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Old 09-17-2016, 01:11 PM   #1
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Cool Lippert Frame flexing

I have a 32' Crusader 295RST 5th wheel. Ended up with a side wall crack on the neck of my unit. The dealer on analysis and inspection determined there were no cracks to the frame but that the pin box flexes up and down by 1 3/4" depending on whether the weight is on the pin or the jacks. The frame is made by Lippert and I am curious whether this is normal or should I be worried about what will happen next? I really would like an answer from Lippert themselves too as Forest River has washed their hands of this.
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Old 09-17-2016, 02:01 PM   #2
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That is a horrible amount of flex. I say that your dealer is full of sh*t to claim there are no cracks in the frame. No way can it flex that amount if it is still intact.
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Old 09-17-2016, 05:33 PM   #3
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The issue you're having is an ongoing issue for Lippert frames for quite some time now. The only way to REALLY inspect the frame area is to remove ALL under sheeting on the neck of the trailer around the pin box.
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Old 09-17-2016, 10:54 PM   #4
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The dealer did remove the sheeting when they inspected the frame. I personally do not think the frame should flex more than a 1/4". When the dealer was inspecting mine they did a comparison with a brand new Gateway and found it too flexed but only 1 1/2".
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Old 09-17-2016, 11:20 PM   #5
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I've seen Lippert 5th frames made with 6" (scary) I beam, 10" I beam and 8" I beam welded to a 3" HSS.

The RV manufacture chooses which frame they buy from Lippert. If issue is frame flex and not failing welds the finger should be pointed at the RV manufacture no Lippert.

The strongest frames I've seen are 12" I beam frames with 8" HSS for the pin box made by Arctic Fox and New Horizons.
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Old 09-18-2016, 09:35 AM   #6
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There are many ways to measure flex and also get inconsistent readings, but what you have is probably too much. Mine was just as bad before Lippert agreed to fix it, now it is about 1/2" and was repaired in late 2011.
Lippert and my manufacturer also changed the frame design after being made aware of the issue.

OTOH many similar units were not fixed since there was no recall and after 5 years there have been no failures reported on the forums.

Lippert even has a spec for taking measurements called "upper deck flex measurement instructions". Unfortunately it lacks actual pass/fail numbers and even worse, the lower measurement point specified is not accessible on most finished units.

PM me if you want more details but your frame will probably be different and need different repairs.
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Old 09-18-2016, 10:00 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by D Lindy View Post
The issue you're having is an ongoing issue for Lippert frames for quite some time now. The only way to REALLY inspect the frame area is to remove ALL under sheeting on the neck of the trailer around the pin box.
Lindy is correct. And, 1-1/2" is excessive IMHO. 3/4" would probably be acceptable IF there is no evidence of damage to inside and outside panels.
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Old 09-18-2016, 03:16 PM   #8
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What is a reasonable method to measure flex at the pin box? Is this something that can be done by owner?
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Old 09-18-2016, 04:38 PM   #9
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What is a reasonable method to measure flex at the pin box? Is this something that can be done by owner?
I used an 8 ft board strapped to the top of the pin box with a yardstick hanging on the end to get past the truck bed, this is the target. Then used a 16" laser level clamped to the side of the open storage compartment behind the front legs. With the laser spot aimed at the yardstick you can compare measurement hooked and unhooked. With both target and laser fixed at different points on the trailer, this is as accurate as you can get.

Dealers typically use a forklift to lift the trailer at the pin and measure with a tape measure to the ground, but most of us don't have access to a forklift and readings can be sloppy.
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Old 09-18-2016, 05:38 PM   #10
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Other than doing as dayle1 suggested, perhaps putting a live human in the truck bed to observe and measure movement would work as you drive. Not sure I'd want to do that. I've seen video from mounted GoPro cameras underneath vehicle chassis' to determine problems, but you'd also have to set up a method to take a measurement.
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Old 09-20-2016, 07:35 AM   #11
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3/4" inch pinbox flex is the absolute most you should ever have. Another issue that will cause sidewalls to crack is broken welds in the wall structure itself, usually caused by excessive flex. This will also cause the screws through the angle iron in the goose neck into the bottom of the wall structure to snap, and sometimes even break the angle right off the frame. If you've got an 1 3/4" flex from unhooked to fully mounted on the truck, that is wayyyyy to much.
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Old 09-20-2016, 03:42 PM   #12
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Is there any way to detect this on a PDI for a new rig? I was asking about frames on another thread I started and this has just made me more concerned about the quality of Lippert frames in general.
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Old 09-20-2016, 03:57 PM   #13
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Is there any way to detect this on a PDI for a new rig? I was asking about frames on another thread I started and this has just made me more concerned about the quality of Lippert frames in general.
Ask the dealer to do what I stated.

"Dealers typically use a forklift to lift the trailer at the pin and measure with a tape measure to the ground, but most of us don't have access to a forklift and readings can be sloppy."

Bet you hear lots of reasons why this isn't necessary on a brand new unit. Good luck.
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Old 09-21-2016, 05:58 AM   #14
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Is there any way to detect this on a PDI for a new rig? I was asking about frames on another thread I started and this has just made me more concerned about the quality of Lippert frames in general.
The way I measure pinbox flex is this:

Pick a spot on top of the pinbox that's pretty much straight below a flat spot on the front cap, put a piece of masking tape on it and mark it with a pen or marker. Then pick a spot on the front cap, put a piece of masking tape on it and mark the tape. Measure the distance between the two points with the unit off the truck (or tripod if you have one). Now, lower the unit onto the truck or tripod so that your landing gear is completely off the ground, and measure the distance between the two marks. That the difference between the two measurements is the your flex. Anything more than 3/4" is too much.
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