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Old 09-12-2011, 03:25 PM   #1
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Rockwood A126 A-Frame Hard Side 1st Trip Review

I'll start by saying that I am not a seasoned RV camper. As a matter of fact my first trip in an RV ever was this past weekend. With that said some of my observations may seem like those made by a noob - well that's because I am. My goal however is to review the camper itself based on my overall experience (albeit from a novice RV'r).

The Interior: We chose the Rockwood A126 for a variety of reasons. First, used A-Liners are few and far between and when you find them. . . well the dealers and owners are very proud of them. Prices were too high for my tastes for a used unit. The A126 was our choice of floor plans and options since we are only 2 people and I preferred to have a cassette toilet included.

The overall layout is pretty good. Kitchen features are centered in the trailer with the right (as you come into the door) having a bench and dinette table on once side and drawers/storage with toilet on the other. The rear of the camper has a convertible sofa (makes a 54x80 bed) that gives you the king/queen length with a full size bed width, or a nice sofa. The bed was comfortable for us both, but we did add a convoluted foam mattress pad. If you are a side sleeper you may want something more than the standard mattress by itself.

Lighting is by two interior ceiling mounted dual bulb 12v domes. The domes have only a single on/off toggle switch so there's no way to turn on only one bulb in the dome at a time. Both 921 bulbs burning at the same time in the dome is a little bright for my tastes. LED replacements are likely in my future. There's also a dim floor light (night light) which is fine for those that need to leave a light on to keep from tripping on their way to the toilet in the middle of the night. The clock on the stereo lights up the camper enough to serve as a night light (even when off) so we never used the floor lamp.

The sofa is nice but if you are taller you should be aware that sitting on the sofa leaves tall folks with their heads very close to the rear window/blinds (if not in it - I'm 6'3" and it's a minor problem for me, but negligible since the bed is down for most if not all of the camping trip).

The Cassette Toilet is a Thetford. From what I understand they are one of the best in the industry. Ours functioned great on our first outing. It's comfortable for me (average build) and my wife. It was great having access to facilities in the camper for those late night needs. During a 'test' I noticed that there can be a small bit of a 'splash' upwards when flushing so I advise putting the lid down if you aren't already in the habit - glad I learned that one with a clean 'test flush' before heading out.

The dinette area is tight, but also to be expected based on the design. It is setup for 2 people (versus 4) and has ample room for eating. Taller folks like myself will want to take the outside seat to avoid headroom issues here.

All the other features of the camper were great as well. Fridge performed wonderfully (pre-chilled on 120vac night before leaving, loaded up, used 12vdc from the battery/tow vehicle on the trip to the CG then back onto 120vac when shore power was hooked up). Temps could easily be kept below freezing if you wanted, we set the thermostat on "5" (with 7 being the coldest) and it was great (ambient air temps in the 60's at night, upper 70's during the day). Microwave was handy, and the 3 burner stove cooks faster and better than any flat surface electric range. The LP hot water heater did fine (only used it a couple times). I would just turn it on just before needing water and off afterwards to conserve on LP. It heats up quickly but we didn't have much of a need for hot water.

There is an AM/FM/CD Stereo system included. It works fine however it's not a sonic wonder. It includes a sleep timer (and alarm I believe) and also has an auxiliary input for your MP3 player on the front.

The Cool-Cat heat pump / Air Conditioner didn't get much use. However each morning we used it to knock the chill off and take the humidity down a bit. We had a drizzle for the first two days so mornings were damp. The unit is fairly quiet considering it's placement. I look forward however to seeing how I sleep with it kicking on and off right under the bed. I imagine the sound of a hotel AC unit and don't expect it to bother me but there is some vibration when in bed with the unit running. It can heat and cool the camper in a matter of a minute or so with moderate temps so I would imagine it will do pretty good even when warmer (or cooler).

I didn't use the 20,000BTU LP Furnace other than a test before taking her out. It tested fine.

Exterior:

Twin LP tanks with auto switchover regulator are a great feature, but also add extra weight. I don't know how much boondocking we will do but I cold end up modding the LP / Battery setup to lighten the weight a bit.

The battery (Interstate Deep Cycle 12v) that was installed by my dealer has a cover and I added a strap around it to secure the lid as it felt like it could fly off any time. The wiring is a little messy. Being new to RV's I don't know whether to blame the dealer or Forest River for this. However I will eventually add some split corrugated tubing to clean that up and help protect wiring from rubbing/damage while towing. Nothing seems to be in immediate danger but it looks unsightly and I figure I'm better off securing everything up just to be on the safe side.

Lighting is typical from what I can tell from looking at other campers. Front side markers, Rear running lights and brake lights and side markers. All were bright and seemed to be sized appropriately.

Additionally there are two outside lights, a 'bug light' amber porch light by the door and a clear white light at the front by the battery and LP tanks. I feel the front light is a bit of a waste since all it does is give you light around your hitch area. I would have rather seen a light on the rear that could be used at the CG instead, but I would imagine there are regulations by the DOT that prohibit having that type of light mounted there in case someone forgot and left it on while traveling.

Finish is similar to any other camper from what I can tell. Fiberglass with a coating (specialized paint or gel coat type material). The coating is thin but in the absence of abuse should hold up fine with regular cleaning and occasional waxing.

Setup: Setup is the best part of this pop-up camper. 1) Release the latches that secure the top (one on each side) 2) lift on the handle toward the rear of the camper to raise the roof allowing it to lock in place at the top 3) open the bottom door to the camper and release the top door travel latch 4) open the top door half way and step inside 5) close the bottom door completely 6) raise the passenger side wall and latch both latches in place 7) latch top door to bottom door 8) raise driver side wall and latch into place 9) enjoy a cold <insert beverage of choice here> from your ice cold refer. This takes less than 30 seconds after you have done it once or twice.

Ok. . . Ok. . . your aren't completely setup at this point. You still have to make sure you have it level left to right and front to back before putting your stabilizing jacks down but that only takes a few minutes. We setup in about 15 or 20 minutes total (camper only, not including unpacking and getting camp organized). The only reason that took so long was the fact that we unhooked, leveled and went to hook up the water only to realize we were about 2 feet short on our water hose. Had to take the jacks up and hook back up to push the camper back a few feet (didn't want to risk it rolling away on the slight slope).

The only other tasks other than leveling and opening the camper up were the standard things: water hookup, gray water tank setup, hooking to shore power, switching over the refer from DC to AC power and turning on the LP and water heater if you wanted it on.

Towing
:

I was happy with the towing. Initially I had a concern about the tongue weight. The specs put it at 242lbs but in reality our A126 came in at about 305-310lbs with battery and full LP tanks. My Jeep (2 Door) is rated for 200lbs tongue (10% of towing, 2000lbs). The 4 door has 350 and 3500lbs respectively. Since my rating was quite a bit less than that I made sure to load everything I needed to the rear of the trailer while still keeping in mind the 10-15% rule for trailer to tongue ratio. I didn't actually re-weigh but saw less sag and near perfectly level setup once hooked up with the wet camper.

My Jeep has the factory tow package and I added the 7-pin Mopar wiring harness and Bargman plug (purchased from a Jeep dealer). I installed it myself in about 2 hours (no lift, had to crawl under the Jeep to route the wires). I also added a Prodigy P2 brake controller that I installed as well.

The handling was excellent at highway speeds. I didn't tow it on the interstate yet so my top speed was around 60mph. The Jeep is horribly underpowered so 99% of towing around this part of Ky and Indiana will be with OD off. I will get much better fuel mileage at 55-60mph versus 70-75mph. I'll give the interstate a try later...

I would imagine most any vehicle with 2000lb towing capacity will be fine with this trailer. I would however watch the tongue weight and make sure your TV will handle up to 300 lbs before committing to the A126 (or A122 or A128).

Overall:

In the end, as a novice, I felt great on the drive home. The camper setup great, was very livable, towed wonderfully and had all the things we needed and then some to allow for a nice comfy weekend camping. I liked the fact that other veteran campers would come over asking about the Rockwood A-Frame.

Even with some of the quality control issues mentioned by others on these A series Rockwood units, I would still highly recommend for a couple (A126) or small family (A122 or A128).
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:32 AM   #2
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Excellent post. Thank you for sharing.
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Old 09-17-2011, 05:20 PM   #3
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Nice report. I have the A122 so some of the thread doesn't apply to me. We find that leaving the cool cat fan on the "on" position helps the noise level since the cycling isn't as noticeable.

To reduce weight, we keep 1 LP tank empty and removed the battery. If we are planning a long trip or if we boondocks we'll go back to the full load.

So far all is well with our Rockwood!
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Old 09-17-2011, 05:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toleworks View Post
To reduce weight, we keep 1 LP tank empty and removed the battery.
Beware that you need to battery hooked up going down the road to work your emergency braking system.

Great report, Jeep4Two !!!
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Old 09-17-2011, 05:45 PM   #5
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Seems there another thread about the converter being overloaded as well. Probably not a major issue if only using lights and shore water supply but in addition to not trailer breakaway brakes could be worth putting the battery back in.

Could be a mod in the future to beef up the rear 'bumper' and create a battery mod.
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TV=2011 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 2 Dr
Reese 66065 WDH, Curt WDH Shank #17120
Prodigy P2 Brake Controller, Mopar 7-pin Harness
B&M Transmission Cooler (#70268)
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Old 09-17-2011, 05:54 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jeep4Two View Post
Could be a mod in the future to beef up the rear 'bumper' and create a battery mod.
Since I have a heavy tongue weight, I looked into moving my battery to the rear bumper, plus adding a 2nd 1 there. I even posted on RV.net. Too many potential problems. Besides having to beef up the bumper there were these concerns: A long run with heavy gauge wire. The possibility of someone hitting the camper in the back, and getting acid splashed on them. Some even questioned whether it was legal in some states, but after I decided not to go that route, I didn't look into that aspect.

If someone is concerned about the tongue weight, a 12 volt lawn mower battery could be used in transit for the emergency brake....they are not too heavy.
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Old 09-17-2011, 07:10 PM   #7
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I would had thought a light around the hitch area could be useful or lease for me it would be. The tail light idea sounds good too.

I keep reading about heavy tongue weight - so what does that mean and how it come into play?
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Old 09-17-2011, 07:58 PM   #8
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My A126 with no cargo, full LP tanks and battery weighs in at 305-310 lbs. That is a good tongue weight for the weight of the camper. That comes in at about 14% of the total camper weight. That's right in the 10-15% range that is the 'rule' for stable towing. Most say 12-15% is best.

When I say it's heavy I just mean for my tow vehicle. I have too much sag in the rear suspension and too much lift in the front.

That's why I'm going with a weight distributing hitch. That will balance things out and get rid of the squat in the rear of my tow vehicle, and get
weight back on the front axle.

The key is that 10-15% figure. Any lower percentage of tongue weight will leas to unstable towing, ie trailer sway....
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Prodigy P2 Brake Controller, Mopar 7-pin Harness
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Old 09-17-2011, 08:01 PM   #9
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I also see the merits of a light at the hitch. I would just rather have it at the rear if given only one white light. Would be a bear trouble shooting LP or battery issues in the middle of the the night without it. Of course if it's a battery issue I guess the light wouldn't work....lol
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TV=2011 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 2 Dr
Reese 66065 WDH, Curt WDH Shank #17120
Prodigy P2 Brake Controller, Mopar 7-pin Harness
B&M Transmission Cooler (#70268)
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Old 09-17-2011, 08:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtnguy View Post
Since I have a heavy tongue weight, I looked into moving my battery to the rear bumper, plus adding a 2nd 1 there. I even posted on RV.net. Too many potential problems. Besides having to beef up the bumper there were these concerns: A long run with heavy gauge wire. The possibility of someone hitting the camper in the back, and getting acid splashed on them. Some even questioned whether it was legal in some states, but after I decided not to go that route, I didn't look into that aspect.

If someone is concerned about the tongue weight, a 12 volt lawn mower battery could be used in transit for the emergency brake....they are not too heavy.
I considered the safety issues when writing my other post. Now that you say that, I think you are certainly right. Too many liability issues combined with potential laws that might prohibit it.
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TV=2011 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 2 Dr
Reese 66065 WDH, Curt WDH Shank #17120
Prodigy P2 Brake Controller, Mopar 7-pin Harness
B&M Transmission Cooler (#70268)
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