After 1 year of living in a Travel Trailer – What still works? We were recently asked about the reliability of the equipment and durability of our Travel Trailer, and what still works after one year. Has there been trouble with the craftsmanship, electrical or mechanical systems when we purchased our Travel Trailer or 1 year into it? What’s the reliability of its systems? Well, lets take a look at the bad and the good of it after 2 adults, 2 kids, 2 cats, 1 dog, 1 year, and 12,000 miles.
Updated November 3, 2016
First of all, what has failed? Surprisingly, (not surprising maybe?) the air conditioning unit has been the only outright system failure that we’ve experienced. The Dometic unit however, was replaced under warranty this past Spring as the weather was heating up. We endured several hot days until we got up the courage to face the potential out of pocket expense, called Mr. Mobile RV Repair a Dometic dealer and warranty repair company, and received the good news that the unit would be replaced under warranty. Besides the A/C unit, we’ve lost two out of the only 3 non-LED service light bulbs on the trailer! Really, that’s it for outright failures.
But what other systems are in the TT and how have they fared?
The propane heater has worked very well and quickly gets the interior space toasty warm. Just be careful to monitor your propane consumption and in the winter, always fill a propane tank as soon as it’s empty. Better yet, keep a spare tank too. It’ll save you from running to Wal-Mart at 4am before work to buy an electric heater. The fill level indicator on the propane system is laughable, so just make sure you always have a full bottle, and never have your TT feeding from both bottles at the same time. Complacency will get you every time.
The stove top, microwave, and oven cook reliably, and ever since we added a pizza stone, we can actually get edible food back from the oven rather than toasty charred remnants that resembled food’s strange cousin, “fuud”. However, the oven pilot light has been notoriously difficult to ignite, and I’ve spent up to 5 minutes of hangry rage trying to get it going! Note: we don’t leave the pilot running.
Speaking of food, the refrigerator/freezer do their best to keep things cool. The freezer is quite mischievous for being such a little box and has its own climate zones that it chooses to keep either in deep freeze, or warm winter day in Boston cool. Roll the dice! The refrigerator can be maddeningly small, but somehow perfectly sized at the same time. We’ve managed to fit whatever we buy into it. I have been guilty though, of eating to make things fit now and then. I don’t recommend it. Which reminds me that I need to go for a run.
The electrical system has been quite solid. Just remember that in a 30 amp system, there are limitations and you can’t run your A/C and microwave at the same time. We also learned through circuit breakers popping and speaking with our kind full timing neighbors while in Ellijay, to turn off the water heater during the hottest part of the day in the summer. The combined load of the A/C and water heater along with the television and whatever else is passively plugged in will also cause a circuit breaker to blow.
The plumbing has been rock solid. No worries there. The drains drain, and the water flows. There have been no leaks. The only downside is that in winter, the hot water runs out quickly. We’re considering an on demand water heater, but have a lot of research to do on that front…
The exterior has held up well, we’re overdue a wash and the awning is quite dirty, but beyond that, the electric jack does its job, the brake lights work, and the tires roll. However, the tires look quite, well, cheap. They are one area that I’ll be paying extra attention to this next year and will seriously look to upgrade to a heavier duty construction in the future.
So what hasn’t held up?
Realize, in a small space you will touch, and sit on and kick and bump and scratch the same surfaces far more than you would in a normal sized home. Your cats will have a larger area to enact their chaos and the kids won’t wrestle on your bed as much. That said: the mattresses that came with the RV are total crap. Lifeless masses of material that collapse, and lay there like their going to be comfortable but turn into medieval torture devices while you sleep. We’re going to save up for replacements. The cats have scratched every soft surface (we expected this) so no surprise there. However the dinette cushions seemed to just give up on a cohesive existence. One has split along an edge, (no cat needed), and the others are just lifeless lumps like the mattresses and they refuse to stay in their designated areas. Corners take a beating however, but that’s normal, and the look can be mitigated with a furniture pen. Other than normal wear and tear, our dog managed to punch through a window screen, screen door, and ravaged the blinds on the slide.
All in all, the Travel Trailer and its hardware components have been trouble free (save the A/C at first) and have worked as well. The cushions and mattresses have been a major disappointment, and one that Forest River really needs to improve upon.
It’s important to note that we purchased our Forest River Grey Wolf 26′ “DBH” knowing that it is not a high end model. Quite economical in fact and I feel has been a great use of our money. We plan to continue to full time it for quite some time and will make improvements and fixes.
We’ll keep you posted along the way, so come along for the ride!
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