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Old 08-25-2019, 09:44 PM   #1
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Lost Solar Panel while Driving on the Interstate

Please let me ask that no one nit pick my English since I am new to this, both the Forum and Motorhome owning.

Just completed my first lengthy vacation in my Motorhome. At one point I heard a different noise that seemed a little unusual. I stopped at a roadside rest area and looked at everything, nothing seemed out of order. When I got home the next day and was cleaning the RV I went up to the roof to hose off the roof and noticed the solar panel was gone.

This was ordered with the RV and was supposedly installed at the Forest River factory. This is a 2020 Forest River Forester. What are my options with this corporation fixing the problem, since now I have four holes in my roof and no solar power?

This is not something I thought would be an issue, but I guess this happens and I was wondering if others have had this problem with their panels.

Thanks for any insights from this Forum.
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Old 08-25-2019, 10:08 PM   #2
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Sounds like a warranty claim to me. Let them know.
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Old 08-26-2019, 05:51 AM   #3
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I would first go back up and tape over or spread some RTV silicone over the holes. Protect your roof and walls from any moisture entry.


Next I would get a call in to your dealer or a local RV service/repair center as well as contact FR directly from the contact page on the FR website. You go to the contact page and find the email/phone for the warranty manager of your particular FR product line.
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Old 08-26-2019, 07:59 AM   #4
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Thanks. I covered the holes in the roof yesterday with a tarp, will fill with Dicor probably tonight. I sent an email to my deal yesterday because they are closed on Sunday. I will look up the Forest River site to keep this moving forward. Thanks for your suggestions

Jim.
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Old 08-26-2019, 09:13 AM   #5
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...interesting, as we had a similar 'issue' that happened to us several years ago:

- after returning from our Alaska trip in 2017, and having two panels riding on an articulating 4-bike rack for the trip, I then decided it was now time to give them a more 'permanent' ride on the coach's roof, as many RVrs do.

- rather than using the normal aluminum 'mounts' that came with the two panels, I zip-tied the panels to 4 aluminum poles, themselves already mounted on the roof, rather than installing the panels DIRECTLY to the roof. This way I could more easily move the panels in the future, if needed, and the poles, could also serve as a 'tower' for my portable satellite antenna, like a large tripod, if needed. Long explanation, I know.

- this setup worked just fine for many thousands of miles...

UNTIL>>>>>>>>>>>>>>... one day:

We were returning from a trip to a campground in north Georgia back to our cabin in western North Carolina, on the beautiful hwy515 between Blue Ridge, GA and Blairsville, GA, on the very nice four-laned highway with large grassy median.

As we topped a hill, and started down the other side, in the right lane, I noticed a truck coming across the intersection at the bottom of the hill. He was a 'roll off' type truck, seemingly an older model, with an old car on the back of the roll off deck. Knowing the area fairly well, I also realized that he was probably bringing this car over to the 'Tank Town USA' site, where folks can pay to drive an army tank, or various large machinery, many times 'crushing' cars in the process - fun, I'm sure - ask Ozzy and Jack Osbourne, on their 'Ozzy and Jack's World Tour' tv show.

I continued down the hill, doing maybe 60mph on this 65mph road, and saw that suddenly the truck decided to 'come on' out into the roadway, though still a ways down the hill from us. He did stay in the left lane, as he should, and I assumed that he did because he had certainly seen this large Motorcoach and tow vehicle coming down the hill when he first paused and looked our way.

Apparently, he did not.

As I lifted my foot to simply allow the coach to coast the rest of the way down the hill, I realized that the truck was now, as I drew even closer, actually merging INTO my lane, right in front of us! As I wasn't expected this, of course, and as I had 'some' small amount of reaction time, I quickly moved over, safely, into the LEFT lane to stay off of his tail, knowing almost instinctively that he would be slowing greatly ahead in order to turn into this 'business'...... BUT, NO. I WAS WRONG!

- it then seemed that he had 'suddenly' realized that a large vehicle was in the RIGHT lane, even though I was already in the process of moving into the LEFT lane to avoid him, so he 'CORRECTED' his trajectory and suddenly decided to move BACK into the Left Lane! Now, he was RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME - I was still doing over 50mph, even after lifting off the gas some ways back, and not expected to have to 'stop', and he was deciding at the same time to even go SLOWER!

I had NO OTHER CHOICE other than to IMMEDIATELY take action and avoid a major collision, probably costing me and my wife's life in the process, as running into the rear of a roll-off truck's metal deck, and a soon-to-be-crushed salvaged vehicle ON it's deck, by RUNNING OFF THE HIGHWAY INTO THE MEDIAN!


Motorhomes don't like medians.

Medians are filled with holes, and many things not seen.

By only a miracle, this median, at this junction, was all concrete, smooth, and while it is a 'dip' in between the road and the turn lane for the other roadside, it created the only real 'salvation' for us, at that moment.
I was able to 'handle' the coach as it moved down into the dip, though motorhome chassis length don't like to have this racking motion and gravity working so hard against it as part of the coach is in the dip, some not, and then it starts to come out the other side, which, thank goodness, was a turn lane for the other direction, and NO ONE happened to be in it at the time!
By chance, or miracle, it was also lengthy, giving me the opportunity to slow the coach down, handle it thru the rest of the dip, and into our own turn lane just north of it, never having to maneuver thru any grassy median - yes, a miracle.


UNTIL.... my wife and son screamed!

The milk and groceries in the fridge, which we had just purchased down the road in Blue Ridge, had come spilling out during the commotion and ruckus. The milk was the worst - it broke open, spilled all over the floor, and down the stair well, and even onto the entrance door. Milk was everywhere.

I pulled the air brakes, and hopped out to inspect any chassis damage, as we had all heard some great 'thumps' and 'pows' as this aversion was happening, especially down into and out of the 'dip' concrete median. I looked under the coach, at all possible points of contact, but nothing raised any red flags, and no visable damage could be found. wow.
I knew something 'had' to have occurred, but I could not find anything. Amazing.

Then, while I was on the passenger side, about to re-enter the coach, that SAME roll-off truck came driving by! I waived both arms in the air, shouting that they should stop and wait to see if we had any damage, but alas, the driver, acting as though 'nothing had happened' simply passed by, not even taking a moments glance in my direction, although it was VERY OBVIOUS that something almost major had JUST happened, and a large motorhome and tow car were sitting in the MEDIAN next to him!

Then, the more CRAZIER thing happened - he drove by me, turned around at the SAME turn lane I was parked in, and starting coming back in the OPPOSITE direction! I jumped up, waived both arms again, shouted again... nope... and I know he 'knew' what he had done, and yet he simply drove by again, keeping his eyes fixed ahead, not acknowledging me at the slightest, and dove on. I couldnt' believe it.


So, to make this long story even longer, and to actually get to the 'solar panel on the roof' point, we took a few minutes to collect ourselves, clean up the milk, realize that the Lord had indeed been looking after us, and realizing that maybe, after all of this, nothing was actually 'wrong', and we could continue driving home - a gallon of milk less than before.



WELL - it happened. Down the road several miles, I heard a loud 'thump' from what seemed like the rear of the coach. Not normal. And, my son, while exiting the bathroom when this happened, said that he had heard it too. I almost as soon as this happened remembered seeing a quick and faint 'something' in my driver's side mirror, almost like the quick glance of a mirror.
This just might be part of 'what' the thump was?

So, I pulled over as soon as I safely could. I walked around the coach and didn't immediately notice anything amiss. I scratched my head, and decided to go ahead and climb the ladder and look on the roof, just in case. But, as I looked up, I saw a loose wire hanging down near the top of the ladder. Unusual, of course. I then realized that it was one of my solar panel WIRE and connector, that led from the solar panels down the rear of the coach and up under the chassis and into the battery bay. This is not the way it was when we had left the campground, for sure.

I climbed the ladder and looked at the wire - it looked as though it had been ripped from one end - and THEN I saw it - I had NO SOLAR PANELS on the roof! WHErE had they gone! Oh....oh no, THAT must be what the 'thump' was on the roof just a ways back!

We drove down, turned around, and started back up the road, almost immediately seeing some 'things', metallic items, in the roadway on the other side - it was my solar panels, and my 'poles' that had been their mount from the roof!

When we turned around again, and soon came to the scene of the crime. One panel looked almost as though you had simply laid it on the side of the road, in the grassy median, and did not look harmed at all. Nice.
The other, farther down the road, and slightly still in on the concrete roadway, was tragically shattered - the front looked as though a bomb had went off, although the aluminum frame was only slightly indented near one corner.
The poles were there, too, scattered around in several places, though one was certainly bent beyond repair.

Well, we now know the 'damage' that the roll-off truck really caused - it was probably the massive gravity force and swaying of the roof of the motorhome as we transgressed the concrete median 'dip' back at the scene. It was just too much for even the screw mounted poles and zip tied solar panels could handle. 70mph winds while driving didn't do it, but the sudden aversion thru a concrete culvert did!


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

in the end, we made it home just fine, and we've traveled over 20,000 miles since with no issues with the chassis... and the 'good' solar panel is now doing it's job just fine, now mounted with it's supplied aluminum mounts up on the roof, while the other 'damaged' panel, which actually still 'works', although at a lower output, is used, after a little repair of the wiring connections on the back of the panel, to supply some battery charging to our camper we later bought for my son to use as his college 'dorm'. : )


ENJOY! : )
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Old 08-26-2019, 09:42 AM   #6
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Glad to have you participating in the forums. Now that you have the roof protected with a tarp I would suggest not applying any Dicor or sealant unless instructed to by the dealer. It could make it difficult to seal during the repair.
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Old 08-26-2019, 09:58 AM   #7
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Thanks Cedar Creek...

That’s some of the feedback that can help me avoid problems. I was not sure if I should apply the Dicor, it is supposed to rain in Ohio the next few days so keeping it covered and dry is important. Thanks again.
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Old 08-26-2019, 10:01 AM   #8
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Be careful or you are going to kill someone.
Solar panels should have a tether so they absolutely cannot fly off the roof at highway speeds.
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Old 08-26-2019, 10:12 AM   #9
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ppine

Yes you are correct. Which is why I am even more upset that the original manufacturer messed this up so completely. You would think the professionals would actually know hoe to correctly attach the panels so the new owners wouldn’t have to be concerned over such matters. Couldn’t agree more with you!!
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Old 08-26-2019, 10:37 AM   #10
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If you are expecting rain it wouldn't hurt to cover the holes temporarily with duct tape in case rain blows under the tarp.
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