Now that’s a good one… rub it in why don’t you!!! LOL
Ok y’all! Thanks for your patience. Here’s the long awaited update:
Below, you’ll find a statement we put together regarding our hinge plans. Parts of it will likely be somewhat redundant for many of you, but the idea is that anyone reading this will get the full picture. I’ll also be emailing it to all camper owners to keep everyone in the loop:
Long Story Short
Have you heard about hinges being the weak point of GFC campers? There is some truth to this claim in the first groups of campers, and we are going to fix them. We now have a solution for all campers affected, and are placing a lifetime transferable warranty on all of our polyolefin hinges.
This statement is going to explain the situation in full, and we appreciate you taking a look as this might well be the most important email we send out all year.
What’s Up With All The Hinges Breaking?
You probably bought a GFC because you know we lead the market in quality, durability and strength. Well, some of our campers have missed that mark, and we are here to acknowledge that shortcoming. That said, we still intend to uphold our side of that agreement.
Campers assembled before January 2019 had a riveted polyolefin hinge (living hinge) that had a foam gasket sandwiched between the spaceframe and the tent extrusion, which we learned would break down over time and cause the joining upright bolts to lose torque spec. This led to failure due to misalignment on the hinge and resulted in a 30% failure rate within the first two years of ownership. In January 2019 we took a step back to come up with a new solution.
This new solution used a riveted hinge that eliminated the gasket layer in that construction, but still presented an unacceptable rate of failure at 3.2%. We have since switched to a non-riveted adhesive backed hinge that has not had a single failure to this date, because the panel adds structure to the hinge and keeps it flat. We see the hinge as the biggest weak point of our design, so during the covid shutdown, we decided to dedicate engineering effort to come up with a solution that would move us away from the polyolefin hinge moving forward, but also take care of all of our customers retroactively.
Enter: The Embassy Hinge
The Embassy Hinge is our solution. It’s a geared continuous hinge made of extruded aluminum with a black anodized finish. It’s called The Embassy Hinge because hinges like this are actually used in embassies and vaults all over the world because they are the closest literal bomb-proof solution on the market (that’s not an exaggeration).
While this technology has existed before, GFC is the first to apply it in an automotive application. We’ve spent the last few months testing the prototype in everything from desert runs on our long travel trucks to destructive testing with Big Mike, who carries the moniker because he’s like, super strong. The result is a hinge that solves this previous shortcoming and unlocks an exciting new feature: easy removal of your panels.
All campers utilizing this retro-fittable hinge are now 5 bolts away from panel removal. So whether you want to run through the desert panel free, or just remove the rear panel for a mountain bike shuttle trip, this is a neat added benefit that improves long term serviceability to boot.
How Do I Get One?
The polyolefin hinges are covered for life, so if anything happens to your current hinges we’ll take care of you. This is true for campers with rivets or adhesive-backed hinges. But we aren’t going to make you wait for your hinges to fail before you can get this upgrade. As some of you may know, our warranty department has been preparing for a Product Improvement Tour (PIT) over the last few months. Now that the Embassy Hinge is tested and ready, he will be leaving to make repairs on campers immediately.
We’re prioritizing campers that have open warranty claims for immediate repairs on the PIT, but will absolutely be supporting customers who hope to have their hinges replaced proactively.
Acute warranty issues: Those currently dealing with a broken hinge.
a. Repairs available immediately through PIT and on site in Belgrade
b. GFC “Bandaids” available- aluminum tabs that attach to your extrusion to hold a separated panel in place
c. Potential for DIY installation with embassy hinge, reach out directly for details
Proactive upgrades: Those ready to make the swap to the Embassy hinge.
a. Upgrades are available on site in Belgrade and through the PIT (once the PIT has fixed campers w/ existing issues) based on unit number
b. GFC will reach out to customers sequentially to schedule proactive upgrades, starting on site and then moving to PIT when acute cases have been addressed
In production or yet to begin production
a. As of this week (the week of 8/10/2020) all campers are being built with the Embassy Hinge.
b. If you have received a “sealant curing” notification this week, you were one of the first production models to be assembled with the new hinge.
c. Campers built with glued Polyolefin hinges have shown 0% failure rate but are covered by our lifetime warranty regardless
Maybe you haven’t had any problems and you don’t want a proactive upgrade. That’s ok! Not all campers with the polyolefin hinges will experience problems. Either way, we’ll still cover your hinges if anything happens down the road.
When it all comes down to it, if we can’t take care of y’all, we won’t be around for long. With that mindset, innovations made today don’t just apply to our new customers, but to everyone that’s supported us since day one. This hinge is a thank you letter. Throughout this process you’ve continued to show off your campers on social media, in gas station parking lots, and at trailheads. We told you we would have your back if anything happened, and now we have the opportunity to make good on our word. Thanks for pushing us to innovate. Thanks for trusting us to take care of you. As always, if you have any questions please email us at email@example.com.
We’ve got your back.
Exactly what the doctor ordered—great works guys! I can’t wait to see it in person. Gear should be a lot more secure!
Looks awesome! Will those be as waterproof as the plastic hinge/sealant setup?
@GFC_Taylor I love how you guys not only took to task the hinge issue but also found opportunity to solve additional use cases with thinking about making it easy to remove panels as needed. Love the customer focused obsession - this alone makes every $$ we spend with you all worth it. Keep up the great work!
@ace7196 They’re on the bottom utility track. Also, I failed to mention this above, if you have a set of our universal/awning brackets and receive a set of Embassy Hinges, we’ll be replacing your brackets (free.99) with new ones that we’ve redesigned to maintain compatibility.
@mode7 yes. The Embassy Hinges attach to the panels using adhesive, similar to the previous production process. Retrofitted Embassy Hinges use a combination of rivets and sealant in order to allow the sealant to cure while the panels are in use.
@ChossBagger We got your back!
Great update, thanks @GFC_Taylor. Looking forward for the PIT stop in Texas!
I love the transparency and owning of this and absolutely knocking it out of the park with a fix. Just saw the video, impressive.
How will the universal awning brackets be effected? I have some aftermarket pieces I’ve had fabricated for my camper and I’m worried the new hinge will make them un useable?
Ah, the bitter sweet joy of getting my (#850) sealant curing email… on August 7th. I SHALL GO FORTH IN THIS WORLD AS THE PROUD OWNER OF THE LAST CLASSIC HINGE. Tales will be told, songs will be sung.
Awesome news and a killer solution!
@GFC_Taylor Couple of questions about the new hinges.
I see that you are offering free redesigned awning mounts that are compatible with the new hinge mounting, but have you taken into account any of the aftermarket options that are have been widely adopted by the community? I just took a look at my Kinsmen awning and it is mounted via the top and bottom utility tracks, thus potentially not being compatible with the new design. Is it possible to sandwich the hinge between other accessories that mount via the bottom utility t rack (it doesn’t look like it in the video)? I’ve already been bitten by the pull down handle/latch upgrade not being compatible with my kinsmen mounting, so I had to cut/file pieces to make it work.
Proactive upgrades: I’m relatively local to Bozeman (live in Idaho) and would be willing to drive to GFC for the proactive install ASAP, especially because I have some Montana trips planned in the near future. How will GFC reach out to customers sequentially? Is there a estimated timeline? I’m relatively early on in the build numbers (80s), but would like it sooner rather than later.
What is required in the install process? Can it be upgraded without removing the camper? I ask because I have solar and truck battery cabling into a house battery setup in my truck bed, while not super time consuming to remove it would be nice to leave it as is.
When I paid for my camper before production even started, I had a good feeling about the company. Even after having some hiccups along the way, I still have high regards for GFC. Thanks for having our backs.
I’d rather address specific questions like this via email. Would you mind sending one over to support for me please?
This is awesome.
Edit: I’ll ask my questions over email.
I’ve got the universal/awning brackets for my awning that I’m finding to be essential. Do I need to get on a list for the new redesigned brackets?
Those new hinges look fantastic! I look forward to the PIT! Thanks GFC folks for the awesome support!
When we schedule your upgrade we’ll ask about your brackets and get that squared away for you.
This is awesome. Huge props to the whole team for owning up to the issue and putting in the effort to provide something truly robust.