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Old 08-10-2021, 12:38 PM   #1
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2014 Jay Feather Bent A-frame Tongue

First post, big problem. Well, maybe not so big. My wife and I bought a used 2014 Jay Feather 197 this past winter. After working on this thing, and my TV, most of the spring to get ready to go camping we finally took it up north. To get ready I replaced a frozen toilet valve and kitchen faucet, fixed the LED awning lights, fixed tailights, bleached water tank, hand packed axle bearings, installed a Reese 8K WD round bar hitch, put a brake controller on my truck, trans temp gauge for the truck, bought all the other junk to go along with the TT that it didn't come with, sealed the roof, caulked the tilt out window frame where it was leaking into the trailer, installed a wireless rear view camera, etc.

The first trip went fine. On the second trip I was getting the TT set up on a paved siding in a NF campground and initially set the bubble in the middle of the bullseye at the hitch. When I checked the counter top inside it was way off. I checked the trim line on the outside of the TT front to back and it was way off too. Once I got the TT leveled using the trim line and the counter and the interior was obviously level I checked the bullseye. It wasn't even close. When I first got the TT and leveled it in the driveway, the bullseye was almost dead on. Upon closer inspection, my LP tank cover is now touching the front of the TT where their used to be a gap. The tongue is visibly slightly bent upward. The trailer was not heavily loaded and neither was the truck. Full tank of water, not much else. The load bars on the WD hitch did not seem too far out of whack. Maybe an inch and a half below the shelf. On the drive up to the campground on this last trip the truck got into a bouncing episode due to vehicle speed and pavement dips on the highway. It seems that the WD hitch bar force may have tried to bend the tongue where it meets the front of the frame. I will check this further with a 6 foot level but I'm pretty sure the tongue is tweaked. Not too impressed with the ruggedness of the frame and tongue but that's probably what you get with an ultralight construction to keep the weight down. Just wondering if anyone else has seen this problem.

The other thing I noticed while looking closer at this is the two axles are not aligned. Currently they are staggered, one to the driver's side and one to the passenger side. I think I'll need to get these aligned also. Looks like a nice weekend coming up to lay under a TT and figure out what's going on with the foam box.

Gregg
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Old 08-19-2021, 06:23 AM   #2
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Bent frame

I guess must be the only one to ever bend and ultra light. I took a closer look at this over the weekend the the part that is bent is not the A-frame hitch but the front frame cross member. It's not surprising that it bent since Jayco decided to pass the A-frame hitch through the frame instead of making it a solid weldment. There is a plate bracket riveting the pieces together on one side of the hole but the cross member structural integrity is non-existent once you cut the hole through the Z-channel. It doesn't help that the front cross member is so thin. I'm not sure I can bend this back at home and reinforce it. It may have to go to a frame shop. Either that or I will remove the frame member and have a metal shop brake me a new Z-channel made of heavier steel. I expect this was caused by excessive load on the hitch due to going over a dip at the end of my driveway where it meets the highway. The load from the WD hitch would increase and since the frame is stronger at the back of the hitch attachment, it bent the front cross member.
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Old 08-19-2021, 06:31 AM   #3
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Our 195 bent its frame . Could have been from anywhere. The dirt roads at home, the Chaco Canyon access road, the road to Goose Pasture FL which was full of deep potholes

Had a welder come straighten and reinforce the bend and carried on. I can't say if your WDH put too much stress on the frame as we did not use that sort of rig on ours .
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Old 08-19-2021, 09:19 AM   #4
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Frame issue

Thanks for the reply Kim. It can be fixed. We have only had it out twice and haven't really been on any rough roads. Most everything has been paved with the vast majority being interstate. I will need to figure out a way to apply some force to bend it back.
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Old 08-19-2021, 09:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kim Gass View Post
Our 195 bent its frame . Could have been from anywhere. The dirt roads at home, the Chaco Canyon access road, the road to Goose Pasture FL which was full of deep potholes

Had a welder come straighten and reinforce the bend and carried on. I can't say if your WDH put too much stress on the frame as we did not use that sort of rig on ours .
Been there, done that! Still, one of the more magical places I have even been too.
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Old 08-19-2021, 10:22 AM   #6
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Been there, done that! Still, one of the more magical places I have even been too.
Road is probably the same trail in use for hundreds of years! Maximum is 5 mph! We also tow to the North Maine Woods. Some sections are actually worse than the access road to Chaco.

to the OP. Do yourself a favor and get a stick on level.. You can use a smartphone app to determine level ink a line and then stick on your trailer level We have two..front to back and side to side.
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Old 08-19-2021, 11:20 AM   #7
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level

Yeah I just threw a torpedo level in the drawer. I must have ten of those things and I'm not a pipefitter. Putting them on the outside of the TT would save me some time.
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Old 08-19-2021, 12:31 PM   #8
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That is a bumper. Over the years there is a few people who have commented a similar issue. It has never seamed to a common issue.

Could be a number of things, especially with a used unit and not knowing its past. Previous owner may have known there was damage, and sold it before they had to deal with it. Personally, I would start off with taking some images of how the tongue assembly is attached to the frame and where the bends are at. Then call a local welding shop. They are very good at making appropriate repairs. A mobile welder might be best, but it might cost you a little more.

As for the axles, don't freak out yet. The TT axles and wheels flex a lot when making turns. Look in your mirrors as you back up, and you would be shocked how out of alignment each wheel look to be. I would make sure to pull the TT forwards or reverse 5-10 feet to take the stress out of the wheels, then review the alignment.
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Old 08-19-2021, 02:08 PM   #9
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Tweaked

The first time I took it out the A-frame hitch and TT living quarters (counter top, body seam, etc) were all in alignment. I checked the level of the interior, the tongue, the side seam and all were level with the tongue jack bubble level in the middle. When setting up the second trip, they were no longer close. The front cross member is buckled where the hitch passed through the front cross member. Both sides of the front cross member are bent downward outside of the hitch and the cross member is bent upward between the hitch members. Essentially the hitch was trying to go up through the trailer. The cross member buckled on the bottom of the "window" cut through it for the hitch legs. I'll try to attach a picture. The side effect is that the front storage door was binding on the door frame. Never did that before. This is is not damage from the PO. This is something that happened on the second trip. I'm not as worried about the axle alignment. I look at them from underneath and they don't seem too bad. I just need to look them over carefully. Looking at how everything attaches at the front corners, I bet I could put some HD jackstands under the corners of the frame and unload the tongue jack and it may settle enough to straighten it back out some. I'll post back if I make some progress.
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Tongue DS.jpg   Tongue PS.jpg  
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Old 08-20-2021, 06:00 AM   #10
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Tweaked back

So I got under my TT last night and looked things over and decided to try something. I go two big jack stands that I use for my truck and some wood blocking. I supported the area where the front frame cross member and longitudinal frame rails meet near the front stabilizer jack and I retracted the electric tongue jack an inch or two. I stood on the hitch and bounced up and down. I was able to get it back to almost level again. Not quite 100% back to where it was, but probably 90% of the way back. The buckled areas in the photos above flattened out most of the way but they were pretty bent so didn't go all the way back. I used a hammer to flatten them out and, of course, they both developed a crack at the stress point. I then added another deep cycle battery and a car battery on top of the battery box and bounced on the hitch again and I'm probably 95% back to where it started. Next step will be to get some 3" channel iron and some 1-1/2" angle iron to reinforce that weak Z-channel cross member. I'll end up cutting a bunch of those pop rivets out and replacing them with bolted hardware. I will most likely sandwich the bottom flange of the Z-channel between the angle iron and 3" channel and bolt and weld it together to make one solid cross member that won't bend easily. I still don't like the way the hitch passes through the frame and I may double that plating up.
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Old 08-20-2021, 07:53 AM   #11
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Great job.
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Old 02-06-2023, 05:27 PM   #12
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Broken Jay Feather Tongue Cross Member

Hey skibumm100! I had the same thing happen to my 2004 Jay Feather LGT 29 . Attached are images of what happened. Were you able to fix yours? I have a few options and not quite sure what to do:

1) Take out the Z Cross Member and have a new one fabricated out of thicker steel. This would require cutting out all the pop rivets and replacing with bolts. Even the ones that attach the tongue to the frame.

2) Try to weld back together what broke and then add reinforcements. Not sure how. I am not a welder so I would need to hire a mobile welder.

If anyone has any input or has ideas on how to fix it, I would love to hear them.

Thanks!!
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JayFeatherBrokenFrame.jpg   thumbnail_IMG_2247.jpg  
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Old 02-07-2023, 09:03 AM   #13
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That's the same crappy setup that mine has. That riveted plate where the A-frame meets the cross channel is the only attachment and they cut the strength out of the Z-channel to pass the hitch through. Looks like a design done by a summer student. I looked at newer ultralights and nobody builds them that way anymore. All the new ones I saw were fully welded all the way around the hitch at the Z-channel. I purchases a few pieces of structural steel from a steel yard. I bought 4" C-channel, 4" X 3/16" thick flat stock, 1-1/2" X 3/16" flat stock and a piece of 2" X 2" X 1/4" angle iron. The channel will be bent to fit between the frame rails and the rear of the Z-channel and bolted in place. The angle iron will be bolted through the bottom of the Z-channel flange backed up by the flat stock and will run from side to side past the longitudinal frame rails. That should stiffen the entire front members. I will also bend the 4" wide flat stock and put a frame attachment on the inside of the rivetted bracket at the hitch beam. It will add a little weight but should stiffen everything up significantly. I still have more fabrication to do but it will be ready by camping season. If you don't have a welder or fab skills you can probably fins a local welder to fix you up.
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Old 02-07-2023, 10:34 AM   #14
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Thank You!

Great information! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge with me.
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Old 06-29-2023, 12:26 PM   #15
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Finally fixed

I had written up the whole story on what I did to address the weak cross member damage that was done a while ago. Unfortunately I lost it while doing a post on my phone. We didn't use our camper last summer because I didn't get around to fixing it last year. This year I had a deadline and needed to get it done so I got after it. I spent all of Memorial Day weekend and the weekend after it so I could use it in June. It's been sitting on jack stands supporting the longitudinal frame rails for well over a year. I bought a bunch of structural steel - 4" channel, 2.5 x 2.5 x 3/16" angle and some 1.5 x 3/16" flat stock. There was a gap between the front cross member and the top of the A-frame passing through it so I tapped the 3/16" flat stock between them the full length from frame rail to frame rail. I did this because I knew I would be sandwiching more steel on both sides and didn't want any gaps between them. Then I fabricated a 4" channel piece the ran along the rear of the cross member and about 9" along the A-frame "legs" to the rear. This was done to tie the A-frame solidly to the cross member. This was one of the weak points before. The fabrication is bolted through the legs of the A-frame and through the bottom flange of the cross member as well as the 2.5" angle iron and the 3/16" flat stock. It's also stich welded at various points. The whole point of this exercise is to add structural rigidity to the A-frame front mounting area, the front cross member and the whole front of the trailer from frame rail to frame rail. The attached pictures show various areas of the repair. The trip went off without a hitch for the trailer. We won't talk about the tow vehicle. If I were to do it over again I would use 1/4" thick angle. There is a slight bow to the one I used. It's still plenty strong but 1/4" wouldn't deflect so much. I had to reposition the front jacks rearward as they were originally bolted through that weak cross member and they needed to move to allow this repair. Unfortunately we got a late start to our trip because I forgot that I had removed them a year ago, until I looked in the front compartment. Reinstalling them required more fabrication and I had to uses a hole saw through the angle iron near the end to access the bolt head to operate the jack. Sorry for the long winded description. If you find yourself in the same spot, a good welder and this description might be helpful. FYI - I am not a "good welder", as evidenced by my booger welds. I can stick two pieces of metal together so they don't come apart, but it won't be pretty.
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20230625_142124.jpg   20230625_142153.jpg   20230625_142235.jpg   20230625_142259.jpg  
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