Sunday, August 29, 2021

Rock and Roll Damage On the Road

Kenisee Lake, OH.    High: 88.  Low: 70.      Site: B-3 pull thru

pull thru site at Kenisee Lakes Thousand Trails, Jefferson OH

RVing people always say driving an RV on our nation's highways is like driving your home thru an earthquake and they aren't kidding! We see some of the worst roads/highways out there, and see firsthand our infrastructure is in great need of improvement. Sometimes we try to ask other RVers, "How did you get here? What route did you use? How are the roads?" So we try to do the best we can to get thru sections that are very very bad sometimes,  because it's the only route readily available to get from point A to point B. You have no idea how bad an "earthquake" is until something turns up on the rig. Usually we see it inside--like a lampshade that totally comes unscrewed and falls down from the bumps and potholes in the roads, or the stuff that comes crashing out of the fridge when you open the door, (not anymore, Sparky has plastic clear bins inside the fridge to contain any breakables), or the pantry unloads itself when you open the door. (Not any more, Sparky uses recycled cardboard pieces inside the shelf ledges to keep things from jumping out at her when she opens the door.) OK, we give....what happened, Sparky?

So Eldy was walking around the coach a couple of days ago, and he noticed that two of the rear wheels on the back of the rig were very close together, closer than the same pair on the other side. He didn't think too much about it, but it persisted in his mind. Yesterday, he eyeballed the wheels that were close, and thought geez, those seem to be even closer. They were about an inch apart from touching each other, and the normal distance is 4 inches or more. He decided to get underneath and look, no easy feat. And here is what he saw---

A bracket that holds the springs and helps the coach's suspension and ride had broken and a big chunk of it was missing. This is what it's SUPPOSED to look like.

We just had the bearings packed back in Wells, Maine, and the mobile tech repair guy had the tires off. He didn't say anything about the broken bracket, so we were thinking that it might have broken off more recently. BUT--with the pieces that were showing, the broken edges were completely rusted, so had it been that way for awhile? We weren't sure. Now, we were worrying that it might not be safe to drive. We could hit another bump, the wheels could rub closer together, start a fire, the rotation of the wheels could send one of them right up into the frame of the rig causing tremendous damage at highway speeds. Time to find a repair guy or a mobile tech, someone who could tell us what to do and if we should drive.

We contacted the front office at the Kenisee Lakes Thousand Trails park, asked us what kind of problem we were having, and the manager gave us the name of a reputable shop in town, a body shop. Not only that, but she reworked the schedule despite having a full park and managed to get us a three day extension. We contacted Steve Mihely, of Mihely's Body Shop, he came out on a Saturday and confirmed that it needed to be repaired before driving a long distance. He asked how long we were staying at the park, and when he heard we had traveling plans, trying to leave Monday or Tuesday, told us to bring it into the shop on SUNDAY, the very next day.

We asked, are you sure? We felt badly that he would work on a Sunday afternoon, but he insisted he was so busy during the week, he would have a better chance of devoting his time to our problem without so many interruptions. So, we drove over to Mihelys in Jefferson, Ohio, a tiny town, but with a really good auto body shop. The shop was large and clean and he graciously cleared his schedule temporarily to get to our problem. Here's what we learned:

Jayco Pinnacles have grease bearings in the Lippert chassis frame behind the wheels that need maintenance. Here are two near the Morryde suspension.There are more along the frame that need grease. Mr. Mihely greased everything in sight for us.

We didn't know this, and it's not in the the manual that Eldy read from front to back. Steve, the repair guy, thinks the bracket broke because of a manufacturing defect (Eldy's brother, an engineer who works for Morryde confirmed this) where the bracket was improperly welded AND there was no grease in the bearings that allowed the springs to push back and forth. Since there was no fluidity in the grease joint, the metal was grating on metal (like bad knees, right, Eldo?) and the pressure of bumps and jumps on the road caused the weld to break easily. It wasn't reinforced enough with enough welds to begin with from the factory. It was really scary what COULD have happened driving down the road....the tires eventually rubbing together, one breaking off from the spring and bouncing up into the frame, a fire starting from the friction of the tires, oh, my!

When Mr. Mihely released the tire, the bracket shifted even further. Yikes! It wasn't being held on by much.

Three and half hours later, we had a beautiful repair on the bracket. Without trying to get new parts which would have taken God knows how long, he fabricated extra steel for reinforcement, cleaned and buffed the existing pieces, then plated it, welded it and painted it. It looks BETTER than new!

The price was VERY reasonable, and we feel much safer now that it is fixed. We jokingly told him we'd be back next year for the other side, not unlike one of his customers that keeps getting tree damage to the top of their RV roof! We will certainly keep watch on the other side, now that we know what to look for, and we will keep greasing the points he showed us on the frame. There's so much on an RV that you can't see that will show itself eventually--water damage, water leaks, pests chewing wires, you just never know. But, that's part of RVing life, dealing with the unknowns that become known over time, and you just have to take it in stride, and try to be vigilant about things that don't look or smell right, same as you would with a sticks and bricks house...With today's part shortage of all kinds of things, we were so lucky that Steve Mihely was able to help us and get us back on the road in a very short period of time. Thank you, Steve! And a big thank you to Thousand Trails Keniseee Lake for the recommendation and the extension.

Eldy says this is a known problem for Lippert suspensions/frames. They really need to work on better manufacturing methods to secure their suspensions and frames! Most chassis out there are manufactured by Lippert so we are hoping that this helps someone else avert a potentially dangerous problem by posting about it.

Tomorrow, we leave for Indiana...we're going to see Eldy's family briefly, and Sparky MIGHT get to get back on the Pumpkinvine Bike Trail in Shipshewanna....maybe some crack donuts from Rise and Roll Bakery, a trip to Lolly's Fabric Store....and...(SPARKY! Slow down! we're only there for two days, sighs E.) Right....See you later!



  1. Oh my goodness that sounds very serious. Those are the sort of things that worry me to death about being alone and knowing nothing. I am so glad you found a really good person to help you out. I find that is extremely rare on the road unfortunately.

  2. So glad it all worked out for you - before you had an accident. The Good Lord was looking out for you both !! Glad all is well ...

  3. You’re correct,there is always something to take care of on an RV.With regard to the reinforced & welded bracket- you perhaps should consider doing the same to the opposite side if Steve didn’t already do so.Also, you might wish to check out the other end mounts of those springs to be certain they won’t give you an issue later.All the best & do enjoy the blog & your adventures.

    1. thank you so very much...I didn't see your comment until I went back and got caught up on comments. We are definitely watching the other side which looks very good at this point. We will get it done for sure as it probably will be the same bad weld as the one that broke. Thank you for your compliments.