Drilling the frame - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-30-2008, 08:18 PM   #1
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The pipe which sends propane to the manifold/shutoff valves inside the trailer runs along and outside the frame member under the trailer until it terminates near the A-bends in the frame. There it goes to the cylinders via a flexible hose. Fine and dandy, except the hose has to loop outside the frame and in the open for quite a distance; it looks vulnerable to getting snagged and ripped away.

I would like to reposition the pipe by bringing it inside the frame and near the center so that the flexible hose would not be exposed that way. To do it I will have to drill a hole through the frame member to bring the pipe through. The iron pipe is almost 7/8" in diameter, outside. The frame is made of some rather hefty box steel, 2" by 4" (actual measurements) and about 1/8" thich material. The place I would need to drill through would be about a foot behind the A-bend, a place I do not think is particularly high on the stress meter.

The hole would be in the center of the 4" dimension, through both sides of the box section.

Has anyone done this, or does anyone have a frame with holes drilled through like this? My intuition tells me that structurally this would be OK, not much strength would be lost, but I could be wrong. Box sections like this would depend mostly on the integrity of the bends and the short dimensions to resist the relevant forces, or am I misstating the situation. Ideas?
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Old 07-30-2008, 08:53 PM   #2
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Whatever you do, be sure to put holes in the vertical center of the beam, not the top or bottom.

You might also drag the egg to a propane place (big industrial center) and show your problem to the techs there -- They may have some clever stuf to avoid drilling entirely.
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Old 07-30-2008, 10:31 PM   #3
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Hot-Rodders do this on a regular basis being sure to insulate the line (in the cars case, its usually a brake line) from possible chaffing on the edges of the hole in the frame.

DRILL ON McBeth!!!! LOL
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Old 07-31-2008, 12:07 AM   #4
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Has anyone heard of cases where the hose has been damaged? I haven't, but I don't read all.

That said...I would think (And I have the same arrangement) that with it angling inward as it does that it is pretty much protected by shear distance and angle from from your typical hazard and potential disaster. Unless you are prone to jack knifing REALLY hard.

I would be way more concerned about frame integrity than that hose getting damaged.

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Old 07-31-2008, 12:29 AM   #5
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Per,
Sounds like a reasonable concept, but where's an automotive engineer when you need one??
Drilling holes in a truck frame has always been a no-no. Not sure about trailer frames. That said, in order to maintain structural integrity, a larger size tube (creating a "tunnel") could be welded into place and the gas line might then be run through the tunnel.
Before attempting this modification, a discussion with a "certified" welder might be the wisest course prior to journeying down the "path of no return"!

Please keep us up-to-date on the developments. Your info may affect other future mods.

Thanks for an interesting topic,
Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 07-31-2008, 05:47 AM   #6
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We all got to see a broken Burro frame at the 2005 Lake Casitas Rally. We got to see the fix too, as the welder came out to the campground on Sunday. I wouldn't do anything to weaken the frame near the junction of the tongue and the body of the trailer. That is where the frame broke.
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Old 07-31-2008, 09:17 AM   #7
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Interesting comments. Fortunately the hole would be about a foot behind the bend, so the stress would not be where the critical point is. The idea of welding in a stub pipe is something to consider, and I would check with a welder first.

The risk to the hose where it is now is probably not very high, but I have been in situations where there might be a concern. That said, it looks untidy and jury-rigged to some extent.

The hole would indeed be in the 4" vertical sides, minimizing the weakening impact.

When I deal with this issue I will report back. Thanks, all.
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Old 07-31-2008, 06:55 PM   #8
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Our Trilliums line runs through the frame, but its a little further back, about right under the body IF I remember rightly.
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Old 07-31-2008, 09:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
The pipe which sends propane to the manifold/shutoff valves inside the trailer [b]runs along and outside the frame member under the trailer until it terminates near the A-bends in the frame.
It took me a while to picture this until I realized that all of your gas appliances are on one side of your trailer.

My Fiber Stream runs that pipe below the frame under the keel (centerline fore-to-aft) since the Refrigerator is on the starboard side and the range/furnace and the water heater are on the port side.
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Old 07-31-2008, 10:14 PM   #10
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I'd be far more inclined to drill a hole or accept a little more exposure than risk a weld and possibly weakening something. Don't break anything looking for a cure for something that hasn't happened yet.

Scamp goes from flexible hose on the tank to a copper fitting, then right thru the fiberglass front wall with copper line to all the appliances inside. No fuss with outside lines under the trailer. LP leaks would be into the trailer and immediately detectable on entering the small space, however, without the external iron pipe, there are far fewer connections to leak in the first place and I don't recall LP leaks inside being a problem on any of the various RV forums.
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