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Old 04-04-2011, 03:28 PM   #1
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Flagstaff 8524RLS

Following is what I sent to Forest River and the dealer:

From what I see on Forest River Forum, doesn't seem like Forest River cares about anything after the trailer is sold, but need to blow off a little steam on the 5th wheel I have. Owned a Terry for 10 years (with a so-so reputation) and had less problems with it than the Flagstaff I have had for less than a year.

1. Seems to ba an excessive amount of bouncing in the trailer. Thought maybe the high tech axles would have better damping than the old leaf spring style, but apparently not. the table is always tipped over, everything off the walls, and lots of drawers open even on short trips of about 5 miles from storage to home. One of the four legs on the table was a good inch from touching the floor. Bending it to touch and removing the spare tire from the rear bumper didn't help any. Next step is to see about getting the tires balanced.

2. Light above couch came apart. Thought at the time, there may be one or two little items to take care of. Like everyone else (almost) Concertone problems. May or may not have been a problem as had same problem with the new unit until read a cure on the internet. Could not get either one to set the time, but figured with big clock on the wall, not a problem.

3. Bedroom window blew out, less that 160 miles on this trip, less than 3000 on the trailer. Forest River said not under warrenty because I probably left the window open. I may not be the smartest guy in the world, but I don't think I would store it for 5 months in the winter with the window open, and since it was in the 30's or 40's when i left on the trip, I had no reason to open the window. Brother-in-law and I installed a plexiglass when I got to San Antonio, Even with the plexiglass duct taped on the inside and outside, it blew out and was hanging by the tape after only 150 miles. Have found a few instances of people losing their windows, and whether they left the window open or not, its a big safety hazard to have a window come off while driving down the road. Think looking into a safety recall is needed.

4. When I got to Padre Island, finally added water to the trailer. After 5 minutes of so of trying to get water pressure with the water pump, started looking for a water leak. Water was comming from the external shower, and when I opened the cover, the cold water valve had come apart. Reassembled it, and the water pump cycled about once every couple of hours. However, the next day it was about once every two minutes.

5. Bottom of drawer under dinette came undone. Would guess less than 20 pounds in the drawer (electric scale wouldn't weigh less than 25 pounds). Will redo other drawer next time I get a chance, as it has the pots and pans in it and they may weigh enough to cause a problem.

6. When washing the trailer after trip, noticed one wheel cover greasy. Removed hubcap and grease cap was completely off. Took a little effort to reinstall, so doubt that it came off in my travels. At same time checked lug nuts for tightness. Had to grind down a lug wrench to fit the counterbore in the aluminum wheels that the lug nuts fit in. Some required a breaker bar to break loose, and some were just snug.

Thought about giving up on the Forest River Forum, but then, maybe with the problems people are reporting I need to stay on to solve problems that will come up.

Couple of other problems, but then they were probably my doing. Wayne
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Old 04-04-2011, 05:23 PM   #2
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Not quite sure why you might be having 'bouncing issues', as we have the same rubber axles with no issues, and I believe your camper is fairly well balanced. The only thing I can think of is that the axles might be too stiff for your camper. Are those 4000 lb axles, or are they lighter? How were the roads you travelled on, and what speed were you towing?

That window blowing out is a concern, and I haven't heard of that before. It could be a bad frame that didn't hold the window properly. I would request a complete new unit. Like you said, it is a safety issue. When you put on the plexiglass one, did you put it on the inside or the outside? if on the outside, I am not surprised it blew out again. The wind force on these things is unbelievable.

As for the broken drawer, I would never put 20 pounds in any of my drawers. You can imagine the punishment they take.

And the wheel lugs, I am surprised you didn't check them before you left. Aluminum wheels are notorious for working the lug nuts loose, and need to be checked often.

I hope you can get things taken care of to your satisfaction.
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Old 04-04-2011, 06:17 PM   #3
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Crocus makes excellent points. I have your "sister ship" a Flagstaff 8526RLWS.

Ultra Lites have very flexible frames because they are engineered to be as light as possible to carry the maximum "RATED" load.
They bounce. Period.
There are many workarounds to minimize the bouncing when walking around in the camper. You will never eliminate it without putting a foundation under the entire frame. (Suggestions: King Pin Tripod; X-Chocks between wheels; additional stabilizers right behind rear wheels.)

As to bouncing down the road. I LOVE and I do mean LOVE the rubber torsion axles. They provide a cushion to normal road shocks similar to car shock absorbers. (However that same action contributes to above issue.)

Like Crocus my very first thought was your towing speed on rough or under construction roads. Nothing shakes up an Ultralite like a good bounce down the highway at high speed. You get bending and twisting like there is no tomorrow.

As to the reason your big window blew out; I think I might have the answer. That bedroom window is very large and top hinged because it is the emergency exit from the bedroom. There is only a lever arm with a plastic clip that keeps it closed. The arm MUST be in the clip to keep the windows closed while traveling. The pressure differential is very high between the inside and outside of that window. If the clip was broken or the arm came out of the clip (or it was not properly latched in the first place), air pressure would cause the window to "fly" outwards. The "hold open" feature on the arm would be defeated when the arm pushed through the hole it rides in. Once the entire window was flopping in the breeze; Katie Bar The Door! It would be quite possible for the aluminum frame to flex enough to break the glass or even twist enough to let it drop out completely.

Plexiglass is VERY flexible and would never work in this application. It would bow out from the air pressure, even if it was on the inside of the frame, and get sucked out. If the frame was latched correctly most likely it was still latched when you found the Plexiglas hanging from the speed tape.

My suspicion about the water leak has more to do with your last winterizing. It is VERY easy to forget to put antifreeze in the outside shower (or open both valves when blowing the lines out) when winterizing. If I had to guess about half of us have forgotten about it at one time or another. Capped off outside showers abound.

As to the drawer, I agree. Too much weight. (See note above about "Ultra-Lite" construction) Our first trip I found both drawers open and up against the sofa due to overloading. The catches were not designed to keep all the junk that we had in them. (canned food!) I am surprised we did not break the fronts off of ours. We have external metal latches on them now.

I have steel wheels and standard lugs, but every trip (and I mean every trip) we check tire pressures and lug nut torque with a calibrated torque wrench using the torque stages in the manual. Having said that, we too had issues with the rubber caps on the Ultra-Lube axles. Ours were cracked right from the factory and leaked grease from two of them. Cosmetic? sure. But a new camper should not sling grease on the wheels. An email to Al-Ko's customer service resulted in an appology and 4 brand new rubber caps.

Good luck with your issues,
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Old 04-04-2011, 06:52 PM   #4
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No, everything gets bounced in the 5 miles or so from storage to house on fairly decent loads. even stuff laid on dinette cushions get thrown to the floor.
No, the water valve came completely un screwed.
My towing speed is 60-65. I have a gas engine.
Its probably something under 20 lbs. That is probably a maximum guess as the scale doesn't register until 25. Regardless yoyu should be able to put something besides a handkerchief in a drawer.
The window is attached with 8 rivets, which looked to be only slightly larger than the holes. It didn't take me long to find several cases of windows blowing out.
Don't these trailers get towed to the dealers? Doesn't the guy towing the trailers check them?
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Old 04-04-2011, 07:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wayne anthony View Post
The window is attached with 8 rivets, which looked to be only slightly larger than the holes. It didn't take me long to find several cases of windows blowing out.
Don't these trailers get towed to the dealers? Doesn't the guy towing the trailers check them?
Hmmm. I went out and looked harder at my window.

The only place with 8 rivets is the hinge attachment to the window itself.
The window frame is attached to the camper wall by screws that hold the inner and outer frame pieces together; sandwiching the wall between them.

So since the frame is obviously still there, the window tore away from the hinge at the rivet attachments. Those rivets are designed to support the weight of the window when it is open while camping; not flapping in the breeze at 60-65 MPH.

These facts support the view that the window flew open due to being improperly closed prior to departure and was ripped off in the wind-stream.

IF, and I do allow for a failure of the rivet that holds the arm to the bottom of the window here, the window was defective; FR would not be responsible other than as a warranty claim. They would, I am sure, need the window frame and arm that displayed forensic evidence of the failure mode of the rivet. FR would then have a claim against their supplier since they do not manufacture windows. They assemble campers from vendor parts.

I have cautioned my DW to make sure that the arm is secured properly before closing up the camper prior to departure. If not it could happen to any of us. I did notice that the dinette window emergency egress does NOT open. It has a red latch only. Lift the latch and push out the window.
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Old 04-04-2011, 07:52 PM   #6
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If you have 4000 lb axles, that would cause quite a bit of bounce on such a lightweight camper. Like the difference between a 1/2 tin suspension and a one ton, the heavier suspension rides much rougher. Just crawl under the unit and have a look at the tag on the axle tube. That might explain a lot.
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Old 04-04-2011, 08:16 PM   #7
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One last question.
Was the lever that holds the bedroom window in place, still in the camper after the window blew out? If so, I can see what might have happened.
I took a look at mine, and there is only two pissy tiny screws holding the lever to the window, and the assembly is under tension. If those two tiny screws were over-tightened and stripped, the window could easily get pulled out by the enormous wind pressures.
Whatever the case, it isn't Forest River's fault, but the fault of the window manufacturer.
You also have to be certain that the plastic braket that holds that lever in place did not get bumped and broken. Is that bracket unbroken?
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Old 04-04-2011, 08:42 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by crocus View Post
Whatever the case, it isn't Forest River's fault, but the fault of the window manufacturer.
You also have to be certain that the plastic braket that holds that lever in place did not get bumped and broken. Is that bracket unbroken?
Once again excellent points. However if the screws holding the arm latch pulled out it is almost certainly FR's Fault.

Possible reasons for failure to retain the bracket (if indeed the bracket and screws are GONE with the window) are: Wrong screws used - too short (FR fault); Correct Screws Missed Aluminum Frame (FR fault); or were overtightened during install and stripped out (FR fault).

I still think "Occam's Razor" holds the key to this window loss.

Occam's Razor
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Old 04-04-2011, 11:11 PM   #9
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"However if the screws holding the arm latch pulled out it is almost certainly FR's Fault."
=====================
FR doesn't touch those screws. They are from the window manufacturer. The window would be installed as a unit. Nothing FR would do in the installation process would cause the window to fail.
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Old 04-05-2011, 08:24 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by crocus View Post
"However if the screws holding the arm latch pulled out it is almost certainly FR's Fault."
=====================
FR doesn't touch those screws. They are from the window manufacturer. The window would be installed as a unit. Nothing FR would do in the installation process would cause the window to fail.
You are right again John. I went out to look at WHERE the arm locking bracket is screwed in and it is screwed to the window frame not the wall.

ALL on the window maker IF that is what happened.

I still think improper closure prior to the drive. It is the simplest failure mode that explains the observed facts.
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