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The following are some lessons learned since starting full-timing 05/02.  These do not include the hundreds of lessons learned by reading books and on-line before starting or that we have put on our website at www.skyaid.org/rv.  I welcome your comments/corrections/suggestions. Henry Lahore   hlahore at skyaid.org     Additions August 2004   Oct 2004

Any 5th wheel

60% of 5th wheels are not safely pulled

A survey of 8,000 5th wheel owners found that 60% of the tow vehicles were not safe to pull their RV.  We purchased an Isuzu FRR medium duty manual transmission truck which has a combined vehicle towing capacity (go power) of 30,000 lbs.  Our truck and RV weigh a total of 27,500 pounds. Our Isuzu also has a wheelbase sufficient for the 37’ RV and great exhaust brakes (whoa power).  One of many references to RV weight safety is http://www.rversonline.org/ArtWtandBal.html  We upgraded the brake controller in the truck to one which “boosts” the braking and uses inertial sensing. This upgrade has made emergency stops far less anxiety provoking.

Significantly boost truck engine power at a cost ranging from $600 to $3,000

There are a variety of ways to increase engine power: increase input air, decrease exhaust air resistance, add a programming chip, and add propane.  Eric Davis of Eric’s RV (Sequim WA 800-488-3697, www.ericsrv.com ) made a nice presentation on these options at Life on Wheels. Propane was the only option available for our non-standard medium duty truck ($2,000 with large propane tank).  You must be aware that increasing engine power could strain some other aspects of your tow system, such as automatic transmission or brakes.  The manufacturer is Bullydog.

RV driving school is great

We took the RV driving class from Dick Reed of the RV Driving School (www.rvschool.com 530-878-0111) just after Life On Wheels in June 2002.  We no longer fear backing our 37 foot 5th wheel and we are thus no longer restricted to pull-thru sites at RV parks. We also now have smooth starts.  Even on a modest uphill our Isuzu diesel truck will start pulling the RV without any foot on the fuel pedal. Many motorhome drivers also took the driving school. Took excellent refresher course in 2004.  School easily paid for itself by virtually eliminating accidents.

Hitching problems reduced with lubrication

During our first few months of hitching we had problems with opening the hitch, a Reese 30,000 lbs lower profile hitch.  These problems disappeared when we lubricated the moving parts of the hitch.  We also elected to lubricate the hitch faces as well – but you may choose to use the Teflon ring instead.  We also marked the hitch jaws with bright neon tape so we can easily tell then they are open or closed.

Wide mirrors are essential.  Put them out far enough that you can see down both sides of the RV.