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Old 08-08-2008, 06:02 AM   #1
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SUN #368
Marylyn
Lippert --- Was Bent Cross Member

I was interested enough in the outcomes of the posters on the original thread on this topic to read as it developed, as I have a good friend with a 2499 built in January 2006 that has always had problems setting up with the WD from the time she bought it in June or July 06. The dealer couldn't get it quite right. Over time it got worse until last summer she took a look at the A frame and it looked like many of the photos initially posted. She has not taken the trailer out since a short and very slow trip last fall because she is afraid it's going to fall apart.

So she contacted Lippert at my urging.

This is their reply to her:

>>Thank you for sending me the requested information. The unit you purchased came with a 1 year chassis warranty that began on the date you purchased the unit. The chassis was built to Sunline specifications and your date of purchase is over a year, your frame is no longer covered by Lippert warranty

Von Haning<<


I know when we purchased our 2003 Excursion, it came with the original tires. When my husband went to Firestone to get one extra tire to match (there was one bad tire but the rest looked okay), he was told those tires were recalled and that no matter what, they were going to be replaced by either Ford or Firestone at no cost. No matter when. Firestone manufactured them, they were unsafe, Firestone would do all that they they could to ensure the safety of those using their tires. No expiration date.

This frame was a manufacturing defect. Lippert are the frame specialists, not Sunline. IMO it is their responsibility to tell the buyer (Sunline) that he frame design was incorrect, inadequate, dang, UNSAFE for the application.

So if there are any other people who are surprised at the ONE YEAR warranty on a defective frame, what can we do to ensure that this does not happen again, and what can be done to get Lippert to appreciate that they are ultimately liable for a component in a trailer whose lifespan is much greater than one year, whose clear defect could not possibly be visible in that short span for the average Sunline owner. This is my friend's THIRD Sunline, I bought her 1740 from her, that's how I know her.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-08-2008, 09:20 AM   #2
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HI Marilyn,

Well, that reply from Lippert didn't surprise me, as I have heard it before. I heard it from the Denver, PA Lippert plant. And apparently Stoltzfus RV in Denver have not gotten any results from the Ind. plant, as they had contacted Lippert, and were waiting a reply.

The NHTSB have been notified and there is a file number on this issue, BUT I don't know that that will yield any help for any of us. I think it would be good if NHTSB would issue some type of national warning/recall so folks would have their frames checked.

It's so sad that apparently the new (?) owners at Sunline chose to start cutting corners and many of Sunlines loyal owners are paying the price.

I am awaiting a phone call from the fellow that is going to do my frame repair, and several others have already had theirs done.

Kitty
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Old 08-08-2008, 04:18 PM   #3
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SUN #597
henryj
Sunline or Lippert

I have mellowed some and become more tolerant of Lippert's role in this fiasco as I've worked through the issues on our own 2499. These are good points about corporate responsibility and accountability and it would be nice if Lippert would see it that way, but that won't happen in my lifetime.

Lippert is an anonymous company unknown to even 99% of RV'ers because they are a component supplier and do not sell to the public. As a result there is no accountability to the end consumer. Ford and Firestone received a huge amount of bad publicity in the 90's re Explorer rollovers. They both denied a problem, let alone liability, for months deliberately misleading consumers. It wasn't until top execs were hauled before congressional committees and put under oath that the story came out. Firestone is still smarting and of course government regulation and inspection is much tighter today. Ford, however, had been previously caught in the 70's with flaming Pintos so their memory only lasted for one generation. So Lippert is in good company. And their "factory fix" for $90 is less than generous given all the extra work I had done for barely twice that amount.

The way I see it, Lippert designed and built a frame for Sunline's 7000 lb. trailers. This frame isn't going to win any engineering excellence awards, but has been mostly adequate for the intended use. I doubt very much that Lippert knew Sunline intended to build a 2499 with a dry, out the door TW of 16% on a floorplan that could only increase the TW in consumers' hands. Sunline should have known how high the TW was going to go because the 2499 was not a new model. Conventional wisdom is 10-12%, 15 at the most, yet some owners are seeing as high as 20%. So Sunline took a 7000 lb. frame and built a trailer on it with a TW that would have been high for a 10,000 lb. trailer! Lippert was able to build a better frame, as shown by the late 07s, but that doesn't make them liable for the previous failures unless you can prove they deliberately misled Sunline.

I believe Sunline bears the sole responsibility for this failure and their demise conveniently removes them from accountability. I'm not a lawyer, but I can't see any class action or even small claim being successful against Lippert and I would not entertain the prospect of losing more money pursuing such a claim.

Although my camper is now "fixed," I will never again carry water outside a park. The frame reinforcement only addresses the twisting of the A-frame caused by the wd bars, and that will not happen again. But... I can't shake the unease of knowing the 2499 has the TW of a 10,000 lb'er on the A-frame of a 5000 lb'er. I hope the other shoe doesn't drop.

Henry
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Old 08-08-2008, 06:11 PM   #4
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SUN #368
Marylyn
So What Next?

Actually, I see that everyone is on their way to getting their frames strengthened on their own. So who is near the NJ-PA border near I-78 for repair? Anyone know offhand of a decent frame person/welding shop that can and will handle this?

I do however see the warranty thing differently; Lippert business is to make frames for specific applications. They needed to pay attention to where the stressors were going to be. They knew where this frame was going to be used. Once Sunline changed the specs, I do believe that the Lippert engineers should have stepped in to recheck the viability of the lesser gauge steel. It's not like everyone was going along hunky dory and Lippert was doing what it had been successful at doing previously; they were being told to make a less substantial frame in an area that takes a large part of the stress in a travel trailer. This is their business. We the consumer trust that they pay attention.

This is a real safety issue.

As far as I can find the NHTSB does not have an open file. OR actually I can't find it because I cannot find "Sunline" listed in their drop down box. I know my friend did email them to tell them she cannot make a complaint or add to one supposedly previously filed because she cannot find the name of this company.

I appreciate all that people have posted and I am frustrated by connection with you guys (I don't mean you guys are frustrating me, I mean that I am empathizing with what I would expect would be frustration for those who are looking at their bent frames); I'm new to this stuff and am really taken aback by how easily someone could have become seriously injured.
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Old 08-08-2008, 07:50 PM   #5
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Marilyn,

Here is the post about the NTHSB case number and related info.

Well, not a lot to post about. I spoke to Terry(shop mgr) at Stuffys, and heres' what he told me:

He spoke to the Denver, PA Lippert plant and their stance is : "WE BUILT THE FRAME TO SUNLINE SPECS, SO THEREFORE WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE" He is still waiting for a return call from the Indiana HDQTS.

Here is what a friend of mine did when he heard about & saw our pics:

Notification of Case Change (All times are GMT -500)


Project: NHTSA Hotline Center
Case: frame bending on Sunline campers
Case Number: 19172

Date: 07/17/2008 Time: 08:33:29
Creation Date: 07/16/2008 Creation Time: 21:19:06

Description:
Entered on 07/16/2008 at 21:19:06 by odiwebuser@www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov:
FULL NAME: richard turner
EMAIL : sparky1@linkabit.com
SUBJECT : frame bending on Sunline campers

Sorry I can't help you with welder info.

Kitty
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Old 08-08-2008, 08:41 PM   #6
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SUN #368
Marylyn
Thank You Kitty

I'll be sure to pass that case number right on to my friend.

Those investors who bought Sunline really perpetuate a bad name for people who "invest" in a business to make money, not to continue a tradition. Luckily they didn't have much time to make more changes to what is still a well made coach.
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Old 08-09-2008, 06:00 AM   #7
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SUN #368
Marylyn
Case Number Not Coming Up

First, let me thank everyone who is working on this issue both to get their trailers back on the road because they love them and the lifestyle these campers offer, and to everyone who is trying to report this defect so other owners who may not be on this forum or may not have seen a very short blurb on rv.net can somehow be reached.

Neither my friend with the affected trailer nor I can find this case number 19172 on the NHTSB site. We've individually searched by this case number; as I said, it's not possible to continue with filing a complaint in the normal fashion on the website as Sunline is not a choice in vehicles. So how does one look for this complaint? I think everyone affected should report this issue, not to be just a PIA but to prevent even one tragedy. This can affect not only the family towing this trailer but anyone near them on the highway.

So if you know how to get in to add to this complaint, or to file a new one, please let me know, unless this was done by email or over the phone. I know my friend emailed them on Thursday but has not yet heard back. The fact that the complaint has been filed is very good, the fact that it is invisible on the site, there is no way to know that there has been a reported issue.

In one month on this little Sunline forum in one thread, there are now 11 pages of discussion on this issue. This occuring during prime camping season. Although I love this forum and think everyone should hang out here, this is a VERY small audience of those who are affected by this defect. I know my friend's camper, this has been "off" since she got it, the dealer could not get the WD hookup correct. She bought it six months after manufacture; the original owners apparently did not care for towing OR this defect just made it too difficult to enjoy towing. I truly believe that no one would have expected a brand new trailer, or one a few months old, from a company like Sunline, would have this weakness affecting it's towability. I'd been told by many people that Sunlines tow better than most other trailers; this was not the case with my friend's camper (or rather, setting the WD was a problem...she has the Reese DC). So I do not expect that anyone would have thought to look at that crossmember, certainly not early on.
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Old 08-09-2008, 07:42 AM   #8
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Marilyn,

The report to NHTSB was e-mailed in to them
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