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Old 07-29-2021, 08:23 PM   #1
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Crack on the side of my RV.

I have a 2015 heartland bighorn 3875 FB. Today I discovered a crack on the outside just above the slide out for the living room. It's on the driver's side. After discovering this on the outside I went inside and also discovered a crack above the residential refrigerator in the same location. I am assuming these two are the same one on the inside one on the outside. Has anyone had this problem before. What caused the problem. And how easy is it to get fixed. Also is there danger in going ahead on my trip with these cracks. I am sure the RV is going to be out of warranty for any structural damage. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old 07-29-2021, 08:35 PM   #2
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I don’t think that putting more stress on the area by moving it down the road is going to help the situation.
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Old 07-29-2021, 08:45 PM   #3
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Get under it and check the frame rails, including the "Gooseneck" if it is a 5th wheel.. You have some serious flexing somewhere.. I have seen the frame rails on the upper deck at the vertical "step" give way/crack/separate....
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Old 07-29-2021, 09:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jrash View Post
I have a 2015 heartland bighorn 3875 FB. Today I discovered a crack on the outside just above the slide out for the living room. It's on the driver's side. After discovering this on the outside I went inside and also discovered a crack above the residential refrigerator in the same location. I am assuming these two are the same one on the inside one on the outside. Has anyone had this problem before. What caused the problem. And how easy is it to get fixed. Also is there danger in going ahead on my trip with these cracks. I am sure the RV is going to be out of warranty for any structural damage. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
I am not a 5th wheel guy but do travel with quite a few of them. I have seen several that had small cracks in the Fibron on the outside right where the front slideout fits. While it is not normal, that is the weak spot in the Fibron and even a minor flex will do this. If it is just minor flex it's not a real big deal, but since yours has gone far enough to crack or separate on the inside I would say this one is a big deal.

Can you post a picture from further away to get an idea of where it is at in reference to the 5th wheel pin. I have seen these where the welds in the front frame work failed, where not enough gussets were used and when a few of the welds brake, the rest of the front a frame flexes enough to do damage.

Recently we had a guy pull into the campground and the front of his 5th wheel was down on the truck bed, We pulled the underside covering off so we could look up into the frame and several welds were broke and that allowed the pin mount to push up, dropping the front of the camper onto the truck. We were in our usual spot in Mexico and have an excellent RV guy from Canada that runs a shop there. He pulled the pin down as far as he could and did some temporary welding. That was enough to get it up to his shop, where he had to pull the front cap off and rebuild the framework in the front.

It appears yours is going down this same road. I would get it in, or if unable to do that, pull the sheeting off the underside of the front exposing the framework. You should be able to inspect it from that point. Repairs will probably involve both a good RV guy and a welder. Some shops may have both, some may have to tear it down and call a welder in.

It's probably too late now, but if you had measurements from the 5th wheel pin down to the frame, from several reference points when it was new, and measured it now, you could tell if the front of the frame is moving up.

You might be able to get dimensions from the factory but any way I would call them. They might still warranty the frame, but might not. They may also have some suggestions on what to do with it at this point.

Not trying to be a downer but I have seen these come right down on the back of the truck.
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Old 07-29-2021, 09:14 PM   #5
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Ouch! Sorry to hear this.

Some pics might be helpful for folks to better understand the specifics. Does the exterior crack run from the corner of the slide out opening upward at angle toward the roof? Typically, the corner of any “cutout or hole” in a wall will be the weakest area for the “skin” and the most likely location for a crack if any excessive stress occurs in the immediate vicinity. Doesn’t necessarily mean that is the weakest area for the structure or wall framing, though.

However, since the exterior fiberglass and the interior wall covering both show cracks it’s probably be worth checking into before much traveling. Curious if you can visibly see any wall movement or flex when opening or closing the slide? If so, I’d certainly be concerned.

I’ve never experienced any wall cracking, so others who have might have more wisdom to share, but since the interior wall covering is already damaged, I’d be very tempted to “investigate” a bit from the inside out by cutting out a small section of the wall board and wall insulation around the cracked area to see what you find. If nothing visibly serious, the inspection hole could likely be temporarily patched pretty easily to allow for the upcoming trip…..just an idea to consider.

Hope it turns out not to be serious.

Safe travels,
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Old 08-01-2021, 08:58 PM   #6
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Old 08-02-2021, 04:03 PM   #7
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As several others have mentioned, it’s sometimes common, and serious, to have frame failures at the front of the trailer (the rise or overhang) where the pin box mounts or where the vertical rise is due to hitch shock/stress, etc.

Since yours is at the corner of the living room slide, it appears to be something different and likely less severe. I’d suggest inspecting the axles, springs, hangers, etc to see if there is any indication of damage there as well.

Just a guess but It’s possible that this is the result of a bad hit/ shock to the trailer frame transmitted from the undercarriage up through the side walls due to extremely poor road conditions.

Still don’t really have any suggestions on assessment of damage and how serious other than inspecting from inside out and consulting with a reputable RV repair shop on whatever you find.

Best wishes with the outcome and solution.
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Old 08-05-2021, 07:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jrash View Post
I have a 2015 heartland bighorn 3875 FB. Today I discovered a crack on the outside just above the slide out for the living room. It's on the driver's side. After discovering this on the outside I went inside and also discovered a crack above the residential refrigerator in the same location. I am assuming these two are the same one on the inside one on the outside. Has anyone had this problem before. What caused the problem. And how easy is it to get fixed. Also is there danger in going ahead on my trip with these cracks. I am sure the RV is going to be out of warranty for any structural damage. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
More than likely it is not up in the 5th wheel section but right there in that spot. We had a crack in the same spot on our Road Warrior last year. The crack resulted from a frame failure behind the crack. What happened was the wall frame welds cracked and this resulted in the outer wall cracking. We found our crack soon enough to not crack the inside wall.
The repair was the outer wall section was cut out, then the frame was rewelded and a plate welded over top of the repaired section. Then the outer wall was repaired. Looking at the repair you can not see the slight bump from the addition of the plate but if you run your hand over it you can feel a slight bump. Then it was repainted to match.
We went to Affinity RV Group in Goshen, Ind. for the repairs and Heartland covered the cost of that portion of repairs we had completed. But like you said your unit is a 2015 good chance they will not cover it but outside chance since they know there are issues with these side walls.

Also look under the slide and check the outriggers to see if it is bent or buckled. If it is reinforce it while doing the repairs. Heartland tried to say "You hit a curb to bend it" Wrong answer if anything it was the I-65 & I-71 north to Louisville, Ky. then to Cincinnati, Ohio, that caused the damage.
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Old 08-07-2021, 09:28 PM   #9
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Lots of great advise here. I would at least touch base with manufacturer. Even if out of warranty its not unheard of that they split repair costs 50/50 as a goodwill gesture.
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