Advice Please ... re Trailer Suspension

Submitted: Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 18:35
ThreadID: 7323 Views:5574 Replies:9 FollowUps:2
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I am just about to order a new Off Road Camper Trailer, but I am undecided as to which is the better suspension ...... Alco, or plain old leaf spring live axle.
I would fit shockers, & fit greasable bushes with the leaf spring set up.

Any input you may have will be greatly appreciated!
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Reply By: Jol from Direct Four WD Awareness - Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 18:55

Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 18:55
I have both, but the leaf rides better, as its made for the weight. The larger springs with Hilux bushed, greasable, are good. They have a rebound or kicker spring on them, ride good with no shocks. A must is to get the weight right. I have 1200kg with 2'' axle. Also have alco on a camper has done 7 years around the bush with no probs, the rubber takes out a lot of harmonics, so no cracks. The leaf springs are less expensive. Industrial enginneers on port rd adelaide is where i get mine

jol
AnswerID: 31576

Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 19:14

Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 19:14
Thanks for the reply .. still a little confused as to which would be best for Off Road Camper Trailer. Looks like it may be personal preference.
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FollowupID: 22506

Reply By: Member - Roger - Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 19:40

Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 19:40
I had the Alco rubber system on a caravan for 13yrs and found that this system rode better over rough roads than the tow vehicles, Rodeo & Courier.
Had to have it repaired once due to an extremely bad tyre failure over a track. When fixed it was good as new. Be sure of the weight you will carry befor ordering any type of suspension, remembering to allow a little more than you first calculate.
RegardsDodg
AnswerID: 31583

Reply By: Brett - Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 22:17

Saturday, Sep 20, 2003 at 22:17
The advantage with leaf springs is that parts are available anywhere Alko stuff isn't as readily available. Vary the air pressure in the trailer tyres to compensate for any harshness in the leaf springs.

In the bush it is best to keep it simple.
AnswerID: 31592

Reply By: Tuco69 - Sunday, Sep 21, 2003 at 09:27

Sunday, Sep 21, 2003 at 09:27
Our Goanna all aluminium off-road camper trailer (tare 420 Kg) was fitted with with an 850 Kg ALKO (1.2 T bearings) unit from new. Even with the 2 water tanks full (add 120 Kg), spare wheel, annex and walls, poles, ropes, pegs, cooking gear, bedding, groceries, extra clothes - it still wasn't riding properly on bitumen or dirt. A glimpse in the mirror would see it in a constant state of harmonic bouncing up and down. Experimentation with tyre pressures didn't improve the situation.

I removed the ALKO unit and replaced the suspension with a pair of Hilux front springs which I added an extra rebound (Hilux rear) leaf and gas shocks. The new axle is 56mm and fitted with 2 T bearings - much larger than the normal Falcon/Holden that were on the ALKO.

Now it rides like a beauty - soft as a motocross bike - and no bouncing any more. In fact I would say that it rides better than our Toyota Surf which has upgraded suspension and shocks.

The only drawback has been the necessary fitting of stabiliser jacks - because the suspension is so soft, when parked and setup for camping, stepping into or walking about in it would have seen it wallowing about!

Long leaves - very tuneable, and easily repaired/replaced in remote areas. The wharf area at Weipa or Bamaga usually has a collection of ALKO suspended trailers with failed suspension units. These can not be repaired, and must be returned to ALKO for refurbishment.

My suggestion is to stick with something simple, with parts readily accessable.

Tuco
AnswerID: 31605

Reply By: Shaker - Sunday, Sep 21, 2003 at 11:49

Sunday, Sep 21, 2003 at 11:49
Thanks for all the replies! I am starting to get converted back to the leaf spring set up. I had virtually made up my mind to order Alco prior to this post.
AnswerID: 31608

Follow Up By: Tuco69 - Sunday, Sep 21, 2003 at 17:35

Sunday, Sep 21, 2003 at 17:35
Shaker - when you eventually order your trailer, and if you decide on leaf springs - make sure that they are LONG - at least 1000mm MINIMUM! The short leaf packs will carry more but are too stiff to give a good ride. I've seen some in the 600 to 850mm range - definitely too stiff!

A good idea is to use toyota/nissan/rodeo/mazda or even holden or falcon ute rear springs - all are nice and long, tuneable easy by adding or removing leaves - easy to reset height, by a springmaker or blacksmith, and easy to find parts, shackle rubbers or leaves should you break one in some remote place.

Tuco in Cairns
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FollowupID: 22557

Reply By: David N. - Sunday, Sep 21, 2003 at 14:56

Sunday, Sep 21, 2003 at 14:56
Live axle, leaf springs, every time.
I've heard nightmare after nightmare about other more "sophisticated" setups.
Just make sure you have appropriately rated axle- not too light- and springs which are not too stiff.
Cheers
AnswerID: 31613

Reply By: flappan - Sunday, Sep 21, 2003 at 20:23

Sunday, Sep 21, 2003 at 20:23
Shaker.

You will probably find on a campertrailer Leaf Springs, or better still, rebound springs (a fancy leaf spring) will be better suited a light or medium weight camper trailer.

We are getting one, that weighs about 600kg all up, and has rebound springs (as suggested). For these relatively light weight trailers, ALKO suspension is probably a bit of overkill.
AnswerID: 31626

Reply By: Paul from Adventure Camper Trailer Hire - Tuesday, Sep 30, 2003 at 12:50

Tuesday, Sep 30, 2003 at 12:50
G'Day Shaker ,
I run 9 leaf eye to eye springs on all of my hire trailers made by Adventure Camping And Off Road Trailers in Adelaide .
After 9 years of hiring I have had no problems with the 9 leaf eye to eye springs with the solid beam axle and these trailers have been everywhere Kimberleys , Cape York , Simpson etc.
I have tried the greasable bushes and they seam to reduce the wear on the bushes quite alot so are worth the investment . Mind you the bushes can last over a 100,000 Kms with out them .
As for towing with leaf springs pretty well 9 out of 10 customers comment on how well the trailers tow in all sorts of road conditions .
As someone else mentioned keep it simple .

Enjoy your travels with the new camper .
Paul .
AnswerID: 32397

Reply By: Glen from Tough Country Off Road Campers P/L - Friday, Oct 10, 2003 at 10:16

Friday, Oct 10, 2003 at 10:16
Dear Shaker,
As a manufactor of off road campers and one who hires our campers to go to the cape and areas as such mate keep it simple strong rebound springs make sure they are Australian made no shockies should be needed if trailer set up is right .
We found greaseable shackles where good but after every northern trip where Bull dust was and lets face its every bloody where that the shackles needed to be completly pulled out as the bull dust blocked the shackle holes and we couldn't get enough grease into the shackles .
We now run poly nurathane steel sleved bush set up and this has been great both better ride for the trailer and less maintanence requirered anyway hope this helps if you need any further advise feel free to ask or email to above address advise is free cheers hope this helps

Glen
AnswerID: 33314

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