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And the Frame Failure Fiasco Continues…

October 27, 2011 by · 6 Comments 


For those of you following our long, drawn-out frame failure issues, I thought it was about time for an update! I contacted various executives at Gulf Stream yet again, this time with links to the various articles/blogs that I have posted to alert other rvers to the potential for frame issues – still not a single answer or reply (not that, after 2 months of brush-off, I expected anything else).   

 Our insurance is finally coming through – though it took opening up a claim with our state insurance commission to get the ball rolling.  Our insurance had said that they would cover the damage, but we were having a hard time getting them to act on either totaling it out or finding someone to fix it (we couldn’t find anyone willing to attempt it).  After a month of telling us that they were going to total out our rv, they called us and said that they work with an rv repair shop in WA that said they would be able to make the repair.  After finally giving the transport company a green light to come and haul our 5er to WA, it then took nearly 2 weeks to get the estimate OKed.   It’s been a long haul. (and we are wishing that we were on a different kind of long haul journey right now!  ;) ) 

All this would be pretty minor if our rv sat all winter.  It doesn’t.  This is when we really need it.  Being in the northwest, it is getting a little fridgid out here.  And we want out!  

Add in the fact that our now ‘homeless’ family has had to move twice in the last 8 weeks with 2 more moves to go (and we are living out of boxes), and that this drawing out of the process by the insurance company is costing us a very special, last-chance trip with our oldest son (we had planned on one last road trip with him driving him down to boot camp at the beginning of Nov); hopefully you can understand my frustration. 

 Oh, and I’m due to give birth in 3 weeks.  We homebirth.  Not sure how that is going to work without a home!!!  ROFL!  

jacking up the sidewalls on the toy hauler

jacking up the sidewalls on the toy hauler

Nearly 2 weeks ago, Karl from K&D Transport out of Tacoma came and picked up our RV (he also works at the repair shop).   He reinforced the frame and sidewall attachments by jacking up the sidewalls, installing angle iron, and running bolts through the sidewalls, frame, and support materials. He then hauled it the 600 miles back to Tacoma and dropped it off at the repair shop for us.   I have to say that working with Karl so far has been a very positive experience.  I have been so impressed with his commitment to help us and his level of communication!  He has filled us in on every step of the way, including keeping us posted on what is going on with our insurance company!?! (wild that someone besides the insurance company has to do that!)    The only thing that I have a hard time thanking Karl for is the fact that now hubby thinks he needs a new tow vehicle (you know, like Karl’s! LOL!)

angle iron supports installed to move 5th wheel

a few of the angle iron supports installed to move 5th wheel

After getting the 5er to Washington, Karl pulled the front apart and got the estimate to the insurance company within a couple of days.   After getting the estimate OKed (thanks to Karl who called (and called) and complained and had our claim moved to a local adjuster that he regularly works with), our rig went on the shop floor this past Monday. 

After talking with Karl once the rig had been opened up and the frame exposed more, I asked him what caused the failure; if it was something we did, we sure wanted to know to make sure it didn’t happen again.  Karl said that it was caused by ‘shoddy workmanship’.  He took lots of pictures, and I will try to get some from him, but he said that the main part of the problem was that when the 5er was assembled, all the fasteners didn’t get installed.  There are places where fasteners belong to attach the sidewall to the frame, and some of the fasteners were obviously never put in during assembly.  Since the frame uses the sidewalls for some structural support, this ended up causing excessive force on the too few fasteners that actually were installed, causing them to stress and fail.  Once the fasteners had sheered off, there was no support for the frame from the sidewalls.   Since the frame is not built heavy enough to support the trailer built on it without that added support, it was merely a waiting game on when the frame would crack and fail under the stress of the 9 tons placed on it.  

rv hitched up and ready to head for the repair shop

5er hitched up and ready to head for the repair shop

So,bottom line… Gulf Stream, to save a few dollars on fasteners, cost our insurance company a $25k fix.  That means it cost you and me $25,000.   25 THOUSAND dollars sure would have bought a lot of fasteners!   …I’m thinking some accountability would be appropriate here…

Right now, we are just trying to focus on when we will get our home back!  We are anxious to hit the road and pick up our rambling gypsy lifestyle where we left off.  We can’t wait to head to warmer climates, and are excited that we will eventually get our Home Sweet Home on wheels back – and are praying that it is in time to make it back east to spend 2 weeks with our son during his Christmas break from boot camp.  Funny, but being out of our rv for 2 months now has made it an even bigger part of our lives.  It hasn’t made any of us ‘remember’ how great it was to have a sticks and bricks, or to be in one place for an extended amount of time, even if it is our hometown!  Personally, it has made me love the traveling lifestyle, that RVing makes possible, even moreso.  I guess it’s true that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’.   Right now I’m pretty fond of that open road, and can’t wait to be on it again!!!


6 Responses to “And the Frame Failure Fiasco Continues…”
  1. eric says:

    Wow, what an ordeal you folks have been through. And it really scares the heck out of me, since our TT is a Gulfstream Conquest!

  2. Gene says:

    This has been awful. You do need a big truck. We pull about 26,000 lb and use a Freightliner SportChassis. A wonderful truck. I am curious who is your insurance with. Is this an extended warrenty?

  3. Professor95 says:

    I would also like to know what insurance company you have. It is good they finally came through, but the poor customer service you describe would help all of us in any insurance decision making.

    With all the info you now have (pictures, reason for failure, etc.) have you considered legal action against Gulfstream or Lippert Industries? Personally, I would love to see someone sue the pants off of both of them. Shoddy workmanship is not acceptable, period, regardless of any so called workmanship warranty. Perhaps a letter from your lawyer or even RV Action Line (Trailer Life/Highways) might make someone “rethink” their lack of responsibility. Just because an insurance company pays to fix the problem should not mean it is OK and over.

    Hubby really does need a bigger truck. At least a medium duty if not a heavy duty like I have.

    You are a brave family. We keep you in our prayers. Let us know when the baby arrives.


  4. I know what you mean about being off the road. We have been parked now for 3 months and we are actually buying a house. I never wanted to be a home owner, but we make a lot of sacrifices for our families. :-) I am hoping another project comes along for work and I can travel once again.

    Just follow those links I gave you and get that big truck that will fit more of your family. :-)

  5. Dale Chaffee says:

    WOW!! My wife and I are just starting our search for an RV for our retirement. I will definatly cross Gulf Stream off our list of possible RVs. It is really sad that companies spend millions trying to get you to buy their product and then ignore you if there is any problem. We will be watching your saga unfold. I still belive God has something great in store for you guys in tthe midst of all this mess. dale

  6. Liz Johns says:

    Have you tried the Better Business Bureau? They might be able to help. I would also contact a few attorneys…wouldn’t hurt. Check some local tv stations. We have one in Idaho that will check with companies that are giving people the run-around. Companies don’t like this type of advertising. Hope you get on the road soon!

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