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Old 12-23-2022, 07:43 PM   #1
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2018 33' Classic
Thousand Oaks , CA
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My Front end seperation Repair

I took my 2018 33 Classic to Vinnie's Northbay Airstream Wilton CA for repairs and he found FES. The cost to repair is high 3500 but needed to be done. He has custom bracket's that he designed that are more robust than Airstream uses. Added a new front panel and additional rivets up and down. Nice job done.



Airstream refused to cover this as it was out of warranty. It seems that we as a group need to band together to hold Jackson accountable for this design/manufacturing flaw Class actions require a lot of people to be included. Are there any attorneys on this forum that could advise?
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Old 12-23-2022, 10:08 PM   #2
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Itís rampant

God Bless Vinnie we stopped in October for a visit he caught the ft end of ours starting. Under the ft molding the sheet metal screws were backed out 1-1.5 inches and they were not 6 hours earlier on hook up inspection.

JC is looking at it this June. This is our second trailer with this a 2019 25 fc front locker and now a 30 ft with no ft locker. The 30 has no dimples but the center panel is bulged out in a bow. Yes shock got it.

It is obvious the frame is inadequate and the shell is NOT REINFORCED and bolted on corrective. Only trailers that I have never seen this , personally viewed and talked to the owners are towing on the ball. Short distance or Parking lot queens are not bothered those that cross country and use the trailer are.

Don’t even start on me with weight distribution or this hitch this set up not listening if you set up the truck right it tears the trailer apart. If you let it sag 4 inches and tow on the ball or use an air safe or shocker with no weight distribution never a frame separation.

It’s a problem not seen with most SOB.

I can’t join a suit because the company is very fair fixing the dents just wish it was permanent as I have friends that were repaired and it’s happened again. I know this much it’s always with a 3/4 ton and weight bars but wait there’s MORE! The 23 frames have been stiffened the battery box lowered plus better texture frame paint looks like Rhino lining Hmmmmmm?
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Old 12-24-2022, 08:18 AM   #3
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Not only 3/4, I had an f150, now an Expedition, and early signs of frame separation. I noticed it for the first time last February. Two dents at the lower corners of my front compartment. It looks the same today. No rivets popping or trim separation, only the dents. I am still under warranty and have an appointment next summer at JC. I’m not sure if I will have them address this issue.
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Old 12-24-2022, 09:05 AM   #4
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Wasilla , Alaska
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braces for sale with instructions?

Any talk of Vinnie selling the braces with some rudimentary instructions? In Alaska, the chances of a Vinnie or JC visit are still somewhat remote, and I'd like to address what I think is the early stages in our 27FB coach.

There are slight dimples in the lower corners of the front compartment and it looks like one of the rivets in one corner is coming loose. First noticed it two years ago. A switch to lower inflation in tires and a 600# bars in the PPP may have stopped propagation. But if there is a reasonable solution that can be applied by a crafty owner - I am in. I'll even film it and post the youtube video.. well, not ME, but my grandson is handy with that stuff.
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Old 12-25-2022, 09:40 AM   #5
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I am just out of my warranty. Reading this article I have the same front compartment dimples. If anyone does some thing with this I am in.
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Old 12-25-2022, 11:04 AM   #6
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That was a pricey repair from California. JC did our 26 RBT with the airstream brackets (quite large also) and reinforced the frame area too. It was $800 if I remember correctly. Towing now with a F250 and the Blue Ox doesn't need much at all in the chains. The F150 in the beginning needed more in the chains.
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Old 12-25-2022, 11:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s1000pre View Post
Not only 3/4, I had an f150, now an Expedition, and early signs of frame separation. I noticed it for the first time last February. Two dents at the lower corners of my front compartment. It looks the same today. No rivets popping or trim separation, only the dents. I am still under warranty and have an appointment next summer at JC. Iím not sure if I will have them address this issue.
Mine are about the same as shown in your pictures. But they have remained the same for several years. It has not gotten any worse. I'm not sure if that is good or bad but I think good.

I'm out of warranty but am interested in what others are doing to get this issue resolved permanently.
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Old 12-25-2022, 11:47 AM   #8
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Towing with F350 and ProPride I never had any problem with front end separation on our 2012 27FBQ. Over 70k miles traveled. It wasnít until a 65+ mph gust of wind blew it uphill (wheels chocked on downhill side, lesson learned, chock both directions regardless) and it dropped the tongue jack off of a stack of leveling blocks (another lesson learned) that I had the front end separation. I had Vinnie of Vinnieís North Bay Airstream fix it. He has a proprietary bracket he has developed. He added more vertical structure as well. Beautiful work and done in a timely manor.Click image for larger version

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Old 12-25-2022, 12:04 PM   #9
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Thousand Oaks , CA
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JC repairs on others were around the same 3500. I guess it depends on how much aluminum needs to be replace. He added another front panel due to the tear from FES.




QUOTE=jrwayne;2651774]That was a pricey repair from California. JC did our 26 RBT with the airstream brackets (quite large also) and reinforced the frame area too. It was $800 if I remember correctly. Towing now with a F250 and the Blue Ox doesn't need much at all in the chains. The F150 in the beginning needed more in the chains.[/QUOTE]
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Old 12-25-2022, 12:06 PM   #10
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I would call him and see. You can also speak with JC and order brackets from them
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Old 12-25-2022, 05:17 PM   #11
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You should it’s the start of worse to come. I’ve been at JC seen all stages of it. Yours is stage 1 out of 4 get it reinforced under warranty. Those trying to sell this is a death sentence to a sale.
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Old 12-26-2022, 08:04 AM   #12
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Napa , California
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Our FES was noticed by Ultimate Airstreams. The dimple started on the lower passenger side front storage compartment. When I travelled home from Portland and reinspected the dimple two rivets had popped off on the passenger side and a dimple started on the driver side. No cracks yet.

My local AS dealer wanted to pull the storage door and front skin completely off, add more bracing and replace the skin and storage door. JC would not approve the repair. They would only approve removing the door, removing the interior braces/brackets and then reinstalling the door.

I spoke to the JC service person as to why he would not approve what seemed to be standard full FES repair. His response was that on an AS trailer of my vintage with the side storage compartments there are normally 4 braces in the front panel interior. When there is a front storage compartment 2 of those braces are lost. The repair being recommended (dictated) to the local dealer provides stronger bracing. Plus, removing the entire front skin and then riveting the skin back on can have other problems down the road per the JC service person.

As such, the local dealer moved forward with the recommended JC repair. The dimple on the driver side barely there now. You have to feel for it more than see it, and the passenger dimple is less, but still evident.

In walking around other AS trailers at rallies, I see dimples on front storage areas from older trailers. I haven't seen a crack yet. We only have about 6,400 miles on the trailer so far and since I retired last Thursday I expect to put a lot more miles on the trailer and will monitor closely as we still have warranty time.

I will attach updated photos post repair on another post but you can see what the dimples looked like before the repair.
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Old 12-26-2022, 01:34 PM   #13
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Most of what I've read in the Forums about FES has involved front bedroom units with front storage compartments. We owned a new 2021 Tahoe with Max Trailering Package. We picked up our brand new 2021 FC 28' RB Twin and the dealer insisted on an Equalizer WD hitch which they installed, applying fairly significant weight to the bars. After 3500 miles in 2021, I replaced a broken rivet in curbside vertical rivet row above the frame rail. For 2022, I bought a Silverado 2500HD Diesel for towing, and removed almost all the weight distribution from the hitch. We added another 5000 miles, expecting no repeat of the broken rivit. Alas, by September that replacement rivit had to be replaced. Also I noticed that the corresponding rivet on the streetside was making "rub dust" but not yet popped. Scheduled for warranty work at JC in March, 2023. Mentioned all this to the scheduling consultant who wondered aloud about FES being the cause. Is FES known to happen on unit OTHER than front bedrooms with front storage compartments?
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Old 12-27-2022, 09:49 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpikePoet View Post
Most of what I've read in the Forums about FES has involved front bedroom units with front storage compartments. We owned a new 2021 Tahoe with Max Trailering Package. We picked up our brand new 2021 FC 28' RB Twin and the dealer insisted on an Equalizer WD hitch which they installed, applying fairly significant weight to the bars. After 3500 miles in 2021, I replaced a broken rivet in curbside vertical rivet row above the frame rail. For 2022, I bought a Silverado 2500HD Diesel for towing, and removed almost all the weight distribution from the hitch. We added another 5000 miles, expecting no repeat of the broken rivit. Alas, by September that replacement rivit had to be replaced. Also I noticed that the corresponding rivet on the streetside was making "rub dust" but not yet popped. Scheduled for warranty work at JC in March, 2023. Mentioned all this to the scheduling consultant who wondered aloud about FES being the cause. Is FES known to happen on unit OTHER than front bedrooms with front storage compartments?
Worried Spike


We have a 2017 Classic 30 RQB and this summer experienced massive front end separation. Did a field repair with a 4 foot stainless steel plate from Home Depot. Scheduled for repair at JC at the end of March.

Our friends with a 2016 Classic RT experienced the exact same failure this fall.
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Old 12-27-2022, 10:59 AM   #15
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Wineteam: I am bummed to see you on this thread with your '22 Globetrotter. My understanding is that AS beefed up the structure around the front storage compartment sometime in the '21 model year to eliminate this issue. Apparently the fix wasn't enough.

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Old 12-28-2022, 12:03 PM   #16
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Rumor that equalizer WD increases FES likelihood

So I seem to recall reading somewhere that the square bars used by equalizer hitches put more torsional twist force on the a-frame and possibly increases the chance of the FES occurring? Is that hitch type a common aspect of those that have experienced the separation?
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Old 12-28-2022, 07:12 PM   #17
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Here is how the front end separation was repaired by Colin Hyde on our 2016 30 Classic RBT that had separation starting to occur this summer yet had no front compartment to weaken the area as many other models do. Colin's team added a steel front hold down plate that they welded to the frame before three new rows of bucked rivets were added to secure the front of the shell to the hold down plate. This "fix" is exactly how Airstreams were built from the 1950s thru the 1970s before the front hold down plate was eliminated in the early 1980s. This is a permanent fix.Click image for larger version

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Old 12-29-2022, 07:00 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Dmmdtm View Post
So I seem to recall reading somewhere that the square bars used by equalizer hitches put more torsional twist force on the a-frame and possibly increases the chance of the FES occurring? Is that hitch type a common aspect of those that have experienced the separation?
The torque from the hitch to the TV needed to level the trailer is the same regardless of the shape of the bars or manufacturer of the hitch. HOWEVER, tapered load bars, as compared to bars with a constant cross-section, will have a lower ďspring rateĒ. The load bars act as a spring of sorts in a WD system. This means that when the pitch of the TV changes relative to the trailer, the load from tapered bars will increase/decrease less than would otherwise be the case with constant cross-section bars. (This assumes that the bars are properly sized, e.g., the minimum needed. Using larger bars so you have ďextra capacityď is like buying larger shoes than you need.) so itís not really about the manufacturer of the bars, itís really about the shape and using the minimum size that will level your rig.

I donít want to give the impression that the WD hitch is the only factor in FES. This is a very complex issue. Other variables include tire pressure, TV wheelbase, TV suspension, initial tension on the load bars, and the list goes on.
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Old 12-30-2022, 05:00 PM   #19
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Airstream states is a 10 hr repair.
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Old 01-01-2023, 05:44 AM   #20
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