Thoughts on frame flex or frame failures?

What is everyone’s thoughts on fame failures that is going on right now? Does anyone have any concerns with their Brinkley? Wondering what the general thought or experience is from the community?

Me watching this…



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Back to you discussion :smile:

I understand this is happening but I know of two YouTubers with Grand Design 5th wheels that damaged their units while traveling. One was boondocking and bottomed out the frame and the other was so long they dragged the rear of the frame going into a site.

My perception is that each and every case is unique. There are two sides to every story. Some frame failures are design flaws such as the rear kitchens. Some could be abuse or extreme wear and tear. I would like someone to show me the specific location the frames failed. Unless it is a similar location or substructure then I may deduce it could be unrelated.

I have been to Goshen on the factory tour, I spent a long time looking at the frames. I am not an engineer but the specifics of things they did to strengthen some frame sections impressed me. They install SumoSprings at the factory on the G’s but other mfg have denied warranty with them installed. That alone shows you how they feel the units will hold up.

Brinkley is in the critical year. They have gone from the upstart to the underdog. This year they will produce more units, in more customers hands. If they have a rash of issues this could materially impact the business forever. They know it, and they are aren’t going to do things or install parts that will cause quality failure.

This is the best time to buy from a new manufacturer. They are going to do it right, they will be exceptionally well built and quality will be top notch as long as this ownership team has control. GD seemed to be built that way till Winnebago came along and neutered the brand.

This is my first fifth wheel coming from a travel trailer so I can’t say much from experience. As an engineer though I think you have to be very careful on weight and swapping out pin boxes. Some have these huge fifth wheels that are loaded very heavy and that puts a ton of stress on the weak areas of the frame. That being said, when we design structures (buildings/bridges) we always use factors of safety applying fairly large multipliers on the loading (like 2.5) to make sure they are designed to carry the loads plus extra. Not sure if that applies to fifth wheel frames but I would think if you stayed within the load limits you should not experience failure. Two sides to every story. I do feel badly for anyone that finds themselves in this situation. We spend significant money on these.

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I have been seeing the number of videos increase in popularity in the past 4 months. Part of the issue here is the sample size of owners is very small but have a big voice.

I am not suggesting legitimate failures. I am positive we will eventually see a Brinkley with a failed frame. Every single manufacturer has had a TT or 5er frame fail once.

I hope this does not get me in trouble but the Paving New Paths YouTube folks disappointed me. The videos didn’t stick to the facts and came across like they were entitled. I have no facts of their situation but they bought a pre-owned unit out of warranty. Who knows the true history, current or previous owners could have done any number of things to cause this failure.

Where they lost me is my perception of them lashing out. They talk about their livelihood taking food out of their kids mouths, however as they attack people and Grand Design they may be doing the same to people who depend on their employment at the manufacture and all the suppliers. I would have been more sympathetic if I have seen the root cause of the failure and proof that this was a defect. Then let the viewer draw their own conclusion.


Too funny! I also will be watching this.

I have wondered if part of this is not the response from Grand Design or any other manufacture but the individual people each customer deals with. I don’t think it’s a coordinated attack on customers to ignore their concerns. There is more to each one of these stories. You have 1StrangeAdventure as an example that the issue was addressed and fixed.

I am just looking at this with an open mind. I agree with @thechazzz, when I did my factory tour last year well before any of these issues it was pointed out all the outriggers and other additional strength points that Brinkley was proud to have included.

It’s an issue in the industry but seems to be a race to be price competitive.

I am stating to wonder if you should be required to get weighed every six months to maintain factory warranty. I bet a lot of people will learn how much they are overloading their coaches.

This is a good video on this from Lippert’s perspective:

JD from Big Truck Big RV made a pretty good video on this subject where he read questions he asked Lippert Execs and then read the answers he received from them. Normally I perceive JD as an apologist for the RV companies but this video came across much more balanced.

He did reference on particular YouTuber’s plight (not Paving New Paths) and what was being done to address the problem. He brought up some good points. Some I had already thought about, some I didn’t even consider:

  • Was a pre-purchase inspection done by an RV inspector?
  • How is the RV loaded? For instance, say the RV has a 3000LB CCC; is it all in the basement storage or is it evenly distributed across the coach?
  • Is there a washer/dryer combo in the closet and has there ever been water damage as a result? Was the damage repaired properly? (The walls, floor, and ceiling in the front cap areas also contribute to the rigidity of the frame, if they are damaged, the frame is carrying more than it was designed to)

At any rate, give his video a watch to here both sides of the story: Big Frame Flex Update!

Edit: Ha! _Charlie beat me to it. :grinning:

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Some thoughts on Brinkley RV’s and frame flex…
I don’t think this will be a problem for Brinkley. Probably the biggest reason is the rear end storage. People will naturally shift some of the load from the basement storage up near the risers (where the flex is happening predominantly) to the rear storage. Hopefully not too much because aft-heaving loading in a trailer is bad too. But if the load is more evenly distributed it will create less of a load on the front riser area and redistribute some of that load to the axles.

As part of my own mitigation strategy, IF we even get a washer/drier I’m going to make it a combo unit to reduce weight up front. Also I’m going to make sure it sits in a pan with high enough walls and a drain to make sure that if any water leaks from the washer, it will drain out and not pool up on the floor substructure. I’m trying to steer my wife away from a washer at all. But we’ll see. She gets the final vote.

Lastly, Brinkly units (at least the Z’s) are mid-profile units and don’t have the length or heft that the units experiencing flex have. Most of the frame flex units are 40+ feet and are full profile units. I think Brinkley consturction is small enough and tight enough on current models that we shouldn’t really see this under normal usage. Using a dampening hitch like Reese Goosebox, or the Gen-Y hitches should also help reduce shock experienced during driving on rough roads. A smoother ride for you and less chucking also equals a smoother ride for the front of your RV which is riding in the bed of your truck. Basically.

Anyway, them’s my thoughts.

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I agree, the first video about when they read the questions they sent. They were leading and aggressive toned. I wondered if that is partially why they were not getting the help they thought they deserved.

So many excellent points, I am not on Lippert or GD side on this for sure. They made mistakes and if the frames were built that close to being able to break then something is wrong. @Hazman65 said it perfectly, huge amounts of safety factor should be built-in so this should’t happen. Relying on the superstructure to add the rigidity needed seems like a poor design.

Have you seen Josh’s video, I feel like it was balanced and fair and made good and bad points for everyone involved.

Frame on trailers have been failing for as long as I can remember. Tongues on travel trailers fail and you see them stranded. Part of this is the new voice and medium people have to communicate information. Viewpoints can be skewed like they were when Sinclair Broadcast Group got caught a few years ago forcing all stations to read the same script.

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BTBRV put out another video today where he interviews the head of customer service and the head of engineering for Lippert. It was interesting and I can see their point of view. But I still find it kind of unsettling. Sounds like that while Lippert does issue engineering guidelines for their frames, the RV manufacturers are not required to adhere to them. After watching the video I kind of felt like there isn’t much collaboration between the two. I think both sides should get more involved with how the other engineers their products. Both Lippert and the RV manufacturers. And they should try real hard before the government steps in and does something which will double the price of all RV’s.


@svanarts that video seems like they trashed on GenY (and everyone but Reese) gooseneck; I find that makes no sense and was not objective. My issue with that interview is it was canned, it feels like a PR response. They also seemly shifted blame to the manufactures and or customers.

Let’s see what Part 2 is about

Actually I totally agree with you. I think Reese is accepted by Lippert more because there were probalby some back-room deals done to make sure Reese was the only approved goose neck alternative for the industry.

As for JD’s interview I got the same feeling. He was was many times asking them the question and then answering it for them. Especially when he started talking about water damage. They never said anything about it until he brought it up. It sounded like all the questions and answers were pre-approved before the interview. JD has always seemed like an apologist for the RV industry.

Currently watching part 2 of BTBRV’s interview with Lippert. He seems to be answering most of the questions himself. They just agree with his answers. It also strikes me how little they understand how RV’s are loaded (where the most weight of the RV will be) and really don’t seem to care. They just say that’s on the RV manufacturer. It leaves me with a bad impression of them.

I also can’t believe how big that woman’s hands are! Could be the camera angle though.

Back on the subject of loading, I think it would be great if manufacturers would put more effort in educating their customers on how to properly load the RV. Adding a washer/dryer, adding a bunch of batteries, generator, all at the front of the RV is just asking for trouble down the road. Or perhaps start designing the frames with this in mind.

And now this, my second edit of this post I’m going to include BTBRV’s summary:

  • All frames are expected to flex
  • The excessive frame flex and wall movement appears to be largely occurring in 5th wheels that weigh 17,000 lbs and greater
  • Lippert uses 100% domestic steel in their sourced I-beam, tubing, and chassis structural components. (I did hear the Lippert engineer say some minor components (whatever those are) may come from overseas)
  • RV manufacturers design and attach walls and superstructure differently.

Frames experience detachment from the walls or excessive flex when:

  • There is excessive road abuse
  • There is water intrusion into the walls
  • Overloading
  • RV Manufacturing defects regarding the wall attachment
  • Frame manufacturer defects
  • Usage of non-Lippert-approved pin boxes

I wonder why Brinkley isn’t worried about that last point, Lippert was very specific that this could cause frame damage.

Anyway, that’s enough for now.

Watched that. Good video but lots of CYA going on and I can’t blame them for it.

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EXCELLENT rebuttal of BTBRV’s Lippert’s interview videos here:

So, I watched both of JD’s videos, and as many of you pointed out, he seemed to answer or talk for Lippert. I found that odd. Additionally, as others have stated, concentrated and or over loading, as well as improper use must have a place at this table. Does that fit every situation, no, but it is a plausible factor. Admittedly, I don’t know squat about JD or his sponsors etc. I started watching him years ago when he swapped in a Reese GB on his rv. I too saw the stand off nature of some answers and found that odd or maybe empty is a better descriptor.
My second point is in reference to Lippert and the Reese GB. On our GD 367BHS I removed the factory pin box and went with a 20K Reese GB, but only after speaking to several folks at Lippert & GD to ensure it wouldn’t do any thing adverse or void factory warranties. They told me that, the Reese GB was the ONLY pin box they (Lippert) approved of for their frames other then the OEM part. That said, I spoke to the Brinkley rep at a show a week ago and asked questions along that same line. His response was that they and the aftermarket mfgrs like Reese and Gen-y would cover any issues that may arise.
I see Lipperts CYA in the videos. I understand that a 3 inch difference in pin box length adds different torque in that frame area. At the end of the day, one would think that if they as a mfgr see people adding better equipment why don’t they engineer their products with these options to begin with? We see Ford/Chevy do it with steps, upfitter switches, heated seats, sport modes, etc. I get the costs, and time, but even the so called cheap rv’s aren’t cheap, and they still have these major mfgrs components and soon after purchase the “mods” start.
If they are really working with those RV companies who build the rest of the RV, then again, one would logically think that those two engineering teams would have a meeting of the minds to hash things out to produce a safe unit.
My last point, the RVIA mentioned in one of JD’s videos, I don’t see them as viable at all. How can they state they look at best practices and demand mfgrs compliance when, for as long as I can remember the wiring would fail any inspection as would the plumbing. They allow gas/electrical lines in slides above tires that are damaged if a blow out occurs. No reinforcement/protection, rerouting, and frankly, no common sense in oversight. If they and mfgrs were concerned those issues would have been addressed long ago. Our 367 came with a cheap imported tire that everyone experienced issues with, GD didn’t change it, Lippert didn’t either. There were tons of bad reviews on those tires. Ours were on there about a month… I wasn’t risking our kitchen slide with gas/elec on some garbage that no warranty covers. (I called and asked specifically about that) They’d replace the tire… but the rest of those repairs/issues, you’re the one eating that soup sandwich.
My first 5th wheel was a 1991 Forest River 18’ unit. That wiring was a rats nest, I opened up our 2019 GD 367 to install a surge protector and was appalled at the mess I had to deal with.
IMHO, it boils down to $ and them playing the odds. Ex. if we sell, 100,000 frames, or 100,000 complete units and we have one bad one, we can absorb that hit. It also makes me think that it’s designed that way to a degree, in that, one can point a finger at the other and no one but the RV owner gets to soak up the cost.
I don’t know, just my 2 cents based on my observations with other issues/quality/warranty upheld or declined and having owned many units. I’ve never had a frame twist issue like these.

It’s easy for sales reps to say that. I would want to hear it from Brinkley’s (or any manufacturer’s) legal team. The other thing is how can you prove that the hitch caused the damage? If you can provde it I’m sure they will cover the cost but in trying to prove the hitch caused the damage you will the mother of all finger pointing matches!
I think the one protection you would have in adding, let’s say, a Gen-Y hitch to your Brinkley is to have it added as a factory option. When it comes from the factory in that configuration there is a a lot more in the way of warranty protection. If you add it yourself after the fact they could always say you installed it improperly.

I’m not saying Brinkley will do this, I’m just saying it’s a possibility.

Okay, that all being said, I still think Brinkley units are probably the best out there. But the Lippert frame makes me nervous.