First Time Jitters

We are picking up our new 5th wheel tomorrow morning and are experiencing :eek: :eek: some "first time jitters". The questions that are now racing through our minds are: how much are we going to use this thing? What are the essentials that you need to take with? What is the average weight of all these extras? What is the best approach; a couple of short weekend trips to get the hang of things, or just go for it and take a long extended trip to "where ever the road takes us?" How long of a shower can you take with a 6 gallon water heater...? We would appreciate any advice for the maiden voyage.

C Nash

Senior Member
First Time Jitters

Congratulations on the new 5th wheel okjax. :approve: If you are like most of us, you will use it every chance you have :) I would suggest a trial very close the frist trip, might even spend the w/end in your yard to find out all the needed items. We get by on a lot less than we think we have to have. The w/heaters have a very quick recovery but you will learn to conserve water while camping. Don't take long to fill the holding tanks if you don't have sewage. If you are hooked to sewage fill the tanks before empting. Don't let it run straight out :disapprove: Before leaving ck and double ck everything. Be sure the hitch is locked,all lights, brakes working, landing gear up, tv antenna down, tires ok, sewage, electrical and water disconnected. Don't forget to take the marshmellows, graham crackers, plenty of chocolate for the somores!! :laugh: HAVE FUN
First Time Jitters

Thanks for the advice about camping in the yard the first time or so. We will try this for a couple of nights and see what we forgot to pack. We have been reading many of the forums and have enjoyed all of the topics, stories, advice and humor. We look forward to the new adventures waiting out there and all of the great people we will meet.

First Time Jitters

Ditto to what Chelse said,

I spent three days and two nights at the storage area where I keep my new RV. You find our what you need, don't need, and hopefully only a few things that don't work right. No matter how careful the manufacturer is, or how great their reputation is, you are going to find a few kinks, and better to find them at home than many hundreds of miles away on the road.

2002 Ford F-350PSD dualie
2002 Newmar Kountry Star 35LKSA


Senior Member
First Time Jitters

Staying in the yard or storage area is a good check for dry camping. You may also want to go for a weekend at a local park (to check those things which use hookups), or even one an hour or two away (to try towing at highway speeds). In any case, try using everything you can, not only to ensure they work, but to find out how to work them and their quirks and limitations.

You don't really shower with a 6 gallon heater. It's more using the valve on the shower head to turn the water on to wet down, off while soaping/scrubbing and then on again to rinse. Not only are you draining the hot and fresh water tank, you are filling the gray water tank.

Like with your horse in the old days, make sure your trailer is taken care of before you consider yourself. Stretch out your power cord to ensure you have up to 35' of reach, and if not, consider an extention cord. Have the 2 other adapters so that you can tap into any of the 3 common electrical sockets (15, 30 and 50 amp). 10' and 25' of drinking water grade hose, along with extra seal washers and covers for the ends to keep out bugs and dirt. A pressure limiter and an inline water filter are good ideas, as is an assortment of fittings to ease connections (45 degree, 90 degree, Flex, 4' hose). 2 10' lengths of sewer hose or the equivalent, as well as all fittings to connect them to each other, the trailer and the variety of dump station fittings out there. A clear elbow is a good idea, so you can see what is happening with your dump. Disposable gloves for handling sewer components, and a spray bottle of disinfectant for leaks (yours and the people before you). 2 25' (or possibly 25' and 12') sections of TV coax, with a connector between them, and a piece of coax to connect to your TV, of course. If you don't have a coax input on your trailer, there is a flat connector available which threads through your window sill. Possibly some telephone cord.

If you will be staying at non-traditional places (like friend's houses) you will want to add in at least 50' more of 10 ga electrical extension cord and 50' more of water hose (the flat ones are good for this). Also a 'water thief' fitting to go over a non-threaded faucet.

Cram the highest amp/hour true deep cycle batteries you can into your space/weight limits, and carry some DISTILLED water for them. One of those automatic battery filler bottles would be nice. A box of baking soda would be handy for neutralizing spills and if you really want to be prepared, have an emergency eyewash. Keep in mind that often when the trailer is plugged into the truck, it is sucking off the truck battery as well, so unless you have some kind of battery isolation system to protect your truck starting battery, it is a good idea to unplug the trailer before extensively using it on batteries (like overnight).

Some way to level the trailer (if not built in). Those interlocking plastic blocks are a reasonable solution, and can be used under stabilizing jacks as well. Chocks or other ways of keeping the trailer from rolling once set up. I resisted the high cost of 'Snap-loc' pins for my landing legs, but many nights of trying to allign manual pins and greasy fingers convinced me to go with them. They cut the time to lower or raise the legs 75%, and the aggravation 95%. A king pin lock may prevent someone from 'accidentally' rolling off with your trailer. A lock on the release lever for your hitch will frustrate those good ole boys who think it is a hoot to watch the fun after releasing your hitch locking mechanism while you aren't looking.

Don't forget a lighter for the gas stove, a full load of propane, and some water in the holding tank. I carry about 1/3 tank when travelling and don't fill it up unless I'm leaving civiliation heading for dry camping, cause I don't like paying extra gas to transport water. Lots of flashlights and spare batteries (including for your smoke detector, etc). Rain gear and more coat than you think you'll need. Tool kit, cleaning rags and a battery powered tire inflator, as well as spare oil/fan belt, etc for the truck. Plenty of garbage bags (some places require all garbage be bagged).

12v and 120 volt fans, a ceramic heater and possibly a catalitic heater. A CO detector if you don't have one built in. Extra blankets. Have plenty of holding tank chemical and toilet paper. Paper towels, too. Make sure you have all the manuals for the trailer and its appliances. A good guide to trailer parks. Memberships to get discounts (AAA, Good Sam, Passport America, etc for park fees and Good Sam (Love's), Flying J, etc. for fuel) The exact height of your trailer posted right on the dashboard of your truck.

Well there is more, but the cat has already erased this once...


Senior Member
First Time Jitters

Oh by the way, considering the time of year, you will want to investigate tank heaters, etc, to prevent freezing of your water tank and holding tanks and other plumbing.
First Time Jitters

On the shower question. If you do it my way you can shower for a LONG time.

We take 'Navy' showers. Our shower head has a turn off valve. First adjust the water temp. Then turn off the water at the shower head. Get in the shower. Turn on the water and get wet. Turn off the water and soap up. Turn on the water and rinse off. Turn off the water. Repeat as necessary. :laugh:

You can stay as long as you like but you probably won't like to stay long becuase most of the time you are wet and don't have the warm water flowing over you! :disapprove:

It is a good way to get clean but not a good way to relax!

Larry :laugh:
First Time Jitters

I want to thank each one of you for all the GREAT advice :) :) . We picked up our 5th wheel on 11/13 and pulled it home 140 miles. Towed great and and took your advice by camping in it the first night at home. It turned quite cold the first evening, so we were able to check out the furnace which worked just fine. Kept the interior nice and toasty all night.

The dealer was very helpful and showed us how everything worked, then winterized the unit since it is turning cold. I haven't used the water system yet, altough the fresh water tank is both heated and insulated. Does the heater work off of 12 volt when your towing down the road, or does it only work on 120 volt :question: I could not find this information in "all the papers" that come with these trailers. Lots of technical stuff to read up on.

What is a "Water thief fitting," how does it work and where can I purchase one :question: I want to thank you again for all the good advice regarding all the different fittings, extra hoses, connectors, cords, etc.

As I mentioned the weather is turning cold fast, so I'm a little afraid to connect to the water or fill the holding tank. With a heated tank, how cold can it get before you start having problems :question: What about the grey and black water tanks, mine are not heated or insulated, so I'm sure they will freeze up at some point. How do you handle this situation :question: I would like to really test things out in the yard, but don't really want to freeze the thing up. We are planning to take a short trip over Thankgiving and then head South to warm weather for a couple of weeks around Christmas. If we are traveling in weather colder than 32 degrees F, what are your suggestions :question:

By the way we purchased a 2003 Thor CA, Jazz 2780 BH. I am pulling it with a 1999 Chevy K2500 CC 4x4 shortbed. The trailer pulls great; on the way home we had a side wind gusting up to 35+ mph and it sure made me glad that I went for the 5th wheel instead of a TT. I could feel the wind, but the rig was very stable on the road. :laugh:

I am not real sure if I am using this web site correctly, I am using the "quick reply" rather than the reply button on each response. If there is a better or more accepted way to respond please let me know.



Senior Member
First Time Jitters

Water thief is a rubber cone which fits over a non-threaded faucet and is held in place by friction. On the end is a standard male hose fitting to connect to your hose. I got mine at Camping World for a few bucks.

Tank heaters vary. Some are 120 volt only and some are 12v/120v. For all I know, they may have a 12 volt only version. If it does not tell you, you will have to trace the wires coming from the heater to find out what voltage(s) it is.

For cold weather, open all the cabinets while the furnace/other heater is going, to keep the pipes inside the trailer from freezing. For under the RV, you have a number of options, adding more tank/pipe heaters for the exposed plumbing, enclosing the underside of the trailer (windproof canvas or plywood, etc) and putting a heater under there (possibly a light bulb/heat lamp would do). Or, you could pour some antifreeze into the holding tanks. Take a laptop with you so you can easily check the weather where you are going to be...

If the unit has really been 'winterized' than it should have the pipes filled with an antifreeze solution, which you should clean out before using the fresh water system.

Do you have a sliding hitch in that shortbed? Sometimes sharp turns can run the trailer into the cab...

Your use of the forum looks fine to me.
First Time Jitters

John, You are a wealth of information, I got on the web and found the water thief. What a practical device, I plan to get one real soon. You have mentioned so many practical things that I hope to meet you in person some day and just sit and visit.

The dealer did not recomend putting in the antifreeze into the fresh water system because they said even after flushing, it leaves a very bitter taste in the water for awhile. They blew the lines out with air and stated that by leaving the low point valves open while driving any water will finally work it way out. I was planning to try this first to avoid the bitter taste if possible.

I was raised as an ol farm boy and pulled gooseneck farm trailers most of my growing up years, therefore opted to install an under-bed gooseneck hitch in the truck and purchase an Anderson Ranch Hitch conversion for the trailer 5th wheel. I reinforced the Anderson hitch conversion with two angle iron braces that attach from the lower part of the Anderson hitch to the rear bolts where the pin box attaches to the main trailer frame. (I have heard of some pin boxes that fail under the added stresses of having the gooseneck conversion installed and didn't want to risk this.) The angle iron braces look good and provide an added degree of support that gives me the peace of mind when using the conversion kit.
I built the under bed hitch myself and mounted it two inches behind the center of the rear axle. By moving the hitch two inches back, I can turn as short as the truck will turn (while going in the forward direction) and still have plenty of clearance between the cab and the trailer. I do have to watch it when backing up and turning real short, but can still turn quite short. I use my truck for numerous things besides pulling the 5th wheel and like having the bed completely clear of any hitch or mounting device. The ball is simple to remove and only leaves a small hole in the center of the bed when removed. The only real disadvantage that I see with this setup is I have to raise the trailer up high enough to clear the ball when unhooking and then lower the trailer back down to level. I assume there is less raising and lowering when using a 5th wheel hitch. One advantage I think of is the "good ol boys" can't pull the latch of the 5th wheel as you mentioned that they sometimes do. I'm sure there are pro's and con's to both setups and can easily convert back to a 5th wheel slider if need be.

Again, thanks for the wealth of info, I'm sure I'll have many more questions as we get onto the road and look forward to visiting with you more.


Senior Member
First Time Jitters

I've heard that behind the axle does not make for as smooth a ride as before the axle. I guess you'll find out how well this works. Sounds like a conveniant system though. If I could do it again, I think I'd opt for an under the bed mount, those freaking rails are a pain in the butt.

Manual sliders are really obnoxious to use, but cheap. There are some 'power' and 'automatic' sliders which seem to be easy to use, but cost is in the $2000 to $4000 range.