No excuses. I promised I’d do a tell-all on breaking the rear truck window of my Ford F-250 with my fifth wheel. So here’s the full story, embarrassedly told in hopes it will prevent others from making the same costly mistake I did.
- 1 No excuses. I promised I’d do a tell-all on breaking the rear truck window of my Ford F-250 with my fifth wheel. So here’s the full story, embarrassedly told in hopes it will prevent others from making the same costly mistake I did.
- 2 The backstory on my breaking the rear truck window
- 3 Then came Mistake #1
- 4 Then came Mistake #2
- 5 I was so embarrassed…. as I should have been. I still am.
- 6 Finding replacement glass and a repair person was no easy feat
- 7 This is my penance
- 8 Where to next?
- 9 Mike and Jennifer’s 7-Day RV Adventure Guide of Southern Utah
- 10 RV Lifestyle recommends the RV Tech Course
- 11 Nomad Internet
The below lays it all out.
The backstory on my breaking the rear truck window
It happened in Tampa, FL, when we showed up to camp for a week at the Florida State Fairgrounds during the big Florida RV Supershow in our Arcadia 32.5-foot Fifth Wheel. Jen and I were upfront in our Ford F-250 Super Duty, with Bo in his usual spot in the back seat.
A fairgrounds employee in a golf cart led us to the spot they had set aside for us – a very narrow spot at that. Jennifer asked him if there was something a little easier to navigate. It was basically a take-it-or-leave-it response.
So we took it.
I’m fairly new to the fifth-wheel life. While I think I’ve done pretty well learning the ins and outs of dropping off and hooking up, backing in was still a bit challenging. But I thought I was up to the challenge.
Besides, all the other campers were watching.
Then came Mistake #1
“Let me get out and spot for you,” said Jennifer.
“No,” I said much too fast. “I got this.”
Dumb, dumb me.
But I reasoned that this was good experience for me. I just needed to go slow.
I started the approach, cranking the wheel in the opposite direction I wanted the rear of the fifth wheel to move. I made it in about 20 feet or so, then pulled out to make the turn a little less severe.
It really was tight.
I cranked. The rear of the Arcadia was moving in the right direction. So I kept going.
Then came Mistake #2
I was watching the rear of the fifth wheel, not the front end. And as the angle in the turn increased, the front end got closer and closer until…… CRRRACK!
The rear window exploded in a loud shower of tinted glass. The front of the fifth wheel pushed right through it.
Bo lept from the back seat onto the front, smack down on Jennifer’s lap. All 65 panicked pounds of him.
And I immediately knew I had screwed up big time.
I was not watching the front of the fifth wheel at all. A simple glance would have shown me it was getting way too close. Or if I had let Jen out to spot.
I suppose it could have been worse. The front end could have caved in part of the rear cab as well. Instead, it took out the window.
I was so embarrassed…. as I should have been. I still am.
There was a third mistake I made.
I have a great fifth-wheel hitch. The A-20 from Curt. It is a sliding hitch.
I assumed, out of total ignorance, that a sliding hitch meant that it would slide automatically.
The dealer who installed my hitch gave me no instructions at all. So I assumed it slid all by itself when the RV was cranked at a tight angle.
It doesn’t work that way.
There is a stout black lever that needs to be pulled that then moves the hitch from the “towing position” to the “maneuvering position.” In the above video, a representative from Curt at the RV show generously came to the campsite to demonstrate how the sliding hitch is supposed to work.
If I had done that one simple step, the hitch would have slid back a foot and not have broken the window.
It would have been nice if the hitch installer had told me how it works. But it would have been even better if I had read the instruction manual. I hadn’t.
Ignorance is no excuse. And for my ignorance, I had to pay the price in getting the damage repaired.
EXTRA: See the 43 Dumbest RV Camping Mistakes
Finding replacement glass and a repair person was no easy feat
I forced myself to calm down. Jennifer didn’t say a single word of criticism. She didn’t have to.
I still had to get into the tight camping spot. A neighbor came over and spotted me as I slowly backed in.
Word of my mishap traveled quickly.
Within minutes, a small crowd of other campers, including some other RV influencers, came over to commiserate. A couple of them kindly brought us a ShopVac, which Jennifer immediately used to start cleaning up the broken glass. She never complained.
I should have cleaned the mess I made. “We’re in this together,” she said. “You feel bad enough.”
The task of finding someone to replace the window took a couple of days.
I first tried Safelite, the “we come to you” window company that advertises so heavily. It was impossible to talk to anyone there. It’s all done on the web. There were no phone numbers and after filling out a form, I got a return email message that no, they would not come to me.
Instead, Safelite informed me that I’d have to take into one of their repair facilities in Tampa. The soonest they could get me in was a week from the following Tuesday.
We needed to be long gone from the Tampa area by then.
I next tried the closest Ford Dealer I could find, in nearby Brandon, FL. The service department said they don’t do that sort of repair. They referred me to a local car glass company. All I got was an answering machine. I left several messages. They never returned my calls.
It so happened that there were two RV glass companies that were exhibiting at the RV show. They felt my pain, they said, but were much too busy to come to me in the adjacent campground to even look at my problem, let alone fix it.
Then I found a company called Auto Glass Geeks. Their website advertised that they do mobile windshield and glass repair “anywhere in Florida.” I called and the next day, they sent technician Wyatt Johnson from up near Orlando down to me at the Tampa fairgrounds with a perfect replacement for our F-250.
He did an amazing job.
It took him just over an hour. It cost me just under $1,000.
This is my penance
This is an embarrassing post to write. But maybe, like I said, my mistakes will be a learning experience for others.
Since my setback in breaking the rear truck window, I have learned that a lot of others have done the same thing.
And people have been very kind.
But it was all so preventable.
If only I had listened to my wife…..
Where to next?
Mike and Jennifer’s 7-Day RV Adventure Guide of Southern Utah
Our RV Adventure Guide outlines seven-day guided explorations of scenic areas of Southern Utah that we’ve explored. It would make an excellent RV trip for you!
In each location, we provide a suggested route and itinerary (7 stops in each guide, one for each day of a week trip!) as well as links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, local tips, and interesting things to do at each location.
You can hit everything in seven days, do a whirlwind weekend tour, or you can take your time and explore the area over a 2+ week period.
Planning an RV trip can be very time-consuming so that’s why we’ve done the research for you! Just take our guides and use them, we’re sure you’ll have an RV trip for the ages! Instant download. CLICK HERE for information on ALL our RV Travel Guides
RV Lifestyle recommends the RV Tech Course
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February 15, 2023at12:22 am, Bryant Payne said:
A good example of why anything less than an 8’ bed when towing fifth wheels is an invitation for trouble if the work around for the 6.5’ bed (not making tight turns or sliding the hitch) fails. The little extra length of the truck is well worth just being able to maneuver and watch where the rig is going, in addition to hauling sheet goods and lumber with the tailgate up!
February 13, 2023at12:27 am, Jim Sadey said:
Hey, I feel your pain, I’m new to the 5th wheel game also and hope not to to the backing crunch also. But you know what, I admire you both for admitting mistakes and posting them, as telling others the truth about your adventures must be hard at times but much respect for you both! Many others will benefit from your truth-telling. Much respect and God Bless on your further adventures and be safe!
February 14, 2023at10:32 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:
Thanks, Jim! That is exactly what Mike and Jen hope – that others can learn from their mistakes. Happy trails to you! Team RV Lifestyle
February 11, 2023at1:35 pm, Rob Royse said:
Sorry to see this, Mike. We all make mistakes. I (unwittingly) decided our 5er needed to have the air conditioners removed last year in FL. We missed a turn, went through a residential area, and I misjudged a tree overhanging the street, thinking I had clearance. It happens to the best of us. As to your situation, I have advice. I don’t like short beds so I don’t think I will ever own another. If I were you, I would ditch the Curt hitch, replace the pinbox on your trailer with a Reese Goosebox, and then put a B&W turnoverball hitch in your truck. Then, you can run a 4″ offset goose ball in that turnover ball hitch, moving the trailer connection point further back. As a bonus, you would then have an empty bed in your truck just as soon as you unhitch. Very handy when not camping, and even more handy when camping if you need to use your truck for something while the trailer stays behind at the campsite. It’s that, or upgrade to a 350 with a longbed. I am of the personal opinion that all 5th wheels should be pulled with a 350/3500, but that is a debate for another day. Good luck and stay safe out there!
February 11, 2023at11:27 am, Scott Shaeffer said:
This is exactly why I have a long bed dually! No need to worry about any of the above, just need to make sure you have set your front jacks before unhitching.😀
February 11, 2023at9:25 am, Lizzie Cashdollar said:
I jack knife my 5th wheel at a gas station that was not RV friendly. I feel your pain. I didn’t break the window. I creased the corner of the cab 🤦🏻♀️ Luckily, body shop can pull it out without cutting roof off. That was my biggest concern.
February 11, 2023at8:47 am, David Bolden said:
Yeah did same thing with a cattle trailer making it not worth it at all, meaning buy a trailer to rarely use and then do that making it even more a NO NO. Sold trailer and just pay like 70 bucks to have cattle hauled every year rather than sit there to rust and break no more windows.
February 11, 2023at8:19 am, Ronda Dow said:
We used to have a slider hitch but it was such a pain to try to get it to actually slide. After doing research on a different type of hitch for short bed trucks, we found what is called a “sidewinder”. It is actually the pin that goes on your trailer and you have a regular hitch in the bed of your truck. You don’t need a slider with the sidewinder. It works great.
February 11, 2023at11:22 am, Larry Beyak said:
If you want a great hitch get a pullrite self adjusting hitch. No levers to pull at all. Have used this type for years and simple maintenance you can do yourself. Pullrite has a great short Youtube on this hitch. Spend the extra money and you will never be sorry
February 11, 2023at7:57 am, Scott Tracy said:
Mike, I feel your pain. I myself have done too. I didn’t break the window but, did put a nice dent and a scar on the fifth wheel cap.
Worse than that though, I was pulling out of our building, fifth wheel remote in pocket. After hooking up, doing the final walk around and check, I slowly pulled out of the building. Then I heard this awful noise, like someone ripping a giant towel in half. I very slowly got out and walked around the back of the fiver to find my awning tube stuck through the side of my building.
I know the feeling!
Love the blogs and vlogs!