Is there another explanation - aside from a bent frame?

Discussion in 'General Camping Discussion Forum' started by MIlover, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. MIlover

    MIlover Member

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    Hello all,

    Well, I was going to post my "yay-our-pup-search-has-ended-and-I'm-so-excited" story tonight, but it will have to wait.

    The jest of it: We brought our 2008 Fleetwood Utah home yesterday, purchased from the original owners who had all of the original documentation, took really good care of it, always stored it inside year round, etc. The owner clearly took a lot of pride in it, and went out of his way to help to inform us about proper setup/take down, show us how everything worked, etc. The first time we looked at the pup was a couple of weeks ago. We left, then made an offer over the phone, mailed a deposit and picked it up this weekend. It wasn't a rushed decision, and we looked it over thoroughly both times.

    However...

    We put her up in our driveway and noticed that the rear, driver-side corner was low. From the box on up, it was clearly off-kilter. Neither my husband or I noticed this at the PO's home. But, the pup was inside a dirt-floor barn the first time we looked at it, and yesterday it was on a lawn. I blamed our driveway, but DH said that if that's the case, the front of the pup wouldn't be level and straight (which it is). As DH pointed out, there are only two tires, so a sloped driveway should result in an entire side being low, not just one corner. He is convinced the pup's frame is out of whack (though everything looked straight underneath, the pup cranked up ok, door went in, etc.) and that we have acquired yet another pup with a big problem.

    I'm trying hard not to be really sad about this. I spent several hours today cleaning her out, wiping down the windows, etc. - she looks so nice! Are there any other explanations for the low corner? If not, I hope the frame can be fixed by a auto body shop without costing us an arm and a leg? I just can't believe, that after all of my pup scrutiny, we could miss something as major as a bent frame.
     
  2. tconroy

    tconroy Active Member

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    get a 2by 4 (straight one) and put it on the frame to see if it is bent. Shouldnt be too hard to see.
     
  3. Twisty

    Twisty New Member

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    String or twine will tell you if the frame rails are straight.
    We had a 2004 Utah and the frame is very thick and strong.
    "From the box on up..."? I don't get it.
    If there was a leak and the wood is soft or rotten one corner of the box could sag.
    Please post some pics.
     
  4. MIlover

    MIlover Member

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    Thanks. I plan to get underneath and examine it closely tomorrow. If not with a 2x4, I'll find a similar straight edge...I just always thought a bent frame would be obvious upon visual inspection, but maybe not.

    Twisty, I'll try to post a pic tomorrow. "From the box up," I mean that the box is angled down that corner, as is everything on top of it (bunk end corner, roof corner). So, it's not just a low roof corner that must be adjusted. I really don't think floor rot is causing the problem. I see/feel no evidence of that, and looked thoroughly.
     
  5. TheBerrys

    TheBerrys 1977 Palomino in Albuquerque, NM

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  6. BigBaron

    BigBaron Dreaming of Tommy's chili cheeseburgers...

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    Did you check to see if one of the leaf springs is broken? There is usually a sandwich of two or three springs, and if one is broken that side will sit lower than the other. They're cheap and easy to replace. Also one of the springs may have lost its arch, so measure between the axle and the frame on both sides.
     
  7. MIlover

    MIlover Member

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    Big Baron, could a broken leaf spring cause only one corner to appear lower though? It seems like it would affect an entire side, which isn't the case here. I'll be examining further once it's daylight. Gotta love gloomy fall mornings in MI.
     
  8. tconroy

    tconroy Active Member

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    I have no rot at all on mine and the door is of maybe 1/8" from top to bottom. I dont think it is an issue at least not yet. I will investigate it in the future.
     
  9. BigBaron

    BigBaron Dreaming of Tommy's chili cheeseburgers...

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    A rear corner? Possibly. The front corner wouldn't change height that much, but the rear would droop more.
     
  10. mlong

    mlong New Member

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    It could be that the stabilizer jack on that corner is not cranked down all the way. I had a situation on time at a camp site where my door would not latch correctly. I eventually figured out the I did not have the rear stabilizer adjusted properly. Do not use the stabilizer to lift the wheel off the ground, just crack it down enough to lift the corner. If it is not off too bad that should do the trick. However, if it is sagging a lot, then you have other issues. Is it just the roof that is low or the box and the roof?
     
  11. friartuck

    friartuck Well-Known Member

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    Don't panic (yet). Take the pup to a nearby parking lot that's fairly flat and look at it there. Move it around the lot a few times to see it in different places at different angles.
    Unless the PO really did some oddball adjustments to the roof it doesn't really sound like it's bent. Also have someone drive away from you then toward you and watch the camper. Is it dog tracking? Did it seem to be dragging the TV around or have a lot of sway? You would notice the sway, even a little bit, in the mirrors and how the TV handles.
    Looks can be deceiving. The DW always thinks our's looks crooked when it's on our parking pad, but it looks fine in a parking lot, campsite, going down the road etc.
    Put a level on the inside floor in different places and see if the bubble is off the same amount, more or less, around the pup. If you have a BAL, level it out and try again. (I say a BAL because you can get the pup dead level side to side with the BAL) at least get it close and see how it looks with wood, LYNX Blocks etc.
     
  12. DAMN YANKEE

    DAMN YANKEE New Member

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    You might also want to check the spring but not for a broken spring but a broken rear shackel or spring hhanger
     
  13. MIlover

    MIlover Member

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    Here are some photos. It's a cold, wet morning. Unless it dries out this afternoon, not sure if I'll be crawling around under the pup today! And of course, I need to do some work (the paying kind). I'm lucky my schedule affords flexibility for my pup habit.

    You can see from this image that the rear, driver-side corner is a bit lower than the other side. It's more apparent in person though. We've checked with a level, and the bubble is all the way over to the other side. She's definitely off. Notice too, the difference in the angle of the bunk support poles, due to the sag in that corner.

    [​IMG]

    Here is a photo of the front. It's definitely much more level than the rear, though the more I look, I wonder if maybe there is a slight bit of sag up front too. FWIW, our old pup used to set up in this same location, and it was always perfectly level. I have to agree that DH is probably right about it not being a driveway issue.

    [​IMG]

    Friar - It seemed to tow straight, though DH says when looking in the back mirror, he thought that the pup looked a little low in that back corner, but assumed he was imagining things...

    Mlong - It's the box that's low. Our stabs are cranked down just tight enough on all corners so the wood blocks under them don't move. If I were to tighten the one on the low corner to compensate, isn't that essentially trying to level the pup using stabs?

    I'm hoping maybe Damn Yankee and Big Baron are right - that it could be a broken spring or rear shackel or spring hanger. Now I need to do a search and see what those things even look like!
     
  14. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

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    Simple question..... are the tires the same size and pressure?
     
  15. MIlover

    MIlover Member

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    Yep. It's a good question though.
     
  16. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    I'd start with a level PU with the slide out IN!
     
  17. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

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    Also are the front spring bolts in the same hole side to side?

    [​IMG]

    Usually they are in the top hole, but the lower hole will increase the frame height a little.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. natty bumppo

    natty bumppo 2009 F-150,1998 Coleman Westlake

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    Hard to say with just pics to go by. Since it seems to be uniform from front to rear I'd think not a soft floor problem. It looks like maybe a leaf spring on that side may be weak or have some sort of problem. I don't have a slideout and have no idea how much added weight the spring on that side would have to support. I was at the coast this weekend and saw many slideouts with four big grownups sitting in them. I thought to myself that's a lot of weight hanging on those slideouts with no added support under them.
     
  19. MIlover

    MIlover Member

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    It's definitely not a soft floor/rot problem. I'm confident of that. The problem is much more pronounced in the back vs. the front. We're new to slide outs as well; not sure how much that could play a role. If the rain stays away, I'll try to take some more pics from under the pup later today, and look for the spring bolt locations Raycfe mentioned.
     
  20. kmh1596

    kmh1596 Wilbraham, MA

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    To me, the front looks off as well, but it will not be as off, as it is held up by the hitch. Measure the distance bwteeen the wheels and frame, wheels and floor, etc.. I'd bet you have a bad leaf-spring on one side, or it is in the wrong hole, as was mentioned above.

    I'd doubt it is bent, and would also doubt that this will wind up being a major issue--you bought a great camper. Slow down for a minute, take many measurements, and you'll find what the issue is.

    Another thing to check is whether the axle is bent on the left side. Being a leaf spring axle, none of these things would be a very expensive repair, all things considered.
     

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