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Old 06-06-2014, 03:11 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 16
New Poster; A month in Yellowstone with the A Frame

First time poster here but I've spent an inordinate amount of time reading and searching through the forum. So, before I start a big thank you to all who post here, including those with the DIY and mod information. You were a tremendous help. And, let me offer my apologies on the post length.

For a long time I've had a bad photography habit. Several years ago it evolved into an even worse nature/wildlife photography habit. For the past few years I've spent weeks at a time in various locations tent camping. Most significantly, I've been doing a month in Yellowstone in Spring. I love tent camping but have to admit that I wasn't fond of those 28 degree mornings nor the walks to the bathroom and the freezing hands when doing dishes. So, I figured getting into an RV of sorts would solve that. After a fair amount of research and looking around and seeing a few A Frames I settled on a Forest River T12RBST this March. I'd bought a new car, a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, in January expressly with towing in mind (went with the V6 option, still good for 6500lbs).

Some of the particulars....
Overall, I was in Yellowstone from April 20 (drove from Phoenix) through June 2. I did return to Phoenix for 4 days for daughters 8th grade graduation then flew back up to Bozeman with her as she asked for a week camping in Yellowstone as her graduation present.
I stayed at Mammoth campground for 10 days
Madison Campground for 11 days
Signal Mountain Campground (Grand Teton National Park, electrical hookup site) for 4 days.
Norris Campground for 2 weeks

I got snow at all campgrounds but Mammoth was the most with several inches accumulating one night (though not this picture)...

Gas mileage, while towing, came out to around 16mpg. It could have been better but I have a heavy foot and found myself at 75-80mph through much of the open highway (speed frowned upon by many I am fully aware). Still, no complaints over my mileage.

Because of some other issues and family commitments, my time after buying it and getting to use it was extremely limited. I was able to get it out for a overnight with my daughter up to Oak Creek Canyon when campgrounds opened up and really felt I'd made the right decision. (Generally, it's just me that goes out as the kids are grown so I don't need all the space something larger provides and I really liked the light weight and minimal effect [so far as trailers go] on vehicle performance the A frame provides. It also gives me the ability to get to an area, find a site, set up fairly quickly then get out on the road and know I've got a roof over my head to come back to). So, while I had an planned April 18 leave date for my 5 weeks in Yellowstone this year, I did pore through the forum and grab the valuable information so many of you have provided. Except, I did miss one very crucial item...more on that later.

One of the items I felt crucial for my intended use was power. I need my laptop, battery chargers, portable storage devices, etc., I'd grown tired of shoving them in the back of the car hoping that things wouldn't break and they'd charge. So, upon advice from a neighbor I had the decent 12V marine battery that came with the trailer upgraded to 2 Crown 6v batteries. This worked out well. I also installed a 2 sets of the BlueSea dual USB chargers and 12v outlets. One set on the side of the cabinet with the microwave then the other below the seats on the inverter side of the cabinet. These worked out fantastically well. I was able to plug my phone/tablet in to the usb charger and let it charge over night (I use a geotagging app on my phone for my pictures) and I was able to plug a 300w invertor into the 12v outlets to power my laptop and a power strip with my battery chargers (Nikon cameras). And, I was able to power a small 22" Samsung LED tv when I made the mistake of watching an episode of the 'The Walking Dead' (and getting hooked on it) that my brother had put on my server and I'd transferred a couple seasons onto a flash drive.
All in all, the power situation was great. Prior to leaving, the same neighbor who'd advised on the batteries also had a Champion 3100w generator he'd bought but was selling (his wife insisted on a Honda) so I took that off his hands for a reasonable price. My daily use on this trip consisted of furnace (only when in trailer) set to 65 (I tried 82 one night....certainly warmed up but the effects on the propane are not good), 20 minutes of laptop for downloading pictures and about 30 minutes a day of charging batteries. When the TV bug hit, it was generally about 2hrs p/evening. All told, I was able to get by for 4 days without having to run the generator. If I held off on the TV and battery charging it was over a week.

Some of the things that did catch me...the propane use was greater than expected. I'd make coffee each morning (percolator, use stove), wash up (hot water) and as said, did run the heater at night - 25 degree temps and several inches of snow kind of demand that. And yes, it kept me warm...very comfortable.

On average, both tanks seemed to last about a week to 10 days. Fill ups in the local towns (either Gardiner with only one location and very limited hours or West Yellowstone with several locations and flexible hours) ran about $35-40 for both tanks.

Water...let me start off by saying I realize I could have economized and changed some habits to decrease my usage. However, I felt that I bought this for the convenience and I would use it as such. Daily water use was...brush teeth morning/evening, wash face off in morning, fill coffee, washing coffee mug/thermos/pot and a few plates. On average, a full tank of water lasted about 3-4 days. Yes, I could have used bottled water for my coffee, I could have used the dishwashing stations for dish washing (but I like hot water for washing dishes) and I could have used the camp bathrooms for personal washing up. Also a challenge, as there were not water spigots at each campsite - and even those that had them, few worked - was refilling the water. I ended up picking up a 7g Aquatainer from Walmart and used that. I'd fill up at closest spigot, back car up close to fill valve, open rear door of car, set Aquatainer on top of box to raise above fill valve then use the 4ft hose to fill. After a few minutes of figuring things out I was able to fill the tank (3 full Aquatainers) without any dripping or spillage. Of course, when I moved to different campsites that had potable water for RV's I filled up there. I did not stay at the one campsite that has a water supply.

And, finally, the one real complaint I have and the one thread I missed entirely; Leaking. This thing leaked like a sieve. The large window over the bed was bad along with the bubble window on the stove side of the trailer. It wasn't bad with snow, but when it rained, there were issues. The first time resulted in having to remove all the bedding and find a laundry. After that it was pots and containers under the known leak areas. Compounding the issue was that there were no RV supply stores anywhere near. The closest was in Bozeman, MT, an 80 mile drive. I did make that drive after the first leak episode and picked up a sealant caulk for windows that was recommended by the parts guy after telling him the issue. It worked but only a bit. The leaks still persisted. I've read through the posts and am set on the 3M bonding tape that has been mentioned and will find a location to have it installed.

Overall, I am very happy with the choice. The leaking is an issue but in talking to others with larger and far more expensive outfits, it's a problem for them too.

Again, thanks to all here for their wonderful information and ideas!

Oh, one final picture....with all the rain/snow, lawn service was needed...

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Old 06-06-2014, 04:04 PM   #2
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Nice. Thanks for sharing

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Old 06-06-2014, 04:21 PM   #3
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Will probably be a long time till I find myself in one of those A Frames, but I just wanted to say I enjoyed reading this. Great pics also.
2014 Coachmen Apex 259BHSS
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Old 06-06-2014, 05:26 PM   #4
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Great pic...that trip is on our to do list with the day
2013 Sabre 32RCTS-6 (sold)
Family of 4 whose always on the GEAUX!
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Old 06-06-2014, 08:09 PM   #5
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Location: Pasadena, Texas
Posts: 184
Now that's what I call a vacation. I love the picture of the buffalo at your camper. That's worth framing.

Sorry to hear that your aframe leaked. So far mine hasn't in a slight downpour thank goodness.

Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

Tow Vehicle: 2012 Durango 3.6 Pentastar Engine
Total nights camping 2014-(10)
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Old 06-07-2014, 10:30 AM   #6
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 98
thanks for post/another leaking aframe/ maybe we can put a pool in as a option/or get the FR tarp option//seems at this point more are leaking than not/or mfg can add 3m extreme tape as no charge option/////
2014 A122s rockwood 2014 jeep grand Cherokee v6 290 hp 4by4
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Old 06-07-2014, 10:34 AM   #7
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 98
PS does FR have a rep that follows this group?a lot of other mfg for autos do///
2014 A122s rockwood 2014 jeep grand Cherokee v6 290 hp 4by4
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Old 06-09-2014, 07:28 AM   #8
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 18
Great post and lots of good information on camping without hook-ups which we haven't done yet. As to the leaking, FR really needs to take notice and redesign these bubble windows. According to the various forums I read, It is a huge problem for all of us including the Aliners too which are much more expensive.
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Old 06-09-2014, 09:12 AM   #9
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Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 1,745
It sounds like FR needs to give up on acrylic and move to polycarbonate glazing. Polycarbonate more scratch resistant, has better UV blocking properties, and if made right it is next to impossible to break. But it would be a significant step up in price.

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Old 06-09-2014, 02:56 PM   #10
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I don't know that I'd call the first 4 weeks much of a vacation unless you consider being up at 4am then spending the day driving around/hiking looking for wildlife (and usually getting somewhere and hearing..."you should've seen it, you JUST missed it!!").... then getting to bed at 11 after a 9pm sunset and a late dinner (usually soup). But, so long as the stove worked and coffee brewed in the morning, all was right with the world.
Lots of fun moments no doubt.....But there's also the matter of 9,000+ images/video I came back with that need to be culled and processed. That said, I wouldn't trade it for the best day in an office

However, it didn't take long to realize I was enjoying myself far more, and being much more productive, knowing I had a "roof over my head" to go back to, wouldn't be trying to start a fire/run a campstove in the rain/snow, some cold beer in the fridge and a warm (mostly, except when it rained) bed to sleep in. I still love tent camping but there's a lot to be said about being inside something (semi) secure - especially when the bears are coming out of hibernation - and having a bed.

My plans are to do mostly dry camping and solar is high up there on the to do list. One of the campsites I stayed at did have electrical hookups and I have to say it was nice to get back and not have to worry about if there was enough left in the batteries for the furnace to make it through the night and to keep my laptop/chargers plugged in. It was strange to see the microwave lit up though...I don't plan on keeping it, feel that I am better served converting it to storage space. If I had a choice, water hookup would be what I most desire. Then again, that means emptying the grey tank more often.....

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frame, a-frame

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