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Sundowner frame issues

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  • Sundowner frame issues

    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.
    "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
    carolprudm

  • #2
    There are some out there....

    I chose not to go that route because it is going to take forever to settle, it they do ever. Good luck

    Comment


    • #3
      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

      Comment


      • #4
        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.
        Last edited by lisa; Apr. 14, 2011, 09:25 AM. Reason: Included additional comments.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          i am taking this one in next week...and like you I am not hopeful for any good resolution
          "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
          carolprudm

          Comment


          • #6
            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. 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.

            Comment


            • #7
              I sold my Sundowner years ago. . .

              And bought a used 4Star!

              Comment


              • #8
                mine was 4 months out of warranty......

                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.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Sundowner = JUNK!!! Somehow, they have managed to CONVINCE the horseyset that they are quality trailers.....LOL

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Good luck... 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.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      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.
                      "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
                      carolprudm

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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.
                        Last edited by Heart's Journey; Apr. 20, 2011, 09:44 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Heart's Journey View Post
                          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.
                          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                            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.
                            <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ChocoMare View Post
                              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.
                              Equus makus brokus but happy

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                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....

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by witherbee View Post
                                  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.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    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..
                                    PROUD MEMBER OF THE \"OMGiH I LOFF MY MARE\" CLIQUE

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      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"

                                      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.
                                      Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by rugbygirl View Post

                                        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

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