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Old 05-28-2014, 01:56 PM   #1
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One-year review of our Solera 24RS

Well, it was just about a year ago that we took possession of our 2013 Solera 24RS and I was reflecting about it this morning as we enjoyed a visit to the Flathead Lake area of Western Montana.

It has been a year of adjustment for the "lady of the coach" and myself. Previously, we had a 34' Montana 5th wheel and the difference in space has been noticeable, though not really a negative. We made a deliberate decision to down-size now that all the grandkids are either in college or graduating from high school this year. We used to take them along with us on our travels; however, their busy schedules have pretty much put a stop to that.

First, let me say that finding the Forest River Solera Forum has been a delight! It's great to find a bunch of folks with a similar interest and a wealth of knowledge they are willing to share. And, a special note of thanks to bclemens, the FR rep, who participates regularly here. I know he has a factory viewpoint sometimes and some of us tend to take a stronger user viewpoint; however, the fact that he is willing to come here and provide information is truly a blessing. Thanks to all of you.

OK...now a look at the ups, downs, ins and outs of our Solera experience. First, our dealer experience has been a bit up and down. Oddly, the salesman who sold us the Solera has been one of the ups. I usually don't care much for the vehicle purchase experience, but "Bill" was great...and very helpful in a positive way. The dealer's service staff has been one of the downs. Staff has changed a couple of times during the past year and "customer service" has definitely not been a strong point. I'm not a shrinking violet, nor am I a wild-eyed tyrant, but I have had to be a bit forceful in order to get things done. On a scale of 10, the dealer experience has been a 6; only that high because of "Bill."

One of the reasons we downsized was that the "lady of the coach" was not comfortable driving the Ford F-350 pulling the big Montana. Thus, all the driving duties fell to me. Moving to the Solera changed that. She is comfortable driving the 24RS; even when pulling the 2014 Honda CRV we recently added. We both feel that the Solera handles quite well. I've read about adding after-market shocks and heavier sway bars, but we have not found that to be necessary...and, yes, we have encountered windy conditions on several trips and don't feel the Solera handles much differently than when pulling the Montana. I will reserve judgement on the after-market suspension stuff for the time being.

We have had to get used to a more compact interior space and that has taken a little getting used to. Just this morning, I dropped the soap in the shower and chuckled as I went through the planning process to pick it up! It does take some planning to avoid contact with cold shower walls; I'm sure you know what I mean!

There are some pluses to the compact space, as well. Fewer areas to search for misplaced items is one. We've had to become more organized and that helps know where to look.

Since there are just the two of us on the road...and two Miniature Schnauzers named Lizzy and Ellie...we have found the galley and dinette area to be quite adequate for food preparation and eating of meals. The good-sized refrigerator/freezer is at least as large as the one we had in the Montana. Perfect for us! And, the fold-out counter extension is very useful when doing dishes. The overhead bunk area tends to be our catch-all storage area for dog beds, extra jackets, etc.

Getting used to not having a sitting area with two recliners as we had in the Montana took a little while. Once we figured out that the driver and passenger seats (while not really recliners) could double as a sitting area, we now have a great place for our morning cup of coffee or watching the sunset. Right now, in fact, I am in the driver seat typing this with a cup of coffee nearby and a view out front of clouds and rain sweeping across Flathead Lake. What could be better?

The sleeping quarters are definitely one of the ups! The rear-slide bed is magic! It was one of the major doubts I had when considering the Solera. The concept of a split mattress that stacked on top of itself was a big question mark. Could it possibly work, and could it possibly be comfortable. Absolutely YES on both accounts. It is quite comfortable! I must admit that it does take a little planning to slip in and out of bed in the middle of the night (70+ years does require that most nights), but it is definitely doable.

Looking at the exterior of the coach, one of the few downs is the fact that the rain gutter channels water directly onto the driver or passenger door if you open them. The gutter needs to extend farther forward before dropping the water stream. I am thinking about adding some stick-on plastic gutter extensions to do just that. Maybe that has been addressed in the 2014 or 2015 models. I hope so.

We love the copious amount of exterior storage and the ease of accessing it. That's one of the things that sold us on the Solera. We looked at the Navion and some other Sprinter-chassis rigs; however, the Solera had the best exterior storage of them all. Great feature!

Just a couple of nit picks. One is the poor quality of the tire valve extensions on the rear dual tires. I've had one replaced twice and it still doesn't work properly. When we get home, I'll take the rig to a local tire shop that does truck work and see what they can do to remedy the situation. The other is the loose carpet in the driving compartment. It tends to bunch up and wrinkle. I think it needs a slightly stiffer backing. Both of these items are things I can take care of in due time.

So, the bottom line is a thumbs-up for the Solera 24RS!
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Old 05-28-2014, 09:20 PM   #2
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Certainly appreciate the time you took to post this and of course the kind words. I am often asked about the split mattress and I tell everyone....don't listen to me. Hop on the forum and read for yourself.

After the first couple of years with the Solera, one of the things I had them do was add some memory foam into the mattress. With the firmer foam core we were hoping to get the best of both worlds in a very limited height.

Rain gutter took us by surprise a bit. Most other class C mfg.'s don't even use a gutter. When we change fiberglass front caps it also change the location of the gutter. We are testing some longer spouts right now. We think it looks like big ears...but seems to do the trick.

Did you have the braided valve extensions or the yellow Air-flexx? The Air-Flexx come highly recommended and I have posted the brochures on them...but I still think a few people don't like them for some reason or another. It did solve the problem of them being attached to the wheel liner.

The carpet, I'll take a look at. This is the first time we have heard that one...but I can't imagine a little velcro tab or button wouldn't do the trick.

Again, thanks for the review. Always good to hear what we're doing right...and as much as no one likes to take their medicine, we gladly take the constructive criticism because in the end it can only make us better.
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Old 05-28-2014, 09:39 PM   #3
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Thanks, Brian (right?):

My proposed solution for the rain gutter is to just extend it about a foot farther forward, allowing the water to drip down forward of the door. I think I can accomplish that with some double-back stick-on plastic gutter. Finding a compatible color will be the trick.

I do have the yellow Air-Flexx extensions and the problem I have had with them is that the center rod that depresses the stem at the wheel end is either too short and/or breaks off inside. I'm on my third one right now that I can neither check air pressure nor add air because the inner core shaft is too short. I cut about 3/16" off the outer housing on the latest one and it works, but barely. Getting the cut square to seal properly is the problem with trimming them.

I'm not sure whether the curve in the one that goes to the inside dual changes the length of the outer tube a bit and causes this problem. I'll stop in at my dealer again one of these days and discuss the options. I know someone with another brand of Sprinter-chassis RV that just had longer stems installed on the inside duals to where he could reach in with an extended chuck to check pressure or add air. I may look into that as well.

Thanks for the kinds words about the review. Overall, we are quite satisfied with the Solera.

TJ
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Old 05-29-2014, 03:51 PM   #4
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I talked to engineer who actually owns a trailer (traitor). He said you could take the screw out of the short gutter, replace with a longer spout and re-seal. Or what he did is went to camping world and bought extensions.
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:02 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Tranquil Jim View Post
Thanks, Brian (right?):

My proposed solution for the rain gutter is to just extend it about a foot farther forward, allowing the water to drip down forward of the door. I think I can accomplish that with some double-back stick-on plastic gutter. Finding a compatible color will be the trick.

I do have the yellow Air-Flexx extensions and the problem I have had with them is that the center rod that depresses the stem at the wheel end is either too short and/or breaks off inside. I'm on my third one right now that I can neither check air pressure nor add air because the inner core shaft is too short. I cut about 3/16" off the outer housing on the latest one and it works, but barely. Getting the cut square to seal properly is the problem with trimming them.

I'm not sure whether the curve in the one that goes to the inside dual changes the length of the outer tube a bit and causes this problem. I'll stop in at my dealer again one of these days and discuss the options. I know someone with another brand of Sprinter-chassis RV that just had longer stems installed on the inside duals to where he could reach in with an extended chuck to check pressure or add air. I may look into that as well.

Thanks for the kinds words about the review. Overall, we are quite satisfied with the Solera.

TJ
TJ,
I had the same issue with three of the four air-flexx extensions. Funny how one worked perfectly. There are others in Solera threads who encountered this same problem, so it must be a design issue with air-flexx. I found that the threaded end was to long, not allowing the center stem, when depressed, to engage the flexable portion. I used a dremel with a sanding disc, at 90 degrees, or flat to the end, and took off enough material to allow it to function. Took a utility knife to clean-up the inside. I was carefull to blow out any debris, before adding air. Enjoyed your review, and I am also pleased with the Solera as well.
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Old 05-29-2014, 05:12 PM   #6
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TJ thanks for the overview of your first year of ownership. I wish that the R model was available when we bought 2 years ago but other than the corner bed our S is everything we wanted. I too had the yellow extensions, never had any problems with them but reading the threads with tire blow outs, leaking extensions, and hub caps ripping the extensions out I went the metal valve stem route (with the added benefit of being able to add a TPMS for safety. The rain gutter drains the rain right on the door buttons even with the longer spouts. If your idea of moving the spout further forward works let us know. What you ended up doing and pictures would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-29-2014, 06:00 PM   #7
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X3 on the Airflex short inner stems. On mine, both outer duals. Inners were/are fine. The outers each have an aired metal right angle extension ahead of the Airflex. Thought that might be the cause.
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Old 06-11-2014, 06:15 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tranquil Jim View Post
The sleeping quarters are definitely one of the ups! The rear-slide bed is magic! It was one of the major doubts I had when considering the Solera. The concept of a split mattress that stacked on top of itself was a big question mark. Could it possibly work, and could it possibly be comfortable. Absolutely YES on both accounts. It is quite comfortable! I must admit that it does take a little planning to slip in and out of bed in the middle of the night (70+ years does require that most nights), but it is definitely doable.
I just looked at the Solera R and loved it but couldn't figure out how this works with the sheets and bedding. What solution do you have that you are enjoying this configuration so much?
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Old 06-11-2014, 08:04 PM   #9
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We like or 24R! The sheets slide in and out with the mattress. No problem at all. Getting in and out of bed is also easy, if the little lady doesn't stack a bunch of stuff on the sides of the bed.
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Old 06-11-2014, 08:46 PM   #10
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We like or 24R! The sheets slide in and out with the mattress. No problem at all. Getting in and out of bed is also easy, if the little lady doesn't stack a bunch of stuff on the sides of the bed.
Thanks! So you can leave the bed made up and it slides out ready to go?
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