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Author Topic: Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...  (Read 298 times)

Powder Hounds

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Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...
« on: August 12, 2019, 04:18:41 PM »
Well, we have our rig in a service shop for our yearly maintenance and what did they find... more failed welds on the exterior perimeter lateral supports and some cracking on the axle support brackets. Iíll post some pictures at a later date but we have all been down this road before and it does not come as a surprise.

The good news is that the cracks are just starting and are pretty minor.  Have it booked in at a welding shop in a few weeks. Iím going to request that they reinforce the heck out of it.

At least with other owners posting very similar problems the road to repairing these issues is familiar.

All the best!

Merlin

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Re: Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2019, 07:36:37 PM »
Darn. I was hoping your camper was fixed permanently. Good thing you kept checking. Cracking on the axle supports is especially concerning. Maybe take the photos of that repair posted by others to your welder?
Michigan

Powder Hounds

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Re: Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2019, 04:47:46 PM »
So, picked up our rig today and spoke with the tech who performed the work.

1. The axle and the metal axle bracket had developed some cracks and were welded in the shop. Unfortunately this specific shop is not set up for aluminum welding. During their inspection process they noted several failed welds and marked the locations. Nothing really new...

2. Fresh water holding tank, east/ west main supports.  Failed welds on the slide side, door side was ok. Replacement tank supports are failing again. Not surprised that the complete support system is failing.

3. The main cross member supports that run east/ west in front and behind the slide/  wheels, failed. Only on the slide side.

The common denominator is that 80% of my weld failures are on the slide side. My feeling now is that the slide is too heavy for the aluminum frame to maintain itís welds. Iím going to add more structure and reinforce those welds as best that I can. The real PITA is that those main east/ west inside wheel well welds are coated with automotive undercoating. That generally doesnít weld too good! Iím not looking forward to that job.

Also, my recent bottom wall/ frame separation is in the same area as most of the weld failures. Iím starting to think that if you use these trailers on a regular basis and put some decent miles on them the frame canít hold up. Especially on the slide side. My situation is a testament to that, we enjoy our trailer a lot and now must continue to weld a compromised frame. We are not doing any more mods or putting any more money for improvement comforts, that money is being spent on stock aluminum framing and labour.

We donít get any rot but have to contend with always crawling around and looking at all the welds for cracking. If you really use your rig check monthly! If it just weekends your probably going to be ok.

But, regardless of your use check every weld around the slide area and every weld around your fresh tank.

The joy.


ADR

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Re: Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2019, 09:27:10 PM »
I feel your pain....went through a tough time getting my frame fixed, first since I'm under warranty KZ stalled a lot then when I gave up and got it fixed they did reimburse me- after a couple of months and many emails complaining to them.
The other issue was getting a competent welding shop scheduled to do the work.   Places to do expert aluminum repairs are often backed up.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 09:28:57 PM by ADR »

Powder Hounds

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Re: Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2019, 10:45:09 PM »
Update:

Well, we had our rig in the welding shop for about a week. Very happy with the results. The fabricator added about 30 horizontal/ vertical gussets. The perimeter frame is rock solid! There should be no more frame issues going forward!

I included a pick of the axle and the axle bracket that had to have some minor welding done. When you have your tires off for bearing work it is a good idea to have a look. Two of the four brackets had some cracks.


Powder Hounds

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Re: Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2019, 10:46:22 PM »
Sorry, double picks.


GrampaKilt

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Re: Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2019, 12:23:52 PM »
Are we (the royal 'we') looking at an engineering design failure that's destined to affect most of us down the road (literally and figuratively) or failures by incompetent aluminum welders on the assembly line? GK

Powder Hounds

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Re: Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2019, 01:23:05 PM »
On the plus side of this situation, the fabricator and RV techs did appreciate the design and construction of our rigs and if during the original manufacturing/ welding some extra support/ gussets were installed the failed welds would have been a non issue or very minor.

They did mention that here in Alberta horse trailers and snowmobile trailers all have the same problems. Apparently, the business of fixing aluminum trailers here is pretty good, one comment that they made was that cattle guards are extremely hard on aluminum trailers.




DavidM

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Re: Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2019, 01:53:06 PM »
I think that it takes an experienced craftsman to make a good aluminum weld. LL's design required good welds as there were no gussets in place that could have limited or eliminated cracks even with poor welds. So they needed experienced craftsmen to do the welding and sometimes they didn't have them, thus the cracks.

So in one respect it is a marginal design that depends on good welds. Given limited reports of cracks I would suspect that 95% of the time LL did it right and the great majority of us will not experience weld cracks.

FWIW steel is much easier to weld right and even if welded poorly there is enough margin in the design to live with a few bad welds. That is why 99% of RV are made with steel frames.

I wonder how much weight would have been added if LL built the frames out of steel, but all else: floors, sides, roof (at least the older ones) out of aluminum. It sure wouldn't have helped their marketing image though.

And I wonder how much it would have cost to beef up the design of the aluminum frame with some gussets. Doing that might have saved their image.

David
« Last Edit: September 16, 2019, 01:57:11 PM by DavidM »

Merlin

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Re: Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2019, 04:11:15 PM »
Now that I see those added gussets, my thought is ďDuh, those should have been standard!Ē 
Michigan

GrampaKilt

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Re: Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2019, 11:45:52 AM »
Re: aluminum welding. From what I hear about welding shops, aluminum welding is reserved for the most proficient of the crew. Moreover, where I live (in BC), I find that all the welders in a shop have their journeyman papers and/or some working on their apprenticeship. I wonder how qualified LL's assembly line welders were much less having hired the best of the rest for the aluminum welds? I think I know the answer. GK

Merlin

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Re: Part II More Failed Frame Welds ...
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2019, 08:15:43 PM »
I visited the original LL factory prior to buying my camper. Visitors were not allowed the welding shop, for good reason. I remember peeking in the door and seeing piles of aluminum stock on the walls. We did get to see bare frames in the axle installation area and I began to understand the incredible number of welds on these things! Itís no joke.
Michigan