Body flex causing door alignment issues

Discussion in 'General Camping Discussion Forum' started by dfury7, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. dfury7

    dfury7 Member

    Sep 15, 2013
    While out camping in our PUP this past weekend I went to re-enter the camper and noticed there was a gap of about 1/8 of an inch along the door (non hinge side). The PUP was fairly level and as that door is an integral part of the PUP it concerned me that we suddenly had a gap where there hadn't been one before.

    I then realized that my wife and kids were having a nap on the rear bunk, and once they got up I noticed the gap dissappeared.

    Our PUP is a 1999 Palomino Yearling where the "travel door" stays on the camper and you swing down the upper door/frame to make one big door.

    My question is this:

    Is that kind of flexing of the box normal? Does it indicate that the aluminum body/frame is not bolted onto the steel a-frame tightly enough?

    I added some extra weather stripping to compensate for any kind of flexing, as the gap would be enough at night to allow a lot of bugs to enter the PUP.

    Hoping I don't have a structural integrity issue!
  2. cprdnick

    cprdnick Just Clint

    May 1, 2014
    Are your stabilizers snug to the ground?
  3. dfury7

    dfury7 Member

    Sep 15, 2013
    That's a great point! and something I had overlooked. We put our stabilizers down on pieces of plywood so they don't sink into the soil.

    They are the kind that have a release catch to drop them down/retract them (not the crank down kind). Next trip out I will double check them to make sure they are all very snug.

    They are part of the frame assembly tho.. so I am still concerned the issue is the box itself flexing rather than the frame.
  4. Wrenchgear

    Wrenchgear Near Elmira, Southern Ontario

    Aug 5, 2010
    5 Star Eagle Camper
    Ya, this concern has come up in past threads a few times. I would suggest you go over as much as you can to make sure the box is secured to the frame properly. Having said that, things do flex. Mine will also flex and move according to how many people are in it at the time. I can have mine all leveled up, stabs all down tight to the ground, (same as you, plywood on the ground first), door fitting perfect, and then someone goes in the Pup to stay in there for a bit, and all of a sudden the door scrapes the bottom of the frame as it is opened. Very frustrating. I use an extra scissor jack out of the trunk of a car and set it under the frame just below the door of the Pup to help firm things up. Sometimes it goes under the hinge side, other times it goes on the non-hinge side. No rhyme or reason to it.

    The proper fix for it would be to weld in full length steel to the existing frame underneath, front to back. They make these things out of thinner and lighter weight steel to try and make them easy to tow and get some sort of gas mileage for the TV. Stuff has to flex somewhere.

    You can see the jack in this picture under the non-hinge side of the door. Its a blue one in this picture. I have a few different jacks and now also use a different (taller) block of wood to set the jack on, but you get the idea. Click on the picture to make it bigger.

  5. davej

    davej New Member

    Apr 9, 2014
    I have the same sort of problem on our 2004 Palomino Filly, and I also use a scissor jack to alleviate the issue.


    In fact, on our 10 yr old pup, I *have* to use the jack, or the door is barely functional right from setup, no matter how perfectly level it is.

    On our last trip, I had to 'readjust' the jack about a half dozen times over the course of 8 days. In my case, it seems to me that the need to adjust is due to metal expansion caused by temperature variations, from quite hot during the day, to cooler at night, since the door spacing and alignment are visually different at different times of the day with no one inside.
  6. ironeagle81

    ironeagle81 Member

    Oct 6, 2013
    Something experience...and forums have taught me. Level before expanding anything...and re level after expanding everything. Sometimes pulling everything out seems to change the weight distribution and have an effect on the stabilization of the camper. With them laying in it, take another look at your stabilizers and see if they are all still touching firm. May need to slide a little wedge under them.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk while driving in the wrong lane!
  7. shelmily

    shelmily Well-Known Member

    Jun 7, 2012
    Northeast Pennsylvania
    I would also make sure to check the wall itself, and make sure it is not pulling up off of the floor slightly when extra weight is in the bunk. Pups are not really well constructed from the factory, and yours is 15 years old.
  8. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    We had the issue that shelmily mentions on our previous pup ('84 Palomino). In our case, it was the wall on the hinge side, which detached from the floor. The door behaved much better one that section of wall was secured to the floor.
  9. Kawartha-Camper

    Kawartha-Camper New Member

    Aug 31, 2013
    I've had the same problem with my yearling the past couple trips , pretty frustrating!
  10. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

    Jul 18, 2013
    Thornville, OH
    "They are the kind that have a release catch to drop them down/retract them (not the crank down kind). Next trip out I will double check them to make sure they are all very snug. "

    If the stabs are the ones i'm think they are. They have holes in them. Once you put it down a tight as you can. You should have a steel rod and insert it through the hole at a slight angle until you go through the second hole. I can't remember, either you push it down or pull it up. It will ratchet. Pull it out and redo it, until you can not do it with your upper body force.

    I had them on a camper. It was hard to find the right rod. I ended up using a huge Phillips screwdriver with a shaft that was around 3/8 dia and was about 20 inches long. Later I found a rod

    I did a quick google search to see if I could find the direction. Only found a pic of it being done. Hope this helps . :

  11. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

    Aug 2, 2011
    Steinbach, MB
    This is not at all uncommon and there are several possible causes and contributing factors, few (if any) of which will have anything to do with leveling, bracing or twisting the frame.

    I've been down this road and it still happens from time to time, mostly, as you indicate, when there's a lot of weight in the rear bunk.

    If I understand you correctly, here's what's happening:


    Weight from the extended bunk is transferred to the rear edge of the floor where it overhangs the frame about an inch. The rearmost side wall section rocks backward as the end wall is forced down and outward. If it's not in great condition, the rearmost edge of the floor gives way, the staples that secure the outer skin work loose or the joints that form the bend in the rear wall section lose integrity. This transfers to the framing in the rearmost side wall section that may have already cracked or broken behind the wall paneling where you can't see it. It's a hot mess to be sure.

    Using photos from my '96 Viking restoration (your Palomino Yearling will be a little different), these are the areas I'm talking about. Looking at the yellow broken lines, you can see how the weight gets distributed.


    This is the inside shot of the rearmost side wall section. Notice the condition and joints in the wall framing and that staples are used to hold it all together, including the sheet metal affixed to the posts on either side of the lift post pocket. Lots of room for movement which increases as the pup gets older. Also notice that, while there's a dealer installed angle iron frame inside this section of wall, it wasn't at all well secured and that as the bottom wall framing rotted, the frame became loose, essentially making the installation a total waste of time.

    While most of these issues could have been delayed through maintenance, they all work together to signify the underlying issue. It's not that the door flexes, but WHY the door flexes that's the biggest issue. This is clearly a design problem and it's merely one of many I've found while restoring my very poorly maintained pup. Good news! Now you know what's going on back there! [;)]

    There are several design flaws in the framing for the rear and side wall sections and they all result in walls that are not well supported and prone to flexing, breaking and eventually collapsing as weight from the bunk is applied.

    Here's the "long wall" on the opposite corner:


    Here's where the outer skin wraps under and gets stapled to the overhang on the floor. This is the front on my camper, but the back is done the same way. Left alone, it's just a problem waiting to happen.


    In addition to making sure the bed slides were properly aligned and that they were carrying the lion's share of weight from the loaded bunk, here's how I solved these problems:

    Rear door side wall section framing (note that I screwed sheet metal on either side of the lift post pockets so that the posts couldn't twist inside the wall when weight was applied):

    The long (driver side) and rear wall sections:

    Outer skin secured to floor overhang (rear is the same):

    You can jack till you're blue in the face, but dollars to donuts, you've got something that needs some attention in one or more of the areas I've mentioned.

    It's not something you'll fix in a couple of minutes and it won't end your season prematurely but know that the longer you leave it, the worse it'll get. You most likely won't need to gut your camper to fix this as I did but mine was worst case scenario. I hope you're not feeling overwhelmed but I do hope that at least you know what's inside the walls and where you might start looking for problems.

    Now, about stabilizers...
    Stabs are only intended to STABILIZE the camper, to keep it from rocking, shifting or otherwise moving around. The stabs are NOT intended to be used as jacks to raise or level the pup, simply to maintain its' position. When properly set, you shouldn't have more than 50 pounds resting on them.

    If leveling is required, place a jack under the FRAME or use a BAL leveler. FWIW, you can't beat the convenience of a BAL with a cordless impact wrench. Zip! and it's level.
    tzmartin likes this.
  12. luddyjean

    luddyjean New Member

    Jul 7, 2014
    Posting is new to me, but had to add my situation toward all the info from all the posts and thanks for your input. Me and my pop up are somewhere around all of the items in discussion. I purchased a 97 Coachman last month, thought I had cleaned and worked through all the bugs. Boy was I surprised when I pulled to the campground and set up! The door and frame wouldn't fit into the space above the box door! To make a long story short I am about 1.5 inches off getting the door in with the top edge of the box the widest at 1.5 and tapering to correct original threshold spacing at the floor. Hope my description is ok to picture. Anyway, after lifting up on my slide out mattress side over the tongue, the whole thing goes into a better position, almost an original 90 degree opening for the door. Upon further inspection I have become aware my floor is gone in both door side corners, like powdered dust it is. And falls out when I punch around the frame with fingers. It is so bad I have considered hauling to the dump, but wondering about this fix to last a year or two. Everything else is really good shape and working! Vinyl tent like new, roof really good since I sprayed with Leak Stop! and painted with white enamel, and clear coated. Now my thoughts about that fix. What if I did all I could to get the lower box door opening square again, then mounted an aluminum bar to reach across top side of box just to hold that part of the frame in best position during storage and during setup, just until the beds are out and stabilized with this trick. Very important, beds are out with 2 additional post legs to the ground on each side. for stability and to raise the beds so as to take that weight off the frame that is pulling the door out of square? Whew, hope this make sense. Don't know how to shorted this, so thanks for your patience. Some really good stuff here. These pop ups really have some engineering design difficulties and not much to work with when trying to correct! So far my pop up is still out front, but looking more like a big fix is in store!
  13. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

    Mar 3, 2006
    angled support under bed causes bed to pull on PU.
    Big hole in side wall for door = loss of integrity
    Stapled construction becomes loose over time.
    Water damage = loss of integrity.

    Take a rope and tie it to a tree, grab the rope at the other end and stand upright, the rope has no tension. Now take a step or two toward the tree and lean back, the rope now supports you from falling over, you are pulling on the tree!

    Imagine a shoe box, cut a vertical slit on one of the long sides. Does the box still have the strength it did before?
  14. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

    Aug 2, 2011
    Steinbach, MB
    It appears that you've made a substantial investment and that you're really nowhere near "square 1" with this project. Given that you've already taken care of the cosmetics, I'm guessing you could probably patch the bad spots in the floor, though given your description of the problem, I'd assume a total floor replacement is most likely the route to go. It'll cost the most but will make the most of everything else you've invested. It's either that, strip it down and part it out then sell the frame for a utility trailer or sell it "as is" for what you can and move on to something else that doesn't require so much work.

    You can hobble along with braces and so forth but eventually, you're going to have to make a decision. See my initial reply.

    Now, regarding the additional vertical braces under the bunks. That's precisely what's required to get the weight off the rear wall and bunk slides. I'm sure you're on the right track there.
  15. carriermnky

    carriermnky Member

    Jan 9, 2017
    What great information for those maybe like me that did not KNOW this. Thanks you guys and gals.
  16. Devil

    Devil New Member

    Hi Everyone,
    For starters i'd like to say that this is a geat forum. I know this is an old post but I recently purchased a 1982 Jayco songbird, after some minor repairs and modifications, I actually set it up (except the annex and awnings), that's when I noticed the bow in the door frame and how the door wasn't squaring up. This forum gave me the insight needed to decrease the amount of flex needed for the door to square up properly.

    The one thing that was said in this forum didn't make much sense,

    I have converted pounds to kilograms (as i use and understand kilograms) that 50 pounds is 22.67 kilograms per a stabilizer and given to understand that it would be 45.34 kilograms per end. Also given the fact that the caravan has slide out beds that past the stabilizers. I myself weigh 90 kilograms ( twice the said weight per an end ) on one end, and I had a mate of similar weight on the other end, would that mean that the stabilizers will bend/break under our weight if we're not meant to put any more than 22.67 kilograms per a stabilizer? Even if i sat in one corner ( which i can ) can that one stabilizer that's meant to only hold 22.67 kilograms hold 90 kilograms?

    I was under the impression that the stabilizers are meant to "stabilize" the weight of the caravan movement from rocking. Therefore my caravan has a tare weight of 630 kilograms and under this impression, each stabilizer can hold around 150 kilograms of weight? If that's not the case then what's the point of stabilizers if you have to buy an extra four jacks to support your caravan, and as we all know jacks can move given the right force in the wrong way such as a strong wind or a wet patch of ground, as jacks are not bolted or welded to the caravan.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018 at 9:22 PM
  17. p

    p Active Member

    Jun 9, 2014
    I have a significant door gap when the awning is up. It pulls the top so far that I have two inch gap.

    I tied a string to the other side of the camper and to a tree to pull the top back.
  18. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2011
    Santa Clarita, California
    I try to make sure that all 4 stabs are equally on ground. When I crank down the stabs, and as soon as it hit the ground (on Lynx block and cap cover) I give one full crank. That's it. I do not go overboard. The door works good every time I do this. Also, I make sure that the popup is level before I crank up the roof then crank down stabs.
  19. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2011
    Santa Clarita, California
    Sometimes having a "C" frame underneath which may contribute to over flexing.
  20. emoney

    emoney Well-Known Member

    Jul 7, 2018
    My thoughts are he meant 50 lbs or pressure? I know for a fact stabilizers will hold a lot more. Matter of fact, I just changed out my jack to a power one by letting the stabilizers keep the TT in position. That’s what was recommended by the electric jack maker

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