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Old 05-30-2018, 11:25 PM   #1
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Solar panel recall/retrofit

There was a recall a few years back because a few solar panels flew off the trailers. The ETI retro fit was to attach four cables to the solar frame and roof to hold it in place if the solar frame adhesive failed. Last year I noticed that two of the cables frayed/broke and when I took the trailer to ETI last winter for some upgrades I asked them to replace the cables with longer cables. ETI later contacted me wanting to drill four holes in the roof to bolt the solar panel through the roof. I thought about this for awhile and decided that I didnít want any more holes in the roof, mostly because of the difficulty of maintaining (sealing) a hole that was covered up by the solar panel mounting brackets and panel. I admit I was surprised to pick up the trailer and see four more taunt cable holddowns installed for a total of eight (and four more holes- see first photo). I thought at least this can be easily checked and caulked if necessary.

During my annual waxing last weekend, I noticed a small gel coat crack below the cable rivets (second photo) after about 600 miles of towing. My theory is that the fiberglass roof flexes while the trailer bounces along the road and this force is enough to break the cables, and now with eight cables, the cables may not break, but the fiberglass is now taking the load and stress cracking the gel coat. Trying to create a rigid tie down appears to not work.

I think my solution is to drill out the rivets in the solar panel frame and attach another length of cable to the existing cable end and panel frame. I think this would allow for flexing and keep the panel from flying off in the remote chance that glue/tape bond would fail. And I wouldnít have drill out the rivets in the roof (I donít own a rivet tool or ever used one).

Any thoughts on this idea would be appreciated, has anyone else experienced broken cables and what did you do? Thanks!
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Old 05-31-2018, 12:14 AM   #2
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do you know what years this recall covers? I bought my 2014 E21 2nd hand, so ETI doesn't know me (and yeah, I guess I should contact them with my serial to register with them.
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Old 05-31-2018, 10:34 AM   #3
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POP rivets and fibreglass...Personally I would never use a POP rivet on fibreglass without a backing washer. The washer takes all the sideways pressure allowing the rivet to POP and seat correctly. Otherwise you are counting on the fibreglass to be thick enough to hold the little head of the rivet and not crack the fibreglass in all directions due to high stress the rivet puts on the raw hole. In this area the the fibreglass may or may not be thick. I know when installing my side hatches the fibreglass was thinner than I thought it would be.
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Old 05-31-2018, 11:10 AM   #4
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Any thoughts on this idea would be appreciated, has anyone else experienced broken cables and what did you do? Thanks!
I can tell you that if I was to buy your trailer, as is, the first thing that I'd do is remove the present cables. Then I'd install pieces of flat 1/8" aluminum, with machine screws and backing washers using the same holes.

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Old 05-31-2018, 03:13 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by John in Santa Cruz View Post
do you know what years this recall covers? I bought my 2014 E21 2nd hand, so ETI doesn't know me (and yeah, I guess I should contact them with my serial to register with them.
http://escapetrailer.com//wp-content...elWarranty.pdf
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Old 05-31-2018, 03:24 PM   #6
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During my annual waxing last weekend, I noticed a small gel coat crack below the cable rivets (second photo) after about 600 miles of towing. My theory is that the fiberglass roof flexes while the trailer bounces along the road and this force is enough to break the cables, and now with eight cables, the cables may not break, but the fiberglass is now taking the load and stress cracking the gel coat. Trying to create a rigid tie down appears to not work.
Is that really a gel coat crack? Looks more like a scuff. Hard to tell from the photo. The panel should be moving with the roof and it would seem odd to me that the cables were taking any load since they would flex too.
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Old 05-31-2018, 06:25 PM   #7
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As you are worried about the tight cables causing the fiberglass to flex, there by causing the spider cracks in the gel coat, I can't see why your plan won't work.


Personally, I'd remove the cables altogether, Dicor the holes in the roof, with or without the rivets, and add aluminum brackets as in Rossue's panel fix. I anchored mine the same way and am happy with the results. http://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f9...-10184-10.html
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Old 06-01-2018, 09:08 AM   #8
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The cables provided by ETI were intended to keep the solar panels on the roof when the VHB tape or epoxy mounting failed. They were not a fix for the failing mount procedures used by ETI.
The "fix" entailed drilling multiple holes through the roof for the 19 model. Rossue's mounting strategy is the best option.
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Old 06-01-2018, 10:49 AM   #9
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do you know what years this recall covers? I bought my 2014 E21 2nd hand, so ETI doesn't know me (and yeah, I guess I should contact them with my serial to register with them.
There are no cables on the E21 fix; the mounting bolts pass through the top shell and terminate inside the overhead cabinets; pretty easy install. I covered the heads inside the cabinet with foam tape to reduce any risk of condensation.
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Old 06-01-2018, 11:28 AM   #10
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do you know what years this recall covers? I bought my 2014 E21 2nd hand, so ETI doesn't know me (and yeah, I guess I should contact them with my serial to register with them.
Definitely get your Escape registered with ETI - they do a great job of communicating with owners when issues arise.
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Old 06-01-2018, 12:01 PM   #11
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Is that really a gel coat crack? Looks more like a scuff. Hard to tell from the photo. The panel should be moving with the roof and it would seem odd to me that the cables were taking any load since they would flex too.
Yes - it’s a crack, ran my fingernail over it...funny thing is that I noticed it because there was a radial wave pattern of dust/dirt starting below the rivet. To me this also confirms a flexing or vibration issue that places too much strain on the cables.
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Old 06-01-2018, 12:06 PM   #12
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Agreed - I would prefer stainless steel screws into backing plates.
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Old 06-01-2018, 01:38 PM   #13
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do you know what years this recall covers? I bought my 2014 E21 2nd hand, so ETI doesn't know me (and yeah, I guess I should contact them with my serial to register with them.
Yes, because they will send you the recall kit fix free of charge.
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Old 06-01-2018, 02:07 PM   #14
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Yes, because they will send you the recall kit fix free of charge.
yeah, i went ahead and sent them my info (VIN + address + phone)...

apparently this solar recall is strictly for 15 and 17 not 21's.
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Old 06-01-2018, 02:08 PM   #15
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Yes, because they will send you the recall kit fix free of charge.
Not that you have to drill holes for their version of a fix.
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Old 06-01-2018, 03:54 PM   #16
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For what it's worth, we obtained but never installed the braces for our solar panel and have had no issues with the original glue after 15000 some odd miles of towing, including some 50 mph cross winds last February!. As I recall, there were something like 5 failures in the first 500 17' manufactured with this attachment system. We do check it every time we gas up however.
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Old 06-01-2018, 03:59 PM   #17
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yeah, i went ahead and sent them my info (VIN + address + phone)...

apparently this solar recall is strictly for 15 and 17 not 21's.
I have a 2014 - 21; they sent me the fix kit free. On the 21 fix there are no cables and you do need to drill 4 holes.


The original issue is that the solar panel would depart the trailer in heavy crosswinds by ripping the gelcoat off the fiberglass. The epoxy originally used did not fail, it just took part of the roof with it. The 21 has the panel mounted sideways so exposure to crosswinds is less than the lengthwise mounting (as in less lift.)


However, as a retired mechanical engineer I would rather depend of 4 bolted attachments over the use on increased stick-on cables.


Bolts will stretch less under repeated cyclic wing loads than cables will. The penetrations through the roof are simple to seal. Use the right sealant (ETI also supplied that) and check it now and then!
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Old 06-01-2018, 05:05 PM   #18
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Solar Panel

We had a solar panel installed on our 2013 after we bought it last summer. Additional holes in the roof are of no concern to me. The folks at ETI did an excellent job. I spent the time it
took them to do the job looking around Chilliwack and drinking my favorite flavor of Kool Aide. ETI grape.
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