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Old 07-18-2016, 04:00 AM   #1
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Question Questions about Forest River Hard Side A-Frame Popups

Newbie here, just created my account. Been reading posts for a few weeks now.

Little info about me: I've got lots of experience tent camping (30+ years). I am a medieval re-enactor, and I have a full period encampment (10x12 canvas wall tent, canvas dayshade, wrought iron tent stakes, ropes, etc. I am a woodworker, and made myself a viking-style slat bed on posts. These are great for a week long camping trip when re-enacting. They suck for weekends, or when I just want to mundane camp elsewhere. Pulling in on a Friday evening, taking 4-5 hours to get all that set up, and then tear it all back down Sunday morning gets old.

So, I've been doing a lot of research on RVs. That lead me eventually to the A-Frame pop-up camper. I looked (online) at the A-Liner, the Chalet, the Jayco, and the two "brands" from Forest River (Rockwood and Flagstaff). Of all those, the Rockwood / Flagstaff seem to offer the most "bang for your buck" in layouts, storage, etc.

I am primarily interested in the Rockwood A213HW (though the Flagstaff version of the same layout would be fine).

However, I've read a LOT of horror stories about Forest River (all their offerings, not just A-Frames). So, it makes me pause. Hence, why I am here.

Those of you who have owned a Forest River A-Frame (any model, but especially the High Wall ones), what are the biggest problems? What usually fails first? How well does the fridge work in hot weather? Same with the Coolcat? I'm in Georgia, and it gets bloody hot down here in the Summer (like right now).

What issues are usually found when buying new, and you pick-up from the dealership, that they have to fix while you wait? How well does the included outside grill work? How about the cassette toilet? The outside shower?

What mods to people usually do first on these, which are considered essential, if any?

What do I need to know, that I don't even know that I need to know?

I am primarily interested in hearing from people who've had one for at least a year or longer, with time for things to fail.

Thanks ahead of time for reading all this, and giving me any advice you can.

*EDIT* - figured I'd go ahead and give my Tow Vehicle info, since it may get asked:

2012 Toyota Tundra 2WD CrewMax Platinum with factory tow package. Max Tow Cap: 9,900 lbs. Tongue Weight: 1,040 lbs.
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Old 07-18-2016, 07:52 AM   #2
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Welcome asbrand. Interesting hoby.

We bought an AH213HW in February and love it. Having been truck camping for 30+ years we too were looking for easier setup/takedown. Problem solved. Our 1st big trip was three weeks in the southeast and eventually the Keys. We stopped down your way at Crooked River SP. Nice.

Most folks that post on product message boards are there to complain or get help, so sometimes you get a skewed picture. There are quality issues and some are systemic. But overall I can't complain. There are several threads regarding leaks. So far so good with us.

To your questions:

There are issues with the roof actuator. Ours went out before we ever picked it up and delayed delivery. The replacement works ok, but it does seem to struggle a bit. But it has been put up and down a lot without fail.

People complain about sawdust, screws etc. left behind by factory workers. All true.

I'm amazed at the refrigerator. Once it's cold <-- very important-- it does great. We keep our camper at some property we own where we camp and just leave it on low (1) on shore power all the time and just crank it up when we get there. But definitely get it going a day or two before you head out. When we are driving I've been running it off the truck, but if we stop for more than an hour or so I turn on the propane. It's ability to switch power source automatically is cool. I do turn it up to high on a hot afternoon.

Don't know about the Coolcat, it works, but we haven't had to use it much.

The toilet works fine, but we don't use it for solid waste.

Outside shower is good. A little tricky to get closed sometimes. Nice feature on the beach and when boating.

The grill is a POS. 1st time we used it several of the rivets fell apart. But I replaced them with SS screwes and it seems ok. I do like the feature.

1st mod I did was the storage compartment locks. Search the forum, it will pop up. Can't imagine having to mess around with a key constantly.

Having some kind of canopy is essential in my opinion. Not impressed with the factory option so I went DIY. Still messing with that.

We tow with a full size chevy ext cab. No issues. Costs about 2.5 mpg.

All in all we're happy. We stopped for one night in NC. Pulled in and were set up in 20 minutes, next morning we were on the road in 30 including coffee and a shower.

Have fun and good luck!
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Old 07-18-2016, 08:21 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OYO View Post
I'm amazed at the refrigerator. Once it's cold <-- very important-- it does great. We keep our camper at some property we own where we camp and just leave it on low (1) on shore power all the time and just crank it up when we get there. But definitely get it going a day or two before you head out.
That could be a problem. I will have to store it in a rented lot. No room in my garage (is my woodworking shop) and my driveway is rather steeply angled, so not safe to store there.

Quote:
The toilet works fine, but we don't use it for solid waste.
Any particular reason? Doesn't handle solid waste well? Or just don't wanna go #2 in the camper?

Quote:
Outside shower is good. A little tricky to get closed sometimes. Nice feature on the beach and when boating.
I'm considering getting one of those pop-up shower / changing tents, and putting it next to the outside shower. Voila', instant private shower.

Quote:
The grill is a POS. 1st time we used it several of the rivets fell apart. But I replaced them with SS screwes and it seems ok. I do like the feature.
Well, other than the shoddy rivet job...does it work otherwise? AKA - will it actually fire up and grill meat?

Quote:
1st mod I did was the storage compartment locks. Search the forum, it will pop up. Can't imagine having to mess around with a key constantly.
So, you no longer have locking compartments? Or what?

Quote:
Having some kind of canopy is essential in my opinion. Not impressed with the factory option so I went DIY. Still messing with that.
I have a really nice beach umbrella which will work for now. Might get a screened in popup canopy, but that's starting to be more work than I wanna do on setup.

Thanks for your time and your answers!!!
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Old 07-18-2016, 08:22 AM   #4
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Oh, do they make a storage cover for these? Or will just any large tarp, secured down, be fine to use?
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Old 07-18-2016, 08:28 AM   #5
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Forest River Hard Side A-Frames

asbrand, OYO, we bought our A213HW in Sept. of 2015. For the most part, it has worked fine for us. Problems had: (1) persistent leak in the cassette toilet rubber water feed hose due to pinching it between the toilet and the floor during manufacture. Our dealer replaced it with PEX which has worked fine ever since. (2) leakage in the dinette area under the front wall. I suspect the rubber (?) gasket outside over the roof hinge. I caulked it, and caulked the floor inside the storage compartment, and the running lights outside. No water since, but I haven't been in a real frog-strangler of a rainstorm yet, so we'll see. (3) The roof actuator sounds like it labors when raising the roof, but has not failed. I give the roof a boost manually when raising it to take some of the weight. Love the cassette toilet, -no more waiting in line at a dump station. Don't buy the Dometic awning/screen room for it. If you break a pole, Dometic won't sell you a replacement. They will only sell an entire new set of poles at a cost to you of $366.

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Old 07-18-2016, 11:13 AM   #6
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2 things become a member of the Aliners Owner Club, huge DIY section. Yeah I know it is Aliner, but S.O.B.s (some other brand) are welcome worth the 20 bucks. Also there is a facebook page for A Frames. 1st mod I made was the grey water storage, second mod was pulled the damn Micro wave out and turned it into storage not a problem with the 213HW, 3rd important mod Wind Cheeta's but don't know how that would work with a Lift system. Remember once you drill your 1st hole the rest become easier
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Old 07-18-2016, 11:16 AM   #7
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I did the same thing, and came to the same conclusion. Simply put, you get more for your money with forest river. As my signature states, I own a 2015 Rockwood 194 HW. My wife and I have tent camped for years, and this unit has completely changed the way she and I go about camping. No more several hour setup to get things the way you want them, then a day and a half later tear it all down, and if it's wet set it up and let it dry out at home. NO MORE! We are extremely happy with our purchase. I too live in Georgia, and the cool cat works fine, it was able to keep the inside at 69, just this past weekend. You should know , it's hot and humid right now. My little A, keeps it nice and cool, to cold for the wife! As for problems, only a few minor ones, little leaks around fittings that's about it. People need to understand that a frames are moving little homes, if your house was pulled down a twenty mile long dirt road, it would develop some leaks, guaranteed! However, I've had no leaks since I put Teflon tape on the fittings. You say you have a wood shop, that tells me, that you are most likely handy. With that said, most issues,if any, you'll be able to fix on your own. Our fridge works great, the freezer keeps ice cream frozen hard. I did install four little computer fans, two on the bottom sucking in, and two at the top blowing out. I didn't have any problems before the fans, I just did it to help it out. You'll find that a lot of people do this. My model has the cassette toilet/shower. This was a must for the wife, but I admit it's very nice to be able to take a nice warm shower before crawling in to bed. We use the toilet, just like we use it at home. No more finding a flashlight and unzipping tent, and putting on shoes to go to the woods or bathroom. It is very easy to use and operate. So there's my take on the Rockwood 194 HW. Absolutely love it. So good luck in your decision


2015 rockwood 194A HW.
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Old 07-18-2016, 01:36 PM   #8
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Welcome , I have a Flagstaff T21QBHW. We hve had it for a year now and camped in it for 8 1 week trips ! No real problems encountered ! No leaks in the plumbing, no leaks from the rain. Set up is a breeze compared to our old pop up ! My wife sets the roof with the actuator while I set the crank down stabilizers. The cool cat works, we however camp mostly without hookups so we do not use it very much. We do most of our cooking outside on the included grill with the addition of a cast iron griddle. The fantastic fan moves a lot of air, however we fabricated a screen for the door to improve circulation. We do not use the porta potty that came with our unit we prefer to let the National Park clean the facilities. The 3 way refrigerator ac/dc/propane works great, a big improvement over our ol 2 way in the pop up. We chose not to purchase the dometic awning and use a Clam easy to set screen room. We keep the a frame covered when not in use with a camco cover, tucked away in the tractor shed. Yeah, we kinda like it........a lot !
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Old 07-18-2016, 02:21 PM   #9
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A frame questions

I have a 2013 Rockwood 128S and tow it with a Honda OdysseyThe refrigerator is fantastic with its 3 way option. After you get it cooled down you are going to have to adjust the setting to a warmer temperature or the bottom will be your freezer.
I have never had a leak and I have been in some real gully washers. The first mod I did was get one of those over the toilet shelving units, cut the legs off it and put it on the counter behind the stove. What an improvement in accesibility to often needed items. like canned goods, papertowels and on the top shelf way up there I keep my shaving kit. I use a porta potti from my boat but only use it for night time and store it in the storage area just beside the door. At night we take it out just in case but find we rearely use it. It is no problem dumping it.
Purchased a Honda generator and had a welder make a hitch for me to put a rack on the back. The generator stays there all the time.
I put heavy duty cup hooks in the front storage compartment to hang hoses, electrical cords and chocks. If you feell around under the top edges you will find that it is all wood, so you can put hooks all around.
I didn't like the grill it came with & bought a small weber. I don't grill next to the camper where the original hung on the rail becausee I don't want grease on the side of my unit.
I camp summer and winter-the furnace puts out the heat and in summer the AC is terrific when you just crack the fantastic fan open a bit to push the heat out.
Hope you are as happy as I am
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Old 07-18-2016, 02:28 PM   #10
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Oh yes, the canopy is a waste. Bought a 10x10 clamshell with screened sides but haven't had the chance to use it yet. Making the screen door was a piece of cake. bought the magnetic screen at Kmart, cut it in half and attached it under the button screws at the top. Magnets work great at keeping mosquitos out
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