Product Improvement Tour (P.I.T.)

Product Improvement Tour

In response to the growing issues of failing hinges on earlier model campers we at Go Fast Campers are building up a mobile repair tour to correct this issue and other issues that may have some up on your camper.

Here is some information on the hinges/old crown seal:

“When we began building campers we used a piece of foam seal between the tent frame and the hinge to seal that edge. The issue was that the foam was thick enough to allow the hinge to be installed in a manner that wasn’t perfectly flat, especially at the front and rear corners where it would flare out slightly. This lack of flatness along the hinge line meant that every time the hinge was opened or closed, the pivot line of the hinge had to bend along more than one axis. The hinges aren’t designed to tolerate these multi-axis bends and would eventually start to develop stress cracks (even if you can’t see them, they are there). Once the cracks form, it’s only a matter of time before the hinge fails.

When we switched to the new liquid sealant (Terason) we eliminated the foam gasket. This means that when we clamp the hinge between the space-frame and the tent frame, the hinge can lie flat along the tent frame extrusion and is pinched more consistently along its length, preventing the flare at the ends so often seen on the older sealant design. This means that the hinge now bends along one axis, making it much less likely that stress cracks will form. You can see this effect for yourself by folding a piece of paper back and forth to form a pivot line. If the paper is held flat against the edge of a table, the paper will pivot easily along the fold line. but if you add a little bit of curve to the paper, it will resist bending easily and introduce tearing forces. That’s what was happening and what the new sealant eliminates.

We didn’t figure this out right away. We have campers with the old seal design that have been heavily abused off-road without issue. Turns out that the old way we sealed them didn’t necessarily prevent a good hinge installation, it just made it easy to assemble one with a bad installation. Which is why not every camper with the old seal will have failures. And unfortunately we did have a few that got resealed with the old hinges that had already developed stress cracks and eventually failed after resealing.

We have about 400 campers in use now (including test/demo campers and customer builds) and aside from that handful of reseals without hinge replacement, we haven’t had any hinge failures with the new seal design that we’re aware of. If it turns out that we’re wrong about all this (we don’t think we are but it’s always possible to be wrong), we will engineer a new solution and support (via warranty or at-cost replacement parts as applicable) every camper we make as long as we’re still in business.

A field repair is possible but we’re still working out the details of doing it properly outside the shop. To affect the repair in a way that won’t cause the hinges to keep failing, a few things need to happen: First, all of the foam gasket needs to be removed from the tent frame. The adhesive on the rubber gasket is tenacious, so this can actually be a somewhat difficult step. But it all has to be removed or the new hinges won’t sit flat. Old hinges need to be removed from the panel. New hinges riveted on in the correct location (ideally using one of our flattening jigs to keep the hinge flat against the panel while it’s being riveted). All the panels installed and aligned before torquing the tent frame bolts. Aligning the panels requires that all the panels be aligned at the same time, since loosening one panel enough to adjust one, loosens them all.

All of this is doable in the field but to be done properly in a way that won’t continue to be problematic requires someone that’s been trained in the entire procedure (since we can’t send out our production assembly folks), and a few special mobile tools (flattening jig and foam removal, plus a few tidbits to make it easier for one person to do the job.) We don’t have this dialed in yet but we will soon. Once ready, we’ll be scheduling a resealing/inspection tour for customers who can’t bring their affected campers to our shop. I can’t say exactly what day this will start, but it is a top priority for us.”

Now that the issue has been identified and a solution has been created we will be rolling out a Product Improvement Tour as we will be correcting any smaller issues you may have as well. The idea behind the tour is to hold meet ups along the way for repair (we can also work around your schedule and do it in single campers as well if necessary) and for customers to see the process, understand the method and check out the product if they have a later reservation. This will also allow customers to check out other builds, meet other GFC owners and essentially turn this into a more positive experience. I will likely have accessories and other goodies for sale along the route as well. I will be working on dates and posting them as I have them.

A little bit about the reseal process:

Resealing a camper takes about 4-5 hours with the ability to utilize the shop. I am hoping to have this process down to 3 hours a camper with my own tooling setup. Before the reseal we will need to remove the camper from the truck and bolt them onto some custom stands. Then the reseal requires all hinges to be removed first, rivets drilled out, new hinges drilled and new hinges riveted on the panels. The panels will then have new gaskets laid on them in a better pattern. Then the crown seal must be removed and any defects cleaned or ground down on the frame. From there the panels and new hinges will be re-installed on the camper, aligned, measured and torqued down with a cross check seal. Once the panels are installed and aligned I will begin the sealant process. This requires a pneumatic caulking tool with and the Terason elastic sealant. I will use a small compressor to apply the sealant between the space frame and hinge, the space frame and tent frame and over the hinge between the hinge and the extrusion. This is a tedious task that is more easily explained when you can see it happening! Once it is sealed I will re-install it onto the truck. From there the panels must remain closed for about 5 days to cure.

Now that you have a little information on the process, the solution and what it takes to complete a reseal I welcome anyone to send an email to mike@gfcengineering.com with your phone number and address and any issues you may be experiencing. The reseal is covered for everyone and most other smaller issues may be covered under warranty. If they are not covered I will still have the ability to make other repairs as well and save you the cost of shipping!

I will be reaching out to everyone who may have potential for this issue, or has had this issue but invite anyone to email me regardless so there is no way I can miss anyone and we can go over all of the issues you may be having!

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Twenty characters :+1:**********.

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Haha, is that our minimum response amount?

Yep. There’s some kind of sentence structure requirement as well. Never seen that before.

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This is definitely a positive step, thank you for posting it. Looking forward to seeing how the process works out.

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:+1: Hope to meet you on the tour somewhere when it is announced.

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Great news! Looking forward to this :+1:t2:

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Great news Mike! I chose to go with GFC because of there ingenuity and integrity and this step in correcting an issue proves it!

Enjoy the Holidays!

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Good feedback! A great place to market the product not show its issues…

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This would be quite difficult to do as I would be participating in the rallies (with the reseal taking 3 hours that’s about 3 campers a day so everyone being int he same place for 3 days wouldn’t really give me enough time anyway) and also would not have the room necessary at most of these venues for the processes. I will definitely look at doing something for some of the smaller issues around these dates and will coordinate with everyone to find the best course of action for everyone. I do appreciate the suggestion though!

I am unsure of why you think this would not happen but I will have to take some time off during these excursions!

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@BigMikeOfficial, thanks for all your hard work on this issue. If we have one of those earlier models and the hinges haven’t failed, do you think we should update it to prevent future problems regardless?

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I do! I am in the process of reaching out to everyone in the first 150 that I am not already emailing currently with the information I need.

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sounds good, ill look out for that email.

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Sent out all the emails yesterday to potential customers who might have issues with the old crown seal. It was very computer-like so just know you can send me back anything even if it does not have to do with your crown seal or hinges.

Probably did, if you haven’t could you send me an email to mike@gfcengineering.com

Neither did I.

I just resent the email I sent on 12/24.

Nope.

and then there is that!

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I didn’t get one as well. Been in communication with mike via text. Went ahead and sent him an email asking for the email too.

I don’t want a feel good meetup marketing opportunity at an expo or show. I just want a fix.

A group of gfc owners getting repairs at the same time and location makes sense.

Emails did go out to at least one person. I got one.

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