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Old 09-30-2021, 06:02 PM   #1
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Catastrophic failure of hitch A frame beams

BEWARE OF METAL FATIGUE ON HITCH FRAME RAILS !!!!
Upon returning from a weekend camping trip I noticed that the main channel beams that secure the hitch to my 2007 T-257SR trailer had sheared almost completely off.
I don't know how we made it home without an incident ( see photos). The stress / break point is just behind the battery rack where the camper skin meets the frame. I encourage every one to inspect this area on a regular basis as this is definitely a weak point in the construction of this trailer. There is no rust present (as trailer has been store under cover since new and has only 20,000 miles on it) . The breakage was caused by metal fatigue from constant flexing of an undersized structural channel.
Conclusion: 4" (5.4 pound/ 3/16" thick) structural channel was installed by the factory , which is the smallest lightweight beam available (probably the cheapest too). With the stress loads of an 8,000 lb. trailer a 5" or 6" (8.2 pound/ 1/4" thick) channel should have been used.
It cost about $3,000 to rebuild the A Frame hitch with 6" channel. All is well now.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Trailer repair E IMG_0051.jpg (178.1 KB, 25 views)
File Type: jpg trailer repair A IMG-0060.jpg (52.9 KB, 27 views)
File Type: jpg Trailer repair D IMG_0048.jpg (159.2 KB, 16 views)
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Old 10-03-2021, 11:27 PM   #2
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Holy cow, you were lucky! Unfortunately you aren't the first to have frame issues on a late build Sunline, but this is the first I think I've heard of with this type of failure.

Can you elaborate on the type and weight rating of the hitch you were using and your tow vehicle? I don't think you're doing anything wrong, but in this case, doing something right may have cause this to happen.
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Old 10-05-2021, 03:59 PM   #3
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Wow! So sorry! John B caught some small cracks on mine early and I had a welder repair it.
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Old 10-05-2021, 09:28 PM   #4
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Hi Capt Ron,

Glad you came out of this without an accident. We have seen this issue before on 4" channel iron A frames. The issue has shown up on some of the 5,500 GVWR and 7,000 GVWR campers. The issue points to a 4" channel iron campers, but it takes more miles, the floor plan, the use of a WD hitch, the size of the WD bars and the loaded tongue weight and how many miles. Here is the original T2499 thread, which early failures due to the higher loaded tongue weights and the 4" channel A frame https://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/f...99-a-9326.html The 2004 T2499's had 5" channel and so far they have not had an issue as reported here on the forum.

The issue is magnified when using a weight distribution hitch on the 4" channel combination combined with heavier loaded tongue weights and mileage. The size of the WD bars rating is part of this. The 4" channel twists in a turn when the WD chain or L bracket pulls on the 4" channel. That twisting A frame channel acts on the header connection. Over time, the flexing shows up bowing the center of the header followed by stages bending the battery tray angles. And if the problem is let go long enough, the 4" channel separates from the header. By your pics, the advanced stage is the A frame cracks apart. I have not seen this before.

I have a 2004 T2475 project camper that has this issue, just it was not as progressed as yours. I did see and point out to another club member on their 2007 T257SR camper their header was bent, which was the early stages of the problem. They added reinforcement before the problem became worse.

My 2004 T2475 header cracks shows up in this post, (scroll down for the header pics)
https://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/f...tml#post144341

And this one shows the repair.
https://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/f...tml#post144448

I have seen this myself show up on a 2005 T2363 I inspected for a friend. The 4" A frame channel was separated from the header.

I have a 2004 T1950 with the 4" A frame that uses a WD hitch, this one was not bent, but I reinforced it as a pre-emotive move. See here for more, https://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/f...tml#post155068

By chance, do you have any more pics of the header to 4" channel connection?

Can you share what size WD bars you have?

Do you know your loaded camper tongue weight?

Sunline was working through a fix to this issue before they went out of business. There was 2 iterations of the fix. So far, those few with the final fix, we have not had reports of them failing. I'm not sure if your header 4" channel has the last fix installed on it. That would be good to know. I can tell with more pics of what yours looked like if it was the first iteration or the second.

We are just trying to piece togther the combinations what aggravates the problem more, so folks can be better on the look out for this.

Thank you for sharing this with us. It is helpful that we can alert others to look for the signs.

Camper frame checks and suspension checks should happen annually. Both have shown to be a concern as the camper miles add up and miles towed increase.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 10-05-2021, 09:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apackoftwo View Post
Wow! So sorry! John B caught some small cracks on mine early and I had a welder repair it.
HI Joan,

Your frame cracks where in the back of the camper, the frame jog around the black tank location and the dump pipe.

Your T1950 with the 4" channel is sort of a test case. You have a lot of miles, but so far no issues on the A frame. Since you have a 3/4 ton truck and do not use a WD hitch, the key part is no WD hitch, and that combo I feel is a large part of why your 4" channel A frame is still OK.

You have done well, checking your camper to help find issues when they start.

Thanks

John
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