Camper trailer suspention - solid axle + leafs vs independent + coils

Submitted: Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 15:11
ThreadID: 110352 Views:3408 Replies:3 FollowUps:20
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Hi Everyone!

Did not post for a while, but now need collective opinion.

So how important IS for 4WD camper trailer? Does it really worth money spend and headache that it attracts like wheel alignment and higher general maintenance time and cost? Or in reality it is more for show and solid axle + leafs trailer can be town over the same terrain with the same effort?

Thanks.
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Reply By: Crusier 91 - Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 16:43

Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 16:43
Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Have you seen youtube video's with independent suspension campers travelling over corrugated dirt roads compared to a trailer with leaf spring. Good independent travels a lot smoother.

I myself have raised leaf spring with shocks, it was what was within my budget. I'm in the process of doing home work for installing aftermarket leafsprings and shocks and extra support strengthening so my 2002 Jayco Outback Finch will cope better. ($1000 budget "hopefully"





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Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 16:47

Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 16:47
I would of gone independent suspension at a drop of a hat if my budget and needs of the camper allowed it.
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Follow Up By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 17:59

Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 17:59
Well, I once had a Jayco Swan where I modified the the axle to take coils.
From memory I bastardised front suspension of an eb falcon using suspension legs (spring plates) including using the springs.
Fabricated brackets to accomodate the falcon bits.
Made brackets to suit Celica trailing arms and a commodore panard rod.
Cofap shocks.
As a result it handled like a dream. Soft ride and a bit of body roll to achieve some axle steering.
Traveled many a gravel road with no hiccups.
The same could apply to any camper trailer.
Living is a journey,it depends on where you go !
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Follow Up By: KSV - Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 18:07

Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 18:07
Thanks, Pinko.
So my understanding that you modified solid axle + leafs to make solid axle + springs (and I assume shocks). So setup became similar to any solid axle + springs, like in Landcruiser 80 for example. Is this correct? So your point that evil are leafs, not solid axle - right?
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Follow Up By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 18:52

Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 18:52
Correct.
evil are leafs ?
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Follow Up By: KSV - Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 20:20

Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 20:20
"evil are leafs ?"
:-) evil is single and leafs in plural, but it is damn true - evil only one while we have two springs :-)

Yes, I mean that problem in leaf springs and replacing them with coil springs doing much more than replacing solid axle with independent suspension.
Thanks for sharing opinion.
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Reply By: Member - mark D18 - Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 18:15

Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 18:15
Independent is clearly better on badly corrugated roads
Don't discount Torsion bar suspension as a alternative , Its trouble free , cheap and a fairly simple concept.

Cheers
AnswerID: 542637

Follow Up By: Tony F8 - Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 18:58

Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 18:58
There is of course the best of both worlds, independent leaf spring, the toughness and durability of leaf with the advantages of independent axles. I think a company called Simplicity suspension does independent leaf.
Cheers.
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Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 23:50

Saturday, Dec 06, 2014 at 23:50
Correct Tony, they are in QLD and they don't come cheap. Just over $2K supplied and around $1200 to install.
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Follow Up By: gbc - Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 07:45

Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 07:45
Having had a couple of sets of both, I'd like to add that independent needs to be in tip top condition to cope with potholes and corrugations. A rusty old set of rebounder leaves will last lifetimes longer. An independent on corrugations suffering shock fade is a dangerous thing to tow in a big way. You'll note the Kimberley's have gone to remote canister super expensive shocks and the cheaper ones are running twin shock setups to attempt to deal with this.
Top end $5k + independent is definitely top of the heap, especially if it is adjustable air bellows. Coming back from there though, I'd be slipping in the high end leaf setups ( there are also quite a few independent leaf setups now as well) in well above the low end coil stuff that is being mass marketed at present. Having seen first hand the way the towing characteristics of a coil trailer change when the shocks heat up (brand new tough dog Ralph's) I can attest that they aren't always what you'd wish for or assume they might be.
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Follow Up By: Crusier 91 - Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 07:52

Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 07:52
Thanks for the heads up gbc.

Would you recommend replacing the 2002 jayco outback suspension with ARB's aftermarket leafs and shocks?
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Follow Up By: gbc - Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 09:41

Thursday, Dec 11, 2014 at 09:41
No, ARB dont do trailer suspension. Depending on what your expected outcome is vs your budget, I'd talk to a specialist trailer suspension place and see what your options are, again vs your budget and expectations. It needs to be correct for the average weight of your trailer or it won't work as it should.
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Reply By: The Bantam - Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 14:40

Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 14:40
Remember one thing.

Most comparisons are with leaf spring systems that could be at best considered crude.

IF the leaf spring system is bassed on trailer industry springs and components , they will invariably be short leaves, fixed to a straight beam with no particular attention made to the attitude of the spring, its ability to travel or even its spring rate. The shockabsorbers will not be designed to compliment the behaviour of the spring and mostly that are mounted as an afterthaught at a disadvantageous angle.

In addition the spring packs from the trailer industry are crude in every way, there is no attention to progression of the spring rate as the suspension compresses.

Even the bushings and shackles look weak and crude beside a similar rating spring pack removed from a motor vehicle.

BY far the majority of the problems of leaf springs on trailers is not due to them being leaf springs, but due to the suspension being cheap and crude in every way.

I find it commical that "serious 4wders" have an incredibly strong preference to beam axles and leaf springs in their tow vehicles, but will cough up lots of extra money for an independent suspension that some one fabbed up in their back shed or was migged together on the floor of some third world country.



IF comparisons where made against a suspension built in a manner similar to that found under the rear of a good quaity 4wd.....I think the comparisons would be different.



When I say installed in a similar manner

Selecting a spring pack from a vehicle with similar rear axle loadings to the trailer in question.

Mounting the springs with similar of not identical hardware that it would have been mounted with in the vehicle of origin.

Mounting that spring pack in the correct attitude and in a way that allows it to travel sufficiently......( remember most 4wd leaf spring packs travel past being straight before they hit the bump stops).

OH did I mention, bump stops.....some of them would be good.....most leaf spring trailers have none.

Fitting shockabsorbers that are designed to work with that spring pack...and mounting them near to upright in a similar manner to the vehicle that would have come from.

Then you have a chance of a leaf spring system that performs better than an iron age dray.




Lifting a complete leaf suspension from an existing vehicle gives you many advantges.
Starting with the design input from a large multi-national motor company.
The ability to obtain spares easily
The choice of any variety of high quality suspension upgrade options.

But trrailer manufacturers will make a hell of a lot more money selling you independent suspension...and mostly crude independndent suspension at that.

If course the question to ask about any independent suspension is.

Where do I get spare parts from WHEN it breaks..

If ya trailer runs hilux or landcruser springs.....on factory hardware.....hell there are spares for that in just about every shed and padock in the bush.

cheers
AnswerID: 542675

Follow Up By: disco driver - Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 15:15

Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 15:15
In WA, at least, there are restrictions on spring length that prevent using ex vehicle springs on trailers/caravans.
I have no requirement for putting long springs on my van, it was built back in the days when a bit of care and design work went into constructing things.
Consequently it travels smoothly on any surface that I drive over.

Disco.
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Follow Up By: KSV - Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 15:31

Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 15:31
Hi Disco,

So you have solid axle with spring over it setup - is it correct?
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FollowupID: 829143

Follow Up By: disco driver - Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 15:52

Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 15:52
KSV,
Short answer is "Yes"
A bit more detail:The springs are attached to the van chassis at the front end as is common, the rear of the springs are bushed and use spring hangers to attach to the van (exactly like the back of the rear springs on a Cruiser ute).
The difference is that there are shock absorbers attached to the rear of the spring and a point to the rear on the chassis.

The van is a 1982 Viscount Grand Tourer with their chassis design.

Works well on most surfaces.


Disco.
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 16:26

Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 16:26
Restrictions on spring length???

What? how? why?

cheers
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FollowupID: 829150

Follow Up By: KSV - Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 16:30

Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 16:30
"The Bantam posted:
Restrictions on spring length???

What? how? why?

cheers"
You would be surprise how stupid some laws in WA. For example they have most ridiculously restrictive firearm laws, so I would not be surprised if they have similar idiotic rules related to cars. And we saying that Victoria is police state
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FollowupID: 829152

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 17:04

Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 17:04
And there was me thinking we had standardised trailer regulations.

cheers
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Follow Up By: KSV - Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 17:22

Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 17:22
Standardized trailer regulation? Coma on! We do not have standardized car and firearm regulation!
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 19:05

Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 19:05
serioulsy if you have chapter and verse on this one I'd be interested.

cheers
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Follow Up By: disco driver - Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 19:10

Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 19:10
Bantam,
Since you have challenged my information YOU do the search and prove me wrong.

If I can be proved wrong by you I will publish on this forum the following statement.

Bantam Knows Everything

but then everyone knows that don't they?
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FollowupID: 829172

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 23:59

Sunday, Dec 07, 2014 at 23:59
I am not chalenging your information. I am just interested in a manifest foolishness of the regulation....but if that is the way you want it.

Now.

The " Bantam Knows Everything"
will that be posted in this thread or as a thread of its own.

Believe me I may not know everything...but I'm pretty good at finding stuff out.

cheers
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FollowupID: 829189

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