Ignoring the Barking Dogs

Personal Observations on Dynamax Trilogy Fifth Wheel

There has been a discussion in a thread at RV Dreams’ forum category entitled “Buying an RV” about the Dynamax Trilogy fifth wheels trailers, now under the umbrella of Forest River. Dynamax has previously manufactured motorhomes, and the Trilogy is a “reasonably” recent entry into the fifth wheel market.

I was asked questions about the Trilogy and my opinion of them, but having never seen one, all I could do was look at the website for Dynamax Trilogy and base opinions upon what they posted in their brochures and on their website. Many times, those sources don’t always give one a good enough basis for analysis.

So today, we had the opportunity to be near the dealership in Oklahoma City that carries the Trilogy. So, we stopped off and looked over the two models by Trilogy that were at Oklahoma RV, which is located on south I-35.

The two models are the Trilogy 3800 D3 and the Trilogy 3850 D3 trailers. Since we hadn’t planned on going by the dealership today, I had not taken my camera, so the best I had to work with was my cell phone to take a few pictures. Some questions that I asked went unanswered because the salesman knew less about the Trilogy than I did from looking on the Trilogy website.

Both models have a GVWR of 18,000 lbs and are 41′ 10″ long and approximately 13′ 2″ tall. Both have a fresh water tank capacity of 64 gallons, 80 gallons for gray water, and 40 gallons for black water. Unlike any other fifth wheel that I know of, the Trilogy models are equipped with a regular LP tank instead of using 2 LP cylinders of either 20 lbs, 30 lbs, or 40 lbs.

Also, unlike any other fifth wheel except some toy haulers, the Trilogy does not have a ladder by which to gain access to the roof. This is a concern for me as there is the need to occasionally access the roof so one can perform preventative maintenance (and actual maintenance) to those air conditioners.

First from the perspective of the wife and the interior, she found that the Trilogy models had a good “fit and finish” look and had a lot of storage in the living room and kitchen area. However, with regards to storage, the bedroom and closet area was lacking, especially compared to the living room area. For instance, in the closet, one side is set aside for a combo washer and dryer unit.  If one has a combo washer/dryer in place in the closet, clothes that are hanging on the clothes rod could very well be in the way of getting to and opening the door on the washer/dryer.

The other side has a small dresser with four drawers, although they are fairly small as evidenced by the pictures below. In the one, you can see that my hand covers about 1/3 of the width of the dresser and almost completely covers the area from front to back.

Closet Dresser Drawer Opened

Closet Dresser Drawer with Hand for Perspective

If you look on the Trilogy website, the only other items for clothes storage or organization is the clothes rod and an inset within the front wall of the closet with 3 shelves for shoes or whatever. The shelves aren’t very deep. Unfortunately, I didn’t look at the dresser in the bedroom itself, so I am of no help there.

The 3800 D3 model has the “full size” shower, but from my observation, while the length of the shower is impressive, I felt that it was pretty narrow, especially for my 225 pound frame. I was not too impressed with the shower skylight. It seemed to be overly large, almost the length of the shower, which with the right thing hitting it from above, there would be less strength in the plastic of that skylight. Keep in mind, though, these are just my observations.

Shower in 3800 D3

Shower Skylight

The other thing that I personally looked at and took photos of was the swiveling cabinets in the pantry. When they were mentioned on the forums, I was concerned about how strong the hardware was that was holding those cabinets. I was happy to see that they were fastened to the wall with piano hinges. While the hinges looked okay, I did wonder about the wall itself that all the screws in the piano hinge were fastened into. While the wall looked okay, I really couldn’t tell for sure of the depth of the wood.

Piano Hinge on Pantry Swivel Cabinets

However, with regards to the swivel cabinets, I wasn’t impressed with the method of fastening the inner side of the cabinet to the back wall. They used heavy magnets and some very cheap latches. (See the photos below.) Because one had to tug pretty heavily on the cabinet to separate the two magnets in the back, I wondered if there would be a problem later of one or the other of the magnets to come loose from the wood they were attached to.

Swivel Cabinet Latches

Close Up of Broken Swivel Cabinet Latch

As for the outside of the coach, I found that the frame consisted of 12″ I-beam for the frame from the rear of the coach to at least the basement area. I couldn’t see well enough in that area to tell for sure how thick it was. The axles are 8,000 lb ones with 17’5″ wheels and “H” rated tires. That was good to see. The suspension springs were the normal ones with a center flex point.

With regards to the LP tank, I did have a concern with it. It sits between the frame and is below the underbelly cover in a recessed space for it. It is held in place by large straps across each end. What I was concerned about with regards to those straps was that they are held in place with one bolt and one nut on each bolt. I couldn’t tell if they were locking nuts, so if they aren’t, I would recommend putting a second nut and tightening it against the first nut. Since the tank is not in a space where one can see it without crawling under it, I wouldn’t want the single nut to loosen as the trailer hits rough areas of the roads and eventually cause the tank to fall out of its place.

LP Tank on Trilogy

The other thing I worried about was whether gas vapor from the tank might seep into the underbelly of the coach. If that were to happen and a build-up of gas accumulated in the underbelly, all it would take is one time of the furnace firing up to turn the coach into a bomb. For the most part, since LP gas is heavier than air, it would go lower and away from the coach. However, wind currents under the coach might cause some gas to find a gap in the seam of that inset area for the LP tank. Also, since they have installed a remote filling area at the side of the coach, there is a line that runs from the LP tank to that remote filling compartment. That line seems to run within the underbelly, so if a leak were to occur in that line, gas could be released into the underbelly.

Now for some oddities with the two models. For some reason, only the 3850 D3 model had an extra 20 lb LP cylinder. That is the same size as one finds on one’s gas Bar-B-Q grill. Also, the 3850 D3 had other things that I didn’t find on the 3800 D3. For instance, the 3850 D3 has a water manifold that allows one to turn water off to various areas of the coach. (See photos below.)

Water Manifold Closeup

Water Manifold Area of 3850 D3

The second photo also shows the water filter, the outside shower fitting, the city water inlet and black tank flush fitting, and there are 5 “F” connectors in a vertical line that are for satellite and cable hookups. The 3800 D3 did not have any of those things in the same place as the 3850 D3. The next two photos show small compartments found on the off -door side of the coach.

In the first one, I didn’t notice what that blue line was hooked up to. You can see the three valves, two of which are for the gray tanks and one for the black, or sewage tank. Those fittings at the top of that compartment are the remote filling location for the LP tank. To the left of them is a switch that is a remote fill cut-off switch. This is the compartment on the 3850 D3 model.

Compartment on 3850 D3

Compartment on 3800 D3

The next photo is a similar compartment on the 3800 D3. In it you can see the LP remote fill fittings and cut-off switch, the holding tank valves, and city water and black tank flush fittings. However, if you look closely, there is only one (repeat…1) “F” fitting for cable. I looked in several compartments and couldn’t find any more of the “F” fittings or a water manifold area.

So, even though Trilogy’s brochure states on page 3 the it is “A Recreational Vehicle Designed with LEGENDARY Attention to Detail,” the fact that the 3850 D3 has hookup and features that the 3800 D3 doesn’t seems to indicate a LACK of attention to detail.  Why have a water manifold in one model but not in the other?  Why only one cable inlet on one model while the other has 3 fittings?  Where is the outside shower on the 3800 D3?  Why no full house water filter on the 3800 D3 like is on the 3850 D3?

One thing they both do have is the automatic leveling systems, however the controls for the 3850 D3 can be seen near the water filter in the above image.  On the 3800D3, those controls are inside a small compartment on the outside on the off-door side of the coach.

If you haven’t seen the forum thread at RV Dreams, you can find the comments made at this link.

Dynamax Trilogy

There are some very interesting comments that relate to features, strengths and weaknesses at that site. Hopefully, this blog post and that forum thread may be very beneficial to you if you are considering a Dynamax Trilogy.

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This entry was published on October 27, 2012 at 11:45 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

13 thoughts on “Personal Observations on Dynamax Trilogy Fifth Wheel

  1. Thanks Terry and Jo. It’s interesting the things one finds when looking closely at any rv… Sometimes they just don’t make any sense. Thanks again for taking the time.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to do the research on the Trilogy. I went to look at one yesterday. Your observation on the hookups was very helpful. Obviously if we base our buying decisions on looks alone, we might not make the right choice.

  3. Thomas on said:

    The 3800 you were looking at is the 2013 model, Dynamax has made several upgrades to that model with the release of the 2013 1/2. The 3850 was the newer model with the upgrades. You should have mentioned the full size frig and the 55 inch LED tv with a pull out desk, They have also added a 1000 watt blue ray home theater system. If the 3800 was the 2013 1/2 model you would have seen the same features in that model as the 3850. My wife and i have looked at well over 50 different 5th wheels in the last year trying to decide on which one fits our needs the most since we are going to be fulltimers. we have yet to find andthing to compair to the 3850. You also failed to mention that all the wood work is solid cherry hard wood and not pressboard. Hope this helps to answer your question as to why the two models you looked at were different and sorry that the saleman did not know more about the product,,, good help is hard to find…..

    • Thanks, Thomas.

      At the time we looked at the two models, that was all that was available on the lot. Since I tend to like for there to be competition so that the manufacturers continue to improve their products, any improvements in the Dynamax Trilogy would be beneficial to the industry as a whole.

  4. Terry,

    We just purchased a 2013 Trilogy 3800 RL. I, like severals others commenting here have been looking and comparing for over three years. we currently have a 2006 Jayco Designer 36 RLTS that we order to our specs. The set up is very similar to the 3800 RL. I have done my homework and pound for pound, the Trilogy is the best bang for the buck!

    I am in manufacturing and have used 12″ I-Beam 10.8 lbs on several occisions in our manfacturing process. I even talked to my engineer about what he thought and he said, This I-Beam is a little bit over kill. we also insulate our units, using using 2″ Foam Block Insulation. The Trilogy uses 2 1/2″ in the floor and 1 1/2″ in the roof of Foam Block Insulation. So, I would say that thier floor is a R20 to R26 and the roof is and R18 or better. Just guessing!.

    The roof and side walls are cinstructed using 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ Aluminum tubing with 1″ x 1″ solid wood inserts to help screw retention. (I don’t know ANY other manufacture using this method of support.). The side walls and the roof are bowed. Again, not like anything I’ve seen before. The bow or arch in the roof and side walls, make them stronger then says straight walls and flat roof.

    It amazes me how you seem to take a good thing that Dynamax does and make it sound bad. Dynamax commonly builts Motor coaches that are $500,000.00 plus and have a fantastic review. They are a Top Of the Line manufacture and have a great track record. What I wonder is, why are you even commenting on the Trilogy, your a Mobil Suites Owner. “Me Thinks, you protest too much”. It’s very obvious, that you are NOT unbiased
    when it comes to the Trilogy, I have looked very closely at the Mobil Suites and they are a very nice unit but they have nothing on the Trilogy and they cost $30,000.00 more.

    I will be picking up my Trilogy in two weeks and have plans to travel this spring and summer. I will be sure to report back and let everybody know “form and owners point of view” what I know to be true.

    Phil “Dreams do come True” Trilogy Owner.

    • Phil,
      Thanks for your comments both here and on RV Dreams forums (from which this comment is copied and pasted.) It is always good to have the insight of others with regards to the construction of the RV’s, so your comments are welcomed.

      However, just because a fifth wheel is manufactured by a company that has been making motor homes doesn’t necessarily mean that they will get all things right on the trailer. For instance, those buying Trilogy models may not like it when they find themselves having to hook up to their trailer and towing it to a facility to get the LP tank filled. It is one thing to unhook the utilities, un-level the coach, and drive to that facility with a motorhome but an entirely different situation to do the same process but have to back a truck under the trailer and drive it off and then return and unhook again.

      Why, did I comment on the Trilogy? Because I was asked by participants on the RV Dreams forums for my opinion of the brand. Since all I could find on the Trilogy was on their website, and that seemed little enough for my liking, I went looking for a dealer that had some in stock. Just out of curiosity, why do you think that because I own a Mobile Suites that I have no reason for evaluating another brand? Who is really protesting here? Or, do you take exception because I wrote some negative comments about the brand you chose?

      I fully stand by my observations of the two models at the Oklahoma City dealership and reiterate that there were some strange inconsistencies between the two models, specifically with respect to the television inputs and the water manifolds. Can you explain why they would have been different from each other, especially considering that both models were of the same size and weight and similar in quality? I’m also not pleased that the LP tank is right under the center of the trailer in the living room. I am very familiar with pressure vessels such as LP tanks and cylinders and fully understand the dangers they pose. Are you aware that in a home setting, an LP tank is required by law in most states to be a specific distance from the home itself? Can you imagine why that is? Think of what will happen if the Trilogy coach catches fire with that tank underneath. I know of one couple that had a fire on their Mobile Suites, which was caused by a dragging brake, and he was able to remove both 40# cylinders from the LP compartment before the fire reached that compartment.

      I don’t really have a bias because I am fully aware that not everyone would find a DRV Suites product suitable for their needs. The Trilogy may very well prove to be a good unit for a lot of folks, but there is a world of difference between the quality of the two brands. For instance, the Elite Suites and Mobile Suites models all have 3 1/4″ wall construction and a higher R-rating for their insulation. They also have a 15″ frame instead of 12″. (By the way, I think I said that the 12″ frame on the Trilogy was good, especially for those considering full-timing as a lifestyle.)

      Good luck with your future travels and I sincerely do hope that you find the Trilogy to be a spectacular unit for your needs. Just don’t presume that it is good enough for everyone.

  5. Kady Russell on said:

    We just purchased a 3850 rl n March, not only doesn’t the ac cool the living room the unit it is so LOUD, JUST AWFUL!! Bedroom cools but loud loud loud! Have to turn tv way up when ac comes on! In the night wakes as up including the dog!!! This is our 6th rv we have owned, this is by far the loudest ac ever!

  6. Kenny Gaona on said:

    Wow. We were in a 3650 at the nearest dealer to us. They had a 3850 but not powered up. My wife said the same thing. The AC was loud…I am looking seriously at the trilogy’s and redwoods. I do like the trilogy even though they seem sterile in certain ways even though beautiful. Would love to talk with you more. (512) 413-2672. It’s a big buying decision.

  7. Jordan on said:

    I have been looking at the Trilogy 3850 myself for awhile now. My biggest concerns and confusion are the fact there is no oven. You cant order 1 it is not an option. The dealer did about 4 months later call me and tell me they can install a dishwasher which is something I was looking for. My other let down is the washer dryer there is no space really to put it. I hope they in the future come up with a closet for that.

  8. David Brotzman on said:

    My wife and I just attended the January 2014 RV show in Tampa, FL. There were two Trilogy units and one Touring unit there, presented by Dick Gore RV’s. One of the Trilogy models was the new 3750FL with the master suite bathroom up front and the half bath just off the kitchen.

    We were so impressed with the fit, finish, consistent quality, attention to engineering details and practicality of available features! This is truly a ‘wow!’ unit!

    We are now considering getting out of our 2011 Heartland Cyclone 3950 HD Edition and moving over to the Dynamax.

  9. Dear Terry,

    First and foremost, I must apologize for my last comments in February 2013. I had just purchased our new 2013 Trilogy and you was making points, that wounded my pride and Pride, as we know, goes before a fall. Well, in some ways I fell.

    When we put our money down on the Trilogy, we was told that this unit had a Water manifold system like the newer versions, also that it had a remote control that operated the Slides, Awnings and leveling system. We got non of those, should have stop the sale right there but didn’t. Dumb. Thats a lot of money to be dumb about. Also our Dealer was horrible. First off they lied about all the above items being with our new unit and then when we came to pick it up, they paid us little to no attention. When we asked about the items that was lacking, they did seem ti care and that they had already spent money by changing out the pin box with a Air Ride SideWinder. We will never buy anything or suggest that anybody buys from International RV in Elkhart, IN again.

    Then we had all kinds of little problems and had to take the unit back (two hours drive, both ways). Three times we had to take it back and fixing some of the same things they was suppose to have fixed the first time. There was no big problems just little ones.

    I finally got ahold of Dynamax directly and they was absolutely marvelous. They went way out of their way to make us happy and glad we bought the Trilogy.

    All in all, I must say I love this unit. It is very well built and absolutely beautiful. It pulls great and had no problems when we went to Panama City last spring.

    You are correct, the worst thing about this is the integrated propane tank. Very difficult to get filled, unless your on the road. This spring I buying an extra 30 lbs tank so I don’t have to worry about this. At least they have a connection handy so this will be a easy fix.

    Well, thanks for listening to me. I hope this helps some body in the future. If I ever look to trade again, I would not be afraid to buy another one, although, I think I look harder at the new Landmarks.

    Thanks for all your work.

    Phil

    • Phil,
      I am glad to see that you are happy with your Trilogy after getting better service from Dynamax themselves. With many, if not all, brands, there are cases where the factory generally provides better service than the dealers. I’ve heard of some dealers that refused to work on anything that they didn’t sell, and unfortunately, some don’t even really take care of their own customers.

      From what I’ve learned since my initial review, it appear that perhaps the dealer I was at had old and new versions of the two models. That would explain why one had a water manifold and the other didn’t. I’m presuming that they also straightened out the lack of TV inputs on the older model as well. I don’t remember if I mentioned it in my original review, but the salesman that helped us actually knew less about the Trilogy models than I did. That would explain why he couldn’t explain about the water manifold and TV inputs. Unfortunately, some dealers don’t understand the real benefit of good customer service. If this salesman was so new, he should have had a “companion” salesman that could help him.

      There are a few Trilogy owners on RV Dreams’ forums, but for the most part, they don’t say a lot about their units. I really hope that they are pleased with their choices as well.

      Safe travels and happy RV’ing.

      Terry

  10. Rick Bradley on said:

    I bought a 2013 Trilogy 3800 RL in Dec 2013 from McMahons in Quartszite AZ.
    Here are my main issues:

    The Roadside slide-out which is 16 ft long has every heavy item on it, like the frig, oven, panty, file cabinet and numerious other cabnits. Because of it’s weight it has broken 4 drive gears stranding us every time. We MUST remove everything from the frig (This removes the weight off of the far end shaft) and my wife then pushes hard on the other end from the hydrolic drive both in and out. Everything is in alignment and nothing is sticking or jamming, it’s just a weight issue. It’s very obvious this issue was there when I bought this 5th wheel as the underbelly was cut open already to access for repairs, the 1.5 in shaft next to the hydroic ram has new angle supports poorly welded in place that are NOT part of manuf. specs. and I found previously broken bolts and gear teeth when I removed the under belly to fix a water tank issue.

    The basement doors all leak at the top. Most if not all other trailers the basement doors open up on the Trilogys the doors open to the side. The hinge at the top of outside doors is a very good rain deflector. The top seal on the Trilogy leak really bad. This is cause but rain water coming off the roof and walls and sliding on to that top seal. You see the walls and roof of a Trilogy are sloped and have NO rain gutters so the rain water just dumps on these doors. I have put more weather stripping and caulking to slow the water coming in but it still came in. I now have installed rain gutters just above these basement doors to resolve the problem.

    The shower ski light was cracked in many places due to over torqueing of it screws. And, that ski light is single pane therefore when it’s cold out water condenses on it. So it rains in the shower from that condensation.

    The outside tops of all windows had to be re-caulked as they also leaked due to lack of ample caulking during manuf. and the sloped walls.

    All sinks had leaks.

    The pantry organized system only got in the way and did not store items well and was replaced with shelves.

    Over head fan blade broke off after only 50 miles on the road.

    DVD player in living area was installed behind a wood door but it’s controller in infer red therefore you must leave that door open all the times to control the DVD player. Same for where they dead ended the wires for the satilite receiver.

    Pantry door slams into island drawer handles when slide-out is brought in. Therefore panty door has groves cut in it by those handles.

    And yes the a/c unit are way too loud.

    Insulation must be lacking all over this 5th wheel as 2 a/c units putting out 45 degee air can not keep it cool.

    Both bathroom sink areas have poor lighting.

    ALL cabinet bottoms broke loose during first trip just from road vibration and were NOT weighted too heavy.

    I have 50 more items I had to repair so far and we’ve only had this unit for 6 months.

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