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We've been reading about the troubles the Heartland owners have had with their Lippert Frames falling apart. So we decided to check out our 2011 Open Range...it has one too!! First, our slide started to fall, no support for the middle of the slide supporting our couch! My DH put 3 rollers in the middle and reinforced the inside with metal. Now we find the nose is separating and we are not sure how to proceed. What have other fulltimers done? We fortunately (or not) have a 2nd RV that we could stay in while this one is fixed, or should we trade this and our other one, a 2007 Keystone Montana for our final 5th wheel? Help!!

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The Open Range needs to be fixed if you want to get anything out of it and that Montana might be the best trailer you can get..Like maybe remodel it and sell the Open Frame errr Road after you get it repaired. From what I see on this forum is that buying new is finding headaches that no one has discovered yet, That getting repaired under warranty develops another headache.

 

You mention final 5th.! You're not that old unless you plan on making repairs because your rolling house is the equivalent of an earthquake to a sticks n bricks....Things fall apart and have to be fixed.

Good Luck

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The answer may depend on your budget. If you can afford a custom built 5er then your choices are a New Horizons, Spacecraft or Forks Continental Coach. There are used ones out there if you look and they probably deserve to be searched for. If you can't afford a custom built then Jim's advice above is a reasonable alternative. You will probably find it hard to avoid Lippert products in the majority of units in the lower and middle price brackets. Good luck with your search, Best Wishes, Jay

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Lippert Frames are used by the majority of units. The manufacturer can specify how strong it is though. DRV uses Lippert and it is very heavy duty. DRV specs it out this way. I have never considered Open Range full time quality. Many do but many have problems like you have. They are designed to be light weight. This doesn't fare well with full time units. Please understand I am not downing them. I have looked at them and really like them. Just too light for our consideration.

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Glenn, you seem to always blame Lippert frame failures on the specifications set by the manufacturer. Well, the sheer volume of Lippert failures and problems is a direct reflection on Lippert and not on the manufacturer, except that the manufacturer knows what they're going to get by choosing Lippert. They do not build a reliable product, regardless of what the manufacturer specifies. My theory is that they simply build fast, cheap, and at a higher volume than they can build well, like most of the Elkhart trailer manufacturers do. Until we hold Elkhart and Lippert responsible for the crap they are building, and stop supporting them by demanding unreasonably low prices, we'll keep getting what we pay for.

 

I will vote with my wallet when we buy the fulltime rig, and we'll make sure our manufacturer knows why we chose them.

 

Regards,

 

Roy

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Glenn, you seem to always blame Lippert frame failures on the specifications set by the manufacturer. Well, the sheer volume of Lippert failures and problems is a direct reflection on Lippert and not on the manufacturer, except that the manufacturer knows what they're going to get by choosing Lippert. They do not build a reliable product, regardless of what the manufacturer specifies. My theory is that they simply build fast, cheap, and at a higher volume than they can build well, like most of the Elkhart trailer manufacturers do. Until we hold Elkhart and Lippert responsible for the crap they are building, and stop supporting them by demanding unreasonably low prices, we'll keep getting what we pay for.

 

I will vote with my wallet when we buy the fulltime rig, and we'll make sure our manufacturer knows why we chose them.

 

Regards,

 

Roy

Would you please give us an accurate figure of Lippert failures and problems. I didn't think so.

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DRV frame issues are rare. Some has happened but it is actually hard to even find. Lippert builds all of DRVs frames. Heartland had lots of frame issues and from my reading took care of them even out of warranty. This is a good company. So why is this so if the manufacturer does spec it out that way. DRV uses stacked tubular steel, Heartland used 10-12 thin I beam. Lippert builds them both.

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Montana uses the Lippert frame all keystone brands do. We have had two Montana's one had a frame issue the other did not. We have toured the Lippert plant in Elkhart several times. Lippert makes frames for many brands. I do not know what their failure rate is but had a person who should know tell us it was around 2% over all. Of course the more frames one makes the higher number of failures you will have..2% of 100K is a larger number the 2% of 10K.....yes???

 

On the frame issue we had we were a bit overweight like 1050 lbs.. No one other than us ever ran overweight and had a frame failure....Right....

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Rich a frame should NEVER fail for being only 1000 lbs overweight. If it does it is not built right.

 

That said, I have seen some really CRAPPY welding on "some" Lippert frames. But I would bet that the percent of failures is not that high. No way of knowing, of course.

 

ALL RV manufacturers have had frame issues. ALL of them. Some from lousy construction and some because they were under-engineered. Just the way it is.....Unfortunately.

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NuWa went to Lippert frames and started having frame problems. They went back to Young;s Welding for the frames and the problems went away.

 

Lippert as a supplier should make sure that the frames they supply are suited for the application, because if they don't, it will come back to bite them.

 

I have seen some really poor welding on Lippert frames and there is not excuse for such poor welding.

 

Ken

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I have stated this before, you will not see quality welding as long as welders pay continue up. I had 3 raises this past year. Manufacturers cannot pay my wages. A good welder isn't staying with a cheap company as long as wages are so high. On a full week, 7/12 6k is my gross.

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"Rich a frame should NEVER fail for being only 1000 lbs overweight. If it does it is not built right"......... Say what?????

 

Now I myself would not know a crappy weld if I saw one as I am no welder or no expert .However certified welders have looked at my Lippert frame and did not see crappy welds. My frame failed at the overhang from what Keystone called "frame flex" It is good to know that being 1050 lbs overweight had nothing to do with it.

Edited by richfaa

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My oldest brother was a QA inspector team leader for MacDonald Douglas / Boeing. Part of his job was to insure his team inspected incoming parts supplied by contractors. If a defective part slipped through, the first person in line was his team. Then the manufacturer.

 

Some of the blame must go onto the manufacturers. They design, set specifications and accept (I would hope) a prototype. Wouldn't you have someone inspect incoming critical items like the frame? The manufacturers are the ones that could improve Lippert's quality quite easily.

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This thread makes me even happier with our Arctic fox. The frames are built on site at the LaGrande,OR factory. They are very heavy duty accounting for the higher weight

trailers. I have not seen a frame complaint on the Northwood owners site afnash.com . I try to avoid Lippert manufactured parts any time I can.

 

The factory gives tours every day at 10:00 AM. Take a look when considering your next rig.

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I am not sure if this is a naive comment but when shopping for a 5th wheel, we were told that some companies spec out a frame and built the trailer..then have it approved. After that, slide out are installed, etc....stressing both the axles and frames..

 

Old wives tale ?

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Lippert is an assembler of pieces that the RV manufacturer's specifies. They don't seem to engineer anything, or check for any engineering issues in a design. They build exactly what is proposed, nothing more and sometimes less.

The other thing to remember about Lippert, is that they buy small companies with great products and remarket them under the Lippert name. Usually with a decline of quality and lack of customer service.

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Rich, I did not say a frame COULD not fail for being 1000 lbs over weight. Just that it SHOULD not fail.

 

Flex at the riser for the upper deck is often a failure point on 5er frames. That is where there is (obviously) a lot of stress. Lack of reinforcement, lack of proper assembly and lack of sufficient material specifications can cause it. Typically it is a combination of factors, but a bad weld in this area will often fail pretty early in the life of an RV.

 

One thousand pounds extra weight would typically be mostly in the main deck. It should not cause a failure in the frame. 1000 lbs is not all that much extra weight.

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Google DRV frame failures and you might come up with a few . There is no question that the DRV frame is sturdier than the frame under my Montana then again the DRV one street down from us has a GVWR 2000 lbs more than ours. They just might need a heavier frame to handle the additional weight. The folks that weigh our units at our national rally have data that documents that 60/65 % of units they weigh are overweight. We seem to have many frame design experts on these Rv forums that know Lippert makes a substandard frame .I am wondering why there has not been a lawsuit or recalls on these sub standard frames.

 

The certified welders that looked at our lippert frame all said they might have done it different but none of them called the frame sub standard or substandard welds.

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Google DRV frame failures and you might come up with a few . There is no question that the DRV frame is sturdier than the frame under my Montana then again the DRV one street down from us has a GVWR 2000 lbs more than ours. They just might need a heavier frame to handle the additional weight. The folks that weigh our units at our national rally have data that documents that 60/65 % of units they weigh are overweight. We seem to have many frame design experts on these Rv forums that know Lippert makes a substandard frame .I am wondering why there has not been a lawsuit or recalls on these sub standard frames.

 

The certified welders that looked at our lippert frame all said they might have done it different but none of them called the frame sub standard or substandard welds.

I would say that the reason there haven't been any lawsuits is that the RV manufacturer fixes the issue, and if lippert can prove you were overweight then the warranty is void.

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This thread makes me even happier with our Arctic fox. The frames are built on site at the LaGrande,OR factory. They are very heavy duty accounting for the higher weight

trailers. I have not seen a frame complaint on the Northwood owners site afnash.com . I try to avoid Lippert manufactured parts any time I can.

 

The factory gives tours every day at 10:00 AM. Take a look when considering your next rig.

Totally agreed. Toured the factory a couple years ago and was impressed to say the least. The QA program was the best one of all the three other factories we toured. I like how if an owner had a problem in the electrical system for example and it was an error in assembly that department lost it's bonuses. The build quality and production is held to a higher standard through QA inspections at the end of each station. Too many errors, that station looses their bonus.

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Glen West: I do not know why you continue to support Lippert. They make a lot of very bad products but the RV mfrs. love them as everything they make is low priced. Most ( maybe all) 5th wheel mfrs. do not have structural engineers on staff. Some would not have ANY engineers on staff. The whole idea of not building the frames in house is so that someone else can do the engineering. In this case it is Lippert who DO have engineers. But this is not like building something at Boeing. 5th wheel frames have been around for over 40 years and until lately there were no frame problems. The Lippert slides are almost as bad as the frames. Lippert means "Junk" in the Swahili language. AS for the welders in the factories: RV factories have never had $35 an hour welders and never will. But there are all kinds of good welders who work for RV mfr. wages in the Indiana area. The auto industry also "farms" out a lot of their production to others such as Magna. The difference is that Magna builds to a proper spec.!

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It is not really Lipperts fault. We that buy the cheap units and continue to buy the cheap units is the major problem. The major frame issues started when they flooded the market with cheap units. This is also when the ones that made quality units were forced out of business. I also would not weld for peanuts. We are paid good we that are good. Until the buyer demands better and I mean with our dollars not mouths, nothing will change. We quit buying problematic American cars and bought better foreign. American manufacturers got hit in the wallet. They changed and we got better than ever American cars. Only the buyer will change this.

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I've yet to hear about a frame component breaking, bending or failing. It always seems to be the joints (welds). So it is not a material problem (whether boxed, I-beam, 10-12-16" etc etc etc) it's a manufacturing problem. Even a lightweight/mass produced (i.e. Lippert) frame would benefit from proper gusseting and quality welds. I'd bet dollars to donuts that you could take the best/heaviest frame and screw it up with poor joinery.

 

Look at the aircraft industry. Light weight frames but properly engineered and assembled (not welded by the way)

 

As the bean counters take over the more and more companies (not just RV) and the bottom line becomes the most important issue two of the depts that are first to go are R&D and QA. They now depend on the SUPPLIER to do their "quality?" inspections. How screwed up is that!

 

BTW, your "foreign" car was probably built in the USA and you truck has a better than 50-50 chance of being built in Mexico or other "foreign": country.

 

Oh yeah, as an afterthought.....do you really think that Lippert has a special team of welders that only work on DRV frames? I doubt it!! It's just that there are a lot less DRV units out there than ALL the other frames they make. (and that may change shortly)

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