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Another camper jack disaster


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#1 OFFLINE   nstate

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 09:17 PM

Hello, just found this great forum while searching for info to explain the destruction of my 2003 Host Yellowstone camper this week. It happened after i raised the camper(same height as i always have), then pulled my pickup just underneath the cabover as i needed to jump out and pull the rear license plate of so that i could affix it onto the rear of the camper. Before i exited the truck, the left front Atwood jack folded, sending this 5100lb camper forward and to the left where it crushed my dually bed and reeked havic on my beautiful camper. Luckily my wife and dog were standing just off the other side when it came crashing down. And thankfully i wasn't about ten seconds ahead of myself as i would have been stooped over at the rear license plate removing it. I would have gooten penned in this collision. After hours of attempts the next day by two tow trucks, i called in a crane service who was finally able to lift the camper off the truck and load it onto a flat bed where it was delivered to a RV collision center. I received the estimate yesterday which totaled $just shy of $19,000.00 to fix it. We are absolutely sickened over this mess. This all happened this past Wednesday and have been baffled ever sense as to why the jack failed. Until last night when i found this site and notice this recent thread(www.truckcamperforums.com/index.php?/topic/13004-truck-camper-disaster/). Which curiously also involved a Atwood jack. As many others have stated, i've always been nervous over the years raising a heavy camper so high to load/unload, but have always figured that it must have some reason of safety as one would think this system had been thoroughly been tested by manufacturers to be safe! Boy, was i wrong. As i know it will be asked, i always lift the front about four or so inches higher than the rear during loading/unloading. I would really like to find a completely safe fix or mod that would make these safe when extended up. By the way, great site. Seems to be alot of really helpful and generous folks on here.

O'kay sorry folks i'm not having any luck in figuring out how to upload the pics of this disaster.HELP?
2007 Host Everest Triple Slide TS11.5
1997 Dodge 3500 1-ton dually,5.9 Cummins w/ Banks Turbo system and stage 2 injectors
Hi-Pro 47 trans,triple billet torque convertor and GearVendor overdrive system
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#2 OFFLINE   PigPen

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 09:31 PM

I just PM'ed you. I can get the photos up for you. I witnessed the other one in Mexico this spring. Last year I saw another Atwood jack failure also in Mexico. I am starting to have grave concerns over this brand of jack.

I have posted the pics you emailed to me. This is severe structural damage. IMO, this camper needs to go to Host itself. Have you contacted Dave Hogue?

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#3 OFFLINE   Joe Myers

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 10:30 PM

I think there is more to this story that is not being revealed. I have had two campers with the Atwood jack system, the latest have been in use for over 7 years with no problems of any kind. I am not saying it can't happen, but usally when it does, something was done wrong. The most prevelant operating mistake I have observed is using the ALL button on the remote, none of the jack move at exactly the same rate and you can get an unbalanced situation.
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#4 OFFLINE   PigPen

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 10:36 PM

I don't know Joe, having seen this twice this year, I am getting very suspicious there is an inherent issue with these jacks.

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#5 OFFLINE   nstate

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 11:03 PM

Thanks for posting these Paul.
Well, i don't know what to say other than i've been loading and unloading for years. When the camper launched forward, the r/rear held and took the rear section with it. Both sliders are wacked out of position now,etc. The other thread is consistant with my disaster. If the jack wouldn't have folded, this wouldn't have happened. I would assume there would be some degree of safety calculated into these jack systems on these campers. The jack bracket held to the frame,yet the tube buckled. The replacement cost of this camper today is $45,000.00 plus. I don't know what where going to do at this point. I'm not really convinced they can completely square this back after the strain and shock it took. The newer Host models are full aluminum framed. Maybe they could have taken this shock better, i don't know. Again, my wife, daughter and dog were not standing on that side. I'm suspicious to say the least. For this to be operator error i suspect one would have to NOT lift the front jacks up higher first, rather lift the rears up much higher then the front until it tilled to the point that one gave in. I didn't do that. So i don't know what else is missing here.
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1997 Dodge 3500 1-ton dually,5.9 Cummins w/ Banks Turbo system and stage 2 injectors
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#6 OFFLINE   PigPen

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 11:16 PM

All I know I am getting real nervous about removing my camper (I have reico's on mine)

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#7 OFFLINE   Joe Myers

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 11:17 PM

The one thing that did catch my eye is that the left front jack tube buckle is in the area of where it is welded to the bracket, How about a pic of the right front jack. I might have to disassemble mine and do an inspection of that area of the tube.
Joe Myers , Life is short, enjoy it ! GOD bless our troops
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#8 OFFLINE   PigPen

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 11:33 PM

I guess the other question is , is it covered by insurance?

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#9 OFFLINE   Joe Myers

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 11:44 PM

My thought is that if you can establish a failure at the weld area, then talk to a lawyer. That is so sickening it makes me want to puke. Fortunately, no one was injured, campers can be replaced. Like paul said, this is the second one in recent history.
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#10 OFFLINE   nstate

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 11:55 PM

Fortunately i have always carried comprehensive. So yes i have a claim in. However, i think they are going to probably total it. I just hope i can get a fair price so i can try and find another. I really like the Host campers. I'm very fond of this Yellowstone. I is very roomy(two slides), a ton of storage(inside and out), very luxurious. But the crane operator said his gauges registered it in at 5100+ lbs. And i hadn't even loaded it up to leave yet(i.,e,. frig, water,etc.,) So i am going to really study the jack options. There has to be a fail safe system developed.... I don't know. The camper is at the collision center i'l be stopping back by there next week so i'll get a better look at that jack for you guys. I haven't called Atwood as i felt they wouldn't likely share any bad experiences with me in fear of liability i assume. But man, these things could really be twice as big tubing made from heavier gauge steel. That would certainly help.
2007 Host Everest Triple Slide TS11.5
1997 Dodge 3500 1-ton dually,5.9 Cummins w/ Banks Turbo system and stage 2 injectors
Hi-Pro 47 trans,triple billet torque convertor and GearVendor overdrive system
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#11 OFFLINE   Shellback

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 03:17 AM

At the prices they charge for camper jacks, they could very well use a a heavier and better quality tubing. I think they rate their capacity at near perfect lifting conditions. A little tweak off perfect, and I'd bet their rating goes to h**l in a hurry. I've worked in heavy highway construction my whole life, and looking at camper jacks, we wouldn't have used one to lift the lid on a water jug. Maybe when someone finally does get killed, it might shake up the camper jack industry.

#12 OFFLINE   saggys

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 05:44 AM

Sorry for your loss, I am glad everyone is OK. I can't help to notice that the right rear jack mounting area looks like it may have been comprimised.
Could that area be responsible for the start of this?
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#13 OFFLINE   wthattny

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 06:19 AM

Fortunately i have always carried comprehensive. So yes i have a claim in. However, i think they are going to probably total it. I just hope i can get a fair price so i can try and find another. I really like the Host campers. I'm very fond of this Yellowstone. I is very roomy(two slides), a ton of storage(inside and out), very luxurious. But the crane operator said his gauges registered it in at 5100+ lbs. And i hadn't even loaded it up to leave yet(i.,e,. frig, water,etc.,) So i am going to really study the jack options. There has to be a fail safe system developed.... I don't know. The camper is at the collision center i'l be stopping back by there next week so i'll get a better look at that jack for you guys. I haven't called Atwood as i felt they wouldn't likely share any bad experiences with me in fear of liability i assume. But man, these things could really be twice as big tubing made from heavier gauge steel. That would certainly help.


I can practically guarantee they are going to total your camper. Sorry. I had an accident with my Host Ranier and can highly recommend a shop here in Denver, but like I said, from the look of yours I'd start shopping for a replacement.

Don't know if I mentioned this before, but I had a welder re-weld all my Atwoods to their brackets. Now, I think I'll look for a way to reinforce the tube itself.

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#14 OFFLINE   PigPen

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 06:34 AM

I think they are a bit ugly, and maybe a consideration if you go off road, depending on your clearance, but you may want to go with a Stable lift, the guy who had the failure with the Lance is going this route. His camper was reparable. It came down fairly slowly and may have been lower to the ground than yours when it failed.

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If that interests you, contact Mont Peters Email.

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#15 OFFLINE   PigPen

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 06:45 AM

Now, I think I'll look for a way to reinforce the tube itself.


If you look at this accident and the other one, the thing that strikes me is that the failure was in the same spot in both cases. That area would have the inner tube portion clear of it when the jack was extended & is obviously the weakest point. If that could be somehow reinforced, it may prevent it from happening. Maybe some sort of metal sleeve bolted on the outside in that area? It is also intersting it was the front jacks in each case.

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#16 OFFLINE   PigPen

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 06:46 AM

Now, I think I'll look for a way to reinforce the tube itself.


If you look at this accident and the other one, the thing that strikes me is that the failure was in the same spot in both cases. That area would have the inner tube portion clear of it when the jack was extended & is obviously the weakest point. If that could be somehow reinforced, it may prevent it from happening. Maybe some sort of metal sleeve bolted on the outside in that area? It is also interesting it was the front jacks in each case. I suspect the fact the rear ones here (& maybe in the lance were bolted down below to the bumper.

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#17 OFFLINE   Lancealot

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 06:47 AM

It appears that the TC manufacturers these days are are making double/triple slide units and are getting getting
heavier and heavier ,they put on jacks that were used on their lightest units and don't seem to upgrade jacks to
accept the additional load.I've seen the same jack units I have on my Lance 1010 on the Lance Lite and double slide units. The manufacturers should be responsible for making sure the jacks exceed load rating.mho.

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#18 OFFLINE   PigPen

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 06:55 AM

I don't think they do exceed them. At least not assuming the load is spread evenly around all 4. That is seldom the case, so that may be the issue.

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#19 OFFLINE   nstate

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 07:45 AM

Saggys- I'm not not sure. If the right rear would have gone first it would have shifted the weight there which would have been better as it would have sat down which is closer to the ground and it would have missed my truck. When the l/front gave way it went forward on to the left. The r/rear was plated and twisted with no where to go she pulled apart.

Pigpen- The manu data plate shops #4000 lbs dry. Not sure about other makes/models but the larger Host's(Everest,Yellowstone,Yukons,etc) and Artic Fox are the same weight areas. So Adding a few more pounds worth of steel to these jacks would be neglegible and worth while.

Lancealot- This to is an excellent point. I think pushing the envelope with these big campers calls for a consideration for a design change. These new ones are a far cry from the original 1960's Caveman models.

I'm sure if someone did the math, as each extra inch of raising probably dramatically changes the stresses on these jacks. It should also be noted that my 1 ton is a 4X4 models with 9000lb after market springs, the orig. helper springs, and Firestone airbags. So the bed is up there. The dog can't even jump into this one(although i think he's lazy). Plus i raise it about 4 extra inches for clearance. But the reality is that you should be able to jack it until it stops without fear of it tipping over. I'm thinking these begger units should have about 3" X 1/8" wall structural tubing, bolted to reinforced boxed in corners. to be safe. Again, my Yellowstone was a 2003 which was(as Paul pointed out) was a wood frame. But even so, the brackets did stay attached on the left side, even the one that folded.

Also got to thinking i have had one jack off the ground(during leveling as i use saw horses with boards) and it has stayed in balance. Of coarse it was close to ground also.
2007 Host Everest Triple Slide TS11.5
1997 Dodge 3500 1-ton dually,5.9 Cummins w/ Banks Turbo system and stage 2 injectors
Hi-Pro 47 trans,triple billet torque convertor and GearVendor overdrive system
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#20 OFFLINE   PigPen

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 08:25 AM

I think if I had this jack brand I would be looking for some sort of sleeve clamp to put around the tube just below the weld to give it a bit more strength.

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