Break/crack in the frame - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-03-2015, 09:36 AM   #1
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Name: Dawn
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Break/crack in the frame

Can anyone tell me if this break in my frame is normal? If not normal, safe? I am the 3rd owner, not sure if repair work was done previously. The break/crack seems so straight it's as if it was cut. There does appear to be some welding on the underside of the break. It's on the driver's side, about 2ft in front of the axle. I cannot see if there is anything similar on the other side of the camper because of the reinforcement bars at the door. The break is NOT on the frame section that ultimately leads to the hitching apparatus. Click image for larger version

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Old 05-03-2015, 10:17 AM   #2
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Name: Norm and Ginny
Trailer: Scamp 16
Florida
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Dawn,

Our Scamp 16 is 24 years old and we had a break on both sides. I had it repaired two years ago by running a substantial piece of 1/4 inch plate bent to shape from well beyond the break to the front of the trailer on both sides. The plate reaches about a 1/2 inch below the existing beam to allow it to be welded along the bottom edge of the Scamp's beam. As well it's about 3/4 inch from the top edge to allow it to be welded at the top edge.

I suggest running it the entire length because the additional cost is insignificant and you'll be certain it's been totally reinforced.

The Scamp comes with an L shaped piece of steel welded to the two main beams, you can see it where the trailer shell sits on the "A" shaped tongue members.

I had a triangular piece of steel welded to the front of their L shaped piece called a "fish tail". By welding the edges of the fish tail you distribute stress at that point, another potential failure point. If you want a picture I'll send you one.

We had our's done about 2 years ago and have traveled all over the place. I'm certain it's stronger than ever.

Do not travel far with that break. I'd head to a local welding shop and have it fixed. Our cost was about $200, completed in a few hours.

We did give consideration to getting a new frame but had to get it done to continue our travels so we just had it totally reinforced. After 2-3 years we have not noticed any other cracks or issues and are happy with the results.

Certainly willing to answer any questions. By the way I would inspect both sides carefully, in our case it broke through on one side and cracked on the other. I will say we drive some mighty horrid roads.
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Old 05-03-2015, 10:27 AM   #3
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Thank you so much for your reply Norm. Any pictures you could post would be very helpful. I'm having a hard time picturing your repair description, but only because I'm a newbie! I'll get under there and re-read your post as I'm looking at it The 1/4 inch plate--that's welded along the side of the beam? When you say bent, you mean bent to follow the length of the beam, not bent around the beam?
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Old 05-03-2015, 10:34 AM   #4
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I'll post a couple of pictures, bent to follow the length of the beam. It's not what we did but we did subsequently added it to go the whole distance. Our break was where the beam bends to form the A, a naturally weak area. Bends in square tubing are difficult to make with out weakening the tubing.

Pictures to come
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Old 05-03-2015, 10:35 AM   #5
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Dawn, we also had breaks/cracks in our Scamp frame where the axle brackets were welded to the frame. It showed up in northern Washington, and we had a very difficult time getting a welder to do a temp. repair to get us home, as they would be responsible if something were to happen on our way back. We were able to find a muffler shop that was willing to weld on some support metal that I purchased from a steel shop down the road. After we got back to Arizona we decided to have a new axle installed, and after the old one was removed, several other breaks became visible. Sooooo glad we it done.
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Old 05-03-2015, 10:45 AM   #6
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Break/crack in the frame

Any breaks or welded areas appear to be on the "support beams" under the main frame (the frame that eventually forms the A). Should there be no welded areas any where? Here is another example, just under the right side of the door. It is NOT on the frame that forms the A Click image for larger version

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Old 05-03-2015, 11:02 AM   #7
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Here is my attempt at forensics. Being so regular, it does look like a cut, as you noted. Try to get under and look at that piece from the other side (looking outboard). If it was cut, you will see it on the inside* as well. The cut piece is welded to the piece above it, horizontally. I suspect it was cut in order to facilitate matching the shape to the piece just above. Good welders will match the shape of the pieces carefully, to minimize the amount of welding. Welding is seldom intended to fill large gaps. If this is true (being a saw cut), it should be OK, since it is in the middle of the welded assembly, where stresses are low.

*) I say that because I think the piece is one of the rectangular tubes.
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Old 05-03-2015, 11:03 AM   #8
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Dawn, I'm not sure what you are asking when you stated "should there be no welded areas anywhere".
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Old 05-03-2015, 11:12 AM   #9
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Break/crack in the frame

Dave, I guess I meant I saw some areas on the underside of the frame where straight pieces were welded together. I am curious how much straight lengths of the original frame are pieced together & welded as opposed to them being a continuous piece (which would make the most sense). For example, if a straight 10ft beam was needed, would a continuous piece be used or could they possibly use 2 5ft pieces, etc. Not sure anyone could even answer that!


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Old 05-03-2015, 11:19 AM   #10
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Check the frame for excessive rust.
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Old 05-03-2015, 11:20 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul O. View Post
Here is my attempt at forensics. Being so regular, it does look like a cut, as you noted. Try to get under and look at that piece from the other side (looking outboard). If it was cut, you will see it on the inside* as well. The cut piece is welded to the piece above it, horizontally. I suspect it was cut in order to facilitate matching the shape to the piece just above. Good welders will match the shape of the pieces carefully, to minimize the amount of welding. Welding is seldom intended to fill large gaps. If this is true (being a saw cut), it should be OK, since it is in the middle of the welded assembly, where stresses are low.

*) I say that because I think the piece is one of the rectangular tubes.

Paul, what you say does make sense. However I can only see the outside & underside view. The view looking out is masked by another beam. Here is a picture looking directly up at it (laying on my back) Click image for larger version

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Old 05-03-2015, 11:23 AM   #12
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Reinforcement

I think it's unusual place to have a break in the frame. Paul may be right in his analysis however I would have a plate welded over the cut/break. The cost is little.

Since we had a break and like David were on the road we called a local welder who came out to our campground and welded the two breaks, one on each side, on the spot. We then towed it to his shop were he completed the job. Subsequently we have had no other problems.

You can see the plate. It was welded at the bottom and at the ends, not at the topside. Personally I would not hesitate to do more reinforcing while the jobs being done, that's why I suggested the whole length.

I should have mentioned, I painted the bottom of our trailer white and the frame has been sprayed with white Rustoleum.


I've also included a picture of the fish tail piece because I've seen a picture with breaks just in front of Scamp's reinforcement piece. The sharp edge of their reinforcement piece is a natural breaking area.

I believe the design of the frame where it is bent to form the A is poor engineering and kick myself for not observing it and having it done before fracture, I would definitely reinforce that area.

As to finding a welder, the initial guy we used did a lot of farm equipment. I'm certain it's stronger now than it ever was. Most towns have a welding shop, particularly small towns. We use a guy in our town on occasion who would do the job without hesitancy. If you have friends into restoring cars, they'll know who to use. double click to blow up pictures.

Again how old is your trailer?
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Old 05-03-2015, 11:23 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
Check the frame for excessive rust.

There is definitely a lot of rust!! No holes that I can see. The plan is to scrape it all down & get the paint off to see what we're looking at


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Old 05-03-2015, 11:25 AM   #14
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Camper is a 1992


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