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Repairing wheel well skirts

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  • Repairing wheel well skirts

    There seems to be a history of the screw holes on the ABS plastic fender skirts cracking, or the screw heads pulling through. Possibly from over tightening the attaching screw during the build process or flapping while going down the road. I have found a solution that might help.

    1/8" ABS sheet material (found in Ebay) and JBWeld PlasticWeld. The ABS can be cut in small pieces and formed to fit the indentations of the screw holes. Then, a new hole drilled and attached with stainless steel machine screws, washers, and nylon lock nuts.

    Click image for larger version

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    2020 Reflection 273MK
    2005 Dodge Ram 2500 CTD

  • #2
    I have replaced a few of these on my trailers over the years. Its my thought that the biggest problem with cracking is that they use a self drilling/self tapping screw through the skirt into the sidewall. There is no hole pre drilled through the skirt so the screw adds undue stress to the skirt while it pulls it towards the sidewall. The predrilling and addition of stainless screws usually prevents cracking as Lonestar points out.
    2021 Reflection 337RLS, 2021 Silverado 3500HD 6.6 gas. Nellie the wonder boxer

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    • #3
      Lonestar That makes a great looking repair and certainly adds strength to the location of the fastener. Every r.v. I ever had has developed cracks in a few of those spots over time as well as the screws working lose which has been stopped by adding silicone to the threads and a small washer helps distribute the load from the screw head. When viewed in the mirror the skirts vibrate and flap quite a lot while traveling, it is no wonder those skirts crack and the screws come lose.

      Dave
      flyfshrockies, 2021 imagine 2600RB, Ford F-150, XLT supper crew 3.5 eco boost with max tow. Dave and Toni (and the awesome Aussie Bayley, he's the social one)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by familytruckster4 View Post
        I have replaced a few of these on my trailers over the years. Its my thought that the biggest problem with cracking is that they use a self drilling/self tapping screw through the skirt into the sidewall. There is no hole pre drilled through the skirt so the screw adds undue stress to the skirt while it pulls it towards the sidewall. The predrilling and addition of stainless screws usually prevents cracking as Lonestar points out.
        That explains a lot as to why the cracks. I'm even thinking about filling all the screw cavities with the ABS inserts as a precaution. I feel it distributes the stress over a larger area than just a washer alone. Of course I will use a washer on top of the inserts.

        I'm amazed as to how paper thin these ABS skirts are. If they could be supported at the bottom better to prevent the flapping, they would stand a better chance.

        And the cost to replace them is outrageous. Now that I've found a suitable material I'll patch these things regardless of how they look!

        2020 Reflection 273MK
        2005 Dodge Ram 2500 CTD

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        • #5
          I replaced 3 of them on our previous Open range trailer. Two for the above reason (I got them to warranty the part and then installed them myself) and a third after a blow out. The one I had to buy after the blowout is a story in and of itself, a horror story about the supply chain issues for RV parts. Took me 2 months and one empty handed trip to Shipshewana (but I digress) One of the many reasons I like dealing with Grand design is that they work hard to get their customers what they need.
          2021 Reflection 337RLS, 2021 Silverado 3500HD 6.6 gas. Nellie the wonder boxer

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          • #6
            I've repaired a couple on the first TT, seems that there is a small lip on the edge of the skirt leaving a gap between the skirt and the framing. If this gap were filled it would not put the stress on the ABS causing cracks.

            Also like mentioned, the hole probably needs to be drilled properly to help reduce the lateral stresses caused by the self tapping threads and pilot on the end of the screws.
            Joseph
            Tow
            Vehicle: 2018 GMC K2500 Denali Diesel
            Coach: 303RLS Delivered March 5, 2021
            South of Houston Texas

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Jlawles2 View Post
              I've repaired a couple on the first TT, seems that there is a small lip on the edge of the skirt leaving a gap between the skirt and the framing. If this gap were filled it would not put the stress on the ABS causing cracks.

              Also like mentioned, the hole probably needs to be drilled properly to help reduce the lateral stresses caused by the self tapping threads and pilot on the end of the screws.
              You are correct. That lip limits the actual contact area between skirt and sheet metal framing where only about 5% of the surface of the skirt is making contact. This is a major factor and design flaw!

              Before going with my current plan I was going to use a thin strip of wood to shim/space between the space created by the lip and the sheet metal and close the gap. Then drill new holes outside the current indentations. I know this would solve the problem but just more work.

              If my present repair fails, that's my next step.
              2020 Reflection 273MK
              2005 Dodge Ram 2500 CTD

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              • #8
                After traveling all summer, I had to tighten several screws at rest stops as they would get so loose they would about be halfway out. I was wondering about using rubber washers and aluminum rivets on center and bottom ends (which are the ones coming loose). Would that be too much pressure and crack the plastic?
                Vivian
                2018 Reflection 303rls
                Ford F-350 diesel long bed 4 x 4 SRW
                Demco Recon

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                • #9
                  Beachcamper Vivian, the bottom skirt screws coming loose is probably partly due to the thinness of the aluminum skirting. You may try replacing these with stainless screws and nylock nuts since they are the easiest to reach the back side on. As for the center ones, do you mean at the top in to the wall framing, or the one down by itself on the aluminum vibration brace that looks hand formed? If it's the latter, again nylock nut and stain less screw are what fixed the issue on my bumper pull.

                  You can also try silicone instead of rubber washers as the silicone will act more like a glue but still be removable.
                  Joseph
                  Tow
                  Vehicle: 2018 GMC K2500 Denali Diesel
                  Coach: 303RLS Delivered March 5, 2021
                  South of Houston Texas

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jlawles2 View Post
                    Beachcamper Vivian, the bottom skirt screws coming loose is probably partly due to the thinness of the aluminum skirting. You may try replacing these with stainless screws and nylock nuts since they are the easiest to reach the back side on. As for the center ones, do you mean at the top in to the wall framing, or the one down by itself on the aluminum vibration brace that looks hand formed? If it's the latter, again nylock nut and stain less screw are what fixed the issue on my bumper pull.

                    You can also try silicone instead of rubber washers as the silicone will act more like a glue but still be removable.
                    The ones that tend to vibrate loose are towards the bottom ends. Your idea was another option and probably what I will end up with. I was just wondering if rivets would not be more of a permanent solution in these areas. Just afraid of cracking the plastic with rivet gun.

                    Vivian
                    2018 Reflection 303rls
                    Ford F-350 diesel long bed 4 x 4 SRW
                    Demco Recon

                    Comment

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