Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Maplewood, MN
Maiden Voyage 831FKBSS
Here are my first impressions of the trailer and a little note on it's maiden voyage.
Towing impressions – The additional 2,000 pounds over the Sunnybrook 2709, (AKA the old one), are noticeable but not detrimental. The trailer is very stable on the road, soaking up bumps and surface irregularities. Winds and passing Semi-Trailers were not an issue. My take is the torsion axle system is superior to the leaf spring, for trailers. Once the controller was adjusted, I could feel the trailer brakes engage and supplement the van brakes effectively. All in all, the new trailer is an easy rig to tow.
Backing in to our site – It was harder for me to judge where the trailer was, and I’m learning the new turning radius. But there are no issues that won’t be fixed with experience. Getting the trailer in a good position took a bit more effort due to ensuring space for the 2 slides.
Setting up – The front electric jack is slow. But, it sure is easier than cranking 850 lbs. of hitch weight. The electric stabilizing jacks are nice and don’t take any more time than cranking down the manual stabilizers. Even with the stabilizers down, extending the slides does roll the trailer one to two degrees. Future setups will start off a bit out of level to compensate. Connecting the separate power cord is an extra step but worth it for the higher amperage. We really like the DSI water heater, flip a switch and you’re done. And the electric awning is quick and easy. All in all, setting up the new trailer takes no longer than the old one, even with all the fancy new stuff.
Living in it – Our previous bathroom was in the back, this one is in the middle. We’ll have to get use to planning our movements. There is much more cupboard and closet space than we could possibly use for a weekend or even a couple of weeks. Arranging food stuff, post pans etc. will take some time. Bins will be a necessary addition. The refrigerator is a nice upgrade, adjustable temperature and a large bottom bin. The large living area is great. Teresa and I could picture spending extended vacations in this camper without feeling cramped. The dining chairs are comfortable and a big improvement over the booth. The couch was a bit stiff but not uncomfortable, though it desperately needs drink holders. My favorite relaxation spot is the recliner, also in need of a drink holder. It is extremely comfortable with great support, perfect for nap time. The bed is a nice regular queen, just like at home. The day/night shades seem to work well. It was not sunny enough for us to really tell. For some reason the bedroom exterior door does not have a shade. This will need to be remedied. A 5:30 sunrise could really be annoying (song que: “Blinded by the Light”). The fresh water tank seemed a bit smaller than we are used to. Perhaps that is because we aren’t use to “quick” washing of ourselves and cooking utensils.
Stupid stuff - There are some really annoying, stupid design choices by Forrest River. First are the keys. Do we really need 4 separate keys for 1 trailer? It would have been easy to key the doors alike. Even 2 keys would be ok, one for both entry doors and one for the outside storage doors. But, noooo, there are separate keys for the front door, the bedroom door, the slam latch doors, and the standard exterior compartment door. Add to this bunch the hitch lock key and the receiver lock key and there is a wad of keys to cart around. The entertainment system is also a bit goofy. I still have not figured it all out. The instruction manual states the TV sound is on the AU 2 input, wrong. That input is for the satellite radio. That is the first and last time I try to use instructions. I haven’t been able to figure out which input is for the TV. Yes, I tried them all with no success. My next job is to pull the unit and trace the wiring. Perhaps I can figure out what input goes to what device. Also, one would also expect the peripherals to be switched with the main unit. No way Jose. Even the antenna amp is separate. Like I am going to remember to reach under the cabinet to push a button when headed to bed after a few cocktails, yea, right. Another quirk is the bathroom wall switch. As installed, the switch nearest the door operates the vanity lights and the switch furthest from the door operates the overhead light and fan. I made an engineering decision and reversed these. The wall switch that controls the bathroom overhead light also controls the fan. Realize that this trailer, as delivered, has only one vent fan. So if I want the fan on but not the light, or vice versa, I have to turn on the wall switch and turn off whichever device I don’t want. Why did they bother with a wall switch? It’s not like the ceiling is a reach, even for me. The last really stupid design was the easiest to fix. The tin cover for the stove folds back when the stove is in use. However, when the cover is folded back it blocks all access to the knife rack. I just removed the cover and put it in the garage, problem solved.
In the park (Wild River State Park, MN) – Friday we celebrated my wife’s graduation (Masters) with a bit of bubbly and relaxed. Saturday we had lots of time to get use to the inside of the trailer; the weather was cold, cloudy, windy, and damp, though we did venture out for some wine tasting at the local vineyard during the afternoon. Sunday the sun came out and it warmed the air to the lower 50s, great for hiking. There were many wild flowers in bloom including trout lily, anemone, trillium, phlox, buttercup, violet, etc. And, we met a new furry friend, a 9 mo old lab puppy. FUN ~ but we were reminded why neither of us would have another lab. That puppy had more spunk than the Energizer Bunny.