Is frame flex normal - Dutchmen Owners

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Old 09-04-2017, 03:25 PM   #1
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Is frame flex normal

3 months ago we purchased a brand new voltage 4150. It came with a trailair tri-glide pinbox, which is now being replaced under warranty due to failure already! Dutchman is replacing the entire pinbox with the newer trailair pinbox that doesn't have the faulty tri-glide lower assembly. But, as I've been waiting almost 3 weeks at the shop (on vacation, almost 1500 miles from home) for the parts dept./warranty to complete their process, I started asking lippert what the max pin weight is on their trailair pinboxes. I haven't received an answer yet, so I started looking/researching more on my own and it has come to my attention that there is quite a bit of frame flex by just hooking up to my truck in a level parking lot!
I really want to go to a scale to get my actual weights, but can't until the pinbox is replaced. I'm estimating that my pin weight is around 4500lbs, without any fresh water in the tank, and no toys in the back.
Anyway, when the trailer is on jacks I have 1 3/8" clearance between the top of the pinbox and the bottom of the cap, and when I hitch to my truck that gap immediately becomes 1". I can only imagine what it becomes while driving over rough roads!
Now to my question...does anyone else have this same frame flex? Has anyone ever gotten an answer from lippert of what the max pin weight on their frame/pinbox Is? Any help is greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-05-2017, 12:37 PM   #2
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Good question. I would suppose some flex is going to happen, not sure what would be considered normal though. Ours is in the shop (again) so for curiosity's sake I'll check it when we get it back (it's not the same model as yours though). I know it does flex while going down the road because being our first 5th wheel, I anxiously watched it for the first few trips. So far so good.
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Old 09-05-2017, 05:34 PM   #3
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Sorry to hear this happened while you're on vacation. 3 weeks certainly seems like a long time to wait for just a warranty approval. Is it Lippert or Voltage that's holding things up?

Anyone aware of a standardized way to measure frame flex (between the pin box and the main I-beam frame rails)? I would imagine frame manufacturers probably keep this stuff hush-hush for obvious reasons.

I've seen a number of posts concerning frame flex. Kinda get the impression the only way a manufacturer will take warranty action is if there's obvious movement that significantly effects the operation of a slide, door, or window. Also get the impression they tend to label "trim" movement alone as cosmetic, or "normal".

It'll be interesting to find out what your actual pin weight is. The 4150 is a big rig.
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Old 09-05-2017, 05:47 PM   #4
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Actually the reason why we came to the shop in the first place was a slide issue. Our main slide wouldn't come in without stopping at least a dozen times. We were initially told that just the motor was bad, but then they searched some more and found that the rail under the slide is now bent/warped! Also when we did our PDI we noticed that when the rig is hooked up to our truck that none of the interior doors would latch (mis-alignment) but only while hooked up, but we were told that this is normal for a fifth wheel. But we are now finding out that this is NOT normal.
Talked to a rep at lippert this morning, and they ABSOLUTELY refuse to give a maximum allowable pin weight rating for their pinbox/Frame! All they will say is GTW is 21k, but no vertical/pin weight rating.
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Old 09-05-2017, 08:59 PM   #5
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Mine flexes.

Watch your pin and rv body when going down a bumpy road. YIKES!
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Old 09-06-2017, 03:40 PM   #6
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Skyscrapers flex as well...just saying.

A buddy just sold a Mirage Toyhauler gooseneck version. The frame flexed a good 3 inches at hookup and start stop. Not a Lippert Chassis and it was a car hauler.

If stuff did not flex some the stress would crack and break welds and steel a whole lot easier than it already does. Not sticking up for Lipert as my 7yr old son can weld better than there "certified" welders
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Old 09-06-2017, 04:15 PM   #7
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Wild Card, I completely understand that steel bends and flexes and that buildings, bridges, etc are built with this in mind.
My concern is when you glue and bolt wood, fiberglass, glass, etc. to the highly flexible steel frame engineers should have figured in an acceptable flex AMOUNT, and anything in excess of that number is an engineering/manufacturing defect.
In the BEST scenario (in a level parking lot with all tanks empty) mine is flexing 3/8" just hooking up to truck, so any bumps while traveling will be way worse.
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Old 09-06-2017, 04:43 PM   #8
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Actually the reason why we came to the shop in the first place was a slide issue. Our main slide wouldn't come in without stopping at least a dozen times. We were initially told that just the motor was bad, but then they searched some more and found that the rail under the slide is now bent/warped! Also when we did our PDI we noticed that when the rig is hooked up to our truck that none of the interior doors would latch (mis-alignment) but only while hooked up, but we were told that this is normal for a fifth wheel. But we are now finding out that this is NOT normal.
Talked to a rep at lippert this morning, and they ABSOLUTELY refuse to give a maximum allowable pin weight rating for their pinbox/Frame! All they will say is GTW is 21k, but no vertical/pin weight rating.
Everyone seems to agree that frame flex is normal. Since there doesn't appear to be a standardized way to check frame flex, hard to know if 3" or 3/8" is too much. But, at some point, too much is too much. What is that point?

Measuring frame flex aside, when frame flex starts effecting the operation of the doors (and slides??), hitched vs. unhitched, like it appears to be doing on your rig, then I'd have to totally agree with you---something ain't right. Can't imagine anyone here that wouldn't be extremely concerned if it were happening to their rig.
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Old 09-06-2017, 10:13 PM   #9
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Everyone seems to agree that frame flex is normal. Since there doesn't appear to be a standardized way to check frame flex, hard to know if 3" or 3/8" is too much. But, at some point, too much is too much. What is that point?

Measuring frame flex aside, when frame flex starts effecting the operation of the doors (and slides??), hitched vs. unhitched, like it appears to be doing on your rig, then I'd have to totally agree with you---something ain't right. Can't imagine anyone here that wouldn't be extremely concerned if it were happening to their rig.
My friend from Texas was here (Ontario) for a visit this summer. On the way home, his TV engine blew and he spent big bux to replace it. When he got 100 miles from home in Texas, his pin box collapsed and destroyed the truck.

Be paranoid. Be very very paranoid.
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Old 09-12-2017, 09:41 PM   #10
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Actually the reason why we came to the shop in the first place was a slide issue. Our main slide wouldn't come in without stopping at least a dozen times.
FYI, I had this same problem with the main slide only (bedroom slide no problem) on our 4150. The solution my dealer came up with was to increase the max allowed torque sent to the motor. Apparently there is some sort of setting on the main Jensen system (in the basement) that can be tweaked.

After this was changed our problem almost went away. Occasionally it will take two attempts to go full open or full closed.

I assume mine didn't have the bent part you mention. I just wanted to share another possible solution.
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Old 09-12-2017, 10:40 PM   #11
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FWIW my pin weight is 3500 pounds measured at a CAT scale.
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Old 09-13-2017, 12:06 AM   #12
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Trailer fixed, bigger motor for slide and rollers added and a brand new pinbox. Finally made it to the CAT scale, and the pin weight is 4500lbs! Total trailer weight was just over 19000. The new pinbox seems a lot better, I can't visually see the bending as before. Keystone/lippert has assured me that the max pin weight allowed is 5250lbs for this pinbox. So, I'm under the max pin weight, and GTW. Still a heavy beast, and I hope all remains working now. Happy camper...for now anyway
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Old 09-13-2017, 01:47 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by TFisher View Post
Trailer fixed, bigger motor for slide and rollers added and a brand new pinbox
Couple questions:

- who fixed the pinbox - Lippert or someone else?
- what exactly did they change - just the pinbox or did they reinforce the frame?
- how old / how many miles is on your 4150?
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Old 09-13-2017, 02:10 PM   #14
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An authorized dealer/service center did the work, under direct instructions from keystone. They changed the entire pinbox, didnt do anything to the frame that i know of.
With the old pinbox you could visibly see the gap between the front cap and top of the pinbox close significantly when hitching up, with the new one..not so.
Our rig is new (although 2016 model), just bought it 3 months ago and now has 1500 +/- miles on it.
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Old 09-13-2017, 02:45 PM   #15
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On my 3950, the pinbox is held to the frame with 10 bolts and it's a solid welded piece of steel. I just don't understand how replacing that part could make such a difference. I guess somehow the plate that the kingpin is attached to was collapsing?
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Old 09-14-2017, 12:37 AM   #16
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I doubt that the frame flex is fixed, however the new pinbox looks/feels much sturdier and is a lot tougher to visibly notice any flexing. Plus when we expressed our concern to keystone/lippert their engineers assured us that everything is well within their maximum limits. So...that being said we're not going to worry about it (for our own sanity), and if anything happens down the road they'll pay dearly.
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Old 10-08-2017, 10:34 PM   #17
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My pin box was replaced last year. Only towed once since then. But my 3950 had nearly 12k miles on it when I took it in for an extended warranty fix of the main slide. I went to grab some items from the trailer and saw the lower portion sitting crooked. I questioned, they replaced, my pin weight is right at 3800 pounds.

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Old 10-11-2017, 10:49 PM   #18
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I'd really love to see a photo of exactly what was replaced and how the new part differs from the old.
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Old 10-13-2017, 10:09 AM   #19
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I'd really love to see a photo of exactly what was replaced and how the new part differs from the old.
Here is a thread about the hitch saga and some pics included.

http://www.dutchmenowners.org/forums/f51/trailair-tri-glide-hitch-failure-3324.html

I (and many others I believe) have the Flex Air hitch.

https://www.lci1.com/flex-air-pin-box

Cale
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Old 10-13-2017, 12:38 PM   #20
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Lippert tap danced around the ratings of their pin boxes so much that they'll confuse anyone. They only produced that sorry tri glide for a short period of time, and the engineer that designed it should have been fired immediately. My 20k rig had a LO5 tri glide that had a sticker rating it for 21k, well...if you look up tri glide LO5 it has a rating of 18k! Not only that but in lippert schematic diagrams each pin box has a different look, mine matched perfectly with the 18k. Well, do the math here...lci gave dutchman a 18k pin box for a 20k trailer, not to mention the fact that dutchman didn't catch it as well. Bottom line, they both suck.
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