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Old 12-09-2008, 04:58 AM   #29
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Dale your videos are far worse than what I saw under my coach. I certainly saw movement but nothing like that.
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Old 12-09-2008, 06:39 AM   #30
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Lyle,

Try the test on a solid surface when you move the coach. The rock you are on can really reduce the friction, turning the wheels.
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Old 12-09-2008, 06:49 AM   #31
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L&C's comment leads me back to an earlier thought I'd discarded. Once the Apex was launched, I had a discussion w/Ron Doyle that included his statement they were on the hunt for places to lose weight in the coach/chassis due to CCC concerns w/the SmartBed design. Could be that either the steering bracket lost some weight, or that Dale's bracket has a broken weld on the internal stiffener. We can get a good check at DRR on what if any design changes by year affect the bracket stiffness.

On closer exam of bracket design & Dale's 3rd, the internal stiffener blocks a clear path tween upper & lower bolts on front wing, so a single plate won't work. However, it appears that prying of the wings on the lower bolts is the primary degree of freedom needing attention. A rectangular, 2-bolt plate on rear and a rectangular, 1-bolt on front wing would still do much to minimize this action. These could be cut from strap then punched or drilled.

Wayne- alum. would be easy to work with, but is lousy in fatigue situations.

Dale- on my rig, the bottom edges of the stiffener inside the bracket are fillet welded full length to the front & rear left-right plates making up the bracket. Your video #3 doesn't show obvious welds there. Are those welded? If not, your bracket was not finished properly.
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Old 12-09-2008, 07:21 AM   #32
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Mike's information is what I was hoping for. I am taking the coach in today for the repair, and this information is great help. It is also a great sign for the rest of the other owners. The inner brace on my mounting bracket is NOT welded completely, like Mike's. I hope that someone who's bracket is welded properly, will test theirs and report. My chassis # is 75758, I would recommend that anyone with a coach # close to that, look at their bracket. It the brace, inside of the bracket and visible from below, is welded on all of the attachments to the bracket, then you are probably OK?
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Old 12-09-2008, 07:28 AM   #33
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We will have a Gearhead session at Quartzsite and no doubt this will be the #1 item of discussion.
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Old 12-09-2008, 07:45 AM   #34
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In the past week we have rented at least 6 movies. Dale's three submittals, in the category of short documentary, were the most entertaining and thought provoking by far.

Whadaya think: Golden Globe, Academy Award, or Sundance Film Festival?
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Old 12-09-2008, 08:37 AM   #35
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My 06 chassis is #75542. The internal bracket is full length welded on all 3 sides. Watching Dale's video #3 you can see the un-welded right side of the internal bracket moving in relation to the outer bracket.

Great job Mike and Dale.
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Old 12-09-2008, 02:11 PM   #36
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I am sorry to report that just welding the brace did not cure the problem, just reduced the movement a bit. Also did find a crack at the top of the bracket where it is bent out to mount to the frame. A brace is being made to tie the bracket on to the top frame rail. I will report back soon.
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Old 12-09-2008, 05:01 PM   #37
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Dale - I am concerned that just beefing up the mount etc. is not the complete solution. Could your alignment be severely off something else be binding to cause this much strain on the assembly? I have no ideas myself (other than what was mentioned) but have seen people put band aids on engineering problems before rather than fix the real problem...only to regret it later. Please take a look at it from the aspect of "something is causing this to happen" rather than "what can I do to strengthen it " Best of luck.
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Old 12-09-2008, 06:44 PM   #38
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Steve,

The way I have always tackled a problem, is to look for the cause first. There are no alignment issues and the problem is non-existent when the weight is taken off the tires with the jacks.
I am very concerned for anyone who has a bracket like mine, missing the welds. My bracket had a crack, at 12,000 miles. I was told that the problem with weak steering box mounts was common in RVs and bus' Some owners may feel that the normal? flex in the bracket is OK. I did not find it acceptable and had mine braced. I was extremely happy with the fix to our coach. I will try to post a photo of it tomorrow.
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Old 12-09-2008, 07:35 PM   #39
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For a good before/after set of measurements, try centering steering, then clamping a bar clamp on the rear left-right plate of the steering box mount bracket, with the bar facing aft. Use the bar as a point gauge, and measure from its rear-lower edge to a spot on the ground. Then crank steering wheel hard full left, measure again, then hard full right and measure, then recenter and measure again to check against original number. Do this on hard pavement. Compare measurements. If you have a sufficiently long bar clamp, it should magnify bracket movement and make it easy to measure. If you adapt any cures, measure again after the cure to definitively check results.

Record all measurements & dialogue; take photos; post interesting dialogue
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Old 12-10-2008, 08:36 AM   #40
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Mike,

I didn't measure before, although you can see the movement in my videos. After the fix I couldn't see any movement, but didn't check real close. I didn't think that the repair would take out as much movement as it did.

I don't know how I missed this post.

Broken steering bracket 2004 FDTS

Thank you Kit and Gary for emailing me the link. Since this was on a 2004 coach, I have doubts that the only concerns are with coaches built at the same time as mine.
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Old 12-10-2008, 09:11 AM   #41
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I don't have an Alpine but I have done a lot of fabrication and reinforcement on a variety of vehicles so here is my $.02 FWIW.

1. This is a BIG problem (DUH!).

2. Do NOT use aluminum.

3. Reinforcing the existing bracket on the outside (and possibly inside) surfaces of the steering box "bracket" would be the easiest by welding some 3/8" thick plate and either 3/8" or 1/2" thick triangular gussets to the surfaces that do not interfere with the rotational movement of the linkages.

4. Add a long 3/8" or 1/2" thick plate inside the frame rail that, if possible, passes this area both front and back by at least 6" and have 4 additional bolts in each side pass through the frame.

5. All bolts, including the Huck bolts should be Grade 8 cadmium plated bolts with grade 8 flat washers and grade 8 metal locking nuts, NOT nylocks or plain nuts with split ring washers.

I have found the best source for this type of hardware at a Caterpillar dealer/rental store. Most of the Grade 8 bolts found at "other" places are of dubious quality and metalurgy...BUT NOT the CAT bolts.

Anyone who "welds-up" this bracket should use either TIG or AC with the appropriate rods as you want deep, thorough, high quality penetrating welds. Shade tree mechanics should NOT apply here. Those videos woke me up as that is a LOT of movement. The steering section of a vehicle frame (ANY vehicle frame) should be a rigid as possible. Movement belongs in the linkages and NOT the brackets, braces or mounts...PERIOD.

Just my $.02.
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Old 12-10-2008, 09:14 AM   #42
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Curiousity was building so I crawled under our 2003[late 2002] this AM. No where near the flex displayed in yr moives but some movement on a 2003 is noticeable. "Exercising" the steering gear at a dead-stop is the worst-case scenario Vs normal steering resistance while on the move forward/backward. However, constant flexing of that mounting bracket begs the question of metal fatigue and mean cycles to failure [the British Comet aircraft being a famous example].
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