A frame breakages on caravans

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 19:44
ThreadID: 68112 Views:5534 Replies:9 FollowUps:2
This Thread has been Archived
Hello everyone,
I had a call from a friend who was driving down the M1 2 hours north of Sydney towing his 24' very upmarket "offroad" van when the A frame broke. Luckily he was able to bring the whole rig to a controlled stop. Since he was going to the Sydney caravan show he asked around there and found out that A frame breakages are not that uncommon for other brands of vans. He said some were saying escessive tension on load leveller bars, backing with the bars in tension and driving through deep culverts as contributing problems. Please note these are not my personal views and his van has recently ceased to be manufactured.
He asked me to canvass forum members to see if anyone else had knowledge of similar problems with A frame breakages.

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Reply By: MrBitchi (QLD) - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 19:46

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 19:46
Make and model?
AnswerID: 360931

Reply By: Neil & Pauline - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 20:29

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 20:29
We quit our van before before the A frame actually totally broke. Had bent about 100mm out of line. I had it inspected by an engineer and was advised that the design did not meet the minimum Australian design requirements. The actually must go back to at least the front spring hanger. There is another requirement where at a point mid way between the front spring hanger and coupling a weight of one and half times the total loaded weight of the van / trailer must not deflect the A frame more than 2 or 3mm (can't remember off hand the exact amount). If you have a problem then because of self regulation you go back to the person who placed the compliance plate on the unit. This person is usually the caravan manufacturer employee.
The manufacturer advised me to not use a weight distribution hitch which I advised was a bit confusing as the manual for the van advises that the hitch must be used. The guy hung up on me at that stage.
End result is nothing can be done and won't be done until it causes a death and the coroner gives a directive.

AnswerID: 360943

Reply By: oldtrack123 - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 20:36

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 20:36
Exactly where did the A frame break?
Did it break @ a weld?
I have seen many welds in areas where anyone with any knowledge of bending & fatigue related failures would not put them.
AnswerID: 360945

Reply By: cyoung2203 - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 23:42

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 23:42
When I built my van, that was one of my greatest concerns.

I used full box section with contiuous welds. To make it stronger, where the A frame attached to the full legnth chassis rails, I had 6mm high tensile steel plate bent and welded on the outside then 4mm plate bent and welded on the inside of the join to the cross member.

Looking at some of the vans at the show last weekend, many didnt have continuous welds and were using C section or light box section. I used 150mm x 75mm x 4mm.

Even though the van is 1300kgs Tare weight, there is still a chance I could exceed the 2000kg DOT limit requiring brakes on each hub and a breakaway controller, so I fitted them.

I dont understand how some of the vans that are only just under 2t dont have a breakaway or brakes on all hubs. I wonder what the coroner would say if someone was killed by a runaway van @ 2.2 tonnes with a stamped tare weight of 1800kgs. I wouldnt suggest anything encouraging.

I bet the owner and the manufacturer would cop it in the neck. The insurance company would have a field day either way denying the claim or suing someone if they paid a claim.

One of the trailer manufacturers I know doesnt cut the whole chassis rail to make the A frame. He cuts a V out of it then bends it into position to make the shape. Much stronger apparently.

It really should never happen in my mind unless there is significant corosion or the materials are defective or its been very poorly constructed.
AnswerID: 360996

Follow Up By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 06:48

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 06:48
Hi cyoung2203,

I agree with all your comments above. Some makers (of various products) use a term "fit for purpose" to describe their designs. The buyer needs to be sure that in this context their definition of "purpose" is the same as the makers "purpose". A bit like the definitions of "out back roads", "off road" or "all weather" :-))

FollowupID: 628738

Reply By: Bob - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 07:38

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 07:38
M1 - Eastern Distributor
The M1 is a motorway that travels through parkways and tunnels, providing easy access to the city and airport when travelling from the north, south and east of Sydney.

Hardly 2 hours north of Sydney.
And after sustaining all this damage the owner proceeded to the van show for a day out?

Story a bit suss unless make, model etc are forthcoming.

AnswerID: 361012

Follow Up By: Member - Fred G NSW - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 09:13

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 09:13
My thoughts exactly Bob. 2 hours north of Sydney would put you at about Raymond Terrace/ Karuah/Bulladelah, on the Pacific Highway, depending on conditions.

FollowupID: 628763

Reply By: Member - DAZA (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 08:15

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 08:15
Hi All

Tell me if I am right or wrong, I would think the W D H, would cause the Cast Iron tow ball coupler to break before the A-Frame started giving way?, our A-FRAME is 150mm x 75mm with cross braces ect,
you would need some tremendous force to damage it, makes me wonder why he had the W D H / Load Levellers on when driving through deep culverts ect, we take ours off when we are driving off road, re up the beach ect.

AnswerID: 361022

Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 19:42

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 19:42
Hi Al-one

Looks like nobody else has had this type of damage.

Unless there was previous injury or a severe fault, surely the bars would bend before the a-frame would break. I have seen a bent WDH bar. We have not taken ours off for dips and crests, and have suffered no damage, and the roads we have gone on are far from the M1 type.

You have not substantiated you original post with any facts, nor have you answered any questions asked with sincerity by the members here. In not naming the brand you have cast a slur on caravans from several manufacturers.



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AnswerID: 361125

Reply By: Member - Ed. C. (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 20:09

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 20:09
The response from BarryD (cabcar) to a similar post on the

Caravaners Forum

may be of interest to some.....


Confucius say.....
"He who lie underneath automobile with tool in hand,
....Not necessarily mechanic!!"

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AnswerID: 361137

Reply By: Member - Troopytrek - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 20:46

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 20:46
G,Day Al-one, Did your friend buy the van new or second hand? The reason I ask is I have seen this a few times before with caravans being towed by small and medium body trucks. The rear suspension is to rigid in the trucks and breaks the a frame. you can buy a special tow bar set up for trucks now that actually has suspension set up built into it. cheers Troopytrek
AnswerID: 361144

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