Jacking up Trillium on axle stands? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-11-2006, 07:45 AM   #1
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Trailer: Trillium 13 ft
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Hi all,

I finally bought a Trillium (13 footer) about a month ago and it's sitting in my driveway. Before the snow flies, I thought I would wirebrush and paint some parts of the frame. The frame is very solid, no sign of cracking, and just had some surface rust here and there, and the paint was worn off. I jacked up the trailer (first at the back then at the front) and put 4 heavy duty jack stands under the longitudinal frame members, a couple of feet in front and behind the wheels. The trailer looks very solid there. That allowed me to more easily wirebrush and repaint (POR-15) the exposed portions of the frame at the front and back. The trailer is now high enough off the ground (the wheels are 4-5" off the ground) to allow me to crawl underneath and touch up the exposed areas of the frame under the fiberglass camper shell.

I have since read some threads on this site that recommended NOT jacking up the frame as I did, saying it can bend the frame etc. I don't know, my impression on looking at the Trillium frame is that it is plenty solid to accomodate some jacking, and being supported on axle stands. I likely won't get at the rest of the frame this Fall so thought of leaving the trailer on the axle stands all Winter, then get at the rest of the frame in the Spring. Figured that would help the suspension a bit, and the tires.

So what are your thoughts, am I possibly damaging the frame by doing this?? Thanks.
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Old 10-11-2006, 08:48 AM   #2
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Name: Normand
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So what are your thoughts, am I possibly damaging the frame by doing this?? Thanks.
This is a largely extended opinion and I would also be carefull as those trailers are frequently over 30 years old, carrying a heavier load as many of us have added a lot of ... "goodies". As a matter of fact there is also no real advantage on "permanently" jacking the trailer...

About cracks, see this on Trillium Web site :

http://www.trilliumrv.com/Service.htm

It ils also mentionned on the Web site that the new Trillium will be built on an heavier and stronger rame.
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Old 10-11-2006, 09:01 AM   #3
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Thanks for the link to the Trillium site Normand. I suppose that since I likely won't get at the underside of the frame this Fall (weather is getting lousy), general opinion on perils of jacking might compell me to bring it back down for the winter, maybe placing the tires on a piece of wood while I'm at it.

I realize the best way to re-paint the frame would be to remove the camper shell, but that sounds like a lot of work and headache to me, hence my intention to do it while supported by axle stands.

I've always used axle stands under my "summer cars" when storing them for the winter, but I suppose this approach does not lend itself well to lightweight fiberglass campers...

Cheers,
--Robert
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Old 10-11-2006, 12:42 PM   #4
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I can see two reasons for being concerned about jacking up the frame, but I don't think either one is a concern for Robert's situation.
  1. jacking on one corner will twist the frame, putting stress on the body and risking cracks
    • if both sides are done together, this is managable
    • Robert's trailer is already on jacks - as long as they are level (not twisted), staying that way should be fine
  2. supporting the frame at the ends instead of at the coupler and axle will make it bend down in the middle, instead of down on the ends, again bending the body
    • I've done this with my B1700, and noticed that the fit of the door changes, so it can be a concern
    • Robert has the jacks relatively close to the axle, so there should be little bend in the frame
Given that Robert's Trillium is already on the jacks, I see no reason to take it off until it's time to tow it again.

The situation is different from that of a car for two reasons:
  1. cars, especially newer ones, have stiffer structures; and,
  2. jackstands are usually placed under cars very near to the suspension mounting points, so the forces on the structure are not much different than when sitting on the wheels, while placing jacks under the ends of trailer means forces in very different places than when supported mostly by the axle in the middle.
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Old 10-11-2006, 03:23 PM   #5
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Hi Brian,
and thanks for your message! You've helped me to understand the reasons why I felt that my situation was indeed low-risk insofar as frame damage goes. Indeed, I've placed the axle stands reasonably close to the axle (and for the front one I believe, in line with the transverse supporting member linking the two longitudinal frame rails). I also placed a piece of wood between the axle stand and the frame, to not damage the frame rail.

So I will leave the trailer on the stands until Spring, and not worry about it! That will allow me to get at the frame from underneath, for surface rust removal and painting.

Your explanation of the differences between a trailer and a car are also bang on. Unibody cars are very rigid, and earlier cars/trucks had a massive ladder frame.

Cheers!
--Robert
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Old 10-11-2006, 08:29 PM   #6
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while it is on the stands inspect carefully around the area where the frame is dimpled and curves upward on the tounge end, this is the only place I have seen a Trillium frame let go. The full box tube frame used on these trailers was very rugged
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Old 10-11-2006, 09:34 PM   #7
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From my understanding of Trilluim trailers there are 6 or 8 bolts holding the cabin to the frame. You might want to examine those bolts. The last person I know that check them only had two that weren't rusted out.
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Old 10-12-2006, 05:58 PM   #8
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Hi again folks.
Thanks for the additional advice to check for frame rust at the front, and for the mounting bolts holding the fiberglass to the frame. Indeed, I spotted a couple of those bolts and they looked rather rusty... Might be a good idea to extricate them and replace with quality stainless steel hardware.
I attach two pics of the infamous frame and jacking points, for your viewing pleasure...

Cheers.

p.s. I agree: the rectangular tube frame on these looks rather rugged, for sure. WIth some POR15 on the outside, should last another 10-15 years maybe?? :-)
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Old 10-12-2006, 07:22 PM   #9
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The rusty looking bolts could just be from condensation but for all the time it takes to swap them (or MOST of them anyway), its cheap insurance....
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Old 10-12-2006, 08:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
The rusty looking bolts could just be from condensation but for all the time it takes to swap them (or MOST of them anyway), its cheap insurance....
Hi: While my tow vehicle was at Krown being under coated I bought a spray can of their undercoating...$10.00 seemed cheap for protecting the frame...This will also creep into places that I can't paint... It also states that it will permeate through the rust as well... I haven't applied it yet...Regards Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 10-13-2006, 07:50 AM   #11
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Thanks Ralph. I've been getting Krown and Rust-Check rust-proofing products applied to my cars/trucks for years, great products! There's also a similar product called Corrosion-Free that's available in spraycans at Canadian Tire stores. You're right, it would be useful to apply to areas of the frame that can't be painted (shoot it in the seam between the top of the frame and the underside of the fiberglass shell, hoping the stuff will creep in there). The frames on these campers should in theory never see winter road salt, which is the killer of undercarriages here in Canada as you know, so they should last a long time (my Trillium is a 77 so almost 30 years old, and the frame is still very solid). I tend to be a little obsessed when it comes to frames (had too many cars when I was young that just rotted away down there, including a 70 Camaro SS that would be worth big bucks now if I had hung onto it....), hence my desire to adequately paint and protect my trailer frame. If I had more room and more gumption, I'd take the shell off and do a proper job. But I can get at most of it from underneath, jacked up as it is.
Cheers.
--Robert

Quote:
Hi: While my tow vehicle was at Krown being under coated I bought a spray can of their undercoating...$10.00 seemed cheap for protecting the frame...This will also creep into places that I can't paint... It also states that it will permeate through the rust as well... I haven't applied it yet...Regards Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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