I've been reading this forum for about three to four weeks now, since I discovered and became interested in purchasing a Rockwood A-Frame. I just registered so I thought that I should say hi!
My 2012 A128 came home on a Friday evening three weeks ago. The very next weekend I was out in the wild camping with it.
I am an avid hunter and that is what drove the purchase. I learned that I have drawn a bull elk tag for the end of November into the beginning of December (Arizona big game is all on a lottery system). I have tent camped all my life, but the one other time that I was drawn for a late season elk tag, I was not enjoying the tent in overnight temperatures in the teens.
The A128 is perfect for me because of the easy up deployment, the double dinettes (my adult son is my primary hunting partner), and since this is not an S model, it fits into my garage for storage (the S model would be too long). I definitely did not want another monthly RV storage bill - not just because of the dollars, but also because it is such a hassle to retrieve it from a yard someplace to prep for a trip.
I don't want to say "never" but I don't envision ever using it in a park with hookups. That's just not my style. So the very first thing that I did over the weekend after it came home was to build a big battery box for it to install a large 4D-size battery
. I also wired up solar ports on the sides of this new battery box and installed a solar charge controller inside near the radio. I currently have two movable 30 watt panels (60 watts total) on a 25 foot cable that I can move around to catch the sun.
I have a tarp over the new battery box because it was still bare wood, and there was a threat of rain. The yellow cord goes to the solar panels sitting on the ground in the sun.
Battery box after paint:
The hinges are leather straps.
I left the inside wood unpainted. This battery is rated over 200 amp-hours. It weighs 130 pounds. The trailer towed great after this mod, though I may be on the heavy side of that 10% to 15% tongue weight recommendation. My Avalanche is rated for a max tongue weight of 600 pounds. Trailer and TV were flat across from stern to stem.
The red flag thingy is a master battery cutoff switch. The little green thingy is a fuse for the solar input current. There are two solar input ports, one on each side of the box.
Updated control panel on the inside:
I installed the solar charge controller on an aluminum backing sheet. The charge controller has a heat sink on the back, and the installation instructions recommend mounting it against a metal surface for reasons of heat dissipation. The backing sheet is pop-riveted to the thin wood panel.
Here's a closeup of the charge controller:
Notice that the solar charge controller has built in USB charging ports. Very handy! This display shows that the solar panel is connected and 2.9 amps of charging current is being sent to the battery. You can also display the battery voltage at any time. This older A128 model used incandescent light bulbs, which have now all been replaced with LEDs for better energy conservation.
What else I like about this older model is that it does not have any bubble windows on the front slope. That's the perfect place for a permanent mounting of a solar panel or two, with access to the solar ports on the battery box! Future mod.
I have already found out that the rear bubble window leaks, so some 3M Extreme Sealing Tape is on its way.
Your posts have been quite helpful and informative, and I'm glad to now be a part of this community.