By Duane Hare
Okay picture it, you’re all loaded and heading out on the road for what is going to be an epic camping trip with friends. In two hours you will be in the desert hanging enjoying a frosty beverage, only you notice the person in the lane next to you waving like a cast member of “One Flew Over the Cookoo’s nest”. Roll down the windows and hear “YOUR RAMP DOOR IS DOWN!!!” This is what happened to me on my way to a New Year’s trip.
Deciding not to do a panic exit on the shoulder of the freeway, I gradually pull over and run to see that sure enough, MY RAMP DOOR WAS DOWN. I was expecting to see that the ramp was nothing more than a wadded mess dangling from the back end of the trailer. It looked like the powers of aerodynamics kept the ramp floating in the air until I slowed down as there was very little wear and tear to the rubber bumps and metal flashing at the edge. After an inventory of the contents of the trailer to make sure that nothing was bouncing down the road taking out other cars, I close and lock the ramp paying extra attention to make sure that it is shut properly.
Take two: back on the road, my heart has now regained a normal rhythm and I am starting to get excited about the prospect of the upcoming trip. All of a sudden, I notice the person in back of me flashing their lights like crazy. Once more, I pull over to see that the ramp is down AGAIN, this time almost taking out the little Toyota behind me. Twice now this has happened and I am only thirty miles from home. Right about now, I am seriously thinking about turning around and limping home. Inspiration hits and I decide that if I can loop some ratchet straps, I can brace it closed. One would be good, two would hold it tight, three and that baby isn’t going anywhere. I was able to hook the ratchet straps to the track of the rear bunk beds (cringe, I know) loop it out and around the closed ramp then hook to the track on the other side of the trailer, then snug it down. I put one up top, one in the middle, and one on the bottom. Just as I thought, it stayed closed for the remainder of the drive. What started off to be a nice leisurely four hour drive down to Red Cloud turned into a six and a half hour white knuckle excursion.
We were still able to have a great three days camping in the desert. Enjoying a New Years Eve Hooligans style even with all of the harassment I received from friends. I was able to make the five hour, two hundred and fifty mile journey home without any further incidents.
I love my Skyline Trailrider 367 toy hauler 5th wheel, and one of the many selling points was the single latch system they designed that made getting in and out of your ramp so easy that you could do it one handed. The problem with the design was that the single hasp that latched the ramp to the trailer began to wear, essentially machining itself to the point that once I hit a bump it would just slide itself unlatched. I am glad I had all my toys tied down good.
As soon as I returned home, I decided to call Skyline to get some repair advice. Fred Placka and his Service team answered my call and had a solution to my problem. Apparently the original vendor was no longer making the single handle latch system so Skyline had switched to an upgraded two handle system that they could ship out to have installed. The new system utilizes two handles, one for each side of the ramp and compresses the door closed as it latches. Each handle has its own lock as well as an eyelet so you can use a padlock for extra security.
After a little research and a recommendation from a friend I found a RV service center close to work (if you ever need work done in the Antelope Valley check out Critical RV http://www.criticalcarcareinc.com , Dave Stark the owner is fantastic to deal with!). Skyline shipped the hardware directly to the repair shop and the handles took them one morning to install. When I picked up the trailer the following day I check the new locks. I notices that ramp door now seals better than it ever has before. I feel much more confident in being able to complete a trip without incident.
All my repairs were paid for by Skyline even though my warranty was up. They said that this was not a recall but that they were taking care of the people that are having ramp door latch problems. If you have a Skyline with a single latch system make sure to check your ramp doors. If the latch doesn’t look right and you believe you have a problem call Skyline at 1-951-925-0401 and tell them your concerns.