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Old 11-20-2010, 12:55 PM   #1
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Exclamation TruCenter Solenoid Problems with Pics!

I bought a Blue Ox TruCenter in March after the Safe-T-Steer with the trim unit would not fit on my coach. Another iRV2 member warned me to watch out for solenoid problems but I was told by my RV dealer that this one 'had the fix'...

At first the TruCenter worked great but after driving about 15000 miles in April and doing another 6000 mile cross country trip in July, I noticed that the TruCenter was not adjusting the steering any more. I called Blue Ox and after sending me the wrong parts the first time, they finally sent me a new solenoid. Today I crawled under the coach to replace it and found what the true problem is - a bad design where the solenoid is welded to a bracket. Since that assembly has a lot of vibration, the welds cracked and the solenoid was bouncing around in the 'box' and eventually broke free of the wire, etc. See pics:



See the inside of the box. Evidence of moisture and you can see how the solendoid was welded to a bracket.



Close up of the solenoid where you can see the cracked welds.



Other side of box where wiring broke free of solenoid.



Old and new solenoid side by side. As you can see from what remains of the old label, both are made by Decco.



Bracket of new solenoid which looks like the same welding as the old one that failed.

So on Monday I will make a call to Blue Ox to see if this new solenoid is 'better' or just a replacement of the same problem they put in there originally.

So be careful about getting the TruCenter until Blue Ox confirms that a 'TruFix' is in place.
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Old 11-20-2010, 01:06 PM   #2
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Great write-up Tom! I'm sure this will help a bunch of people.

Thanks,

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Old 11-20-2010, 04:50 PM   #3
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Hello...

I will say hello all and let everyone know I was the person mentioned above. My story in more involved as I tried to work with Blue OX, and the CEO Mr. Hesse, with 5, yes 5, TruCenter units over a years time. I will start by saying that Blue OX refunded my money and shipping fees (Not labor or driving expense or even RV park fees when needed to wait for them.)

I purchased the TruCenter in March 2009. (As above, only after I could not fit the Henderson Trim Kit mount. But I have been told a new one is ready! Yea!) The first one arrived DOA where the solenoid would not fire. I called Blu-ox and was told to call the place I bought it and it was replaced though them. The second unit was installed in April 2009 and our coach went on a few small trips over the summer. The TruCenter was wonderful and worked like a dream.

My wife and I then left on November 22nd for a 6 month trip which we currently are still on. On our way down south from upstate NY, the second TruCenter failed were again the solenoid was not working and the steering was stuck pulling to the right. I called in and spoke with Deanna and a replacement unit was sent from Blue-Ox to a Freightliner Service Center in Gaffney, SC where they swapped out the failed unit. This service center is actually the Freightliner training center right by the plant, thus they know what they are doing. We continued our trip happy again that we had proper steering and control.

We arrived at the Indio, California FMCA rally and met Blue OX staff and Dave, a great service tech, where I praised Blue-Ox for not only a great product, but the service I received. (though costs were out of my pocket.) Dave was the tech that happened to have evaluated my failed unit and advised me it was indeed a bad solenoid and hoped it would not happen again.

Well, as we left the FMCA Indio rally, as fate would have it, the third unit failed the same way...the solenoid failed yet again. I called again and spoke with Deanna. At the end of the call, I ended up more upset. I was told that I would need to send in the unit to be looked at this time as "no one else was having these issues". At this point I asked to be put in contact with the CEO or President of Blu-Ox, I was told by her that she would send out an e-mail, yet I received no call from Mr. Hesse or anyone else. I then called the sales department and left a message with Linda, whom I had happened to meet at the FMCA rally, about the issue. I ended up getting a call back from Dave the tech. We talked about the issue and he agreed this was an issue and needed to be handled.

A new unit was manufactured and made from a "new solenoid" of a different type or a different lot. This was told to me by Dave who was told that from engineering. The unit was when shipped to Dave at Quartzite, AZ when the "Main Event" was to start on Saturday. We arrived in Quartzite on Friday and Dave and two others came over to our coach and replaced the 3rd failed unit with the 4th. He looked over the install and we tested the unit to be sure it functioned. To test we just turned the wheel and pressed the button to be sure the solenoid moved and the unit locked a new center point. All seemed well.

It may be good to note that this new unit, with a different solenoid, did not sound the same as the other units. Usually their was a loud CLICK that could actually be heard in the coach. This new one was 1/2 that click sound and Dave also took note of it. But yet it seemed all was well.

My wife and I left Quartzite on Tuesday, for Lake Havasu, AZ where we planned on staying a week. On the way their the TruCenter was put into use, however, this time a new problem with the unit. This time, even though I can press the button and reset the center line, it would slowly move back to where it was originally. I tried a number of times, different roads, different speeds, and no matter what, it would go back to pulling to the right. I can even move the wheel about 3 to 4 inches off to the left, set the position, and it will set, but then slowly move back to the right, thus not holding the position. This is not wind or anything like that. This is just the TruCenter moving the tie-rod back. When I press the button I can feel the steering loosen, so I know the solenoid fires, and I feel it firm up when I release the button. But then it just slowly moves back within about 30 seconds.

At this point I was in contact with Mr Jay Hesse CEO of BlueOX whom seemed to be unclear of any such issues. I assured him he in fact HAD A MAJOR ISSUE and a safety one at that and it needed to be looked into.

He wanted me to meet up with his rep that happened to be in Lake Havasu. We did and he drove our coach and said, yes, their surely is an issue here. (No kidding, really?) Remember this all started last April, 2009!!! He reported back to Mr Hesse who then informed me he would have a new unit made, tested, and sent over to the local dealer to install but he wanted his rep their to make sure all was done right.

New unit arrive a number if days later to the dealer. (note, we are now coming into 2 weeks in Lake Havasu vs one.) We took the coach over to the dealer and meet the rep there. We left for an hour or so and got a call that we were all set to go. We went right back, I stepped in the coach, pressed the button, and NOTHING! Another unit with the same issue! The reps face dropped as he was told this was a "new unit" made and tested. Yet it did not work when it arrived. (What gets me is they installed it and did not even test it before or after the install and I was the one to tell them it did not work. Oh my.)

So, that was my 5th unit. I have all kinds of emails over the year this took place and I have a lot of excuses. To me, NO EXCUSE when it come to a product marketed as one for safety. Yet NO RECALL was issued.

When I read a note that Tom was waiting for his new TruCenter he just bought to arrive, I PM'ed him as I was wondering WHEN he bought it as I had an email from Mr. Hesse in March 2010 the problem had yet to be resolved. (March 11th, 2010...Me..."Just wanted to check in with you on the Tru-Center issue. Do you have it resolved? Are you now shipping solid product?" - Reply - March 12th, 2010...Mr. Hesse... "Not at this time." ) Tom bought it just before the email that saying no resolve yet. So, to me, this was very wrong of Blue OX, knowing they had an issue, they still choose to sell the TruCenters. Well it seems that I was right to question it and still wonder why they are still for sale.

Sorry for your issue Tom. But it is my guess you are not alone.

I can track it at back at least to my first unit received back in April 2009 and all the way into March 2010. Heck, in one email I was told they KNEW about an issue back in Early December 2009! Yet they still continued to not only ship me two bad units after that, but how many others did they ship?

Sorry for the long post, but after seeing what Tom posted above, I did not feel right staying quite. Even more so if they are still selling the same units. Again, Mr. Hesse was nice, but I fear either he was not getting the full story or something else was amiss. As mentioned, I did get my money back for the unit and shipped and install, but not for the time, gas, and other fees needed to deal with their outright failures.

Selling units when IMHO, they should not have been KNOWING of the issue. Shame. And Tom proved that. Again, sorry Tom.

Special Regards,
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Old 11-20-2010, 05:20 PM   #4
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David; Ouch... that's just plain ugly.

I sure like my Blue Ox tow bar, hitch extender and bike rack and hate to hear that they would do this. Sad.

On a related note, I've been a big fan of Henderson't Line Up in Grant's Pass... their products and the way they do business. The Safe T Plus trim kit wasn't available when they installed my STP three years ago but it's been on my list since it hit the market.

Several threads have indicated that people at Safe T Plus are emphatic in telling anyone who asks that the trim kit is not authorized by them and will void their warranty. I sent an email to Henderson's explaining the situation and asking for an explanation. It's been nearly a week now and no reply. In the past, emails I had sent them with pre-sales questions were answered immediately.

I'll probably still purchase the trim kit since my STP is probably already out of warranty but I'd like an answer to my question. If it's only an issue where Henderson's didn't want to pay STP a royalty for endorsement I'm find with that but.....

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Old 11-20-2010, 07:08 PM   #5
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It seems like a fix is pretty easy. Instead of welding the bracket to the solenoid, they should fabricate a band of metal that goes around the solenoid. That would be much more secure.
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Old 11-21-2010, 03:54 AM   #6
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I fear their is more to the issue than just the bad welds when it comes to these. Remember, all but the second unit failed quickly. So unless the weld broke right away, then their is more to it. Not to mention an email I received on March 1st 2010...

"Early December, when testing the units, Terry had noticed some problems with the solenoids. We sent them back to the supplier for evaluation. They determined that they had put an incorrect part with the wrong voltage in them. We sent all of them back to the supplier for corrections. These that were defective were received in one lot 11/16/09."

This was the email I got as the REASON for the failures. Note the dates mention, yet I had new units fail AFTER that. I pointed out the time line issues here, it seemed to be ignored.

If this was noticed early December, why then were the units that were shipped for me (or anyone else) after that point not correct? It was known problem, yet still shipped the units? I would think that they have serial numbers and production dates and thus should know, I would hope, what part lots when into which serial number units. (Unless parts from old units where being used for rebuilds. But the boxes that came where labeled as new with full packaging.)

It also does raise the question that if they where wrong to begin with, with the wrong voltage, how did they get by QC and out the door AFTER it was known? It almost seems like no testing was done before shipment. Remember, even the last one was a DOA with the same failure and that one was received on Feb 3rd, 2010! A long time from when the issue was discovered.

And please also keep in mind, that the original two TruCenters I received also failed with the same failure type. And that goes back to April 2009.

For whats it worth, when it worked, it worked very well and I would still be using one today if I had not gone through 5 of them with some very strange emails about why this happened to begin with. I never opened my unit as I was told it would void my warranty. So, I can not say the issue was 100% the same...yet, it seems their clearly is an issue. I also own the Blu-ox tow bar and the electric cable. (I did replace the electric cable once already due to very poor internal connections. But I degrees.)

BTW Tom...Shocked to say the least about the moisture damage inside. I would think that the box would be sealed. Again, I would THINK as I am not an engineer. But wow after seeing the inside.
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Old 11-21-2010, 09:21 AM   #7
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I sure hate to hear this about the TruCenter. I installed a new TruCenter on my Phaeton in February of this year. It did not work. There was a click from the solenoid when activated, but not loud enough to be heard inside the coach. At a rally in Albuquerque, a couple of Blue Ox techs removed the unit and took it back to the factory with them. Doug, at Blue Ox, called me later and said they put the unit on the test bench and it worked fine. NTF. They shipped the unit back to me in April. I installed it and it still did not work. Doug offered to send me a new unit which I received in July. I installed it and the solenoid on this unit is much louder and can be heard inside the coach. I have made four trips and 2300 + miles with the new unit and it is working well.

Time will tell...........
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Old 11-22-2010, 02:01 PM   #8
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Called BlueOx and spoke to Kandie. She requested that I email over the pics and confirmed that my email was received.

She called me back in about an hour to confirm the model number (3527) and let me know that an entirely new unit will be shipped out to me on Wednesday. She said her head technical person confirmed that the unit has been improved including a bracket that goes around the solenoid and a case/box that is coated and sealed to prevent moisture from getting in.

Although BlueOx was very responsive, the proof will be if this TruCenter holds up to normal driving conditions. Since I'm in the process of winterizing the coach, that will have to wait for April...
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Old 11-22-2010, 05:28 PM   #9
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Why would they send you a solenoid to replace the one you had if they had a new product?

Seeing you are not going to be driving the coach, I would tell them that they owe you one and wait until you are to use the coach before they send you one. I say this just in case more changes are made.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:33 AM   #10
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Got the replacement TruCenter a few weeks ago but the weather has not cooperated.

Finally a relatively warmer day in NJ (just above freezing and no wind) so got under the rig with son Joe and installed the replacement TruCenter. Torqued up all the big bolts to 180 ft lbs, plugged in and heard a refreshing and loud 'click' come out of the solenoid box.

On the outside, this model looks exactly the same as the old one. I did not crack open the solenoid box to see if in fact there was a better bracket used. Only time will tell if this one holds up...
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Old 12-24-2010, 08:36 AM   #11
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How the driving Tom? Hope all is well. Just a followup that Henderson now has a universal mount for their Trim Kit. I am set to have one installed at the FMCA Indio Rally Jan 12-16. Will be sure to report back on it as it will be great to have another solution.

Still disappointed in Blue OX on, what I consider, a major issue with the not only the product, but their QC.

Take care, keep safe.
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Old 12-24-2010, 01:08 PM   #12
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To my simple mind the True Center is over thinking a steering stabilizer . I've owned and driven everything from eighteen wheelers to subcompact cars with nothing that complicated on the steering.... Am I missing something here ?
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Old 12-24-2010, 01:18 PM   #13
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Maybe missing the use of the item. It's a good idea, but, IMHO, a poor design. This is why I can not wait to try the new trim kit from Henderson.
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Old 12-25-2010, 10:18 AM   #14
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I got my first Tru-Center in 2006, dealer install.. Not 100% happy with that but hey.. The parts I'm not happy with are the dealer parts, not the Blue-Ox parts. Enough of that for now.

It failed last summer.. The failure was a partial lock up.. Suddenly I could not turn left.. I could turn right ok but LEFT as a no go.. Thankfully it failed at less than 5mph in an RV park and I was able to do some fancy driving and put her on a site.. A quick visit down below with a wrench and I could drive again.

Shipped it to blue ox.. NOTE this failure is very much like the one in the Blue Ox Tru Center Recall however they tell me it was not one of the recalled units so they did not pay labor (Mine) or shipping (One way, they did pay the other way)

There was no evidence of corrosion on the solenoid though.

NEW unit appears much... Nicer... Than the old one.. Also, There was some chatter about soleonids burning out when some operator sat on the switch for like five minutes (NO MORE THAN 1/2 Minute please) This I heard when I visited the factory.

They told me they were trying to engineer a fix.. I said "Why not put a timer in the line and time it out" Guess what was in my brand new Tru-Center's box... Yup, a very nice solid state digital timer.
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