Screws came loose! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-09-2020, 01:32 PM   #1
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Name: Howie
Trailer: Trillium
California
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Screws came loose!

Hi Fiberglass Rv'ers,

I bought a 2015 Trillium 1300 trailer last year (thanks to this forum), and I love it. First time RV owner. I tried it a couple times on a bumpy dirt road and that taught me how to lock everything down better, so things wouldn't go flying.

Then I tried it on a 6 mile dirt road that was washboarded but not too rough overall. I probably maxed the speed at around 30mph, but mostly around 20mph. On that short stretch of road, nearly every screw in the fiberglass unscrewed itself fromthe vibrations, causing some minor damage to some of the cabinet doors when they fell off the hinges. My lightweight Shady Boy awning unscrewed itself from its mount and landed in the road (I found it, a little banged up). On the way back out the same road, the trailer door screws all unscrewed themselves. Lucky I kept checking on things that time, because I completely lost three of six of them and the door was about to fall off before I got to the pavement.

My question is: have any of you seen this sort of thing happen before? Should I just use some threadlocker on all the screws in the RV to prevent this from happening again. Sometimes I do like to camp down dirt roads. Any other suggestions?

Also, is there some easy and not too expensive way to add suspension to the trailer so it won't get so beat up on rougher roads?

Thanks for your advice!
Howie
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:27 PM   #2
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Name: Lyle
Trailer: Scamp 16, previously Scamp 13
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Locktite when you replace the screws, some small wood backing with slightly larger screws where it's possible. And this friendly admonishment: These trailers were not designed as off-road or 4 wheeling options. :-)
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:36 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by LyleB View Post
Locktite when you replace the screws, some small wood backing with slightly larger screws where it's possible. And this friendly admonishment: These trailers were not designed as off-road or 4 wheeling options. :-)
Another possible way to keep the screws that go into wood from coming out would be to use a dab of glue similar to Beacon Adhesive's Foam-Tac which remains flexible after drying. I use it on screws for my RC airplanes. The key would be to use any glue that remains flexible after drying. Of course it makes it that much harder to get the screw out intentionally so I would make sure to replace any cheap screws with good ones that have heads that are not easily stripped.
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:41 PM   #4
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Name: Steve
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I used a syringe full of water and a tube of gorilla glue to stop screws from vibrating loose.
I’m with Lyle , while FG trailer are pretty sturdy , they are not designed or built for long drives down unimproved roads . If you want to camp on the back side of nowhere you need hiking boots , a good backpack and a tent
I’ve camped for weeks in the BWCA of Northern Minnesota and never once drove to my campsite .
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Old 01-09-2020, 02:58 PM   #5
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Screws even work loose on long interstate treks. For all of the machine screws and bolts I use nylock nuts.
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Old 01-09-2020, 03:08 PM   #6
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I removed all the door hinge wood screws, which were almost all wallowed out anyway, and replaced them with stainless machine screws and nylock nuts.
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Old 01-09-2020, 11:08 PM   #7
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And make sure your trailer wheels are balanced.
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Old 01-10-2020, 09:20 AM   #8
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I suspect a combination of sloppy assembly and the road condition. Washboards are the worst. Five miles per hour may be too fast.

There are two schools of thought. One is to speed up and “glide across the tops of the washboards.” I don’t buy it, but people I know that live on washboard side roads swear by it. Maybe with the right suspension and good shock absorbers. I don’t think the rudimentary suspension on a molded trailer will do well. The other school is to slow way, way down.

You’ve got some good advice about hardening all the screw attachments, but I think you may need to reconsider the roads you take, or at least how you drive. I take my Scamp on pretty rough roads occasionally, but washboards are a category of their own!

I attribute our second daughter’s premature birth to a washboard road, but that’s another story...
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:07 AM   #9
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I have often questioned the wisdom of towing a trailer down some abandoned
logging road , risking damage to an expensive vehicle and trailer in an attempt to save $10 in camping fees . I would believe at some logical point camping at Fort Walmart or Cracker Barrel would make more economic sense
We ofter camp at Iowa SP’s , $16 / night with water and electricity . When we bought our trailer I never expected a free lunch when it came to camping fees !!
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:27 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
There are two schools of thought. One is to speed up and ďglide across the tops of the washboards.Ē I donít buy it, but people I know that live on washboard side roads swear by it. Maybe with a modern suspension and good shock absorbers. I donít think the rudimentary suspension on a molded trailer will do well. The other school is to slow way, way down.
I used to drive my 1979 VW Bus down washboard roads at 35 MPH. The torsion bar suspension with long travel shocks worked great! I used to pass 4x4 pickups who were getting beat to death!
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:31 AM   #11
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Name: Howie
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Awesome advice from everyone here. Thanks! Locktite, wood backing, and/or nylock nuts sound like good possible solutions. After my experience I can totally envision the idea of a washboard road causing the counterclockwise birthing of a child . I get that these trailers aren't designed for dirt roads... but I am! Just a little bit of dirt and roughness is all I am after. Is that so wrong?

The trailer itself has amazing clearance - at least as much as the truck I tow it with. I am willing to drive very, very slowly as needed (finding that I need to drive more slowly than I think). I noticed that it is hard to comprehend the roughness actually occurring in the trailer when we are riding comfortably in the TV. I am willing to do some reinforcements to at least make the interior stay together. It seems that such a small and lightweight fiberglass RV should be capable of leaving the paved road on a limited basis, using the right amount of care and judgment. I don't mind civilized RV campgrounds from time to time, but I got this RV primarily for boondocking in more remote places off of main roads. I have worn my backpack and slept on the ground more days and in more remote places than most, and still do, but now I am slightly older (and maybe wiser) and enjoy camping in the trailer too.

So, I take it there is no easy suspension retrofit that can be done? In light of the intended design apparently being for on the paved roads, am I gauging the risks appropriately? It would suck to have some catastrophic failure of the axle or frame or hitch in a remote place. I would hate to hear that the solution is to get a camper van or cab over for the truck. I don't like those. I like my FG RV!
Thanks!
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Old 01-10-2020, 10:47 AM   #12
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If your using wood screws not machine screws, I'd use inside star washers to stop the screws from backing out.
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Old 01-10-2020, 11:39 AM   #13
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Locktite Blue rather than Red

Red is a much tighter hold.

Also, in the future, you should do off-road driving in the southern hemisphere where your screws would have tightened, not loosened.
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Old 01-10-2020, 12:08 PM   #14
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I don't see how Locktite would help with screws into wood. That's not what it is designed for.
From Locktite site:
Loctite Threadlocker Blue 242 is designed for the locking and sealing of threaded fasteners which require normal disassembly with standard hand tools.

The product cures when confined in the absence of air between close fitting metal surfaces. It protects threads from rust and corrosion and prevents loosening from shock and vibration. Loctiteģ Threadlocker Blue 242 is particularly suited for applications on less active substrates such as stainless steel and plated surfaces, where disassembly is required for servicing.


I drive a lot of washboard roads and have not had screws come loose in ten years.
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Old 01-10-2020, 12:13 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
I don't see how Locktite would help with screws into wood. That's not what it is designed for.
That's why I suggested Foam-Tac or any other glue that stays flexible when dry.
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Old 01-10-2020, 01:25 PM   #16
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I spend a fair amount of time on dirt roads and the vibration ican be difficult to manage. One of my favorite spots is 60 miles each way, in and out on dirt with rocks and washboard.

Locktite is for metal screws into metal threads, not wood. You can use white glue (Elmer's for example) in wood holes with pressboard or plywood. This makes the joint much stronger, is very cheap and can be taken apart as needed. White glue soaks into the wood, or is forced into the wood, as the screw goes in. It is a very good choice, and it cleans up with a damp paper towel. It's a good idea to always have a small bottle of it with you. Another excellent multi-purpose glue is E6000. It sticks to anything and remains a bit flexible. Silicone is another very good light duty thread locker. it works against vibration and is easy to get apart. Good for stainless into aluminum, or bolts and nuts, but not wood.

Nylock nuts are wonderful for a nut and bolt connection.

Where equipment is mounted to the floor, or a bulkhead, make sure the fastener is large enough and not stripped out. Then add glue as needed.

I don't agree that trailers should not be used on rough roads. Of course they should be. They need to be able to get to where you want to go camping. But you have to be careful with any of them because of the vibration. And it can be hard to tell what is going on in the trailer while driving.

My toy hauler made one trip to Death Valley and I could see that it was not really up to the task. Screws were backing out of the floor, stuff was falling apart inside. So, I got an Oliver and discovered that the window coverings would fall off and the microwave would try to escape. Now, I have a Black Series, off-road trailer with independent suspension and twin shocks per wheel. It too, can show the result from washboard and rocks.

When on roads like that, it's important to air down. This significantly reduces the impact from rocks and reduces the vibration from washboard. it takes a lot of strain off the trailer suspension too. Rock hard tires are not good on rough roads. I air my trailer down from 50 PSI to about 25. I want a significant softening of the tire, but not so flat that I might damage the wheel. Then air up when you get back to the highway, or to the nearest tire shop. Tires this low can only be run for short distances on the highway. I also lower my truck tires from 60 to 35. A good 12 volt compressor is a nice tool to have along. Viair makes some beauties.

The only absolute way to make sure everything is fine is to slow way down and avoid the pounding that washboard causes. Airing down is also really important. I'm always looking for the smoother path, or the speed that mellows it out. Certain frequencies are just bad. But, I got the trailer to go to those places, That is its job.
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Old 01-10-2020, 01:31 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
I have often questioned the wisdom of towing a trailer down some abandoned
logging road , risking damage to an expensive vehicle and trailer in an attempt to save $10 in camping fees . I would believe at some logical point camping at Fort Walmart or Cracker Barrel would make more economic sense
We ofter camp at Iowa SP’s , $16 / night with water and electricity . When we bought our trailer I never expected a free lunch when it came to camping fees !!
Actually the side logging roads are not the problem here. They can be muddy, rutted, and badly eroded, but rarely washboarded. Washboarding is more common on improved gravel roads, which serve as main access roads in many NFS areas in the West. Glenn's photo is typical of washboard roads in our region. Hate 'em!

Raspy, thanks for the summary of various products to improve screw-holding. I am reinforcing cabinets in my Roadtrek, adding some screws where there were none and the joints are starting to separate. The cabinet cases are balsa-core plywood. I bought some Hillman barbed screws and will dip the tips in white glue. Wasn't sure if there was something better.
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Old 01-10-2020, 06:07 PM   #18
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Name: K C
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Rivet the hinges in place going through a backup stainless steel washer on the interior side of the cabinet. The washer gives a better bearing surface for load distribution than the fiberglass material alone.
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Old 01-10-2020, 06:56 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raspy View Post
...
Locktite is for metal screws into metal threads, not wood. ....
And not for some plastics, like the plastic used for the handle on some RV windows. It can basically "melt" the plastic, destroying the handle.
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Old 01-10-2020, 07:04 PM   #20
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One more very useful product is the Epoxy Plumber's Putty. I use it where the screws go into the wood or the fiberboard. Mix it up, roll into a thin cylinder, push it into the hole before it starts setting, replace the screws and re-torque before it sets completely. It restores the "thread" in the wood and it is easy and permanent.
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