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Old 04-14-2010, 02:05 AM   #1
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Possible Rear End Deficiency, late 04's, early 05's

Heard from Vic & Wilma Egg while they visited us over the last few days, their 40'-05 coach was subject to some deficiency in the anchorage of the rear end to the frame, and that this affected Louis Birch's 05 in a large way, and some other coaches. The issue is/was the use of 5/8" OEM bolts where there should have been 3/4" bolts holding the Neway suspension package to the frame or otherwise involved in anchoring rear end. Apparently Louis' issue progressed further while Egg's was caught earlier, but both coaches were rectified at the factory prior to closing, along w/several other rigs as the problem was identified. Other rumor has it the affected coaches were within a range of maybe 40 coaches prior to and maybe 40 coaches after #75317. Total # of coaches affected is probably less than 80, maybe 40-50. Those numbers are as relayed to me by the Eggs and Mike & Mike Collins' (who may have heard it from the Eggs).

This is too vague a description from which to even analyze the problem, so I'm hoping those who have first hand experience and paid close attention can fill in the substantial blanks for those whose coaches may be involved. The fix is to drill out the frame where needed to replace maybe 12 bolts. If there is wear due to broken or worn connections, additional work may be needed (I'm coloring outside the lines here based on my background and the picture of the problem I was given).

That's all I have. If you have more (or less but factual) info, please post. Mike
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Old 04-14-2010, 04:03 AM   #2
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After buying our '05(#75327) I notice that it seemed to be "dog tracking" while looking back through the rear view mirrors. While at my shop I measured the distance on both sides of the coach from center of the front axle to the center of the rear, and found a difference between both sides. I don't remember now what it exactly was maybe 1"-1 1/2". I have the paperwork that I drew up and faxed to WRV in the motorhome with the measurements. When we were at the factory in July of '06 that's what they did to correct the problem, drilling them out to 3/4" at the rear. Mark told me at that there were a few of them out there with the 5/8" bolts, but that thought they had 'em all fixed.
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Old 04-14-2010, 07:05 AM   #3
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I have 75330 mine has never dog tracked my wife just followed me for 1000 miles and said it drove straight. I had followed Louis to HWH after the Nashville rally and noticed his rear tracking to the left. At the time Louie didn't think anything was wrong when I told him his was tracking to the left.

I would like more info also so I can make a check on mine. I was also at the factory in July/August 06. I would think they would have checked any units that came through there after becoming aware of the issue. I had heard about this sometime ago and actually did a cursory inspection and all looked good. I may have not looked in the right area.
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Old 04-14-2010, 10:09 AM   #4
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John- sounds like you have some useful paperwork. Can you scan it & email it to me: EngineerMike at Vagabondwater dot com? Thanks.
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:18 AM   #5
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This just in from LouisB:
Hello Mike,
My coach vin is 75317 and it did in fact have 5/8 bolts in 3/4 inch holes. The 'new' rear suspension from Neway has 3/4 inch holes at the mounting points called hangers. These are the vertical units at the front that attach to the frame. The frame members had 5/8 inch pre-drilled laser holes. WRV used 5/8 bolts to install the real axle. This allowed the hangers, mounting member, to walk fore and aft causing misalignment of the rear axle. On several coaches near this vin number, this in turn causes severe wear of the front tires trying to compensate for the rear alignment movement. Tires reached steel cord in less than 3000 miles.

I know of no concerted effort on the part of WRV to identify and correct this defect. My coach was not repaired until after the collapse of WRV. The 'big sweaty wad' on money to fix this came from my pocket.

As an aside, the first replacement of my bolts was not so good. The shop used common high strength bolts and nuts with no locking device. On the first trip out going to Perry, 7 of the 12 mounting bolts fell out!!!! Apparently when the alignment was completed, the bolts were never re-torqued and simply fell out. The indication I got after some 800 miles was that under power, the steering wheel had to be turned 90 degrees to the left from normal. When releasing the throttle and coasting, I immediately had to turn the steering wheel 180 degrees to the right. NOT GOOD! In Georgia, I had all of the bolts replaced with grade 8 shoulder bolts with gripper flange locking devices. I then marked with finger-nail polish, a line on each bolt head and nut to provide a visual confirmation of no movement. To date, all is okay on mine.

WRV corrected several coaches and authorized several others to have the work done at local frame shops. The frame has to be drilled to 3/4 and new bolts installed. A four wheel alignment is then necessary to bring all into spec and provide the correct thrust angle for the drive axle.

Ray Schemanske... and I have discussed the vin numbers involved and could not definitively identify the exact span of affective vin's. We kind'a picked the +/- 40 units centered on my vin to assure good coverage when talking to other coach owners because we knew of vin numbers both below and above my vin. These bolts are NOT huck bolts and we have been suggesting that folks near these vin's remove one bolt from the mount and inspect the size of the bolt and the hole in the hanger as compared to the hole in the frame. This is a relatively simple inspection and you can clearly see the difference in the holes in the mount verses the frame.
Hope this helps to understant this issue.
Louis

OK, that's clear enough for some owner action where indicated. Say VIN 75275 to 75360.

I can't lay my hand on my Machinery's Handbook (must have left it in my other coach) just now. My 08 has hex head bolts w/an integral flange on the head connecting the front Neway hanger to the chassis frame, and they have a 1-1/8" hex head. I measured this by placing an adjustable crescent type wrench on the head, adjusting till snug, and measuring the gap in the wrench head, which I could do w/out crawling under the rig. An ordinary 5/8" hex head bolt (no flange) has a 15/16" head; don't know about the 5/8 bolts Louis is referencing, but suspect they will be 15/16 or maybe slightly less. A 5/8" Huck for reference has a significant shoulder and 13/16 hex head on the bolt, 1-3/16 on the nut; the smaller hex on bolt is compensated by the 1.25" flange to spread the load, so perhaps a 5/8" flange bolt will have a smaller-than 15/16 hex.
At any rate 04/05 owners are looking for 5/8" bolts w/less than the 1-1/8" hex heads on the Neway bracket-to-frame connection ahead of the rear tire. If you have those smaller bolts, you will need to consider getting the bolts upsized to full 3/4" shank, Grade 8 w/proper torque and permanent thread locker (Loctite type) and external mechanical locking device (not a lock washer). If you are in question as to the bolt size, you can do as Louis suggests and remove a bolt to inspect shank diameter & hole size in frame/Neway-flange.
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Old 04-14-2010, 01:47 PM   #6
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I just happened to be under coach #75320 this morning for steering reinforcement, so I checked the bolt heads holding front Neway flange to frame at rear end- 15/16" hex head plus flange for the bolt heads.
Looks like 5/8" bolts. Rig has 33.7k and has not noted any problems yet.
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Old 04-14-2010, 03:38 PM   #7
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My coach is 75302 and had the 5/8 inch bolts replaced in March 2008 by Massey's Truck & RV Service in Phoenix. My rear suspension had shifted such that all the bushings were crushed and required replacement.

Massey's was able to get reimbursed from WRV prior to closing. They told WRV that my coach would not be released until payment was received. It worked.
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Old 04-14-2010, 05:33 PM   #8
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John- how many miles on your rig when you noticed, and what were the symptoms that caused you to have it looked at?

On #75320 this afternoon, I measured a 3/4 to 1" difference in distance of rear tire to bodywork just ahead of it, DS was closer by that amount, and neither tire was centered in the well. Doesn't mean the body work is square, but at least its a starting point, and probably a good point of reference for any one rig over time; i.e. check tire clearance visually vs. your tire well & if it moves- get it fixed.
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Old 04-14-2010, 06:19 PM   #9
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Oh LORD O'Mercy

Did ANY RV manufacturer even care about what they built???
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Old 04-14-2010, 07:32 PM   #10
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Ray Schemanske called me for a more complete download on this. Driving symptom is a distinct pull to the right when at speed. Front tire wear pattern will show heavy shoulder wear on the PS outside and DS inside, about 1/3 of tire tread width (from your wheel response pulling the coach back to the left to stay in your lane). Ray's symptoms started ~32,000 miles, and he got it fixed ~36k at a place called Duncan in Elkhart IN. Ray also heard a distinct metalic thunk when applying the Jake; that was the rear axle shifting backward suddenly and the "suspension tower" plates shifting against the frame. Duncan's told Ray they could see the wear marks from the movement.

If your coach has started to allow movement of the suspension towers, you will need to have a 4-wheel alignment done (in addition to drilling out frame & installing 3/4" bolts). Cost may run ~1,000 smackers from the big sweaty wad of money. If your towers are in the original, upright & fully locked position, it may be possible to remove a single bolt at a time, drill frame, install 3/4 bolt & lock nut, then proceed w/the others singly till all 12 (6 per side) are done, and maybe escape the 4-wheel align. YMMV. Of course, like everything on an Alpine, this is a fun DIY job using a hole saw (but only if the 5/8 bolt hole is neatly centered in the 3/4" bolt hole of the tower; if they are offset you will need some fancy realignment suing hydraulic rams before drilling) using the tower bolt hole as a collar/pilot for the hole saw.

Ray's coach is 75254, so that's 66 coach numbers confirmed. There could be numbers below 75254 and above 75320. Use a crescent wrench and measure the bolt heads on the "suspension tower" on the frame just ahead of your rear tire and visible between the tire & wheel well. I can reach my arm thru to "gap" the wrench on the bolt head and then measure the wrench gap. Please report any numbers outside this slot with 15/16" bolt heads (5/8" bolts) so others can check against their coach# and get theirs fixed where needed.
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Old 04-14-2010, 08:12 PM   #11
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After reading this thread, crawled under coach (s/n 75239) found 12 ea 3/4" (measured 1-1/8" across flats) N.C. hex head cap screws attaching Neway suspension to frame. I assume these are the 12 fastners in question. There appears to be a regular nut on opposite end of bolt with a flat washer (could be a Belleville spring type), Coach now has 39K miles after returning on a 2K mile trip and did not note any tracking problems or unusual tire wear. Last alignment check was at 27K miles and only minor adjustments were made.
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Old 04-14-2010, 09:51 PM   #12
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Mike I'll look up my drawing in the file, might be a couple days. I know it's in there somewhere. I'll see about scanning it, wife will have to do that part, or faxing it to you.
Hi Wayne we were at the factory at the same time,you'll probably remember my obnoxious brother-in-law more so than me. He and my sister were camped next to us in their Holiday Rambler (SOB). We're partying down one night with the margaritas and my bro-in-law was always trying to "bust your chops"...Remember? lol...
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Old 04-14-2010, 10:02 PM   #13
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All,
We wish both of us had been hungover when we heard about WRV's going under and never had taken the trip down to the dealer to confirm that news story. The upshot would be we would not have this BPOS, and our bank accounts would be way bigger. This is just my two cents worth. On our way to Clearwater, FL, we stopped at Lazydays to check out what a new Allegro Bus would be, and the dealer would not go over 120K on a trade in for our coach. Based on my most recent run on NADA, that is almost 200K below what the thing books out for, so I am underneath it so far, oxygen is needed to breathe. We both wish we had never seen it. It's causing lots of disgreaments and it's not fun knowing every time we use it, move it, or park it, money is going to flow out of our fingers quicker than it comes in. Do I sound pissed, this issue is just one of the latest to remind me, WRV built crappy motorhomes, and not one or two but hundreds. Why DOT never shut them down is a wonder to me. Only a piss poor economy did it, too bad it did not happen years before. Anyone want to buy my APEX, any offer over 210K takes it, and I will deliver it for free.
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Old 04-15-2010, 02:22 AM   #14
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Old, most of us feel your pain. I have decided I will maintain my coach and fix the issues as they come up. I don't have any more hair to pull out so I just focus on enjoying life and try not to worry about the 100 grand I am out. I could not afford the loss either. It helps to vent sometimes though!
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