License for 5th wheeler ??

Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 09:34

Member -Signman

Is a special license required for a 5th wheeler??
I was watching a bloke this morning with an obviously newish F250 with about a 25+footer rig on the back. He was trying to manoevere (sp??) in a servo, and after taking out a 'service stand' (the thing with the water/trash can etc), then a 4" diameter bollard, then hitting a customers car- he gave up and just drove away !!
I guess he went home and got back into the Camry..

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AnswerID: 302457   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 10:35

new boy replied:

Several years ago A diesel fitter mate in Geraldton built himself an articulated trailer to go behind a rodeo trayback same as a 5th wheel set up when he went to licences it the police told him as it was Articulated he therefore must have the old C class licence which he had so no worries.
Everyone else I've spoken to who has a 5th Wheeler doen't seem to worry so I'm very interested in the answer you get
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AnswerID: 302458   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 10:39

RosscoH replied:

In a word "NO", but in my opinion anyone who tows anything should be made to have an ARTICULED license, you only have to go to the local tip on a Sunday for all the entertainment you will ever need just watching people "TRY" to back a box trailer. If you can't manoever it you should not be towing it.
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FollowupID: 568511   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 11:26

Member - Serg (VIC) posted:

Agree - every trailer with GVT more then 500kg should require special license.

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FollowupID: 568607   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 18:38

Member - Fred G (NSW) posted:

If you are desperate for entertainment of that variety, go to the local boat ramp, pull up a chair ...and enjoy...:-)
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FollowupID: 568651   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 20:54

mowing posted:

Quite often at the "greens" tip people will ask me to reverse their trailer as they have no idea on how to do it. At caravan parks reversing caravans nearly always lead to an argument. If you can't reverse it you should not be towing it.

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FollowupID: 568734   Submitted: Thursday, May 08, 2008 at 09:49

Member - Serg (VIC) posted:

Fred, I know exactly what you mean and you spot on

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AnswerID: 302471   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 11:48

Rocky_QLD replied:

Dear All

As a reasonably new owner of a Fifth Wheeler the answer is no, a special license is not required. The usual things like towing weights and the like must be adhered to. In response to your post Signman I think we can all agree that we have seen many similar situations with other vehicles.

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FollowupID: 568519   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 12:15

Member -Signman posted:

So if I had the buck$ (and the inclination) I could go out and buy a 40+ feet long articulated 'truck'/combo ( and I call a dual cab F250 a truck)-
Out if the Camry, and be allowed to drive that rig around with my Camry license !!
Sheeez- I thought some of the caravanners are a worry !!

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FollowupID: 568568   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 16:24

Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) posted:

F250s not a truck you need to go up to an F350 before it becomes a truck
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FollowupID: 568938   Submitted: Friday, May 09, 2008 at 03:38

PajeroTD posted:

The only difference is an extra set of leaf springs, and the F350 badge. Even F150s are trucks
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FollowupID: 569001   Submitted: Friday, May 09, 2008 at 11:35

Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) posted:

Nope f 350s have duels but thats not the difference
- you need a truck liscense for an f350
thats why its a truck
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FollowupID: 569142   Submitted: Saturday, May 10, 2008 at 07:22

PajeroTD posted:

F350s have "optional" dual wheels (dooley). I know that cos my bro in law has an F350 crew cab with single rear wheels. I have also driven the 08 F350 diesel with singles. Here in the states, you can drive an F450 on a car license. So I guess here the F450 is a car, and in Australia the F350 is a truck? Who cares what the licensing department says. The F150, F250, F350 all the way up to F750 are ALL trucks. I had a Ford dealer tell me the only difference between a 250 and 350 was one set of leaf springs. I think Ford Australia opted for duallies on all their F350's and only ordered chassis-cab models on F350s - that maybe why you think of it as more of a truck?
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AnswerID: 302472   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 11:59

Member - Kevin J (QLD) replied:

When the matter of licence requirements regards towing caravans and the particular issue of people being unable to reverse their units even in caravan parks was put to the Hon Minister for Transport in Queensland he replied to the effect that his Department had established a priority to concentrate on the younger generation since that was the area where most accidents occured and besides there are very few reported accidents involving reversing vans in Caravan Parks.
His reasoning for not requiring additional licence levels eg articulated, was that all the other states work this current way and he could not justify having Queensland being different.

Even our local MP was left shaking his head.

Kevin J
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Reply 4 of 14
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AnswerID: 302481   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 12:58

Rocky_QLD replied:

Intesting comments so far

When we picked up our Fifth Wheeler, the manufacturer allowed for a full day of instruction which included hitching and un-hitching, normal driving and reversing. The manufacturers went to great lengths to ensure that we had previous experience in towing other vehicles, which we both had. I have heard of some manufacturers hand the keys over and off you go.
I am the first to admit that towing a fifth wheeler is different to other vehicles that i have towed, the best part being the way it tracks behind the towing vehicle. Reversing is somewhat different to other trailers and the like but once you get the hang of it it is OK.

After re-reading some of the comments already there are those that tow vehicles and those that don't.

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AnswerID: 302482   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 13:11

Neil & Pauline replied:

I few years ago a class "C" (articulated) licence was required for any articulated vehicle in WA. Now with the "standardisation" across Australia The it is only required for vehicles over a certain weight, I think 4.5 t. could still be interesting with a number of 5th wheelers.

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FollowupID: 568590   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 17:34

Old Dave posted:

Many years ago in north of WA the definition of articulated was that you can detatch the prime mover and drive it away,
We had many arguments for guys operating FEL that swivel in the middle,
I believe things changed a lot when we went national.

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AnswerID: 302494   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 14:38

PajeroTD replied:

Fifth wheels and goosenecks are more stable than tag trailers, so i don't know what the issue is. License requirements are based on the tow vehicle's capabilities, not the trailer size or hitch style. A ball hitch on the bed of a pickup/ute with a gooseneck hitch is not a 5th wheel coupling, as often mistaken. Just cos one guy couldn't do it, doesnt mean everyone else should need special licenses. Man my wallet is thick enough as it is, and it's not from excess cash!
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FollowupID: 568539   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 14:49

Rocky_QLD posted:

Well said Paj
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FollowupID: 568548   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 15:17

Member -Signman posted:

I don't claim to be an expert here..
but from your assumption, there's not a great difference between 'tag' towing a 7x4 camper trailer and a 25+ foot (say) gooseneck house on wheels !!

And ,yes, I do a bit of towing..Either a 7.6 metre trailer yacht up & down the East coast NSW (even Moreton Bay)..
and a dual axle race car transporter on occasions. !!

I apologise for my ignorance in not knowing the difference between 'fifth wheel' and 'gooseneck' attachments.

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FollowupID: 568556   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 15:45

Member - Serg (VIC) posted:


In ideal word yes, but in reality we have so many idiots who does not know what they doing – it is not a joke. Surely licensing does not guarantee against an idiot and common sense always should be exercised, but from another hand it is not that difficult neither expensive to get an endorsement. As least trailers capable curry car will not be rented to anyone.

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AnswerID: 302497   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 15:05

Member - Russnic [NZ] replied:

It all goes back to common sense. the pivot point on a 5r should be slightly in front of or in at least over the back axle. New people to the game don't know or appreciate the (swept area) that an articulated vehicle requires. I learnt at 14 years old carting in hay for the Local carrier how to turn the rig off a narrow road and through a 12" gate. Go past the gateway with the Tug swing in so the front bumper just clears the post then steer away to make room for the trailer.
I now drive an F250 with a 30" 5r on the back.
Where I have a problem here in NZ is at tight round-abouts, hang wide to let your trailer come through and some silly bitch joins the roundabout taking up your space.
DONT PASS TURNING VEHICLE signs are there for a reason
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AnswerID: 302533   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 18:32

kiwicol replied:

then there is the proffessional truck driver who has to spend heaps of dollars and time to get a licence for a semi, and then has to drive on a log book and know all the loading and restraint laws, then get abused by caravaners with so small writing on the back of the van stating what uhf channel they are on, then holding up normal flow of traffic for their sight seeing and stating they are on holidays and screw you. From experience in every state in OZ. Col
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FollowupID: 568612   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 18:54

Member - Fred G (NSW) posted:

kiwicol, what you say is spot on... I have found most truckies these days to be the utmost profesionals, not egotists, and are considered by most travellers as the guardian angels of the highways. Give them the respect they deserve, and your journey shall be all that much safer. Act like a bleep or egotistical boofhead, and you will get what you deserve.
Mind you, there is the occasional exception to the normal.
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AnswerID: 302534   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 18:44

coongoola replied:

Hi Signman,

I used to tow a Jayco Dove outback and we sold that to buy a small fifth wheeler. Ours is an Okanagan 24' which has a dry weight of 1900 kgs. Not a real big unit compared to some of the big ones that are imported from the states. Mine is asembled in Nambucca Heads and is fully Oz compliant. I tow it with a Rodeo CRD dual cab and it tows & tracks like a breeze.

Most people have not accepted the fifth wheel principal yet because we are still in Caravan/ Towball mode. 70% of new Vans in the US are fivers. Most people who have towed Caravans and then try a fifth wheeler would not go back to a normal van.

Interestingly, the overall towing length compared to my old Jayco is only 1.3 metres longer ! No drawbar see !

As far as reversing goes, I leave that to my wife !


Pat Robbo
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Reply 10 of 14
AnswerID: 302535   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 18:47

Dunaruna replied:

A fifth wheeler on an F250 with a GVM of no more than 4500kg is classed as a small articulated vehicle. Class 'C' license applies. (normal car license).

The question should now be, are we talking about a 2 or 4 wheel drive F250?
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Reply 11 of 14
AnswerID: 302541   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 19:08

Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) replied:

Dum Q---- But why are they known as 5th wheelers any real reason because i never saw the coralation
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FollowupID: 568622   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 19:29

Member -Walkabout(NSW) posted:

I think we inherited that one from the good ol U.S.of A. Refers to the circular turntable perched above the bogey drive wheels....about the best they could do I suppose...
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FollowupID: 568698   Submitted: Thursday, May 08, 2008 at 00:01

Motherhen posted:

I always call them "goose neck". Its hardly a 5 wheeler.


Red desert dreaming

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FollowupID: 568705   Submitted: Thursday, May 08, 2008 at 02:35

Member - Davoe (Yalgoo) posted:

Goose necks i understand, Saw a few goose neck horse floats way back when
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FollowupID: 568713   Submitted: Thursday, May 08, 2008 at 07:56

Member - Russnic [NZ] posted:

A goose neck drops onto a ball type fitting, a 5r has a fitting similar to a Heavy Atticulated Vehicle. I have had my HT licsence since an18yr old. Never drove a road train one dog was enough for me. The rig I drive for fun now is a F250 FX4 short bed with a sliding hitch. The 5r has an air bag hitch. I have never dragged anything better, no sway, no jerking great trailer brakes. Been over most Mountain passes in NZ including gravel roads. Like any articulated vehicle be aware of the swept area and watch out for the idiots that don't understand and expect to use your space.
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FollowupID: 568718   Submitted: Thursday, May 08, 2008 at 08:13

Member - Russnic [NZ] posted:

All up my rig weighs over 10 tonne so you need the appropiate License. An articulated vehicle is slightly differant to back than a conventional trailer or van. the pivot point being over or in front of the rear axle the reaction time is much slower, need to anticipate quicker. Always better to back on the open side. The diis-advantage in backing is the reason they are so great on the open road.
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FollowupID: 569260   Submitted: Saturday, May 10, 2008 at 20:09

Richard Kovac posted:

back when the first semi where invented they had 4 wheels on the ground and the 5th was the turn table Yankee thing
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AnswerID: 302568   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 21:11

Member - Vince M (NSW) replied:

Signman Its a different story if the towing trailer has 3 axles a class 3 or articulated licence is required no matter what the weight

regards Vince
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FollowupID: 568750   Submitted: Thursday, May 08, 2008 at 10:32

Member -Walkabout(NSW) posted:

WA Police do a licence and rego check on our heavy lifts as a matter of course before they let us move. The trailerman (it's self propelled with 2x450 hp motors) who operates this has only a class 3 lic. The cops reckoned it couldn't possibly be ok, but after an hour of looking up the rules, conceded that there was nothing in the rule book to stop him!!!Image Could Not Be Found
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AnswerID: 302581   Submitted: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 at 21:55

Member - Nev (TAS) replied:

Hi all,
an interesting lot of comments. However I must compliment truckies. Having done the Sydney-Perth trip 15 times with my family I found them extremely professional and friendly.
However when you talk about people backing trailers etc I reckon watching people drive around shopping centre carparks again and again looking for a bay they can drive into and preferably one they can drive straight out of is also hilarious. My wife doesn't read this forum but we live about 8 kms return from the local shopping centre but when it is busy her return trip can be more than 10kms. Sometimes parks so far away I am surprised she doesn't walk from home.
I will deny having written this and will be blaming my next door neighbour.

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Reply 14 of 14