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Old 03-31-2009, 11:02 AM   #85
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Unhappy steer brackets

I had ?? Bob Quintard
Quote:
Originally Posted by dgerstel View Post
I really don't want to be an alarmist, but I was shocked and appalled when I saw it on my coach. I was just in for an alignment and having the caster set higher at a very good shop that I know here in Oxnard. When the mechanic was having the steering wheel turned back and forth to check for play in the steering he called me down into the pit to show me the steering box. The bracket that the steering box mounts to was flexing a good 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Upon closer inspection, the frame where the bracket attaches was also flexing.

I am quite sure that my 2002 did not have this problem, as this same mechanic had checked it. I think that at some point in time WRV must have started using lighter metal for the frame and the steering box mounting bracket.

I know that while moving there will be a lot less stress on this assembly, but it will be very hard to check while rolling. My concern is that at some point the metal will fatigue and crack. I also have a concern for those of you that have installed the Safety-T-Plus, as I think that it would put more stress on this assembly.

I would recommend that everyone look at their's to see if this is a common problem and if any coaches with a lot of miles on them have any cracks forming. It is easy to check. With the coach in neutral and the park brake on, have someone turn the steering wheel to the right and left about 90 degrees each way. While they are doing this look under the coach at the steering box and check for movement.

I will post a photo of my bracket if anyone requests it. I have someone here that thinks he can beef up the frame and bracket. As soon as I see how that works out, I will post photos of the fix.

For anyone who checks, please post a reply with your findings and what year your coach is.
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Old 03-31-2009, 03:52 PM   #86
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Bob Quintard- can you be more specific? Mike
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:56 PM   #87
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steering brackets

I have a 2004 Alpine I discovered during service at Colton Truck that my steering box bracket was cracked 2/3 the way down & had flimsy welds. I had the bracket reinforced and reinstalled. WRV sent me a new bracket which I put in storage. Bob Quintard
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Old 04-11-2009, 08:08 PM   #88
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Dale, did you ever measure the thickness of your steering box bracket? Mine is a full 1/4" plate steel. Yours appears thinner or is that just the picture?

Ted
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Old 04-11-2009, 09:38 PM   #89
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Ted,

I haven't, but am sure it is. Read Mike's posting on end of the page just before this one, (page 6 this topic) he covered it very well.
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Old 04-11-2009, 09:59 PM   #90
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Ted- The 2004 & later brackets are 1/4" while the 2003 and earlier were 5/16". Dale's was a standard bracket, but was missing some interior welds.

I'm working on a soon-to-be-complete steering bracket-bracket (i.e. a bracket to keep the steering bracket from bending like a presidential campaign promise). We will be at the week long rally in Plymouth, CA from May 15-22 if you want to see it. I'll post some photos soon.
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Old 04-13-2009, 07:28 PM   #91
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I've been getting PM from iRV2 listeners, and email from ACA members on "what should I do about my steering bracket?" Here is the gist of the reply I send:
I don't have a detailed analysis on how much steering bracket movement is "OK" but like others who have checked this out, I think the amount of movement we have is a lot. With that said, it is important to remember:
1) there is only one reported bracket failure that we know of out of maybe 800 coaches.
2) the highest mileage coaches I checked were ~60,000 miles w/no catastrophic issues
3) Dale Gerstel's coach in the video on iRV2 didn't have the internal welds when he video'd the bending, but I found another coach w/out the welds and it had about the same movement as everybody else's w/the 2004+ bracket. Dale's had a serious stress crack in progress which,
I believe, would have become a serious issue.

With the above 3 things in mind (#1 & 2 give peace of mind, #3 is cause for concern), I suggest as a minimum check the internal welds and the rear bolt flange closely for cracks every 5000 miles or so. If the issue continues to bother you, stay tuned to that thread on iRV2 and your future ACA newletters, as I am installing an easy to fabricate steering-bracket-bracket to keep bending within more comfortable limits. I will report on the details and how I feel the addition works, both after installation, & after I have some mileage on it. IIWM, I'd wait for these reports and just check the welds in the mean time. I don't think there is any reason to panic. What you will have when I get done is an idea that I have tried, and its qualitative results. From that you will be able to decide if you want to do the same, try something different, or ignore improvement and continue the weld inspections just in case, as nothing more may develop but your inspections should discover something if more does happen.

I personally have time on my hands and a curiosity about this. If either of those were not true, I would only be inspecting welds myself, as I personally don't consider it a cause for panic until interestingly large cracks develop. Personally I don't worry at all that the bracket will suddenly fail in an unsafe way, I believe it has to fatigue itself somewhat first before giving up. I am not the manufacturer, a chassis engineer, or the Transportation Safety Board, and
how you view it is, of course, your own decision. If you are uncontrollably worried, then by all means get your rig to a chassis repair facility & do something like Dale Gerstel did so you can relax.
Hope this helps.
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Old 05-03-2009, 12:13 PM   #92
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Steering Issue Fixed

While we were recently in for some routine service, I asked that our steering mechanism be checked for the issues described initially by Dale, and commented on by others in this thread. We were at Carrier & Sons service center in Eugene, OR, which is known to many coach owners as a very reputable and capable shop. For the several years we owned a Country Coach, with its manufacturing facilities just up the street in Junction City, many Country Coach owners preferred Carrier's service to the factory.

I asked Tom Carrier to personally get involved in assessing the issue, and he did so. His conclusion was that the bracket is entirely inadequate, and poses a significant safety hazard. He thought it important that every Alpine owner with this bracket design should be aware of this issue, and make an informed choice of whether the bracket should be replaced with a bolt-on replacement bracket. He opined he was surprised that this had not been the subject of a recall based on an NTSB review, even though the manufacturer is no longer in business.

Apparently our bracket had not yet failed, and had no "cracks" or overt evidence of stress. Moreover it was not moving as far as depicted in the video. But in Tom's view, the sway was far beyond what he would consider a safe tolerance, and again in his view could in time fail. His advice was that a replacement bracket made of heavier material needed to be fabricated and installed. We opted to do just that, and to a certain extent had to pay a bit for the "R&D" required to design what Carrier's believe is a suitable replacement bracket. They now have in hand the correct "design", and would be able to replicate the bracket if others found that of interest.

I've read and appreciate the views expressed by Engineer Mike in the preceding message. And like most here I find his advice and guidance always first class -- and his latest comments on this are no exception. However I did want to share our experience with other Alpine owners, if for no other reason than of the possible safety implications for those of us who happened to have the suspect bracket as part of our coach.

I'd be happy to provide further information if it would be of value -- just send a PM and I'll be happy to reply. As Dale well knows, while I know a bit about the practice of law, I would get very low grades on technical competence when it comes to understanding or fixing coach issues!

Tom
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Old 05-08-2009, 12:55 PM   #93
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Interest Expressed by National Highway Traffic Safety Adm

As a result of our finding what appears to be a potentially major safety hazard involving the steering bracket on our '07 Alpine, I have been in contact with the NHTSA regarding our experience. I've exchanged a couple of emails, and we've spoken as well by phone. They appear to have taken an interest in this situation. I've also learned that to have the highest probability of getting their intervention, it would be extremely helpful to the person assigned to this case if there were more than just one Alpine owner that had reported the problem [especially since ours is "fixed" at this point]. While WRV is of course no more, likely the most important outcome could be a DOT issuance of a finding that the equivalent of a "recall" had been determined by them. That would at least make a lot of major publications, and hence provide notice to many Alpine owners that might be entirely unaware of the potential safety hazard. They are also aware of the fact that while WRV is out of business, Monomoy Capital Partners is not. They have specifically raised the issue of reimbursement for the cost of any needed repairs. And in my view they could likely have options for recourse that might not be readily available to individual owners.

Thus for those of you that would like to contribute to a possible solution here, I would recommend that you to file a complaint form with the NHTSA. You will find the form at: Safercar.gov This would greatly improve the likelihood that the case will be pursued, and that any possible alternative sources for securing reimbursement for costs are considered.

A few tips should you choose to do this:

1. In selecting the "manufacturer" from a very long list, you'll not see "Western RV". However you will see "Western". Select that, and you'll have a drop down submenu where you'll find "Alpine". You'll need your VIN to complete the form.

2. The "complaint" form assumes there has been an accident -- which hopefully to date there has not been. So when asked for a "date", I'd recommend just using today's date. That worked for me. There is a text box that asks for a description of the problem. There is nothing magic to say here. For those of you who have been able to "see" the problem on your coach, a brief description is adequate. And if, like me, you've not personally "seen" it, it would be sufficient to report that you're aware of the fact that other Alpine coaches of like vintage have found what appears to be a serious defect in the steering bracket, and that this is a matter of concern to you.

3. While Dale and others have apparently determined that this issue may only apply to "late model" Alpine coaches, Tom Carrier expressed the opinion that some aspects of the defect might apply to earlier models as well. To be clear, I have no opinion on this. But it might justify having owners of earlier vintages join in this effort to generate DOT interest in the steering issue.

I believe you'd find it would take no more than ten minutes of your time to fill out the referenced form. And from the information I've received this morning, the more folks that express an "official interest" by sending in the form the more likely we are to have NHTSA on our side with this one.

If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to send a PM.

Tom
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Old 05-08-2009, 02:50 PM   #94
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Bob

I will report my problem to the gov. Also I am very interested in the meeting in Yakima this fall. Where do I find out the info??? My e-mail is jacquieaq@yahoo.com. Thanks, Bob
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Old 05-09-2009, 09:57 PM   #95
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Here is a write-up on my prototype Alpine Steering Bracket Bracket.

All comments appreciated. No, really
OK, I'll hold my breath
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Alpine Steering Bracket Bracket.pdf (420.2 KB, 618 views)
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:07 AM   #96
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Great write-up Mike! I just had my coach at Redlands Truck and RV for some work and had them inspect the bracket closely. All looked well.
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Old 05-11-2009, 01:07 PM   #97
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Update on NHTSA

I've just spoken with Dan Hillman, the Safety Defects Investigator at NHTSA who is looking into this issue. Clearly he has taken an interest in this matter, and they are attempting to justify opening a case on this that could lead to a "recall" or its equivalent finding in the absence of a viable manufacturer. His concerns related to the inability to find a financially responsible party, and the fact that in addition to to the complaint form I filed there has been only one other Alpine owner that has filed the form. As he commented, the more complaints he can show, the better the chance of being able to move this case forward. For those owners that believe they have (or had) this problem, I believe we could all do other Alpine owners a service by helping get the word out on this potential safety issue. Please see my comments a couple of posts above for the specifics on how to file the needed form. Dan was concerned that "WRV doesn't even answer the phone", and I explained the subsequent role of Monomoy. He was most interested to learn of that fact, and that Monomoy is indeed a continuing and viable entity. I'm quite sure he will be following up with them as well.

In addition to the complaint form, if anyone has pictures they could send of their specific units that demonstrate this issue, I'd recommend you send them to Dan at Daniel.Hillman@dot.gov. Or if you'd like to comment directly to him with respect to the matter, you can do that as well.

Although the ability even for NHTSA to pin down a responsible party here is questionable, keep in mind the possible tax consequence of either a recall or an equivalent alternative finding in terms of a possible tax deduction for an uninsured property loss. I *do not* offer that as a legal opinion, but you may want to consider discussing it with your tax advisor should an official finding be made by NHTSA.

I believe I've done all that I can now with this aspect of the topic, and I'll return it to others for any further helpful technical discussions.

Tom
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Old 05-11-2009, 03:26 PM   #98
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I filed my complaint this a.m. and forwarded available background info on the situation to Dan Hillman per RVers post above, including info from the ACA DRR8 inspections and subsequent analysis. Aside from the possibility of claiming an uninsured loss for the cost of retrofit, there remains possible manufacturer's defect claim insurance that was likely carried by WRV which company has not been liquidated in any bankruptcy to my knowledge. And if Monomoy were to close WRV, Inc., I believe the liabilities of the closed corporation follow the shareholders (who arguably collected all benefits of the corp including write-downs) for a period of several years. If they were to close WRV by bankruptcy, insurance coverage would be handled by the BK court trustee (I believe). So this isn't just an exercise in frustration.

Please file your complaint right away. It only takes about 5 minutes if you have your VIN in hand (grab your vehicle registration). Here are some hints:
under Vehicle definitions there is no motorhome, so choose Bus
under Make, choose Western
under Model there is no Alpine, or Apex, so choose Alpenlite (the only choice available) and your VIN will straighten that out.
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