Shake, Rattle and Roll - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-27-2010, 11:35 AM   #1
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With the awful tragedy in Haiti comes random thoughts closer to home: My wife and I have always counted on the trailer as a back-up place to live in case of fire, earthquake, etc. We use it year around for various purposes including as a guest house, but if the worst should happen would we still be able to use it?

If we took the threat seriously enough we would rework our back yard to allow the trailer to be much farther from any structures than the 6 feet from the house (2-story) where it now stands, but wife #1 is quite opposed to undoing much of her yard work, understandably so.

A specific question arises about how well the trailer, isolated and under no threat of being dumped on, would fare in a Haiti-like earthquake. Since it is on a suspension, augmented with four jack stands and a tongue jack, what would happen to it? Roll? Overturn? Last I checked it was quite able to absorb the give-and-take of the road, so I'm thinking it would be able to deal with quite a bit of rocking and jolting. Comments?
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Old 01-27-2010, 11:57 AM   #2
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What does wife #2 think?
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Old 01-27-2010, 01:08 PM   #3
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Having not lived in extremely active earthquake areas, even been a fequent visitor in SoCal, but never there when one happen large enough to make itself know to me. However, from seeing programs, and reading about them, my guess would be a strong possiblity the trailer would surviving one. Of course, depending on what type of quake and how severe. If my memory serves they can be a rolling type and a hard jolt and seems like the earth can just open up (not sure if this is true or just in movies, Ha!). But it seems most damage was done by structures falling down on top of themselves and other things. But of course this is all just an opinion.
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Old 01-27-2010, 05:23 PM   #4
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Per,

Oregon is an active earthquake state like California, so I’m sure you have building codes that would eliminate or mitigate catastrophic destruction like you see in Haiti. Haiti has no building codes. Given that they are more used to hurricanes, their “common sense” building techniques would focus on those.

The amount and type of shaking itself is dependent on distance and direction. Our house sits North/South. In the ’92 Landers’ quake (7.3) our house rolled laterally since Landers is to our east. But the damage was less (none actually) than the ’94 Northridge quake (6.7) because Landers is three times as far as Northridge.

Northridge is NNW of us and the shaking (not rolling) was lengthwise. When I first got out of bed that morning, I looked down at my feet, my head was fairly stable at first, and they shifted left and right (N/S) about a foot each direction.

This is a long-winded set up to say, with a trailer or RV, its vulnerability would depend on the direction of the shaking or rolling. Lengthwise, if it jumped the chocks, the earth would mostly just move back and forth under it. Broadside would induce severe roll that could conceivably cause it to tip over…but I doubt it. We had neighbors who were camping in a Winnebago at Landers when the quake hit! They were all 5 (2 adults and 3 kids) tossed out of bed. The Winni survived just fine.

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Old 01-27-2010, 06:25 PM   #5
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We're in Arcata, CA., just North of Eureka and the 6.5 quake of a few weeks. While that rumbler knocked out electricity for several hours it eventually came back on long before we felt the need to retreat to our Egg.

That quake paled in comparison to what we experienced June 28, 1992 in Big Bear, CA. That was a huge 7.3. Even though that one was centered about 50 mile due east of us it was still much more violent than what we experience here a few weeks ago. BUT, when the 6.5 Big Bear quake hit a few hours after the Landers quake, we were right on top of it. I was outside during that one and watched the street waving from side to side like the ocean! I also watched my Isuzu Trooper violently jumping up and down, getting at least three inches off the ground!

Which brings me to my point; unless something falls on your fiberglass egg it's likely to come through a quake just fine, it'll probably just think it's being towed down a rough road! But looking back at that makes me realize that our beloved Trail Mite is parked on a sloped driveway and that in a severe shaker the little wheel chocks that are under the wheels might bounce away or be rolled over and our home-on-wheels would end up somewhere down the street in a neighbor's yard!

I'm getting some of the big ol' yellow chocks this weekend!
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Old 01-27-2010, 07:53 PM   #6
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Pulling a trailer down the road has been described as an earthquake on wheels... continually. People are constantly asking for help keeping stuff in cabinets and anchoring things to walls. Makes sense when expressed as the trailer rocks and rolls while under tow. I'm inclined to agree with the others, as long as nothing crashing into or onto the trailer, the suspension should hold up well. If the ground opens up under a trailer tire... that's a different scenario.

So, don't park under trees, near a chimney or close to a heavy fence that may crash into the side of the trailer...
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Old 01-27-2010, 08:42 PM   #7
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Mine is in a garage with a room over the garage- probably would collapse in a big quake. But not much I can do about that.

When I'm up in Washington it is at sea level and would survive the quake only to be washed away by the resultant tsunami.

I don't think I'll store my earthquake supplies in mine, in other words.

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Old 01-27-2010, 09:24 PM   #8
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I’m sure you have building codes that would eliminate or mitigate catastrophic destruction like you see in Haiti.
Maybe... If your home was constructed after 1994.
My house was built in 1918 on a post & pier foundation with a rock perimeter mortared together with grout containing beach sand. It is in a densely populated urban neighborhood, on a mesa (250 feet above sea level) within 5 miles of the coast. The electric/communication utilities are still on poles. I am concerned about road blockages from downed poles and fires from ruptured gas lines.
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:13 PM   #9
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Maybe... If your home was constructed after 1994.
My house was built in 1918 on a post & pier foundation with a rock perimeter mortared together with grout containing beach sand. It is in a densely populated urban neighborhood, on a mesa (250 feet above sea level) within 5 miles of the coast. The electric/communication utilities are still on poles. I am concerned about road blockages from downed poles and fires from ruptured gas lines.
Actually, ours had a second story added in '81 and was brought up to the code in effect at that time. The house was bolted to the foundation and the frame was strapped together. What changed in '94?

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Old 01-27-2010, 11:52 PM   #10
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In the early 80's Coalinga CA experienced a 6.5, I lived in Paso Robles at the time and was at our rv site at Heritage Ranch on Lake Nacimiento hooking up the boat to go out and ski when it hit. And let me tell you, having experienced a lot of earth quakes as a kid. The Coalinga was rolling like none I ever experienced. Nothing happened to the rv's in there. But my friends Aunt and Uncle who lived in Coalinga had their trailer roll into their garage. Yes there was some damage but the trailer was liveable cause they had to move into it for awhile because they had more damage in their home. So who knows, but I would always hold it out as an option.
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:39 AM   #11
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What changed in '94?
After Northridge the San Diego area building codes were upgraded. Prior to 1994 the San Diego area wasn't considered particularly active, and didn't have many of the codes that the rest of the state adhered to, especially in the area of retrofitting older structures.
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Old 01-28-2010, 06:48 PM   #12
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sounds like you west coast folks love your earthquakes like us Florida folks like our hurricanes. Do you have to level them again when the coast is clear???
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Old 01-28-2010, 07:39 PM   #13
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Hi: All...Sounds to me like they all need a good set of "Sway Bars"!!!
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
A specific question arises about how well the trailer, isolated and under no threat of being dumped on, would fare in a Haiti-like earthquake. Since it is on a suspension, [b]augmented with four jack stands and a tongue jack, what would happen to it? Roll? Overturn? ...Comments?
From 1977 thru 1993 I lived in a single-wide 10' x 50' 2-Bedroom Mobile Home. It was set up in a Mobile Home Park on jack stands; a LOT of them, placed about every 6' under the main frame rails. I also had the original axles, wheels, tires, and tongue jack in place, covered up with "skirting". It was a 1966 unit, and I bought it as a resale in that Park. I think it had been installed there when it was new. I recently drove by and it is still there today.

Since most "Mobile" Homes never moved more than twice (Once to be initially set up, and once again to be junked) a common practice was to cut the tongue off and shove it underneath, and unbolt the axles/wheels/tires and sell them to a Mobile Home moving company. This way the skirting would make the unit look more permanent. (no tell-tale ship's bow of skirting in front) Later Manufactured Homes were built without permanent axles and with removable tongues.

I attended a lecture hosted by a Government lobbyist. He represented Mobile Home Residents (not Manufacturers and not Park Owners) in Sacramento. He stated that in an earthquake, a Mobile Home bounces around like a basketball being dribbled by a teenager. The best protection we as residents could do is retain the axles/wheels/tires and the tongue jack intact; installed on the Mobile Home. The biggest danger was from the Jack Stands! [b]Without the axles/wheels/tires and tongue jack firmly attached, the Home would shift laterally, and fall to the ground, and the jack stands would thrust up through the floor! With all of the equipment attached, it would be an E-ticket Ride, but it would be survivable for both the Mobile Home and it's occupants.

The one thing that was burned into my memory was to NEVER get in a doorway in a Mobile Home. It's not likely to collapse on top of you in a earthquake. Instead it is safer to be up on top of a bed or a coffee table, or in the bathtub, to protect you from breaking your legs on the jack stands coming up through the floor.
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