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Fifth (5th) Wheel / Gooseneck Trailers

 

 

 

5th Wheel trailers in America are often referred to as Gooseneck trailers, or just Goosenecks. 

 

The suspension on the 5th Wheel trailer carries most of its gross weight with the balance of weight distributed forward of the rear suspension over the differential rather than the extreme rear of the tow vehicle.  5th Wheel trailers are reported to be more stable to tow and reverse than conventional caravans or travel trailers.

The body of the 5th Wheel trailer extends over the body of the tow vehicle.  The 5th Wheel trailer can be detached from the tow vehicle and used separately.

A large number of 5th Wheelers are imported into Australia.  Conversion to 240V, trailer lighting to Australian Standards and installation of a left hand door is required.  Gas conversion to obtain certification is also required.

Due to demand in Australia some 5th Wheelers made in the USA are built and designed to suit Australian conditions. 

There are also 5th wheelers built in Australia such as Venture 5th Wheelers which are built in Toowoomba and Dryden Trailerhomes at Yatala, Brisbane, Queensland.

Owners of 5th Wheelers are eligible to join the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia Limited (CMCA).

 

Equipment/Fittings/Fixtures

It is unlikely you will want for anything as 5th Wheel trailers come equipped with gas bottles and all the modern conveniences such as insulation, roof hatches, air conditioning, gas/electric hot water storage system, deep cycle batteries, 240V with 12V converter and 30 amp battery charger, water pumps, shower, basin and vanity cupboards, water tank level monitors, LP gas detector and smoke alarms, TV, CD player, cooktop, oven, microwave and standard 3 way refrigerator.

There are options for electric step, compressor type 12V refrigeration, solar panels, arm chair layout, LCD flat screen TV, satellite TV reception, single or double beds, DVD player and annex.

Shower/Toilet/Water Tanks

Check out the specification list for the 5th Wheeler you intend to purchase. 

They are equipped with a swivel toilet with a removable cassette. Some models provide for an internal and external shower.  For the shower and toilet there is a ‘fresh’ water tank for your taps, toilet flush and shower.  There is an option of a ‘grey’ water tank for sullage.

What sort of tow vehicle is required for a 5th wheeler ?

The tow vehicle must be legally rated to tow a 5th Wheeler.

You will need to know the weight of the 5th Wheeler and check your tow vehicle has the capacity to tow that weight.  This towing capacity of your vehicle is found in the vehicle Owner's Manual.

As an example only, is it is likely a Toyota Landcruiser will allow you to pull up to a 30 foot unit and a Nissan Navara or a Nissan Patrol will pull some of the lighter weight units. A F Series or a Chevrolet will pull up to a 36 foot unit.

Do 5th Wheelers come with electric brakes ?

Yes. They are also fitted with a breakaway switch.

Will they fit on a conventional caravan site ?

Generally, yes, but it depends on the length of the 5th Wheeler.  Remember it doesn’t have a draw bar or A Frame.  This makes the 5th Wheeler more manoeuvrable  as the vehicle can approach at much tighter angles.

How wide are they?

Most 5th Wheelers are 8 foot wide.  The slide-outs can add up to another 2 – 4 feet.  By comparison, caravans usually come in widths of 7 foot 6 inches or 7 foot 8 inches.

Do I need a special licence for a 5th Wheeler?

This will depend on the type of tow vehicle you purchase, but most 5th Wheelers can be towed throughout Australia with an ordinary passenger Class ‘C’ vehicle licence. 

Are there any disadvantages to owning a 5th Wheeler?

One disadvantage of the fifth-wheel is the choice of tow vehicle dictates how many people can be carried.  Much of the truck bed space is unavailable as the fifth-wheel hitch will occupy the centre of the tow vehicle truck bed and the hitch pin should be in front of the tow vehicles rear axel.

Standard utilities have only two seats although some are fitted with a bench seat which will allow 3 people.  Space cabs also known as Extra cabs or Freestyle cabs have a back seat but it is not full size.  It may be suitable for children but it would be too small for an adult for long trips.  Dual cabs generally are larger and would provide more space for an adult for general touring but check first if it is suitable for a fifth-wheel hitch.

 

 

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