Snow Broke my FWC Hawk Roof

Salmon

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Joined
Jan 12, 2022
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Hey everyone, long time lurker, but this is my first post.

This is first and foremost a warning to others. If anyone can give me some ideas about what to do next that would be great too. I did a bit of searching but didn't come up with any better place to post this. If this is an inappropriate post for some reason someone please let me know.

The warning: DO NOT ALLOW SNOW TO ACCUMULATE ON TOP OF YOUR RAISED FWC ROOF! ROOF DAMAGE DUE TO SNOW LOAD CAN OCCUR!

As the subject alludes, unfortunately a snow load partly collapsed the roof of my 2019 FWC Hawk. The roof was up, and it was about an 8-10" snow accumulation when I decided I should go try to clean it off to reduce the load. I was up on a ladder with my long snow brush and I had already dragged a few swaths off the edge when the whole thing dropped an inch or two. I investigated and the side fabric seemed a little weird, like it didn't fit right anymore, but at that point I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I continued cleaning off the rest of the snow and when I went inside to lower the camper I saw that some of the internal roof structure (the lengthwise parts) had clearly broken or folded and were pressing downward on the headliner material from from above. I got the top down without further incident, and haven't really done anything with it since.

My Hawk is a 2019. I have aftermarket full-length Rhino Rack roof rack tracks and DIY aluminum tube crossbars up there, but that's it. I transported a canoe up there once (for about 60 miles on pavement), but the top was down the whole time. If anything, it seems like my roof tracks might have stiffened the structure and prevented the break from being even worse. The roof is still waterproof and all the visible components are still intact - it seems that just the internal structure is the only damage. With the top down I'm able to latch everything and it all seems roadworthy. I'm not really sure yet how to go about repairing it or getting it repaired. I'll reach out to FWC directly and see what they say but haven't done so yet. Anyone seen this before? Are there any threads on FWC roof structure repair? I found a bunch of threads about people speculating about snow load issues, but unfortunately for me I have gone beyond the speculation stage.

I will say that I believe there would not have been a problem if the roof had been down. The break occurred almost exactly mid-span between the front and rear end supports. If the top had been down the longest span would be side-to-side which is much shorter, and the support across the front and back would have further strengthened the span in the side-to-side direction. Maybe that goes without saying, but I'll mention it anyway in case it helps someone out there.
 
Yikes. Sorry about that. Snow is the Achille's heel of popups for sure; I've had issues with other popups. Let us know what you find out.
 
Wow, I’d like to say welcome to WTW, but your first post is saddening! I’m sorry that happened to you! It sounds like the ribs in your roof have broken, which probably means a new roof, although it might be possible to sister new ribs along side the broken components. It could be the aftermarket tracks that are the villains.

In addition to speaking to FWC, I recommend giving Marty Austin (ATC) a call to see if that is something he would take on. IMO (with no proof), I believe the old style roofs are stronger than those that are not screwed down. I do know that neither of my two ATC campers have had issues with a roof that made oil can noises.

I’m happy to have you as a fellow member, but sure wish I could offer a more joyful greeting than replying to a broken roof post.

Edit: another thought. It might be that your ribs are only bent. If that’s the case, it might be repairable by upward pressure at the bend. Minds greater than mine should determine if that’s the case.
 
Thanks for the replies and suggestions! I'll add Marty to my list of calls to make Monday. For what it's worth the camper and I are currently in New England.
 
Hello current fellow New Englander. If this occurred from the last snow storm (we got 10") it was one of the heaviest cement snow I have ever plowed. I am so sorry about the roof. Hope that the results after inspection prove repairable.
 
The description sounds like the longitudinal support may have broke at the welds with the front cross frame tube. Going to have to take the roof off and flip it over, remove the headliner and look for and repair the damage. If you are handy, you might be able to peel back the headliner up front and inspect the tube welds there. It may have only dropped the 1 inch or so because the middle cross tubes are still intact. If so you might get away with leaving the top installed and from inside the camper just weld the visible 3 sides of the broken welds and put the headliner back.
 
K7MDL said:
The description sounds like the longitudinal support may have broke at the welds with the front cross frame tube.
That is what I was thinking if its near the end, I've been studying frame photos lately and don't understand why the center strut is boxed in by ~2x1 on the sides to reinforce it but the others are just butted up to that same ~2x1 (the OLD designs were worse!). I was thinking in my head the box them all in when I weld up a roof and this post is reaffirming that thought.

Here is a photo from ski3pin's ATC camper build but when you look at FWC stuff it appears the same (at least the media I've seen).

ATC-11Nov2013-031-web.jpg
 
Oh wow! Thats scary for sure!

I am finally reassembling my roof and I can tell you it’s not an easy task. The one piece roof skin (if that’s what you have) is difficult to find at best and terribly expensive in my opinion. I purchased mine from FWC and thankful they helped me out. Other sources I found were not painted and shipping was crazy. I did have to go pick mine up.
Those longitudinal rails are not very strong. At all. IMHO. I’d never ask this roof to support anything other than the exhaust fans and a small solar panel.
I’d be interested in seeing yours and where the damage occurred. Mine was damaged by something overhead by previous owner. I had to completely strip it to repair.
 
That is what I was thinking if its near the end, I've been studying frame photos lately and don't understand why the center strut is boxed in by ~2x1 on the sides to reinforce it but the others are just butted up to that same ~2x1 (the OLD designs were worse!). I was thinking in my head the box them all in when I weld up a roof and this post is reaffirming that thought.

Here is a photo from ski3pin's ATC camper build but when you look at FWC stuff it appears the same (at least the media I've seen).

ATC-11Nov2013-031-web.jpg


Pretty certain the frame members on the top/lid of my '16 Hawk are all straight pieces and not curved like the ATC in photo....or I am confused, always a possibility! All snow is not created equal and I have had 1ft + before I could clear it, no issues noted....get a mix of rain and snow and you are *******.
 
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