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EscaPOD Adventures - 2022 edition

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StephenH View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote StephenH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: EscaPOD Adventures - 2022 edition
    Posted: 14 Jun 2022 at 5:41pm
This was anything but normal use. We pulled off the road onto an area that looked like it had been graded only to find out that it was very rutted and we were bouncing quite a bit. I think the only reason the A frame did not bend also was because the trailer tray hit up against the front of the RPod (I can see the marks) and kept it from flexing more than it did.
StephenH
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Post Options Post Options   Quote offgrid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 2022 at 6:37am
But StephenH, your TV frame went over the same surface and didn't get damaged did it? And many others have reported bent axles, frames, damaged floors, slide structures, etc. You've had a bent axle already too IIRC?

My point being that lower end travel trailers like rpods are just not designed with adequate structural safety margins. They aren't required to, and consumers are apparently willing to tolerate damage to their trailers that would be unacceptable in their other vehicles.

The tongue and tongue to frane attachment does not see as high loading as the frame in the axle attachment area does, so it shouldn't be surprising that your frame failed where it did. That's because the moment due to the load at the rear of the trailer pushing down is combined with that from the torsion axle rotating upwards.
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StephenH View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote StephenH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 2022 at 11:42am
I can't argue with you there. I would not have thought of the frame bending. I agree that the frame is not adequate. However, until there is enough pressure on manufacturers to change, they won't.

I will report this to the NHTSB. It does look as if the axle bent again, but I will take measurements later, when it cools off somewhat outside. It is too hot right now to be doing that sort of thing.
StephenH
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Pod People Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 2022 at 8:26pm
So the question becomes--
 what can an owner do proactively to reinforce the frame at the rear of the axle attachment area?
Is there something bolt-on that we can do ourselves or does it require welding? any idea of dimensions and placement? other details?
I'm sure there is a lot more to frame reinforcement than simply bolting on a metal plate to the side of the frame rail.
thanks for your thoughts, as usual they are spot on.
Safe Travels
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StephenH View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote StephenH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 2022 at 9:34pm
I will have to take pictures of what was done. He welded a plate to the side and bottom. The side one goes past the riser on both ends if I recall correctly. The bottom one starts at the riser and goes back several inches. It ends up looking L shaped. A U shape would be better, but then there is the issue of access to the frame on the tank side. He said it looked as if the inside had been cracked as he remarked about rust, presumably in the crack.

It is possible that a U shape could be bolted in place, but welding is likely a much stronger way to do this. I will try to take some measurements as well as pictures to post.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote offgrid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2022 at 5:45am
I analysed this a few years ago when olddogsrule (IIRC) reported a bent frame at that same location. I think he ended up with the solution below.

The best way to reinforce the frame at the axle location would be to remove the riser and substitute a piece of 4x2 inch tubing (the same tubing that the frame is made from) welded under the frame.


That will both provide a 4 inch riser but also greatly strengthen the frame, much more so that just adding pieces of steel to the sides and bottom of the existing tube.

Why? Because the section modulus (the property that resists bending) of a rectangular tube increases with the square of the height in the direction the bending force is applied. So doubling the height of the frame to 8 inches increases it's ability to resist bending by a factor of 4.

That's not to say that StephenH's approach won't work, just that it's not he most efficient way to strengthen the frame. So the added steel would need to be much thicker to obtain the same results.

The welds will be less critical as well because the attachment between the two tubes occurs at the neutral axis (the location where stresses are minimized) of the doubled tube.

Whatever you do, the reinforcement should extend forward and back a significant distance from the axle attachment point or the frame will just bend again where the reinforcement ends. I did the length calc for the 179 when I looked into this before, you can use the advanced search to find it. IIRC the tube needed to extend behind the axle about 2-3 feet and 1-2 feet in front (stresses in front on the axle are lower).

Two 5ft long 4x2x0.1 steel tubes would add about 40 lbs to the rpod total weight. No too bad.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote offgrid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2022 at 6:34am
StephenH, good luck with NHTSA. However, I doubt they have jurisdiction unless it can be shown that this is a safety issue.

When I looked a couple of years ago I couldn't find any accepted standards anywhere for vehicle frame structural loading requirements. Only some general guidelines, nothing regulatory.

In fact, it appears that vehicle manufacturers consider this information proprietary and not for discussion outside the companies' engineering departments.

What I saw was that heavy trucks are designed to handle loads in the 2.5-3 g range. Cars and trucks (which being smaller get thrown around more) more like 3-4 g's.


When I analysed the 179 frame I got a number a bit under 2 g's at the spot where yours and olddogsrules' failed. 2 g's ain't much, I'm surprised we don't have more bent frame reported.

The axle was also good for about 2 g's. I recall about 2.5 g's at the tongue connection, so that would be next weakest spot to go.

If someone wanted to proactively beef up an rpod all around for rough roads, I'd add the 2x4 tubing both places (tongue and axle attachment) and put in a heavier axle as well. And of course the floor outriggers....

At that point it might be better to start over with a different trailer, but just because a manufacturer markets something for rough road use doesn't mean it's actually up to it, as there are no standards to assure it's strong enough.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote StephenH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2022 at 6:47am
I think the repairs that were done (with heavier steel than the original frame) will hold up but your solution would be better. Ultimately, we will probably look for a newer trailer, one with a walk-around bed. With all the modifications and as many miles as we have been with our RPod, it will be tough to switch though.
StephenH
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Post Options Post Options   Quote offgrid Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2022 at 9:14am
I think the repairs will hold up too. It's not like you're going to plan on hitting some more huge pot holes again anytime soon.

I'm a little surprised that your axle got bent because you already had that well reinforced. What are your plans for that?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Linda&Gino Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2022 at 5:06pm
Based on the anecdotal information on this forum and others, something happened with Forest River's quality control around 2016-2017. Our 179 indicates it is a 2017 model, but it wears the green colors of the 2016 variety and not the blue. Additionally, despite some really rough treatment over its 45,000+ miles, including thousands miles on forest roads and BLM land, it has not experienced nearly the same number of issues as later models (knocking on wood as I write this), so I am grateful for that. It's the build quality inconsistency that I find interesting, especially in this day and age of improved manufacturing methodologies. It's almost like we are talking about a GM/Ford/Chrysler car built in the 70's!

Hopefully feedback is making it back to FR and they act on it so future buyers won't have to worry about these things.
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