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Old 09-20-2021, 11:53 AM   #1
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Thoughts on the 2021 FR3 34DS after nine months

Overall, we're happy with the layout, the features, and the affordability of our new motorhome. After nine months of use, I think I have a pretty good handle on the pros and cons and I've captured them below in hopes they inform others and that they influence FR with future builds.

Don’t change these things!
  1. The floorplan: While we wanted a dinette with separate chairs, the dinette is very comfortable for me at 6’-2” and is also comfortable to sit in sideways with my back against the window. The storage space underneath has been great for the front table and useful for installing a whole-house vacuum. It has also been nice not to need to pull chairs and table extensions out of storage any time we entertain.
  2. Huge pantry: My wife was sold as soon as she saw how much storage was available behind the TV.
  3. Outside storage: Our previous coach was a 40’ DP. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there was almost the equivalent amount of storage in this unit, despite being 3’ shorter and having the frame take up some of that space.
  4. Inside storage: Yes!
  5. One and a half bathrooms: While not on our must-have list, having the additional half bath makes life a lot easier for the two of us.
  6. Abundance of USB ports: The locations in the dash, by the dinette, and both sides of the bed are very handy. While these weren’t on our must-have list, we find them useful as we have six devices that require charging.
  7. Radio with apple play & large viewing screen: Wow! Navigating when looking at my iPhone was never satisfactory. Having the shelf for the phone and the large display has made navigating much easier.
  8. King Bed: It was a must have for us.
  9. Heated storage and water tank heater pads: We haven’t had to use these yet, but when we do, we’ll need them.
  10. Huge TV in lounge area: The added plus, having accessible HDMI connections and power for DVD players or other devices.
  11. Double Fridge: Absolutely a must have for longer journeys.
  12. Built-in WiFi: I had assembled my own in my last RV. Even without using the cellular capability, it’s very easy to point this at a park’s local WiFi and then all of our devices are automatically connected. Additionally, the router firewalls our computers from the rest of the world.

Suggested Improvements:
  1. Better QA checks to reduce Forest River warranty support costs and customer frustration. It took a long while after purchase and a lot of follow up on my part before the warranty issues were resolved. Most of the delays had to do with the COVID-induced supply chain issues. The customer service contact at FR was
    awesome!
  • The leads from the solar panel to the monitor were reversed resulting in no solar charging of the batteries.
  • There was a large horizontal crack in the shower and a gap between the shower wall and the shower pan.
  • There was a crack in the shower skylight trim.
  • The USB ports on the theater seating were not connected to a power source.
  • The Thetford toilet wastewater tank sensors were attached to the gray water tank rather than the black water.
  • Towel racks and toilet paper racks were not installed, plus the mounting hardware was missing.
  • One wall panel started popping off due to insufficient glue or and staples.
  • The panels under the shelves in the pantry had few staples and no glue. When I installed four wine glass holders on the underside of one, the entire panel fell off as we were driving due to the weight of the glasses.
  • The black plastic plate on the dash that acts as a phone holder was missing.
  • The center bedroom drawer, above the fuse panel, was installed with the slide brackets angling out towards the rear. This caused the brackets to deform and the drawer to fall out. I replaced these with heavier-duty slides and made sure that they were parallel.
  • There were cut wire bits laying under the mattress and elsewhere on the floor of the RV.
  1. The ride is extremely harsh on highways with rough roads. Other manufacturers are offering sumo springs as an installed option. While the front ones are easy to install for DIYers, the rear ones are more difficult. I would have been happy to pay a premium for these to have been installed at the factory.
  2. The cockpit area is very noisy, especially when climbing hills as the V8 downshifts and goes into higher revs. Install more sound insulation between the engine and the cockpit. At present, we never play the sound system when driving due to the level of noise.
  3. Install white window shades instead of black. White shades will reflect the outside heat rather than absorb and radiate it into the coach. They would also make the interior of the coach appear brighter in the evening, requiring less lighting to be on.
  4. Install warm-white LED lighting rather than daylight-white to provide an improved ambiance inside the coach and under the awning. Daylight-white LEDs are too harsh.
  5. Install dimmer switches for all the ceiling lights in the lounge area and for the exterior awning light. Trying to install them after the fact is difficult for the owner as the required ground wire is not located near the switches.
  6. Install a different microwave unit. The automatic vent fan on this microwave comes on almost anytime we use the stove – possibly it is just too sensitive. It is annoying because one must shout over it when dining. There should be a way to turn it off or turn it down when we have finished cooking and are ready to eat.
  7. The USB ports require you to unplug and replug the USB cord to become active. This odd behavior appears after the plug has been left in the socket for some time. You go to plug in a device to the other end and no charge appears until the socket end has been unplugged and replugged.
  8. The USB ports are insufficient for newer iPads that require 3 Amp chargers.
  9. The theater seating leg lifts don’t support longer legs. Instead, the weight of my legs causes my feet to touch the ground.
  10. The shower door should slide to the right for locking. The space on the right is inaccessible for stepping into it. So, it would make it easier to enter the shower when packing up and it would prevent any leaks from between the panels.
  11. Align the front wheels prior to selling the RV. I was driving it for several months before I could schedule it with a place that could handle large RVs.
  12. Heat pumps: The fireplace isn’t sufficient to heat the entire coach on cold nights. It’s a shame that we are forced to use our gas furnace when we are plugged into shore power only because our unit didn’t come with any heat pumps. One heat pump would be better than none. But two heat pumps would be even better.
  13. Bathroom Faucets: They look nice but aren’t designed for the narrow sinks. As a result, they often spit water forward onto you the first time they are used after arriving at a campsite.
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Cliff Smith
Jackson, CA
2021 FR3 34DS (V8)
2011 Honda CRV toad
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Old 09-20-2021, 12:52 PM   #2
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Cliff, I agree with you about FR QC. It is absolutely deployable. It' failure must be cutting into FR profits with warranty repair's. The other thing is why don't they install Blue Ray DVD as you can play both regular and blue ray disc. Not much difference in price. FYI keep a close eye on your roof AC's. Both of mine just died this week and will have to wait on FR to ship replacement and have no idea how long that will take. You pointed out a lot of details, only if FR would listen and heed. Be well and safe travels.
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2020 FR3 34DS, Blue Ox Avail, SMI Stay-In-Play Duo Braking System, Tire Minder TPMS-i10-10, Safe-T-Plus, Front & Rear Sumo Springs, Front & Rear Sway bar, Friction Door Hinge.
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Old 09-21-2021, 07:02 AM   #3
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Quote:
* There was a large horizontal crack in the shower and a gap between the shower wall and the shower pan.
* The USB ports on the theater seating were not connected to a power source.
Our new 33DS has gaps between the walls and the shower bottom. Figured it was by design and that the walls needed to be extra flexible. Not sure if the gaps are issues as long as the bottoms stay dry.

Our theater seats' USB ports also don't work. Not sure if there's a DIY fix. Local dealers have become unresponsive when it comes to requesting service...

Quote:
Heat pumps: The fireplace isn’t sufficient to heat the entire coach on cold nights. It’s a shame that we are forced to use our gas furnace when we are plugged into shore power only because our unit didn’t come with any heat pumps. One heat pump would be better than none. But two heat pumps would be even better.
Doesn't the front AC have a heat pump?
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Old 09-21-2021, 07:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by besweeet View Post
Our new 33DS has gaps between the walls and the shower bottom. Figured it was by design and that the walls needed to be extra flexible. Not sure if the gaps are issues as long as the bottoms stay dry.

Our theater seats' USB ports also don't work. Not sure if there's a DIY fix. Local dealers have become unresponsive when it comes to requesting service...



Doesn't the front AC have a heat pump?
The crack in our shower was about half-way up the rear wall, where the textured surface changes. Yes, we had those same gaps at the bottom prior to the shower surround being replaced and after. It seems like a bad design fit. While I havenít discovered it leaking, itís a great space for mold to grow.

The tray in the arm rest of the theater seats is easy to remove and see what is below. In my case the pig-tail leads for the USBs were hanging from it with no wire nearby. The dealer tapped into a wire under the black cover behind the seats.

I thought my heat pump was broken. When I contacted FR, I learned that the heat pump version of the AC wasnít unavailable during the build. So, they went with two plain AC units to get it out the door. They were nice enough to give me a small check for the issue, but it wasnít enough to replace the AC with the heat pump version.

My understanding is that warranty repairs arenít financially rewarding for dealers. They have to invest unpaid time in analyzing the problem, documenting it, submitting it to FR, checking on approval status, and ordering parts. But they are only compensated for X amount of time for the repair, itself. Add the COVID issues of staffing and supply-chain delays, and you can see why a dealer would prioritize readying new and used coaches for sale vs. doing warranty repairs.

The best advice I can give is to maintain a friendly relationship with your dealerís service personnel, be as flexible as possible with scheduling, and give them some profitable work (window awnings in my case). Also, you can reach out to FRís support line, give them your zipcode, and they can provide you a list of nearby authorized service places. IMO, the FR people who answer the phone and who monitor this website are customer-oriented and very helpful.
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Cliff Smith
Jackson, CA
2021 FR3 34DS (V8)
2011 Honda CRV toad
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Old 09-21-2021, 07:58 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USAFE7Ret View Post
The other thing is why don't they install Blue Ray DVD as you can play both regular and blue ray disc.

FYI keep a close eye on your roof AC's. Both of mine just died this week
My unit had no DVD player. I installed an inexpensive one in the pantry behind the main TV. We have yet to use the outdoor or bedroom TVs, so it works for us.

Seeing that both of your ACs failed, Iím wondering if it is specific to a brand, model, and model year?
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Jackson, CA
2021 FR3 34DS (V8)
2011 Honda CRV toad
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Old 09-21-2021, 01:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RVwino View Post
Overall, we're happy with the layout, the features, and the affordability of our new motorhome. After nine months of use, I think I have a pretty good handle on the pros and cons and I've captured them below in hopes they inform others and that they influence FR with future builds.

Donít change these things!
  1. The floorplan: While we wanted a dinette with separate chairs, the dinette is very comfortable for me at 6í-2Ē and is also comfortable to sit in sideways with my back against the window. The storage space underneath has been great for the front table and useful for installing a whole-house vacuum. It has also been nice not to need to pull chairs and table extensions out of storage any time we entertain.
  2. Huge pantry: My wife was sold as soon as she saw how much storage was available behind the TV.
  3. Outside storage: Our previous coach was a 40í DP. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there was almost the equivalent amount of storage in this unit, despite being 3í shorter and having the frame take up some of that space.
  4. Inside storage: Yes!
  5. One and a half bathrooms: While not on our must-have list, having the additional half bath makes life a lot easier for the two of us.
  6. Abundance of USB ports: The locations in the dash, by the dinette, and both sides of the bed are very handy. While these werenít on our must-have list, we find them useful as we have six devices that require charging.
  7. Radio with apple play & large viewing screen: Wow! Navigating when looking at my iPhone was never satisfactory. Having the shelf for the phone and the large display has made navigating much easier.
  8. King Bed: It was a must have for us.
  9. Heated storage and water tank heater pads: We havenít had to use these yet, but when we do, weíll need them.
  10. Huge TV in lounge area: The added plus, having accessible HDMI connections and power for DVD players or other devices.
  11. Double Fridge: Absolutely a must have for longer journeys.
  12. Built-in WiFi: I had assembled my own in my last RV. Even without using the cellular capability, itís very easy to point this at a parkís local WiFi and then all of our devices are automatically connected. Additionally, the router firewalls our computers from the rest of the world.

Suggested Improvements:
  1. Better QA checks to reduce Forest River warranty support costs and customer frustration. It took a long while after purchase and a lot of follow up on my part before the warranty issues were resolved. Most of the delays had to do with the COVID-induced supply chain issues. The customer service contact at FR was
    awesome!
  • The leads from the solar panel to the monitor were reversed resulting in no solar charging of the batteries.
  • There was a large horizontal crack in the shower and a gap between the shower wall and the shower pan.
  • There was a crack in the shower skylight trim.
  • The USB ports on the theater seating were not connected to a power source.
  • The Thetford toilet wastewater tank sensors were attached to the gray water tank rather than the black water.
  • Towel racks and toilet paper racks were not installed, plus the mounting hardware was missing.
  • One wall panel started popping off due to insufficient glue or and staples.
  • The panels under the shelves in the pantry had few staples and no glue. When I installed four wine glass holders on the underside of one, the entire panel fell off as we were driving due to the weight of the glasses.
  • The black plastic plate on the dash that acts as a phone holder was missing.
  • The center bedroom drawer, above the fuse panel, was installed with the slide brackets angling out towards the rear. This caused the brackets to deform and the drawer to fall out. I replaced these with heavier-duty slides and made sure that they were parallel.
  • There were cut wire bits laying under the mattress and elsewhere on the floor of the RV.
  1. The ride is extremely harsh on highways with rough roads. Other manufacturers are offering sumo springs as an installed option. While the front ones are easy to install for DIYers, the rear ones are more difficult. I would have been happy to pay a premium for these to have been installed at the factory.
  2. The cockpit area is very noisy, especially when climbing hills as the V8 downshifts and goes into higher revs. Install more sound insulation between the engine and the cockpit. At present, we never play the sound system when driving due to the level of noise.
  3. Install white window shades instead of black. White shades will reflect the outside heat rather than absorb and radiate it into the coach. They would also make the interior of the coach appear brighter in the evening, requiring less lighting to be on.
  4. Install warm-white LED lighting rather than daylight-white to provide an improved ambiance inside the coach and under the awning. Daylight-white LEDs are too harsh.
  5. Install dimmer switches for all the ceiling lights in the lounge area and for the exterior awning light. Trying to install them after the fact is difficult for the owner as the required ground wire is not located near the switches.
  6. Install a different microwave unit. The automatic vent fan on this microwave comes on almost anytime we use the stove Ė possibly it is just too sensitive. It is annoying because one must shout over it when dining. There should be a way to turn it off or turn it down when we have finished cooking and are ready to eat.
  7. The USB ports require you to unplug and replug the USB cord to become active. This odd behavior appears after the plug has been left in the socket for some time. You go to plug in a device to the other end and no charge appears until the socket end has been unplugged and replugged.
  8. The USB ports are insufficient for newer iPads that require 3 Amp chargers.
  9. The theater seating leg lifts donít support longer legs. Instead, the weight of my legs causes my feet to touch the ground.
  10. The shower door should slide to the right for locking. The space on the right is inaccessible for stepping into it. So, it would make it easier to enter the shower when packing up and it would prevent any leaks from between the panels.
  11. Align the front wheels prior to selling the RV. I was driving it for several months before I could schedule it with a place that could handle large RVs.
  12. Heat pumps: The fireplace isnít sufficient to heat the entire coach on cold nights. Itís a shame that we are forced to use our gas furnace when we are plugged into shore power only because our unit didnít come with any heat pumps. One heat pump would be better than none. But two heat pumps would be even better.
  13. Bathroom Faucets: They look nice but arenít designed for the narrow sinks. As a result, they often spit water forward onto you the first time they are used after arriving at a campsite.
Cliff,

Thank you for the review of the 34DS, I appreciate this type of feedback from consumers. In regards to improvements, please see my notes below:

- QA Checks - I can assure you we take an extra step after the unit comes offline. Sales walks 100% of units prior to shipment, we try and catch anything we can prior to shipment. I also notate things off forums to check as I see them come up.

- Solar Wires - You are correct, we caught this on a batch where they were being hooked up incorrectly. This has been taken care of.

- Shower - Similar to the above, this is something we found when walking units. We now attach with a different manor into the wall.

- Towel Racks - I apologize about the missing hardware; this is something we don't install directly in the plant.

- Panels in pantry - I will start checking this deeper.

- White window shades - Great idea, I will take this to the table.

- Dimmer Switches - This is something we are discussing and working on with engineering.

- Theater Seating USB ports - We caught this while auditing this year and have this taken care of as well.

- Microwave - This is the first I've personally heard this; I am going to do some research on this. Thank you.

- Alignment - All FR3's are aligned and test drove prior to shipment. I apologize yours was off.

- Bathroom faucet's - Another item I will review, thank you for that information.

Again, I appreciate the feedback. I enjoy reading everyone's ideas, experiences and constructive criticism on here. If I can help more, let me know!

Thank you,

Brent
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Old 09-21-2021, 01:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by BShuttleworth View Post
Cliff,

Again, I appreciate the feedback. I enjoy reading everyone's ideas, experiences and constructive criticism on here. If I can help more, let me know!

Thank you,

Brent
Hi Brent,
Thank you for doing that. The support from you and Cel Lopez has been fantastic!
Regards,
Cliff
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Jackson, CA
2021 FR3 34DS (V8)
2011 Honda CRV toad
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Old 09-21-2021, 01:58 PM   #8
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Hi Brent,
Thank you for doing that. The support from you and Cel Lopez has been fantastic!
Regards,
Cliff
Cliff,

No problem, I've decided after seeing your picture all these times I'm going to have to have some wine tonight

Brent
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Old 09-21-2021, 04:58 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by BShuttleworth View Post
Cliff,

No problem, I've decided after seeing your picture all these times I'm going to have to have some wine tonight

Brent

It's not just for breakfast, Brent. ;-)
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Jackson, CA
2021 FR3 34DS (V8)
2011 Honda CRV toad
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Old 09-22-2021, 09:56 AM   #10
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Cargo Carrying Capacity?

I just purchased a 2022 34DS that I will not receive for 2-3 months. Unfortunately I did not catch the CCC on the unit I saw as a demo and I can't seem to find that spec online.
Would anyone care to share their CCC just so I have an approximate weight to anticipate for my unit?
Thank you!
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