Repair Status Update
Some of you may be wondering just what broke and how is it being repaired. I'm including some photos of the damaged underside of the fifth wheel and the repairs/modification that Scott is in the process of completing.
First of all let me explain the layout. A system of cross members (called stringers) support the floor of the living room on either side of the two opposing slide-outs. They are welded to the two main I-beams that run the entire length of the fifth wheel front to back on either side of the trailer. Behind the two trailer axels and under that floor is where the freshwater tank is supported between two of these stringers.
This area closer to the end of the rig get the most road jarring movement and vibration. What broke in this area was the stringer tank weld joints. The first time it was the driver side front stringer weld back in October 2022 when we were in California. That was repaired later in November. The above image shows the original weld break/repair done in November. The screw with the double nut was added by Scott to attach the front driver side stringer to the angle iron bracket above the I-beam on that side.
The most recent failure occurred in January 2023 while driving south to Tucson, AZ. But this time both the welds, front and back on the passenger side broke resulting in the freshwater tank assembly dropping through the underbelly liner/insulation to the road surface at 60 MPH! The rest of the story has been told in an earlier blog post.
This above image shows the front passenger side angle iron bracket on top of the I-beam.
What Scott has engineered is a modification to the supporting water tank stringers using lengths of angle iron to reinforce the stringers side to side. The angle iron supports sit on top on the I-beams creating a larger and stronger point of contact. In addition, where the end of the stringer was destroyed by the the road surface filing away the material, Scott added an additional bracket where the welds originally connected the stringer to the I-beam (see above photo). To reduce the twisting of the stringers under load he has attached the angle iron to the stringers at intervals along the length. This modification is a superior improvement to the original design from the factory.
This final image shows how much of the bottom of the stringer (rusted area) was filed away by the road surface when the tank dropped. Note the bolt end through the reinforcing box tube attaching the angle iron to the I-beam. Once the tank support structure under the freshwater tank is mounted to the reinforced stringers, this assembly should be much improved to withstand the G-forces at the rear of the rig.