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Old 09-18-2009, 02:43 PM   #1
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Steering bracket brace for '04 and later Alpines

As most who have followed this forum know, I had my steering bracket repaired thru welding, and adding more frame bolts.
CAUTION Late Alpine owners!!! Steering box mount issue

I considered the amount of movement of the bracket to be dangerous, as it had already started cracking and I didn't want to worry about it going all of the way. As the thread developed, we were reminded of an earlier post where the bracket fatigued and tore away from the frame.
Broken steering bracket 2004 FDTS
That confirmed my worries about too much bending. I am glad I fixed mine.

Mike Fleming (EngineerMike) has made arrangements with Western Planning & Engineering of Auburn, CA to assemble steering bracket stabilizer kits. These are made to do a similar job as how mine was fixed, but without the welding. They may be available by the Chula Vista pre-rally, you can check w/him. The kits are based on the prototype he designed for his own coach, to stiffen the frame, and arrest movement of the bracket that can cause fatigue cracking (and may ultimately break loose from the frame as happened to that one coach owner). Mike tells me the kit will have all fasteners & instructions for installation, that it should be "self-shimming," and that he installed his own.

I decided to do something to stop the wild bending on mine. I encourage you to get yours fixed also. Remember this is on 2004-2009 coaches only. There a few early 2004's with the older bracket design, so a quick inspection can determine if yours needs the fix. I see Mike on the Chula Vista rally schedule to do inspections, so that's a good time to get this done. You can email him or Western at mike@fleming dot cc or wpe@onemain dot com respectivelyMike if you are interested in the kit.
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Old 09-29-2009, 12:34 PM   #2
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I am here at the pre-rally in Chula Vista and have been asked by a few folks about what I think is the best steering bracket repair. Being a bit lazy, I thought that I would just post my answer here and then not have to repeat it.

When I found the problem, I had to figure out what to do by myself. While I am not an engineer, what makes me pretty good at figuring out how to fix things, is understanding the physics of how things work. The sugestions that were given me by the alignment guy and the repair shop, were to stiffen the frame. While looking at the movement of the bracket, I felt that I needed to brace the rear of the bracket from twisting and moving up and down.

YouTube - 2007 alpine coach

You can see that the most movement is up and down movement on the rear and very little movement fore and aft on the front face. My repair cures the up and down movement, which stops the fore and aft movement on the bracket.



Mike's bracket does the same as mine, while being easier to install and stiffens the mount of the stock bracket.



While the other bracket available, will stiffen up the stock bracket, I think that Mike's and my type of repair is better.
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Old 09-30-2009, 11:34 PM   #3
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Well, Dale, I would say that my brackets from Carrier and Sons RV, which hold the top top like yours, and the back like Mike's, doesn't allow a bit of movement in the stock bracket when setting with a fully loaded coach on hard asphalt and the steering wheels turned lock to lock. So how is your's or Mikes any better? Looks to me like they all work and that's what counts.
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Old 10-01-2009, 08:39 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgerstel View Post
Remember this is on 2004-2009 coaches only. There a few early 2004's with the older bracket design, so a quick inspection can determine if yours needs the fix.
Dale et al,

I've read thru the threads and seen the pics.
How does one determine if their 04 has an older bracket?
An older post suggested the most robust bracket was the smaller "1st gen" bracket, all others suspect, especially after adjustable pedals (which I have) emerged.

Thanks
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Old 10-01-2009, 09:41 AM   #5
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OldForester,

I was only stating why I liked Mike's design better, I never meant to imply that the Carrier brace didn't work. I commend Carrier for supplying a fix when there were no other good solutions out there. I also have heard only good things about them, as a company. I also commend you and anyone else that got yours fixed, I would highly recommend getting either fix done. Just for clarity, besides the things I already mentioned about why I liked Mike's fix best, here are a few more:
Mike's was actually engineered, I know that mine wasn't and I don't think that Carrier's was.
I think that Mike's is less expensive.
I think that Mike's would be easier for anyone to install by them self.

Like all of my posts, these are only my opinions!!! Take them for what they are worth.

Jim,

It is my understanding that anyone with the adjustable pedals, has the problem bracket. Mike can verify that, he has been inspecting all of the coaches he can. He has found that the earlier coaches with the more "robust" brackets are having problems with cracks in the welds and he is looking for a good solution for them also.
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Old 10-01-2009, 06:09 PM   #6
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Jim- crawl under the steering bracket & look up into the bottom. On the front of the type 2 brackets there is a sort of S-curve for the huck bolt flange, and the internal stiffeners are flat plate welded up about 1" from the bottom rear & front edges of front & rear faces. The type 3 bracket (most 04's and all later coaches) front flange is more of an "L," and the internal "stiffener" is bent 1/4" plate (which you can see at the cutout at the top). Also, the type 2 has 5/16" steel plate for the box and rear flange, while the type 3 has 1/4". With these markers you should be able to easily spot if you have the earlier type 2, or the later type 3.

Another marker which isn't so obvious (need to measure) is the proximity of the rear Huch bolts to the rear face. The type 3 has over 1.5" offset to the center of the bolts from the rear face and you can easily clean the rear-face/rear-flange fold with a wet rag. On the type 2, you will jamb a finger trying to run a rag between bolts and rear face, I think less than 1.25" face to center of bolt. This longer flange allows some of the added flex.
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Old 10-02-2009, 10:20 PM   #7
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DeGerstel,

I agree that I like Mike's design. I think it is simple and obviously works, and if I were doing it today I would probably have Redlands install it this winter when I'm in Palm Springs.

One thing that is overlooked about Carrier and Sons' design, which you might have overlooked, that is different from yours and Mikes' is that 1) it doesn't require welding, like yours, and 2) it doesn't require removal of Huck bolts, like Mike's. It was designed to work around both of those issues. So in that regard, it might be a little easier to install than it looks, just takes about 3 drill bits because of the wear form the harder metal, but then Mike's is probably hard on drill bits.

Not a big deal; as I said earlier these all work and the important thing is that owners get them repaired one way or another before they have a serious problems.
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Old 10-03-2009, 12:43 AM   #8
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Bill- I used a hole saw bit for both bracket sets I installed, and could do a couple more with that same bit. Trick is to oil it regularly, and drill slow to allow the teeth to cut instead of wear. The pilot holes (1/4") took more time by at least double to drill than the full size holes.

Twist drills have to be spun fast to avoid grabbing, and that means they wear more than cut. If you run a 5/8" twist drill bit slow enough to cut, and it grabs- it'll probably throw the operator. Inside the steering gear well, that means you are going to hit something you will wish you didn't. Hole saw bits are the trick for holes in thick steel, slow feed & cutting oil.
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Old 10-03-2009, 10:16 AM   #9
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My 05 which was built late 04 has a totaly different bracket that looks like you would strip the stearing post out before the box moved.
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Old 10-04-2009, 01:01 PM   #10
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Mike,

I had not thought about a hole saw with cutting oil, and I've used them before on larger holes. That's a good idea on the thick steel.
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Old 10-05-2009, 08:18 AM   #11
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In case you haven't seen this new thread, please click on the following link:

WRV Alpine Steering Bracket Upgrade Kit

Thank you!
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Old 10-05-2009, 05:49 PM   #12
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"I used a hole saw bit for both bracket sets I installed"

Greetings from Amarillo, Texas heading west toward our beloved Palm Springs,

E-Mike, please describe the hole saw specs. Carbide tipped? Diamond tipped? The stuff I buy at Home Depot probably won't cut it. I found a plate cutter on the Internet for $143 which puckered me up a bit.
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Old 10-05-2009, 06:36 PM   #13
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I bought the Fastenal house brand (Blackstone), which are bi-metal. I used a 9/16 to drill (cut actually) a not-quite-5/8 hole as the tooth set was a bit uneven and cut larger than the nominal size. I had to dress the holes a bit w/a round file (I used a 5/16 chainsaw file which I find are very sharp, usually made in the USA or Sweden, and cut faster than most cheap rat tail files. The final kit instructions suggest a 5/8 hole saw. I don't see the hole saw sizes on the above link less than 3/4 and my local store (this is a national chain) didn't stock them but could order them w/in a few days. I bought all sizes less than 3/4 for inclusion in my rolling tool kit, very handy.

"The right tool turns an idiot into a genius." In my case, I need a lotta tools.
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