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Old 06-05-2009, 05:02 PM   #141
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I've been told on truck frames that the steering box mounts are designed to occur where the there is a cross-frame stiffener. That is probably the source of the recommendation.
See Caution Late Alpine Owners for the thread you seek.

I'd recommend waiting a bit longer for a solution. The matter is under study by NHTSA. We don't know what their finding will be but I believe an exterior stiffener on the steering box side of the frame will be the result. On our coaches, different from trucks, we have a double (up/down) C-channel, so there is a lot of frame available to use to minimize steering mount movement vs. a truck frame. I have proposed a solution of that nature to NHTSA; again, I don't know what their level of sanction or adoption will be or can be. But I expect some more dialogue on this shortly and an informed decision will probably save you money and get a better solution.

That said, the above thread talks about fatigue cracking of the rear flange and has an example photo at post #137. If you have this crack started, you will see it first at or near the upper end of the rear bracket face/rear Huck bolt flange fold in the bracket steel (same place the welded crack shows). If that appears, you need to take action before the tear progresses.

You can see the solution I propose in post #120, lower photo. It is simple, not expensive as aftermarket solutions go (maybe $500 installed?), and I can tell you from 1st hand experience it locks the rear of the bracket well to the pair of frame channels, and stops the flex in the lower channel.

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Old 06-08-2009, 08:28 AM   #142
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Thanks to all who have put countless hours in on this problem. I have filed my compliant and hopefully we can all get a solution to this serious problem.

Joe Brunold
2006 Alpine Apex
40FDQ
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:35 PM   #143
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jiust received the letter about this issue checked my 2004 38 ft with adj pedals the steering looks ok on this rv droste
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Old 07-16-2009, 02:50 PM   #144
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Question on Steering Problems on Alpine Coaches/cracked steering boxes!!

Is there a meeting/rally type scheduled in Oct. 2009-Yakima, WA? If not, I'm heading south from Wash. in October. Bob Q.
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Old 07-16-2009, 04:58 PM   #145
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Bob Q,

Check the ACA web site for NoWACA rallys. There is one in Port Townsend the end of July and there is another in Prosser the end of September. NoWACA Rallys are always fun. The steering box issue has been updated at the last couple of rallys and I'm sure will be discussed again at these times. Hope to see you there.
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Old 08-16-2009, 11:10 PM   #146
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I now have the Carrier & Sons steering bracket kit installed, to reinforce the flexy (not sexy) original factory bracket. I'm very pleased with the strength and rigidity of this bracket kit.

I tried to include photos, but that was not successful, so here are the links:

http://www.irv2.com/attachments/phot...ket_view_2.jpg

http://www.irv2.com/attachments/phot...ket_view_1.jpg

http://www.irv2.com/attachments/phot...er_bracket.jpg
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Old 08-24-2009, 05:06 AM   #147
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dale777 View Post
I now have the Carrier & Sons steering bracket kit installed, to reinforce the flexy (not sexy) original factory bracket. I'm very pleased with the strength and rigidity of this bracket kit.

I tried to include photos, but that was not successful, so here are the links:

http://www.irv2.com/attachments/phot...ket_view_2.jpg

http://www.irv2.com/attachments/phot...ket_view_1.jpg

http://www.irv2.com/attachments/phot...er_bracket.jpg
A few questions.
First, as a 2d owner of an Alpine, I have not been contacted by NHTSA or anyone else. How does one go about getting added to the list of Alpine owners who might need to be notified for recalls?

Second, what is Carrier & Sons charging for its steering bracket kit, these days? What is the approximate cost for installation? I had mine inspected by a reliable frame shop that was familiar with the issue and was informed that I have no current problems (fingers are crossed) but this is something I obviously have an interest in.

Thanks.
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:03 AM   #148
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Jaime & Dave,

There is no NHTSA recall list for the steering bracket problem. However, you can report your situation if you choose to.

I can't provide pricing for the Carrier & Sons bracket kit or installation cost, but this is their contact info:

TOM CARRIER
CARRIER&SONS RV SERVICE
29525 AIRPORT RD.
EUGENE OR 97402
541-461-1673 PH
541-461-1673 FAX


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Old 08-24-2009, 11:49 AM   #149
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If NHTSA contacts owners, I believe it will be a 1st time thing. Ordinarily NHTSA leans on vehicle mfgr's to work w/state DMVs to work contact lists for safety recalls. Because of somewhat unprecedented OEM closings, they have several pending investigations on vehicles from defunct mfgr's, and they are scratching their heads over what to do.

The usual situation is that the OEM will devise a fix, frequently consisting of upgraded part(s) or software, then notify all currently registered owners, then manage some method of performing a fix, and finally the OEM compiles records showing affected VINs that have been upgraded or are awaiting the fix.

Without an OEM to manage a standard recall, NHTSA is in a quandary about how to handle this situation. If you are the owner, for example, of a Duesenberg, NHTSA isn't much bothered by safety complaints for that vehicle as it is conventional wisdom that its safe operation & upkeep is the owner's responsibility. That's not the factual reality of the case with widespread ownership of modern, complex vehicles by ordinary, non-complex citizens, but the question they are wrestling with is whether it is the legal reality. In other words they are digging deeply into whether NHTSA has any legal authority or responsibility if there is no OEM to lean on.

Giving credit to the technical staff, the direction of lean is that if it is not NHTSA's objective to do something in the case of known safety problems, then whose responsibility is it? Therefore, at least some form of warning system is needed to cover this unprecedented ground. After all, Old Monaco, CC, Fleetwood, Coachmen, etc. (not to mention travel trailer OEMs) all present this possibility (ya oughta see the way some Old Monaco 4-bag chassis rear suspensions fail; head over to the Monaco forum for some interesting stuff), and there should be some mechanism put in place, even if not triggered from existing authority.

Legal staff @ NHTSA does not yet appear to be indicating the same feeling of responsibility. How that further evolves is anybody's guess. My guess at this point is that any action from NHTSA is likely to take a while, and because there is no OEM to manage fixes, that it will be up to individual owners to do "something" or to do nothing and wait. The next question will be what "something" is necessary.

In the event NHTSA mandates a fix, the fix may be some specific upgrade (but who would design and certify that as a repair?), or it may be some performance driven standard to meet (most of NHTSA's standards are performance oriented, rather than prescribing some particular design), or it may be some sort of certification that the particular upgrade performed now renders the dangerous condition moot. In the last case, I can see where a frame shop or an engineer might, for a suitable fee, issue the certification after inspected installation of a given fix. I asked NHTSA's investigator about how this might proceed, and that was the general tone of the discussion, but no definite direction was given, and no firm statement resulted about what might actually happen.

With that as background, I would conclude that actions taken by owners at this time are at the owner's option only. Any "fix" applied is based on the owner's conclusion that it is better to do that thing now and see what if anything evolves by government later. Conceivably govt might say to take out the applied "fix" and install some other thing. Also conceivably, the situation could rattle around for a couple of years.

FWIW, I "fixed" mine, a "fix" that I believe is potentially subject to further scrutiny by NHTSA if they choose to get involved to that extent. I don't want to be driving around worrying about the steering gear bracket bending to the point of fatigue.
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Old 09-20-2009, 09:18 PM   #150
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Steering Bracket Installation

EngineerMike came over today to "help" me install my Steering Bracket
Upgrade Kit. Everything went as planned. We got started about 10:30
and finished at 14:45 including lunch and a trip to Home Depot for extra
cutting discs. About 3 hours of work plus a bit. Mike had me take the
generator exhaust pipe off and roll the gen slide out for better access;
he did the heavy cutting & drilling.

The Kit has a fabricated "stiffener" that clamps the OEM Steering
Bracket to the coach frame, plus bolts the OEM Bracket's rear face to
the stiffener so it can't move (movement of that rear face is what has
been causing the concern). It is a one piece, welded (comes w/shims so
it justs bolts in) and punched, heavy steel angle. Here are the parts
of the kit:




Here is the OEM Steering Bracket & Frame before installation:




You remove the two OEM Huck Bolts on the Steering Bracket's rear flange
(they get replaced w/high grade, spec-torqued bolts later):




Then use the Upgrade Stiffener to mark & drill two new bolt holes in the
OEM Steering Bracket:




and two new bolt holes in the frame C-channels above the Bracket:




Then the Upgrade stiffener goes on, torque the bolts per installation
specs (120 ft-lbs), and my steering is fixed:




All that's left is to put tools away and have a cold MGD. It takes a
good quality grinder w/a cut-off wheel for the Huck bolts, and a good
quality 1/2" drill for the new bolt holes, both of which Mike brought.
And of course, an assortment of wrenches, sockets etc. all in 15/16 size
for the heavy duty bolts. It also takes work in the confined space
ahead of the FL wheel so it helps to be nimble. Several glasses of ice
water are a nice touch while doing the heavy cutting/drilling unless you
plan on doing this in the winter. The install time also included a
couple of lube chores and improving drag link alignment, so maybe just
under 3 hours for the Stiffener Upgrade installation.

So now I don't need to worry about the bouncing steering gear bracket
anymore. Thanks Mike!
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Old 09-21-2009, 09:15 AM   #151
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E-Mike, in the installed picture, I notice two unused pilot holes in the bracket. Was the picture taken before the job was totally done ie 2 or 4 bolts to attach new bracket to steering bracket?
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Old 09-21-2009, 10:44 AM   #152
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No Basil, the job is finished. But you have a keen eye sir.

Installation starts w/cleaning the bracket & an up close & personal inspection of the rear bracket flange seam, as this is where fatigue tearing starts. If there is any inkling of crack initiation or excess bracket corrosion, those two holes get bolts to maintain the rear bracket face rigid to the Stiffener. And the bolts are different than the other 6 bolts- they are 5/8-11tpi, and the hole to be drilled in the rear bracket face is 17/32" which (along w/the two holes visible in the photo) gets tapped directly for 5/8-11 threads. These 5/8-11 bolts would be installed last after all other fasteners are torqued, but only in applications where warranted.

After I did the engineering on the stiffener (which basically changes stress transfer from the OEM torque model to a simpler & dramatically stiffer shear model), I showed the whole shebang including Dale's award winning dancing bracket videos to Dr. Edward R. Fleming, PhD (CalTech, Structual Dynamics), my father the rocket scientist (literally). After going over the videos several times we concluded that if a crack had started, the upper part of the rear bracket face could continue, on one part of the steering stroke, to warp forward away from the stiffener a minute amount and possibly continue to work the crack over time. To keep the upper area (which is blind inside the bracket so you can't get a nut on it) in contact w/the stiffener & preclude this working of a potential crack, I added the drill-&-tap 5/8-11 bolt holes. Most rigs won't use them.

Smith's bracket at ~20,000 miles was in excellent shape, paint all intact. During DRR8 I noticed at least one of the 30 rigs I inspected w/what might have been a vertical, seam crack started. Others had significant corrosion which both makes visual crack initiation hard to diagnose and is a heavy contributor to fatigue crack initiation. In those cases, the two upper holes get drilled into the bracket (at 17/32" not 5/8" like the shear fasteners) and then tapped for 5/8-11 threads & bolts.

In the event a bracket has a tear started which telegraphs thru to the top of the bracket/rear-flange fold, I recommend a final weld solution which will require a detail (picture) and instructions to the welder plus a short piece of heavy angle as a connector. I can set that up so the weld position is easy & it should be a good, one-pass clean solution. I'm guessing maybe 1 in 20 rigs will need the two 5/8-11 bolts, and maybe 1 in 100 will need the full monty weld setup. Frame shops might opt to install the two 5/8-11 bolts somewhat regardless to obviate vagaries in inspection rigor. Anyone in doubt can use a shop light to snap a couple of clear photos and email me for clarification.

So Basil, did that answer the question?
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Old 09-21-2009, 04:55 PM   #153
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"So Basil, did that answer the question? "

Yes sir, that "splains" it. When will these kits start to become available? Since I am running a full 13,000 pounds on the front axel of my coach, I need to get this fixed. A visual inspection doesn't show any problems YET! Looks like a good project while we are in Palm Springs for the winter.
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Old 09-21-2009, 05:18 PM   #154
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Are you attending the Heritage Rally? I'll be at the pre-rally for that and should have some kits back from their fabricator by then. I can also do the pre-install inspection and am on the schedule to do general steering inspections there.

If that doesn't work you can email me at mike at fleming dot cc (not dot com). Also Redlands Truck & RV and Guaranty indicated interest in both selling and installing the kits and I should have word on that next week. Like you said, it will be nice to have this behind us.
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