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Old 05-05-2013, 06:30 PM   #1
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Sanibel 3500 fresh water tank

Last week while preparing for our first "dry" camp experience with our 2012 Sanibel 5th wheel I filled the fresh water tank all the way full. Just before getting reading to leave I noted the foam insulation around the drain and the skirting under the tank hanging down 6-8 inches below the frame rails. Long story short, discovered that three of the four mounting points on the chris-crossed straps that hold the water tank in position were loose. The mounting screws had worn through the ends of the metal straps. The only thing holding the tank in position was the plumbing, skirt and the tank being slightly wedged between the frame rails when it dropped down. Needless to say this could have been a disaster if the full 500 gallon water tank had fallen out from under the trailer while at highway speeds. This was only our 3rd trip with the trailer since we purchased it (due to some major surgeries last year) and it has less than 300 miles on it. Seems like a design flaw to me. Anyway, letter and pics en-route to Prime Time. Just curious if I'm the only one to experience this?
Brad
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:33 PM   #2
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Fortunately you don't have a 500 gallon tank. I haven't put any water in mine yet. It sounds like I should do that sooner rather than later.
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Old 05-05-2013, 08:31 PM   #3
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Barry, sorry about that. Meant to say 500 pounds. Anyway, yes, you might want to fill it and check it before any trips just in case.
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Old 05-06-2013, 08:59 AM   #4
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I have not had this happen on my Prime Time, but my previous Coachmen TT (Catalina) something similar happened. I hit a bump on the highway and the straps came loose on the FW tank when it was about half full. It then proceeded to bounce on my axle and destroy it completely. It looked like a pretzel! The tech said there were only 2 straps on a 40G FW tank!!!!!

Needless to say we are gun shy about towing with much water in our FW now.
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Old 05-06-2013, 09:04 AM   #5
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We have many miles on ours 6,000 plus. I tow it full of water when the campground does not have water. Yes we dry camp a lot. Not a problem with the water tank. Thanks for the heads up, I look at it when we go again.

Wayne and Donna
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Old 05-25-2013, 08:22 PM   #6
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Well it's been three weeks since I sent a letter, with pictures, to Jeff Ranks at PT advising them of the issue with my fresh water tank, improper installation and potential liability that this issue posses for their company. Have not heard one thing from them. Not a phone call, letter or post card. I guess my letter was filed in the round file under it's sold, it's not our problem any more. You would think that good business practice would be at least a courtesy call to say we received your letter, we're sorry about your problems, please take it to the dealer ASAP and we'll make sure the issue is resolved correctly, we'll get back to you as soon as we have checked the issue out. But nothing. Not even RV Guy has responded. So much for Customer Service at Prime Time. I guess my next letter will be to Peter Liegl at Forest River advising him of the their product liability and lack of concern by PT and Jeff Ranks. We'll see if he cares any more about product liability than Jeff Ranks does. In the meantime, I urge ALL owners of Sanibel's 5th wheels to have their dealer inspect the mounting straps for their fresh water tank to make sure they were properly installed so that their 500lb tank doesn't drop out of the bottom of their trailer when full.
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Old 05-25-2013, 09:58 PM   #7
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Nonsense. You're just not going about this right. Take the RV to your dealer. That is the proper way to get the manufacturer involved. You don't saying whether you're still under warranty or not (but I see from another post you made that it IS still under warranty).

Did you send a non-threatening PM to RV Guy?

PrimeTime has been very responsive to the rest of us.
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:59 PM   #8
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Barry,
Sorry to disagree, but customer service is not brain surgery. I shouldn't have to take it to the dealer to get PT involved. However, that will be my next move. When I write Jeff Ranks a non-threatening, and even somewhat humorous letter, detailing a design flaw with their installation method that could have HUGE liability issues for PT, I would expect a courtesy notification that he at least received my letter and pictures. What do I have to do to get his attention, yell, scream and threaten a lawsuit? None of which I did BTW. You just don't ignore somebody when they bring an issue to their attention. Proper customer service would be that as soon as Mr Rank received my letter he contact somebody from his Customer Service Depart, give them my letter and instruct them to either call me or at least send me a letter acknowledging receipt of my letter. Then they should encourage me to take my trailer to the dealer ASAP and have the water tank and it's braces inspected to make sure my repairs are adequate. Since I mentioned the fact that their original straps literally tore through on the ends, I would expect them to offer to replace the straps and the skirting that was torn when the water tank fell down through it. Next, I would tell customer service to do some research and see if they have had any similar complaints. Next I would instruct them to go to the assembly line, watch the installation of a water tank and determine if the current method is adequate and why my installation failed. I would have have them research which technician installed the tank on my trailer, show them the pictures I sent and provide them with remedial training on how to properly install the water tank straps. Lastly, I would instruct the CS person to get back to me with their findings as to whether my situation was an anomaly, and/or they have now developed a new and improved method of installing the water tank straps. As I said, CS is not brain surgery and to totally ignore a customer when they send you a non-threatening, informative letter is unacceptable.
Brad
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:42 AM   #9
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I just think that as soon as you start talking to them about liabilities your letter probably went straight to the legal department. I imagine they have a department of lawyers to tell them about liabilities. This is probably a lot like asking someone "when did you stop beating your spouse?"... there's just no good answer to a question that sounds like litigation may follow.

Did you get tracking information for your letter? Perhaps it was never received.
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Old 05-26-2013, 09:55 AM   #10
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Your first step in the warrentry process is your dealer.
They have direct communications with prime time. Let them look at it and insist that you are kept in the loop. JEFF has been very good to anyone with a problem with one of their units. Yours should not be any different. I know it is very frustrating after what you paid for ypur unit. People do make mistakes, lets not make another, if your dealer does not take care of you, send a pm to jeff. You WILL get a response

Wayne and Donna
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Old 05-26-2013, 11:59 AM   #11
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Barry and Wayne
If this was a simple: My refrig wont' switch from electric to propane; my kitchen roof vent stopped working, the A/C is not cold enough, etc. I would agree completely that this is a dealer/warranty issue. Wayne, sorry I have to disagree about the dealer having direct communications with PT based on my experience after taking it to the dealer the first time (before the water tank incident) for some warranty work. If anything it was just the opposite. But then again, maybe that was the dealers fault.

Getting back to the issue at hand, when a fresh water tank comes undone after only two trips there is obviously a problem that needs to be addressed. Either the technician that installed the tank did a improper installation or the technique they use to mount the tank needs to be re-evaluated. The purpose of the letter was to advise them that they "may" have a problem that if not corrected "could" lead to a product liability lawsuit for PT if a full water tank was to drop out from under a trailer while traveling at highway speeds.

Once again, my letter was non-threatening. If was simply informative stating that I had a problem that "could" lead to potential liability for PT "if" this is a widespread issue and you might want to take a look at your water tank installation method. Even if it was sent directly to their liability depart, which I doubt, a letter or phone call to me acknowledging it was received and the issue was being looked at is appropriate.

Barry, you may have a point. No I didn't send it certified mail, so I have no record that it was actually received. But I did send it from my PO to the address they list on their website for correspondence "mailing address." Since I included pictures it was a large 8X11 inch mailing envelope so I would think it would have been hard to misplace/loose. Also, it has not been returned to me. Hopefully you are right and for some reason my letter never arrived. I would rather think that was the case instead of them just ignoring me. However, from reading this forum I get the impression that RV Guy pretty much reads all the posts and responds accordingly. Apparently he also doesn't think my issue is worth commenting on or for some reason didn't read my original post.

I'm going to call the dealer tomorrow to make an appointment to have them inspect the water tank, replace the torn skirt, address the dinning area light switch issue and a few other minor problems. I'll let you know how responsive PT is to addressing this issues.
Brad
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:01 AM   #12
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Good morning,

PT has received this letter and photos. I'm very surprised that contact has not been made with our customer in this instance as the letter and photos were received and shared with several people in our various operational groups. Obviously, someone dropped the ball on following up if we've not made contact. Our Director of Customer Service was on the road visiting dealers last week so maybe that's where the "hole" is, but still that's no excuse for a week long delay in responding.

We will be on it in the AM.

I would like to offer an alternative opinion on the tank issue. Sanibel has a power tank fill - it's NOT gravity fed. Upon reviewing the photos submitted to us, the damage to the steel straps and damage to the steel angle iron is very consistent with damage caused by a fresh water tank that has been severely overfilled. This could have been done by PT during our on-line testing or at the dealership during their PDI. We do not feel there is a structural design flaw in the Sanibel.

Sorry for the delay in responding. Have a great Memorial Day.

PTM
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:17 AM   #13
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That's kind of scary. I asked once before how you could tell when the tank was full and was told (unofficially) to watch for water coming out the vent. I've noted that the fill line and vent line appear to be the same size so, unless the vent was plugged, how is it possible to "severely overfill" the tank? (I want to avoid doing that myself.) It sounds like we need to keep the flow rate at a fairly low volume then?? And if that is the case, don't you think it would be prudent to put the appropriately-sized flow restrictor into the line at the factory? (You know, a metal washer with a hole in the middle.)
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:52 AM   #14
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Monitoring the water level in your fresh tank on your Monitor Panel while filling is the recommended method for preventing an overfill situation.

Although not recommended, some people probably fill their tanks until the water comes out the vent. The problem with this method on a POWER FILL (and potentially on a gravity fed system) is that your water entering the tank is under great pressure and will not be restricted while entering the tank. The water inside the tank is not under the same amount of pressure and will not be able to vent at the same rate as it enters. Thus, while water would be discharging out the vent, if you keep putting it in at a faster rate, the tank will overfill. This doesn't even account for a situation where there might be a small restriction (clog or kink) in the vent tube.

Too often, you start doing something else, forget the water is hooked up, don't notice it coming out your vent, and your tank is overfilled. I know for a fact this has happened at dealerships during a PDI and at our own testing facilities. I also know the damage that can occur and what it looks like.

Unless there is a restricted vent, you will not overfill your tank if you turn off the water when it starts to discharge out the vent.

Again, we recommend you use your monitor panel instead of the overflow method to know when your tank is full.

PTM
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:56 AM   #15
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If it has a power fill, perhaps some sort of shutoff mechanism should be incorporated to prevent this type of incident from happening to owners who are uneducated in this type of system as most people IMO would not even think such a thing could happen. Or maybe even some type of large warning where the line is attached. If the panel uses lights like most why not just take a feed off the full indicator to shut the system down?
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Old 05-27-2013, 11:09 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RV Guy View Post
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Again, we recommend you use your monitor panel instead of the overflow method to know when your tank is full.

PTM
Thanks!
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:18 PM   #17
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RV Guy, thanks for the response. However, I have to respectively disagree with you that this is not a design flaw if it has happened several times, whether it's due to overfilling with the "power tank fill" or otherwise. I have to agree with TheSasks that if this is and has been an issue then some kind of automatic cut-off needs to be installed or a better tank mounting system developed so this will not happen if the tank is overfilled. Also, I'm having a hard time figuring out how you "overfill" a tank, power fill or not. The tank is only so large and can only hold so much water. While the tank is plastic it is pretty thick and I don't think it is going to "stretch" enough to allow several more gallons of water into the tank. If the tank is full the back pressure on the hose will cause the water flow into the tank to slow significantly, much as it would if you had a nozzle hooked up to it. Besides if the difference between the straps failing and not failing is only a few extra gallons of water in the tank, than PT is cutting the "safety factor" or "margin of error" way to close and needs a better mounting system. This is referred to as "Risk Management."
Irregardless, everybody knows that the monitors inside the trailers are notoriously inaccurate in measuring how full or empty a tank is. And if dry camping for a few days, every gallon can make the difference between breaking camp to refill the tank and finishing the trip without having to do a refill, especially with the small water tanks installed in the Sanibels. The "standard" method for filling a water tank has always been to fill it until it "burps" from the overflow tube. If this is no longer appropriate with the "power tank fill", then warning signs need to installed in the hookup panel along with some kind of automatic cut off and a big bold section included in the owner's manual. Personally, I think the more appropriate fix would be to use thicker straps and to through bolt the straps to the frame with case hardened bolts instead of metal screws that aren't designed for this purpose to start with. Problem solved for couple of dollars more in construction costs and no need to re-educated everybody on how to fill a water tank or PT having to invent an automatic water cut off system. Regardless of whether you try and re-educate everybody, somebody will over fill the tank, snap the connections and then drop a full 500 lb water tank on the highway while traveling at highway speeds which has the potential of causing a catastrophic accident and a lot of liability to PT. Food for thought.
Brad
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Old 05-28-2013, 01:02 PM   #18
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Shane Imus, from PT, called me first thing this morning and apologized for nobody getting back to me. We had a very pleasant conversation and he/they agreed to work with me to resolve the fresh water tank issue. I have an appointment this coming Monday to take the Sanibel in to the dealer. Will advise how everything went when I get it back.

Brad
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Old 05-29-2013, 09:51 PM   #19
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I for one put a adjustable water pressure regulator in my conv center. Set at 30 psi. I do not turn the fill faucet on more than 1/4-1/2 turn and STAND there and watch it. I help a friend replace a split water tank on a Keystone product, what a mess!!!!! It was inside the unit. On a 60 gallon tank with 10 psi in overfill condition there is TONS of pressure. Surface area in square inches times 10. I to fill until it comes out the vent, I want it full. We dry camp most of the time so a few gallons are important. My tank gauge is very inaccurate. Barry give me a PM
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:43 PM   #20
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Possibly the same issue

I just looked at my fresh water tank and think I have the same issue. The underbelly is sagging. I have a 2012 Sanibel 3500. Last year while traveling the country, I noticed water tripping from the vent. I did NOT fill the fresh water tank so didn't know this vent was related to the fresh water tank. It turns out the valve to switch between city and tank was put in backwards. My fresh water tank was filling on its own when set to city water use. I traveled a long way with water onboard that I did not intentionally put there. I will need to get my straps check too and would expect Prime Time to cover this as part of their warranty.
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