articles and blog
Category: Types of homes-on-wheels. Published: 23 Jun 2009
A fifth-wheeler, sometimes referred to as a fifth-wheel caravan, or a fifth-wheel trailer in North America, looks much like a large caravan, but, rather than connect to a tow ball, the body of the fifth-wheeler extends over the back of the tow vehicle, and mounts onto a turntable, or "wheel", which is the where the name "fifth-wheel" comes from. The name, and the concept, actually comes from the days of the horse and cart, where a similar coupling was used on four-wheel horse-drawn carriages and wagons.
These are preferred by some people over caravans as they are much more stable and more manoeuvrable; having not towed either a caravan or fifth-wheeler I can't verify this claim. Because of the method of connecting to the towing vehicle, they obviously cannot be towed by a car, but require a ute or flat-bed truck; most often they appear to be attached to a twin-cab 4WD. Fifth-wheelers have the same advantage of a caravan in that, once the van is detached, the towing vehicle can be used separately.
Fifth-wheelers are a relatively recent addition to the types of homes-on-wheels available in Australia and many people import their fifth-wheeler from America.
A list of fifth-wheeler manufacturers in Australia can be found at: http://www.cmca.net.au/pages/marketplace/marketplace/fifth_wheelers.php