Join Date: Feb 2011
Not to bum anyone out that has purchased the 2011 A122, 126, or 128 (we have now spent about 45 nights in our A122, in all kinds of weather and they have all been completely enjoyable and comfortable), but we have a story about ours we need to tell.
This past August, after a very wonderful 2 week camping trip along the coast in the Pacific Northwest, we headed south toward home. Traveling south on I-5 in central Oregon I heard a loud pop and immediately felt like I was running on the rumble strip on the passenger side. I realized that I had a blown passenger side trailer tire. I was passing another vehicle at the time, but was able to get onto the shoulder in a fairly short distance. Out my passenger side mirror I could see a cloud of smoke along that side of the trailer. Turned out there was no fire, just the smoking remains of the exploded shredded tire.
We have no idea what caused the blowout, no road debris noticed, tire pressure correct, no water in the tank, no heavy gear in the trailer (basically dry weight) only maybe 2500 miles on the original tires.
The destruction the shredded steel belts in a tire can do to an RV were frightening. The thick plastic fender (piece of junk) was laying on the side of the highway about a hundred yards back. The contents of the cabinet over the passenger tire (under the microwave) were strewn for a long distance. The floor around the tire was shredded. A steel frame member behind the tire was snapped at the weld and bent into the axle. All the wiring for the thermostat, stereo and microwave was wrapped around the axle, along with 3' of copper pipe and the 6-8' of rubber pipe for the "RV-Cue". The microwave cabinet was pretty much filleted. "Luckily", there was no exterior damage. There were chunks of tire rubber, beaverboard flooring and cabinet contents flung all over the inside of the trailer. I have attached a few photos of the damage.
1. We immediately called Coach-Net, the roadside assistance coverage plan that came free for a year from our purchase of the A122. They were very sympathetic and helpful, good tow company on scene quickly (all tow bills paid by Coach-Net), supplied names and numbers for RV Repair places in our vicinity, helped us make a motel reservation for that night. They did not pay anything for the motel room or any expenses associated with the delayed trip this minor disaster caused.
2. I was (rightly) concerned about the plastic fenders in our trailer when we bought it. Big plastic tubs which appeared to be attached to the trailer only by staples to the sub-flooring from below. The whole setup appeared pretty weak and cheesy, as it proved to be. When the tire blew out, the fender ripped loose and got spit out into the distance, leaving the floor and cabinet around it exposed to the frayed steel belts and shreds of rubber tire spinning with such force.
3. Being a novices to the towed RV business, I had followed the advice of some "gurus" on the net, and left the propane on to keep the fridge running, instead of letting it run on DC electric. With the smoking rubble of the tire, and the RV-Cue line wrapped in pieces around the axle, I can't fathom how a propane fire did not consume the trailer (and tow vehicle), I guess we were very lucky.
4. Forest River came through again during the repair process. They were able to provide all the parts, including the whole damaged cabinet, although all was paid by our insurance. They did pay to replace all three tires, when a match for the original wasn't available to the local tire store, and paid the slight increase in price from D rated tires to C rated tires, which I had been willing to pay, anything to avoid another disaster like this one.
1. We payed a fair amount to get new steel fenders fabricated and installed. They look good, fairly heavy galvanized steel, very professionally made, installed with lots of screws, instead of lots of staples. Still worried if they are really solid enough to stand up to the buzz saw of the frayed belts, but sure they will stand up better than the crappy originals.
2. We payed a bit extra to get the under-floor wiring and propane plumbing moved up inside the frame members, rather than dangling/sagging below the frame near the road surface.
3. We'll probably keep our speeds down to 60 mph in the future. I wasn't speeding at the time, but might have had less damage at 60 than at 65.
So, we have had some problems with this A122, our first "RV". Some of this probably has to do with Rockwood/Forest River stepping into the hard side pop up market with this first product, and the learning/engineering curve associated with a new product. We still love this trailer, it is exactly what we wanted. It fits our needs well, and we've been completely comfortable on multi-week trips. We looked before buying this trailer (and since) at A-liners and Chalets and they just aren't as sturdy and certainly not as well equipped as the Rockwood.
Consider replacing your fenders!!! This blowout was $3,400 to insurance, and about $800 to us.
Lastly (for now, LOL), a few thoughts. We were always tent campers. We upgraded to the A122 because, well, we wanted a warmer place to eat our good cooking, and the added, (but probably somewhat false) sense of security the hard sides provide living in bear country as we do. We've found that the trailer is much more pleasant to occupy and pack in rainy weather than a tent. There were many things we (or I) thought were excessively luxurious in this trailer, I mean, it isn't a class A motorhome, I.E.: microwave oven, electric mattress (really? standard equipment?), hot water heater, Coolcat? Excess! Having spent a lot of time now living in the trailer, we've decided the microwave had to go, needed the cabinet space and removed it during the repair process, nice new cabinet door, interior framing a winter project for me, sliding basket or drawer to go there. The Cool cat is so cool, technologically, but way too noisy, and may go on Craig's List before long, which would also give a boost to the small trailer storage problem. I'm still out on the hot water heater, but it works very well, seems efficient, and the wife likes it for dish washing. The propane furnace is way too loud to sleep through, so we bought a little bitty electric cube heater that works great on shore power, much more quiet. And lastly, that electric mattress... we have come to love it!
Read up on condensation problems in RV's. We had a problem on our most recent cold, damp trip with condensation from the rear roof hinges and wall sweating onto the mattress. The warm heated air just isn't getting back there, so we stuffed a couple towels between the mattress and wall at night, and hang them out to dry during the day. Worked fine for us. Have put a small "dry-eze" canister in on the floor for winter storage in our dry climate, just in case.
We wish all you folding hard-siders great adventures in beautiful places!