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mroades
Apr. 6, 2011, 12:34 PM
Does anyone know if any lawsuits have been filed? My BO has a Valuelite and the frame is completely rusted through in places. This trailer has been shed-kept and barely used.
I know it is out of warranty, but as a known issue I wonder if any class actions are brewing.

paintjumper
Apr. 6, 2011, 06:42 PM
I chose not to go that route because it is going to take forever to settle, it they do ever. Good luck :(

RAyers
Apr. 6, 2011, 11:02 PM
Regretfully, Sundowner has managed to drag the issues so far out that many folks are just simply getting rid of their trailers.

I would be happy to support a lawsuit as I have specimens taken from my 1999 Valulite trailer and have conducted a pretty thorough analysis of the powder coating (found major processing errors/failures) using SEM/EDS and standard ASTM test methods. I will donate my time and I am an expert witness in metal/materials failure. All that is needed is people willing to initiate a suit (I just don't have the resources).

I took my trailer to a frame shop and the cost was beyond the trailer value and the fix would not hold up to road conditions such as rocks etc. In the end the frame buckled at the axle mounts (again documented).

Reed

lisa
Apr. 14, 2011, 09:24 AM
I'm taking my 2001 to Sundowner Saturday to "evaluate it for the manufacturing defect" (my words to them). They did not sound surprised. We'll see what they say. Based on what I have read, I don't have much hope that they'll repair or replace. But I *am* a glass half-full person...

I'm interested in hearing peoples' experiences with trading or selling theirs. I have a four-horse with a mini-living quarters, and want to downsize to a straight load BP.

I, too, would be happy to support a lawsuit.

mroades
Apr. 14, 2011, 01:52 PM
i am taking this one in next week...and like you I am not hopeful for any good resolution

the_other_mother
Apr. 15, 2011, 07:46 PM
I took my 2006 Sundowner in at the end of Feb to have them inspect the frame/floor for rust issues, and sure enough, it had rusted. Im picking the trailer up tomorrow, after having them put in a whole new floor, etc. :eek: The work was covered under warranty, and they assured us that they are using different materials this time, but we are going to make sure we look at it carefully before we leave there. Initially I just wanted to trade it in, but hubby and a knowledgeable male horse friend said to let them do the work and then see.
I just have this "thing" about rebuilt/replaced things can never be as strong as the original, maybe that's wrong but that's how I feel. I dont know if I'll be keeping it or not, but I will never buy another Sundowner. :no:

LookmaNohands
Apr. 15, 2011, 08:44 PM
I sold my Sundowner years ago. . .

And bought a used 4Star!
:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D :D

paintjumper
Apr. 15, 2011, 09:41 PM
They refused to do anything about it. I HATE that company!! They made a bunch of CRAP and now are trying to weasel out of it when they can.

HoofaSchmigetty
Apr. 18, 2011, 05:51 PM
Sundowner = JUNK!!! Somehow, they have managed to CONVINCE the horseyset that they are quality trailers.....LOL

showidaho
Apr. 18, 2011, 07:42 PM
Good luck... :no: They would NOT stand behind my 1998 when I complained (again and again) that my frame had rusted out. My trainer's trailer was under-axled and they wouldn't stand behind that either. I sold the Sundowner and bought a new Hart. I will NEVER buy another Sundowner. Shame on them for claiming to be the top of the line in safety and then building a substandard product that they won't even stand behind. Shame, shame, shame. I would guess they will go under before they settle. The guy who put in the living quarters on both of my trailers told me to steer clear of Sundowner - he says he can't see any fundamental changes to the frame/powdercoat issues...and he deals with the guts of the trailers for a living.

mroades
Apr. 18, 2011, 08:33 PM
Well, the Sundowner dealer I was going to take it to went out of business, so I guess word of mouth is slowly working.
This is not my trailer..but I can tell you, when and if I buy another, it will not be a Sundowner.

Heart's Journey
Apr. 19, 2011, 12:22 PM
that's why I will never buy an aluminum skin trailer - steel against aluminum doesn't work. All steel or all aluminum is a far better choice. All you Hawk, TRailet, and Equispirit trailer owners, please don't flame me, its just reality.

Guilherme
Apr. 19, 2011, 12:57 PM
that's why I will never buy an aluminum skin trailer - steel against aluminum doesn't work. All steel or all aluminum is a far better choice. All you Hawk and Equispirit trailer owners, please don't flame me, its just reality.

Steel against aluminum in a horse trailer can work as well as a dissimilar metals in any industrial application. If you do it, though, you have to do it right and that means a barrier to prevent the consequences of the dissimilar metals contact.

I looked Sundowner in '03 (spending time with a flashlight looking in places "where the Sun doesn't shine"). I was distinctly unimpressed with overall quality. I ended up buying a Featherlite (and I acknowledge that they have had, from time to time, their own problems).

Ray, if you're really willing to do this I'd bet you can find an attorney to consider a class action. The number will not be as big as it might be against one of the Big Three or Big Pharma, but it should be big enough to temp a small to medium sized firm. The problem will be getting enough plaintiffs to sign on. Horse folk are notoriously "independant minded" and would mostly rather practice bleeding than deal with lawyers. :( Still, if I had several thousand dollars on the table and I could sign on with a few dozen others I'd probably do it.

I'm just glad I didn't get seduced by the Sundowner sales pitch back on '03.

G.

ChocoMare
Apr. 19, 2011, 01:23 PM
Steel against aluminum in a horse trailer can work as well as a dissimilar metals in any industrial application. If you do it, though, you have to do it right and that means a barrier to prevent the consequences of the dissimilar metals contact.

Exactly... and that's why Hawk and EquiSpirit have had none of the troubles that Sundowner has/had since they do it right.

hosspuller
Apr. 19, 2011, 02:26 PM
Exactly... and that's why Hawk and EquiSpirit have had none of the troubles that Sundowner has/had since they do it right.

ChocoMare ... Your statement is too broad. The Sundowner frame problem is not associated with the aluminum skin. Read RAyer's detailed postings about the powder coating. :yes:

witherbee
Apr. 19, 2011, 11:26 PM
I've seen many of these threads and have had my Sundowner trailer checked - it is a 777 series that I think we bought in 2000 or 2001. Can anyone show me a picture of what is rusted? I don't see anything on mine....

showidaho
Apr. 20, 2011, 08:52 AM
I've seen many of these threads and have had my Sundowner trailer checked - it is a 777 series that I think we bought in 2000 or 2001. Can anyone show me a picture of what is rusted? I don't see anything on mine....

Get down on your knees and look under the floor at the framing under the trailer. If you don't see any rust you are okay...The rust also appears on the framing under the nose. Take the mats out of your trailer and look at the floor and the bolts that connect the aluminum skin to the steel frame...if they aren't rusted then you should be okay. It seems to have predominantly affected the Valuelite and Sunlite versions...The 777 is a 'better' line of trailer so you may be okay.

Castlegate
May. 6, 2011, 11:02 AM
WOW I didnt even know about these problems..I had a major issue gosh...5 (?) years ago with them....my ramp fell off because of defective welding...it was a nightmare to get them to do anything...I was concerned that the defective welding extended to the whole trailer and I was basically told no...deal with it....they fixed the ramp...I sold the trailer..will never deal with Sundowner again. (oh, did I mention my horse was ON the ramp when it fell!?...she luckily leaped into the trailer but then there was straight edge metal everywhere and we couldnt get her off...was a big mess....have a Hawk now....Sundowner lost my business..

rugbygirl
May. 6, 2011, 02:20 PM
I hadn't heard a breath of this either, and I JUST bought a new trailer. I was seriously looking at a few Sundowners, one older used one and a few new ones.

I exercised my Google muscles looking, but I guess I didn't think to specifically search the terms "lawsuit" and "material failure" :mad:

Amusingly, I also ended up with a used 4-Star, and have been impressed with it in many ways.


I took my trailer to a frame shop and the cost was beyond the trailer value and the fix would not hold up to road conditions such as rocks etc. In the end the frame buckled at the axle mounts (again documented). ]

This is unreal to me! What directly caused the buckling? Mounting component failure from corrosion?

In shopping for horse trailers I've always had a few nagging concerns in my engineer-brain. It seems like the consumer needs to be particularly diligent (and knowledgeable) because the engineering behind a lot of these trailers is kind of haphazard/trial-error and it's not exactly clear what the mandatory standards are. The laws that govern private-use vehicles don't actually have a whole bunch to say about trailers. You almost want to treat a new one the same way you would a very old used one...bring in your hammer and welding chisel and start randomly testing weld quality and material integrity. With, umm, NON-ASTM methods. :lol:

RAyers
May. 6, 2011, 04:37 PM
This is unreal to me! What directly caused the buckling? Mounting component failure from corrosion?




Do you really want the full explanation? ;)

In short, the frame in contact with the axle mount (welded in these areas) corroded at the rate of about 6mm annual (excessive corrosion). This resulted in a thinned web that enabled the load to surpass the yield stress of the steel during typical operation.

The corrosion was due to oxygen depletion in the region between the frame and the mount so there it becomes an anode (e.g. similar to corrosion occurring under a layer of dirt) with a net migration of metal ions to the outer oxygen rich regions. The oxygen depletion was due to a design defect in the axle mount combined with the excessive powder coat porosity and poor adherence.

Reed

rugbygirl
May. 6, 2011, 04:51 PM
design defect in the axle mount combined and this
This resulted in a thinned web that enabled the load to surpass the yield stress of the steel during typical operation.


:winkgrin: that's what I was after, but thanks for the rest too!

6mm per year is brutal/unbelievable on its own anyway (the old Toyotas 80s/90s had NO corrosion inhibitors and still took a solid 10 years to get through even the exposed sheet metal on the floors with daily operation)

Do you think they tried to weld or weld repair the frame/axle connections after powder coating, or was the porosity and general shoddiness uniform outside the heat affected zones?

I wish I could say I haven't seen the results of THAT one before...

workinggirl
Oct. 5, 2011, 10:06 AM
Can the rusted frame be scrapped and coated with unercoating or rustoleum to slow down the erosion process?

naters
Jan. 8, 2012, 12:47 PM
Any new info? What model years affected?

vtdobes
Jan. 9, 2012, 01:25 PM
My neighbor had her 2003 Sundowner (3 horse BP) at the trailer sales place for something (I forget the original reason) and he came out and told her the frame was rotted. This was just from trying to jack it up...hadn't even gotten to the reason she brought it in.

It was 3 or 4 months out of warranty...the trailer place said they couldn't fix it but he'd give her $800 for it as a trade on a new trailer. She left with trailer and brought it to another place who said they'd replace the floor for about $1000.

Whitfield Farm Hanoverians
Jan. 9, 2012, 10:24 PM
What year trailers are affected by this?

Equibrit
Jan. 9, 2012, 10:49 PM
http://www.automotix.net/autorepair/car_problems/sundowner/

17Rider
Jan. 10, 2012, 09:40 AM
How much rust underneath is normal?

If you look under a car that is 5, 10 yrs old, it won't be pristine?

NJRider
Feb. 7, 2012, 02:18 PM
I am shopping for a 2H aluminum "nicer" trailer and found a Sundowner that fit the bill... then I started reading all this stuff. The trailer I found, a 2006 Sunlite 777 was in the range of the ones with the problem frames. I got the VIN # and called Sundowner to see if there were any recalls or warranty work done.
Of course, Sundowner is not going to admit to any issues or verify that it was a manufacturing issues He said that frame rotting was was the fault of the owners for not performing regular maintenance and if I were considering this trailer it should be inspected by a Sundowner dealer...so that tells me that I am sure they are very difficult to deal with and to start looking for something else!

avance7
Feb. 7, 2012, 03:43 PM
I have owned a Sundowner (aluminum over metal frame) for several years and never had a problem with the frame so maybe we are just lucky. We do ALWAYS remove manure and shavings or wash out any urine. We have it checked annually and never had any problems.

Pennywell Bay
Feb. 7, 2012, 09:01 PM
I have a 1999 that is still pristine, thank goodness. Sorry for everyone's troubles. I had an issue w/ the hinges and SD fixed it immediately.

Guilherme
Feb. 7, 2012, 10:34 PM
The brand is a notice of potential issues. But each trailer stands on its own.

Spend some time with any trailer using your flashlight to go "where the Sun doesn't shine." What do you see? Some road crud is to be expected. Don't expect "factory new." But what about the welds? Were they done correctly? What's the condition of wiring? How about any signs of frame deformation? Does any spot look better than it should (suggesting a prior repair)? Do you see any signs of corrosion? What about the floor?

I'm not a Sundowner fan but I'd do this inspection on any trailer I'd evaluate.

G.

mroades
Feb. 7, 2012, 10:52 PM
My BO used her trailer maybe a dozen times in as many years..kept under a shed and in a low rust area. Frame is almost rusted through....

Grataan
Feb. 8, 2012, 02:12 AM
I have owned a Sundowner (aluminum over metal frame) for several years and never had a problem with the frame so maybe we are just lucky. We do ALWAYS remove manure and shavings or wash out any urine. We have it checked annually and never had any problems.

When you have it checked, do you have someone crawl underneath, clean off the dirt and road grime, and inspect the frame and framerails? Most places don't do that-they lift up the mats, check the lights, inspect the tires, and pull off a wheel or two to check the brakes.

avance7
Feb. 8, 2012, 09:05 AM
When you have it checked, do you have someone crawl underneath, clean off the dirt and road grime, and inspect the frame and framerails? Most places don't do that-they lift up the mats, check the lights, inspect the tires, and pull off a wheel or two to check the brakes.


Yes they did all that. And then my hubby crawled under and double checked it after them. Like I said before maybe we just got lucky but I think upkeep and maintenance is key to any vehicle or trailer lasting, not just Sundowner.

oliverreed
Feb. 8, 2012, 09:08 AM
Sheesh. Just read this thread. I just bought a 2010 Hawk, does anybody know if there are any problems with recent vintage Hawks?

Grataan
Feb. 8, 2012, 12:37 PM
I don't think so Oliver, the problems with the Sundowners stem from an improper frame powder coat with bubbles and holes that basically sucked water down to the steel and trapped it there, accelerating the rust process.

Pennywell Bay
Feb. 9, 2012, 06:33 AM
The brand is a notice of potential issues. But each trailer stands on its own.

Spend some time with any trailer using your flashlight to go "where the Sun doesn't shine." What do you see? Some road crud is to be expected. Don't expect "factory new." But what about the welds? Were they done correctly? What's the condition of wiring? How about any signs of frame deformation? Does any spot look better than it should (suggesting a prior repair)? Do you see any signs of corrosion? What about the floor?

I'm not a Sundowner fan but I'd do this inspection on any trailer I'd evaluate.

G.

Agreed. When I bought the trailer, it was a nice, new trailer and I don't believe these issues had come to light.

I had my mechanic and the horse trailer dealer (an independent one, not associated with any brand) go over mine when these issues were brought forth.

I always suggest people perform due diligence at least 2ce a year. We do it more when we are trailer more. Minimally, when we change the batteries in our smoke detector at daylight savings. Check tires, use the grease gun, etc

Then of course, when you get it inspected, ask your guy to give it an extensive look-over.

It is better to take 30 minutes a few times a year to go over your trailer than to be sitting on the highway, with 2 baby horses, in rush hour, waiting for help (ask me how I know....)

SuckerForHorses
Feb. 9, 2012, 10:29 AM
My BO used her trailer maybe a dozen times in as many years..kept under a shed and in a low rust area. Frame is almost rusted through....

I'm not sure about trailers (and it does seem that Sundowner has additional issues that are helping to create this rusting frame problem)...but I know with vehicles and such, its not recommended to just park them, because they can deteriorate quicker if not in a climate controlled environment. It seems that if your BO used the trailer 12 times in 12 years, it did a lot of sitting around. What type of flooring was it kept on (concrete, wood, grass)?