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Old 11-20-2021, 01:55 PM   #141
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Old 11-20-2021, 01:56 PM   #142
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Old 11-20-2021, 02:01 PM   #143
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Old 11-20-2021, 07:41 PM   #144
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Old 11-21-2021, 02:06 PM   #145
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My Frame Separation repair by a Non-Airstream Shop

I recently had my frame separation issue fixed by someone unrelated to Airstream in upstate New York. See post #114, 125 and 130 for a brief background on the issue. I had advised NYRN I would report back after my repair and discuss what caused this problem in my situation. The facts for your Airstream my be different but this is what was found in mine.

When my issue was originally fixed by Jackson Center, JC, they told me that stronger L brackets were installed in 4 locations, these brackets were thru bolted and 2 of the ribs that did not extend to the subfloor were extended to the subfloor. I reached out to a couple of non-Airstream contacts regarding the issue. One of them advised me that the issue would probably recur after fixed by JC and he had seen this on more than one occasion.

I reached out to Airstream to extend the warranty on this item for 2 years from the repair and they did so. At the 2 Ĺ year mark, I noticed a tear in the outer skin that indicated to me the issue had returned. In my mind I was hoping the issue would not recur but knew that if it did, I would get someone else to fix it as Airstream would just repair it the same way again. Lifeís too short to keep making trips to/from Jackson Center and I wanted it fixed correctly.

The first thing they found was that the connections to the L brackets were not thru bolted as JC had told me. They were merely screwed into the frame cross member. The repair shop said there is a lot stress in this front area and a screw is eventually going to work loose and fail. This was just the first sign of additional stress failures in the future.

There were only 4 points of contact that JC addressed. You can see in the pictures that each group of 2 on either side of the outside storage hatch are very close together. So, all the stress in the front is being absorbed by these 2 areas. It was determined that my frame had not separated again, however, all that force/stress has to go somewhere. It looks for the weakest area and it went to where we all see the dimples in the skin. The force then got so much that the outer skin tore. You will see in the pictures that not only had the skin tore in that area but an adjoining rivet also had a tear that had not manifested itself out of the rub rail area yet. It was just a matter of time before other tears would occur.

I was told that all Airstreams, whether a 16í Bambi or a 33í Classic are all supported this way. There is no increased support in the larger RVís even though the stress is much more. When the Airstream is being towed the wheels and axles serve as a fulcrum. On a long trailer when the rear goes down and up it causes a reverse effect on the front. The longer the Airstream, the more pronounced this effect is on the front where it is attached to your hitch. This is why it occurs in the larger Airstreams, especially those with front storage compartments which have less attachment points due to the opening for storage. Even though the repairman is an Engineer, my wife and I donít feel you have to be an Engineer to understand this point.

The fix was to install a vertical plate that extends width-wise from each rib behind the rock guard to the rib behind the other rock guard. Vertically, it is welded to the C channel and front cross member at the bottom and extends up and attaches to the ribs that stop above the front storage compartment. These ribs are also extended down to the subfloor. So, this steel plate is
attached to 8 different ribs across the front section that are spread out. There are 80 Ė 100 buck rivets secured all across this area to absorb any stress across the front frame. This is in contrast to the 4 ribs previously, in 2 confined areas and 8-10 rivets that went into the C Channel. In the opinion or the repairman, those 2 confined areas are not enough to absorb all the stress at work when towing these larger Airstreams.

I still have my front storage compartment; I just access it from the inside now and this will work fine for me.

If you have this issue, JC may have changed their approach to their fix or, they may not have. I am reasonably certain they do not install the vertical steel plate. I personally know of someone who requested to have the plate added and they refused to do so. If you have it addressed by them, I would suggest personally verifying they 1) through bolt the connections through the frame cross member and not just screw it in and, 2) use buck rivets.

Iím attaching a number of pictures to document what was found on my Globetrotter. You will see a picture of the vertical plate which is similar to those used in pre-80 Airstreams. Those did not have front compartments so it does not extend as high as on my fix as those ribs would have extended to the subfloor. You will also see the screw attachment vs thru bolt / access added to the front compartment from the inside now / various in process pics of adding additional ribs where the front compartment was / adding additional insulation / finished product / etc.

The inside storage compartment has new aluminum on the inside skin covering the old hole / new ribs where the open hatch was / steel plate painted black / new aluminum on the outside skin covering the open hatch was / and then new higher graded aluminum covering the steel plate on the outside.

I am hoping I have put this issue to bed now for my Airstream. I am also hoping this will make you more aware of the issue when you discuss it with anyone who will be addressing the repair.

Picture explanations- These are referenced left to right and then down to the next row. It got kind of complicated getting these pictures in here and I didnít know they would put 2 to a row and not exactly in the order I attached them. Also, some are sideways or upside down so maybe someone else can clean this up. #1 is the first picture and 2531 is the filename I attached, etc.


#1 Ė 2531. This is a picture of the front plate that was used in pre-80 Airstreams. These did not have outside front storage compartments and the ribs went down to the subfloor so the plate did not have to extend as high as on my repair.

#2 Ė 5745 The screw that was in the left front bracket fastened to the frame cross member vs being thru bolted as JC had said was done.

#3 Ė 5747. Same as pic #2. This shows that the L bracket was only screwed to the subfloor.

#4- - 5748. This is the fix as done by JC on the right side of the front storage compartment. Originally, the inside rib did not extend to the subfloor. The fix was to extend it down and screw it into the subfloor. The outer rib had a thinner L bracket that had broken. JC put in a thicker L bracket.
#5 Ė 5761. This shows where my skin was torn 2 Ĺ years after the fix by JC. You can also see another tear that is beginning to the left that hadnít shown yet as hidden by the front storage compartment frame.

#6 Ė 5776. This is a mark up of where rivets will be applied to the new higher grade aluminum to be added to the exterior, on top of the steel plate.

#7 Ė 5787. This is a new aluminum skin to cover the existing hatch hole. Since it also has new ribs behind it this will not allow the new skin going over that to buckle.

#8 Ė 5789. This is the mark up of the new higher graded aluminum exterior skin with new holes for rivets and, the new inside door access cut out of the existing panel.

#9 Ė 5791. Back of the steel plate with both original ribs extended down to the subfloor and thru bolted.

#10 Ė 5793. New ribs extended on the right side and thru bolted to frame cross member.

#11 Ė 5796. Inside of new front storage area before new aluminum skin applied over it.

#12 Ė 5800. View from the outside of the repair. You will notice the many new buck rivets holding everything together. The steel plate extends vertically across from the rivet line behind each rock guard and horizontally from being welded to the frame cross member and C Channel up to the original ribs that stopped above the original hatch.

#13 Ė 5803. Inside of the new access area.

#14 Ė 5802. Outside of the new access area.

#15 Ė 5769. This is the back of the steel plate as viewed from the inside. The plate was painted with some sort of black paint that will protect the steel from being able to touch the aluminum (a dissimilar metal). You can also so the 2 ribs that stopped short of the original front compartment hatch. These were later extended down to the subfloor in my repair. The steel plate extends vertically to tie into the original ribs as well as the extensions d
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Old 11-22-2021, 06:53 AM   #146
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I recently had my frame separation issue fixed by someone unrelated to Airstream in upstate New York........ d
Thank you so much for your work and this in depth write up. You just helped me make my mind up. I will cancel my order (2022 GT27FBT)

I chose Airstream (and the exorbitant price) because I thought it would be a bullet proof life long solution.

I'm out.

Wooly
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Old 11-22-2021, 06:56 AM   #147
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Whoa, that’s a huge repair. I’m just assuming the cost of the repair was on you with no help from AS. Pretty sad actually. It seems like this is a well known and fairly common issue. I hope they just don’t stick their head in the ground, and pretend it isn’t happening.
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Old 11-22-2021, 07:25 AM   #148
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Originally Posted by Woolecox View Post
Thank you so much for your work and this in depth write up. You just helped me make my mind up. I will cancel my order (2022 GT27FBT)

I chose Airstream (and the exorbitant price) because I thought it would be a bullet proof life long solution.

I'm out.

Wooly
I wouldnít jump the gun and cancel your order just because I had this issue. I know there are a lot of people that have the issue but I also assume there are a lot that donít. Donít get me wrong, I am disappointed that it happened initially and that they didnít fix this properly but whatever you end up getting instead will probably end up having issues as well. However an Airstream is expensive.

In this market it may not work; however, you could use this as a negotiating point to bring the price down even further to make you whole if it does occur. If your dealer wonít budge then go elsewhere.

Other than this major issue we have been pleased with the Globetrotter.
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Old 11-22-2021, 07:33 AM   #149
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Whoa, thatís a huge repair. Iím just assuming the cost of the repair was on you with no help from AS. Pretty sad actually. It seems like this is a well known and fairly common issue. I hope they just donít stick their head in the ground, and pretend it isnít happening.
That is true, cost on me. I decided it wasnít worth my time to go back and forth with Airstream and have to worry about it happening again, even though there are circumstances in my case that would justify a repair under warranty.

I just want to enjoy traveling and could afford the repair. If someone does go forward with a class action suite I will join and look for reimbursement at that time.
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Old 11-22-2021, 09:55 AM   #150
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Originally Posted by Woolecox View Post
Thank you so much for your work and this in depth write up. You just helped me make my mind up. I will cancel my order (2022 GT27FBT)



I chose Airstream (and the exorbitant price) because I thought it would be a bullet proof life long solution.



I'm out.



Wooly


NOTHING IS BULLET PROOF; nothing
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Old 11-23-2021, 04:22 AM   #151
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I wouldnít jump the gun and cancel your order just because I had this issue. I know there are a lot of people that have the issue but I also assume there are a lot that donít. Donít get me wrong, I am disappointed that it happened initially and that they didnít fix this properly but whatever you end up getting instead will probably end up having issues as well. However an Airstream is expensive.

In this market it may not work; however, you could use this as a negotiating point to bring the price down even further to make you whole if it does occur. If your dealer wonít budge then go elsewhere.

Other than this major issue we have been pleased with the Globetrotter.
Agreed. I will wait and cancel the order when and if it arrives at the dealer. That will give me some time to ponder my options. There are too many people with the same or similar issues and I would venture to guess that there are many more that are not on this forum. Too much money to even take a chance for me.

I also agree with other brands having their issues as well. I have done some research and they do have many problems though, I have not seen any with structural failure to this extent. Just your typical leak, slide failure, and failure of Chinese gadgetry.

I doubt the dealer will budge off of our purchase agreement. They probably will sell it the same day for as much or more than I agreed to pay.

I have rented campers before. There are several businesses near me that rent them. I am starting to think this is a better option for me.
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Old 11-23-2021, 04:25 AM   #152
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NOTHING IS BULLET PROOF; nothing
I think you get the idea.
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Old 11-23-2021, 08:13 AM   #153
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Originally Posted by GOUSC View Post
I recently had my frame separation issue fixed by someone unrelated to Airstream in upstate New York. See post #114, 125 and 130 for a brief background on the issue. I had advised NYRN I would report back after my repair and discuss what caused this problem in my situation. The facts for your Airstream my be different but this is what was found in mine.

GOUSC, thanks so much for following up. Glad the surgery went well.

A few followup questions if you donít mind:

I know that some of this endeavor was exploratory. Now that you know that the separation did not reoccur, can you think of a less invasive way to repair skin-only issues?

What did you store in the front compartment prior to this and where did that stuff end up?
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Old 11-23-2021, 10:37 AM   #154
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Originally Posted by Woolecox View Post
Thank you so much for your work and this in depth write up. You just helped me make my mind up. I will cancel my order (2022 GT27FBT)

I chose Airstream (and the exorbitant price) because I thought it would be a bullet proof life long solution.

I'm out.

Wooly
That's a bit like saying I'm not buying GM vehicles because of the Corvair...

The FB models have structural challenges which, combined with inappropriate hitch setups, will cause the front shell to buckle.

I have a RB model and I got shell separation (now solidly fixed) but it was not due to a front end structure weakness but an inappropriate hitch setup, see:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f23...am-225389.html

Since the repair (and hitch replacement) we have made a few trips and all is well and we are happy with our rig.

When one is in the process of making the decision to buy an AS and you discover, especially when you start to read Air Forums regularly, that they are not perfect, you start having doubts.

It happened to me, it meant that I was less starry-eyed and more realistic when we found our unit. But to be honest, we were initially interested in the FB models, but finally wanted a separate dinette area and went for the RB model. With what I know about the FB models today, until JC finds a long lasting structural solution (and I am sure they eventually will), I would switch my choice to a RB model, preferably a slightly used unit.
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Old 11-24-2021, 04:35 AM   #155
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That's a bit like saying I'm not buying GM vehicles because of the Corvair...

The FB models have structural challenges which, combined with inappropriate hitch setups, will cause the front shell to buckle.

I have a RB model and I got shell separation (now solidly fixed) but it was not due to a front end structure weakness but an inappropriate hitch setup, see:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f23...am-225389.html

Since the repair (and hitch replacement) we have made a few trips and all is well and we are happy with our rig.

When one is in the process of making the decision to buy an AS and you discover, especially when you start to read Air Forums regularly, that they are not perfect, you start having doubts.

It happened to me, it meant that I was less starry-eyed and more realistic when we found our unit. But to be honest, we were initially interested in the FB models, but finally wanted a separate dinette area and went for the RB model. With what I know about the FB models today, until JC finds a long lasting structural solution (and I am sure they eventually will), I would switch my choice to a RB model, preferably a slightly used unit.
Most of the campsites we frequent have spots that back into a scenic view of a lake, river, etc. I don't really want a RB model for that reason. Even though most of the time (weather permitting) we are outside, I would prefer the view from living area.

If it arrives as scheduled, there will be an unclaimed GT27FBT at Camper Clinic of Buda, TX in December 2021. Spread the word.
I have already voiced my concerns with the dealer and showed them email correspondence from AS acknowledging the issue, plus several threads on this forum. None of this any fault of the dealer. I will expect a refund of my deposit.

Also, I will pull a camper of 25' and longer with an Equalizer Hitch. If the unit can't structurally handle that, I don't want it. The conditions of the roads, winds, traffic, etc. just require stabilization and load leveling IMHO. Yes, properly installed and leveled.
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Old 11-24-2021, 05:46 PM   #156
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GOUSC, thanks so much for following up. Glad the surgery went well.

A few followup questions if you donít mind:

I know that some of this endeavor was exploratory. Now that you know that the separation did not reoccur, can you think of a less invasive way to repair skin-only issues?

What did you store in the front compartment prior to this and where did that stuff end up?
Good question;

I asked the repairman if I did not have this repair made, what would happen. Once he saw the screws into the frame cross member used instead of the thru bolt and, the skin beginning to tear in the adjacent rivet, it was only a matter of time before my skin would separate all across the front. You are correct in this was major surgery. The question in my mind was, if they would have used thru bolts, like they said, would the frame separation still not have occurred and would the skin not have torn. My repairman thinks it eventually would have. However, I will never know the answer to that question in my case since Jackson Center did not do the repair the way they stated it to me.

They only thing I can think of that would be least invasive, short of a change by Airstream, would be to, remove the belly pan in the front and see if you see a thru bolt exists for the six ribs that extend to the subfloor in the front. 2 ribs behind front rock guard and 2 ribs, (4 total), on each side of the front storage compartment. One of these would be the original rib that went to the floor and the other would be the one JC should have extended to the floor. If you do not see the thru bolt, then they were just screwed in and I would think you would eventually have issues. If under warranty, then take it back to JC to have them do that. If out of warranty, then you are probably going to have to remove some interior skin to put a new thru bolt in.

I put Acryl R over my tear to prevent water intrusion until I got it fixed. Based on what my repairman says, once you see a tear in the skin, that tells me there is stress on the frame / shell that cannot be absorbed by whatever method is currently being used to hold everything together. Maybe the OP can chime in since he has more ability than I to do these sorts of repairs on his own. Iím not sure if he has had enough travel time to see if his method with lathe screws will work long term.

I was glad to see Hermes chime in as I followed his thread and made comments in posts #5, 14,15, 17,21, 26,75, 81 and 84. When I first had the frame separation issue, I reached out to CanAm and my repairman to discuss alternatives. I would say either one of these would be able to properly address the issue. Maybe Hermes, can respond to how invasive is repair was and whether he lost access to his front storage outside access.

As far as my use of the front storage area. I kept a spare water pump, a spare dinosaur water heater board, propane hoses for grill and firepit, caulk gun, collapsible water jug and funnel to fill fresh water tank when boondocking. These were things I rarely used and I had them in a plastic container box. A tool bag that carried various connectors, sockets, fuses, etc. In another box I kept lubricants, rags, grease for the hitch ball. TPMS box, spare quart of oil for my truck. These were items I always accessed. I also kept a zip dee sun shield connector for my awning.

When I got ready to go to NY for the repair, I was able to consolidate most of these items into 2 Rubbermaid containers I already carried in my truck bed, except for the sun shield. In my curbside outside storage compartment, I carried my outside mat. This took up the most space. My plan is to take the box that I always accessed and move it into this area and put the mat in the bed of my truck as it can lay on top of anything I carry in there.

I will put the sun shield and stuff I rarely used in the new inside storage. We currently use the 2 plastic containers under our coach to hold 12 bottles of wine. I will take these boxes and put them in the new area. This will free up that area for my wife to use to use as additional pantry storage and kitchen area stuff.

Iím beginning to see that outside storage is over rated. Itís hard to access and with lithium being installed there, as an after-market item, you lose the storage anyway.

Back to your original question as to the least invasive manner to repair this. In my opinion, if you have support across the entire front to spread the stress around, it limits the chance of it occurring again, see pic #1 used by Airstream Pre-80. If Airstream just used that plate and had front storage access from the inside, they would have 2 extra ribs extended to the subfloor and double up the rivets in the front ribs I think the problem would be solved. It may actually be cheaper for them to do that and add an inside fold down cabinet door than to fabricate an exterior access door / cut a hole for it / and just have 2 full front ribs to extend to the front subfloor.
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Old 11-24-2021, 06:11 PM   #157
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GOUSC has taken notes and given great information!

Airstream Las Vegas asked if I stored my Equalizer Hitch and Bars in the front storage area. Which, of course, I would find it nearly physically impossible, but not someone owning Airstreams since 2006 would do.

Since 2006 I had not had any Shell or Frame issues on the 23 foot or 25 foot. I do not drive differently and the F350 also towed the 25 foot without incident... but not with a front storage compartment. I could have used the storage area access under the bed... for odds and ends. The door for us was not necessary with a F350 for storing anything.

I have a F350 Diesel 4x4 with shell. I keep very little in the storage compartment and when we purchased the 27FB... that was NOT of any concern or need.

The work I did to reinforce and give the skin more surface area to distribute any stress by adding what I did on an earlier post with photographs. This will be well tested in 2022.

Towing with the F350... the bars are just a passive Sway Control. There is NO WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION with my Equalizer and 1000# bars. None as I can swing the bars out when parked on a fairly flat, not even level, surface.

I even towed ON THE BALL without incident. But with the Bars not having solid friction surfaces, even the sway prevention may be minimal, at best. I would have to readjust the L Brackets so there is some Weight Distribution, which I do not need.

I copied on a post the response from Las Vegas Airstream and Jackson Center that they felt it was... MY problem. That is why it is important for everyone with this FACTORY miscalculation to POST photos and then you have a DATE.

Does this situation bother me? Yes. The Blame Game. Who has the most to gain or lose? There is some Factory Screws mixed with Buck Rivets behind the trim. How did those get there? Are those FACTORY Specs?

To secure this area, where the screws were pushing out the silver plastic trim, I added longer Lath Screws and secured this area. As well.

There are NO FACTORY INSTRUCTIONS OR NOTICE WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE FOR PREVENTION OF THIS PROBLEM OR WITH A SIMILAR ISSUE HAVING AN OUT OF WARRANTY TRAILER, LIKE SOME POSTING.

Is this a Cat and Mouse delay for warranty repairs? Some of us are the Mice.

My storage compartment needed a number of Lath Screws to replace missing Buck Rivets along the 'rippled storage compartment frame', which is thicker aluminum. I never noticed them. I added more Lath Screws by installing them in between the Buck Rivets that were already missing.

I have done what I could. No one involved with Airstream has offered help or advice. My warranty is over August 2022. It is just under 2,000 miles one way to Jackson Center. Round trip of 4,000 miles... calculate that cost at 12 mpg and time on the road, camped at JC and if the ultimate repair... is successful or temporary at best.

Las Vegas Airstream sold and set up the Equalizer. They currently have a lot full of what appears to be USED trailers they are servicing to resell. I did not inquire at the time, but the work shop was full.

How many Brands of Hitches being used have this problem? More than Equalizer and 1000# bars? We need to get a list. If it is more than THREE BRANDS... obviously someone is not telling the truth.
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Old 11-24-2021, 08:19 PM   #158
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2022 27' Globetrotter
Bethlehem , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Oct 2020
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It seems to me that the solution that has been employed by AS to fix this issue has been to stiffen the shell and frame interface, not increasing the stiffness of the frame itself. I teach strength of materials and mechanical design at the college level. The frame appears to be deflecting too much and thereby transferring too much load into the shell. Stiffening the shell at the interface doesn’t help. This is a common undergraduate error. Forces are not “absorbed”. The deflection needs to be reduced by stiffening the frame so that the load on the shell is reduced. Beefing up the interface does not reduce the transferred load (because forces are not absorbed).
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Old 11-25-2021, 10:00 AM   #159
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2016 28' International
Trois-Rivieres , Quebec
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Posts: 379
Quote:
Originally Posted by GOUSC View Post
Maybe Hermes, can respond to how invasive is repair was and whether he lost access to his front storage outside access.
To answer your question, the repair was far less invasive. I figure that the reason is that it's a RB model and not a FB model. So the structural support is different since there is no storage access and the ribs go from the bay window down to the C channel.

There was no skin buckling but the rivets had sheared and the skin and rub rail were detached at the bottom, but there was no damage to the aluminum skin.

The repair was to re-rivet the skin but with many more rivets (Olympic rivets properly shaved) tightly spaced at the bottom and progressively further spaced out as you get closer to the bay window.

As for the rub rail and the C channel, Can Am drilled the battery box to be able to access the C channel and I think they used screws there.

I was comparing the current AS models with the older (90's) models and there were many more rivets in the older models, not just in the front, but all around the trailer. It would be interesting to find out why this is the case (hopefully an engineering answer and not a cost cutting answer).

As for the comment on the importance of weight distribution, I just want to clarify what seems to be a misunderstanding, weight distribution is important. It's when excessive pressure is placed on the frame, in the name of weight distribution, or in the case of the Equalizer hitch in the name of both weight distribution and sway control, since the same bars have two functions, that the frame flexes beyond what the shell can handle. Can Am changed my hitch with its heavy square 1200 lb bars to a model with 1000 lb round and tapered bars which are much more flexible and a lot easier on the frame (see picture). Those new bars have only have one role, weight distribution (which can be adjusted, putting more or less pressure on the frame), not sway control.

With the new hitch, sway control is done with a Husky sway control friction mechanism and I can crank it up as much as necessary with no impact on the frame-- it's totally independent.
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Old 11-27-2021, 08:42 PM   #160
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1992 29' Excella
2010 22' Interstate
Van By The River , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woolecox View Post
Thank you so much for your work and this in depth write up. You just helped me make my mind up. I will cancel my order (2022 GT27FBT)



I chose Airstream (and the exorbitant price) because I thought it would be a bullet proof life long solution.



I'm out.



Wooly


Does FBT mean Front Bedroom Twin?

If so, your trailer will not have the same problem. May have other issues but not the specific topic discussed here.

ON EDIT: I made the above comment with the belief that twin bed models typically have the storage compartments on the road and curb sides rather than on the front of the trailer like the queen bed models. I like this arrangement because you get two outside storage areas and they are easier to access compared to the storage compartment at the front of the trailer. Regardless, if the storage areas are not on the sides of the trailer... my comment is not accurate.
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