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JonBertsch 09-26-2020 06:51 PM

Spare Tire Sheared off Alminess Swing Gate
 
Hi Folks,


I am out in Escalante, UT. I was 20 miles down the Hole in the Wall trail when my spare tire dropped off the back. I took a look and the bracket that holds the tire has sheared off the two tubes that extend out from the swing gate. It's a plate that is welded to the two tubes by contact. So just the rim of the tube is welded to the plate, there's no internal support from the tube itself.





I loaded the tire into the living area of my van and drove back to Escalante in the hopes that a shop there might be able to fit it. But the one shop is closed for the weekend.


Has this happened to others? The welds on the support frame seem tiny compared to the weight of the tire but this is an offroad setup so you'd think it would be strong.



I'm kinda stuck, is the shop likely to be able to fix it? Does anyone know a place that could even fix this in the area, like St. George, Cedar City?


I was trying to come up with some configurations with bolts and drilling holes to hold the tire but the bolts need to be big and strong.


Let me know if you know anywhere that might be able to fix. Otherwise I may have to start driving home with the tire in my sleeping space. Or get the shop to somehow attach it my penthouse roof.



Hate to think of this happening on the freeway. Could be ugly for someone behind one of us.


It's the old E350 (2014) aluminess setup with a bumper and two swing arms.



Thanks


Jon

Cyrull 09-26-2020 08:10 PM

Can't help with finding a source for repairs but yes this has happened before. There are a couple threads showing cracks and bad welds from aluminess bumpers. I believe another person had the same issue as you. Whatever repair you do, it should be considered temporary and I would check it every time you stop or fill up for gas.

I would be contacting aluminess for a proper repair or replacement unit when you get home.

Best of luck

JonBertsch 09-26-2020 09:02 PM

Hi Cyrull,


Thanks for letting me know it has happened before. I'll contact Alminess on Monday. At least knowing have experienced this before give me hope that they will come to some decent remedy.
After more inspection of the tire carrier setup it looks like it'll be difficult to find a decent solution. I may opt for trying to strap the tire to the roof and limiting my off road expeditions.


Thanks


Jon

boywonder 09-27-2020 08:37 AM

Jon: When the tire swingarm is latched, is there any vertical play/slop in the swingarm? Grab it with your hands and pull up....

Twoxentrix 09-27-2020 10:14 AM

Just curios for those that have had this issue (along with the cracks developing on some of the welds) if you also had the "Swing arm rest" installed?
*Aluminess description: "This accessory is designed for the older Aluminess Rear bumpers. It provides a rest for your swingarm in the closed position to take load off of your latch"

I can see how the "rest" keeps the swing arms from enduring a lot of the continual stress of weight & vibration/shaking. Just trying to determine if the 2 pairs I have installed have proven to be an added benefit ?
Have only read of two others this "detachment" has happened to (probably more out there i'm sure), but an obviously safety concern having the tire just drop - especially for an unsuspecting driver on your six.
May seem like a paranoid reaction, but I'm now considering a responsible measure in which I run a cable through the wheel and attaching to the bumper. Simply because i CAN envision the reaction/destruction/disaster that could take place with a 35" wheel bouncing off cars.

boywonder 09-27-2020 01:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Twoxentrix (Post 282468)

I can see how the "rest" keeps the swing arms from enduring a lot of the continual stress of weight & vibration/shaking. Just trying to determine if the 2 pairs I have installed have proven to be an added benefit ?


IMO there is no question there is a benefit.....what you want is the swingarms to be loaded a bit (zero vertical slop) by those sloped delrin blocks to tighten everything up.


Without some loading all the joints of the swingarms are subjected to "velocity shock"...the freeplay allows movement....and this movement is arrested at the end of it's travel in a very short timespan causing the forces in the joints to be greatly multiplied.....resulting in failures.


Lots of failures occur this way..things wear....things get loose/sloppy...and the constant pounding of velocity shock destroys things quickly.


When the swingarms are tight much of the force loading is reduced/damped by the van's suspension.

JonBertsch 09-27-2020 01:34 PM

Hi Boywonder and Twoxentrix,


Yes there's a "stop" under the swing arm on the rear bumper. The arm doesn't move, or at most a 1mm but it seems pretty solid.


After looking at the whole system and thinking about if for a little while. It seems to me that the flat plate that is welded to the ends of the two tubes should have some pins that mate into ends of the tubes. Then the tubes will be taking some of the weight and supporting the load, rather than all of it being held together by the welds. That's how any number of things are put together to make the joints stronger. But I'm not an engineer or fabricator so I may be missing something.


I'm assuming that the local shop won't be able to weld the aluminum back together, but there's always hope. If not, I'm thinking of having them help me attach the whole wheel to the gate through the "spokes" with a couple of straps and then additionally wrapping the whole tire to the gate with a couple of extra straps N/S and E/W to reduce movement and sway on the spare. There's a hardware store in town so I expect I can get the necessary items there.



That's the best thing of can think of rather than having it inside the van and not tied down since I don't a way of securing it to the floor. That seems potentially more hazardous if I have to stop suddenly.



Thanks all for the responses.


Jon

1der 09-27-2020 09:02 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Some pics would be helpful when you get a chance but in the meantime I think this what you have (had :eek:). This is the old design with the two tubes projecting out from the swing arm to a mounting surface to which the triangular lug plate is attached with three flat head screws.

Attachment 36066

The new design provides for two resting bars at the bottom to help support the tire so the forces are not all taken on the lug attachment assembly. The older design really wanted the back of the tire itself to be in contact with the swing arm to minimize the vibration of a tire/wheel hanging out in mid air attached only by the plate with the three lugs.

Attachment 36067

Aluminess is usually pretty fair about stuff like this. Hopefully they get you taken care of.

Chinook 09-27-2020 10:48 PM

Wow, this could have been a life changing disaster in city traffic or going down the freeway at 75 mph. :eek:

boywonder 09-28-2020 07:56 AM

Jon: It can be weld repaired....that will smoke the powder coating (who cares at this point)...and the weld won't be as strong as original since it really needs to be re-heat-treated, which would require stripping the powder coating.



Some welders won't weld powder coated aluminum due to the nasty vapors/burning of the powder coat.

JonBertsch 09-28-2020 01:09 PM

Hi All,


I was directed to R+R Welding in Panguitch, about an hour from Escalante. The guys there added a support post between the tubes that support the spare tire. So the tubes and the post are one unit. They welded the backplate, back on to the tubes and the new support post, so it looks like it's stronger than before. Anyway I am back on the road and the tire is back where it ought to be :)


I didn't bother calling Aluminess before doing this since there's really nothing they could do to help me out here. I really needed to get it repaired somehow.


Not too bad for $200.



And I am very grateful this did not happen on the freeway, it might cause a world of hurt for someone behind me. I probably wouldn't even notice the spare was gone until I stopped somewhere.



Pics later.


Thanks


Jon

Twoxentrix 09-28-2020 01:29 PM

They certainly took care of you!

arctictraveller 09-28-2020 01:38 PM

1 Attachment(s)
After closely inspecting mine for cracks and finding none, I noticed what may be some additional bracing Aluminess has added. My bumper is about 5 years old, so I suspect at some point they became aware of the issue and added the brace. Did yours have this piece of flat plate? Did it break at the outer ends of the tubes, or closer to the swing arm? Never the less, I'll keep a close eye on the welds, and possibly add a cable to hold the spare should it come loose some day.

JonBertsch 09-28-2020 08:46 PM

Hi arctictraveller




My setup has the support at the main tubing of the gate the same as in the image. The shear happened atr the end of the tubes that come out from the gate. See then images in my post below.


Jon

JonBertsch 09-28-2020 08:50 PM

Here's an image of the sheared tubes:


https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/fo...cture43653.jpg

and here is what they did to send me on the road:

https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/fo...cture43652.jpg


There's now a connecting piece between the two tubes and the new piece plus the tubes are now supporting the spare tire. :d8:


Jon

shenrie 09-28-2020 09:08 PM

^^^ nice looking repair. Design and execution.

These stories are why I designed my spare to rest on the bumper instead of all the weight being carried by the carrier. Still check it for cracks every outing though.

arctictraveller 09-29-2020 03:54 PM

[QUOTE=JonBertsch;282598]Here's an image of the sheared tubes:QUOTE]

Now that I've seen your photo, I realize I have exactly the same design. Fortunately, I don't have any cracks so far, but until I fabricate a pad for the tire to rest on, I ran a cable through the rim and secured it around one of the tubes, so if it does break, at least the tire won't fall off. The fact that I've done thousands of miles on rough washboard roads with no failure gives me some hope it will hold up until I get around to fixing it right. Thanks for the photo.

JonBertsch 09-30-2020 04:17 PM

I am going to do the same when I ng4t home. Just in case although I don't expect this one to fail anytime soon.


Jon

boywonder 09-30-2020 06:36 PM

Looking at your welds......you clearly had a weld failure....not enough penetration....as opposed to fatigue cracks in the tubing.


That's disappointing....

Herbie 10-01-2020 10:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by boywonder (Post 282707)
Looking at your welds......you clearly had a weld failure....not enough penetration....as opposed to fatigue cracks in the tubing.


That's disappointing....

I was going to say the same thing. I would send those photos to Aluminess. Even if they don't make it right with you, it will let the shop foreman know he needs to go smack the welders around. (And the QC dept. too, if they have one.)

This old va 10-01-2020 11:29 AM

Dude you are so lucky do you have any idea what a rim and tire going through a windshield of a car could have done to a family?
And you're right if you put that in your van you strap that thing down I had to stop once in a hurry and a toolbox came all the way through and punctured the passenger seat if somebody had been sitting in that it probably would have broke their back if it hit him in the head it would have killed them... I never drive in a van ever ever with anything they can become a projectile especially in a van because accidents are so much easier to incur, and the rollover is almost inevitable.

Now I know that aluminum is nice and light and I totally understand the benefits, but it seems so many people want the Aluminess purely because it is trendy and expensive...gives em bragging rights.... While a very nice concept and when built right a great piece of kit.
I do find it annoying that off roading in adventure stuff has become a fashion statement... But that's me if it works for others that's fine.
But unless you've get one where you're comfortable I would be inclined to go with old school steel..... Or as you mentioned a backup with a cable lock which could also double as a theft deterrent.
Just be glad nobody got hurt your safe.....

boywonder 10-01-2020 12:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Herbie (Post 282740)
I was going to say the same thing. I would send those photos to Aluminess. Even if they don't make it right with you, it will let the shop foreman know he needs to go smack the welders around. (And the QC dept. too, if they have one.)


Exactly...Aluminess has a liability issue here....


....as would the owner of the vehicle if the spare tire causes damage/injury/death when it falls off.


When I was 19 my trailer wheels both came off (long story) as I was getting on I-95 in VA. They both crossed the median and were bouncing into oncoming traffic. Fortunately for me everyone avoided the wheels barreling down the highway at them..it was scary.


..One reason why I have an umbrella policy these days....


I've been looking for a lock/cable for my Aluminess spare tire carrier now..it's on my project list.

shenrie 10-01-2020 03:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by boywonder (Post 282755)
I've been looking for a lock/cable for my Aluminess spare tire carrier now..it's on my project list.

If you donít want the cable bouncing around a lockable hitch pin works really well. Just gotta drill a hole though the mounting plate. The pin counter sinks perfectly into the rim.

https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/fo...ture41375.jpeg

boywonder 10-01-2020 04:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shenrie (Post 282771)
If you don’t want the cable bouncing around a lockable hitch pin works really well. Just gotta drill a hole though the mounting plate. The pin counter sinks perfectly into the rim.


Brilliant.......hey wait a minute.........the mounting plate broke off too for the OP.... I was lovin' this idea for a minute....

rallypanam 10-01-2020 11:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by This old va (Post 282746)
Now I know that aluminum is nice and light and I totally understand the benefits, but it seems so many people want the Aluminess purely because it is trendy and expensive...gives em bragging rights.....

The issue is not Aluminum.. itís crappy welds. Same thing could have happened with steel. And I will also point out there are thousands of these tire carriers out there with millions of rough miles on them... and very very very few issues.

And I donít thing people want Aluminess because itís Ďtrendy and expensiveí, itís because for many years it was the only option. There were literally no other companies making bumpers for Econolines. Many of us who ponied up would have been more than happy to pay for cheaper steel bumpers. But there was no such thing.

grinnelljd 10-02-2020 08:20 AM

This design would be so much stronger if there were holes in the plate for the two tubes to pass through. Then the weight would be borne by the tubes themselves and not the welds. They wouldnít need to stick through the plate by much, just a half inch should be sufficient. It would also allow you to weld the plate to the tubes from both sides of the plate.

arctictraveller 10-02-2020 11:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rallypanam (Post 282787)
The issue is not Aluminum.. itís crappy welds. Same thing could have happened with steel. And I will also point out there are thousands of these tire carriers out there with millions of rough miles on them... and very very very few issues.

I have to agree, I've driven countless miles on washboard roads that have been rough enough that I've destroyed (cooked) the Fox shocks twice, but the spare tire is still firmly attached and showing no sign of failure. Perhaps that's partly due to the fact that it's firmly in contact with the tube and can't move. Never the less, a safety cable gives me a little insurance.

Speaking of weld failure, I remember following RPA down a dirt road in Baja when I noticed one tire on his trailer wasn't turning well, or not at all, despite the fact we were moving at about 20mph. Upon inspection, we saw that the axle was no longer attached to the frame on that side and the tire was hitting the frame. Yup, weld failure, but fortunately just about everyone in Baja is a welder.............................

boywonder 10-02-2020 11:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by grinnelljd (Post 282794)
This design would be so much stronger if there were holes in the plate for the two tubes to pass through. Then the weight would be borne by the tubes themselves and not the welds. They wouldnít need to stick through the plate by much, just a half inch should be sufficient. It would also allow you to weld the plate to the tubes from both sides of the plate.


Agreed......it's always easier to redesign something than to design it in the first place.


That would take the shear loading off of the welds and allow for an additional weld....you wouldn't even need the tubes to stick past the face of the plate..fillet welds on both sides of the plate. Perhaps an improved rework for others who may suffer this failure in the future and happen to read this thread.



Aluminess has drastically changed the design of the swingarms in recent years as shown by 1der earlier in this thread....I imagine to standardize across makes/models and to be more robust....and square tubing is potentially easier to fixture/weld.

This old va 10-02-2020 12:57 PM

Awesome job dude ��!
I've been to a a fair share of my off-road events 30 years Baja and various events I've seen hundreds aif Ford vans with steel tire carriers even some Factory ones that have just been utilized.
Aluminess is certainly not the only game in town.
Albeit, many of the chase vehicles & transport and parts trucks their mounts are fabricated in house by their owners.
And don't get me started on the "trendiness of adventure vans" and all the outlandish super expensive gear and accessories.
It's at a all-time silly level right now....
Many if not most at van shows/ off-road meet ups , are plain keeping up with the Jones'es some of these rigs have never seen dirt.... I see more dirt the first 5 minutes of my day than many if not most of these folks in their flashy, spotless dirt free 80k-100+k urban adventure vans/ tricked out long travel/King shocked 4 Runner's see in a month or more
It just bugs me I guess? I suppose it's been this way for many years ..Glamis used to be just everybody with their own thing having fun and now you go out there and it's a multi thousand-dollar bling- bling contest.. just not the way I was raised to have fun that's all our family had fun and went all over the country sometimes not seeing people for days in a 1970 F250 2-wheel drive Ford with a camper... We went everywhere, later we had a plain jane Ford Bronco 4 x 4 and that took us everywhere we ever wanted to go all stock.. all Factory.

Anyways I must agree that is a totally inferior weld, and a rather poor design to boot it seems they have addressed the problem....
Can't come down too hard on them when we've got airplane companies the build aircraft that fall out of the sky.
Awesome that the owner found somebody to do such a good repair for him while on the road!
A lot of talented folks out there these days and a lot of folks willing to help each other that's one thing but it hasn't seemed to change and that's good!!
Have a great trip, enjoy yourself!!

JonBertsch 10-04-2020 09:44 PM

Hey, sorry I've been off road and without any cell service - that's a good thing!


Anyway the updated welding has held up over several trails and I'm happy with that. Super glad the guys in Panguitch were able to fix it for me.



Not getting into the van life bling thing but the guys who did the welding fix said something like "we prefer steel. Aluminum is fine, but it crunches". I took that to mean that aluminum is fine until it ... isn't.


Anyway it's a trade off - weight v strength.


I think the design could be a bit better but considering the number of known failures it's not some frequent issue so it looks like having good welds is sufficient for most activities.


Anyway, I'll add a backup attachment device so if the welds do fail at least the tire and wheel won't be floating down the highway into someone else's vehicle.


jon

JonBertsch 10-05-2020 10:17 AM

Hi all,


Just an update. Aluminess reached out to me after seeing this post on the forums. So I'll be talking to them about it further, and it ought to be a good outcome for all.


Thanks for the comments, ideas and interest on this issue.


Jon

arctictraveller 10-05-2020 10:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonBertsch (Post 283007)
Aluminess reached out to me after seeing this post on the forums. So I'll be talking to them about it further, and it ought to be a good outcome for all
Jon

Not many aftermarket vendors would make the first contact, much less offer to make things right on a product that's several years old and subject to off road abuse. Good on them, but I'm not surprised.

eddyturn 10-12-2020 04:15 PM

Oh hey... it was mine that dropped off a couple of weeks earlier at the start of our road trip. Mine came off at the gas station which was a good thing rather than while moving.

Took to a local shop and got it repaired and did some rattle can to make it look prettier and then hit the road. 4600 miles later, it's still attached but with an additional ratchet strap for good measure.

Same welder apparently worked on both of these as they have zero weld penetration but look really pretty. The tubes were also cracked on mine and got them fixed but I really don't trust the tubes anymore.

https://photos.smugmug.com/White-Poc...IMG_6769-M.jpg

https://photos.smugmug.com/White-Poc...IMG_6775-M.jpg

https://photos.smugmug.com/White-Poc...IMG_6776-M.jpg

The new version...

https://photos.smugmug.com/White-Poc...IMG_6782-M.jpg

https://photos.smugmug.com/White-Poc...IMG_6783-M.jpg

https://photos.smugmug.com/White-Poc...IMG_6784-M.jpg

History on the van is that it was built by SMB West in the fall of 2008 and as of the rack break, only had 61k miles. Not a lot of rough off road either. I suspect this may not be how all of them were built back in the day and maybe, just maybe it was the same welder. Dunno.

Gonna contact Aluminess again and submit my repair bill. Also wish they would make some extra arms so that people could buy them but they only make enough arms for the new bumpers as complete units. I'd just bet they could sell a hundred or so.

JonBertsch 10-12-2020 09:21 PM

Wow, yes, the break looks very similar. Mine is from SMB West, 2014 and was only around 31,000 miles.



Hoping this is a very small number of folks because it could be a big problem over the next few years otherwise.


Glad you were able to get it fixed. My fix is holding up after another 1000+ miles.


I remember when I was watching some masons building a wall in England years ago. One had just added mortar to the wall, he was about to place a brick and the end of day whistle went. The guy dropped the brick and walked off. I was surprised, it would take a while to fix that the next day and he only had to do another 20 seconds of work to complete the task. But no. Probably the same issue. It's the last weld on Friday afternoon - so sorry for the lame weld, I don't care if it kills someone.


Jon

TheLetterJ 12-28-2020 11:19 AM

Just had to dig this thread up to check out you guys' pictures to get some ideas for gusseting. I opened my tire carrier yesterday to get in the back doors, and when I closed it, it seemed much more wobbly than usual. After a quick inspection, I found a crack 90% of the way around the main tube where the 2 shorter tubes that reach to the tire plate attach. There's no way this would have survived even 1 more trip down a dirt road. Since I'll have to take it to a friend to get it welded, I think I'll just go ahead and gusset EVERYTHING, so today's project is cutting out gussets.

Twoxentrix 12-28-2020 12:42 PM

The silver lining of this thread is every time it surfaces I’m motivated to take a few minutes to inspect the structural integrity of mine. Thread serves a proactive purpose in itself, Unfortunately in the wake of the obstacles some of you are experiencing with these swing arms.

JonBertsch 12-28-2020 08:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheLetterJ (Post 287695)
Just had to dig this thread up to check out you guys' pictures to get some ideas for gusseting. I opened my tire carrier yesterday to get in the back doors, and when I closed it, it seemed much more wobbly than usual. After a quick inspection, I found a crack 90% of the way around the main tube where the 2 shorter tubes that reach to the tire plate attach. There's no way this would have survived even 1 more trip down a dirt road. Since I'll have to take it to a friend to get it welded, I think I'll just go ahead and gusset EVERYTHING, so today's project is cutting out gussets.


Glad you found that issue before it went South on you. I've been making it a routine to take a look at the carrier every 500 miles or so. Probably a good thing to review it after any heavy off-road trails as well. Seems like a small number of folks are experiencing this so far. Good luck with the repair and strengthening of the plate attachment.


Happy Holidays.


Jon


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