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Old 03-17-2017, 09:33 AM   #1
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Broken Welds

I am on a Face Book group dealing with a popular brand of fifth wheel, which for the point of discussion, will remain nameless. A person posted pictures of their 40' 2016 5th wheel that had cracked siding at the point of where the horizontal floor joists at the front bedroom area are welded to the vertical wall aft of the bedroom. They returned the camper, even after the warranty had run out, to the manufacturer and the manufacturer discovered the welds in this area were broken and made good with repairing the camper free of charge. The poster also made a comment that has me bewildered today. the comment was that this is the second fifth wheel that this has happened to them in the past few years. Both were fairly new campers that the poster admitted that they not only full time in but travel to areas without the best of roads during their travels. My thoughts are that 5th wheels, due to the size, weight and torque being put into the area of their cracked welds might not be the best choice for these types of excursions. I have visions of sharp turns backing into uneven terrain and bouncing over back roads. I own my first fifth wheel and I do plan some trips off the grid so to speak in a few years. Has anyone any comments on if they think what I stated above could be the cause of the damage and if so, what I need to know to keep my rig in 1 piece?

George & Deb
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Old 03-17-2017, 11:50 AM   #2
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With out trying to simplify this too much or be insulting, many rv's will not stand up to the rigors of off road use! Without refabricating ( gusseting the frame,improving axle to frame components, ext.) there's not a lot you can do, as obviously you can't tear out walls and reconstruct the unit. You may have to go to a unit that is more conducive to off road usage. Articl Fox comes to mind. Good Luck! memtb

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Old 03-17-2017, 01:41 PM   #3
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I will definitely rethink where I will camp especially now..I want to dry camp at times but will stay close to the beaten paths for sure.
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Old 03-17-2017, 04:50 PM   #4
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If you abuse anything beyond it's designed limits IT WILL BREAK.
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Old 03-17-2017, 08:08 PM   #5
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They may have a midline 5th wheel and using and MDT to pull it. The rough suspension on a MDT is known to crack welds in the forward areas like you describe. Thus the OP may need a trailer saver air ride.
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Old 03-17-2017, 10:17 PM   #6
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The 5th wheel trailers can be very heavy. As the original poster says the trailer with the cracked welds was a 40' trailer. With a trailer that size, I would be afraid to take it off road period. In my experience, people drive to fast for road conditions. That 3500 lbs of tongue weight might turn into 20,000 lbs when hitting a cattle guard or pot hole. Almost all our camping is off road, so we wanted to stay under 30' We have one of the best off road outfits with a heavy duty frame, with a lot of clearance. It has shocks on all four wheels, and all the sewer pipes are high enough not to be torn off. If you do go on rough dirt roads like I do, take it easy and I don't think you will have any problems. Dave-R
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Old 03-17-2017, 10:47 PM   #7
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Another critical consideration is how heavily loaded is the front storage compartment? If it's over it's manufacturers weight limit that will quickly cause a problem. Especially with the lighter weight frames they're using in some of the newer coaches. I have been surprised at how many folks I have run into at campgrounds that don't have a clue to how much weight they're carrying in their coaches, both motorhomes and 5th wheels.

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Old 03-17-2017, 11:15 PM   #8
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That is one of the problems with trailers, you don't hear all the crashing and banging going on like in a MH. We have friends that pretty much destroyed a TT on 1 trip to the Yukon and back. Driving too fast on rough roads!
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Old 03-18-2017, 09:03 AM   #9
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The quality build of the frame is the source of the failures. Think of the frame as the "cornerstone" of your rv. Just like with a home, you have to have a good foundation for a solid home. I honestly believe that even a 40 ft./20K lb. 5th wheel can be taken off road, and I have pictures to prove it. Obviously, "SLOW" would be highly recommended for the really rough stuff. While we do not do extensive offloading, several times yearly we do go on gravel roads and the occasional "two track". One in particular, was an approximate 6 to 10 or 12 % grade of very rough dirt/gravel.We were in 4 low the entire way, often down to second gear. We've done that pull twice, though I would' t recommend it! memtb
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Old 03-20-2017, 07:51 AM   #10
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I live in the Yukon and travel the back roads to different lakes.I have a 30'
5er and I did have a problem with the front welds breaking.I had changed
my hitch from the standard in bed to a goose neck ,this could have had something to do with the break.Also the the original 5th wheel pin was 1/4''
plate and I removed it and replaced it with 3/8''plate ,This was done 3 yrs ago and have had no problems since.
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Old 03-20-2017, 06:46 PM   #11
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My opinion is that many front frame failures are due to the use of extended pin boxes, even though I would like to have one. I tow with a short bed crew cab with a flat bed and my headache rack has damaged my front fiberglass cap more than once. An extended pin box would allow me to turn quite a bit sharper. The added leverage of an extended pin box can be more that the frame can handle though. Two years ago while coming home from an elk hunting trip that requires 40 miles each way of unimproved forest service dirt roads, sometimes covered in mud or snow and with the added stress of me towing a 14 foot stock trailer with two horses in it behind my 5er, had a bad reaction to me going over a cattle guard, ripping the lower flange off of the bottom of the frame where the rear spring hanger attached. Not good and a very slow ride 150 miles to home. I repaired the frame, but it still leaves me questioning the strength of most 5th wheel frames. I have seen some that I would be afraid to take around the block, super light frames. I like strong and over built is our friend.
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Old 03-20-2017, 07:21 PM   #12
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nuffsaid, Howdy neighbor!

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