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Old 05-05-2019, 01:40 PM   #1
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Location: Richmond, Michigan
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Drilling through frame?

I'm having thoughts of relocating the 5.0ta spare tire to underneath with a Retract-A-Spare. The kit would require drilling (2) 3/8" mounting holes in both sides of the frame. After looking at the location of possible installation, it appears to be in the center most span between the axles and upward frame portion. I found another post on were the spare was relocated using the crossmember and holes thought the bottom of the camper, different approach than what I'm considering.
My concern is if the 2 holes could weaken the frame enough to cause fatigue and/or stress fractures somewhere down the road?

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Old 05-05-2019, 02:22 PM   #2
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When I was working and we were doing projects like this we preferred to weld a bracket onto the frame with a hole ( holes) predrilled in the bracket. I had several good welders and two who outstanding. Never worried about them getting the heat wrong. One fellow was and underwater welder on a nuclear submarine in the Navy.
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Old 05-05-2019, 02:45 PM   #3
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Drilling holes in the frame may come back to haunt you with a frame failure.

I needed some brackets on my trailer and used JB Weld to attach them. A large contact surface between the frame and the bracket and removing the paint assured a good bond. No heat and the brackets actually strengthened the frame where they were attached.
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Old 05-05-2019, 03:04 PM   #4
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While Dave's suggestion of bracket (welded onto the side of the frame, not the bottom) is probably the best approach, horizontal holes through roughly the middle of the frame rail (not in roughly the top third or bottom third of the height) are harmless structurally. The key is to avoid corrosion, by deburring the holes and painting or otherwise rustproofing them.

I drilled 1/2" diameter holes like this through the frame of my trailer to mount shock absorbers; it was the standard installation method for the hardware kit I was using, and was not a problem.

BAL Retract-A-Spare Model 28240
installation instructions: manual
Strangely, the end brackets have holes for both vertical bolts (which could go up into a floor or into the bottom face of the frame rail) and horizontal bolts (which would go through the side of the frame), but the instructions don't explicitly say which ones to use; the direction to use a bolt and nut imply that they are drilling right through and thus horizontally... and through an I-beam or C-channel frame since they are using a bolt only 1-1/4" long (you'll need much longer bolts. If just bolting, I would use horizontal bolts through the frame (as is apparently the plan here); if using welded-on brackets, I would use brackets which weld to the side of the frame and then vertical bolts through the carrier and those welded brackets.

One note: it isn't good to clamp the two side of the hollow frame rail together with a lot of bolt tension, but you need these bolts to stay tight. The use of self-locking nuts (they say "Nylon", but mean "Nylock", and any brand or type will work) is important.
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:55 PM   #5
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Thanks for the ideas, Looking over the instalation instructions and mounting positions, the retracta-spare needs to be below the frame in order to access the drive nut.
Maybe a 4x4 angle iron bracket with single bolt through frame to create a mount at the bottom of the frame.
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