Failure of Solar Panel Retention - Escape Trailer Owners Community

Go Back   Escape Trailer Owners Community > Escape Tech > Problem Solving | Owners helping each other
Click Here to Login
Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 08-01-2017, 07:22 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Yellow Springs, Ohio
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19
Posts: 611
Failure of Solar Panel Retention

While waxing our 2013 Escape 19 today, I discovered that two of the solar panel retention cables provided as a retrofit by ETI have shredded in two. I would never have guessed such a thing would happen and still don't really understand it. I talked with Reace today and learned that there have been one or two other instances of this, so I suggest that all those who have installed these cables inspect them periodically. This happened on the curb side. The driver's side cables appear to be fine.

Reace is sending me some new cables to get us back on the road soon, but is also having some made with larger cables which he will forward. I understand they use pop rivets now instead of these hammer-in style rivets, which I'll try removing with a dremel. I understand it's hard to drill into the center pin as can be done easily with pop rivets.

I'm tempted to switch to sections of stainless steel hose clamps in lieu of the cables. There is quite a bit of flex in the roof, so the idea of the cables makes sense, but being so short, they're actually quite stiff in this application.

For obvious reasons, I'm happy I caught this issue when I did, and appreciate Reace's prompt response. Did I suggest that everyone check these things if installed on your panels?......I suggest you check them.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 20170801_171650 (Medium).jpg (91.8 KB, 128 views)
File Type: jpg 20170801_171657 (Medium).jpg (86.4 KB, 104 views)
__________________

Parker is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 07:34 PM   #2
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Opelika, Alabama
Trailer: 2012 19
Posts: 61
I also had one fail and it looks like your photo. Escape sent me 4 new cables with connectors but no mounting hardware (rivets).
__________________

gyuill is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 07:51 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Yellow Springs, Ohio
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19
Posts: 611
These things look like they'd last forever, but there must be a lot going on up there in terms of vibration while towing.
Parker is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 07:59 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: North of Hertel, Wisconsin
Trailer: TBD
Posts: 2,110
Looks like the cable failed from fatigue ( Constant flexing when trailer is in motion ) A new cable may solve the problem for a period of time until it self destructs. GOOD LUCK !!
steve dunham is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 08:05 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
KarenH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Bellingham and Glacier, Washington
Trailer: 2013 Escape 15A
Posts: 1,981
Send a message via Skype™ to KarenH
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post
These things look like they'd last forever, but there must be a lot going on up there in terms of vibration while towing.
But why only one side? And one might think the driver's side would take more of a hit of wind gusts from passing cars and trucks.
__________________
Karen Hulford
2013 Escape 15A, "Egbert"
Ford 150 XLT 5.8L
Bellingham, Washington
KarenH is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 08:28 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Notasulga, Alabama
Trailer: 2010 EggCamper (#083); 2017 Escape 21 (#053); 2016 F-150 5.0L FX4
Posts: 1,734
Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenH View Post
But why only one side? And one might think the driver's side would take more of a hit of wind gusts from passing cars and trucks.
Good question! Are the driver's side cables protected a bit more by something located in front of them on the roof that takes the brunt of the head wind?
War Eagle is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 08:34 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Felton, California
Trailer: 2018 21' ; 2014 Escape 19' (Sold)
Posts: 1,179
Our mobile RV tech came out for our yearly maintenance last week. I told him I was getting a little leery of all the problems people were having with their solar panels flying off and such and that I wanted the retrofit kit put on which ETI sent out to eliminate any chance of having a panel fly off and hit someone. He looked at everything and suggested another approach which involves drilling into the solar panel frames, the air conditioner and airplane-strength steel cable (I can't remember it all). He was reluctant to drill through the fiberglass as he said he's seen the interior vinyl 'shred' from the tension of doing this in other fiberglass RVs. He's been in the RV repair/maintenance business for many, many years and we trust him completely so we're going with his suggestion. I'll post photos when he completes the installation in a few weeks.
__________________

Jan

We do not remember days, we remember moments.
- Cesare Pavese
CADreamin is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 08:35 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
Santiago's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Anaheim CA, California
Trailer: SOLD 2016 Classic 21ft - SOLD 2016 Ram 1500 tug - ORDERED Van Replacement
Posts: 522
You have to wonder if adding an air deflector on leading edge might help stabilize the panel.

I know adding a deflector has been mentioned before but seeing how cable is almost at the point of snapping seems to me that the panel is getting substantial lift forces, almost wing like.
__________________
Santiago
Santiago is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 08:53 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
Devil Dog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Steveston B.C., British Columbia
Trailer: 2012- 17'B.... 2016 Tacoma SR5 TRD
Posts: 505
These panels are looking for a time and place to come off and cause a MVA .if hitting another motorist who would be at fault . And what if there was a fatality.?
I'll stick to the portable ones at least I know where they are when I'm on the hi-way doing 100kmh.
__________________
I've almost been everywhere man.
Almost been everywhere.....
Devil Dog is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 09:01 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: SLO County CA, California
Trailer: 2014 21
Posts: 3,370
Would suggest looking at how AM Solar in Springfield, OR does it; they have a great video on their website. Doing it since the mid-1990's- never lost a panel. That's what I did instead of using the ETI retrofit kit- no holes drilled in fiberglass. Have never seen these cables or knew they existed.-Must be ETI Solar 1.0 mounts.
Rossue is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 09:35 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: North Van., British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19, sold; 2019 Escape 21, Sept. 2019
Posts: 4,830
Quote:
Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
Looks like the cable failed from fatigue ( Constant flexing
Yes, vibration induced fatigue can sometimes show up in unexpected ways. Last weekend I found a broken witness wire, newly installed in May, on a canopy ejection pin. I have to say it did catch me by surprise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CADreamin View Post
He was reluctant to drill through the fiberglass as he said he's seen the interior vinyl 'shred' from the tension of doing this in other fiberglass RVs.
The easiest way to safely drill through f.g. is to closely control the depth that is drilled. The vinyl has a foam backing. If the drill bit is stopped just as it breaks through the f.g. then it won't grab and "shred" the vinyl. An awl is then used to poke through the foam and vinyl.

I've haven't had any problem using this technique.

Personally, I wouldn't ever have roof mounted solar panels unless they were through bolted. But then I'm just a belt and braces kind of guy.

Ron
Ron in BC is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 09:43 PM   #12
Senior Member
 
Santiago's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Anaheim CA, California
Trailer: SOLD 2016 Classic 21ft - SOLD 2016 Ram 1500 tug - ORDERED Van Replacement
Posts: 522
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron in BC View Post
Personally, I wouldn't ever have roof mounted solar panels unless they were through bolted. But then I'm just a belt and braces kind of guy.
Yes and with a substantial metal plate to ensure bolt won't tear through fiberglass.
__________________
Santiago
Santiago is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 09:58 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Yellow Springs, Ohio
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19
Posts: 611
As has been suggested, I also believe it was metal fatigue. The roof is fairly thin on Escapes, which rely on more internal structure than Casitas and Scamps with their heavier (sometimes grossly heavier) wall thicknesses. The roof flexes quite a bit beneath the panel, which probably also contributes to past failures of the bonded panel mounting system. I think there are a couple of ways to approach this. One would be longer cables, maybe even loops, that would stand nearly infinite flexing and then be ready to catch the panel if it came loose. The other is a heavier cable, maybe even something totally rigid, to secure the panel on the ends so it has very limited travel, which would also stabilize the bonded joints. I think that's the way Reace is going with this. I suppose there are other ways and additional mounts I could bolt through the roof, but I'm reluctant to get too inventive here, being concerned that a mistake on my part could have some nasty consequences. For now, I'm going to follow Reace's lead.

Just a comment on why the curb side only...no idea. There is really no difference aerodynamically except for the shower vent ahead of and below the panel on the driver's side. It could simply be that one side of the roof is more flexible, the bonding on one side of the panel mount is better on the driver's side, some variation in the way I mounted the four cables....no way to tell.
Parker is offline  
Old 08-01-2017, 10:31 PM   #14
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: North Van., British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19, sold; 2019 Escape 21, Sept. 2019
Posts: 4,830
Quote:
Originally Posted by Santiago View Post
Yes and with a substantial metal plate to ensure bolt won't tear through fiberglass.
Yup, with at least a fender washer. And since the process involves drilling a hole anyway, I'd rather it be for a bolt and solid bracket.

Ron
Ron in BC is offline  
Old 08-02-2017, 08:04 AM   #15
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Naples, Florida
Trailer: New 21 Escape (not classic)10/16 Sold Lil Snoozy 7/16
Posts: 391
solar

The new trailers the solar is bolted to the fiberglass (2017 models) The A/c unit blocks some of the wind .I hope this is not on any of the new models and hope they have a fix for the older style models .
jennykatz is offline  
Old 08-02-2017, 09:02 AM   #16
Site Team
 
cpaharley2008's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Chilliwack, British Columbia
Trailer: Escape#4, 2019 Escape21 DejaView pulled by 2014 Ram Hemi/8sp
Posts: 19,443
Escape has utilized several different ways of attaching these panels and as the panels grew larger, so did the means of attachment. From bonding to VHB to wires to bolting, the evolution of attachment is progressing.
__________________
Jim
It is not the years in your life but the life in your years Lincoln
cpaharley2008 is offline  
Old 08-02-2017, 09:22 AM   #17
Senior Member
 
thoer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Galesville, Wisconsin
Trailer: 2017 21 "Blue II" & 2017 Highlander XLE (previously 2010 17B "Blue" & 2008 Tacoma)
Posts: 4,207
fiberglassRV forum is a really good place - I highly recommend it.
__________________
Eric (and Mary who is in no way responsible for anything stupid I post)

"Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance." George Bernard Shaw
thoer is offline  
Old 08-02-2017, 09:34 AM   #18
Senior Member
 
BCnomad's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: O town, British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 21 "Lightning"
Posts: 1,470
Perhaps the roof reinforcement of the AC and vent sections would be appropriate for the solar panel section as well?
BCnomad is offline  
Old 08-02-2017, 10:30 AM   #19
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Notasulga, Alabama
Trailer: 2010 EggCamper (#083); 2017 Escape 21 (#053); 2016 F-150 5.0L FX4
Posts: 1,734
Bolt-through solar mount

For those not familiar, here is a photo of the bolt-through solar panel mount from a February 2017 completion. I believe ETI is still using this method.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg DSC09553.jpg (120.7 KB, 33 views)
War Eagle is offline  
Old 08-02-2017, 10:34 AM   #20
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Surrey, British Columbia
Trailer: 2013, 17B 'Mini Pearl' and a 2010 Highlander
Posts: 316
Quote:
Originally Posted by War Eagle View Post
For those not familiar, here is a photo of the bolt-through solar panel mount from a February 2017 completion. I believe ETI is still using this method.
That is what they retro fitted to our 2013 17B when we took it to them for the recall.
The other end of the bolts are inside the overhead compartment for us.
__________________

__________________
____
John
jxoco is offline  
Closed Thread

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off






» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Escape Trailer Industries or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:02 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.
×