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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.!

 

Are you sure there are no engineers on staff at the manufacturers?? Who designs the frames? Who determine the frames specs? Do you think Lippert comes over and designs the frame? I am not defending Lippert at all. The manufacturer bears the majority of the blame for accepting poor welding and not have any type in incoming QA program. Lippert has the responsibility to produce the product made to spec and with acceptable welding.

 

You can advocate customers driving change at Lippert but IMHO the only thing that will increase quality is by their customers demanding it or by competition.

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cyberdave: Very few RV manufacturers have engineers on staff. Until about 2006 Monaco had NO engineers. Until Tiffin started building frames they had no engineers. Even then the guy who engineered their MH chassis was not an engineer! I cannot speak for trailer mfrs. buy why would they have an engineer in order to build the house of a 5th wheel? They supply LIppert with drawings of the layouts and Lippert designs the chassis to handle the locations of the entry door and slideouts. The RV mfr. has offloaded the engineering responsibility to Lippert. RV mfrs. have become assemblers not mfrs.

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Guys, I have been welding commercial for 40 years. You can gusset light weight steel and it still will crack if not thick enough. Steel flexing will crack over time. Gussets help, not taking away from that, but there is a limit to what they can do. I also do not disagree that their is faulting welding that causes much of these problems. They won't pay for quality welders and it cost prohibited. I blame it on the consumer. We want cheap. This is my "defense" of Lippert. Consumer wants cheap and gets it. QC isn't cheap either. That is severely lacking in this industry. It raises the price of the units. Again customer drive this price. I did call Tom Peck at DRV shortly after we got ours and asked about the chassis being a Lippert unit and it so much beefier than the competitor. He said they specked it out this way. I do not know about others but DRV does or he lied to me. Now my Teton has a very strong looking chassis. Don't know who made it.

Edited by Glenn West

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...Very few RV manufacturers have engineers on staff...Until about 2006 Monaco had NO engineers. Until Tiffin started building frames they had no engineers.

Are you saying no frame engineers, or no engineers of any kind? While I can't prove they do have, I just find it hard to believe. Can you support this or give a source for the information? I would have thought that engineers would be involved in design of the RV that rides on the chassis or trailer frame even if they don't design the frame/chassis??

 

........... I blame it on the consumer. We want cheap. This is my "defense" of Lippert. Consumer wants cheap and gets it. QC isn't cheap either. That is severely lacking in this industry. It raises the price of the units. Again customer drive this price.

I agree with this, but not just on the subject of frames. Customers buy based upon price and then complain that the cheap RV doesn't have the quality of those passed over because of cost. There is a long history in the RV industry of high quality RV manufacturers that have failed and disappeared into history because they could not sell their products in large enough numbers to continue in business. Each time the economy goes into the dumper we loose a few manufacturers and usually the higher quality, thus more expensive RV builders are some of the first to go. A few manage to hang on but most of us could make up a pretty long list of quality RV companies that failed and went away, if we have been watching them for very many years. It is sad, but true. Educating the potential buyer is the only way that this will ever change, if then.

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Percentage wise how many people really look into the aspects of rv building specs? Not a high percentage would be my guess. If they get in and like it and start talking to people who are knowledgeable then they will start trying to learn. I fell into rving almost by accident and quickly so I was as ignorant as they come. I didn't really learn a lot until I finally got on line and in to accessing this forum. Somewhat by pure dumb luck I survived the early few years.

Edited by bigjim

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Kirk has some very valid points.

 

I have never bought cheap and glitz. The engineering training in me looks for a quality well built unit for a decent price. I will pay more to get more quality. Problem is that has become a harder thing to accompolish.

 

As for Lippert frames, I have seen several frames that exhibited poor quality welds. I have not welded in 40 years and I feel that I could do a better job on the welding. Some were obviously runn too hot and others too cold. You cannot get the proper penetration with a low current or cold weld. Too hot and the weld zone metal is effected.

 

Some of the welds look worse than beginers. Lippert needs to address the QC issue and keep a closer eye on the quality of the welding.

 

Ken

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You know, I was thinking of this and thought why not ask? So, I posted the Qs in the Heartland Landmark forum and got this answer from Heartland.

 

Great question - we have several engineers at heartland and a director of engineering. LCI also has several engineers on staff and reviews our drawings as the come in for structural integrity.

Landmark and Bighorn share the same engineer and we have an engineer for the Big Country and Elk Ridge line. These are the ones I know because I deal with these folks every day. I also know Sundance and Gateway have the same engineer. All of these folks are employees of Heartland and have offices in each plant. I'm sure the other brands are the same - I just have never been to their factories.

I have included Andy from Lippert on this email chain who can tell you what they have for engineers in-house at LCI.

Hope this helps

Edited by Cyberdave

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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.

One of the perks of the Mobile Suites is that it is built on the same frame as the much heavier Elite Suites, leaving MS owners with tons of CCC and a little more peace of mind that they won't be overloaded.

 

Sue

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As mentioned by others....look at the Arctic Fox. I have had one since 2003 and though it is heavy the structural build has been non-problematic. They have great factory service, are responsive when you call them and value their customers. In my travels I have heard no complaints about frame cracking on 5th wheels.

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Duraduk,

 

Just sent Northwood a question about their pin boxes ..it took them 19 minutes to respond. Amazing.

 

I am still waiting for questions I sent out to other manufactures months ago...

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Guest Pensauncola

Customers buy based upon price and then complain that the cheap RV doesn't have the quality of those passed over because of cost. There is a long history in the RV industry of high quality RV manufacturers that have failed and disappeared into history because they could not sell their products in large enough numbers to continue in business. Each time the economy goes into the dumper we loose a few manufacturers and usually the higher quality, thus more expensive RV builders are some of the first to go. A few manage to hang on but most of us could make up a pretty long list of quality RV companies that failed and went away, if we have been watching them for very many years. It is sad, but true. Educating the potential buyer is the only way that this will ever change, if then.

 

Okay, you've been RV'ing for a long time and you're educated as to the quality vs. price argument. Did you buy a high end RV the last time you made a purchase? The time before? Like most of us, you probably bought the best you could within the constraints of your budget.

 

Percentage wise how many people really look into the aspects of rv building specs? Not a high percentage would be my guess.

 

Exactly. Most folks buying an RV are probably more concerned with the wallpaper, is the microwave a convection, what size television, shades or blinds, can I get a king size bed, how many will it sleep, etc. etc. etc.

 

I have no way of knowing this, but I suspect that the typical RV buyer is more looking for something to drag up to the lake for a weekend once a month than they are a full time residence. If the quality bar is raised too high with resulting price increases, this likely would eliminate a large percentage of those buyers from the market. Of course, that would result in massive failures in the industry. Full timers might benefit, but very few others.

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I will state that I have a Heartland Bighorn and had the frame flex issue on it. The warranty was up and I spoke with the company on it and they said bring it in on a Monday by 8:00 am and you will have it back in your hands sometime Friday of that same week and it will be repaired at no cost to you. I set up a date on it and dropped it off on that Monday and I was driving away with it that Friday, at NO cost to me other than getting the trailer to them.

 

Great service for a non warranty issue as it had expired. Great company to deal with and I also agree on the Lippert thing. I am also a welder and built oval track race cars from the ground up. I would say that they need to figure out ways to start as we call it in the racing industry Xing your frames as that is the most sturdy way to build with steel. Another I also wonder about and we use this also in building race cars is cutting holes in the steel make it stronger. I find that one hard to grasp myself but the concept is stronger steel and lighter weight. Race cars are built the lightest materials possible but yet the strongest way possible. The way I can explain this is look at some bridges on the highways. There is always cut outs in the steel. They do this because its stronger and lighter.

 

Just my 2 cents worth.

 

Dave

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Can't look at bridges and compare to chassis. Bridges you refer to are arched. The arched concept makes it rigid and rigid means strength. The holes is to loose weight. A straight beam with holes loose strength. You will never see a straight support beam with anything larger than a 1/4" threaded hole with a bolt in it. An open hole will be reinforced, the hole weakens the beam.

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I don't know gang. A 1-2% issue rate doesn't seem out of line in a mass produced industry. That also equates to a 98-99% issue free rate.


Certainly, Lippert strives for 100%, just like all manufacturers. If they instituted a major QA department, assuming they have not, they may be able to get the numbers down to 1%. I am not sure that would be a fiscally efficient move for the company. Those of you who have had businesses chime in. I would like to hear what you think from a business perspective.


No matter what, there are going to be issues. I for one, am impressed that they go the extra mile and fix the issues post-warranty.


I have no statistics to support the numbers mentioned, other than posts on this forum. Regardless, as a Lippert owner, I do not feel they are out of line - as long as it is someone else's that fails ;)


On a side note - perhaps I should start another topic - How does a consumer inspect a frame for weaknesses prior to failure? If I looked at mine, I would not have a clue what to look for.

Edited by Kevin H

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Okay, you've been RV'ing for a long time and you're educated as to the quality vs. price argument. Did you buy a high end RV the last time you made a purchase? The time before? Like most of us, you probably bought the best you could within the constraints of your budget.

A valid question. Our first RV was a very mature pop-up that we bought from a good friend for $250 back in 1972. I would say that for the market it was in, it was a pretty good quality product, but it had also been well tested when we got it when it was about 10 years old or more and we were at least the third owners. At the time I knew almost nothing about RVs and had always been a tent camper. Of course, that RV was little more than a tent with wheels and storage. It had no appliances, tanks, plumbing or anything else other than a table, seats and one double bed. But it was a step up from the tent. We only kept it for 2 seasons and then bought a new pop-up. This time we knew a little bit, but not nearly as much as I probably thought that I did.

 

Over the years since we have never had a really bad RV, but probably in most cases more by luck that knowledge. Fairly early in our RV experience I became friends with an RV tech and he taught me a great deal. I don't know that I really did as much research as I should have until we went shopping for our motorhome that we used for a fulltime home. With that one I had learned a great deal, did a lot of research and spent more than two years shopping and studying various RVs in different price ranges. That and our present RV were the only two that I consider I got more based upon knowledge of RVs and less on dumb luck.

 

I do not equate price with quality as there are different levels of quality in most ever price range. I do believe that with good research and education you can choose the best quality product for the budget that you have. We did learn enough to know that the very lowest price group of RVs were probably not up to the demands of constant use for many years and so we adjusted our budget to reflect that, but our budget was limited enough that we could not just buy whatever we felt was the best quality. One of the reasons that I support the RV Consumer Group is the fact that they do their best to group RVs into price/market groups and so to compare and rate similar RVs against each other, rather than one ranking for all. You simply can't compare an entry level RV to the highest priced luxury RV. There is a legitimate market for the vacation use RV even though it may not be capable of permanent use as a fulltime home. The RV which we own today would not serve well in fulltime use, but we didn't pay enough for it to have any expectation of it. We did get a high quality RV if you compare it to the market group in which it falls and I expect that it will fulfill our expectations for our present lifestyle.

 

Most folks buying an RV are probably more concerned with the wallpaper, is the microwave a convection, what size television, shades or blinds, can I get a king size bed, how many will it sleep, etc. etc. etc.

I very much agree with you, but do not consider that to be the wisest approach. Do you shop for a car with the knowledge that you won't get the luxury of a Cadillac when you buy the cheapest Chevy? People usually learn to shop cars based upon more than just how they look, yet spend several times as much to buy an RV based mostly upon price and appearance. It seems to me that it would make a lot of sense to spend more effort in learning how to find a quality RV than for a typical automobile? The information is available, but you must dig to find it.

Edited by Kirk

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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.

Glenn-we did not buy cheaply nor did we just look at the "pretties" as I call them. I researched for fulltime for a year and was lead to believer Open Range, New Horizon and WaMu at the time were the best (2010-2011). WaMu didn't make over 38 ft and we knew we wanted 42'. New Horizon was double what our Open Range was and we wanted to pay cash. It's NOT one the light ones and I liked the aerodynamics of an Open Range after having the big nose of the Montana. I absolutely agree that as long as we accept the cheaply made products they will continue to produce them as fast as they can off the assembly line. Open Range's founder worked for Keytstone and Heartland so understood full time needs. They have since been bought out by Jayco (I would NEVER own a Jayco) and Keystone has been bought out by Thor. I would hate to have to buy a 5th wheel right now as I wouldn't know where to go.

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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

When I say my "final" means when our 42' toy hauler is not needed any longer...it's too much RV for fulltime travel. It's restrictive on grade 6 mountains and not wanted in CA etc. We find other ways but I do believe 36-38 is plenty for us. Plus I want some things from our Montana and some from our Open Range. But I do want quality which is why I wouldn't be anxious to buy one now!

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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. I agree the RV's being built now are cheaper as most are recreational RVers and that's the industry they are making them for. Jayco bought Open Range because they had the patent for the nose that would fit in a short bed truck...the kind the recreational RVers are driving. I'm on a FB page of "fulltimers" or wannabe's and it's amazing to me the questions that are asked, like what's a good deal on a fulltime RV. Or, I've got an F150 truck and want a 5th wheel that has bunk beds and a toilet that isn't in the bathroom. So the mfg. built those crazy "light" RV's so they can be pulled by less truck!I'm all for protesting but I fear we are in the majority. If you have a plan...I'm IN!

 

Regards,

 

Roy

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I agree the RV's being built now are cheaper as most are recreational RVers and that's the industry they are making them for. Jayco bought Open Range because they had the patent for the nose that would fit in a short bed truck...the kind the recreational RVers are driving. I'm on a FB page of "fulltimers" or wannabe's and it's amazing to me the questions that are asked, like what's a good deal on a fulltime RV. Or, I've got an F150 truck and want a 5th wheel that has bunk beds and a toilet that isn't in the bathroom. So the mfg. built those crazy "light" RV's so they can be pulled by less truck! I'm all for protesting but I fear we are in the majority. If you have a plan...I'm IN!

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I really don't have a dog in this fight. We likely will never buy anything with a Lippert chassis but it not because of Lippert. Units we want don't use them. Really for the percentage of failures they have it is not significant. I was never impressed with OR. That is me and sure some like them and I criticize no one for buying one. Ones I personally looked at had a very thin chassis and it was 10' beam, over 40' long. Cable slide outs was also factor.

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I researched for fulltime for a year and was lead to believer Open Range, New Horizon and WaMu at the time were the best (2010-2011). WaMu didn't make over 38 ft and we knew we wanted 42'.

You have brought up a manufacturer that I am not at all familiar with? I did a Google search and found nothing so thought that perhaps you might share a link to their website if they have one...

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Kirk: I was referring to Monaco's Motorhomes. In 2002 I toured the factory and asked that question. No, there were no engineers on staff. I was told they outsource. Other MH manufacturers buy their chassis from Freightliner who do all the engineering. BUT most RV mfrs. do have some journeyman electricians in order to comply with RVIA codes. What makes you think that an engineer is needed in a trailer factory. If the chassis is built elsewhere it should be engineered to do the job. The RV mfr. is simply bolting down a floor and installing walls and roof. If you have ever seen an RV in an accident it looks like it was made from toothpicks. They literally fall apart. There are exceptions: Both Marathon and Country Coach did have engineers. AS did Winnie. I don't think Tiffin does.

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Kirk: I was referring to Monaco's Motorhomes. In 2002 I toured the factory and asked that question. No, there were no engineers on staff. I was told they outsource. Other MH manufacturers buy their chassis from Freightliner who do all the engineering. BUT most RV mfrs. do have some journeyman electricians in order to comply with RVIA codes. What makes you think that an engineer is needed in a trailer factory. If the chassis is built elsewhere it should be engineered to do the job. The RV mfr. is simply bolting down a floor and installing walls and roof. If you have ever seen an RV in an accident it looks like it was made from toothpicks. They literally fall apart. There are exceptions: Both Marathon and Country Coach did have engineers. AS did Winnie. I don't think Tiffin does.

 

You want us to believe there are no engineers?? I thought I just put that to bed in post 31. No engineers for structure? Design?

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You have brought up a manufacturer that I am not at all familiar with? I did a Google search and found nothing so thought that perhaps you might share a link to their website if they have one...

Think they were referring to Nuwa.

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I researched for fulltime for a year and was lead to believer Open Range, New Horizon and WaMu at the time were the best (2010-2011). WaMu didn't make over 38 ft and we knew we wanted 42'.

 

 

I would not place NuWa or New Horizon in the same classification as an Open Range. Open range is lower classification.

 

Oh and I do have a 40' NuWa HitchHiker Champagne Edition....that is over 38'.

 

Ken

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