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Old 11-10-2014, 11:58 PM   #1
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First timer considering a 5th wheel toy hauler....

Hello to everyone!

So here is my avalanche of questions!

I am looking to buy my first camp trailer this year. Never owned one but am excited to get into the club. I've talked with lots of friends who own or have owned trailers and determined that I want a toy hauler fifth wheel. I've been told that the fifth wheel will be safer and much more manageable when towing. My wife isn't the most comfortable with driving large vehicles and definitely not with towing. It seems the fifth wheel offers more stability and a more confident towing experience than a bumper pull. I've kind of settled on the PUMA 351THSS and, though it is much larger than I had originally planned on, I think that it's a good fit for my family (3 young kids and a dog [and another little puppy soon ]) and what we want to do. I like the floorplan and all the feedback I've read is that it is well built and reliable.

But had some questions before I run off and spend a wad of money.
I've posted many of my questions on the 351THSS thread already but was advised by a veteran forum member that I should post it here in the general forum as the 351THSS thread is really long and old.

Some questions I have are;

As I've gotten more set on getting this fifth wheel and really considered it's size, I'm starting to question my reasoning that led me to it. I'm scared that it's maybe too big?? It offers all of the features and the layout I want and need for my family, but I am concerned how manageable it will be for the kind of camping I want to do.

Besides regular week-long family trips to various locations, I envision being able to jump in the truck on a whim and drag the trailer for the weekend to a high mountain reservoir, Yellowstone, Camping in the pines, etc. etc. (Northern Utah or southern Idaho). Anyone give any feedback on my thoughts? Do I need to reconsider and settle for something smaller?

(As a side note, my brother owns a smaller TT Toy hauler and I asked him about it. He told me that the locations we end up at would probably be somewhat different than I imagine because of the wife and kids' preferences. He also said that he woud have gone bigger and done something more like the 351THSS... That helped to cinfirm things for me but I'd ike to hear from some seasoned vets.)

I assume this is considered a 35 foot 5th wheel (based on the "351THSS" name) but the total actual length is really 37 feet. Is that correct? So as I search forums and sites I get confused as to what people are referring to when they say "I have a 35 footer" or "I have a 37 footer" are they generally referring to total length or to the rated size of the trailer? It seems at times like people refer the trailers that are only a couple feet longer as being much bigger rigs. I've seen people referring to 35 footers as reasonably sized but to 38 footers as being "really big".

Would a smaller unit be much more manageable and convenient? Would we be more likely to use a smaller unit more often? Would it be worth giving up some the the floorplan and features we want in order to get a smaller rig?

I also need to purchase my tow vehicle and am leaning toward a 350/3500 diesel truck. Though I'm sure there are people who could give good or bad feedback on any of the three brands, I think I will go with a GM product. (Of the available brands, GM vehicles seem to be potentially the most reliable from the reviews I've read [like JD Power, etc.] even though I personally would prefer Toyota to make a 1 ton Tundra....). I plan on getting a crew cab (room for the family). I would get the 350/3500 because the price doesn't generally seem to be too much more than 250/2500's and the feedback I've been getting is that the ride quality is not much worse. If that is the case, I'd rather have the more capable tow vehicle.

If anyone has any feedback on the truck, please chime in (size, brand, model, hitch, other considerations I may not have thought of, etc.). I can use any educated information I can get.

Also, if anyone has any sage advice for someone looking to investigate and buy their first pull trailer, let me have it!



some additional smaller questions;

I don't really want to get a Monster crew cab truck with a long bed. I would like to get a standard length bed but understand that may interfere with the trailer. I've read about the auto-slide hitches as well as the Reese gooseneck conversion. My understanding of towing is minimal. I'd love to do teh Reese gooseneck so that I don't have the large 5th wheel hitch in the bed but don't know what else needs to be considered or what I should be concerned about. Any feedback would be great.

Also, is the garage area water proof (at least the lower couple of feet where the walls are covered by the metal diamond-plate siding)? I assume it would be as atv's would sometimes be muddy. I just wondered for cleaning purposes.

Does anyone have the outside shower? Is it just a hose with a showerhead? Does it have a floor? (so the user isn't standing in the mud.)

Anyone have the fuel station? Does it work well and is it worth getting? I like the idea of having it just as an emergency preparedness tool at the house even if I didn't regularly use it for toys while camping.


Thanks for helping with all my questions!
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Old 11-11-2014, 06:47 AM   #2
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wow. Lots of questions, but good you are thinking this all out. I'm assuming you NEED a toy hauler for the ATVs you mentioned. Many people have toy haulers for no good reason at all. If you need one, they are great. There downfall is all the garage space comes at a sacrifice to the living area. If a toy hauler is a must, then definitely go 5th wheel and definitely 350/3500 truck with diesel.

Only thing you didn't mention is if you have any experience towing
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Old 11-11-2014, 07:05 AM   #3
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JMO, truck for that size trailer towing in the mountains, 1 ton 8' bed dually, 5th wheel trailers are made to be towed properly with a 5th wheel hitch not a goose neck, make wide turns and watch the trailer height for trees and bridges, keep tires inflated properly, keep an emergency road side kit with reflectiv triangle and flares. Have fun and go slow your tires are only rated for 65mph. Plan your trips.
Toy hauler fuel station yes, generator yes, 2 rv batteries yes, roof vent covers yes, RV mod numbers don't reflect the actual length my 3650TH is 42 feet long. A back up camera is always good especially if you are by yourself trying to back into a spot. Do a good PDI before signing and taking delivery. They will fix any problems real quick but after you sign and take delivery its a different story with dealers and can take a lot of trips back and forth to the dealer and a lot of waiting on them. After delivery camp out in your yard to make sure everything works right and help you get to know your new trailers operation. Auto leveling system is recommended. Practice backing you new 5er before you go camping so you can see how it acts when backing into a camp spot. A 5er acts a lot different than a TT. Ok good luck and have fun be safe.
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Old 11-11-2014, 08:33 AM   #4
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wow. thanks for the tips.

Davel1971, I have little experience towing but am not too concerned. Willing to spend some time to practice and learn.

Don't need the toy hauler for toys right now but will get some in the next year or two. We really like the idea of a separate are for the kids that is easily cleanable.

MudYapster,

a lot of good notes. Thanks. Interesting what you say about the 5th wheel vs gooseneck. So a 5th wheel hookup is better than a gooseneck? (stability?, safety?).

Also, you brought up a good point. There is only one Palomino dealer in my area, and they don't deal in toy haulers. I also don't know if they would be willing to match the pricing I am seeeing online from dealers in Ohio/Indiana area. What does everyone think about buying from a dealer in another region? I understand that service at the local dealer can be a problem....
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Old 11-11-2014, 08:37 AM   #5
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My two cents:

I love my 5'er. It's a 32qbbs, but measures 38.5' long. I have a crew cab truck with a 6' bed, so I bought a PullRite auto sliding hitch. I bought the hitch because my friends were backing into a site and forgot to slide his hitch. He has a big dent on the cab of his truck and almost blew out his back window.
Tow with a dually if you can, it's a more stable platform for towing. Again that's just my opinion. I currently tow with a SRW, until I can get a dually.

Get what you will be happy with. When we bought our 5'er we knew we would have to start sacrificing wooded sites in some CG's because of the size, but we don't mind. Don't let the size scare you or stop you from using it. Buy it and enjoy it. My old TT was 30' long and I could whip it around pretty well. The 5'er is much easier to tow and whip around fuel stations, campgrounds etc. What ever you get, go to an area and practice backing with it and driving around.
Good luck!
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Old 11-11-2014, 08:54 AM   #6
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That only comment that I could add is that the pin weight on that 351 THSS is quite low...15.7% of total weight. Most TH's tend to have a much higher dry pin weight closer to 20% or more which would be a better balance depending on what you put in the garage. I don't think that you'd want any less than 15% pin when loaded as it wouldn't tow very well.

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Old 11-11-2014, 08:59 AM   #7
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X2 to all of the above...the only thing I might add is that the tow vehicle is the lynchpin in the whole equation. You're on the right track with the 350/3500, no matter the brand, but the DRW diesel is almost a must have - it will allow you to have the towing capacity to pull whatever you end up with and pull it with confidence wherever you choose to go

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Old 11-12-2014, 11:47 PM   #8
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Take it from me, if you have no experience in driving a big rig, I would avoid buying a 40 ft RV unless you are prepared to spend a considerable amount of money on repairs, not to mention the added cost of purchasing a truck sufficiently powerful enough to tow it. If I were you, I would limit the length to no more than 34 ft which could be towed with a three quarter ton truck such as a Chevy 2500 or a Ford F-250.
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Old 11-13-2014, 01:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert.beck.7737 View Post
Take it from me, if you have no experience in driving a big rig, I would avoid buying a 40 ft RV unless you are prepared to spend a considerable amount of money on repairs, not to mention the added cost of purchasing a truck sufficiently powerful enough to tow it. If I were you, I would limit the length to no more than 34 ft which could be towed with a three quarter ton truck such as a Chevy 2500 or a Ford F-250.
What does the length have to do with the repairs? I will say that is a lot of trailer for a first timer but you are avoiding the upgrades from smaller rigs. You mention wanting a TH for a separate area for kids. You might want to consider something with a bunkhouse i.e. sabre 36qbok or 34tbok.

I would go with a minimum of 350/3500 SRW, for more stability go DRW. I tow my 40 ft sabre (12000 lbs loaded weight) with my SRW chevy 3500 duramax. It is a well matched pairing. Only issue towing I have is nailing down the cause of my chucking (probably pin weight or hitch related). I have plenty of pulling g and stopping power (gotta love that exhaust brake!). If I went any heavier or any bigger I would want a drw for towing for my own comfort.

If you go 6' bed then get a slider hitch. 8' bed you don't need a slider. If you don't want a big hitch in your bed then look into the b&w turnover ball. You can get the b&w companion hitch. Or the b&w companion slider hitch to go with it. I regret going reese 16k hitch. I wish I had gone with either pullrite or b&w as I hear they handle a little smoother than mine.

I will let others advise you on the TH and the national Clarksburg I have heard you need to be under 27' ft or so for many national parks (no first hand experience with that).
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Old 11-13-2014, 06:27 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert.beck.7737 View Post
Take it from me, if you have no experience in driving a big rig, I would avoid buying a 40 ft RV unless you are prepared to spend a considerable amount of money on repairs, not to mention the added cost of purchasing a truck sufficiently powerful enough to tow it. If I were you, I would limit the length to no more than 34 ft which could be towed with a three quarter ton truck such as a Chevy 2500 or a Ford F-250.
if a new truck is needed, the price between a 3/4 and 1 ton is under $1,000. Not enough to be an issue. No sense convincing yourself you can deal with smaller just to trade up on everything in a year like most of us have done. Do it once and do it big.
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