You can save fifty percent off the price of a new trailer for one that is five years old, and even more for a ten year old model.
- Lacking running gear, you can buy a set of tires and you’re good to go. The worst thing that night happen is you may need to replace the refrigerator.
- You can remodel and upgrade a used RV trailer to fit your needs.
- You can use the bunkhouse as a laundry room. All you have to do is get rid of the bunks and install a stackable washer and dryer. You can use the extra room for hamper space, additional closet space, or a place for your cleaning supplies such as a mop, broom and dust pan. If you get rid of the carpeting you won’t need a vacuum cleaner, but if you so desire, this is also a good place for that.
- You can usually tow a 25-foot 5th wheel trailer with a five/eighths ton pickup truck. This will provide a smoother ride and better mileage that trying to haul a 38-foot trailer with a one ton pickup. I love 5th wheel trailers.
- Smaller trailers are easier to maneuver when you need to get into tight spaces.
The Teardrop Trailer
Some search online will provide you with many design options for the teardrop trailer. You can also buy a shell and outfit it in the way that suits your needs best. Some of the things you might want to have in your 5th wheeler or trailer RV include:
- Extra battery capacity
- A solar panel
- A water system
- A gas refrigerator
Some other things you may want to add to your teardrop trailer include:
- HF/VHF ham radio for those times you are out of cell phone range
- Portable shower (for obvious reasons)
If your idea of the perfect camping trip is cooking outdoors you can choose the clam shell model. You can tow this trailer RV with a smaller pickup thus allowing it to maintain fuel efficiency that larger trailer RVs and motor homes cannot match. I’m ready for a trailer vacation.
The fifth wheeler is, in many ways, something of a rebel. This radical dude of a vehicle surfs the fine line unashamedly between the universes of the trailer caravan and the motorhome, yet it doesn’t belong to either. It inhabits its own universe, cutting its own groove in a style that is all of its own.
When it comes down to it, however, and you really want to classify the 5th wheeler, then you’d have to come on the side of the caravan. The fact is that that this a car trailer that you can actually live out your life in perfect comfort; it’s an enclosed trailer with all the modern conveniences of a house but it’s a house with benefits. I love the fifth wheel I stay in.
We are lucky in the US to possess so much wide open space. Some people estimate that, even given the rapid and seemingly exponential rise in the world population as is, it would take another 4,000 years to fill the US of A right up. It means that you have an enormous and effectively endless landscape in which to explore with your rv trailer or whatever. People in Europe love their caravans, but they don’t have the whole range of stuff to attach to your car that we have here in the States. Ask any Brit or English-speaking continental what a 5th wheeler is and the chances are he or she won’t know what you’re talking about. Over there, the huge open spaces that we sometimes take for granted just don’t exist.
We got millions of acres of pure nothing that the Europeans can only dream of. That pure nothing is the difference. That pure nothing is space in which we can play and into which we’ve dreamed into existence a whole range of playthings. And my favorite is (no – not the toy hauler!) is the aforementioned friend with the additional wheel.
The maintenance is the first thing. Even in the most modest of fixed homes, you’re going to have pay an average of $2,000 a year and then some tax on top. When you take to the road like me and my wife, you’ll find that the maintenance costs go way down. Also, you learn to look after the basics of engine maintenance too, so you’re able to do all the stuff that many folks fork out for – stuff like getting your car serviced even though it’s running fine. In fact, I worked out that if you combine the average home maintenance and tax bill and the average car maintenance bill and subtracted the maintenance costs of your comfy heavy duty trailer, you save yourself about $2,500 every year. That’s the sort of money that don’t grow on trees.
And it’s comfortable. Boy, is it comfy! The first time I was in an enclosed trailer of any sort was in my parents atv trailer back in the late 1950s. Back then, the technology wasn’t so great and, even though I had a lot of fun, I got kind of tired of living in the atv trailer after a prolonged stay anywhere and I wasn’t impressed with the cold factor and the lack of warm washing facilities.
Having any kind of trailer is an asset.
So, for many years, I rejected the idea of even buying one myself, even though my wife was always suggesting it. Eventually, after pressure from the kids (they were getting older and louder), we invested in an rv trailer that looked like it had been converted from a car trailer and a large tree.
My eyes were opened. And the comfort factor has been ratched up another few notches since. Now, I actually find that sleeping in my 5th wheeler is more comfortable and warmer than sleeping in any of the houses I’ve lived in.
The other beauty of moving into a home with wheels is that you can sell your solid home and make one hell of a profit -the sort that you didn’t think it was possible to make as you go through life selling one house to afford a better one. The extra cash you have might be useful for college expenses and the like, or maybe buying that wine collection you always promised yourself.
I like saving money with a 5th wheel.
Whatever your own personal reasons, I guess I’m just someone who has found a wonderful way out of the normal way of life and even more wonderful of rejuvenating my life and my love life with the woman I love. I’ll be singing the praise of life in the fifth wheeler ‘til the day I die.
Let’s start with a definition of what it is: A utility trailer is a device that is pulled by a vehicle without having any independent means of propulsion itself. So, the trailer can be pulled by a truck, or a car usually. But it can be pulled by any mechanically-propelled machine. I’m the proud owner, for example, of a motorcycle trailer, while my neighbor has a car trailer.
They can be used for the convenient transport of all manner of bulky object (and that includes humans!) from bricks to badgers.
For most of us, we may never come into close contact with a utility trailer in our lives. That is to say, we may never use one at all. But that would be a shame. As a trailer owner myself, I can attest that it was one of my most proud purchases I ever made in my life – and this is coming from a guy who has bought a lot of worthless junk in his time.
If you’re moving house, for example, what are you going to do? Sure – you could hire a van or maybe you know someone with a fifth wheeler, but if you have your own utility trailer, then you can do it yourself, pack all the stuff yourself the way you want it and unload it all again with you in charge. I might sound like I’m rabbiting on here, but I do know what I’m talking about. The last time I had to move house was about eight years ago. At the time, I didn’t have a car trailer, so I was kindly offered the use of a flatbed trailer from a buddy of mine. I couldn’t believe the thrill I got from being able to fit so much stuff in each journey. It opened my eyes and I’ve been a happy man since.
Not Just for Moving-House Days
Of course, the trailer isn’t just for the very rare days that you need to move your whole house. Where the utility trailers really come into their own is in the more regular, everyday chores that they are so useful for. Hauling timber, for example. If you need lumber for DIY or for burning, you just pop that sucker into your trailer and off you go, buddy!
Here’s another example: Last Spring, I needed to get some horse manure from a friend who lived about 10 miles away. If I didn’t have that atv trailer, I wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of her offer. My garden produce was great this year.
Okay. So you want to get a trailer but don’t know which one? In the listing following, I’ve attempted to include as comprehensive a list as I can manage. If I’ve left anything out, don’t hesitate in mailing me or shouting really loud.
Open or Enclosed?
This is a good first question to start with. This all depends on what sort of stuff you want to transport. If it’s messy like manure or seaweed, then you want an open trailer, but if you’re transporting furniture or something more prone to weather damage, then you might want to think about a
toy hauler as opposed to a flatbed trailer. The other issue you might want to think about, of course, is security. The enclosed trailer is one that can be safely locked along with its contents, while the open trailer is… well, open.
Most people will go for the open trailer. This is down to needs and price. The enclosed variety will set you back much more than the open one, which is usually a simple enough piece of carpentry tied to a steel frame with wheels and a tow dolly attachment.
The open trailer can be used for a wide variety of things too and they’re simple and uncomplicated to clean them. My motorcycle trailer is an open one and I’ve seen how difficult it can be to clean out the covered type afterwards when you’ve got dismantling to do. My neighbor never stops complaining about his covered car trailer.
These are a very attractive option for a couple of reasons. First of all, they can be folded as the name suggests and this means that they don’t take up muck storage space when not in use. They can be attached to pretty much any kind of vehicle, including a fifth wheeler and they are generally strong and sturdy enough for all the heavier –duty stuff too. And, it’s no problem if you want to use it as an atv trailer. A further benefit of the folding trailer is that it usually comes with a sliding feature, which means that when you get to where you want to dump your stuff or taker out the atv, then you just press the button and the bed lifts up.
Electing to purchase a toy hauler, car hauler or RV trailer, is the easy part. Knowing what to look for as you whittle down your choices, well, that part takes knowledge, skill & depth. So, we’ve condensed the incredible knowledge base of an acknowledged trailer expert, to make things easy.
As soon as you’ve isolated a trailer brand or type, it’s time to get serious. This means going over the air conditioning vents and plumbing as well as the side-seams, antennas, screw-heads, roof sealing seams and gaskets, all to an eye for seamless fit. Inspect the windows, one by one, double-checking for faultless alignment and seals. Examine every ramp & external door for gaskets and be sure they feature a positive seal. Accurate alignment means doors that can stand up to years of slamming, slapping and grabbing. Go over the specs with a fine tooth comb, to make sure your new toy hauler trailer’s ramp will safely accommodate your ATV’s weight.
Give the doors and door mechanism a critical, once over, making sure they operate fluidly. Every hinge should demonstrate a secure, super-tight, fit. Look to make sure there is no water damage or leaks. And, be sure every light switch and fixture comes on without hesitation. Trailers with generator compartments must be inspected to insure the generator compartment’s door fits snuggly and that the exhaust is not placed too closely to any of the windows.
Every RV trailer should feature intelligent design sensibilities. Can you reach the TV, Phone, Electricity, Water & Gas, fairly easily? What about the dump-valves required for proper elimination? It’s your job to make sure that everything works as designated and that the dealer answers all your questions. Do not allow a single, solitary valve to remain a mystery. Electrical hook-ups, TV cable inlets, phone hook-ups, electrical power-cords, freshwater hookups and gas or propane valves, should all be explained to you in detail. And, remember to flush out the holding tanks a few times, for practice.
Don’t forget to locate the propane regulator, so that you can confirm that it’s well configured for down-wind ventilation & that its reinforced tank features a properly designed, “hold-down,” system.
Dual tanks require understanding how your regulator isolates and swaps out the tanks. Know the location of your trailer’s master propane or gas, shut off valve & check that it’s working. Remember, no matter the type of trailer, be it toy hauler, RV trailer, enclosed or car trailer, make sure the wheel and tire sizes all match and that they’re the correct rating for your trailer load capacity. With a busy trailer dealership, sometimes tires are used for temporary transportation, as they’re coming off the shipper’s truck, that aren’t specific to that trailer. All it takes is one trailer employee forgetting to swap out the temporary tire and you’ve got a mismatch. So, don’t forget to double check for tire compatibility. And, make sure you check the trailer’s tire pressure is up to snuff. You’ll quickly learn that the pressure levels for trailer tires are much higher than those for light trucks and cars.
We can’t stress the benefit of awning ownership, enough. They can turn any toy hauler trailer, RV trailer or enclosed trailer into your own, indoor/outdoor get away. If you do opt for one, scrutinize the springs, locks and support alignment as well as making sure there are no punctures or tears in the awning fabric.
All RV trailers, toy and car haulers should be subjected to a complete chassis review. Both plumbing and wiring must be securely fastened to the trailer framework. We highly recommend looking under the bottom of the trailer to see if it’s been painted or left raw.
Double check all the lights of the RV trailer, enclosed trailer or toy hauler you’re inspecting are in good working order. This particularly means the three bar lights, the tail and clearance lights. On RV and toy hauler trailers, the interior and porch lights require extra scrutiny. We can’t emphasize the importance of really taking your time with this detail. Do they really provide enough light to read and go about your business? How’s the lighting in the bedroom, eating-space and kitchen? Are you truly happy with it? Can you reach the switches easily? And, if the battery comes with a kill switch, check that out too.
If you’re buying an RV trailer or toy hauler with built-in appliances, do an operational test, and understand how to use the generator, furnace, water heater, stove & oven, air conditioner, microwave and refrigerator. Don’t hesitate to ask the sales representative to walk you through each device. Make sure you understand all the controls/status lights on all the appliances.
RV trailers and toy hauler trailers have a fresh water pump that pressurizes the entire water system for your coach, providing you with both hot and cold water. Get to know where it’s located, which fuse it utilizes, and how to drain the fresh water system for storage and winterization.
Check your tow vehicle for a receiver-type hitch. It will look like a 2” square tube under your bumper. If you’re mounting a ball-mount to the bumper, check its towing capacity; make sure your equipment will tow the trailer of your dreams. Don’t worry if you aren’t equipped with a receiver hitch, or bumper mount; most dealers offer quality aftermarket products designed to accommodate your trailer. Also check your tow vehicle for the trailer wiring needed to get electrical power to the trailer’s lighting system, clearance lights, stop & tail lights. The trailer industry uses two predominate plug styles. On flatbed trailer, enclosed cargo or landscape trailer models, (without brakes), 99% will use a 4-way flat plug connector. This is 4 prongs all in a row. The most common system on an RV trailer, toy hauler,
car hauler, or utility trailer with brakes is a 7-way round, RV blade connector. If you have a factory installed tow package, from any of the major automotive tow rig manufacturers, this is the trailer plug you already have. Don’t worry about any of these issues, as there are plenty of options and accessories to accommodate most trailer towing and electrical connection situations.
If you’re serious about a new trailer purchase and you implement the advice offered here, you’re sure to make a far more educated buying decision when purchasing your next trailer. You’ll have far more ammunition to negotiate with the trailer dealership, who will know you’ve really done your homework and come prepared.
For people looking to simplify their lives, downsize or just travel the country, living full time in an RV trailer or 5th wheel may be a very attractive option. There have never been more kinds and types of trailer RVs available, and with a little bit of looking around and some solid research, you will be sure to find a trailer that will fit your needs and budget. There are 3 basic types of trailer RVs: Travel trailers with a bumper hitch, fifth wheel trailers that have a gooseneck hitch and toy hauler trailers that feature a garage for hauling your “toys” with you. Depending upon your particular needs, any one of these RV trailers may suit you.
The first step to determining what type of trailer RV that you need is deciding upon what type of hitch will work best for the truck that you are going to be using to haul your trailer. A bumper hitch is something of a misnomer, because it is not actually towed on the bumper, but on a receiver hitch that is attached to the frame underneath the bumper. This type has the advantage of leaving the truck bed available for hauling other things. A 5th wheel hitch is a receiver disc that is mounted in the center of the truck bed, over the axles. This makes for a more stable ride. Because of the positioning, it also allows you to pull a much heavier fifth wheel trailer than you normally could. A toy hauler trailer, on the other hand, can feature either a bumper hitch (like a travel trailer) or a goose neck hitch (like a 5th wheel). Once you determine which type of hitch to use, we next need to determine what length of trailer RV we will need to get based on what comforts you require in a living space.
The length of your RV trailer, 5th wheel or toy hauler will determine the amount of living space that you will have. One thing to keep in mind when determining how much space you will need in your trailer RV is whether or not you will get a model that has a slide out. A slide out is basically a room that “slides out” of your RV. This results in more living space. When transporting, this extra space slides back in so you can travel easily. The size and placement of the slide outs is a very important factor to consider when you’re determining which trailer to choose from. A travel trailer RV or fifth wheel that doesn’t have a slide out has a center aisle that usually runs the length of the trailer, sometimes with a bedroom at the front or in the rear of the RV, but it can be a little tight for two or more people. Essentially, if you don’t have a slide out, one person will need to be seated while the other is walking in the aisle. This is a lesson that we had to learn the hard way in our first RV. A slide out in the middle of the trailer will alleviate this problem by adding extra floor space inside of your RV trailer or 5th wheel. This is essential, in my opinion, for any couple that chooses to live full time in their recreational vehicle.
Most bumper pull RV trailers will usually have 1 or sometimes 2 slide outs; a fifth wheel trailer, however, can have up to 4. I have found that it is easiest to determine what length of RV trailer is needed by going to a large, reputable dealership and just touring a lot of travel trailers, toy haulers and fifth wheeler trailers.
Once you have figured out what type of hitch you need and how much living space you will require in your RV trailer, 5th wheel or toy hauler, you only need to pick whatever options that you think you cannot live without. There are so many different options available nowadays, from washer and dryer combinations to gourmet kitchens that feature an island and a fireplace. Any of these things that can make your life easier or simpler will greatly increase the quality of life that you will enjoy in your new recreational vehicle.
It’s been almost 5 years now since we purchased our first RV. It was a little class C and I can still remember how excited we were as we pulled off the lot and drove away on our own; we felt that we had the whole world ahead of us to explore.
We had such a good time that we sold that little class C and bought a new 5th wheel a couple of years later. We spent more time on the road exploring this country and learning about our new life. We asked for advice about a variety of things, including maintenance, from the “old timers” who’ve been doing this for years. We soaked up every bit of information we could read and although we made quite a few mistakes in the beginning, we chalked them up to experience and vowed to look at every mistake as a chance to learn.
In the beginning we made a lot of errors, but the people in the RV community were very helpful and we met a lot of different people who gave their time to help us, through advice and hands-on assistance. None of them would ever accept payment for their services; the only request they ever made of us was to pass on our knowledge to new people who would one day need it. If you’ve recently purchased a new RV or are considering doing so, this article is for you.
- Develop a maintenance habit. Prepare a checklist of projects to be performed on your trailer RV and make sure to specify how frequently each item needs to be done.
- Check the hoses before each trip. Water and sewer hoses can crack rather easily, especially if they’re left unattended for long periods of time.
- Check the tire pressure before you drive your RV anywhere. This maintenance tip will prevent blowouts and improves gas mileage. Keep an eye out for dry rot; RV tires are generally only good for about 5 years. Utility trailers, car trailers , and your cargo trailer should also have their tires checked before each trip.
- Clean holding tanks regularly. The bacteria that live in gray and black water tanks need to be flushed away routinely to prevent unpleasant odors from leaking into your RV. You don’t want to spend several days on the road in a recreational vehicle that smells like an outhouse.
- Check the fluid levels in automatic transmissions regularly and perform frequent oil and air filter changes.
- Perform regular battery maintenance. Clean the battery regularly and always do a check on the charge before each trip.
- Check the brake pads on your RV at least once a year and replace them as needed.
- Keep RV supplies on hand at all times. Carry them in the storage compartment outside your vehicle or place them in an enclosed trailer to carry along during trips. Some items to include are a toolkit, leveling blocks, a pressure regulator for city water and extension cords. These are just a few suggestions; as you become more comfortable with your RV you will want to add items personalized for your own vehicle.
- Perform regular maintenance on your air conditioner. I have found that almost all air conditioning problems could have been prevented with a little effort. Clean the air filters at least biweekly when the air conditioner is in operation. If the motor has oil ports, carry non-detergent oil in your utility trailer for touch ups. Be aware that the motor only requires a few drops of oil annually. Clean the condenser coil twice a year by popping the cowl off the air conditioner and carefully brushing the dust off the fins.
- Buy the highest-quality products you can afford. If you decide to haul an ATV or purchase a motorcycle trailer, make sure it is of the best quality possible and be sure to check the axles regularly to avoid leaving your trailer on the side of the road.
These are only a few of the maintenance suggestions out there for new RVers. Before taking your new 5th wheeler or motorhome out on the road I would advise you to read everything you can on the subject to avoid mishaps. You may wish to consider joining an RV club. Not only can they provide you with savings at many campgrounds, they are also filled with information on how to keep your investment working like new. Above all, talk to other RVers and learn from them. They’ll provide you with a variety of tips and tricks to make your travels as smooth as possible until the day that you’re able to pass the information you’ve learned onto the newer generation of campers.
Many people don’t know what determines the need for brakes in an RV type trailer. Basically, any trailer weighing over 3,000 lbs., should be equipped with brakes. (For rules specific to your state, contact your local DMV.) So, does your RV trailer, fifth wheel or car hauler have brakes? Approximately 99% of these types of trailers sport electric brakes. So, how do these types of trailers differ from tow vehicles? The big distinction is that while tow vehicles use hydraulics to activate the braking system, 5th wheelers, car haulers & trailer RV types utilize electricity. Other than the way they’re activated, electric trailer brakes work in much the same manner as the hydraulic drum brakes found on cars and trucks. This article focuses on the best methods for confirming your 5th wheeler, car hauler, or RV trailer’s electric brakes are working properly, without having to go to the trouble of tearing down the system.
In the front section of your trailer, referred to as the tongue area, you should see a breakaway switch (fig #1) and a small battery (fig #2). These two items work in concert as an emergency backup system. If the trailer should separate from the tow vehicle, this system will automatically trigger the brakes. When the breakaway switch plunger is pulled out, it activates the breakaway switch. This switch allows battery power to be sent to the braking system, which applies the brakes, stopping the disengaged trailer.
How best to determine that your car hauler or 5th wheeler’s breakaway system is truly working correctly? Start with a simple test that we recommend you incorporate into your preparation routine, every time you travel. Number one, start by pulling the emergency plunger switch from its receptacle. (Figure #3). Find a wheel with a braking drum and touch any available screwdriver to that brake drum. (Figure #4). Should the screwdriver react as if you’re touching a magnet, you have just confirmed that your emergency breakaway system and battery are working properly. Bottom line, regardless of whether it’s an RV, car hauler or fifth wheel, your trailer’s brakes are comprised of an electromagnetic, braking engagement system. When a current is relayed to the braking magnet, the magnet’s surface interfaces with the brake drum, magnetizing the drum. As we’re focusing on magnetizing drums, it’s critical to understand that with many years of use, your trailer’s brake drums may ultimately become permanently, magnetized.
Once this happens, it’s essential to be able to separate this problem from brake shoe, brake cluster and brake adjustment problems. This can eliminate unnecessary diagnostic or part replacement, expenses. Not to mention the potential agony of having your system stripped down. The minute you feel that your trailer RV or car hauler’s braking system isn’t up to snuff or reacting correctly, the first step is to immediately disengage the trailer’s electrical connectors, (figure #5), from the towing rig.
The next step involves touching a screwdriver to the brake drum. If the screwdriver appears to be drawn to the brake drum, like a screw to a magnet, your brake drums have succumbed to becoming magnetized and need to be replaced. (Figure Six).
The source of this problem always fascinates anyone who’s never dealt with it, before. Here’s the quick explanation. Electromagnetic brakes work in sync with the vehicle’s brake drum, being drawn to one another as you increase braking pressure. (The reason why we count on electromagnetic brakes is because their rapid pulsing help prevent the brakes from locking up, the way they can with mechanical brakes.) But, once the brake drum has aged and acquired a magnetic field through continued contact with the electromagnet, the brake drum actually interferes with the braking system. It stops attracting the electromagnet and starts repelling it. This causes the brakes to feel as if they’re continually engaged, yet, they provide an inferior braking result when you try to slow down or stop.
Be vigilant about checking your trailer brakes. Inspect them yearly. Spring seems to be a popular time for a thorough, top to bottom RV trailer or fifth wheel, review, as you prepare for the season’s outings. Don’t hesitate to check out your trailer manufacturer’s site for additional safety precautions. And, reach out to your dealer for additional info as well. You simply cannot get too much advice when it comes to trailer safety.