16' Scamp Frame Snapped - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-04-2008, 04:53 PM   #1
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Help,

16' Scamp Frame Snapped and Shell is Detached

When we arrived at our destination last Friday, we discovered that the frame of our '87 16' Scamp had snapped in two on the left leg of the triangle that leads to the hitch. The welder that came and welded the frame back together discovered that the shell was loose in front and bouncing on the frame. He thought the bouncing had put too much stress on the frame and caused it to snap. I did an emergency fix by putting a few sheet metal screws through the plywood flooring into the frame under the front bunk, and we made it home going very slowly, but I'm not sure how to fix it well.

Is there a structural diagram somewhere of the Scamp's frame and shell that I can refer to, or does anyone here have any idea of the best way to go about fixing it?

Jamie
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Old 07-05-2008, 04:55 AM   #2
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Jamie,

Sorry to hear about your frame problem. Were you on the road when it snapped? What happened when it let go?

I would probably call Scamp and ask them how best to fix it. I think the shell is bolted to the frame but I don't know how or where the attachment points are. I'm sure they can tell you where the fasteners are and how big they should be. I'm not aware of any diagram or drawing that shows the connection.

I'd be interested to hear what they have to say. It would probably be worth inspecting my attachments too if I knew what to look for.

Good Luck with it.
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Old 07-05-2008, 06:04 AM   #3
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I have absolutely no idea what happened.

I did some work on the electrical system and cleaned out the trailer right before we hitched her to the truck and left. The frame wasn't broken then. Our destination was only two hours away. We hit no major holes or bumps that I remember. I might have thought there would have been some noticeable change or an event of some sort when the frame broke. Nothing...nada...

We discovered the damage while unhitching the trailer. Our little Scamp rocked back and forth like a creaky old ship on a rolling sea. I would have noticed if it had been doing that before we left home.

We managed to support the frame with jacks, blocks, & chocks well enough to stabilize the frame and provide us with shelter until we could find a local, traveling welder.

I took out the front bunks last evening and crawled under the trailer to try to figure out how the shell is attached. The only things I can see holding the shell to the frame are the sheet metal screws that go through the plywood flooring.

I discovered that just about every screw that goes through plywood into metal in the front is rusted and loose. I removed those that I could get out, and replaced them with bigger screws. I also placed a few more sheet metal screws in line with the original screws. I plan to go over the rest of the the floor today and inspect all of the screws I can find.

I have to fix it ASAP. We are festival vendors and live in it while we work. Because I have the time to do it this weekend, I was hoping to have it done before Monday. If I don't get more information before then, I'll call Scamp on Monday and let you know what they have to say.
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Old 07-05-2008, 07:15 AM   #4
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Jamie, that's a twenty-one year old trailer. Most manufacturers attach the floor to the frame using standard galvanized bolts or screws. Over the years and depending on how hard it was used, how it was towed, and how it was loaded those bolts can rust away or break leaving the floor and the frame separated. While not a common problem, it's not unusual either when folks to a frame-off restoration to find those mounting bolts rusted or nearly rusted away. It's not just a Scamp issue, it happens with all of the trailers.

You're plan of replacing the screws one by one is sound. Even just replacing the ones you can get to easily will make the mounting substantially stronger.

Bad axles also significantly increase the odds of that happening as the frame rises and slams down on the axle uncontrolled over bumps. The design life of a rubber torsion axle is about twenty years, and yours is right there. Frames cracking or breaking at the rear of the triangle is the most common place as that is the spot that takes the most abuse, particularly when the axle is shot.

Good luck diagnosing your problem!

Roger
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Old 07-05-2008, 09:12 AM   #5
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Hi Roger,

Thanks for the input. I'm glad to hear that I'm on the right track. I'm on my way out to continue replacing screws.

I've looked at the axle, and it looks OK, but I'm not sure what I'm looking for. I just did some research here on bad axle symptoms.

I am looking for any sag, for a 22.5* angle down at the arms, and the ability to fit my fist between the tire and the wheel well. I am also looking to make sure the tires are parallel and for any uneven tire wear. Are there any other signs or symptoms I should be looking for?
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Old 07-06-2008, 10:51 AM   #6
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Thumbs up

A few of my little grey cells went on holiday this weekend, and I have been mindlessly referring to my model Scamp as an '87. It is not, and I know better. My trailer is 26 years old. It is an '82.

Since yesterday, I have researched many posts on this board, and have been under my Scamp several times. I have come to the conclusion that the axle is completely SHOT! So it looks like I am about to replace it. Thank goodness I have two friends who weld, and are willing to help.

I found that there is a Redneck Trailer near Albany (less than 100 miles) and will call them tomorrow. I am looking at a Dexter Torflex #10 with the side mount bolt brackets. I am debating a 22.5 down angle or a 45 down angle.

The hubs on the current axle are 4 on 4". The rims and tires on it are 13" and less than a year old. The options for hubs on the new axle are all 5 on something. Without being able to call Dexter or Redneck today, I think this means that I can't get hubs that fit my rims, and I will have to replace them, too.

I read that Donna D. replaced her axle with a 45 down angle and put 15" tires on the trailer and is able to pick up rims just about anywhere, which sounds good to me, but then I would have to buy new tires. (Donna D., if you read this, did you have to use a spacer to get the 15 inchers to fit?)

The other advantage to going with larger wheels is the trailer would be more on a level with our tug (Ford F250 or "big truck"). The way it is now, it sort of looks silly driving down the road with the great-big high truck towing the little-bitty low camper trailer. It really does look like the truck laid an egg.

I dunno what to do. I mostly just want the trailer to be fixed wisely and well, as economically as possible before July 22nd. We have a 5-day long outdoor music festival to work, and it rains a lot there. I really do not want to have to tent it in the muddy field. Been there done that, and it is MISERABLE!

If I can't repair the trailer between now and then, is it safe to carefully tow 300 miles RT on its sad, saggy axle now that I've screwed the body back down on the frame?
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Old 07-06-2008, 11:02 AM   #7
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Jamie, I replaced the axle on the '87 Burro 17' I had with a #10 Torflex rubbered for 3500 lbs and a 22.5* down angle. That raised the Burro five inches and was plenty for my purposes. I'd also recommend that you buy the axle, hubs and brakes as a unit. You can either order Dexter or Al-Ko. Both are spec'd as original equipment depending on the age of the trailer. Price both if you can and get the best deal you can. All of the U.S. manufacturers use Dexter brakes and hubs, so there's no difference there. It'll run you around $350. You can also order new five lug wheels at the same time and just have your tires remounted and balanced. I stayed with 13" wheels, but went to the five lug. The tires are less expensive, and C load range tires are plenty robust for a Scamp 16.

I'd get the axle and get it put on before I'd try another trip since you already managed to break the frame once. I'd not tempt fate again. There's no way to temporarily mitigate the effects of a bad axle, and every bump slams the trailer. They're not difficult to replace. Wheel and axle stores like Midwest Wheel in our neck of the woods can order you an axle in a week or so, and shipping is free if you have it freighted to them and you pick it up. Just a thought, and there are stores like that all over. My axle was around $700 replaced including 10" brakes and labor, but that was in '04.

Roger
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Old 07-06-2008, 04:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
I'd get the axle and get it put on before I'd try another trip since you already managed to break the frame once. I'd not tempt fate again.
That's what I thought.
I found the mfg. tag under some scale rust on the axle today. It reads as follows:
Dura Flex
Cap. 2400 LBS.
Ser. No. 1-242064
PAT. No. U.S. 3436069 CAN. 1970
Henschen Industrial Corp.
Jackson Center, Ohio

In my research, I didn't find mention that Scamp ever used Henschen axles. Could it be a replacement axle? Any idea what year it was made or the original angle? If it was 22.5* down, it's lost about 30 to 40* because now I would eyeball it at 10 - 15* up .

I had my son go inside the trailer and bounce around above and just behind the axle location. I watched the arms and spindles from underneath. The tires bounce a bit, but nothing else moved.

I took several pictures of the current state of affairs if you (or anyone more experienced than I) wants to confirm my amateur observations. The link to the album is:

http://picasaweb.google.com/Pidgies/ScampA...key=z3V-WvjjPp4

I plan to replace the whole shebang - axle, hubs, brakes and all. I was hoping I could salvage my rims and tires since they're newish. Well, at least I will be able to keep the tires.
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Old 07-06-2008, 09:43 PM   #9
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Henschen has built rubber torsion axles since 1961. They're a solid company. There's no doubt that Scamp used them at one time, but yours is the first I actually know of a Scamp with one!

You did exactly the right drills to find out if your axle is truly shot. The "bounce test" is probably the most definitive. If the only suspension movement is sidewall flex, the torsion axle is shot.

There's probably no way to find out what the original specs on the trailer were unless you call either Scamp and/or Henschen with the Scamp VIN and Henschen s/n. I'd still probably go with the the 22.5* down angle regardless of what was stock.

In the early days, Scamp also used leading arm axles for a while rather than trailing arm. Unfortunately I can't tell from your photos which you have, but be prepared to re-engineer the axle mounts if yours are leading arm because the trailing arm axles will have to be placed in a different location on the frame.

Roger
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Old 07-07-2008, 03:08 PM   #10
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Roger,

The Henschen axle is a trailing arm axle.

I spoke with Kent at Scamp this morning, and he said they never used Henschen axles, so this one was installed by a previous owner.

Just my insatiable curiosity, I suppose, but it makes me wonder about the circumstances that prompted the installation of the Henschen. It seems to be really old and totally shot. Even if the original axle was replaced after only 15 years, the Henschen would be just 11 years old. I'll bet the dreadful ice and snow up here in MA caused the early demise of both axles.

Kent also confirmed that the Dexter Torflex #10 with a 22.5* down angle was a good way to go. He wasn't sure what was originally installed on this trailer, but it was either an Al-Ko or a Dexter.

I am in the process of getting estimates on and ordering a new axle:

Dexter Torflex #10
22.5* down angle
5 on 4.5" bolt pattern
EZ lube hubs
10 x 2.25" electric brakes
and low-profile side-mount bolt on brackets
48.5" outside frame to outside frame
66" hub face to hub face

to be specific and a little scientific.

So far, Redneck Trailers has given me the best estimate and quickest availability:
$354 for the axle + $31 for the side mount brackets + tax.
It won't be in until July 22nd, though.

I suppose I'll be tenting in the muddy field after all. And... I'll only have two days between festivals to get the axle installed. <_<

Once winter comes, I plan to store the trailer on jack stands and skirt it somehow to protect the new axle from snow and ice blowing in and building up under the trailer.

Thanks for listening to me think and talking me through this. I very much appreciate the support.


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Old 07-07-2008, 07:13 PM   #11
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Name: Roger
Trailer: Y2K6 Born Free 32RQ on the Kodiak chassis, 1995 Coachmen 19' B-van and 1996 Precision 21' Sailboat
Iowa
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Quote:
I am in the process of getting estimates on and ordering a new axle:

Dexter Torflex #10
22.5* down angle
5 on 4.5" bolt pattern
EZ lube hubs
10 x 2.25" electric brakes
and low-profile side-mount bolt on brackets
48.5" outside frame to outside frame
66" hub face to hub face


Once winter comes, I plan to store the trailer on jack stands and skirt it somehow to protect the new axle from snow and ice blowing in and building up under the trailer.

Thanks for listening to me think and talking me through this. I very much appreciate the support.
My pleasure. It always helps to chat with someone who's done it.

It sounds like you've got the right stuff ordered.

Although Dexter recommends storing the trailer on jacks, I don't know that there's any definitive proof that extends the life of the axles at all. It makes sense intuitively, but on the other hand, it seems you get twenty years out of an axle regardless of how it's stored.

Roger
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Old 07-11-2008, 12:18 AM   #12
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Quote:
I've looked at the axle, and it looks OK, but I'm not sure what I'm looking for. I just did some research here on bad axle symptoms.
Take a look at the Dexter Axle site. They have the axle specs published. You are looking for how much the axle moves between no load and full load and shock load (might be the wrong terms, I've looked at too many axle specs lately).

Possibly on the second axle? You mentioned the Henschen was a 2400 lb axle, what is the weight of the trailer? What conditions did the previous owner tow it under etc.?

The tire on photo 19 looks pretty rounded to me.

Photo 5 shows the axle mounted to an angle bracket mounted to the frame, Dexter instructions say that angle should have some gussets welded into it. With some gussets, you could simply cut off the old axle, drill some new holes and bolt the axle onto your frame mod (top mount). That will save you $31 plus taxes and you wont need a welder the day the axle comes in. That picture also shows it as a high lift axle, i.e. the mount is not sitting right on top of the axle. Something you might want to consider. By going with the high lift you can switch to a 10 degree down which is Dexters optimum for travel. Either way you are going to have about a 3" rise in height.

I'd be tempted to switch the mount such that the long arm was on the inboard side and under your original frame like dexter recommends.

BTW Henschen currently only makes axles for bulk orders, it is possible your axle was used on something else prior to being installed on yours. People do funny things to save a buck.

Edited to add link and correct spelling
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Old 07-11-2008, 12:43 AM   #13
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Quote:
I've looked at the axle, and it looks OK, but I'm not sure what I'm looking for.

Revisiting your photo's I see marks on the bottom of the wheel well in #19. Is that mud flying off the wheel or is the tire scrubbing? From here it looks more like the latter.
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Old 07-23-2008, 02:22 PM   #14
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Thanks for the input Roy.

I ordered the Dexter axle 2 weeks ago through Fleet Pride in South Deerfield, MA. Fleet Pride is about 50 miles closer to me than Redneck Trailer. They only charged me $40 more and the delivery time was the same. I found the folks at both places very helpful and would gladly do business with either company.

The more I look at it, the more I know the Henschen is silly-rigged. I have no idea what the previous owner did or didn't do. We bought the Scamp last August from a guy who had just bought it two months previously from a little old lady who only hauled it to church on Sundays.

But the price was right. Even with a new axle, wheels, tires, and other renovations and repairs, I still haven't spent a third of the cost of a new one of similar proportions and appliances. Besides, I sort of had a... benevolent feeling for it.

The Dexter axle should be here in the next couple of days. I'm going have my welder friend remove those angle brackets and properly install the side-mount brackets according to Dexter's recommendations on their website.

You are right about the tires. They're muddy in the pictures, but they are trashed. The right one is balding on the outside. The left one is a little worn but good enough for a spare. I've ordered another pair along with three new wheels from our local tire guy.

This has certainly been a learning experience. I'll let you know how it all works out.

In the meantime, since the trailer isn't currently functional, we'll be tenting at the festival this weekend. It's raining there now. When it rains there, the field turns into a mud slick. The forcast calls for much more rain. There's nothing like sleeping in a swamp (grumble, grumble... sigh...).

Signed: Mud Skipper
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