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Old 03-06-2014, 08:32 AM   #1
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1975 31' Sovereign
Pelzer , South Carolina
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Question Broken Frame

On a recent trip from Arizona to South Carolina we left a filling station
with a steep driveway. The right side of the bumper hit the ground
hard enough to lift that side of the trailer.
On inspection I saw the frame and bumper dropped about 3 inches .
Inside closet door was jammed and bathroom floor had a bad lean.
We are full timing for a few more weeks, so keeping it jacked in shape
when at a RV park.
The frame on this trailer has been re-enforced sometime in its 40 year life,
this is a heavy metal plate bolted over the area where the axles are.
The break seems to be just aft of this area.
Everyone suggests you remove the interior bath room, floor , etc
to repair it!!! Well at 78 years old, not gonna happen.
Could I remove the outside banana rap and access the frame and bolt
(love hammer rivets) or weld a plate over the break???
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Old 03-06-2014, 08:46 AM   #2
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Sorry for that accident. I am afraid you are in for a partial belly pan removal and some welding. The is no riveting to be involved at a frame break.
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:02 AM   #3
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1981 31' Excella II
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I would say for a quick fix to pull the belly skins and weld a plate over the damaged area and maybe an extra support truss (ie cross brace). It sounds like it needs some major R&R but maybe can get your trip completed. Try not to travel with anything in the holding tanks. Is the shell crushed at all? It is possible to do structural damage to a new trailer by bottoming out on a steep driveway. I bottomed out leaving a gas station and ground off the end of a frame rail. If the frame and the shell are not connected the frame can hit the shell and crush it.

You can pull the insulation out and cut part of the belly skin off and run without that corner wrap and belly skin. I would try not to tow in rain but I don't think you will do anymore damage.

Perry
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim in Pima View Post
On a recent trip from Arizona to South Carolina we left a filling station
with a steep driveway. The right side of the bumper hit the ground
hard enough to lift that side of the trailer.
On inspection I saw the frame and bumper dropped about 3 inches .
Inside closet door was jammed and bathroom floor had a bad lean.
We are full timing for a few more weeks, so keeping it jacked in shape
when at a RV park.
The frame on this trailer has been re-enforced sometime in its 40 year life,
this is a heavy metal plate bolted over the area where the axles are.
The break seems to be just aft of this area.
Everyone suggests you remove the interior bath room, floor , etc
to repair it!!! Well at 78 years old, not gonna happen.
Could I remove the outside banana rap and access the frame and bolt
(love hammer rivets) or weld a plate over the break???
Since you have a major failure, guessing of what to do is not the way to go.

Remove the underbelly from the frame rearward of the axles, and in between the axles.

That will allow you to inspect everything that could be at fault.

Sometimes, what was a little crash, is just the final step in a damaged area.

Check out the axles, since the rubber rods do not last more than about 25 years.

If you have been traveling with axles that had the rubber rods aged out, that could have contributed to a major crack in the frame, that you finished off when the coach bottomed out.

You can find out how to check the axles out by reading the "Dura torque axle article" that's a part of this Forums.

Andy
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:30 AM   #5
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1981 31' Excella II
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What I have found that causes rear end separation and rear frame rot is a leak where the plate/storage compartment lid over the bumper goes under the trailer. The seal where the plate meets the rear of the trailer fails and the plate funnels water under the floor and onto the frame where it soaks the fiberglass and holds the water against the frame. Running with tanks full and having bad axels can hasten the failure as Andy said. The first step is evaluating the damage and exposing the frame for inspection. Take some photos of the damage and we can help you better.

Perry
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Old 03-06-2014, 12:43 PM   #6
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Hello Jim in Pima:

I can relate an experience we had many years ago while with an Airstream Canadian caravan. Perhaps you might get some ideas from this narrative.

We left with the caravan but this morning the leaders didn't stop at a dump station to empty tanks before crossing the Rocky Mtns. The smart Airstreamer's located dump stations along the route.

Being my 1st caravan, I assumed the leaders knew what they were doing and expected them to stop at a dumping station along the route as they had done previously.

We arrived at the designated field we were to camp. The parker's assigned us an area to park. We unhitched and upon opening the door we discovered the floor going uphill (steep). The airstream mechanic who traveled with the caravan took one look and left to find a telephone. He returned the next morning and informed us the factory said we should leave the caravan and bring my unit halfway across the U.S. for their repair. $$$$$

The mechanic also said Calgary had one large truck repair facility. He recommended I let them look at it. Their assessment was "sure, we can fix that". It was necessary that I remove the belly pan elsewhere and return the trailer to them.

I found a sympathetic travel trailer dealer who allowed me space to drop the pan and store it with him for a day or two. Back to the truck repair where I was instructed to back the trailer onto two (thin) rails over a large open pit. I watched them grind a "V" where the break was. They welded the "V" fastening the broken frame together. They ground the "V" smooth and welded a steel plate over that.

I only needed to re-install the belly pan and rejoin the Caravan before we left Calgary. The cost was a couple of hundred bucks, but that was back in 1976 or so.

Good luck! -- I know you will get it fixed.
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Old 03-06-2014, 01:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim in Pima View Post
The frame on this trailer has been re-enforced sometime in its 40 year life, this is a heavy metal plate bolted over the area where the axles are.
The break seems to be just aft of this area.
From an engineering standpoint, that's actually not unexpected. The frame breaks where there is too much stress for the frame to handle, usually where there is a change in the geometry of the frame— so locations where brackets for springs are installed is a likely position for a break. An improperly-designed fix doesn't eliminate the stress points, it just moves the stress to a position right alongside the repair. Speculating in this case, drilling the frame to install bolts to hold on the reinforcing plate may have actually weakened the frame at the holes, leading to new stress concentration points.

A proper fix would be pretty much as helmsman described. Remove the existing bolted-on reinforcement. Plug any boltholes you don't need with weld metal to restore the full cross-section. Double-bevel the frame at both the original break and the new break, and do a full-penetration weld, then grind the weld flush on the side that will receive the doubler plate, but you can leave a bead on the opposite side. Then add a doubler plate with rounded corners that spans both breaks and fillet-weld all around the doubler plate so water can't get between the original frame and the doubler plate. All welds should be made to AWS D1.1 standards at least.
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Old 03-07-2014, 07:05 AM   #8
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We don't even know where the break is right now and if it is due to rust through or overload. Also if it is near the axle the repair will have to be much more substantial than if it is just the end rotted off a frame member. Protagonists method is sound for a good structural repair.

Perry
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