Door fit + frame flex/failure - Fiberglass RV
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Old 07-18-2017, 09:00 AM   #1
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Trailer: '71 Boler, '87 Play-Mor II
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Door fit + frame flex/failure

Has anyone noticed the door fitting/closing differently when stabilized/leveled vs when hooked to the tow? I have had an on going issue with my Boler of this and despite adding significant wood tabs fiberglassed to the interior shell and anchoring the wood closet/roof support to it in order to stabilize the body from flexing I still notice the body around the door shifts enough to make the door difficult to latch depending on whether in tow or level/stabilized.

If I have to significantly level the camper front to back or side to side it is more noticeable. I think the original frame may be flexing. I have inspected the frame and can find no cracks or stress signs anywhere typical to Bolers/Scamps (except as noted in the last paragraph), mine even has extra reinforcement in the stress points. I have new wood floors installed and glassed to the body in 2015, plywood tabs glassed around the door (left and right), the right side of closet and tabs on the street side that cabinets and bath wall anchors too to support the roof. The floor is bolted (x4) 2 in the rear and 2 in the front with additional self taping screws through the floor into the frame. So if the frame is flexing so is the floor and the body. The door has been completely rebuilt with a metal frame inside so the door itself does not flex like some doors known to have fit problems. It even did this with the original old fiberglass fixtures riveted as well and I now suspect was the cause of some failed rivets around the closed and other areas, so I don't suspect it has to do as much with my wood that replaced the fiberglass as it does a weak frame.

Also, this weekend on the way home, the rear bumper failed at the point where the bike rack receiver hitch is welded to it. The welds held up but the bumper cracked/broke above where the weld bead is causing the the receiver to bend to the ground dragging the bike rack (2 adult bikes and a kids bike). Luckily it happened in the GSM National Park (Cataloochee) on a dirt road and we were going slow when it failed. I think some washout/pot holes stressed it causing it to break. We managed to carefully get the bikes & rack inside the camper for the ride home. It towed fine before this failure with no sway or handling issues. Upon closer inspection we noticed the inside of the tubular frame has some significant rust. I knew the frame was of thin metal but was really shocked by how thin the frame actually was. My bbq grill is made of thicker metal! When I had the body off 2 years ago I found very little rust (surface) on the outside, sanded/wire brushed to bare metal, primed and painted.

Now I am planning for a new stronger frame made out of a heavier gauge steel, but am contemplating what gauge steel to go with. I have a #9 Dexter setup for 1800-2000 lbs, before the axle the trailer was 1440 dry.
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Old 07-18-2017, 10:11 AM   #2
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We noticed too that "the door fitting/closing differently when stabilized/leveled vs when hooked to the tow".
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Old 07-18-2017, 12:27 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by HawkBoler72 View Post
We noticed too that "the door fitting/closing differently when stabilized/leveled vs when hooked to the tow".
Is your Boler stock like it came from the factory or has it been extensively modified (structurally)? While I hope you don't have problems, it is good to know that it is not just mine with this issue. After researching about trailer frame construction specifically regarding flexing and steel frame gauge I came across the following article (see the link down below) I found very informative, particularly the part about Torsion axles. Here is an excerpt about that in particular:

"Torsion axles add a lot of extra stress on the frame at the attachment point. (Load is both vertical and torsional.) Itís OK, as long as the trailer builder accommodates the added loads. However, if the frame is not reinforced where a torsion axle mounts, itís a sure sign of weakness."

In addition, on our trailer and others I have seen, it seems common to weld short beads in several spots rather than one continuous weld, again another sign of a weak point for trailers like our eggs. It surprises me somewhat that back in the era ours was built in (71) that the overall quality of the trailer was built to last generations compared to a stickie, yet the frame which serves as the foundation of these cool eggs are somewhat poorly designed. Even with light weight trailer design in mind they could have used a stronger frame without significantly affecting the overall weight.

https://www.synthx.com/articles/trailer-strength.html/
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Old 07-18-2017, 01:50 PM   #4
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The frame was reinforced with 2"x 2" steel beam at front. When leveled, I use additional support at the bottom as shown in the pictures.
Hopefully, no problem.
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Old 07-18-2017, 03:19 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by HawkBoler72 View Post
The frame was reinforced with 2"x 2" steel beam at front. When leveled, I use additional support at the bottom as shown in the pictures.
Hopefully, no problem.
Mine has some gussets welded in the weak spots which Ian G points out as potential failure areas. If you look close you can see these welds are incremental and do not go all the way across the seams (weaker than complete seam welds). These were in place when I got it but I believe they were added post factory. But this doesn't do much for the trailer flexing side to side or front to back. There is no reinforcement anywhere else, just the standard frame as commonly known here on the forum.

One thing mine does seem to have that others don't is once piece tubing from the coupler past the bends under the front floor, I have seen seams in these areas on other trailers.
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Old 07-18-2017, 03:43 PM   #6
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Here is some pics showing the break in the frame/rear bumper above the weld on the bike rack hitch. Notice the significant rusting inside the opening of the frame tubing.
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Old 07-18-2017, 03:50 PM   #7
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Is some kind of 'bends' may be not avoidable? Just don't exceed the limit (what is the limit?).
Sometime, I may add the piece as shown in your second picture.
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Old 07-18-2017, 03:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Johnny M View Post
Here is some pics showing the break in the frame/rear bumper above the weld on the bike rack hitch. Notice the significant rusting inside the opening of the frame tubing.

That's not good. I guess the welding wasn't done very well. I try to avoid adding anything on the rear bump.
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Old 07-18-2017, 04:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny M View Post
Here is some pics showing the break in the frame/rear bumper above the weld on the bike rack hitch. Notice the significant rusting inside the opening of the frame tubing.
Thanks for showing us these pictures. This just one more reason to NOT carry bicycles on the back of one our trailers.
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Old 07-19-2017, 07:21 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by HawkBoler72 View Post
That's not good. I guess the welding wasn't done very well. I try to avoid adding anything on the rear bump.
Eric, I am no expert welder but have been learning from a friend who is a professional welder by trade. While my welds don't look textbook pretty, they penetrated the metal of both the bumper and the hitch. I used 6013 rods and multiple passes to ensure the strength of the welds. If you look close at the photos you can see the welds did not give, but rather the metal of the bumper cracked in to above the welds. My welder friend is out of town but he is going to take a look at it on Thursday for me, I will post what he says when he sees it...
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Old 07-19-2017, 07:28 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
Thanks for showing us these pictures. This just one more reason to NOT carry bicycles on the back of one our trailers.
Byron, I agree with you regarding the original lightweight frame construction. I knew it was a thin metal frame, but I honestly didn't know it was that thin. I also think it was weakend by the hidden rust on the inside of the frame. I have owned bbq grills made with thicker metal! With that said, the replacement frame WILL be stout enough to hold the receiver/bike rack and should not flex allowing for a more stable body/door fit regardless of whether hooked to the tow or leveled/stabilized...
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Old 07-19-2017, 08:54 AM   #12
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Johnny, I'm sorry to hear about your hitch mount frame failure. It's a good thing you caught it that quickly.

I'm a proud owner of a 71 Boler too but it looks like I was lucky to get one built earlier than yours. My frame appeared to be quite solid when I pulled it out to check it and modify it for my new axle. I've never been up close to one of the later frames but from pictures I've seen they do seem to be built with pretty thin walled tubing. Mine is all C channel of a decent gauge (no bumper).

That didn't stop me from adding some additional strength. I added 2x4" box tubing under the rails to support the new axle. I had to have something there to allow the switch from a leading to a trailing axle so I went ahead and ran it longer for more support. I also added C channel under the typical failure spots where the frame bends toward the tongue. I ran that long up toward the front too. It was likely a lot of overkill and extra weight but it makes me feel better. I've never noticed any of the door area flexing you mentioned.

I have a receiver on the back for a bike rack too and it's awfully nice to have there knowing that it's solid. I'm guessing you'll be really happy with yournew frame once you get it built.

Russ
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Old 07-19-2017, 09:53 AM   #13
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I see so many frame structure problems on here that I wonder if there's a market for frames. Isn't like any of them are hard to copy, esp with better materials.
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Old 07-19-2017, 10:57 AM   #14
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You have to evaluate what you want your stabilizer jacks to actually do in application. You will need a far stronger structure in the frame if your asking the jack to lift and level as opposed to stiffen to stop the wiggle of the suspension. All of the small frame fiberglass trailers I have seen are not strong enough for lift and level. I feel most frames do not have the proper structure to support the leverage of a bike rack hanging off the back.

If I was building a new frame I would build in designated jacking points for an axle jack for changing the tire especially if your using a torsion axle. I would also double the frame thickness to make rust out from the inside of the tube a thing of the past and to severely stiffen the chassis. But I don't have to worry about weight because my choice of tugs can handle the additional weight. I would paint the inside of the tube before I cut and welded up the tubing to make a frame. Maybe even a better option would be using C-Channel since you wouldn't have internal failure.
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Old 07-19-2017, 10:59 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by RussL View Post
Johnny, I'm sorry to hear about your hitch mount frame failure. It's a good thing you caught it that quickly.

I'm a proud owner of a 71 Boler too but it looks like I was lucky to get one built earlier than yours. My frame appeared to be quite solid when I pulled it out to check it and modify it for my new axle. I've never been up close to one of the later frames but from pictures I've seen they do seem to be built with pretty thin walled tubing. Mine is all C channel of a decent gauge (no bumper).

That didn't stop me from adding some additional strength. I added 2x4" box tubing under the rails to support the new axle. I had to have something there to allow the switch from a leading to a trailing axle so I went ahead and ran it longer for more support. I also added C channel under the typical failure spots where the frame bends toward the tongue. I ran that long up toward the front too. It was likely a lot of overkill and extra weight but it makes me feel better. I've never noticed any of the door area flexing you mentioned.

I have a receiver on the back for a bike rack too and it's awfully nice to have there knowing that it's solid. I'm guessing you'll be really happy with yournew frame once you get it built.

Russ
Russ mine too is a 71, however, even in 71 there were at least 4 locations that I am aware of that were making the American Boler (which I believe mine came from one of them) plus all the locations in Canada. And from what I understand each plant varies in different ways of how the Boler was made - mostly from frame materials used, frame design, weld quality but also tail lights, cabinet arrangement and floor materials seems to vary as well. The thin square tubing on mine probably was cheaper than the thicker c channel you have. But it looks like you have welded corners where the frame meets the tongue, I believe that is a common weak point known to have failures, mine doesn't have seams there but a continuous piece of tubing bent to a curve at that point. One thing I noticed is mine has no cross braces for support under the dinette like yours.

I thought about repairing the bumper and adding more metal to strengthen the frame there to hold the bike rack, but after seeing the rust inside the frame I am worried that there will be another failure somewhere else at some point, and its anybodies guess as to when so rather than have another failure on a road trip I'd rather replace it now with something stronger and hopefully take care of the body/door flex movement.
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Old 07-19-2017, 11:14 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Bruce Thomas View Post
I see so many frame structure problems on here that I wonder if there's a market for frames. Isn't like any of them are hard to copy, esp with better materials.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevebaz View Post
You have to evaluate what you want your stabilizer jacks to actually do in application. You will need a far stronger structure in the frame if your asking the jack to lift and level as opposed to stiffen to stop the wiggle of the suspension. All of the small frame fiberglass trailers I have seen are not strong enough for lift and level. I feel most frames do not have the proper structure to support the leverage of a bike rack hanging off the back.

If I was building a new frame I would build in designated jacking points for an axle jack for changing the tire especially if your using a torsion axle. I would also double the frame thickness to make rust out from the inside of the tube a thing of the past and to severely stiffen the chassis. But I don't have to worry about weight because my choice of tugs can handle the additional weight. I would paint the inside of the tube before I cut and welded up the tubing to make a frame. Maybe even a better option would be using C-Channel since you wouldn't have internal failure.
Bruce I agree but probably not a large enough market unless it was a small shop like Little House Customs or somebody like that. Maybe Scamp offers a new frame for older Bolers/Scamps but not sure.

Steve I agree and that is something I am considering regarding stabilizer/jacking points. I have had to raise the Boler before to get it level even on spots that are relatively level for the fridge, a/c and sink/shower drains. But the trailer was light weight enough I felt the stabilizers could handle it, this weekend I bought a small bottle jack to make it quicker then placing the stabilizer in place. This weekends site sloped so I had to level it a lot more than usual which is when I really noticed the body flex around the door and suspected the frame was flexing tongue to bumper.

I thought about those drive on levelers but then I'd have to get taller stabilizers too...maybe I will make some levelers myself.

That is a good point about using C channel, I wouldn't know how to paint the inside of tubing beyond a couple of inches. I like the idea of tubing for less flexing though but will definitely use something thick enough that rust won't be an issue for many many years.
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Old 07-19-2017, 11:27 AM   #17
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Cut the tubing to the lengths needed. Cap the ends of the tubing with sever layers of metal duct tape stuck on clean tubing. pour in allot of mineral spirits and cap the other end. rock tube back and forth to flush tube. pour out into another container. then pour in allot of industrial enamel paint cap the ends again and rock back and forth again. pour left over paint back in can and move on to your next tube.

Or you can use Eastwoods frame paint in a Spray can with their lon tube applicator.

Eastwood Internal Frame Coating 14oz Aerosol
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Old 07-19-2017, 11:29 AM   #18
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One thing I noticed is mine has no cross braces for support under the dinette like yours.
I actually added those pieces to support the grey water tank and spare tire mount that I put up underneath there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny M View Post
That is a good point about using C channel, I wouldn't know how to paint the inside of tubing beyond a couple of inches. I like the idea of tubing for less flexing though but will definitely use something thick enough that rust won't be an issue for many many years.
I can't say for sure whether it worked well but when I added the box sections to mine I cut a sponge slightly oversized and stuck it on the end of a dowel so I could soak it with paint and run it down the length of the tube. I did the whole frame in POR15 before painting over that and that produced what seems like a remarkably tough coating.
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Old 07-19-2017, 11:43 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by stevebaz View Post
Cut the tubing to the lengths needed. Cap the ends of the tubing with sever layers of metal duct tape stuck on clean tubing. pour in allot of mineral spirits and cap the other end. rock tube back and forth to flush tube. pour out into another container. then pour in allot of industrial enamel paint cap the ends again and rock back and forth again. pour left over paint back in can and move on to your next tube.

Or you can use Eastwoods frame paint in a Spray can with their lon tube applicator.

Eastwood Internal Frame Coating 14oz Aerosol
Quote:
Originally Posted by RussL View Post
I actually added those pieces to support the grey water tank and spare tire mount that I put up underneath there.



I can't say for sure whether it worked well but when I added the box sections to mine I cut a sponge slightly oversized and stuck it on the end of a dowel so I could soak it with paint and run it down the length of the tube. I did the whole frame in POR15 before painting over that and that produced what seems like a remarkably tough coating.
Steve and Russ I like both of your ways of thinking! Great ideas on painting the inside of the tubes!
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Old 07-19-2017, 01:15 PM   #20
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You could also have tubing rustproofed inside by one of those places like Rusty jones etc or buy a small rustproofing kit. They do work well. And really, anything would help and the thicker wall tubing especially...you won't ever need to do it again while you own it.
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