PDA

View Full Version : Flexing RV - safe to tow? Now can't Un-Hitch



out the car window
05-14-2010, 11:06 AM
Can someone tell me if my BC is safe to tow now?

We have major flexing problems. We had 2 big cracks and a brewing pressure point where it is warping, then yesterday I moved it just half a mile and had another 2 cracks already. The pressure is enough to be ripping the bottom front corner from the Bed slide when taking it in and out so things are not good.

I am being told by Heartland right now that it will make the trip, (I have to tow it some 2,300 miles), but I am worried about the safety of my family sitting just in front of this.

Does anyone have any first hand knowledge or experience with the safety issues around 5th wheels with these problems?

I asked Heartland to confirm it was safe - but there response of "It will make the trip" did not inspire me with confidence.
When it comes to the safety of my family - I want assurances. Also I want to make sure it will not endanger other motorists, travelers or passers by.

I guess my thinking is that if the frame is not holding together hence the walls all cracking - and the walls are all cracked so they are not longer offering strength to the structure what and where is the strength to hold it all together? It is a lot of weight moving around as you travel down the road and I know it will all stay held together to a certain extent but what will happen if a bad driver cuts me off and I have to brake sharply or have to swerve to miss something on the road in an emergency situation - will it all hold together? There is so much weight and therefore pressure moving either forward or sideways will it still have enough strength to hold or will it cut loose and smash forward on my family or sideways on some other motorists?

I appreciate anyone information as to the safety of towing an RV with flexing issues.
Thanks le

westxsrt10
05-14-2010, 12:38 PM
Hard to say its safe from just reading your post, photos would help. Unless the frame itself is cracked it should be ok, just drive a max of 55mph till you get it checked out.

Bob&Patty
05-14-2010, 04:02 PM
Hello Le, whats up with the coach. I though you had it back to HL months ago. Is this a new issue?? Wether it is safe...can't/won't tell you. Has anyone looked at the frame with the lower B/Room cover off?? BTW, LIppert has a mobile RV repair service that will come to you. You might call HL and Lippert and see if they will come to you. I do have the guys name and PH#...but you should call them 1st. Bob

out the car window
05-14-2010, 04:07 PM
Hi
thanks for your notes. I have had a responce from Heartland saying now that:
"I will write that the issues in the pictures pertaining to the cracks and front end movement will not completely separate from the trailer during your trip". From Jim Fenner.

I have just taken some more pictures - you can see them on:
http://picasaweb.google.com/janeway9 click on the Flexing wall cracks May 14 2010 (http://picasaweb.google.com/janeway9/FlexingWallCracksMay142010) images though the previous 2 folders have more of the images taken over the last weeks.

I can see lots of people have viewed this - if anyone has any other information on travelling with trailers with major flexing issues I sure would like to hear from you. I have to say I am still most uncomfortable - it is such a very long way and I am worried about having to haul this camper all the way to Indiana with it like this.
thanks in advance
le

out the car window
05-14-2010, 04:14 PM
Hi Bob and Patty,
Long story short - I did get it repaired a second time - in fact Heartland had it for 4 months.... had several other problems shortly after - (no hot water for 3 weeks, elctrical out int he rear of the camper then major (MAJOR) flood in the basement area and with that all resolved we decided to move again. First trip and all the framing has seperated again - so we are back to where we were last July. Anyway Heartland want me to bring it up to them - I am in Los Angeles - and while I do not want to drive it 2500 miles I don't seem to have a choice. I am just trying to figure out if it is safe - we will need to stop and camp many times to do that distance and just over the past week moving it once we are getting the cracks widening.

I hate to post bad stories on here - but I seem to have little choice right now as I need some advise - I have to know this is safe - my children will be with me and they are 3 and 4 yrs old. I want to be confident they will be safe. Appreciate any feedback you have - just posted the currect crack pictures up so you can see them and tell me what you think.
thanks le

westxsrt10
05-14-2010, 05:22 PM
Thanks for posting the photos. One thing I would do before the trip is measure the amount of flex from the king pin to the axle.
With the RV level on the landing gear take a measurement from the king pin to the ground. Now raise the king pin with a hydrolic jack untill the landing gear is off the ground and take another measurement. I did this on my Sundance just to see how much the frame deflected. (1 1/2") Your measurement may be more like 2 1/2" and still be considered normal.

caissiel
05-14-2010, 06:59 PM
When my pin box frame failed on my previous trailer the first thing I noticed was the level of the 5th wheel plate. The front of the flat plate was angled toward the front and I notice it because my 5th wheel hitch was tilted backward. During a 2000 mile trip it didn't change but I keep an Eye on it. When I went to repair it I noted that an electrian had cut a hole for a wire right in the highset stressed area of the supporting beam. It was over loaded by 200% at that location.

A small error could be the cause, but metal has a way of bending and flexing first before it completely fails.

I have been watching mine carefully and so far so good, but I did notice the flexing of the pin box is there.

If we had a trailer that did not flex we would not be able to pull it because it would be to heavy. but the flexing must be controlled. Remember that steel can flex 1 inch per 120 inches and still be safe.

RoadJunkie
05-14-2010, 07:44 PM
HL can tell you it will make the trip, but ultimately you are responsible for what may occur while towing. You know this, of course. Having said that--and while it is clear repair is necessary--the cracks don't seem like they would cause a massive, spontaneous, breakup during travel. I would probably travel slowly, stop frequently, and inspect often to ensure cracks are not worsening. Although 2300 miles is quite a haul! Good luck.

jayc
05-14-2010, 08:52 PM
We had a similar situation on our 3370RL and we took it to Elkhart for the repairs. It got no worse on the way, so you're probably safe.

Tom of Ypsi
05-14-2010, 10:04 PM
Jay,
Since you are heading back to Elkhart again to refix the fix after 750 miles have you seen any difference in the size of the cracks?

jayc
05-15-2010, 03:23 AM
Tom, they're about the same.

noobee
05-15-2010, 07:32 AM
I appreciate that you are concerned that it is unsafe. I also dislike it one someone says 'it should be okay'. Perhaps HL would be good enough to have it hauled back via a flat bed.

Good luck.

CS

kakampers
05-15-2010, 09:14 AM
I too can tell you it will be OK! And I say this from experience...not once but twice!! You problem looks identical to ours...both times, and I can assure the problem was NOT the frame. It was on both occasions, busted welds in the aluminum sidewall ONLY!!!

The area below the bedroom slide, right in front of the expansion joint, seems to be a weak spot in the aluminum framing of the wall, as evidenced by the number of us who have had this problem. When the welds fail in this area, it causes cracks and problems in other areas...like the bedroom slide. It is probably coming apart because the area below it is dropped dramatically, especially when it is on the truck. Once it is fixed and supported properly, you will have no more problems. Our last repair has been over a year and no more problems.

out the car window
05-15-2010, 09:41 AM
Hi
thank-you all for your comments. I appreciate them
Ken and Kathy - yes I understand where the problems are - that is exactly what I had repaired by the factory in Nov last year. We had numerous problems post that repair and it was taken back to another RV repair shop in December where they kept it till mid Jan. This is the first trip (more than 10 miles) that we have done in it and it is all breaking up again - we have new cracks as well as the old in the walls, though the floor has not dropped yet. I sure hope that yours holds together longer than ours did. Worst is there is no way to check till it starts to actually separate.

Anyway - back to my concern about safety - as I mentioned Heartland is going to give me a letter to the effect that " I will write that the issues in the pictures pertaining to the cracks and front end movement will not completely separate from the trailer during your trip" so that will certainly cover me from an insurance point of view, but I still hate the fact that we have to nurse a defective trailer that could pose a risk for days and days all the way up there. There needs to be a better way.

It will be a stressful drive and it is putting my children in unnecessary risk. I am sure the neither Brian Brady or Jim Fenner would put there kids in a truck to make such a big trip with a defective trailer on - why should they expect their customers to. Anyway - again my thanks folks for your feedback.
I wish you all safe and fun travelling over the summer.
Best wishes Le

Rmcgrath53
05-15-2010, 12:06 PM
Hey I feel for ya. If that was what my RV would be like. I would be hoping they call that a factory reject and get me a new one.

JohnDar
05-15-2010, 03:53 PM
I looked at most of your photo gallery and you certainly have my sympathy. That is not a rig HL should be proud of. If you're reluctant to pull it cross country yourself, might you consider looking into having a freight company haul it back on a low-boy trailer? I don't know what the cost would be, but it might be your only alternative to pulling it yourself. I'm surprised HL hasn't told you to take it to a reliable dealer and have the dealer make arrangements to ship it back.

lwmcguir
05-17-2010, 05:25 PM
Hi
thanks for your notes. I have had a responce from Heartland saying now that:
"I will write that the issues in the pictures pertaining to the cracks and front end movement will not completely separate from the trailer during your trip". From Jim Fenner.

I have just taken some more pictures - you can see them on:
http://picasaweb.google.com/janeway9 click on the Flexing wall cracks May 14 2010 (http://picasaweb.google.com/janeway9/FlexingWallCracksMay142010) images though the previous 2 folders have more of the images taken over the last weeks.

I can see lots of people have viewed this - if anyone has any other information on travelling with trailers with major flexing issues I sure would like to hear from you. I have to say I am still most uncomfortable - it is such a very long way and I am worried about having to haul this camper all the way to Indiana with it like this.
thanks in advance
le

HL needs to give you another camper and dissect this one so they don't repeat the mistakes. Surely a poor frame that Lippert needs to see up close and personal.

caissiel
05-17-2010, 08:17 PM
If this is related to the subject, I installed new larger screws on the aluminum frame to lippert frame structure at the bottom of the from storage compartement. The frame was breaking the small screws and the frame was seperating from the frame just under the front storage door under the 5th wheel. I spaced them at about 12" appart, much better then the original ones were.

Also I noticed that the 5th wheel box lifts up about 1/2 in closer to the front fibeglass front. This is about the max expected, but I will keep a good I on it from now on. Hope its just the regular flex like the previous trailer had for 13 years before it failed due to faulty manufacturing.

Recovered from 25-May-2010
05-30-2010, 08:20 PM
If your coming to Colorado Springs there is a Camping World on south end of town off I-25 mile marker 132, 6830 Bandley Dr. Also a KOA campground same exit. Also there is a Heartland dealer, Pikes Peak Traveland at 4815 E Platte Ave., 719-596-2716. If I can be of any help call me at 719-527-8861
Jim

Recovered from 25-May-2010
05-30-2010, 08:34 PM
Le, I have had first hand experience with the landing gear. I carry a hydraulic bottle jack. Actually two of em. If you use one on the frame on the side that is not working it will jack that side up. Mine stopped all together, so I was hitching and unhitching using the bottle jacks.
Have you checked the bar that goes between the left and right front jacks. Sometimes a screw that holds the bar in place falls out, the bar moves out of position and the OD side will not work. The motor is on the door side so that one will work.
Take it easy on your trip.

Peace
Dave

Recovered from 25-May-2010
05-30-2010, 08:35 PM
Very sorry to hear of the problems you have had.But; I would not pull that thing another foot. I agree with John get it off the road.

Recovered from 25-May-2010
05-30-2010, 09:12 PM
I have looked at the current pictures, and I still say it's no worse then what we had when we towed our unit from Texas to Elkhart. We had the same gap under the dresser, the gaps on both sides of the front cap, cracks in the sidewall...everything. I think, unfortunately, the electric jack is an altogether separate issue, which is why we now have hydraulic jacks.

As I said before, with all of the above...there was NO frame damage...only flexing and busted welds in the sidewall. The one thing we did not do was hook and unhook during the trip. We stayed connected and took it directly to the factory...

Recovered from 25-May-2010
05-30-2010, 10:20 PM
Sorry for your troubles. Two things, I'm not sure it will help..

1. Theres a BC dealer in Kearney Nebraska and I-80 runs through there.
2. If your traveling down I-70, we live in Hays Kansas and theres a rv park here, not much of one but if you need to stay hooked up, we'd be happy to run you around town. If you need my phone number just pm me.

Recovered from 25-May-2010
05-30-2010, 10:48 PM
Some Quick Replies...
Firstly - thanks to everyone - we appreciate your thoughts and concerns - many of which we share.

Re the measuring the flex - we did try but did not feel we were able to get accurate measurement simply using our truck.

Thanks Jim - Yes I found Pikes Peak RV dealership online and as they carry BC I thought it was my best bet - will be heading in there Tuesday.

Thanks Dave - I am afraid I do not have any jacks and to be honest - I just would not be comfortable with doing that. I have no experience and would be too scared that I could in some way make a mistake and drop the camper or injure someone. I appreciate the information but the person on the jack needs to have some experience I feel and that is not me.

Your point about the screw loose is well taken and that is what we first went looking for. The drivers end is not excessible from within the front bin or side door - it appears to be in its own campartment and access is only from below. Two fellow campers - one with a BC and an ex- trucker both spent some time trying to look for anything we could do - but finally we concluded that it needs people who know what they are doing to look at it and most likely needs replacing. I think the sudden and strong movement may have done some damage more than a screw loose.

Thanks Ken - I am constanly concerned that I am driving something that is not safe. I sudder to think what my insurance company would say and despite the promise of a letter confirming the safety of the RV from Heartland it is has not been forthcoming. I shall be asking again for it before we go further than the dealer.
i take your point re the hitching and unhitching - sadly this is not an option for us.
My family are with me - I have a three year old son and a four year old daughter so we must unhitch and stop frequently. They can do about 200 to 300 miles in a day but then we need to give them a day or two to run around and be kids. In short we need to shop and stop. Plus - we want to make this trip fun for the kids so we need to find interesting things for them to do along the way.
Heartland organized a driver when they took our RV back to the factory for the same repair as this one in October 2009, it is a shame they have not done the same for this trip.

again - our thanks for your support and your well wishes
Le

Recovered from 25-May-2010
05-31-2010, 11:12 AM
We had a jack problem when we were down to the Rally in Goshen a couple of years ago. We were in Elkhart at the time with another couple. When I talked to Heartland and a repair shop they suggested we couldn't get it done there so moved on down for the Rally. Lippert came out and said they would get us unhooked from the truck. What they did was extend the "dead" jack pulling the pin so the jack foot would drop to blocking. Then they lifted the trailer with just the one jack and once high enough, stuffed another block under the "Dead" jack foot. They kept this up intil the trailer was high enough to unhook. They did say this is something you would not normally do as it is stress on the good jack but in an emergency it can be done. Hope this is clear and not sure you want to try it. I probably wouldn't in your case because I'm not sure of the condition of your frame. Just my experience..../Doug

Recovered from 25-May-2010
05-31-2010, 01:38 PM
If I were in your shoes, I would call Heartland Customer Service tomorrow early (remember they are on Eastern time), and talk to Jim Fenner (over customer service). Explain your situation to Jim and be sure he understands how the situation is deteriorating and your concern for the safety of your family and the motoring public and the liability it puts on you and Heartland. I am sure once he understands this he will come up with a workable solution. Remember if you have an extended warranty it may cover relocation (hotel) expenses. Good Luck.

arisce
05-31-2010, 02:00 PM
I would ship the trailer to Heartland. I would never have left with those stress/fatigue signs. My best advice is to ship the trailer from where you are to Heartland. You have enough troubles. Let's be safe than sorry. The cost would be about the same. Even if it costs you more it would be worth the peace of mind. Good luck.
Praying for your safety.