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Old 10-17-2019, 08:55 PM   #1
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One reason I won't let my dealer touch my Airstream

This is one reason why I don’t trust my RV dealer. It was Southaven RV in Southaven, MS. I bought my trailer new and they said they would install a weight distribution hitch as part of the deal. I had them install a Reese Strait-Line hitch with Dual Cam Sway Control. That was 3 seasons and 11,500 miles ago. A couple of days ago, I pulled into a campground in Canada, 1,500 miles from home, and found this. (Narrative continued below the picture.)



Reese specs vs their install:
Bolts 1/2” x 1.5” – used 5/16” x 1”
Grade 5 – used grade 1
Lock washer – nope
Rivet nut – nope, drilled holes and used self threading bolts

Bolt on the backside of other trailer side was tight and had jam nut tight. This side, bolt loose, jam nut halfway up bolt.

I avoided disaster here. One bolt was gone, the other was about 1/4” out from the bracket. Both holes in the frame were stripped out.

I had to drill the holes out and tap them for 3/8” bolts. I did use 3/8” x 1.5” grade 5 bolts and lock washers and tightened the bolt on the back side and tightened jam jut. This was just a temporary fix to get me home. Once home, I will re-do them both to Reese specs.
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Old 10-17-2019, 09:53 PM   #2
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I feel your pain. I can show you pictures of where a prominent Airstream dealer in New Jersey, who many love for their low prices and are so friendly if you are buying a trailer, drilled multiple holes, and still has my passenger side one inch off of where the drivers side bracket is mounted (and no lock washers, rivet nuts, etc. .... nothing to show that they followed the mfg instructions to mount, etc.) but charged me big bucks to install. Now that I am done ranting about the so called wonder dealer in the east.
I had the same issue caused from their install twice in the last 4 years. First time fixed with a higher grade bolt. Now this fall found the bolt holes had elongated so had to get helicorts with some creative work to install because the walls of the frame tubing are so thin. Basically you have to helicort in a bolt and go with a half inch bolt or you push the helicort out (did that twice before I got a little bit of smarts.)
Haven't towed since then so I can't let you know if my fixing the experts fix has worked.
Stupid me to think that dealers you are paying money to do work wouldn't use lock washers, rivet nuts, etc. (per the install instructions which I have checked) and locktight on the bolts..... At least yours are the same distance from the hitch?

What is interesting to me is that on both our trailers it is the passenger side where the failure occurs. I wonder what is going on to put more stress or vibration to loosen the bolts on that side? The drivers side bolts even with the questionable installation are not coming loose. So maybe someone with more smart than me can enlighten me on that question?
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Old 10-17-2019, 10:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bweybright View Post
I feel your pain. I can show you pictures of where a prominent Airstream dealer in New Jersey, who many love for their low prices and are so friendly if you are buying a trailer, drilled multiple holes, and still has my passenger side one inch off of where the drivers side bracket is mounted (and no lock washers, rivet nuts, etc. .... nothing to show that they followed the mfg instructions to mount, etc.) but charged me big bucks to install. Now that I am done ranting about the so called wonder dealer in the east.
I had the same issue caused from their install twice in the last 4 years. First time fixed with a higher grade bolt. Now this fall found the bolt holes had elongated so had to get helicorts with some creative work to install because the walls of the frame tubing are so thin. Basically you have to helicort in a bolt and go with a half inch bolt or you push the helicort out (did that twice before I got a little bit of smarts.)
Haven't towed since then so I can't let you know if my fixing the experts fix has worked.
Stupid me to think that dealers you are paying money to do work wouldn't use lock washers, rivet nuts, etc. (per the install instructions which I have checked) and locktight on the bolts..... At least yours are the same distance from the hitch?

What is interesting to me is that on both our trailers it is the passenger side where the failure occurs. I wonder what is going on to put more stress or vibration to loosen the bolts on that side? The drivers side bolts even with the questionable installation are not coming loose. So maybe someone with more smart than me can enlighten me on that question?
Your best fix maybe to weld up the holes and re-drill them.
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Old 10-17-2019, 11:13 PM   #4
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Exactly where I am heading...if my solution doesn't fix it.

Quite honestly that would have been my preferred solution but I don't know how to find a qualified welder who understands Airstreams where I live right now. Nor do I know the right questions to ask ask a welder to determine if I would let them do the work.

So if you have insights to help me to know what to ask and look for it would be appreciated.
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Old 10-17-2019, 11:44 PM   #5
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Try this place, outside of Salem, OR.


https://www.shinyshacks.com/


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Old 10-18-2019, 02:39 AM   #6
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lol "Dealers". Glorified salesman holding areas with a couple of high school drop outs drilling holes in your trailer out back.

I wouldn't let any of these idiots touch my trailer with a ten foot pole. The American service industry is an absolute disaster.
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:34 AM   #7
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I have a new 25’ GT ordered from Beth at RVOne in Tampa and they are installing a new Stabilizer Hitch for me.
I’ve been very impressed with them so far but I will keep everyone posted.
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:40 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by wkerfoot View Post
Try this place, outside of Salem, OR.


https://www.shinyshacks.com/


Bill
Thanks for the lead. Will keep them in mind if my repair doesn't hold.
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Old 10-18-2019, 11:05 AM   #9
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bad dealers

Feel your pain also. That unnamed NJ dealer did quite a number on my rig a few years back. Burned holes in my dinette seat, left off bolts, and ultimately did not make the initital repair. Once discovered the mess didn't offer refund or apology.

DIY from now on.
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Old 10-18-2019, 11:11 AM   #10
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WOW the Reese system is a great system and we love it - makes me want to double check it (dealer installed)
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Old 10-18-2019, 11:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluvalley View Post
Feel your pain also. That unnamed NJ dealer did quite a number on my rig a few years back. Burned holes in my dinette seat, left off bolts, and ultimately did not make the initital repair. Once discovered the mess didn't offer refund or apology.

DIY from now on.
I must express some surprise since I have been on this forum for over 6 years and that is the very first comment like that I have seen about your unnamed dealer in New Jersey. As you are well aware, there are many, many comments praising them.

Larry
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Old 10-18-2019, 11:26 AM   #12
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Please understand, I'm not trying to defend poor workmanship, but do try to remember one thing. The person working on your trailer and who built your trailer, (my guess) earns between $15.00-$20.00 and hour or a yearly income of $30,000-$40,000 and at that income level, (most likely) would never be able to purchase new the very trailers of which they build and service. Though you maybe paying the dealer $100-$120 an hour or more, the guy doing the work doesn't get paid that, and you know it.

Yes, most likely they are, as someone said "high school dropouts" or at best, education level of high school only, maybe trade school if they are lucky. You don't see many folks with 4-year degrees lining up at the local factory or service center for a job.

If you don't like the quality of work, I'd suggest either doing it yourself in the first place, or employee a top-notch craftsman personally and pay tem twice/three times as much to have the work done correctly.

If nothing else, you could always hire someone out of college that has a degree in gender studies with a man-bun to do it for you. My guess, it will still be crappy work, but at least they'll have a degree.

Enjoy,
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Old 10-18-2019, 12:00 PM   #13
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We'd all like to believe the dealer has highly trained experts who graduated from the Airstream master mechanic class.
One step below NASA.
In reality, these guys are under pressure to work quickly, be able to work on everything from a Prevost electrical system to a Airstream Bambi's plumbing, and work for not a lot of money.
I guarantee you know more about your trailer than they do, not to fault them, but you only have one trailer to memorize.
Maybe the mechanic read the directions, asked his supervisor where they kept the grade 5 bolts, and was told, "Just use self tapping, it will be fine. I've got a motorhome slide waiting for you next."

Know those clips we all use to prevent our euro hinges from falling apart? I took one to my service manager, he showed it to his techs, including the "Airstream expert" and nobody had a clue what it was. So I sent photos so if they care, now they know.
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Old 10-18-2019, 12:08 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobbo View Post
I avoided disaster here. One bolt was gone, the other was about 1/4” out from the bracket. Both holes in the frame were stripped out.

I had to drill the holes out and tap them for 3/8” bolts. I did use 3/8” x 1.5” grade 5 bolts and lock washers and tightened the bolt on the back side and tightened jam jut. This was just a temporary fix to get me home. Once home, I will re-do them both to Reese specs.
I think I see something seriously wrong with this installation, other than the obvious. You should not have had to drill out the holes and tap them. There should be a Rivet Nut installed into the holes in the frame that the 1/2" bolts thread into to secure the bracket to the frame.
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Old 10-18-2019, 12:08 PM   #15
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My comment is actually the second on this short thread about that dealer. We can't all have perfect experiences.
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Old 10-18-2019, 12:50 PM   #16
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Go to NASA repair shop in FL?
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Old 10-18-2019, 01:47 PM   #17
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Hensley installed incorrectly by dealer in 05 (Shorewood RV, Anoka MN). Reinstalled by Hensley factory in Romeo MI year later. Amazing how badly the dealer had screwed up, COMPLETELY! Hensley, and many other factories, have Technical Support lines which can guide you as you or another facility install your hitch. The help line's assistance is invaluable and have used them for tweaks and tune ups many times. Oh, and 200k miles on the hitch, pricey hitch but it works perfectly, 15 rt's ME to AK.
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Old 10-18-2019, 02:17 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bweybright View Post
What is interesting to me is that on both our trailers it is the passenger side where the failure occurs. I wonder what is going on to put more stress or vibration to loosen the bolts on that side? The drivers side bolts even with the questionable installation are not coming loose. So maybe someone with more smart than me can enlighten me on that question?

With almost any WD hitch, there's also an anti-sway component. On surface streets/roads in the US and Canada, right turns are generally far sharper than left turns which creates tremendous forces on the anti-sway components on the right side (curbside or passenger side) of the trailer.
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Old 10-18-2019, 03:01 PM   #19
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With almost any WD hitch, there's also an anti-sway component. On surface streets/roads in the US and Canada, right turns are generally far sharper than left turns which creates tremendous forces on the anti-sway components on the right side (curbside or passenger side) of the trailer.
Makes sense. Thanks for clarifying.
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Old 10-18-2019, 03:26 PM   #20
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Thumbs down Dealers fault, really?

This is why you should not pull your airstream without checking conditions end to end . Or you could just be lazy and blame it on your dealer. Really???
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