Camper Trailer Suspension

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 16:37
ThreadID: 33266 Views:5521 Replies:11 FollowUps:12
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I did a trip to DeepWater NP over Easter and found that all the contents of my trailer bounced around more that I would have liked. I found some references on the web regarding the stiffness of trailer suspension. How can I tell if my trailer suspension is too stiff?
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Reply By: Shaker - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:01

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:01
I'll get rubbished, but here goes ....... most are way oversprung!
AnswerID: 169119

Follow Up By: Jason M P - Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 13:10

Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 13:10
YES SHAKER.. I'm with you on that. Oversprung.. Don't know why trailer mobs do this..
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Follow Up By: flappa - Friday, Apr 28, 2006 at 10:09

Friday, Apr 28, 2006 at 10:09
I think they do it , because towards the lower end , its a "One Size fits All" type manufacturer.

The Base trailer can weigh anywhere from 500kg, up to 1.5t , with little to no change in the actual trailer.

With the more top end builders , their weights tend to be a lot more consistent , and build accordingly.
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Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:04

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:04
If you feel the contents are buncing around too much, it may be too stiff.
I am going through the same thing with my CT at the moment.
It has the ALKO offroad 7 leaf spring set up rated at 1500kg axle load.
The trailer is only rated to 750kg gross.
Some obvious answers I know, but here goes.
First, have you played with tyre pressures? If a 750kg trailer, they can be less than what you run on the car, axle load is less. That is the easiest way to add more give. Use the 4 psi rule and check temperatures. You do air down your trailer tyres when you air down your 4wd tyres for off road use?
2nd is also obvious, drive a little slower and try and pick a better line!
(Sorry about that one, but there are some slow thinkers out there :-))
3rd, Load it up to see what it looks like.
The ALKO site says that the springs will flex 50mmm on full load, but I have at least double that in suspension travel.
If it is not bottoming out when going over rough tracks, you may be able to reomove one spring (the shortest one), or go for softer coil springs.

If you have shock absorbers, are they rebound only? That would help too.

When setting up springs on our race cars, we try and get just under full suspension travel for each track/course to maximise travel and traction. As you have found, too stiff a suspension is almost as bad (but not quite) as a too soft suspension which bottoms out all of the time.

Interested to see what others may come up with.
AnswerID: 169120

Follow Up By: DiscoCamper - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:28

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:28
Yes drive a bit slower on a better line; I was not going that fast for the conditions (well at least in the discovery)

I might look at softening the leaf springs and adding a shock absorber.

Has anyone added shocks to their trailer or did you get a suspension specialist to do it
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:42

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:42
A friend of mine took out either 1 or 2 leaves, (I can find out if you like), & fitted shockers, he has since done thousands of kms in the high country, Fraser Island & all through the outback with no problems, prior to the mods it bucked around & damaged gear, smooth as since!
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Reply By: Notso - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:09

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:09
You might also try "rebound Springs" which are basically small sections of spring that are attached to the main spring but with the spring reversed.

O'Briens use them, or at least did when my trailer was built. IT has 7 leaf springs and never seemed to bounce around all that much. 275kpa tyre pressure.
AnswerID: 169121

Follow Up By: DiscoCamper - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:24

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:24
Yes I found a few references to rebound leafs, and mine is a 7 leaf set but I can’t see any indication that it has bottomed out
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Follow Up By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:37

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:37
Is that the same as what is called a 'W' spring?
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Follow Up By: Notso - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 19:13

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 19:13
Yep, it's shaped like a W
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Reply By: Redback - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:40

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 17:40
I have a Redback camper with 7 leaf rebound springs towed by our Disco, it weighs in at around 1.3t and have had no probs with it bouning and i don't hang around when touring or going on weekend trips.

Any decent trailer mob should be able to help you with the right springs.

Baz.
AnswerID: 169135

Reply By: Scrubcat - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 19:39

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 19:39
Hi, DiscoCamper,
Have a look at any Malcome Douglas Video I think you will see that he has trailer springs that are significantly longer in length than most standard trailer springs.
You will notice that his trailer sort of "floats" along without bouncing around.

I know of a couple of people who have made off road trailers and have used springs from wrecking yards that have come off vehicles like Ford Trader vans etc. that are rated at one tonne or about,and they are longer than most, and then fitted shockers, turned out excellent riding trailers.

If I was buying a c/t the suspension would be one of the first things I would check. It would have to be either independant or long leaf springs.

I know this is not an answer to your question, I just thought it might be helpful.
Cheers.
I don`t know where i`m going but i`m enjoying the journey.

Member
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AnswerID: 169160

Reply By: Member - Oldplodder (QLD) - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 20:48

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 20:48
Another thought, you could pull the spring pack apart and lubricate the springs with some graphite of lanolin or similar. May help to get more travel out of the springs by reducing the binding.
When were the springs last serviced?
Some springs have nylon packers to assist in this.
AnswerID: 169182

Reply By: bigcol - Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 20:52

Wednesday, Apr 26, 2006 at 20:52
Our old Bushwacker has 6 leaf rebounds with shocks and even empty doesn't bounce around.
Most trailer springs are way to short. Longer springs soak up the bumps
AnswerID: 169186

Reply By: DiscoCamper - Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 08:03

Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 08:03
Thanks for all your comments, I will have a phone around Brisbane this week and see if I can find someone who can do the work. One place I called yesterday manufactured trailers including camper trailers they were happy to do the work but had no experience to offer me any suggestions. I don’t understand this if they build Camper Trailers surely they would understand the issues and problems camper trailers users have.
AnswerID: 169258

Follow Up By: Member - MrBitchi (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 08:09

Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 08:09
In my experience trailer manufactures won't admit to anything, and will rarely offer advice. They will just build whatever the punter wants, as long as it's legal.

Had some minor mods done to mine and it was like talking to a 3 year old to explain what I wanted, and that was just to fit a gas bottle holder on the side of the trailer!
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Follow Up By: DiscoCamper - Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 10:27

Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 10:27
Your description of a 3 year old is exactly what I am finding, I have called 2 more trailer manufactures since my last post this morning and they all are treating me the same way. I did a Google search to find them and both make trailers including off road and campers. But not really that interested in helping out.

I am starting to find this a bit strange; the cost of a new Camper Trailer can be very high especially if you add all the bits and options you want. So presumably there must be a lot of people like me that start out with something simple and then add bits over time to ultimately give them a setup that suites their exact needs

Not everyone that purchases a camper trailer has the skills, equipment or time to weld a gas bottle holder or mount a water tank etc….

Surely they are not selling off the 1st trailer and upgrading to a new one.
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Follow Up By: Member - Paul P (Bris) - Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 13:27

Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 13:27
Have you tried here Vehcicle Components They do repairs and mods.

Paul
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Reply By: phenders88 - Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 13:50

Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 13:50
I've had my CT now for about 7 years, leaf sprung. First set of springs were too stiff, and it bounced a fair bit, even on the black top. I can't remember now what tyre pressures I was running then. Then I went for a soft set, but they were bottoming out on a trip to the Cape. Back in went the stiff set at Archer River, but of course they were (no surprise) too stiff, and ended up ripping off a spring hanger. To cut a long story short, at Chili Beach put back in the softer springs, slowed down a fair bit (duh, but some of us are slow learners) and have had no problems since, and this has included some serious travelling out around Chambers Pillar, as well as local off road trips. Still running the same soft springs.

Fitted shock absorbers a couple of years ago , and the trailer now travels very calmly. The shocks are made by AL KO, and I bought from and had them fitted by local caravan place, so should be easy to find. They bolt onto the bottom of the spring pack, with a welded mount for the top point. Angles aren't ideal, but overall a big improvement. Other changes included greasable shackle pins (the plastic ones kept flogging out). In my opinion, leaf sprung CTs need shocks. Oh, and tyre pressures - I basically match the ones on the truck, eg 40 psi or so for blacktop, under 30 for off road, 20 for sand etc.
AnswerID: 169322

Follow Up By: Leroy - Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 16:15

Thursday, Apr 27, 2006 at 16:15
I have an O'Briens built trailer and yep...over sprung. It bucked when unladen. I could jump on the back and the springs barely moved. It has I think 8 leaves and i removed leaf 2 and 4 after consulting with them. They said don't remove the lowest/first leaf. I've had it loaded up a fair bit lately and visually it doesn't look as though it sags and now feels better unladen on the road.

Leroy
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Reply By: DiscoCamper - Friday, Apr 28, 2006 at 09:32

Friday, Apr 28, 2006 at 09:32
Well I finally found someone yesterday and I have just dropped the trailer of to them this morning. At least the bloke I spoke to has a Camper Trailer and is well aware what it is like when you go off the black stuff. He also loves to talk, he told me that he spent his early days in NT and WA working for a mining exploration company. He said that they had to fit solid rubber tires on the 4WDs when working in the Tanami desert because of all the old petrified wood apparently without them they got flats all the time. He has also done a few trips around Oz and some desert crossings.

He is the sort of bloke that would keep the campfire stories coming all night

I will update after I get it back next week

Thanks again for you’re your comments and help.
AnswerID: 169440

Reply By: DiscoCamper - Thursday, May 04, 2006 at 11:12

Thursday, May 04, 2006 at 11:12
Well I collected the Camper Trailer yesterday and I am very happy, they have changed the springs to closer match my load, according to the bloke that did the work the old springs were rated for about double what I will ever carry some where around 1.5T when I only need 600 to 750kg.

The new springs have a W or rebound leaf so it should help it from bouncing around. The guy that did the work wants be to get back to after my next trip so we can decide if it worth fitting a pair of shock absorbers.

I also got him to move the gas bottle holder to closer to where I use my stove and add 6 tie-down points in side the trailer.

I will be making a list of all the other small things I would like to be made and welded onto the trailer on my next trip.

Thanks for all your help and I will update after my next trip.
AnswerID: 170609

Follow Up By: Member - MrBitchi (QLD) - Thursday, May 04, 2006 at 15:15

Thursday, May 04, 2006 at 15:15
Give the guy a plug...

What's the name of the business?
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