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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
BLUF: This is a plug for two businesses that saved my ass yesterday in the vicinity of Edon, OH.

Heading home to NJ on what was supposed to be the final leg of our 9,000+ mile tour of the lower 48 when I notice that my trailer is listing to the driver side. I pull over and find this:



Trashed. I tried (futilely) to jack the frame off the axle, support it with a block of wood, and limp to a trailer repair place. I even thought I was super smart by pulling the trailer brake fuse (since the axle was now simply "along for the ride" in the sense that it was supporting weight but had no physical or mechanical connection to the trailer frame, and as such, any fore/aft loading would cause it to shift out of place). Of course, this plan imploded spectacularly as I tried to make a turn at the end of an exit ramp.

So, at this point I was going to try to reinsert the wood block and fix the axle's fore/aft position with a pair of ratchet straps. Fortunately, before I had a chance to go down this path to failure, Scott Longanbach of Trailer Tires and Wheels saw me struggling underneath my trailer in the 35-degree rain and offered to help. When I explained my situation, he told me that Jason Dietsch Trailer Sales was nearby and likely had the spring pack I needed to get back on the road. As I emerged from beneath my trailer to begin disconnecting the truck in order to drive to the store, Scott offered to drive me there and back (almost 30 miles in total) to save me the hassle. At Jason Dietsch I picked up a pair (figuring if one failed, the next can't be far behind) of spring packs and all of the associated hangers and bolts. Scott drove me back to my truck and I was able to get the spring pack installed and my rig moving again without having to pay some insane price for someone to come out and fix it for me on site, as it was not towable. Thanks to these two businesses (especially Scott's generosity in driving me -- a non-customer -- all over the place) my wife and I (and our three cats!) were able to drive the remaining 560 miles to NJ without any further issues. If you're in their area (or not) I highly recommend them both.



Plug aside, does anyone have any recommendations for a portable jack (or jack accessory) that is effective for raising a trailer frame such that the axles can hang freely? My little bottle jack has so little travel that this otherwise simple repair required great creativity to get everything high enough, and when that didn't quite cut it, a sledgehammer (yes, it's part of my camper road trip packing list) to knock the axle back into alignment with the spring and hangers. If I'd had a floor jack and some kind of extension and a set of high jack stands I could have just gotten the entire thing up on the stands with the axles hanging and knocked this out much more easily. Any ideas?
 

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It might take a few minutes, but with a bottle jack and a couple of sets of leveling blocks in your trailer, you can go up quite high. Even with a floor jack, you will still have the issue of needing to unload the suspension in a situation where the spring pack is the issue.

I have a set of aluminum stabilizer supports and 2 sets of leveling blocks as standard setup materials in the camper thus not using any extra space or weight. Aluminum ones: Aluminum Jack Stands

Wish I had a set of these as the frame on my trailer is a bit high and I end up blocking the aluminum ones: Eaz-Lift Telescopic Jack
 
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A VERY good thread and if I were eve in that area I would certainly give them a shout if in trouble!

Looks like you got a heaver duty set of springs than you had initially. :grin2:
 
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Nice to know there is still some good people out there! I keep a floor jack and multiple pieces of 4x6 wood in my tool box along with the factory equipment just in case.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
A VERY good thread and if I were eve in that area I would certainly give them a shout if in trouble!

Looks like you got a heaver duty set of springs than you had initially. :grin2:
Yep, they're 5-leaf instead of 4-leaf. If we take this trailer on any significant road trip again the other three are getting replaced with these as well. Leaf spring disintegration is not a fun problem to have to deal with on the side of the road!

On a related note, these pictures reveal the extreme half-assed-ness of the factory trailer brake wiring job. Wires dangling freely, spliced together with electrical tape. Put that on the list of things that I'm going to have to redo/fix before we head out again.
 

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@jdwarren

I had similar experience returning from my camping trip in October.

Sitting next to I-95 in VA with a blown camper tire, had this guy pull in front of my truck and asked if I needed any help to which I replied that I had everything that I needed. He then told me that he had a shop less than one quarter mile away and that if I could get the trailer to his shop, I could use all of his tools to get everything fixed. As my camper has three axles, I limped the camper to his shop. He jacked up the camper using one of his pneumatic jacks, then helped me remove and replace the tire using pneumatic impact wrench and then sent me on my way. Took less than 30 minutes and more importantly was not doing this work next to the interstate.

Tried to pay him for the use of his tools and shop parking lot which he would hear none of it. So, for Christmas I sent him a $100 gift card as a small token of my appreciation for his help. So yes, there are still some good folks out there.

Maybe the Board Admin folks could start a section/sticky/thread where those of us that have had these types of help/positive experience can post some details/recommendations for everyone's use while on the road. 'dunno;
 

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JD,
Trailer Tire and Wheel is NOT some run of the mill tire shop.
They carry multiple tire brands and also an extensive line of wheels(including Alcoas).
They also will ship tire and wheel sets to the house.
They have customers on a lot of RV forums.
Glad that it turned out OK for you. BTW:

Do you think that the pristine condition of I 80 in Indiana had anything to do with your failure?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Do you think that the pristine condition of I 80 in Indiana had anything to do with your failure?
Actually, I think this was a long time coming.

Since the beginning of this trip, I'd noticed that that the equalization linkage never sat quite flat, despite the trailer being pretty level front-to-back. I knew the axles had equal load (due to the fact that it has an equalization system as well as having weighed the trailer axles separately at a CAT scale) and never really gave it much thought. But after replacing the spring back, the equalization linkage is completely level. Here is a picture of the driver side (same side as the spring pack failure) about 8000 miles prior to the spring collapse (this was taken in Little Rock right after I decided to replace all four trailer tires in response to a blowout of one of the four-year-old OEM garbage tires that were on it up until that point). Compare this to the picture in the first post. I think that one of the leafs had been cracked for a long time, and over the 9000+ miles we put on it in under a month the increased load on the remaining leafs caused a cascading failure that culminated in that mess on the side of I-80/90. From now on I'll always inspect my leaf springs and associated hardware before heading out on a long road trip.

 

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.......From now on I'll always inspect my leaf springs and associated hardware before heading out on a long road trip....
Good call. Am going to add this to my pre-trip inspection list. Thanks JD!
 

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Loose U bolts can cause that type of failure, it lets the spring flex in the middle where the center bolt goes through.
 

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I believe that by putting the jack under the other axle, you can get the first axle off the ground. Glad you made it though this ok. Once lost a wheel on a double axle trailer full of wood. Unloaded the trailer and blocked the leveling link between the springs and was able to tow the trailer on 3 wheels.
 

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Did you consider driving the good axle up on some leveling blocks high enough to lift the damaged axle off the ground?

I know that would throw the triangular equalizer piece into an odd angle and strain. Just curious if you could get it apart and set one bolt in one of the spring eyes and then be close enough to use a drift pin or prybar to insert the other bolt?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Did you consider driving the good axle up on some leveling blocks high enough to lift the damaged axle off the ground?

I know that would throw the triangular equalizer piece into an odd angle and strain. Just curious if you could get it apart and set one bolt in one of the spring eyes and then be close enough to use a drift pin or prybar to insert the other bolt?
I didn't try that but it was difficult enough as it was to get everything to align properly. If you were to do that, the equalizer hole for the bad axle would actually get pushed down, so you'd have to get that part even higher than if you just suspended everything freely.
 

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I had a flat on my 37 Bumper pull, and I carry those plastic car ramps around with me in the bed. I drove the rear tire up onto the ramps and it lifted the front tires off high enough to work on everything comfortably
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I had a flat on my 37 Bumper pull, and I carry those plastic car ramps around with me in the bed. I drove the rear tire up onto the ramps and it lifted the front tires off high enough to work on everything comfortably
The problem is that on a trailer with equalizer axles the equalizing swingarm will pivot such that the length between the holes where the spring is attached changes, and will make it somewhere between difficult and impossible to install the spring pack.

In addition to that, see my post to @Collins above. If you drive the good axle up on the block, then the point to which the new spring for the bad axle must attach will drop, thus at least partially defeating the purpose of putting it up on the ramp in the first place.
 

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SPRING FAILURE ON TRAILERS cont:
How many of you are willing admit the truth - as I do here - we are running our trailers close to, if not over, the design rating of the components.

The simple sad fact of life is many of the components assembled into trailers here in the USA and in Canada from from China. Given the intense competition, it does not surprise me that most, if not all these components are of the cheapest quality.

I bought AMERICAN MADE air-bags and fabricated brackets so I could mount them on my trailer. This both takes SOME of the load off the trailer's springs and as a side benefit, give a much smoother ride to the trailer and its contents. The four bags were not cheap but it hopefully reduces the risk of a suspension component failure on the road. When I am carrying my 6,000 lb. '38 Packard V-12 around in my 24 ft "box" trailer, I run 50 lbs psi air in those bags.
 

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SPRING FAILURE ON TRAILERS cont:
How many of you are willing admit the truth - as I do here - we are running our trailers close to, if not over, the design rating of the components.

The simple sad fact of life is many of the components assembled into trailers here in the USA and in Canada from from China. Given the intense competition, it does not surprise me that most, if not all these components are of the cheapest quality.

I bought AMERICAN MADE air-bags and fabricated brackets so I could mount them on my trailer. This both takes SOME of the load off the trailer's springs and as a side benefit, give a much smoother ride to the trailer and its contents. The four bags were not cheap but it hopefully reduces the risk of a suspension component failure on the road. When I am carrying my 6,000 lb. '38 Packard V-12 around in my 24 ft "box" trailer, I run 50 lbs psi air in those bags.
What size axles, what tires, and what GVWR on your trailer? How about posting a photo of your air bag setup?
 

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Perhaps the bigger problem with towable RV axles is that they are marginally sized by manufacturer to cut cost.

Our Forest River bumper pull 26' came with two 3500 lb axles and 7800 GVWR. After battery and 2 LP tanks we only had 500 lbs of payload available which is about a third of what you need. Sagged in 2 years and starting rubbing the bottom of trailer.

We found a shop specializing in travel trailer upgrades and swapped the 3500 lb axles for 2x 5400 lb axles, springs, brakes, wheels, tires.

Still made in China but enough margin to be ok.
 

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TRAILER SPRING FAILURE ISSUE - SUGGESTING AIR BAGS TO REDUCE LOAD ON SPRINGS cont.

What size axles, what tires, and what GVWR on your trailer? How about posting a photo of your air bag setup?
In answer to your question, note the following:

I bought my latest 24' "box" trailer last year. Its purpose is for me to transport my '38 Packard V-12 ( dry weight 5,600 lbs) to those shows and places I don't want to drive it to (as a side-note, it is perfectly capable of crossing the continent at any speed....I am just a bit paranoid about road damage and vandalism...and besides, my 2013 "3500 HD" dualie has air conditioning....!)

The exterior decals say it is a CARGO EXPRESS PRO SERIES. (that entity took over Pace American a few years back.) The mfg. data plate says it was mfg. by LGS of Arizona 12-20-17. That data plate says as to "ratings"..... "cargo not to exceed 5568 lbs. (you bet I "hit the fan" when, days after I got it home, I saw that data plate - because the spec. sheet I was given when I bought the thing says "Payload Capacity 6230!".

The airbags? - I bought two sets - one for each side of one axle; they are Air Lift "Load Lifter 5000". I have their air hoses all linked together with a Shrader valve on the outside of the trailer, so I can confirm their air pressure easily when on the road. Not practical to get a photograph of the installation - if you want to see a photograph of the air bags go to AIR LIFT's site. The kits came with hardware and adapters for fastening to the axle. I fabricated brackets for the tops of the air bags to attach to the trailer's frame. Just ordinary bar steel I bought at my local hardware store, and together with my drill-press, carbide blade, and "stick welder" made up those upper brackets.

The springs have FOUR leaves. The axles are Lippert 5,200#. The GVW of the trailer is stated on the data plate to be 9950.

You asked about the tires. At a "fast food" place on the way home to northern Arizona from Tucson, a guy told me he'd fallen in love with the wheels - (came with 15" "D" fancy black coated with neat chrome hub-caps. Sold them to him - bought off the Internet four CARGOMAX ST235/80R16 (these are "E"'s - about 800 lb. more load capacity each than what was on there new). No clue who made the wheels.

Bottom line - my above experience confirms my prejudice that trailer dealers are at least a dishonest lying bunch of evasive crooks as car dealers. that being the case, many of us are probably "barely legal" if that. Use common sense to stay safe !
 
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