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Looking at an older 5th wheel

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  • Looking at an older 5th wheel

    Hi Folks, I’m new here. I come from the world of vintage Airstreams but now I find that we’d like to start camping in places that are a bit rough for a polished aluminum trailer.

    So, we’ve decided that a Northwood product should fit the bill. Based on our budget, we are looking at a 2007 AF27-5b and a 2011 FM 275bhs (we’d like rear bunks for the kids and those seem to be our only options).

    On paper, these two trailers are similar. Insulation value, thermo windows, similar weights and size (FM is actually a bit heavier and larger) and asking price. We do like some of the design cues in the FM along with bedroom door for the BH, and the power awning. That said, the AF has the couch directly across from the dinette which makes a lot of sense to us when having friends in. I’m also wondering if the interior quality in the AF is superior, things like seating cushion density and drawer mechanisms, etc.

    So I guess my question is: is there a right or wrong move here? FM has a fibreglass front cap, the AF has the Filon cap. But, I understand there have been problems with both? Thoughts, opinions?

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    Welcome to the forum! I looked at the newer units and compared the FM with the AF - - interior construction looked the same to me. Furniture was different, but I don't know if that also means of different quality.

    Again on the newer ones, the dealer told me the frame was lighter on the FM, but I haven't confirmed that either.

    Sorry, not a lot of help. Personally I'd go with the trailer that "felt right" with all else being equal.

    2018 Arctic Fox 27-5L
    • 4 pt Auto Level / 15k Single AC / 50 Amp (no Gen)
    • 3xFantastic Fans / 3xFantastic Covers
    • Sofa with Air Bed / Dinette / Slow Rise Shades
    • Factory 2" Receiver hitch
    • MODS
      • 395W Solar / Rear Camera / TPS / Flagpole Buddy / BMV-712 / Fridge Defend
    2015 Chevy 3500 Dually LTZ
    • Duramax / B&W Turnover w/Companion / 40 Gal transfer tank.


    • #3
      The main thing you want to carefully inspect on any older trailer with a Filon type front cap (or sides for that matter), is water damage. Water can also get behind aluminum exterior surfaces, but will be harder to detect the damage.

      Filon is a great materiel and will last decades, with routine care & maintenance.

      When water is allowed to enter behind the Filon, you'll usually see the Filon that looks rippled or bubbling. Front cap damage tends to be more pronounced, due to highway speeds + rain, getting past caulked areas. You may also see water staining / damage on the interior walls and/or ceiling.

      A rippling / bubbling appearance is the water damage separating the Filon from the substraight. Filon sheets should have a uniform smoothness, like automotive sheet metal. The substraight should also be firm, not mushy.

      This water intrusion damage is usually a result from a lack of adequate side / top seam caulking. Repairing water damage behind the Filon can be expensive.
      Travel Blog:

      2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD:SRW, Duramax / Allison 6.6L Turbo-Diesel, Extended Cab, Long Bed, 4x4, Reese 16K Hitch, 50gal In-Bed Fuel Tank (85 gals total)

      2016 Arctic Fox 29-5T:Six-Point Leveling System, Fireplace, Two A/C's, Two Honda EU2000i Generators, TST "507" Tire Monitoring System, King-Size Bed, Progressive 'Hard-Wired' 50amp Surge Protector, 16gal Water Heater, Slide-Toppers, Power-Reel, 'G Rated' Sailun Tires.


      • #4
        Really appreciate the input. The 2007 AF is now out. A knowledgeable friend inspected it for me and gave it a hard pass. I’ll look at the FM next week and go from there. I may consider bumper pulls now as well. Thanks again!