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Old 02-03-2012, 04:45 PM   #1
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Bent Potable Water Frame

Hello All,

New to Travel Trailers, just picked up an 05 Solaris Lite T2363 in late fall.

I was looking under the camper and noticed the potable water tank has a bent angle iron crossmember. This has one angle iron crossmember that is welded in with straps running longitudinlly to the front crossmember that is bolted in.

The bolt in angle iron is bent about 2 inches from the weight of water in the tank, most likely while traveling????

Here is a picture of it, I went to unbolt it but found that it has tabs over the frame and to remove it, it must be cocked diagonally to remove but it runs into the leaf spring mounts. So I will have to bend or cut it to remove it.

Once I get it out I will have to post another pic and keep you guys updated to the progress- Have plenty of time before we camp with it!
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Old 02-03-2012, 05:14 PM   #2
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Looks like ours. Mr Tweety left it in and added some rig to support it. If your 2005 and our 2006 have this problem, I'm guessing lots of people have this issue and just haven't been under there to see it.
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Old 02-03-2012, 05:35 PM   #3
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Good call, that is kinda why I am doing this. I couldn't find info on it here, so I figure I will do my part to help

I don't want the tank to crack because of the bent crossmember. So I will pick up a stronger piece of angle iron if I can find one or beef one up
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Old 02-04-2012, 02:02 PM   #4
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Here is a pic of the crossmember removed to give you an idea how bent it is. I ended up dropping the fresh water tank down on one end to angle the crossmember out- tank was lighter then I thought it was going to be

On to the reason for the bent component- I have a new theory:

The crossmember is only 3 inches from the rear most leaf spring hangers, I think the frame twists under turns and such, that is most likely what caused this.

So I either need to make this thing really beefy or put a tube betweeen the leaf spring hangers- like how John did with his suspension lift he did
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Old 02-04-2012, 07:12 PM   #5
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Don,

H'mm this is a new one, or at least one that I remember being reported.

Your theory may not be that far off. 2005 was a frame redesign model year on the 7,000# GVWR frames where they went from 5" channel to 6" I beam. Your camper being lighter I do not know if yours ended up in that change.

Question: Are your main frame rails channel iron or an I beam looking structural shape? And what size is it? How many inches tall.

I may have something to help back up your theory pending the answer.

Thanks for post the pics. This really helps others.

John
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Old 02-04-2012, 08:58 PM   #6
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John,

It is the 6" I-beam style frame.

The back crossmember for the water tank is the same size as the one that is bent, so it seems weird that just one would bend. Thats where my frame twist theory come from. (The rear one is welded in)


Either way, I am going to see if I can locate a larger/thicker piece of angle iron or possibly weld a tube or channel to it. I think I will also get rid of the 1/4" - 20 bolts for some 5/16" or even 3/8".

Like Tweety said, I wonder if others have this issue but haven't taken a peek yet?
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Old 02-05-2012, 06:59 PM   #7
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Don,

I do not know for sure as I'm not there looking at it but here are some things to look for and think through that I do know.

The I shape of the RV frames has a lot of length wise strength. It gets the strength from the 6" tall height. The top and bottom flange help prevent the 6" tall beam from buckling left to right under weight. So yes a 6" I shape can carry more loads along the frame then the 5" channel iron that it replaced.

However there is one weakness. The top and bottom flanges of that I shape are not very rigid for left to right twist at the flange. Notice I said I shape and not I beam. The I shape beam used on RV's is not a traditional industry standard I beam (S shape) or wide flange where the upper and lower flange has added reinforcement to prevent the flange from bending. On the RV I shaped beam the flanges are thin and about as thin as the vertical web thickness. I have not yet been able to find the RV variety in any catalogs. There must be as RV frame manufactures buy them. For more on traditional W and S shapes here is a more easy to understand fashion I-beam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Back to the spring hangers. I'm making an assumption that your rear spring hanger is just welded to the bottom of the flange that looks like this. Yes/No?


When the spring is unhooked you can grab the spring hanger and wiggle it pretty good left to right. The lower flange is flexing. You can see it by eye.

And when the camper turns hard turns on dry hard surface pavement those hangers take a lot of side thrust. And in some cases they deformed and stay bent. Like this.


Shown above is my left front spring hanger bent like that. Now yes I have 10" I shape frame rails a lot bigger and thicker than yours but I also have 9,200# of TT sitting on it. By welding on a gusset that hanger gets really stiff.


Sunline may have even added this gusset to your center equalizer spring bracket as that hanger takes twice the left to right thrust since 2 springs are acting on it through the equalizer. See here.


See here, the end hangers with no gusset


Again I do not know if this is what caused your tank angle to buckle as I'm not there to look for other signs. Some thoughts to think on and look for.

  • The reason the front buckled and not the rear tank angle could be the twist was greater at the front one being 3" away from the hanger.
  • Jim pointed out the potential of a tire separation in the other post on your torn vapor barrier. Good thought. Are there black marks on the tank from a tire beating? Does the bend line up with the tire or in that area?
  • A for sure telltale, is the spring hanger bent inward?
  • Is the opposite side spring hanger bent?
  • When you straightened out the angle and put it back in, is the angle notched to be dead tight between the frame rails or is it loose? If it is dead tight then it "may" try and act as a structural member holding the frame rails apart until that hard 90 or 180 degree turn comes around on concrete or black top. If the angle had some clearance how much was it? 1/16", 1/8" 1/4"? The more clearance the less it is holding the rails apart.
  • It is not beyond belief that the hanger could have flexed, bent the tight fitting angle and the hanger flexed back and did not stay permanently deformed. The tank angle actually helped prevent that.
  • If the hangers are bending in tight turns (they are) and they are bent permanently, then a heavier angle iron will help or the gusset welded on and angle as shown above.
  • 2005 was the 1st year the I beam on the smaller TT's showed up. While many may have flexing hangers it may only be those that have the water tank right behind or directly in front of the hangers that have the bent angle issues. And if the owner never turns sharp then the issue may never show up.
In my case mine bent right in my yard turning around. If someone had this same TT and never turned that hard that many times the issue may never of showed up.

Look real good for signs from that possible tire blow out. A separating tire leaves tracks in many places. And look to see if what I described above has any merit in your situation.

Hope this helps and good luck

John
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Old 02-07-2012, 11:58 AM   #8
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I don't know if this effects your theory John, but our fresh tank is in front of the axles. Both of the supports are bent, but the one farthest from the axel is bent a bit more. I sure would be interested in hearing from other people that have this issue and what year their trailers are. I wonder if it was part of cost cutting measures that happened toward the end.
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Old 02-07-2012, 06:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tweety View Post
I don't know if this effects your theory John, but our fresh tank is in front of the axles. Both of the supports are bent, but the one farthest from the axel is bent a bit more. I sure would be interested in hearing from other people that have this issue and what year their trailers are. I wonder if it was part of cost cutting measures that happened toward the end.

Pam, what distance is the edge of the tank approximately from the front spring hanger? The frame flange flex occurs on both the front and rear hangers.

If the tank is 3 to maybe 6 inches away that front spring hanger may be a possibility. If the tank is 3 feet away, for sure odds are not there that hanger flex is the problem.

However... now that you mention this I went back to my 2004 T2499 pics. H'mm there is a difference and it "might" play into this issues as part or all of the problem.

See these. These are on the 2004 5" C channel frame. This is the model year configuration before the 2005 I shape frame upgrade.















Now let's look at Don's bent angle


There is a difference. See that coped out end near his hand? That looks like they just coped it out to slide up on the flange of the I shape frame rail.

Don or Pam, is that removable angle bolted on both ends or only one to the I shape frame rail?

Before I go off typing a potential cause to your problem I want to get my facts straight on how they attached "both" ends of the angle to the frame.

Please confirm how they attached both ends and are both angles bolted on or is one side welded on?

Pics are good too. Hint hint.

Thanks

John
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:25 PM   #10
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I tried posting last nite but my computer and this site didn't get along

John, the spring hangers on your camper are the same as the T-2363. My frame does not have the gussets above the middle spring hanger like yours came from the factory (although I will put some on before too long!)

I crawled under the camper to look to see if the frame rails or leaf spring hangers were tweaked. Eyeballing it shows leaf springhangers all parallel to each other and no visual twist from vertical. What I should have done but will have to wait for another day is to take a tape measure and go from frame rail to frame rail to measure for a bow in at the lower part of the frame rails. Although they eyeball nicely.

About the tire failure- there is little damage to the TT. No marks on the tank or even the fender.

The bend in the piece of angle peaks in the middle with a gradual arch to it- so it isn't to one side.

The angle crossmember is bolted in on both sides with a notch cut out maybe for ease of assembly (don't need a second pair of hands to hold the opposite ends up) or for safety- so if the bolts fell out the angle won't????

Here is a pic of one end, the crossmember is symetrical- a total of four 1/4" bolts hold it in.



Don
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:29 PM   #11
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Oh yeah, when I remove the bolts on the crossmember there was no load on it. It was not sprung and didn't "pop" to get the bolts out.

I didn't straighten the bent crossmember- just building a new one.

The old is .140 x 1.5 inches of angle (not iron)
The new one is 3/16 (.187) x 2.0 inches of angle iron

Don
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:15 PM   #12
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Don,

wellllll h'mm

Here was my method of thinking, and it may still hold a little water.... or a lot of water....

On my 2004 vintage, including the big T310SR I have, the tank supports are most likely made from the same 0.140 press broke bent angle. Your right it is not angle iron. They are not overly thick. However they are attached to rigid main frame rails.

The 5" Channel iron of my 2004 T2499 had a lot more resistance to twisting then the 6" I shape even if the 6" I shape can handle more vertical load due to the increased height. (actually section modulus)

My thought process was for that angle of yours or Tweety's to bend in the middle like you showed 1 of 2 things happened.

1. The metal literally stretched in over all length. Odds are high this did not happen.

2. The angle was not attached to the frame rigidly. Something had to allow the angle to become longer in order to bend down. Could be big clearance holes for the bolts, I doubt that but it could be.

Meaning when you span 2 members with a piece of steel that is a rigid member it cannot bend in the middle unless it stretches in length or is allowed to have the bolted distance become longer. Sort of like the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line. If the line is curved it has to become longer. Same as the metal.

So if the metal did not stretch then something allowed the ends to move inward and the overall bolted length become shorter. It "might" just be the 6 I shape lower frame flange simply flexes more then the prior generation 5" Channel frame.

The channel frame was rigid enough that when the tank full of water bounced and created high loads in the tank angle the frame rigidness would not allow the angle to bend down. Since Sunline used that tank suport system for so many years with possibly no issues they may not even of known it could be a problem as they never mounted it to a less rigid lower frame rail.

In your case sitting right by the spring hanger aggravated the issue. However if I shape lower flange flex is the issue it may not matter where the tank is mounted.

The only way out of this, that is if lower flange flex is the issue, is to weld in gussets on the lower flange to make it more stiff or just plan install a heavier tank angle that does not flex as much regardless of rigged ends.

If you want to test this theory, take a 12" or longer adjustable wrench and on a long portion of the frame rail with nothing welded to the flange area, grab the lower flange and pull up and down. Get a feel for how much force you are pulling on it and how far the handle of the wrench is moving. Then walk up to the 4" channel iron A frame and do the same wrench test on that flange of the channel. Which one has more resistance to flexing the lower flange?

And trust me 4" channel is no where as heavy as 5" channel in relation to twist. Just like 5" is no where as strong as 6".

I think you may be shocked at how easy that lower flange on the 6" I shape will flex. Even my big 10" tall frame on mine which is thicker then yours is not very stiff on that lower I shape flange. My 24" adjustable wrench can tweak it where ever I want to put it and I have had to do that when I fixed up my hangers.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:27 PM   #13
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Thank you John,

As for how flexy the I frames are, I noted that when we purchased the camper I noticed one of the skid bars was twist. Must have bottomed out during a turn like you would think it would.

I grabbed the skid bar and was suprised how easily it moved the I frame

Thank you for all the insite

I will post a pick of the new one, but it is wet with paint!

I will keep everyone posted

Don
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Old 02-17-2012, 10:12 AM   #14
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I finally finished her up!

I tapped the crossmember for a 1/4 20 bolt to attach the ground wire for the level sensor instead of the self tapper the came stock.

I also sanded and used dielectric grease on all terminals and the ground along with new nuts.

Oh yeah, the two aluminum angle brackets that locate the tank side to side got a couple coats of Plasticote to reduce chaffing on the tank.
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Old 02-19-2012, 09:20 PM   #15
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Looking good Don.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:16 AM   #16
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Thank you John!

Oh yeah, I did up the bolt size from 1/4" to 5/16" where the angle bolts to the frame rails
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