Experiences with washboard roads? Where are the weaknesses in a popup?

Arruba

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Nov 28, 2014
864
Central Oregon
Yup, gravel and washboard roads will shake things loose. I keep a little plastic box of assorted screws and nuts/bolts in it for on site repair. “Where did that screw come from?” is a common question I have to ask after a long tow down the back roads around here.

As for compressors, the aforementioned VAir is a good one. FWIW, my Dad has a Harbor Freight knockoff of it. No one knows how old it is, and it’s performed well.
 

PopUpSteve

Administrator
Staff member
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 22, 2002
21,292
Southeastern PA
Imagine almost 40 miles of just this, and this was the good part.

unpaved.jpg

This was a shortcut to get to Yellowstone. I knew from Google Street View what I was getting into before taking this route. After days of Interstates and truck pushing me down the road, this was oddly relaxing.

unpaved2.jpg

At least I now know what this sign means.

pavement-ends-symbol-w8-3a.png
 

geoffm3

Active Member
Jun 21, 2010
209
Different campers are different of course. I'd be a bit nervous putting any speed on our camper down a washboard road. Most of the trailers I see up until the early 2000's complain about entry doors not latching which make me think that most of them suffer from an overly flexy frame like ours does. I think newer ones use beefier (and subsequently heavier) framing members on the chassis of the trailer. Not saying you can't do it, but I'd watch my speed.
 

PopUpSteve

Administrator
Staff member
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 22, 2002
21,292
Southeastern PA
I think if you have a Coleman / Fleetwood / Someset / ALiner or anything with a solid frame and a lift system which is bolted to that frame instead of just to the floor, a washboard road should not cause a major issues as log as the camper has been well maintained.

But yes, you have to slow down considerably when the pavement ends.
 

wildpony

Be Prepared!
In our Palomino Pony, the slide-out rollers came loose on one trip. They were 1/4-20 thread, very common (in case a nut is lost). We used Loc-tite thread lock when re-assembling. We didn't have trouble with the door or cabinets.
 

silvermickey2002

Morris County, NJ
Sep 11, 2008
4,950
Morris County, NJ
I have driven on some washboard roads and when I get to where I'm going I go thru and checks screws. I carry a small tube of thread lock. The screws I find that backed out get a little thread lock. Over the years I have used thread lock on at least 2-3 dozen screws. They no longer back out!!!
 
Dec 3, 2017
28
New tires and new springs on my 2000 Viking 2107. Thinking of all the possible places I may go when it's finally on the road.
Some of my favorite places pre PUP were on gravel roads with varying levels of washboard.
I imagine that slow and steady driving is the best.
Does anyone have experiences with shake, rattle, etc and the weak points of the PUP?
Should I reinforce the cabinets with a couple of extra screws? I'll make sure the battery, gas tank, etc. are all tied down well. What else?
Thanks for your suggestions.
Been using a popup for a Colorado hunting rig since 1985 and have taken it through mud, snow, and rough roads. The only time I've had issues is when going a little too fast. From an old racing poster, "Speed Costs Money, How Fast Do You Want To Go?". This is good advice for both the TV and PUP. At the end or beginning of each season or outing a thorough cleaning and cursory check of attachments etc. is always good practice. I created a checklist on my computer and print out a copy before every hunting season. I'm getting too old to remember everything and the list helps me not forget. Enjoy your outings.
 

Anthony Hitchings

Super Active Member
Silver Supporting Member
Mar 2, 2019
3,948
Oakland, California
it depends if the washboard road is just a road to a good place, or its leads to an adventurous campsite or other road for boondocking, with a greater risk of frame damage (AMHIK)
 

Patrick w

Active Member
Aug 13, 2021
652
I see this level of cost cutting/annoyance everywhere. Like how much more was it to use a nylock...

I do plan on locktiting everything when I get a chance..
 

PopUpSteve

Administrator
Staff member
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 22, 2002
21,292
Southeastern PA
I found that the most road-dust filled areas in the camper were in the curb-side cabinets, under the forward most bench seat, and in the water heater cabinet. Guess what they all have in common? If you said the wheel wells, you guessed right. I'm thinking the wheel well clovers have no kind of seal so the fine road dust just blow up into those areas and then out into the rest of the camper.
 

Hilldweller

Super Active Member
Mar 2, 2021
1,059
Hog Waller, GA
They are as fragil as tissue paper. Ive had mine out three times and all three times was working my butt off repairing the camper. Going back to cabin rental.
Just from the bumpiness of interstate highways --- my cooktop became liberated, microwave took leave, and cabinet top stripped all of its hinge screw-holes and launched onto the bed. This was during my two week boondoggle to Flagstaff with our Aliner.

The cabinet top

IMG_20220520_152423577.jpg
 

gladecreekwy

Super Active Member
Sep 25, 2016
1,789
Jackson Wyoming

PopUpSteve

Administrator
Staff member
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 22, 2002
21,292
Southeastern PA
Just like a B29, once they come out of the factory, all screws, bolts, and fittings need to be checked and tightened. [LOL]

I routinely check major bolts that I can access like those on the bunkend rails. I had a leak at the water pump for 3 years, thinking it may be a bad seal on the pump. I didn't use my water system too much so I just put a towel under the pump. Then on my recent cross country trip, after swapping out the towel everyday, it dawn on me to check the fittings. Everyone of them was loose. After tightening them all up, no more leaks.

All campers, whether it's a PopUp, a Class-A, or anything between are built quick and cheap, by Humans. So things are going to fall apart when used in extreme conditions, like driving over a pebble. Things don't last forever but their years of enjoyment can me extended with some simple general maintenance. One may not have the skills to rebuild a roof or fix a lift system (I know I can't), but most can turn a wrench or screwdriver. That and a set of eyes to look for problems before they occur can make all the difference.
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
1,040
Minnesota
Juse ask Shel Silverstein!
I think if you have a Coleman / Fleetwood / Someset / ALiner or anything with a solid frame and a lift system which is bolted to that frame instead of just to the floor, a washboard road should not cause a major issues as log as the camper has been well maintained.

But yes, you have to slow down considerably when the pavement ends.
 

sleach

A short run will get you within walking distance.
May 17, 2014
710
Boulder, Colorado
New tires and new springs on my 2000 Viking 2107. Thinking of all the possible places I may go when it's finally on the road.
Some of my favorite places pre PUP were on gravel roads with varying levels of washboard.
I imagine that slow and steady driving is the best.
Does anyone have experiences with shake, rattle, etc and the weak points of the PUP?
Should I reinforce the cabinets with a couple of extra screws? I'll make sure the battery, gas tank, etc. are all tied down well. What else?
Thanks for your suggestions.

I have learned by experience- AKA School Of Hard Knocks- to slow down on washboard roads no matter what you are driving or towing. Same for roads with loose surfaces.

A few experiences and solutions with our 2012 Chalet Arrowhead Aframe:

A couple of times on really rough roads the roof latches became disengaged, I believe possibly due to roof sections moving up and down, but also possibly due to inherent linear weakness of the door side wall. Adjusted latches so roof is drawn down tight; have to use a good bit of body weight to get latches to engage. Added a horizontal latch to draw front roof section toward rear section- see Aliner Owners Cub DIY section.

A couple of times when the roof sections disengaged the door opened. The deadbolt feature of the door lock system is longer than the simple slam latch. So, lock with key any time unit is on any road.

Even on good highways the cabinet drawers kept sliding out, one disengaged and landed on the floor. Applied patches of sticky velcro to front of each drawer, with another around the corner on the body of the cabinet. Packing up includes joining the patches with a strip. Simple, cheap, convenient.

We store foodstuffs, clothing, cooking gear in plastic tubs slid back under the bed. These would slide around while underway, sometimes making it hard to step up into the trailer to lift the sidewalls. Installed screw eyes in cabinets on each side of trailer about 6 inches above the floor., connected with a stout bungee. Again, simple, cheap and convenient.

Plainly said, my spouse is not a morning person. I get the coffee going, then get my all-in-one screwdriver set and go around looking for things to tighten.

When I added a second battery I discovered the single plastic battery box was attached to the rails spanning the frame with just a pair of self-tapping screws. Not sturdy enough for me. Now each box is attached to the rails with bolt, washers inside and out, and nylock nuts. Did the same for the two-tank propane tray.

And I still slow way down! You see more when you go slow.
 




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