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Old 01-18-2022, 10:15 PM   #1
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Name: Lynn
Trailer: 2019 Escape 21C, NTU April 2022 (was 2013 Casita Spirit Deluxe 17)
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Back in the Fiberglass Fold

Figured I should follow up on my notice of Leaving the Molded Fiberglass World, in favor of an inTech Sol Horizon. Well, we've cancelled our order. I mentioned it in an 'Uh-Oh' post in that thread, but it got buried in a discussion of outside kitchens, so I thought I'd better explain.

In preparation for joining the inTech world, I joined their inTech Sol Facebook Group, and what happens after a few weeks? Folks started posting reports of Sol Horizons losing their axles! (See photo below.)

Turns out it's happened about four times, only once after a minor accident (wheel bumped against gas-station bollard). What happens is that aluminum hangers to which the Dexter axles are bolted are welded to the Horizon aluminum frames: the hanger bars are breaking off. Some owners have now reported that they are finding defective or cracking welds.

In my layman's opinion, these are not just bad welds, but a design flaw that relies on two single points of axle attachment (one on each side of the single axle) for all the stress of bumps and braking between axle and trailer.

Some commenters said that relying on welds was not necessarily bad; the problem was relying on aluminum for such a critical structural point. I remembered that Escape is going to use an aluminum frame for their 23' model, now in development. So I looked at the video on their Escape 23 page; the Youtube version is . If you go to the 8-minute mark, you can see that they have through-bolted a steel bracket to the aluminum frame, and the axle to that steel bracket. Those two axles aren't going anywhere.

So I concluded that for inTech to keep more Sols from losing their axles (which fortunately has not yet happened at speed) they're going to have to address the hanger issue in some way similar to what Escape is doing, which is going to take a recall and repair of every one of their units they've made in the past four years, including the one we were about to buy.

So I bailed out. Much as I liked inTech's inventive, modern design, I wasn't sure I could trust that they would remedy the problem properly, or had overlooked other problems.

Fortunately, I had a line on a 2018 Escape 19, and I was able to contact the owner, so we now have a pending purchase for next month. I know that I disparaged the Escape's design as 'your grandfather's camper' compared to the modern Sol Horizon, with its huge window and big, comfortable dinette. But in fact I now have ten grandchildren, so what could be more appropriate? And an Escape is a molded fiberglass trailer, so I'm back home.
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Sol lost axle.jpg  
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Old 01-19-2022, 12:34 AM   #2
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Escapes are fine trailers, I liked mine. However, the 25 foot Bigfoot is a lot nicer. Money is way more though.
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Old 01-19-2022, 12:49 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Lynn View Post
...What happens is that aluminum hangers to which the Dexter axles are bolted are welded to the Horizon aluminum frames: the hanger bars are breaking off. Some owners have now reported that they are finding defective or cracking welds.

In my layman's opinion, these are not just bad welds, but a design flaw that relies on two single points of axle attachment (one on each side of the single axle) for all the stress of bumps and braking between axle and trailer.

Some commenters said that relying on welds was not necessarily bad; the problem was relying on aluminum for such a critical structural point. I remembered that Escape is going to use an aluminum frame for their 23' model, now in development.
The Oliver Travel Trailer uses a hot dipped galvanized Steel sub frame that is bolted to the Aluminum main frame for the attachment points for the springs and axles. This has been standard equipment on every trailer they have ever built. In addition, there are anodes attached to the frame for protection against galvanic corrosion.
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Old 01-19-2022, 06:46 AM   #4
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I hope the Escape 19 proves to be what you need. As to the “grandfather” look, it’s nothing paint and slipcovers can’t fix. Have fun, and enjoy your travels!
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Old 01-19-2022, 07:23 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Steve Outlaw View Post
The Oliver Travel Trailer uses a hot dipped galvanized Steel sub frame that is bolted to the Aluminum main frame for the attachment points for the springs and axles. This has been standard equipment on every trailer they have ever built. In addition, there are anodes attached to the frame for protection against galvanic corrosion.
Interesting. I didn't know about Oliver's sacrificial anodes. Apparently they have two, and they are maintenance items (like the sacrificial anodes in your hot-water heaters).

I wonder if the Escape guys bolting steel to their new aluminum E23 frame have thought of the need for anodes. Oliver (in the link above) says that it's especially important to check them in areas where road salt is extensively used (as in MA, where we live).
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Old 01-19-2022, 08:30 AM   #6
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Good on you for catching the design flaw and bailing on the purchase. Typical me, I would have bought it, added 5k in upgrades and mods and sold it less than a year later for less than I paid!

I’ve looked but sticking with my Casita SD.
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Old 01-19-2022, 08:48 AM   #7
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The fix for the galvanic reaction between the steel axle and brackets and the aluminum frame is to either electrically insulate the two dissimilar metals or replace the aluminum frame with a well designed steel one...
There is some weight savings, but this is looking for problems so that you can claim some sort of "technological" advantage for your advertising.
I like the idea of claiming the technological advantage of a galvanized frame and hardware.
The weight savings is not enough to open a new can of worms in frames cracking and corrosion issues.
By the way using stainless steel bolts makes the problem worse and not better.
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Old 01-19-2022, 10:30 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Motoboss View Post
Good on you for catching the design flaw and bailing on the purchase. Typical me, I would have bought it, added 5k in upgrades and mods and sold it less than a year later for less than I paid!

I’ve looked but sticking with my Casita SD.
Thanks, but it really hit me in the face when owners on the inTech Sol Facebook page started posting appalling photos of bad welds and lost axles.

The new Sol Horizon we were going to purchase is built and scheduled to be exhibited at the 'Big E' RV show in Springfield, MA next month. Other prospective owners are getting cold feet. IMO inTech had better announce a recall and repair soon, or they'll be in trouble. I expect some owners have already reported their experiences to the NHTSA.

I'm disappointed at discovering this Sol problem, because the Horizons are really neat trailers, but thankful it surfaced before we had to deal with it.

We're selling our Casita, which has served us well; will have it listed in a few days.
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Old 01-19-2022, 11:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Lynn View Post
Thanks, but it really hit me in the face when owners on the inTech Sol Facebook page started posting appalling photos of bad welds and lost axles.

The new Sol Horizon we were going to purchase is built and scheduled to be exhibited at the 'Big E' RV show in Springfield, MA next month. Other prospective owners are getting cold feet. IMO inTech had better announce a recall and repair soon, or they'll be in trouble. I expect some owners have already reported their experiences to the NHTSA.

I'm disappointed at discovering this Sol problem, because the Horizons are really neat trailers, but thankful it surfaced before we had to deal with it.

We're selling our Casita, which has served us well; will have it listed in a few days.

My take on the interior design and decoration was the exact opposite of yours. Garish blue lighting, monochromatic colors and a big window that certainly would be vulnerable. Rear bumpers as an option etc.

But each to his own I say. I think you’ll like the 19 over a casita.
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Old 01-25-2022, 04:09 PM   #10
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My take on the interior design and decoration was the exact opposite of yours. Garish blue lighting, monochromatic colors and a big window that certainly would be vulnerable. Rear bumpers as an option etc.

But each to his own I say. I think you’ll like the 19 over a casita.
Well, it turned out the guy who was going to sell us his Escape 19 changed his mind and decided to keep it. :-(

So we're keeping the Casita until we can find an Escape, preferably 21C (or 19), or maybe a Bigfoot 21RB. We could go looking for another non-molded, but I'd really prefer not to.
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Old 01-25-2022, 05:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Mr Lynn View Post
Well, it turned out the guy who was going to sell us his Escape 19 changed his mind and decided to keep it. :-(

So we're keeping the Casita until we can find an Escape, preferably 21C (or 19), or maybe a Bigfoot 21RB. We could go looking for another non-molded, but I'd really prefer not to.
Certainly we loved our 21C
Good luck.
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Old 01-26-2022, 01:59 PM   #12
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Certainly we loved our 21C
Good luck.
Thanks, John. Unhappily, the market for Escapes is incredibly tight. Lead time for new ones is 1.5+ years. Used 19s and 21s sell within minutes of being advertised, and of course in our case are usually far distant as well. Which is why I started looking at the non-MFG market to begin with.

Anyway, if you hear of anyone selling one, please drop me a line: RepletewRueATYahooDOTcom
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Old 02-06-2022, 10:27 AM   #13
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The problem is not aluminum, it's how the aluminum is used or welded. As Steve pointed out, the aluminum Oliver frame, with a hot dipped steel subframe is an excellent system. Olivers are unique in their frame design in other ways too, for instance the body is already very rigid and pairs up with the frame, instead of simply getting all of its rigidity from the frame. More like a boat that already has its own integrity. The boat trailer merely supports it as tows it along.

I'm not a fan of the outboard wheel design we see a lot of. And if someone catches one on a bollard, for instance, it is hardly the trailers fault if the suspension brackets get damaged. With that design you still have all the wheelbase width but a narrow body. I see a lot of utility trailers with that design that have smashed fenders from hitting something.
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Old 02-06-2022, 11:13 AM   #14
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Name: Bruce & Kathryn
Trailer: Bigfoot 25 RQ
North Carolina
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I did have two weld failures in my Oliver. To their credit, Oliver let me find a local TIG welder who repaired and inspected the frame, billing direct to Oliver. Probably from going down some Texas farm roads. So nothing is perfect, but my issue was far from a design flaw, just some bad welds among some of the best TIG work I haver ever seen. Might have been some oil on those two aluminum cross members. Who knows, and I can vouch that Oliver builds an excellent frame.
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Old 02-06-2022, 01:21 PM   #15
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"bad" frames

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Lynn View Post
Folks started posting reports of Sol Horizons losing their axles! (See photo below.)
The amount of frame failure videos on YouTube is unbelievable. There is a lot of blame to go around. Lippert builds many of them, but they build to the RV manufacturers specifications. The manufacturers spec to the buyers wishes. The buyers all want something light to tow with their under sized tow vehicles. Light weight is weak, and the highways of the USA are rough! The bridge approaches on the interstates can be a killer of frames especially if they are on a curve. I have bent the LP tank mount in the mountains of both the east and west, and I drive 60 MPH. Note that if you are in road construction and get damage the warranty will not cover it because you went "off road” and at best you may get an insurance claim. The RV life is not a fitting life for people that need every thing to go right every day, troubles are just part of the adventure. Just another story to tell at the camp fire and the best stories always involve the black water tank.
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