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Old 03-23-2017, 10:58 AM   #1
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Water tank support upgrade

Several RVs have had problems with the fresh water tank falling out. I decided to upgrade the support on my Wildwood 17RBXL. Other trailers use this same construction, but not all. Hopefully this will be helpful to some of you. I will detail this over several posts. My 40 gal tank has a molded in lip around the center of the tank. This lip rests on supports which carry the weight and secure the tank. There were two concerns with mine. One, the aft support appeared weak and two the fore and aft supports were a bit too far apart, allowing the tank to move around.

The forward support is a inch and a half angle iron which appears sufficiently strong. Note the tank sits on top of this support, not inside the "L".
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Old 03-23-2017, 11:07 AM   #2
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The portion of the tank is supported by a frame cross member, which surprisingly is lighter weight than the angle iron. I was concerned this could deflect under the weight and let the tank drop. I welded a support bracket from angle iron that duplicated the forward bracket. Note that it has holes in it. These are used with self drilling screws to connect it to the frame, same as the forward support.
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Old 03-23-2017, 11:16 AM   #3
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I placed my fabricated bracket underneath the aft cross member that is supporting the tank, pushed it an inch or so forward for a more snug fit, and screwed it to the frame with the self drilling screws.
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Old 03-23-2017, 11:28 AM   #4
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Note this upgrade did not require removing the tank or any supports. The new bracket that I fabricated was able to slide in under the aft support (crossmember) as the original is shorter than the frame side rails and does not extend down to the bottom of the side rails. You may be able to see in the photo several things: the cross member is thin sheet metal, not heavy angle iron; the new bracket is slid in under the original support, supplementing it rather than replacing it; and finally the new bracket is perhaps an inch forward of the original, providing a snug support.
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Old 03-23-2017, 11:30 AM   #5
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CCW,if all Owners would look at the Tanks support area they would have Heart attacks! You are at a advantage by having a Open Belly,units with a Covered Belly are under the "Out of Sight Out of Mind" idea of the MFG! Good job on your water tank support,how are the other tank supports? Youroo!!
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Old 03-23-2017, 11:45 AM   #6
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CCW,if all Owners would look at the Tanks support area they would have Heart attacks! You are at a advantage by having a Open Belly,units with a Covered Belly are under the "Out of Sight Out of Mind" idea of the MFG! Good job on your water tank support,how are the other tank supports? Youroo!!

That is the gospel truth......you said a mouthful.

Having looked under many units at 3 shows since January they are still not doing anything different. Its more a matter of when it fails than it is if it fails.

A before and after of my Roo.

Part of the problem? The tank in the lower picture on the right is the original cheap flimsy tank that came factory installed from Rockwood. The one on the left is from Alpha systems. Notice how nuch the cheap factory tank distorts compared to the added tank. Its all about cheap. Let the buyer worry about if the tank blows out.
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Old 03-23-2017, 11:50 AM   #7
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Yes, being able to see it clearly helps a lot. Grey and black tank not as visible but appear ok.
I did try to make clear that Mt solution certainly doesn't apply to all situations.
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Old 03-23-2017, 12:05 PM   #8
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God job!

One quick note... just make sure you didn't pin the tank in there too tight.
Those plastic tanks will swell when filled and if you have it too tight, it could bend your new supports or push the floor upwards.

We've had reports here of those things happening after repairs to reinforce the tank.
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Old 03-23-2017, 12:20 PM   #9
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God job!

One quick note... just make sure you didn't pin the tank in there too tight.
Those plastic tanks will swell when filled and if you have it too tight, it could bend your new supports or push the floor upwards.

We've had reports here of those things happening after repairs to reinforce the tank.
Yes................................

The original tank was jammed tight to the underside of the floor from the factory and that may have contributed to the supports bending. They can arch the floor up as its only bolted down out at the end of the outriggers, the rest just floats on the frame members. Both tanks now have a 3/4" space between top of tank and floor. The added Alpha systems tank does not balloon up anywhere near as much as the cheap tank Rockwood used.
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Old 03-23-2017, 12:32 PM   #10
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God job!

One quick note... just make sure you didn't pin the tank in there too tight.
Those plastic tanks will swell when filled and if you have it too tight, it could bend your new supports or push the floor upwards.

We've had reports here of those things happening after repairs to reinforce the tank.
Yes, good point. I did leave enough play on my tank but failed to mention that. Thanks!
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Old 03-23-2017, 01:17 PM   #11
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Very nice mod! Thank you for sharing.
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Old 03-23-2017, 03:03 PM   #12
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Good information! Thanks for sharing with the rest of us.
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Old 03-23-2017, 06:29 PM   #13
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Hopefully this give some ideas to anyone wanting to beef up the support in this type of trailer. As seen in Mr. Havercamps photos there are many other types of mounting systems.
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Old 03-24-2017, 05:35 AM   #14
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Hopefully this give some ideas to anyone wanting to beef up the support in this type of trailer. As seen in Mr. Havercamps photos there are many other types of mounting systems.
80% of the time the supports that fail are a standard Lippert part. They make a couple of different overall sized tank trays to accommodate different capacity tanks. They show them on their website in the parts catalog. What they all have in common whether for a 39 gallon or larger tank, is the main spreader from frame rail to frame rail is a piece of 10 gauge mild steel plate fabricated (bent) into an angle. Those are the first to bend and eventually they distort enough that the cross ties, which just clip into slots in the spreader, pop out allowing the spreader to deflect further and down comes the tank.

I replaced mine with 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 3/16 rolled structural angle and it's more than enough. The added cost for them (either Lippert or specified by manufacturer), to use pieces that amount to a pound or two of additional steel, would be a couple of bucks. FIrst they need to acknowledge the issue and to my knowledge neither Lippert nor FR will admit it's a large problem. Well it is. When mine sagged on the trip home from the PDI, Rockwood referred me to Lippert, and Lippert gave me the classic runaround and made it so complicated and a pain in the butt to get resolution from them under their warranty I gave up. Lippert is about the worst company I have ever dealt with and every single thing they make is a total piece of garbage.
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Old 03-24-2017, 06:19 AM   #15
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That 10 guage bent sheet metal is what my aft crossmember was fabricated with. I supplemented it with the heavy Guage angle that you used. Total cost... $8.00
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Old 03-25-2017, 10:19 AM   #16
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Ive always put the tank right up against the floor. Maybe not as critical on a fresh tank with flexible connections, but with holding tanks, you dont want tank movement stressing connections. Good job on the angle mod, thats the finding i made on supports. If you got the big 1.5" spin fitting for a drain, i remove the dump valve and reduce to .5" fpt and put in petcock. If the large spin fitting is damaged, you can spin another with a homemade adapter. Drains in the corner of the tank require support to keep from ripping out, then they will hold up well.
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Old 03-25-2017, 04:09 PM   #17
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Ive always put the tank right up against the floor. Maybe not as critical on a fresh tank with flexible connections, but with holding tanks, you dont want tank movement stressing connections. Good job on the angle mod, thats the finding i made on supports. If you got the big 1.5" spin fitting for a drain, i remove the dump valve and reduce to .5" fpt and put in petcock. If the large spin fitting is damaged, you can spin another with a homemade adapter. Drains in the corner of the tank require support to keep from ripping out, then they will hold up well.

On the original arrangement from Rockwood, they jammed the fresh water tank tight to the underside of the floor which probably contributed to the under engineered supports bending. If you filled the tank and had the trailer a few inches out of level to the side, the cheap tank would balloon out until it could balloon no more on the bottom, then it would raise the laminated floor a good 3/16" above the top of the main frame rail causing the entry door to not latch.

As far as the black and gray tanks on a Rockwood Roo, have you ever seen the outstanding installation of those. They have a molded in ledge formed in the sides of the tank which simply lays on top of a cross member or spreader bars. There is no attachment, the tanks just float there. Then the jam a chunk of beaded styrofoam maybe 2" square and a foot long on top between the top of tank and underside of floor. That's all that holds the tanks in place, that and the plumbing.


No shortage of shoddy workmanship/installation and questionable design on these pieces of junk.
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Old 04-17-2017, 08:04 PM   #18
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Thanks for leading me to this thread. maybe I'm nave, but I never even looked under the trailer. I'll look tomorrow.
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Old 04-17-2017, 09:07 PM   #19
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Jim, did my PM to you ever work? Not sure what is happening tbere. Never had problems before.

Check the aft support on your tank. Light weight steel, not heavy angle iron like the front support.
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Old 04-18-2017, 10:19 PM   #20
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I reinforced my fresh water tank today. I too have an open belly, which is what brought the problem to my attention last season. With an almost full tank, my front support bracket was bent in 2 places and dropped the tank down 4-5 inches from the floor. It may have been fine, but once an issue is made known to me, my mind won't let me rest until it's addressed. BTW, when I fill, I dedicate myself to that task only, patiently filling to about an inch or so from the top of the tank. Yeah, its time consuming and boring, but we've all heard the stories of an overfill...
My job today applies to the Mini Lites.
The structural problem on my trailer is where they machine some slots in the main side-to-side support bar to take the hooks of the fore/aft shorter support bars. They machine a slot on both sides of the side-to-side L bracket, and it's having those two slots at the same point of the span that apparently creates a weak point. The 2 slots are probably so the installer doesn't have to worry about orientation. Here's a picture of the original situation:
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I looked at a 2017 Mini Lite the other day and noticed the main front bracket is now bolted to the frame. If my 2015 was, I would have removed it, straightened it and welded a piggyback angle iron over it. But mine is welded in place to the frame, so my approach was to place a piece of real cold rolled 1-1/2 x 1-1/2 x 3/16 angle iron over the original, gently jack the two up together so the original is fairly straight again, then drill and bolt the two together at the ends, with the ends c-clamped.
I decided to not slot my new piece to accomodate the hooked-in pieces. To preserve the integrity of the new guy, I ground the hook tips flush to the original first.
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I did do a little mod I'll detail in a bit so the hooks don't bounce out.
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I made sure the tank wasn't squeezed too tight anywhere, including the top to floor contact. Remember, too, that my "full" water level always leaves a bit of air space inside for insurance.
Back to those flushed hooks; I simply bolted on a short extension to the fore/aft angle iron (not!) support bars so my extension was flush to the bottom of the main cross member, preventing any possibility of the now shorter hook from jumping out.
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That's it. I'll keep an eye on things until I am confident and can start worrying​ about something else. Like I mentioned, maybe after the initial bending all would have been fine, who knows. I am also aware of you folks who feel these tanks aren't meant for transporting a large volume of water, but I am not in that camp. My yellow sticker that specs out the available cargo weight limit clearly mentions to be aware that a full tank of water will cut in to that cargo limit by X amount.
Total cost was about 20 bucks; time spent was about 3 hours.
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