Advice on van size.

I am in the process of buying either a motorhome or maybe a 5th wheeler, as this will be my first entry, my question is this.

What size unit should be best suited for my needs?

I envisage that I would be using the vehicle for short trips and excursions, not living in it or circumventing the country for 12 months. My longest trip might be 3 months but that would be rarely, my anticipated trips would be between 1 week and 1 month in length, that being the case, should I restrict the size of the vehicle?
My thoughts are that I would like most of the comforts of home, ie, bathroom facilities, reasonable living space and a good useable bedroom area, that said, would anything less than a 26' motorhome or a 27' 5th wheeler suffice, or is the little extra in the larger units worth the trouble?

Thanks in advance,
Ray.
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Neil & Pauline - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 10:25

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 10:25
My opinion is to rent a couple first and see how it goes for you. You are the only ones that will know what you want, maybe. After a couple of rentals we worked out we wanted an island double bed, separate shower and toilet and comfortable seating. But then again we are full time in ours.

Neil
AnswerID: 494625

Follow Up By: Member - Joel and Michelle (WA - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 12:05

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 12:05
Totally agree with neil, best advice rent one with what you think is right, and go from there. Might find you were heading down the wrong track. Even the cheapies will cost you an arm and a leg. With the right rig you will have a great time.
Enjoy
Joel
0
FollowupID: 770270

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 10:35

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 10:35
That is a vary personal question, one that I would not care to answer. The layout is as much consideration as the length. There are possibly shorter ones you can feel comfortable in and certainly longer ones that you wont.

You need to do a fair bit of tyre kicking. Here is a list of camping/4WD shows You did not say where you live, before you travel a great distance to any of these check out their web sites, contact them and ask for a list of exhibitors. You can then check from the list of exhibitors whether there are any 5th wheelers likely to be there.

Spend up to a half a morning or afternoon checking out a particular manufacturers wares. You need to check the comfort of the seats and bed. You need to sit for a while and see if there is sufficient space to entertain in inclement weather (if you are the social types.) The cook needs to survey the kitchen and mime some meal preparations. See how you fit the shower and dunny. Check both the internal and extremal storage (including fresh, grey and black water.) Check out the 12 V electrical system.
PeterD
Retired radio and electronics technician

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 494626

Reply By: disco driver - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 12:13

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 12:13
Ray,
My advice to you is ..........Don't think of size, think Liveability it's imuch more important.
The best van/5th wheeler/motorhome is the smallest one that you both can live in without feeling inconvenient or squashed in.
I would hate to have to drive one of the Monster 5th wheeler rigs much more so when trying to get into many sites.

Disco.
AnswerID: 494631

Reply By: Ray 3 - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 12:48

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 12:48
Sorry, I meant to say that I have done plenty of study over the past year or so and been to several shows, Penrith just this week. The M/H's I have settled on are a Sunliner Monte Carlo or Winnebago Menindee, the 5th Wheelers are Evergreen or Travelhome.

The smaller ones don't seem to offer the comfort and room, however the more experienced people might have good reasons to swap these for the benefits of size and ease of travel.
AnswerID: 494633

Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 13:18

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 13:18
Ray, I think Winebago have a hire before you buy program. If you go on to buy there is a discount based on your hire. I think.

Not sure of the details but could be a good option for you. Give them a ring, it may well be worth your trouble.

Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 770273

Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 13:08

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 13:08
Hi Ray,
Here are my experiences.
I have owned 3 vans, each upgrade getting bigger than the previous van.
First van was 15 foot purchased in 1973, the next was 18.5 foot in 2006 and currently up to 23 foot. Might stop now I think. Plenty big enough.

1 For comfort sake, especially as we get older, I prefer a toilet and shower and preferably a separate toilet as when they are combined the toilet gets wet when showering. Means a cleanup before bed or a wet backside during the night

2 An island bed for ease of making the bed up and so you do not have to climb over the cook to get out, too easy to get sidetracked doing that. LOL

3 a comfortable dining area which can double as a lounge as I like to lay back a little after tea.

4 Van of sufficient size as to be comfortable and sufficient room so that I can get out of the cooks way if necessary

5 Motorhome option
Brother owns a 32 foot petrol powered motorhome and he is going to tow a small 4 wheel drive around so that he can nick down the road to get some supplies if he runs out and for getting into those places you would not dare take the motorhome. No matter which way you go, or look at it, you have to tow something or sacrifice flexibility. Interestingly his fuel consumption is going to be close to mine in my petrol cruiser towing our van

6 5Th Wheeler option
A mate owns a Wildcat 5th wheeler, weighs about 4 + tonne and I drove his setup once. The effect is as though someone was sitting behind the drivers seat and kicking the back of the seat as I was driving along. Most disconcerting to say the least.
He has the airbag shock absorbing setup on the hitch that he was advised to get but it makes little difference. That put me off a fifth wheeler for life.
I have since read that that is a common problem with 5th wheelers.

5Th wheelers are more for living in or touring for really extended periods I would think, given their size and weight.

What would suit you depends on how much experience you have had towing, or driving trucks, as towing is not unlike driving a truck or a semi trailer.

I bumped into a lady in big W one day who was buying a couple of things and I mentioned that it looked as though she was about to give hubby a couple of jobs and she said "Oh no, this is for the new 5th wheeler I bought", hubby deceased I assumed. I said I guess that would be a bit of a hand full for her.
She said "Oh no, I took it for a run around the block and it was good"
She went on to say
" You know I have never even towed a box trailer before in my life"!!!!!!!!!!

I thought 'Here is an accident waiting to happen’.

Don't get me wrong, girls can do anything they put their mind to, but something like that requires a bit of practice before doing it in traffic big time.

The bigger you go the more you need to think about what is behind you and the implications such as braking distances and what the tail is doing as you go around a corner.

As the other responders have said, try before you buy if you can.
You can certainly hire a motorhome and several places hire vans but I do not know about 5th wheelers.

Anyhow there is my 2 bobs worth. Hope it is of some help
Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 494635

Follow Up By: Ray 3 - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 13:47

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 13:47
Thank you Bruce, that was both helpful and enlightening, the hire option ftrom Winnebago seems ideal if thaey will do that.

I am no novice at towing as I have towed a 1.5 ton boat around for several years, I know that's not a 5th wheeler but it's a start. (lol)

From my observations over ecent months, the owners of 5th wheeelrs have all told me that they are far easier and more stable to tow than a caravan, so your comments on that have given me some more to research.
0
FollowupID: 770274

Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 17:34

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 17:34
Ray, if you have towed a 1.5 tonne boat for years then you are more than qualified for the job. You have a better than fair idea of what you are up for.

Personally I do not think 5th wheelers are any more easier to tow than a large caravan, from the small amount of 5th wheeler towing I have done. But then I am no expert.

Cheers, Bruce
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 770285

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 14:29

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 14:29
Ray,

Back in the 80's we lived in 'vans for 6years, 24/7, as they say, while on stations in NT & western Qld.

I love caravans, except when I'm following them in a truck, and a well set-up one means carefree travelling. From my point of view, you need the following:

Island Bed
Buffet style dining
Seperate toilet/shower, though a combined, across the rear end type ensuite would pass(with small w/machine)
Plenty of 12v battery power storage, say 200amphr plus
Adequate Solar panels on roof, to keep 12v storage simmering.
Gas or diesel cook-top, preferably with oven
Microwave
HEAPS of storage/cupboard space(one thing I hated when in the van was, no matter what you needed, you had to move something else to get to it)
LED lighting
AM/FM Radio, with good speakers, & maybe DVD too
At least one comfortable,nanna type chair, but I love sleeping on the floor too. Not so far to fall LOL
No rear windows, nor any front ones. maybe some of those big ones, to get good air flow.
Reverse cycle inverter aircon, preferably built in, not roof top.
12v Fans, in the kitchen, bedroom & lounge
Plenty of insulation
Awning, so you don't have to put up an annexe, every time you stop for more than o'night.
And finally, though I've sure to have forgotten some points, the best independant suspension you can afford.

Can't help you with the motorhome vs 5th wheeler, but my preference would be for the 5th whlr. Easier to tow, and in 5 minutes you're off to the pub, while the van part, and the cook, are left behind.

If I didn't have the experience, I wouldn't like to drive a big motorhome, especially with that little Suzuki or sedan following faithfully behind. Bit like the flea on the elephant, whereas 5th wheelers are more like the elephant riding the flea.

Good luck with your eventual choice, I hope you enjoy it,

Bob.
Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 494639

Reply By: Ray 3 - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 14:30

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 14:30
I have just spoken to Sydney RV Centre and they don't hire motorhomes anymore, I was told they they sell them on a guaranteed 'buy back' up to 3 months. That is not an option that I would want, so I guess that I will have to rent a smaller cheaper hire unit, that only solves part of the problem though.
AnswerID: 494640

Reply By: Ray 3 - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 16:20

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 16:20
Thanks for the advice Bob, gee you lot here are a wealth of help.

I would like some comments from 5th wheeler owners if there are any out there, just need some more convincing or otherwise (lol)
AnswerID: 494642

Reply By: PeterInSa - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 18:42

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 18:42
Ray,
To me you could be happy in a Jayco Conquest motorhome, double bed along with the Toilet Shower in the rear, the larger model I think is close to 26ft. I have seen the 7m versions in the likes of MacDonalds, the rear is parked over low garden and the front then sticks out no more than a Landcruiser, this eliminates the need for a toad.

Came across a happy owner in Tassie who paid $80,000 for his Jayco mh on the second hand market, the Chassis was a Fiat.

IMHO, MHing is different from caravanning or 5th wheeling, you do not need to go back to a central point ie CP where your van is, but continue your Travels and stop over at night at rest areas or where ever.

Peter

The usual do not work for Jayco and do not own a Jayco.
AnswerID: 494649

Reply By: splits - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 20:36

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 20:36
Ray
There is some information in the links below on fifth wheeler stability and why some of them suffer from shunting problems. It appears to centre around axle location with some being set too far forward to cater for lighter weight tow vehicles. When designed properly they are far more stable than large caravans. This is explained in detail on a lot of sites on the net.

You will also find information on single and double oscillating fifth wheeler hitches and problems associated with singles.

http://www.lets-getaway.com/5thWheelerStability.htm
http://www.travelhome.com.au/documents/FifthWheelersandStability.pdf
AnswerID: 494660

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 22:20

Monday, Sep 10, 2012 at 22:20
Just did a speed-read of both articles, and while both are there to give us the dynamics of vans and 5th wheelers, there's not a lot about the positioning of the hitch for a 5th whlr. Collyn does mention 2 centimetres in front of the rear axle.

We set up a couple of trailers, actually one was a single axle dolly, and were told by a knowledgeable bloke in heavy transport, to use 2.5%(of the prime movers wheel base) as the distance in front of the rear axle.

Don't know what the wheel base of a Landcruiser ute is, but will check in the morning, and see if it's close to Collyn's "2 centimetres".

Good night,
Bob.
Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 770309

Follow Up By: splits - Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 at 19:33

Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 at 19:33
I took a rough measurement of the wheelbase of my Hilux and 2.5% would be about 75mm. Whether it is 2 cm or 7.5 cm, it is not going to wag the tail of the car and would have no hope of affecting the front unless it was another metre or so further forward.

This photo that I found on the net is another variation of a fifth wheeler. The axles are way down the back of the trailer and there is 400 kg directly over the rear axle of the ute. That is far too much if it was on the tow ball but well within the ute's carrying capacity. The owner says it tows beautifully.

The tow ball on my ute is 1200 mm behind the centre of the rear axle. Toyota specifies a maximum of 180 kg on the ball. I would much prefer to have 400 kg above the axle than 180 swinging around on the end of a 1.2 metre long lever sticking out the back of the car if things ever went pear shaped.

0
FollowupID: 770358

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 at 19:46

Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 at 19:46
Good photo, Splits.

I checked my 79 series this morning(and forgot to post the result) and 2.5% is almost 80mm.

This wouldn't even bring it up above the rear uni on the tailshaft. Would agree with your thoughts on van vs 5th wheeler. That "400kg" is going to put a moderate load on the front axle too, which would assist with steering and braking. My pick would be 5th wheeler, but some of them look as if they've been on steroids. Wonder if my face is a bit green???

Bob.

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 770360

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012 at 11:41

Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012 at 11:41
What's with all this comparing 5th wheelers with conventional vans? The OP is asking about the differences of liveability of 5th wheelers and motorhomes.
PeterD
Retired radio and electronics technician

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 770400

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012 at 20:25

Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012 at 20:25
Yeah, you're right.

Not the first thread to drift off topic, I'm sure.

Bob.

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 770433

Reply By: Mad Habits - Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 at 12:41

Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 at 12:41
G'day Ray,
I was in a similar situation and chose the 5th wheeler (after heaps of research)
Make sure you have a slide out as they make the world of difference to your level of comfort.
I have come across many people with Winnabago's and it's amazing how many are having warranty issues and all complain about how hard it is to get them to honour the warranty and only after doing the Jeckle & Hyde do they get any action.
Another thing to consider is the 2nd hand value as a motor home clocks up the km and every one you put on takes the $'s off the motor home. 5th wheelers and vans don't have that problem so you will lose less if you keep them in good condition as no one can tell if it's done1000km or 100,000km.
You can do the 5th wheeler on a car licence you will need a rigid licence if you get a larger motor home.
With a motor home you have to completely pack up if you need to get the groceries then you have to find somewhere to park it. When you get back to your spot someone has taken it, unless you left gear behind to show the spot has gone (and you may get back to find someone took those things)
If you break down in the middle of nowhere it could take weeks to get fixed - now where are you going to live? Just to top it off all your stuff is in it and the workshop has your keys - do you feel safe knowing some bong chugging mechanic and his mates are riffling through your stuff and the wife's gold and diamond women's stuff.

5th wheelers ARE easier to tow and reverse than a boat or a caravan and my 5th wheeler @ 29.5 foot total length from front of Navara STX550 to the back of the van is about the same length as pulling a 23ft caravan because there is no A frame.

I get an average of 18lt to 100km but on the flat it comes down to about 15.8 doing 95-100kph in 7th gear @1500rpm. Pulling almost 3.5ton.

Another plus is I have a 4wd (if a motor home gets bogged you may need a tractor to get out - now where did I put my tractor?)

I can hook it up in less than 2 minutes and the same to un-hook it plus I can do it without any help as it is just so easy, and as I said I now have a 4WD to go fishing, shopping, prospecting etc.

Another bonus is I don't have to listen to all the pots and pans banging around whilst on the move and if things are being thrown around and breaking I just don't want to know until I get there as I can live without the stress when travelling. I just get there and if there is a problem and things have been thrown around we will fix it then not keep stopping to check on this noise and that noise etc.

We have no regrets with our choice and have been on the road since October and have no desire to stop. If I was in the market to buy again I would buy another 5th wheeler.

Well there's a few new points for you to consider.

Cheers Nigel
AnswerID: 494692

Reply By: Ray 3 - Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 at 12:54

Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 at 12:54
That's great Nigel, I was considering a unit of around that size, what brand is yours?

I notice you have the new 6 cylinder Navarra STX, I was looking at one of them but was surprised that the towing rating was less than the Ranger or Mazda BT50???
AnswerID: 494693

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 at 17:24

Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012 at 17:24
The longer the total rig, the fewer places it will go.
Non driven wheels are a problem in soft stuff and will restrict where you can go.

Get a short 4WD motorhome. :-)
We are happy to live in ours for months at a time.
Under 6m overall, fridge, freezer, shower, toilet, 600W of solar.....just like home....
Tow a tinny occasionally too, but only to where the fishing is good.....

Cheers,
OKA196 Motorhome.
AnswerID: 494714

Reply By: Ray 3 - Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012 at 08:31

Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012 at 08:31
Has anybody got one of these or does anyone know anything about them.

http://www.ultimarv.com.au/

I have always had an aversion to USA imports, but these seem OK and the price difference to an aussie built like a 'Travelhome' is huge, personally I have trouble justifying the price of aussie built units.
AnswerID: 494753

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012 at 11:57

Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012 at 11:57
They look good but did you see the weights, they will be loading your tug to the limits.
PeterD
Retired radio and electronics technician

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 770403

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (13)