Frame sag - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-18-2009, 08:33 AM   #1
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Hi all.

First, I want to thank everyone for all the good info so far. I am going to sell my pop up and get a fiberglass trailer.

I am looking for used 13 foot campers (or larger if light enough) and one thing keeps coming up. Several seem to have the long (lengthwise) underside frame members sag over the axle. Not a lot. If I were to pull a string from one end of the trailer to the other, each end would be about 1/2 to 1 inch below the center (the part resting of the spring brackets).

I expect a little sag (I can sympathize) but this seems indicative of an issue with the integrity of the frame.

Is this a problem? Seems like one to me. Can it be fixed? Or is the trailer frame permanently damaged?

I've got one in the area currently for sale. Any advice appreciated.

Thanks again.

Tom
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Old 01-18-2009, 10:51 AM   #2
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Hi: Tom B... Most frame issues (cracks) are at the bend where the "A" frame disappears under the front of the trailer body. Most fiberglass trailers use the torsion tube (TorFlex) etc. suspension system. Google Dexter Axle to view... again most axles are rated from 1250lbs. to 2200 lbs. capacity. Our Escape 5.0 5th. wh. has a 3500lb. cap. As our trailer weighs 2620lbs. then the bal. is for water, propane, camping supplies and cargo.
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie p.s. If buying used a good frame check is with a hammer...tap lightly on the frame and listen to the ring or... thud
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Old 01-18-2009, 11:16 AM   #3
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So is a ring good and a thud bad? How does this work? Thanks.
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Old 01-18-2009, 11:20 AM   #4
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Tom, are you seeing frame sag, or it an optical illusion presented by the slight upward bend in the torsion axle? In all the years I've had these trailers (a dozen or so over thirty years) I have never seen a frame cross-member bent without corresponding damage to the frame. As Alf indicated, generally frames crack at the back of the "A", or at welds. All of the torsion axles are slightly bent, however, for camber.

Roger
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Old 01-18-2009, 01:13 PM   #5
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I had 2" of drop on the left side of my trailer. This was due to the torsion axle relaxing over the years, NOT the frame. I replaced the original 1600# axle with a 2500# one. What a difference. They will usually sag first on the kitchen side due to the extra weight of all the aplpiances there. I can't recall seeing a trailer with frame sagging in the middle, which I think would indicate something a lot more serious. An easy check of the frame itself would be to stretch a string, end to end, along one edge of the frame and see if there is a serious gap somewheres.
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Old 01-18-2009, 02:58 PM   #6
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Thanks all. There's "stuff" in the way that keeps me from getting a clear view from the front to the back (or visa versa). This would also prevent using the string (I think-going from memory here).

What I will do is use a couple of bullet levels from harbor freight (99 cents each). They have a magnetic strip. I can put one on the front bottom frame and one on the back and then level using the front jack and see if they both reach level at the same place.

It could just be and optical illusion.

I'm worried about this one because it appears to have been jackknifed or wrecked and then badly repaired. The outer fiberglass looks ok, just an impact mark, but the oriented strand board was crushed and patched. Also, the front of the frame is bent a little.

When viewed from dead front, the left (door) side fiberglass is lower than the right side. It looks like it was made that way. Do others look the same or is the fiberglass symetrical from the front (left and right)?

Thanks

Tom
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Old 01-18-2009, 03:23 PM   #7
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When viewed from dead front, the left (door) side fiberglass is lower than the right side. It looks like it was made that way. Do others look the same or is the fiberglass symetrical from the front (left and right)?
I understand that this was changed at some point, but on my 1975 Boler, the fiberglass shell does extend further down by the door (I believe so that the step into the trailer is at a more convenient height). So yes, if you are standing in front of the tongue, and you are looking back at the trailer, the fiberglass shell dips down on the passenger side more than on the driver's side.

I'm confused about what you were askign about the frame: Were you talking about lengthwise sag? Or crosswise?

Raya
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Old 01-18-2009, 04:33 PM   #8
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I'm confused about what you were askign about the frame: Were you talking about lengthwise sag? Or crosswise?
Raya
Thanks Raya

I'm talking about lengthwise (font to back) not crosswise (side to side).
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Old 01-18-2009, 06:06 PM   #9
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My Boler door side front is a little lower as Raya says. It looks pretty strange like that front corner is drooped, but it is not. I think if I ran a string along the bottom of the body it would definitely have a gap in the middle.

Trailers don't always sit level side to side. In the 13 fters it's not unusual for the street/kitchen side to be a bit lower due to age and the weight on that side of the trailer.

If the trailer you are looking at has been wrecked the junk needs to be moved so you (or anyone) can look at it. From what you say it will need frame work anyway, so maybe a whole new frame is in order.
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Old 01-18-2009, 06:25 PM   #10
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So is a ring good and a thud bad? How does this work? Thanks.
Pam,

Yes, generally a "ring" indicates sound metal; whereas a "thud" might indicate rusted or less healthy metal.

Raya
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Old 01-18-2009, 06:36 PM   #11
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If the trailer you are looking at has been wrecked the junk needs to be moved so you (or anyone) can look at it. From what you say it will need frame work anyway, so maybe a whole new frame is in order.
Is replacing the fame an option? Is it just sitting on top of flatbed type frame? I realize it will probably need to be a custom frame and there will be wiring, plumbing, etc. but can the body be lifted off the frame and placed on a new one?

That would be a be an interesting approach to remodeling a 13 footer. A beefier axle and a little room up front for storage. Something like the Fleetwood Evolution series.

http://www.pecocamping.com/fleetwood_evolution.htm

Tom
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Old 01-18-2009, 08:33 PM   #12
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Yes it is an option. Do a search on this site, several people have done it. It should be a regular trailer type frame under there.....

What brand of trailer is it? That will help us tell you what type of frame is under it. I don't see why you couldn't customize a frame to add storage on the front. It all depends on how handy you are or how deep your pockets are.
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Old 01-18-2009, 10:14 PM   #13
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Yes it is an option. Do a search on this site, several people have done it. It should be a regular trailer type frame under there.....

What brand of trailer is it? That will help us tell you what type of frame is under it. I don't see why you couldn't customize a frame to add storage on the front. It all depends on how handy you are or how deep your pockets are.
Thanks. I'll look for the other threads.

Currently thinking about a 1990 Scamp. But I am still open to other rigs. May prefer a smooth interior. Being able to replace the foundation opens up some options.
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