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Old 07-21-2009, 11:56 PM   #1
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Brake Failure

I am posting this event for Bob Bartlett…


Brake failure - 2007 36’ FDTS SE Limited on 7-16-09

While driving back from Colorado last week our brakes failed. The brake pedal became very mushy and then collapsed to the floor. We were stopped waiting for a flagman to wave us on thru a construction zone on Hwy 160 heading south to Flagstaff, AZ. We were able to pull over and park the vehicle on the side of the road. I checked the brake fluid level and found none. I disconnected our Jeep and drove back to Tuba City, AZ and purchased 6 pints of DOT 3 brake fluid (all that was in town). I filled the reservoir and recovered some pedal. We decided to leave the Jeep disconnected and preceded on our way to Flagstaff, AZ. Within a few minutes I had no brake pedal again. I continued driving, approximately 75 miles using caution and the Jake Brake and was able to get to our destination in Flagstaff, AZ. I scoured the web/yellow pages for a brake specialist in Flagstaff who would work on a diesel pusher with hydraulic disc brakes. I talked to allot of people, none of which wanted to touch the Alpine. Finally I spoke with the owner of R&R Automotive and convinced him to take a look and see if he could resolve our problem. He told me to come in at 10:00am on Friday morning and he would take a look. He found a broken copper, YES, COPPER BRAKE LINE that WRV had installed connecting the left and right rear brakes together over the top of the differential. I say again “COPPER” water line, COPPER, not STEEL. I have attached photos for everyone’s review. One end of the broken COPPER line used a threaded fitting and the tubing was flared. The other end of the broken line used a threaded compression fitting connector with an aluminum ferrule??? Again, see photos. I can only speculate that the line was “kinked” during the installation process at WRV or maybe some object flew-up while driving and hit the line creating a “kink”. In either case, the vibration must have caused the copper line to fatigue over time and break??? I’m at a total loss as to why anyone in his or her right mind would choose to use copper water line in place of steel brake line in the assembly of a hydraulic brake system??? Must be WRV quality control…Caveat Emptor!

Bob Bartlett
7-19-09




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I would suggest every one check there brake lines to insure to insure they are steel by checking with a magnet. On the rear axle the lines are located on the rear top rear side. A short 90 deg on the driver side and a longer one with several bends on the passenger side. On my 2002 they are steel as required by DOT and painted black with smooth bends, well supported.

Gary
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Old 07-22-2009, 09:56 AM   #2
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Exclamation

Excellent post!
Another reason why this forum is so important.
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Old 07-22-2009, 10:19 AM   #3
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The former management of WRV should be prosecuted for gross negligance, for this and many other HAZARDOUS and non-hazardous defects. Some people on this forum talk about the WRV management like they are "gods". They are inept and incompetent. I'd like to meet some of them in a dark alley some day.
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Old 07-22-2009, 10:38 AM   #4
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A bit of speculation here. 1. Your friend is not original owner. 2. that was a "temp" roadside fix for some reason. (bad). 3. the front brakes did not work as designed. 4. the brake warning system is disabled.

Mike
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Old 07-22-2009, 12:19 PM   #5
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The coach was purchased new from Guaranty. I am the original owner. The red "brake failure light" was on along with Yellow ABS light. The brakes/system have NEVER been worked-on by anyone while I have owned this coach. All servicing has been done by "Coach Care" El Cajon, CA.

Bob
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Old 07-23-2009, 12:14 PM   #6
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Hi All,

I had my 2006 36FDDS rear brake line checked and it is steel. However, the 2007 36 FDTS belonging to Birddogpilot sitting next to my coach had a copper rear line. Did WRV run out of steel in 2007?

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Old 07-23-2009, 12:29 PM   #7
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Umm, are you sure it's pure copper? Could be Cunifer (copper/nickel alloy) which are a high performance brake line, non-rusting and DOT approved. (Also used by Aston Martin, Volvo, Audi & Porsche - see http://www.fedhillusa.com/)

Although it does LOOK like copper from the pics... 'Specially with the compression fitting.
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Old 07-23-2009, 01:16 PM   #8
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MFortie, it's copper water line, not "cunifer". I thought the same thing, but no such luck, it's copper water line. If sdcyclist is correct about Birddogpilot having copper in his 36' 2007 FDTS I would suggest that there might be many more out there???
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Old 07-23-2009, 04:29 PM   #9
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I can see how this soft copper line could fatigue and brake.

If the install on the 2007 is the same as my 2002, the passenger side is unsupported the last 5 inches before the 90 degree bend. From there it connects to a flexible rubber hose up to the frame. Every time the rear suspension goes up and down it tugs every so lightly on the copper tubing and eventually the tubing will work harden, fatigue and fail. Using steel there is no movement.
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:00 PM   #10
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Milo, thanks for the heads-up on the copper brake lines on my coach. I just got off the phone with Mark at R.V. Specialists and he indeed confirmed that I have copper. Tomorrow they are going to trace all the lines all the way through the system and see how much more copper they might find. I thought copper had been outlawed in automotive and aircraft use way back in the Dark Ages. You don’t suppose that WRV would periodically run out of steel and have to run down to Home Depot for copper to keep the assembly line running do you?

This situation should be a wakeup call for all Alpine owners to perform a MANDATORY inspection of all coaches. Bob Bartlett’s complete brake failure could have been catastrophic; he was very fortunate. Hopefully, we all have been warned in time before a real tragedy takes place. If I were a supervisor or inspector that had worked for WRV and allowed these “killer” copper lines through the production I don’t believe I’d be sleeping very well. I have a feeling that there just might be a case for criminal negligence if one of owners should have a tragic accident.

Let’s see now, I’ve got copper brake lines, the coach is already in the shop having a worthless aluminum radiator replaced, it also needs the steering box modification to preclude another potentially serious accident, it has had most of the totally inadequate HWH slide hoses replaced due to failure, we owned it four months before it went to Guaranty with 85 warranty write-ups where it spent the entire summer, on returning to San Diego in the fall it spent the next three months with Cummins Coach Care doing even more HWH hoses and more warranty work, and of course to get the generator to run I have to pre-select an air conditioning unit or it will shut down; this is a real quality machine. There are even more items, but that sentence was getting completely out of control. We all bought Alpine Coaches because we believed in the history of WRV as being a first class operation and we subsequently paid a premium price for what we believed a premium product. Well, folks, it is looking more and more like we are all victims of very shoddy design, poor materials and poor workmanship from a company that really didn’t care about its customers.

I know, we all said we bought these things because they drive so well. Yes they do, and yes that’s the one of the reason we bought one. Actually, Susan likes it best for the kitchen and the windows. I don’t like the thought that when we’re driving down the road at 65 MPH, dragging a Jeep Liberty, that the whole thing is liable to turn into a killing machine. Now we’re talking about a serious reason for owning or not owning an Alpine. I’ll probably calm down after a couple strong martinis this evening and hopefully a good nights sleep. But right now I’m HOT!
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Old 07-23-2009, 10:18 PM   #11
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Reason #2456866 that I'm glad I have an early 03
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Old 07-24-2009, 06:56 AM   #12
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Seems to me that DOT would make this an instant mandatory recall.

I will be passing through Yakima soon. Maybe I should look up some of our "friends", one in particular.
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Old 07-24-2009, 09:31 AM   #13
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I checked my 2006 (2005 build) this morning and my brake lines are steel. My guess is that WRV didn't pay their supplier and ran out of steel, hence the copper substitute.
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Old 07-24-2009, 02:23 PM   #14
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I checked my brake lines today and they are 'steel'. Also checked flex lines and mounting brackets all ok. Lucky for me. But then I do not think I would have made it until now with copper on a 2004.

Gary & Bob,
Guess your lucky the frig installer didn't sub in the chassis shop. Brake lines might have been plastic ice maker tubing.

Another thought, just wondering how close mfg #'s are between Bob's 2007 and Birddog Pilot's Dick Bunting coaches? I see they are both 2006 36 FDTS. These two coaches might be real close on mfg date and number. I think all coaches should be checked but especially those built just ahead and behind Bob's and Birddog Pilots.

Lets hope these are the only two.

Dan R.
2004 FDTS40
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