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upnorththree 03-05-2017 07:47 PM

Do I Call a Welder?
 
7 Attachment(s)
Please don't ask because I have no idea how this happened.

We bought our 2014 FC last fall from a private individual. Very nice people but now the verdict is out on their honesty.

We noticed at time of purchase the step was soft, spongy kind of feel and they claimed they had no idea why. Turns out the bolt and washer pulled through the mounting angle iron last week.

It is the bolt closest to the rear of the AS and curbside.

I have removed the step (in perfect condition) and tried to reshape the massive hole left behind by the bolt sheering through the hole.

Everything inside and outside the affected area is plumb and true. No leaks anywhere and door is straight and true (rear entry/exit door).

Suggestions?

Thanks so much.
Popeye

Mollysdad 03-05-2017 08:31 PM

I think I'd try a large fender washer first.
I wonder if they backed up into something with the step out?
I'm a large guy and I can't imagine breaking one.
(Reason I always leave the step retracted when storing the RV. or even parking in a WalMart.)

cwf 03-05-2017 08:49 PM

Certainly a welder could repair that.

Seems to me, tho, that since the frame metal is damaged like it is, the step would also be damaged ..but it is not....

This damage may have been done before they purchased... but not seen by the buyer.. and dealer patched it up... But, you own it now.. just fix it and move on..

A welder can straighten the metal, add 'doubler' to reinforce, drill new hole aligning with the step... rust protect, paint the repaired area... remount the step. The whole area can be protected from sparks, heat...

Let us know!

SteveSueMac 03-05-2017 08:54 PM

Bummer. I wouldn't question the integrity of the folks you bought it from. I'm no structural engineer but in the first pic, the hole where the bolt was ripped out is right next to another hole to its left that looks like it weakens the metal. I'm guessing possible manufacturing defect? Again - I don't know - I just think it can be fixed and you move on to happier camping. Good luck!

PKI 03-05-2017 08:55 PM

Looks a bit big to be a normal failure. To have been a collision event, the steps would show damage, unless they are replacements. Betting they are. But what do I know.

1) Contact Airstream and get their recommendation. Likely

a....weld a doubler plate and redrill for step attachment.

or

b....use a rectangular plate as a fender washer - see recommendation above.

or

c.....bolt on a doubler plate u-channel with multiple through bolts.

Good luck with your research. Pat

cabinetmaker 03-05-2017 09:23 PM

Glad you didn't get injured coming out and stepping on that!

That repair isn't going to be that difficult or expensive...the cost is in the steps and they look ok.

As others have said...take it to a good welder. They can beef up around that area and drill a new hole and your back in business.

The previous owners don't appear to be at fault here but may need to go on a diet!

Jim Foster 03-05-2017 09:57 PM

I would straighten the damaged area then "sister" that area on the back side with angle iron and re-drill for attachment of the step. That way you won't have to depend on an area that is already badly damaged.

The area where the inward part of the step is attached should also be strengthened as it is also bent.

You might also look at both of the forward attachment points. They may be ready to give way as well.

It looks to me like there may have been some very heavy loads on those steps.

Get a welder to do that.

upnorththree 03-06-2017 09:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mollysdad (Post 1919542)
I think I'd try a large fender washer first.
I wonder if they backed up into something with the step out?
I'm a large guy and I can't imagine breaking one.
(Reason I always leave the step retracted when storing the RV. or even parking in a WalMart.)

Thanks again.

I wondered the same but, there isn't any sign ANYWHERE of defect or fatigue. It is only that one bolt that sheered through the beam.

The step assembly condition as well as the immediate area is what anyone would expect being two years old with normal highway use. Nothing appears new or abused. Typical rusting and flaking.

Spoke with AS this morning and they are denying any responsibility which is what I would expect. My only concern with AS is, the step assembly angle-iron frame is at least twice the thickness as the "beams" it hangs from. Maybe not a design flaw but certainly foolish.

It truly is strange.

upnorththree 03-06-2017 09:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cwf (Post 1919551)
Certainly a welder could repair that.

Seems to me, tho, that since the frame metal is damaged like it is, the step would also be damaged ..but it is not....

This damage may have been done before they purchased... but not seen by the buyer.. and dealer patched it up... But, you own it now.. just fix it and move on..

A welder can straighten the metal, add 'doubler' to reinforce, drill new hole aligning with the step... rust protect, paint the repaired area... remount the step. The whole area can be protected from sparks, heat...

Let us know!

Yes. NOTHING shows any signs of damage. Steps are in perfect condition for two years of age. Even the bolt, washers and slip-nut are in perfect condition.
The buyer (an engineer) was kind enough for the dealer to deliver all the service records (which amounted to 7 or 8 separate service calls) to us.
I'm tossing welder or bolting flat-work behind the damaged area and wanted other input.
Can you tell me what a 'doubler' is?
Thanks.
Popeye

Boxite 03-06-2017 10:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by upnorththree (Post 1919703)
... My only concern with AS is, the step assembly angle-iron frame is at least twice the thickness as the "beams" it hangs from. Maybe not a design flaw but certainly foolish.
.

Those steps are not mfr'd by Airstream... they are made by another mfr'r for a wide variety of applications. The fact that the steel in the steps is thicker gauge than the Airstream attach point is meaningless and not a defect on Airstreams part.
However, it's possible that improper hardware was selected or utilized by the Airstream assembly persons. It may be that a large fender washer was supposed to be installed and missed.
In either case, the unit is beyond the scope of warranty and that is undoubtedly why Airstream declines responsibility... there's simply no way at this point of finding who is at fault. (It could even be the fault of the previous owner or a shop performing work for them.)
Yes, a simple weld repair will take care of this.

PKI 03-06-2017 10:12 AM

A doubler is a plate or formed structure that transitions loads across a wider area of the original structure. The building industry calls a similar structure a "sister". The logic of such a structure is rooted in the mechanics of replacing the strength of a weakened structure with additional material. Pat

John Woodrow 03-06-2017 10:51 AM

It looks like you could use a 6" length of strap steel in the appropriate width and drill and tap a hole in it for the bolt about in the center. Then slip the steel into the frame rail and scootch it back so the hole is in the right place and put the bolt in.

Bob662 03-06-2017 12:28 PM

Get a Pro Welder
 
The right way to deal with this "injury" is to seek a specialty house that can Tig weld it. Done correctly, the repair will be nearly invisible. Using fender washers, straps, rods or tubes will be always be unsightly to you and to any future buyer.

My advice is--Get it done right the first time.

Mollysdad 03-06-2017 12:29 PM

How is the other side attached? It appears to me that the support piece is not thick enough to be tapped and threaded. Since you can get inside the support, I like the idea of a nice heavy bolt and nut. Is that how the right side is attached?

Boxite 03-06-2017 03:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob662 (Post 1919782)
The right way to deal with this "injury" is to seek a specialty house that can Tig weld it. Done correctly, the repair will be nearly invisible. Using fender washers, straps, rods or tubes will be always be unsightly to you and to any future buyer.

My advice is--Get it done right the first time.

This is NOT someplace visible. It is BENEATH the trailer. It is out-of-sight and finding a TIG welder is overkill in my opinion. Common MIG (wire-feed) welding is all that's needed for a permanent, good-looking repair. (In fact, an excellent repair be made without welding at all using a doubler, drill, and bolts..., but I like to weld and I'm picky.)

Unless some future owner/worker replaces the stairs... it's unlikely anyone will ever know a repair has been accomplished.

perryg114 03-06-2017 05:43 PM

I agree that welding a thicker piece over the existing piece is the way to go. Was there a stud welded on there or a screw with no way to get to the back side? Airstream loves putting bolt heads where they can only be tightened when the trailer is put together. Looks like it failed in the past and was rigged. I expect the step was hit or overloaded by someone who weighed 500lbs. Welding a new piece in it with studs welded to the plate might make something easier to maintain. I would use a MIG welder on it and call it done then hit it with some black paint.

Perry

upnorththree 03-07-2017 12:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by perryg114 (Post 1919896)
I agree that welding a thicker piece over the existing piece is the way to go. Was there a stud welded on there or a screw with no way to get to the back side? Airstream loves putting bolt heads where they can only be tightened when the trailer is put together. Looks like it failed in the past and was rigged. I expect the step was hit or overloaded by someone who weighed 500lbs. Welding a new piece in it with studs welded to the plate might make something easier to maintain. I would use a MIG welder on it and call it done then hit it with some black paint.

Perry

Thanks Perry.
Finished real late tonight before a storm hits. I marked off some very serious steel flatwork and will get someone to drill holes in the appropriate places.
In the mean time, I loaded up a stack of fender washers graduating from real wide to narrow. Real thick. Original bolt. Like a ROCK baby. Wow. Lucked out but, will monitor it closely before I get the welders involved.

It's the craziest thing. Three bolts untouched, no undercarriage damage, not even scratches or dents. All the equipment looks appropriately aged and yet one bolt blew right threw the mounting beam with a major force.

Go figure.
Rick

upnorththree 03-07-2017 12:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Boxite (Post 1919711)
Those steps are not mfr'd by Airstream... they are made by another mfr'r for a wide variety of applications. The fact that the steel in the steps is thicker gauge than the Airstream attach point is meaningless and not a defect on Airstreams part.
However, it's possible that improper hardware was selected or utilized by the Airstream assembly persons. It may be that a large fender washer was supposed to be installed and missed.
In either case, the unit is beyond the scope of warranty and that is undoubtedly why Airstream declines responsibility... there's simply no way at this point of finding who is at fault. (It could even be the fault of the previous owner or a shop performing work for them.)
Yes, a simple weld repair will take care of this.

Not to kick a dead horse but, the steps and step assembly are in perfect condition. Like I just took them down from a shelf at the store.

I hope I didn't mislead that the step assembly was an issue. AS attached these highly engineered, heavy duty, thick steps to house-gutter-thickness metal beam. NOTHING is wrong with the steps whatsoever. The up/down travel of the steps glide. For that matter the bolt, washer, and snap nut survived perfectly after it sheered through the mounting point.

In any case all four corner mounting points had the identical anchoring materials. It's just Twigh Light Zone goofy.

Anyway, I used graduated fender and lock washers, reused the same bolt and Wham, I am in business. Solid like a rock.

I'll monitor it very closely before I call in the welders.
Thanks for your response.
Rick

Boxite 03-07-2017 11:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by upnorththree (Post 1919996)
,,,

In any case all four corner mounting points had the identical anchoring materials. It's just Twigh Light Zone goofy.

Anyway, I used graduated fender and lock washers, reused the same bolt and Wham, I am in business. Solid like a rock.

I'll monitor it very closely before I call in the welders.
Thanks for your response.
Rick

You may never need to do anything further at all...not even welding.

dkottum 03-07-2017 01:21 PM

Our step mounting metal began to deform the same way. We were at Airstream Factory Service Center in Jackson Center and we asked them about it.

Fairly common, they removed the step assembly, welded a piece of square steel tube (maybe 1" x 1") the width of the step assembly up behind the mounting points to reinforce it, painted it and bolted the step assembly back in place.


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