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Old 04-14-2019, 09:22 PM   #1
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Frame issues in the heavier models???

I remember some discussions of frame issues with the 2005?6?7? era campers in the heavier models, but never paid attention having a lighter t-1950. I seem to remember it being the tongue attachment to the main frame.

Can someone give me some info or suggest a thread?

I’m looking to put some more weight on the tongue and would like to know what to look for for issues.
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Old 04-15-2019, 03:32 PM   #2
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Old 04-15-2019, 03:39 PM   #3
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Phew... Thanks!
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:37 PM   #4
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Man, that was one "enlightening" thread. It's nice having a local friend who welds. And SOC friends who knew the issue personally and suggested several fixes.
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:24 PM   #5
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Man, that was one "enlightening" thread. It's nice having a local friend who welds. And SOC friends who knew the issue personally and suggested several fixes.
So, folks fixes appear to have up over the years???
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Old 04-15-2019, 08:47 PM   #6
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Hi Tod,

I'll share what I have learned since the T2499 thread years ago. The issue of the bent and broken frame header can and has happened on other floor plans other then the T2499 that use the 4" channel iron A frame. The 2005 to 2007's T2499's before Sunline figured out the final fix, had the issue show up early in their life. Other Sunline floor plans, took many more years for the problem to show up. Same issue, it just took longer to occur. I'm not seeing this as just a 2005 to 2007 issue, the science at the moment says it can happen on older Sunline too if the conditions are right.

But, as I said, other floor plans then the T2499 have had the issue. I myself have seen 3 of those failures in the last 2 years and I repaired one of the 3 in my shop as I now own it. Keep this in perspective, this does not mean all Sunlines that have a 4" A frame will have this issue, it takes a set of conditions to allow it to happen and all the conditions have to align at the same time and repeat a number of times before failure occurs. This is what I have found.

1. The loaded tongue weight can be high. High is considered between 750 to 1,000# or higher. This has to align with no. 2 and 3 below to be a problem.

2. The owner is using a WD hitch. Odds are higher for a failure with larger WD bars, 1,000# and up bars but we have had one member reported with 750# bars have the issue. There are subsets to the WD factor.

2A. The WD being set too aggressive to drop the front end of the truck will aggravate the issue.

2B. WD is used to shift truck bed weight that is not part of the camper tongue weight can aggravate the condition. (WD bars loaded more than normal TW) Example, the owner added extra firewood on several camping trips aft of the rear axle after the original WD settings were made.

3. Miles traveled and areas traveled when item 1 and 2 are at their higher end. If the camper is towed on level flat ground, the risk is lowered. A lot of uneven ground aggravates the issue especially when turning.

The Problem. (from my opinion and what I have seen. )

The 4" channel iron used is strong enough in the vertical direction for campers in the 5,000 to 7,000# GVW area. However, the channel iron shape has limitations in how much twist it can handle. If the twisting load is low, there is no issue. If the twist loads are high, that excess twisting has to be resisted by the frame header.

The frame header design has not changed a lot over the years on many brands. And Sunline used the same header concept for many years without large scale issues. The Sunline header was cut at the bottom to allow the channel iron to pass through it during fabrication. The header was also shorter in height in some cases. That cut is not a problem by itself, but when excessive twist from the A frame rails comes with that design, the header can buckle in the center and/or bend the header down pivoting at the outside edge of where the A frame goes through the header.

The 2004 T2499's had 5" channel iron A frame rails and it has a larger strength in resisting twisting for the imposed loads then the 4" channel using the same header design. My big T310SR having a GVW of just under 10,000# has a 6" channel iron A frame with the same cut bottom header. But, 6" channel being thicker and heavier has a much higher resistance to twisting then the 5" even and has no issues with the heavy 1,600# loaded TW I have.

The end result issue:

When using a conventional type of WD hitch (excludes the PullRite hitch) the WD bar chains or L brackets hang on the top side of the A frame. In a turn on uneven ground, one side of the A frame is loaded heavily by the TW of the camper and that sides WD bar while the opposite side of the A frame is unloaded at its WD bar. The entire A frame is trying to be twisted. The WD bar on the loaded side pulls on the chain bracket or L bracket at the top and tries to twist the A frame rail outward at the top.

If the A frame twists enough, the header has to resist this high twisting load that is putting large forces presing inwards towards the center of the camper. If it cannot handle the twist, the header starts to buckle in the center and or the part of the header past the A frame rails starts to bend down.

Here is a picture from my prior 2004 T2499 with arrows showing the force directions I'm talking about. There was no issues with this camper and it had a 1,200# loaded TW.


Here is one of our members T2363 with a buckled center


Here is my 2004 T2475 with a bent header. A string pulled along the bottom to show the bent header


The amount of bend in the center


A slight buckle in the center


A buckle/starting to separate the header connection at the A frame rail.


How I repaired the issue. Added angle iron reinforcement to the A frame at the snap up brackets to help stop the A frame twisting.


After jacking the header back close to straight, added rectangular tubing reinforcement along the bottom of the header to tie the main frame rails, the A frame rails and the header all together to resist the twisting forces.


Again, this all comes down to circumstance. My 2004 T1950 had 1,000# WD bars on it from the prior owner. It made it across the county at least 2 times. It also sat parked for 8 years too until I bought it. The A frame and main frame rails are 4" channel. The header is straight as an arrow. I will reinforce it before I start towing it as a precaution.

A year ago, I inspected a 2005 T2363 for a friend up in MI. The header had failed/cracked at the A frame connection. It was close to seperation. Odds are high the owner never even knew about it. The dealer didn't either until I pointed it out. Unless you look for it, or that your battery drops some as that gets affected too, you do not always know the problem is occuring.

I also have a 2005 T2363 I restoring now for a friend in NY and his header is straight as an arrow. He bought it new and has 1,000# WD bars. He camps a lot, just short trips.

All this said, our forum member EMAN, had a 2007 T2499, it was one of the fixed 4" A frame/header setup's by Sunline. He also welded on a heavy angle iron battery bank for 4 AGM batteries and 2 bicycles on the A frame and toured the west off road in some cases for a few years with no issues. He was sort of our test case not knowing it at the time, where if you can stop the A frame twisting, the 4" channel can work under heavier than normal loads.

What exactly were you planning on adding to the A frame?

Hope this helps

John
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:41 AM   #7
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Double phew... So I read through the original thread last night, skimming a lot and slowing down at the good points. There a lot of good folks on there that I recognized as active from when I started here back in 2011, but are no longer around.

Thanks John for your summary and pics (that summary should be posted as post #2 in the long thread). I have been watching the A frame tongue and header over the years because I vaguely knew there was a design issue there from reading the chatter about it. Now I feel like I fully understand it and the potential fixes.

i have all the frame to have an issue with more tongue weight (12 gauge header, 4" channel A frame tongue). Header looks good within what my very good eye can discern. I have noticed over the years that the passenger side weld where the tongue channel emerges from the header weeps rust from where the bead sort of rolls over on itself. It looks sound, but there may be some movement, it also may rust because you can't get paint in there.

I am thinking of adding a frame to support our generator above the tanks and batteries on the tongue. I think there is room to do it and there is a commercially available one (although I'd fab my own). Would add 100 pounds to our 500-550 current. As I'm looking at it, the new generator frame would be fabricated from angle and be attached to the tongue (similar to the stromberg: https://www.amazon.com/Stromberg-Car...dp/B00U8AXRPW/). I'm not looking to do this this year, but for next year.

This is in the goal of getting the generator out of the prime real estate of the very rear tier of the back of the truck by the tailgate. With the T-1950, keeping gear (boots, camp chairs, etc...) in the truck, but available is essential and having one less thing (generator) in the very best position for easy access would be great.

I would also replace my battery tray supports with some hefty angle. I have already beefed up the rear battery support with a piece of 1" tube because the 2 6V deep cycles are too heavy for it (it allowed the batteries to bounce/rock as it flexed). A more permanent fix (mine is a quickie) would be good and 2 stout pieces of angle would help the issue you describe.

The question is to do a behind the header support using angle or the 1x2 tube Lippert and many have used. Would a 1.5"x1.5" or 2x2 fairly thick (not 1/8") angle work on the frame, that is the class I'd want for the battery tray and generator frame (probably more on the 1.5" end, but I'd need to do some thinking on that)

I do not weld, so I need to have the work done. I also have at least one spring hanger that the bolt hole is wallowed a bit that I'll need to get done, so I need the welding done anyway. Weld to fix hanger holes, weld to make generator frame, weld to upgrade battery tray and maybe to add a behind the header support.
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Old 04-17-2019, 07:32 PM   #8
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Hi Tod,

Yes, understanding the problem is key in all this. And for sure, reinforce the header while it is straight and the area where the WD bar chains or L brackets for your WD hitch go. The good news, you are starting at a 550# loaded TW.

I found a picture or EMAM's 4, AGM battery rack. And he later added 2 bicycles over the top of it. Have not found those bike pics yet. My memory recalls hims using angle on welding on top of the A frame for the battery rack which aligns with the pic. And it was healthy angle. His T2499 had the last working Sunline fix in the header. I feel that battery rack he had made added to his success of traveling all over out west with it without failing. See here from his forum Photo album.


As FYI I did find this one from Frank. He had 4, 6 volt batteries on his T2363. Again a 4" channel iron A frame. The battery rack added reinforcing to the A frame. He may not have towed it that far to give it a good test out like EMAM's was.
More (battery) Power

Good luck in your planning stages and looking forward to seeing your handy work.

Thanks

John
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Old 04-18-2019, 06:55 AM   #9
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So great to have such robust grist for our proverbial mills.

OK, one last question.... and this relates to what I'm seeing above and the fact that EMAM didn't have a problem. In reading through the old thread many, if not most, of the pics are missing, so I can't develop as good of a pattern in my head as those who saw all the pics did. BUT the question I have relates perfectly to the T2363 photo you posted above and EMAM.

How did the header bend on the T2363 above and not bend the battery tray angles?

I'm wondering if the twisting forces are more weird than simple twisting of the channel. The tongue channel is unsupported in the long span at the top so perhaps in cases where the battery tray angle holds up the tray area serves to lock the A frame in and therefore all movement would have to pass that area at the top of the channel. An angle reinforcement at the top and battery tray supports that held at the bottom would stiffen the tongue.

Does this make sense? given that there is apparent movement of the tongue of the T2363 above to bend the header, but the battery tray didn't get damaged, the movement had to pass along the top of the channel. EMAM was able to punish his without failure and his tongue was top and bottom stiffened.
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Old 04-20-2019, 01:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tod Osier View Post

How did the header bend on the T2363 above and not bend the battery tray angles?
Hi Tod,

I have pics of a T2363 failed header that I inspected about a year ago. It is not the one above. The one I inspected was not good at all as the A frame rail was close to being totally separated from the header. I'll look them up and see if I can show you what I'm thinking.

There is a difference in the failures of the lighter campers then the T2499 when it relates to the battery tray. The T2499's being heavier had the A frame rail pushed out farther than the lighter tongue weight models. Point being, while the mode of failure starts from the same issue, how far and fast it advances across the header, battery tray and A frame does have some differences.

We had one member bend his T2499 frame on the first day he drove it home. He actually did it right on his driveway turning in. (Talk about being ticked...) He has an uphill driveway from the road. Heavy TW, sharp turn, heavy WD bars, uphill turn and speed are all factors. Driving on the level most of the time may never have the issue even with a heavy TW, heavy WD bars.

I'll be back soon with some more pics to help show this. And yes, if you box the A frame top and bottom with rigid enough support, that changes things a good deal. The A frame twist is greatly reduced. Plus EMAM's has the header fix in it too. I saw that fix up close and personal at a M & G last fall when the couple had their T2499 there and it was still all good. And they had no added reinforcements. Theirs was one of the last campers made at Sunline. Do you know what that header fix looked like?
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Old 04-22-2019, 09:10 PM   #11
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Hi Tod,

Here are the pictures of the 2005 T2363 (5,500 GVWR) I inspected for a fellow camper friend. This camper had a cracked header. The camper was built in Feb. 2005. It was the one of the first generation of the new 6" I beam frame campers in the 5,500# series. 2005 was a redesign year. They has 2 other iterations of the frame design before they corrected the issue. I found this in early Nov. 2017. It took 12 1/2 years to get to this stage. Have no idea how many miles the camper towed or what size WD hitch they used. It was a consignment camper for sale on a dealers lot.

You will notice a few things in these pics. This camper has dual batteries and the battery tray is not bent very much if at all, yet. And the header is not very buckled either, however the header is almost totally separated at the right hand A frame rail. Remember this is header design iternsion 1. When you are looking at the other failures, they may be design iternsion 2 which is stronger in some areas and it moves the failure zones to different areas.

You can see the crack in the front when you look in the right area. And inside under the camper, the rust line of the crack can be seen.

A right side shot looking straight in that direction


Looking under the right side at the front


This is the left side inside, not cracked but showing it for reference.


The right side looking at the cracked header from the outside


A close up


Under the right side of the camper looking on the inside the header








In this case, the right side A frame rail was twisting and the header joint where the A frame rail went through was the weaker area. It was easier to fail at the joint then to buckle the header in the center or the battery tray. I wish we would of know the size of the WD bar that went with this camper.

I'll let you think on this and then we can chat more as needed.

Did you ever see the 2nd design iteration and the 3rd final fix that EMAM and a few other club members have?

Hope this helps

John
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Old 04-23-2019, 09:48 AM   #12
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Thanks so much John. I have not been able to find a photo of what you call the 3rd final fix that EMAM and others had. That sounds like the 3rd iteration came from the factory.

I'm clear that the Lippert after fix used a 1x2 tube, but not clear on if it the long side was horizontal or vertical (like yours). I've seen photos of both.

I'm having trouble categorizing things given the missing photos.

My setup looks just like the above which you call the first design iteration. I've seen photos where there was a small plate welded on the header, but I know those also had failures (is that the second design?). I do not have the plate.

T
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Old 04-23-2019, 08:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tod Osier View Post
Thanks so much John. I have not been able to find a photo of what you call the 3rd final fix that EMAM and others had. That sounds like the 3rd iteration came from the factory.
I will find the pics I took last year of another T2499 with the 3rd design fix in it, like EMAM's and post. Will take a little bit to get them up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tod Osier View Post
I'm clear that the Lippert after fix used a 1x2 tube, but not clear on if it the long side was horizontal or vertical (like yours). I've seen photos of both.
Both will work. If the fix is all preventative, (meaning the header is not bent) then laying it 2" wide flat will be OK. The tube is in tension so it is holding the main frame rail and the A frame rails from separating. Technically a chain or cable could hold it.

If there is damage already in the repair, like I had, then flipping it 90 degrees allows more vertical weight carrying ability to help pull the bent header back up. Sort of like a wood 2 x 4 laying flat or on it's end. I needed it to do both, be in tension and help to straighten out a bent header.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tod Osier View Post
I'm having trouble categorizing things given the missing photos.

My setup looks just like the above which you call the first design iteration. I've seen photos where there was a small plate welded on the header, but I know those also had failures (is that the second design?). I do not have the plate.

T
You are actually doing very well on figuring all this out. And yes, not having the pics in the old post is a handicap. Back then we were trying to figure out the root cause and then the fix. Once we got the word out and more folks went looking, the population went up quick who had the problem. Most folks never knew they had the issue until we pointed out where to look.

Yes, the small vertical plate was part of the 2nd and 3rd final design fix. But as you said, that vertical plate was not enough all by itself. There were still failures. The actual header also changed in size too along the way. And on the 3rd iteration, how the A frame rails went through the header changed too.

Let me dig up some pics and put it together in the progression. I have a complete straight 2005 T2363 in the barn to start from at the moment, but I have to dig some for the 2nd generation. And hope we did not lose those pics with the Photobucket tobockle.

Be back soon with more.

John
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Old 04-24-2019, 02:49 AM   #14
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Thanks john, no rush at all on the pics. We will be traveling light this summer (plus with the new truck, we won’t need as much weight distribution). I’m not in a hurry to get anything welded .
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