NEWS FLASH, things have changed since our last update.
After a lot of research we have made a decision on whether or not to switch to a 5th wheel from our motorhome and to which brand if we did. For a variety of reasons we decided to make the switch to a 40’ New Horizon Majestic 5th wheel.
There are a number of very nice 5th wheels on the market and a number of them that would serve the purpose of fulltime RVing but for us the build quality and the unlimited ability to customize a New Horizon unit to what we want just won us over. In fact the only limiting factor in what we could have done with a New Horizons unit was the depth of our pockets LOL!!! In fact looking at what they build I’m thinking we are not there average customer and probably won’t be allowed to rub elbows with most of the other owners.
We are just joking when we say that because we have met a number of New Horizon owners and all of them have been very nice and helpful with all of our questions and very hospitable by opening their homes for us to tour.
Just a few of the things that tipped the scales in the direction of New Horizon are and in no certain order:
#1- We find the way they use solid foam insulation to be very efficient in filling all of the cavities with no chance of sagging or moving over time which could affect heating and cooling.
DRV was our second place choice for a 5th wheel and it so happened that one of the big topics on the DRV Forums as of late has been the insulation in the nose cap area falling. DRV boasts about their residential like hung insulation walls being the thickest in the market unfortunately the insulation needs to stay in place in order for it to be useful.
To be honest when we toured the DRV plant last summer it crossed my mind after seeing the way they insulate that this type of thing could be an issue so even though I hate that it’s happening for the current owners sake I AM glad it happened while we were making our choice.
#2- Even though heavy I like the 12” I-Beam and 4” tube frame design. It just won’t allow for the flex that most of the other frames on the market will allow. I know some flex is needed but with the triple axel setup and More Ryde Independent suspension all the way around I feel we will get the smooth ride necessary while in “earthquake mode” going down the road.
Plus to a certain degree they build the frame to match your particular 5th wheel. The frame is made as your RV starts production, not made and stored in some storage yard for who knows how long before it’s used.
#3- Most brands on the market use Lippert jacks which have had their share of problems as of late and New Horizon uses a Quadra Big Foot system. Nothing is perfect and Big Foot had its own set of problems a while back but they seem to be taken care of yet Lippert is still struggling through some issues. Because of the I-Beam frame construction the New Horizon units only use 4 jacks for support instead of 6 like most other brands use in units this size.
Now with my bigger is badder and if one is good two is better mindset using 6 lacks instead of 4 isn’t an issue but none of the New Horizon owners seem to have an issue with just 4 jacks so I guess we will not fret about it.
#4- Most manufactures if not all other than New Horizon installs the generator right up in the nose of the 5th wheel taking away valuable storage space and adding pin weight but New Horizons installs the generator underneath the coach and almost right in line with the More Ryde suspension accomplishing two things, no added pin weight and no lost storage. This was a huge factor in our decision.
Even though it’s mounted under the 5th wheel there is plenty of space to sit up straight under the coach and do service so it’s really a good setup. And that’s only a once per year thing so not something we need to worry about often.
New Horizon offers 3 options for generators, a 8 KW Onan Diesel gen with an added 30 gallon tank, a 7 KW Onan gas gen with a 30 gallon tank and a 6.5 KW Onan Marquis Gold LP gen that runs off the 2 already installed 40 gallon LP tanks or you can also install a 100 gallon LP tank like they use in motorhomes.
Even though I’m certainly more familiar and comfortable with gas and diesel generators we opted to have the 6.5 KW LP generator installed just so we didn’t have another fuel source on board. After doing some research there are advantages and disadvantages to all 3 types and we know a few (very few) people that have or have had the LP generators and really had no complaints so we feel pretty comfortable with our choice but for me the verdict is still out.
I have little doubt that if we used a generator more than we do we would have chosen the diesel version and dealt with the extra fuel source. If you do the research you just can’t overlook that a diesel generator is more efficient.
(We are adding solar to the roof so hopefully we won’t have to rely on the gen that much)
#5- We have toured a few RV manufacturing plants and observed all aspects of the build process in each and we were very pleased with what we witnessed at New Horizon. The attention to detail was evident and they were not on such a stringent time frame to get a rig moved from one station to the next whether it was 100% completed at that station or not. To us that means there just has to be better quality control that way and less chance of something leaving the factory incomplete or half assed.
New Horizon has averaged just under 30 builds per year over the last 5 years and for 2019 it sounds like they will build closer to 32. So they are not just rushing units out the door as fast as they can.
Even the way they ran wiring was almost a thing of art, say that about most other brands I dare ya LOL!!
#6- Not being a cookie cutter floorplan and the ability to customize was also a huge factor. When we asked if we could make the bathroom a few inches bigger the answer was “yes”. When we asked if we could delete the vanity and medicine cabinet in the toilet room and replace it with a floor to ceiling cabinet with 6 doors the answer was “yes, how deep do you want it?” When we said that we didn’t like the location of the refrigerator and asked if we could swap it with the location of the pantry the answer was, you guessed it “YES”. We also said we wanted a totally different refrigerator than what they offer and the answer was (OK, let’s pick one out and we will go buy and install it). When we said we wanted a different kitchen sink than they offered and asked if we could pick one out and have them buy and install it the answer was again “yes”. When we said hey, instead off all those big windows along the passenger side we would like smaller windows with cabinets over them they said “Ok, we can do that”.
We could drag this on forever talking about how everything we wanted and asked for the answer was “yes” but I think you get the idea. You just sit down and design these things like you do when sitting down with a builder and draftsman to design a stick & bricks house. They build the frame around your wants and desires which is totally opposite “almost” than any other RV manufacture out there.
#7- We like the fact that New Horizon uses 2 (25,000/40,000 BTU) two stage furnaces. Even though having only 1 furnace like in most RV’s is plenty I really like the fact that if nothing else we have a backup if one happens to fail. In fact we added a 3rd AC on the roof for the same reason. We have 3 AC’s on the roof of our motorhome and have never (well maybe once) ran all 3 at one time to stay cool. But we did have one AC go bad and it sure was nice having the 3rd unit to fall back on. Some people call it overkill, we call it cushion.
#8- Another key point for us was carrying capacity. So many times while looking at 5th wheels we found that the amount of carrying capacity for our “stuff” was just too low. We are talking about the weight of what personal belongings we carry around with us and still stay within the limits of the 5th wheel, not the cabinet storage.
More than once we would have a conversation with a salesperson and when asked what the carrying capacity was the answer would be something like 2000 to 2500lbs or even less and when I would shake my head the sales person would say something stupid like “what, don’t you realize how much stuff that is!!??” Showing that he or she had absolutely no idea what living fulltime in a RV was like. “Not that you can’t fulltime with just 2000lbs of “stuff” but we don’t”.
And to top it off most of the units sitting on lots didn’t have washer & driers installed or generators so after adding them and deducting their weighs from the equation it even got worse. Just using the lightest possible option and using a combination washer dryer as an example you are looking at 155lbs for one of these babies. And if you opt for a stacking set like we prefer that number could be higher, not doubled but higher.
Plus the weights they show are most of the time dry weights and we all know that we will travel with at least some water at 8.34 lbs per gallon (we typically travel with about 25 gallons unless heading to a boondocking site then we travel with 100 gallons). And don’t forget about propane at 4.2 lbs per gallon. Those numbers come right off the top of what you can carry with you.
New Horizon however states they guarantee that every unit they build will at least have a 3000lb carrying capacity (in their Majestic series) and the unit we designed looks like that number will be closer to 4000lbs.
New Horizon also offers a few things that we just could not get in any other brand that was on our short list, one of those things being real hardwood flooring. All of the other brands offer LVT (Luxury Vinyl Flooring) (and New Horizons offers that as well if you want it) which is a fine product but for us the hardwood (like the tile floors we have in our current motorhome) just adds to the homey feel we want as full timers.
Most if not all manufactures also offer carpet but none other than New Horizons offers a no carpet option if you don’t want any at all, and we don’t. Most manufactures will at least have carpet on the slide floors like we have in our current motorhome but New Horizons will install hardwood on the slide floors if you want leaving you with NO carpet at all which is what we opted for.
We realize that having hardwood in a RV will have its own challenges but we made the choice with eye’s wide open and will deal with whatever challenges it brings, if any. Oh who are we trying to fool, it will bring some type of challenge I’m sure LOL!!
Hmm, thinking now I guess New Horizon did pretty much say no to one thing we wanted, heated floors. We love our heated floors in the motorhome and New Horizon used to install heated floors in their 5th wheels under hardwood floors but have had some issues with the systems and no longer offer it as an option.
Speaking of homey feelings we are doing walnut stained cherry cabinets throughout with Corian countertops and real travertine backsplashes with a glass tile inlay. In the bathroom we will also have a vessel sink and in the kitchen we will have a nice large single bowl composite sink which getting rid of a double bowl has been a wish of Diane’s ever since we hit the road. And all of our plumbing and lighting fixtures and hardware will be oil rubbed bronze.
Ok, we could go on and on about the good things we found about New Horizon 5th wheels and I’m sure we will talk more about that when we actually take possession but it’s not all roses either, there are challenges with anything in life so we will touch base on a few of those challenges we found when dealing with New Horizon to keep things in perspective.
#1- Location, New Horizon is a small company and only builds units as they are purchased so they have no inventory sitting on dealer’s lots around the country like most other brands to touch and feel. AND the factory is located in Kansas.
New Horizon has a “Ambassador” program that consists of a small handful of New Horizon owners willing to speak with you and show their rigs to interested parties but that is a pretty hit and miss thing because at last count there were 8 Ambassadors spread out around the country and it’s a pretty darn big country so they may or may not be easy to bump into without great effort.
#2- They are in Kansas,,,,, no no just kidding LOL,,, #2- is that they are a very heavy 5th wheel and if you plan to purchase the Majestic series you need to take a long hard look at what truck you plan to pull it with.
For us we really didn’t want to buy a 5th wheel that couldn’t be pulled with a Ram 3500 or a Ford F350 but by the time we finished designing our dream home we found it to be at the limits of both of those rigs even equipped with the max towing options.
A person could almost close their eyes and convince themselves that either of those trucks would do the job and even though right at the limit of some numbers and taking into consideration that “we all know” “really we think we know” that manufactures build in a cushion for people that “think” they build in a cushion and push the numbers I could not ignore that fact that even though both trucks would without a doubt pull the weight, we have to more importantly slow down the load and stop the load safely.
If this was going to be a weekend rig for us and we only planned to pull it around parts of the country with flat land we might have jumped on the F350 or Ram 3500 bandwagon but that’s not the case, so we opted for a larger truck that will handle the weight safely.
((OK, I know there are people out there right now just stewing and their fingers are just itching to hit the respond button because they feel the only way to pull one of these heavy rigs around is with a Volvo tractor or something equivalent and we respect your feelings and I think they look cool and know they certainly are more than able to do the job BUT, that was something that would not fit our life styles and we would not have made the switch if having a HDT was the only way we could have done it. Period.))
((And on the other hand there are people ready to pounce because they feel a F350 or Ram 3500 would do the job with no issues and again we respect your opinions and decision’s but they were just not the decision we came up with after hours of research.))
To sum the truck thing up we will opt for a Ram 5500 Cab & Chassis and will have either Classy Chassis or Utility Bodyworks in Indiana install a hauler bed. Certainly a more expensive and detailed process than going with a F350 or Ram 3500 but it will be a sweet and safe ride when it’s completed. We will no doubt do an update about it in the future because that choice brought up its own set of challenges that we did not think of.
Oh, there is one other bed builder located in Oregon called Highway Products that we took a tour of while in Oregon and is in the running as well.
#3- Because they are not your regular run of the mill RV dealer they don’t really take trades (for the most part). So with that in mind you need to plan to sell your current RV yourselves if you have one. That’s a little scary because when you live in your RV fulltime like we do it opens a whole new can of worms and no doubt could prove to be challenging. Again we made our decision knowing we might be challenged matching up the sale of our rig to taking possession of our new home and are going into this with eye’s wide open.
We of course hope everything goes smoothly but it has potential for an interesting blog update in the future LOL!!
#4- Because New Horizon is a custom build buying one is a little different than going to a lot, finding a unit you like, working out a deal, writing a check and driving away. When buying a New Horizon you make a payment to get your build in the que to be built, then when production starts you pay another percentage of the price, then again farther into the build you write another check and then another check at the time you take possession.
This really isn’t any different than what we have gone through having a couple custom toys made in the past or any different than when we built a couple of our homes but certainly different than any other RV we have ever bought. And to be honest it has to make a person wonder just a little at how financially stable the company is. On the other hand I guess it takes away any chances of them getting into a bind and in some way makes them smart at how they lock a customer in.
#5- The only other negative about a New Horizon 5th wheel is the cost, they are far more expensive than any of the major brands out on the market but on the other hand cannot be compared apples to apples with the other brands either.
Without a doubt the price had use second guessing ourselves and had me sitting with pen & pencil crunching numbers and shaking my head more than once during our decision making process. And we had conversation after conversation after conversation about it but for us at the end it made sense to get what we wanted and the quality could not be disputed. Hey, we can all make anything make sense, I get it. Just like what truck we have, right LOL!!
We even jokingly said, we can just buy a DRV and live in it for 2 or 3 years and then buy a new one and still come out ahead money wise and have new homes each time LOL. In all honesty that statement probably isn’t far from the truth unfortunately but that’s not something we want to do every couple years.
Long story short on the cost topic, we sat down and seriously gave thought to just how much longer we think we will live the fulltime life style (barring any unforeseen events) and if the answer would have been 2 or 3 more years we probably would not have gone with a New Horizon, in fact we probably would not have switched away from our current motorhome at all.
But we both agree that we enjoy this life and neither of us have any real desire to start owning a bunch of stuff any time soon and both can see us living this life style for another 6 to 10 years so spending money on what will be a comfortable and quality home made sense, to us. Again, it’s easy to justify about anything.
So now the transition can start. We will now put our current motorhome on the market and try to coordinate the sale of it with the pickup time of the new 5th wheel. We told New Horizon that we didn’t want to pick up the new 5th wheel until the 1st week of April. We have reservations in Arizona through March and didn’t want to interrupt our stay there to drive up to Kansas in the middle of winter.
PLUS New Horizon has some pretty interesting changes coming up in there next model year and we wanted to have those changes applied in our new home. We were made aware of the changes even though not public yet during our designing stage because of our timing but we probably shouldn’t, out of respect, talk about them until New Horizon actually makes them public. But we were given the OK to at least say this much as a teaser LOL!! You know we like teasers.
We have also decided that because after our serious talk about just how long we really figure to live this nomadic life style we will sell off what worldly possessions that we have been keeping in a storage unit over the last 6 years. LOL, we can hear those of you that have held on to stuff for years only to find out you wasted money by doing so laughing right now saying “we told you so”. LOL!! Hey we all learn at our own pace, we just seem to be a little slow.
I already put the Jeep up for sale which is a biggie and in fact sold it within 3 hours of it being taken out of storage. The money from it will go towards the purchase of a new truck to pull the 5th wheel as will the money from our F150 that we use as our current toad. This will take a little of the sting away.
So, if you know of anyone looking for a good used motorhome that has had the bugs worked out and that is upgraded with some nice stuff like solar, a upgraded battery bank and other goodies stay tuned because we will no doubt be doing a update on what we have for sale.
We will also put it on RVTrader and a couple other sites online for sure as well as hang a for sale sign on it during our stay down south. We don’t really see having a problem selling it but as a backup we have been in contact with a outfit that does buyouts and can fall back on that as a last resort and once again we know this could happen and are going into this eye’s wide open.
That’s it in a nutshell. We could have easily pushed this decision off another year but once we started thinking about it and the ball started rolling we just kept rolling with it and here we are.