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peredur

Broken Axle and Cracked Chassis Rail

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Hi everyone,

 

Before I start, I am aware that I only come on here when I have a problem, but the reality is I would be no help to anyone if I was a regular because I am caravan clueless!

 

I have a Dethleffs DL540 Caravan from 2004. It has done us sterling service for 11 years but last time we were out I noticed that when we arrived the N/S tyre was a lot closer to the van than it should be and the whole thing was leaning gently.

 

We took it to the nearest caravan place who told us that

"ON INSPECTION IT APPEARS THE AXLE HAS COLLAPSED , RESULTING IN A REPLACEMENT AXLE BEING REQUIRED.

THE N/S CHASIS RAIL ALSO HAS A CRACK IN IT, NEEDING REPLACEMENT"

The insurance company want to write it off but then we can keep the van.

 

The problem here is that we are on holiday in 4 weeks so timescale of getting parts from Germany might be tight. My question is, is there any point in us trying to mend it? The insurance quote was almost £4K but my guess is that a private job would be less. Time is an issue, but to buy something which would be comparable is going to cost us a lot more than the cost of repair when all is said and done. Is a new axle and Chassis rail a big deal or neither here not there. The rest of the van is sound and towing is not an issue.

 

I am not expecting the definitive answer from an internet forum (mush as I love them), but just canvasing opinion on the feasibility of the repair etc.

 

TIA

 

Owen

 

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A four week timescale is very short whichever option you choose! How much have the insurers offered as a payout?

I would start by assuming that this van is not going to make it for the planned outing.

I do not want to be pessimistic but:-

 

Shopping around for a good price, or to confirm that you already have a good price, will take time.

Parts delivery time could be an issue.

Parts availability could be an issue, particularly for a 15 year old van.

Workshop availability could be an issue.

The job itself is no 5 minute quickie.

 

That said, you can expect prices to vary considerably but I have no idea whether the £4K was a good price.

A new axle and chassis rail is not a small job and I would expect it to need a workshop rather being done by a mobile guy on your drive.

 

My guess is that the cost of a repair, whoever does it, will put you further out of pocket than the van is actually worth and a replacement van will cost you less.

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Sounds like you hit the mother of all potholes or a sleeping policeman. Do you recall it?

 

You don't say what chassis it is - if it is a common type you could find a replacement axle from a scrapyard.  For a workshop, replacing it would not be a massive job, I have had back axles on and off my cars before now.

 

The chassis rail should not need replacing if it has only cracked and not bent. A reinforcing plate could be welded or (perhaps better) bolted over it. Don't accept merely welding up the crack

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I have no recollection of any specific pothole but we are not short of them in this area!

 

I am not qualified to say what sort of chassis it is. The reinforcing plate idea is interesting.

 

Obv the timescale is against me but the insurance company took 2 and a half weeks to get it together with a decision.

1 hour ago, Bolingbroke said:

Sounds like you hit the mother of all potholes or a sleeping policeman. Do you recall it?

 

You don't say what chassis it is - if it is a common type you could find a replacement axle from a scrapyard.  For a workshop, replacing it would not be a massive job, I have had back axles on and off my cars before now.

 

The chassis rail should not need replacing if it has only cracked and not bent. A reinforcing plate could be welded or (perhaps better) bolted over it. Don't accept merely welding up the crack

 

A four week timescale is very short whichever option you choose! How much have the insurers offered as a payout?

I would start by assuming that this van is not going to make it for the planned outing.

 

That is my assumption as well

 

I do not want to be pessimistic but:-

 

Shopping around for a good price, or to confirm that you already have a good price, will take time.

 

It is in a workshop who would do the work if I asked them

 

Parts delivery time could be an issue.

Parts availability could be an issue, particularly for a 15 year old van.

Workshop availability could be an issue.

The job itself is no 5 minute quickie.

 

That is really the issue. Had the insurance company got itself in gear I could have another 2 weeks to work it out. However if I could repair it then it would save a significant extra outlay on a new van

 

That said, you can expect prices to vary considerably but I have no idea whether the £4K was a good price.

A new axle and chassis rail is not a small job and I would expect it to need a workshop rather being done by a mobile guy on your drive.

 

My guess is that the cost of a repair, whoever does it, will put you further out of pocket than the van is actually worth and a replacement van will cost you less.

 

That is my guess as well but I am just trying to cycle through options. It was money I was not expecting to be spending :(

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You need to ascertain what write off value the insurer will pay if you keep the "salvage". A quick search shows 2005 models of your caravan up for private sale at around £5,000.  That might suggest too low a write off value that doesn't cover the repair cost.

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Fraser at http://www.fraserbrowneng.co.uk/index.php?c=al-ko-axle-repair will do it all.

 

I either get the present company to take off the axle and send it up OR I just put the whole van on the back of a transporter and they do it there and then and then the transporter brings it home to me.

 

With this scenario I do not have to drive 5 hours on Saturday to to empty the van and also spend hours wandering around caravan sellers buying something new. I like this A LOT.

 

Does anyone know of companies who will carry a caravan all over the country for me?

 

I have disputed the insurance offer as I do not think it is realistic either.

 

Thanks everyone!

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Posted (edited)

Hi, 

Greetings from a fellow Dethleffs owner (2006 DL530)!  Pretty sure the chassis and axle  for DL540 will be BPW.  You should be able to get BPW spares in the UK, as they are used on some UK vans (Elddis).  I think BPW spares are handled by Al-Ko in the UK anyway.

 

I vaguely remember there being a cracking issue and recall with BPW chassis on some German vans around 2004 (Geist, Pre-2005 Dethleffs).  A few other threads with some details: 

- CaravanTalk Thread:  Link

 - UK Campsite Thread:  Link

 

Edited by hoopyfrood
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Shiply do quotes for caravan moving! Who knew?

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6 hours ago, carabiker said:

Hi

Have look at this company http://www.fraserbrowneng.co.uk/index.php?c=al-ko-axle-repair

they  claim that they can repair or service exchange an Alko ( if yours is alko )

 

Key word is "if yours is Al-Ko" - a 2004 Dethleffs will have a BPW chassis and axle, not Al-Ko, so I doubt Fraser Brown will  be able to help.  Wouldn't want you to pay to send your van there only for them to say they can't fix it.

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Thanks for pointing that out. I will check. It would have been a sad moment if I paid for the whole thing to go up there only to find out it was a non starter.

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Fraser does Al-Ko and BPW. Happy days. I am using Shipley and Clicktrans to get prices to move it. All the Clicktrans people are asking me what my budget is. It is like they don't get the concept of harvesting quotes. Hilarious.

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Moving it on a transporter will cost 1800 so that will be a no. The axle is coming off and going up by courier. Someone is coming to weld the chassis. And then I can go on hols. Thanks everyone for your input. 

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I note that replacement Al-Ko axles are available here at what seems like reasonable prices.

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23 hours ago, peredur said:

Moving it on a transporter will cost 1800 so that will be a no. The axle is coming off and going up by courier. Someone is coming to weld the chassis. And then I can go on hols. Thanks everyone for your input. 

 

 

The caravan chassis rails are lightweight steel so, presumably, welding is not an option as a repair.  Strengthening plates (flitch plates) require the chassis rail to be drilled in several places, usually another unacceptable method as it may impose stresses where none were intended.

 

You need to check with BPW (or Al-Ko as they have absorbed the BPW caravan chassis business).

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1 hour ago, beejay said:

 

 

The caravan chassis rails are lightweight steel so, presumably, welding is not an option as a repair.  Strengthening plates (flitch plates) require the chassis rail to be drilled in several places, usually another unacceptable method as it may impose stresses where none were intended.

 

Of course welding can be done. It is even done on cars with thinner steel.  The downsides of welding are loss of the galvanising, the welding heat changing the propeties of the steel locally, and the induction of local thermal stressing. In the best engineering practice a structure is stress relieved after welding, hardly possible with a caravan chassis.

 

I would favour bolted reinforcing plates. It is OK drilling holes if you understand the nature of stresses and avoid the highest stressed places.  For example it is not so good to make holes in the top and botton flanges, but in the web ....well in my chassis there are already some whacking great lightening holes put there by the maker.

 

It would be intersting to see a photo of the OP's chassis crack.

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That chassis is very different from mine, and it is difficult to see what the load paths are from those pictures. Not clear what that large nut and bolt do (is there a rubber bush in there?). The first picture does not seem to belong with the others, is it on the other side of the van? So I would not like to comment.  It does look like it would be tricky to add a re-inforcing plate, because the area is not flat.

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For what its worth (45 years in structural engineering) my opinion is the chassis component is finished. It could be repaired, but it would be very tricky to do well and a further failure would be unpredictable and possible catastrophic. Add the expense of a replacement axle. Consider the Insurer has already stated they will write it off. Its not roadworthy so sell it for scrap or as a static. Sorry to be frank, but as you haven't got much time before your holiday you need to get on with it.

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3 hours ago, Ern said:

For what its worth (45 years in structural engineering) my opinion is the chassis component is finished.

 

I agree. Without being sure what is what, that L shaped component is ready to fail catastrophically, and as it's a complex part any repair would be problematic. I certainly wouldn't want to tow it anywhere.

 

I'd take the insurer's offer and cut my losses.

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The end of the story was that I was within 3 hours of booking everything in and the insurance company listened to my argument that their initial offer was too low and upped their settlement by 60%. This, of course, put a whole different spin on the financial situation so I went out and bought different caravan. But I would like to thank everyone for chipping in.

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I would be interested to no the terms of the insurance claim.  I would have thought that it would be considered as wear and tear/age.  As opposed to accidental damage.  A bit like claiming for a worn out tyre or a puncture.

 

John

 

 

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35 minutes ago, JCloughie said:

I would be interested to no the terms of the insurance claim.  I would have thought that it would be considered as wear and tear/age.  As opposed to accidental damage.  A bit like claiming for a worn out tyre or a puncture.

 

John

 

Is that because chassis components fracture and split due to normal wear and tear, in 14 years I have not seen many topics on here that would back that up!

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Grandpa Steve said:

 

Is that because chassis components fracture and split due to normal wear and tear, in 14 years I have not seen many topics on here that would back that up!

 

 

First, sorry I put no instead of know in my previous post.   I don’t remember doing that.

 

I think suspension collapse has been discussed a number of times, particularly recently.

 

But I don’t know, that’s why I asked the question.  If it happened to me I don’t think I would have considered making a claim.  

 

But good to know for the future.

 

John

Edited by JCloughie

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On 15/07/2019 at 10:05, JCloughie said:

I would have thought that it would be considered as wear and tear/age.  As opposed to accidental damage.

 

What was shown in the OP's pictures is not wear and tear or age.

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