While heading South on I-15 near Victorville, CA yesterday, we encountered sustained 30-40 mph cross winds with intermittent higher gusts. With one particular gust, it sounded like the roof of the coach was being ripped off. I pulled over and got out the ladder to inspect and determine what happened and whether anything was damaged. What I found was that the two side lag bolts on the front support that hold the driver’s side roof facade had backed out about halfway allowing the bottom part of the facade to vibrate and move in the strong crosswinds. When I finally got to the campground, I checked all the lag bolts supporting both facades (front and rear) and found that most were loose by at least an eighth or quarter turn. We are fortunate we stopped and fixed the problem before the wind actually ripped the facade off.
When I get back home I have some minor fiberglass repair work to do. I also intend to replace all the facade lag bolts with bolts, washers, and nylon lock nuts.
Here are Tom’s photos showing one of the offending bolts that had come loose:
When Tom writes about the facade on his coach, he is referring to the body panels located at the uppermost part of the coach. On my coach, there are two of these body panels on the driver’s side and they form a ridge line, roughly 8 inches high, at the very top. They run almost the entire length of the side of the coach. On the passenger side, the facades house the Girard awnings.
These body panels are secured by bolts. Bolts that can come loose.
We have had other bolts come loose on our coach. For whatever reason, Newmar secures the body panels that cover the wheel wells at the bottom of the coach and the side radiator grill with bolts. Bolts that will come loose.
After one trip, on the driver’s side, I noticed that the rear wheel body panel was very loose and it looked as though it had come off its mount. The bolt was still there, at the very bottom of the front part of the body panel, just clinging on for perhaps another turn or so. I suspect it would have fallen off on the next trip.
I then went around the entire coach and, sure enough, every single bolt that secured a body panel had come loose.
I was concerned by this finding. A loose body panel could easily be taken by a strong wind and stripped off the side of a coach. It could cause a serious accident.
Based on Tom’s experience, the top body panels could also by taken by a strong wind.
I will climb up on the roof to ensure that the bolts attaching the top body panels are secure before our trip to California.
There is a reason why I am on the iRV2 forums every day. Learning from the experiences of others can help make the ownership experience so much better. I have gleaned far more insight into the operation and maintenance of our coach from the iRV2 forums and other RVers than I have from Newmar’s documentation.
Today’s important lesson: if you run a Newmar Dutch Star, regularly check and secure all body panel lag bolts.