Suspension and Wiring for Camper Trailers

Submitted: Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 09:59
ThreadID: 13204 Views:2839 Replies:12 FollowUps:14
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I have recently purchased and '80s Jayco Dove and have raised it substantially, am reinforcing everything and intend to use it on secondary dirt and sandy trails. I want to add shocks to the suspension and want to do a total re-wire, including adding a battery to have a 12V standalone system (primarily for lights). I have read a lot of the forums, but am really chasing some general wiring diagram and some hands on advice about geometry of installing shocks. Anyone know of internet sources?
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Reply By: MrBitchi - Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 10:13

Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 10:13
Try this for Shockies...

AnswerID: 60393

Follow Up By: Grog - Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 23:04

Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 23:04
That's a great article. Thanks. I have a friend who used to run a fourby shop who, unbeknown to me, has owned a few vans and campers and reckons that for the model I have it needs to work on about 110mm of travel - I'm not sure how reliable this is, but I will do the measurements suggested in the article and see how she goes.

FollowupID: 322409

Reply By: MrBitchi - Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 10:13

Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 10:13
Try this for Shockies...

AnswerID: 60394

Reply By: flappan - Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 10:27

Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 10:27
Did you get an annex with it ?

If so, did you take that into account when you lifted it ?
AnswerID: 60397

Follow Up By: Grog - Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 22:52

Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 22:52
I knew I'd have to add about 135mm to the legth of the draft skirt and annexxe. It already seemed about 50mm short anyway, so something had to be done and adding 200mm or 50mm is no real difference in price. The poles are all shot and need replacing too, but it HAD to go up to get me where I want to go!!!! Not a lot of rough roads, just sandy offroad trails.

FollowupID: 322400

Reply By: Baz (NSW) - Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 12:03

Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 12:03 try these guys for 12v wiring.

AnswerID: 60422

Reply By: Coops (Pilbara) - Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 13:11

Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 13:11
watching with keen eyes as I just bought one of the same last weekend.
AnswerID: 60429

Follow Up By: Grog - Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 23:23

Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 23:23
Are you taking it off-road and has it been raised yet? I was surprised by how easily and cheaply (i.e. $0) you can raise it 135mm. Mine had 13" 175/60/13s on it and I have changed the hubs to take my 100 series stud pattern ($48 per drum). It will now take the 275/70/16s same as my Landcruiser and it tows level (though I have to modify the step slightly and it needs an extra step to climb in!!!). Let me know if you intend to raise it and I'll post the process - no parts required provided the shackles are reusable.

As I understand it, the shocks will be of most advantage on fast dirt roads, slightly better manners on blacktop (though its already really well behaved) and give some extra control offroad, hopefully lessening the impact of vibration on the woodwork inside.
FollowupID: 322418

Follow Up By: Coops (Pilbara) - Sunday, May 30, 2004 at 00:02

Sunday, May 30, 2004 at 00:02
Ours was already raised when I bought it (last weekend) and now has 15" Landcruiser rims with 31x10.5's. I want to change these to 16" rims with 275/70's but on inspection it appears as though these will not fit as they could foul on wheel arch. I shall swap over next week and see for myself.
On appearance it seems as though the springs could be a bit more HD but again I haven't looked at it in minute detail. It tows well enough now and also is level. Manufacturers step has been removed (probably due to fouling) and I will be fitting a two tier step ASAP. It is not my intention to travel too far off road as I've bought it for when we move back down to Perth but I wanted something that would
a) tow level &
b) have SOME off road ability

FollowupID: 322432

Follow Up By: Grog - Sunday, May 30, 2004 at 00:47

Sunday, May 30, 2004 at 00:47
I have measured up carefully and believe the 275s (actually they're going on the car and the orignial 235/70/16s are goingon the trailer) will go in easily, again bar the step. Has your drop axle been reversed? This gives another 60mm lift and is easy to do if not already done. Most people just move the springs to the top of the axle, lifting approx 75mm. If yours is the same as mine, the stub axle is welded to the top of the axle. By turning the axle upside down AND putting the springs on top of the axle you get 135mm lift over original height. If you are doing this, axle must be unbolted from the brake assembly then turned over - otherwise the brakes end up upside down. If its not already done it takes a couple of hours only.

FollowupID: 322440

Follow Up By: Coops (Pilbara) - Sunday, May 30, 2004 at 01:10

Sunday, May 30, 2004 at 01:10
I would hazard a guess and say that drop axle has been reversed as lift appears to be more significant than 75 mm but again I shall check more thoroughly after this weekend. However I can recall seeing the stub axle being lower than axle.
I have noticed brakes are not connected though so this needs more attention and to be rectified.

FollowupID: 322446

Follow Up By: Grog - Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 00:54

Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 00:54
I've now changed the hubs and rims, but the only secondhand tyres I could get were 235/70/15, a bit shorter than the 85 profile ont he Cruiser. They fitted in easily and clear the step by 30mm, though the 85 profile would touch. I will put 85s on and redesign step in the near future. FYI, the chassis is now 630 from the ground and the water tank has the best part of 500mm clearance. Took it for a run on the beach near Binningup and it went a treat, albeit on wet sand, but pressures were at 22 all round, so still heaps of deflation left. NExt stop will be longer springs with eye each end rather than the slip springs, and dampers. After an internal refit, including screwing and gluing everything, I reckon it'll be ready to go where I want it to!!
FollowupID: 323532

Follow Up By: Coops (Pilbara) - Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 06:53

Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 06:53
Fitted my GXL rims & 275/70R16's no problems at all.
Not sure about step clearance yet as I haven't got one (she's a long way down too). Reckon it will go though and I shall be putting a double fold down step in situ very soon.
Shall also be replacing springs but not until I get back to Perth.

FollowupID: 323539

Follow Up By: Grog - Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 11:58

Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 11:58
Excellent! Let me know what you do with the step - I want to replace mine with a double and would love a design so I can knock it up. Have you had any ideas for extending the legs? Mine are now about 200mm away from the ground at desirable angle, but extensions need to be removable/collapsible or they will stick out while in transit.

FollowupID: 323568

Follow Up By: Coops (Pilbara) - Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 21:09

Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 21:09
Measured this afternoon and I too have 500 mm clearance to water tank, 635 mm from ground up and between 30-55mm clearance to tyres.
Have sent you info on steps & stabilisers.

Might get you to relay prices to me if you happen to be near them and on the hunt for these items.

Caravan Parts WA
175 Welshpool Road
Perth WA 6106
Phone: 08 9351 0044
Fax: 08 9451 5522
Freecall: 1800 787 888


FollowupID: 323660

Reply By: Member -ace ( SA ) - Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 13:59

Thursday, May 27, 2004 at 13:59
Grog, if the interior lights of your camper operate when your vehicle trailer plug is attached to your camper, simply add a female trailer connector in reach of the male socket on the camper, locate the 2 corresponding pins push the male into the female, [no further comments required on that one] that activate the lighs and then run those 2 wires from the back of the female socket up to an auxillary battery [ i use a waeco urban power pack] - and + and bingo, you have completed the power circuit and have your 12v lighting, it might pay to look at changing the globe and, or socket to the latest type which draw very litte current, hope this makes sense, regards, Adrian.
AnswerID: 60435

Follow Up By: Grog - Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 23:37

Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 23:37
I really want all lighting on 12V at all times, even when on mains so it is going to need a little more - transformer, 240V charger. I don't want to spend a packed on gizmos though and really want to keep it simple. That said, I am looking at a dual battery in the car (I have a 39L Engel in the car) as well as a deep cycle in the van, so it will be a bit complex no matter what. Thanks for the info on changing globe/socket. I will check it out. I was thinking of trying to source the latest Jayco ones with the light that plugs in via coil cord to go over the bed ends.

FollowupID: 322423

Reply By: Bob&Deb - Friday, May 28, 2004 at 07:19

Friday, May 28, 2004 at 07:19
G`day Grog,
Had a bloke with a similar unit to yours come into the workshop.They were going around Australia for a year.After a lot of discussion we ended up fabricating a new chassis to which we fitted an Alko axle. To the new chassis we fitted jerrycan holders ,storage box,battery box & to the rear of the chassis fitted dual spare wheel carrier & a bike carrier.Just fitted the Dove body to the chassis & away they went with the speed of a thousand startled gazelles.When fitting a new suspension make sure you select one that will work well with the weight that you will be carrying.

Keep wandering

Regards Bob & Deb
AnswerID: 60548

Follow Up By: Grog - Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 23:42

Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 23:42
It sounds like EXACTLY what I want to do, but a little out of my proce range!!! Why the new chassis, though? Was there no way of adapting the Alko axle or was the old chassis not strong enough, or simply clapped out? Was the Alko axle the one with the suspension inside the axle sleeve?

FollowupID: 322427

Reply By: andyg - Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 16:25

Saturday, May 29, 2004 at 16:25
A wiring diagram for a caravan ! Like my chances of wining tatts .
12v runs from your 7 pin plug along the A frame drivers side runs along to the end then prceeds into the wall cavity to gain access you have to remove the external cladding big expence if it has been glued.
Easiest way from the A frame through the floor and run your wires in the back of the cupboards make sure you keep them away from the cables for your roof and clip them or run in small conduct if theres a chance of getting damaged .The auxiliary wire is the usual one that needs upgrading should be the blue one on pin 5 up it to 6mm will help run your fridge and lights from the car dont forget to upgrade your car as well.If you plan charging your 2nd battery from the car you will need something bigger or look at a solar pannel .

good luck
AnswerID: 60767

Reply By: Bob&Deb - Sunday, May 30, 2004 at 07:45

Sunday, May 30, 2004 at 07:45
G`day Grog,
Yes the Alko axle is the type that has two three pointed tubes with the high density rubber between them. We recomend and fit this type as we regard the independent action of the stub axles & the clear profile under the trailer among the best available.When operating in rough going the trailer/caravan is much easier on the towing vechile,& the unit appears to waddle over the potholes as opposed to the convential axle/spring setups way of bouncing/jolting through.
We built a whole new chassis as it was the best way we could see to fit all the extras , such as storage box,battery box,jerrycan holders& two large gas bottles in the front of chassis. The profile of these assemblies mirrored that of the chassis "A" frame, so it acts as a windbuster & stone deflector.To attach the caravan to the tow vechile only use a Treg type coupling.To fit the twin wheel carrier & bike carrier (holds 4 bikes} at the rear, plus also the water tank which was mounted immediatley behind the axle assembly it was easier/better to build a new chassis.Make sure that the wheel size is the same as your car, this gives more spares plus when you are scooting over the tops of the corrugations both vechiles are doing it easier.Grog this probably a long winded way of saying that the standard subframes of many caravans are built to a price only.When we were up at William Creek there was this bloke camped at the pub/garage in his beaut new camper, he didn`t need a step to get into it as the unit was sitting on the ground, the whole axle assembly,[springs ,wheels &axle] was still out on the Oodnadata Track.What I`m saying is build the thing right the first time & you will be better able to enjoy this great land of ours
AnswerID: 60856

Follow Up By: Grog - Sunday, May 30, 2004 at 21:08

Sunday, May 30, 2004 at 21:08
At this point I'm not wanting a whole lot of mods cos I don't want to carry a whole heap. It sounds like a pretty good setup. As a minor mod would you suggest there is any advantatge in changing the open leaf springs for ones with eyes each end? I'm gonna monitor the axle over the couple of 'test' trips I'll be doing before my 4 months around OZ and will replace if I have any concern at all.

FollowupID: 322511

Reply By: Bob&Deb - Tuesday, Jun 01, 2004 at 06:59

Tuesday, Jun 01, 2004 at 06:59
G`day Grog;
The springs that you suggest,[with the roll over ends on the second leaf[,would be a lot better than the standard spring arrangement.We are envious of your up coming trip,hope it is a good one.

Keep wandering
Regards Bob&Deb
AnswerID: 61120

Reply By: Member - PatC - Tuesday, Jun 01, 2004 at 09:39

Tuesday, Jun 01, 2004 at 09:39
Mate of mine has done the same sort of thing with his Jayco. Don't know if yours is the same or not but his had a chipboard/particleboard floor. It was probably sealed enough for spray from a wet bitumen road but was a worry for anything else so he sealed it with polyurethane. It hasn't been tested yet.
AnswerID: 61139

Follow Up By: Grog - Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 00:59

Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 00:59
Floor is ply, but I intend to coat it. The floor is now nearly 700mm from the ground and that's more than I intend to wade with a van in tow!!!

FollowupID: 323533

Reply By: Grog - Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 01:04

Tuesday, Jun 08, 2004 at 01:04
Thanks all for your input. The lift and suspension is now in hand, and I have got my hands on Motorhome Electrics by Collyn Rivers which has most of what I need to know about rewiring. Of course any other advice is welcome, but save the "What the hell would you want to put an old Jayco so high in the air for!!!!" I dunno! Maybe I'll drop it a bit!

AnswerID: 62176

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