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Old 08-27-2007, 05:49 AM   #1
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This is the first in a series of five posts on my experiences with a broken frame on our 2004 Excel 36RDO.

Purchasing a quality RV in 2004 was our first step in preparing for a full-time RV lifestyle. By trade I am a researcher and a consultant, with clients from coast to coast and from Michigan to Texas ... the RV lifestyle is the best possible choice, allowing my wife and me to spend time together while traveling to meet the needs of my customers. We love it.

Since picking up our new 2004 Excel 5th wheel in mid 2004, we've traveled approximately 45,000 to 50,000 miles ... pulling our trailer with a 2004 Dodge Ram dually. We've spent a winter in the Oregon mountains, where temperatures dropped to minus 10, and we've spent time in Arizona when the temperature was a 112. We've traveled through the tail end of a hurricane, with rain so hard that I-70 was closed because of flooding; and we've traveled through a dust storm in the California desert that was as thick as any fog. Through it all, our Excel trailer has been a comfortable and faithful companion.

Then our frame broke. This is the story about the consequences; the solution; and our resulting impressions of Excel and Peterson Industries. The next four posts will cover:


Excel Broken Frame – Our Long Road to the Factory

Excel Broken Frame – The Factory Repair

Excel Broken Frame – Our Impressions

Excel Broken Frame – Unmet Expectations


There are no villains in this story – quite the contrary. Even ˜gold standard' products have problems and failures. What separates gold standard companies from the rest is the way they work to resolve problems. I'm still trying to decide if Excel demonstrated their commitment to a gold standard in this case; and I'm looking forward to your thoughts as I post the details.
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Old 08-27-2007, 05:49 AM   #2
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This is the first in a series of five posts on my experiences with a broken frame on our 2004 Excel 36RDO.

Purchasing a quality RV in 2004 was our first step in preparing for a full-time RV lifestyle. By trade I am a researcher and a consultant, with clients from coast to coast and from Michigan to Texas ... the RV lifestyle is the best possible choice, allowing my wife and me to spend time together while traveling to meet the needs of my customers. We love it.

Since picking up our new 2004 Excel 5th wheel in mid 2004, we've traveled approximately 45,000 to 50,000 miles ... pulling our trailer with a 2004 Dodge Ram dually. We've spent a winter in the Oregon mountains, where temperatures dropped to minus 10, and we've spent time in Arizona when the temperature was a 112. We've traveled through the tail end of a hurricane, with rain so hard that I-70 was closed because of flooding; and we've traveled through a dust storm in the California desert that was as thick as any fog. Through it all, our Excel trailer has been a comfortable and faithful companion.

Then our frame broke. This is the story about the consequences; the solution; and our resulting impressions of Excel and Peterson Industries. The next four posts will cover:


Excel Broken Frame – Our Long Road to the Factory

Excel Broken Frame – The Factory Repair

Excel Broken Frame – Our Impressions

Excel Broken Frame – Unmet Expectations


There are no villains in this story – quite the contrary. Even ˜gold standard' products have problems and failures. What separates gold standard companies from the rest is the way they work to resolve problems. I'm still trying to decide if Excel demonstrated their commitment to a gold standard in this case; and I'm looking forward to your thoughts as I post the details.
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Old 08-27-2007, 06:37 AM   #3
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I'm looking forward to your next installment and possibly pictures of the problem and corrective action.
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Old 08-27-2007, 06:46 AM   #4
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Will you be giving us some more details regarding your 5th wheel hitch setup, assuming the failure was in the pinbox area? If it was elsewhere, please ignore this request.

Rusty
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Old 08-27-2007, 07:01 AM   #5
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WELCOME Bob Wilson to iRV2, as I see this is your first post!

We appreciate you stopping by to share your experiences with your Excel product and look forward to hearing more of your experiences.
You have found what we consider to be one of the best web sites available for the benefit of not only the Excel Owner, but all RV'ers as
well.
I invite you to "surf around" our many forum topics, I truly believe there's something for everyone.

Bob
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Old 08-27-2007, 07:04 AM   #6
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Hi John and Rusty,

Thanks for posting comments. Unfortunately I'm not very mechanically inclined, so I leave the repairs to others ... which in this case means I didn't crawl under the trailer to take pictures.

While I have some concerns about the pin box and front frame ... my bedroom slide binds when attached to the truck, but not when on the jacks ... no problem was found in this area at the factory.

My frame broke right behind the back axle on both sides ... one side was cracked top to bottom, and the other side had a 1/4" gap according to the Excel dealer in Eugene.

But I'm getting ahead of myself ... I'll post the next installment later today.

Bob


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Old 08-27-2007, 07:16 AM   #7
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Thanks for the update on the location -- saves us paranoid types from crawling all along the frame searching for cracks!

"Rebelsbeach's" post reminded me that I had not extended a big welcome to iRV2.com and the 'Excel Owner's Forum". We look forward to hearing more about this problem and your Excel experiences.
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Old 08-27-2007, 07:54 AM   #8
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Thanks for the welcome John.

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Old 08-27-2007, 08:07 AM   #9
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by ChiefJohn:
"Rebelsbeach's" post reminded me that I had not extended a big welcome to iRV2.com and the 'Excel Owner's Forum". We look forward to hearing more about this problem and your Excel experiences. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Same here. Welcome to iRV2.com! We're glad to have you with us.

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Old 08-27-2007, 08:48 AM   #10
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Bob Wilson:
my bedroom slide binds when attached to the truck, but not when on the jacks </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Interesting...we have the exact opposite problem: the bedroom slide binds when on the jacks, but not on the truck!

We have to open and close the slide when it's on the truck; otherwise, one corner binds and doesn't come loose until the rest of the slide is out several inches.

It's a problem that we can live with for now, but eventually, we'll have to take the rig back to Smith Center to have it adjusted.
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Old 08-27-2007, 08:57 AM   #11
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Hi Linda,

Although my bedroom slide is binding while on the truck now (after the latest adjustment in Smith Center last week), this past spring I was having the same problem you are ... I had to remember to deploy the slide before putting down the jack stands or it would bind completely ... I thought the slide would break before it would come free.

I'm also getting some snapping and popping when I use the jacks to take weight of the pin box before disconnecting from the truck.

Both conditions give me the impression that there is too much flex in the nose of the trailer. I'm not an engineer, an RV tech, or mechanically inclined ... clearly I'm no expert. But I'd sure like to think that the structure was solid enough for the slide to work equally well whether on the truck or on the jacks.
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Old 08-27-2007, 09:26 AM   #12
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Bob, welcome to iRV2. Seems a lot of manufacturers have had had frame problems at one time or another. Excel seems to be a stand up operation and i am sure they will get it fixed for you.

back around 1997, Fleetwood was trying to save some $$$$ on th Avion line and had a series of frame problems and cost them a bunch of $$$$. The older Avions never had a frame problem.

Hope you made out OK.

This kind of problem always will get Rusty's and my attention since we are both mechanical engineers.

Ken
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Old 08-27-2007, 10:09 AM   #13
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Hi Ken,

Thanks for the welcome.

My positive experiences with Excel, in terms of quality, service, and friendliness, far outweigh a few negatives.

But this frame experience has left me more than a bit unnerved. I expect things to break on an RV, especially given the number of miles I travel combined with full-time living. But the frame is something that I never expected to have a problem with on a quality brand like Excel.

More importantly, as you'll read in my third post in the series, Excel was aware of the problem but did not notify dealers or owners. This seems almost inexcusable where safety is concerned.

But perhaps I expect too much ... I really don't know.
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:45 AM   #14
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by LindaH:

Interesting...we have the exact opposite problem: the bedroom slide binds when on the jacks, but not on the truck!

We have to open and close the slide when it's on the truck; otherwise, one corner binds and doesn't come loose until the rest of the slide is out several inches.

It's a problem that we can live with for now, but eventually, we'll have to take the rig back to Smith Center to have it adjusted. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
Linda You spoke of a similiar problem back in March and I am wondering if this current one you mention is the same as in your March posting below.
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">LindaH
Posted March 31, 2007 03:39 PM Hide Post
Thanks for the info Max1. We'll probably have it checked at the factory when we're there this summer. However, we have discovered that if we put the bedroom slide out before we unhook from the truck, it doesn't make the "bang," so we're thinking that somehow the frame is being twisted just enough once the front jacks are down and we've unhooked the truck that it causes the bang.

Related to that is the fact that the bathroom door won't close when the truck is unhooked from the rig, but it closes just fine when we're hooked up and the landing jacks are up.

We also have had a problem with our 2 big downstairs slides the past couple of times we've closed them: they stop several times while coming in and then start up again. We're going to call the factory next week to see what the problem might be -- hopefully, it's something really simple.

Linda Hylton </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

If it is a related problem that should have been fixed I would have thought when you were at SC in May this year. I am just courious now that we are doing a type of report card for PI

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