Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"I Don't Know What He Calls This... But It Ain't Welding"

That's what our Colorado Welder said after the intitial; "Oh My God!" when he looked under the trailer.

Knowing that the work done in West Yellowstone was NOT gonna hold together for any length of time, I'd decided we should bail out of our Fall in Yellowstone, and get somewhere safe, if we could, to make permanent repairs.

I knew of a competent welder in our old stompin' grounds so we headed out, bound for Nunn.

Now... I gotta tell you, Wyoming is WIDE open spaces... but, they seem a lot wider... when you cross the state at 45 mph with a busted trailer.

We made it, as you read before, and are now in the process of doing a proper repair... Here are a few pics of what was left by the previous "Pro" welder up north...

 As always you can click to see those pics bigger.

For those of you who know what welding is, I'm purty sure you'll agree with my True Pro in Colorado... "I don't know what he calls this... but it AIN'T welding!"

Kind of leaves a guy with a sick feeling in his stomach when he's stuck with the only game in town, and the deed is done.

You can get all screaming mad and raging, or just pick up your marbles and leave... and TRY to leave that anger behind.

I've spent so much of my life angry, I really try to abandon it when I can...

So... I'm now in the process, as I wait for him to break out the time in his schedule to correct this mess, of doing the prep work, so he can do the job proper.

I'll grind off all those nasty bits of peanut butter... clean up all the areas where the cracks occurred and have everything ready so he can do his job with the least difficulty.

Bottom line? Beware if you're in a "foreign" place getting welding done... If you're in West Yellowstone... I'd suggest hauling over into Idaho...

Now... to go over something again. Ted made the comment on the last post that the damage could have been caused by the "Rotational" force and not the "Vertical" force or load...

So... one more time... the Tears and Rips you see in the pictures of the Last post? Were, Indeed, Caused by the ROTATIONAL force of the Hitch Trying to turn upward, when the trailer slammed to a halt as the breakaway locked up. 

It's when the trailer wheels are stuck to the ground that a hitch can REALLY apply those Rotational Forces, as the truck tries to keep on going... and BAM! Busted hitch.

To that I agree 100%. But, one of my points is; IF, the frame was built to a more proper standard, those cracks wouldn't have appeared in the first place... and knowing those break aways can lock up... they should have built with that in mind. With the frame built of proper weight, it's my belief most of the failures we see, wouldn't happen.

Sort of like being a chair builder. If you build your chair to support the average 150 lb person. sitting down gently... and all that sits in the chair is one of those... you got no worries.

But... let a 295'er come galompin' in... and kerwhump! Plunk their butts down like they jumped off the roof... and keerunch! You got a busted chair....

A proper builder, in my estimation should allow for a lil' bit wider spectrum of possibilities.

Now, the difference in cost? To build one that will do the WHOLE JOB? Minimal, in the whole scheme of things, and maybe that's my real gripe here. To have done the job right, and built the trailers that match their advertising boasts... would have been a fraction of a percentage added to the cost of constructing the trailers...

He thought I should go lighter on Jayco and the manufacturers on that. So one more time, here's my points.

1. Geometry; (the fifth wheel vs. gooseneck argument) Whether the space between the king pin and the truck deck is spanned by a Fifth wheel hitch or a gooseneck conversion, the distance of that space, that length, is the same. That lever is the same length. To exert more force, you have to lengthen the lever. Simple geometry... or whatever the particular math is. The only difference is that it has less available movement in a fifth wheel (ie. the fifth wheel locks up sooner than a goose and, locked up, then exerts greater torque). Bottom line, working correctly, they are going to exert very similar force. *and let's face it the gooseneck conversions were designed by engineers too! :) * and... then, when you lay in the "Long Style" pin box they put on... THAT is the main lever, having nothing to do with fiver or gooseneck... and is why I'm considering adding an air ride hitch, to reduce and moderate the impacts and leverage against the frame...

2. I've said it previous, and say it again now, another poorly done job, (The axle flip) basically had me, unknowingly, hauling with a suspension travel of maybe a 1/2 inch... the shocks were completely compressed ( now corrected) leaving an effectively rigid suspension. That compounded the concussion against the hitch structure a lot, and I believe, started the failure with metal fatigue, vertical load, stress cracks in the too light, sheet metal, box beams. THAT, was my fault. Failure on my part, to do a proper inspection of the work. My Bad.

So... I accept responsibility for a portion of this failure. Work I had done contributed to it. No gettin' around that. But, if the trailers were not built, to the lowest, minimum standard possible, such failures would not be the common thing they seem to be. That is another my points I guess.

Though they promote their trailers and RV's as the best money can buy... uh... they often... are not... Just Sayin'.

So... Like Ted said, there's more than one side to a story. Jayco has a great responsibility here, I do, the bozos that did my axle work played a part... and that guy doin' a poor imitation of a welder back up north... well... he didn't contribute, not one little bit, to the failure... but... he didn't contribute much to a repair either! :)

Where does all this leave me? Same as always, puttin' one foot in front of the other until this ride is over.

I could get all mad and run around with my liver all inflamed... or just deal with this difficulty, and get back to the road.

I choose to get back to the road, and to the greatest degree possible, leave the anger at some "Pro's" less than stellar performances... behind.

... and one last thing... I read the other day where Rosanne Barr made some sort of caustic? remarks concerning punishment for "Guilty" Bankers... someone called her to task on that and she came back that she had said pretty clearly that her punishment was meant for the "Guilty" not the UN-Guilty...

That's pretty much my thought on any of this. Are all bankers Guilty? Nope. Are all corporations guilty? Nope. Are all engineers guilty? Not even. You just about can't say ALL about anyone or any thing...

But at some point in life, you have to make a conscious decision; "Do I go with the flow and turn out substandard, unsafe work? Do I participate in what effectively is Cheating, Or do I refuse and take what comes?"

I can brag that I've walked, more than once, 'cause I couldn't endure the thought of having to look in the mirror at a guy who did it wrong. Who dishonored a craft, a commitment, or the folks I worked with.

Am I running a perfect score on that? Nope, remember what I said about ALL? :) But I'm workin' on it. :)

Now... an end to who done what to who, when and why... and Just get the work done... and get back down the road...

Grinding and Preppin' in Colorado

Return to the main site of goin' RV Boondocking or Visit my Sister website Motorcycle Touring on Freedom Road


Ted said...

Wow! The welding done in West Yellowstone was indeed a hack job. It appears the welder had little concern for your rig and the quality of the repair. Back to my earlier discussion, I think you miss understood my comment. I was not speaking of "the ROTATIONAL force of the Hitch Trying to turn upward". I was speaking of the rotational force of twisting the rig around the pin box, looking from the front of your trailer aft, along a line through the pin box from your truck to the rear of the trailer. I think if you consider the geometry, you'll see that the gooseneck creates a lever from the ball to the pin box, which rotates around this line, while a 5th wheel does not create this lever. With no suspension travel, this twisting force cannot be absorbed. I didn't mean to upset or challenge you with my comment; I just thought I'd give you some food for thought and have you consider what type of bracing the rig actually needs.

oneeyesquare said...

I'm self taught at welding, but even I can see there is very little penetration on those "welds". In my neck o' the woods, those are called "goose poop"...
Awful. Glad you made it.
You're the second full timer I follow with frame issues this month. I'm thinking I will invest in a good Inspection camera and drill some access holes at frame junctures.

Brian said...

No worries Ted. No upset or "Challenge" perceived :) My point has been, I agree that the screwed up suspension added considerable shock to the entire structure and contributed to the failure. No question.

The real difference of opinion is in that hitch geometry. I fifth wheel pivots 5 to 7 degrees, at the king pin. and goes from the king pin to the truck deck. When you go into a situation where the truck leans left, and the trailer leans right, that hitch LOCKS, and ALL that torque goes to the trailer frame, and the truck frame.

A gooseneck pivots at the bed deck and pivots so many degrees that it NEVER locks up. and goes the exact same distance from the king pin to the bed deck. Until the gooseneck "Locks" it can't apply more pressure... and they don't move far enough to lock. The trailer would have fell over first.

When the break away locks the wheels of the trailer, all that force of the truck continuing to move forward is applied to the king pin...

And I can't conceive of the king pin being able to differentiate between it being clamped into a fifth wheel bolted rigidly to the truck... or a converter, sitting on a ball. Other than the possible movement available in the ball connection would dissipate some of the energy that would have gone to the king pin... either one applies the same, horizontal (truck moving forward) force to the king pin... they are the, same length lever.

The lever is the same length, exerting the same pressure.

The only reason semis use fifth wheel is because it is much easier to hook up blind, and they run on pavement, with little to none of the opposing forces of the truck and trailer tilting in opposite directions to worry about.

However, instead of having the heavy frames they are built with, I'm betting that if they built those trucks with 14 gauge steel, they'd be having many of the same discussions. :)

Thanks Ted. I appreciate the calm and respectful conversation. We may not agree. One of us ;) might change his mind (it could happen)... but... in the end, simply having an intelligent,respectful conversation, where all points of view can be considered, is appreciated.

Brian said...

oneeyesquare; That's one of my main objectives here. I'm really not out to convince folks one way or the other when it comes to the hitch type. My greatest goal is to get people, considering the level of trailer manufacture, craftsmanship, and the deteriorating road conditions, to do a few things.
1. Regularly inspect their rigs for damage and/or excessive wear... BEFORE they have a catastrophic failure.

2. Drive at speeds more reasonable to the capability of their rigs and with road conditions in mind.

3. Maybe add auxiliary equipment if they can afford it, (ie. air ride hitches and such) to reduce the impacts on the structure of their rigs.

Ted said...

I love our conversations my cowboy friend. Ya know, being from NYC there is always: "I agree with everything you just said, BUT ....." Sure wish we could sit down together with a LandShark or two and discuss, with drawings, this matter in depth. Maybe someday we'll hook up on the road. But, for now, get that rig fixed and hooked up. BTW, I do agree a gooseneck has a number of advantages over a fiver.

Anonymous said...

Reese has a new "Goose Box" that Lippert will build for them. It reads as having airbag, shocks, and bumpers, and does not void the Lippert frame warranty. I have not seen one, but very interested in having a goose neck setup when I upgrade from my travel trailer in a few years.


1 More Mile! said...


That is the worst I have ever seen, It looks like the nimrod was using the wrong shielding gas or no gas at all. I could do better with some coat hangar wire, jumper cables and 2 car batteries!

Anonymous said...

Looks as if someone took an "online welding class"
Glad you made it to safety.

Ted said...

One last thought on this subject: What, and why, is an axle flip?