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Open Roads Forum  >  Do It Yourself Modifications and Upgrades (DIY)

 > Adding TT Shock Absorbers (Long/lots of pics)

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JBarca

Radnor, Ohio, USA

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Joined: 12/16/2004

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Posted: 02/04/11 05:39pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This has been a long time coming but I finally finished up my TT shocks. On this long camper the frame oscillation after a bump is something that just does not sit well with me seeing it in the rear view mirror. There has been many posts about folks adding shocks but not lot of pics of the process. So here it is in pics.

The shocks are Monroe Magum gas shocks.http://www.monroe.com/products/gasmagnum.asp These are a step up from the normal RV shocks. Monroe also seems to have stopped making the TT mounting kits so I ended up making my own.

Here is where this started now about 2 years ago… was how and where to mount them. I have enclosed tanks and that creates an opportunity on the front axle.

This is one mocked up on the inside of the frame
[image]

And this is one mocked up on the outside of the frame between tire and frame.
[image]

[image]

For the rear axle is was pretty clear the shock would go on the inside of the frame. I made the lower brackets when I was installing new axles 2 years ago. A piece of pipe welded on the lower spring clamp plate. Since I had them all apart then I did that part at the same time.
[image]

[image]

[image]

Now to the top brackets I just made. Here they are with a fit up check before welding the parts together.
[image]

[image]

A check on the TT to make sure it would fit right. And yes it worked like I had planed. YEH!!
[image]

Here is the rear axle now all mounted. The shock on the bracket
[image]

[image]

The first easy side. The door side
[image]

[image]

[image]

Now the slide side. Here I had to contend with the square drive shaft that works the slide rack and pinion extensions. This was still easier then dealing with the tire side of the frame.
[image]

[image]

[image]

And here is all you see from the tire side. Just the nuts of the mounting bolts.
[image]

So that is the rear axle. My plan on how I was going to do this on the front axle ran into a snafu. These longer shocks would have to go between the tire and the frame as the tank compartment creates even more issues mounting them on the inside. This just is not going to work the way I had originally planned it. The lower part of the shock “might” hit the frame if the suspension ever rose up real high like going over a large object to lift the camper by one tire or the rear tire falling in a pot hole only hanging by the front. So I studied it some more and now need to order 2 shorter shocks for the front axle. I still have plenty of working stroke on the shock as the rear ones are really long just to get them to mount up high.

So this is all for now. Be back once I get the front axle done. For any one without enclosed tanks this would be a lot more straight forward on the front axle just like I did on the rear.

Hope this helps someone contemplating this on a slide camper.

John


John & Cindy

2005 Ford F350 Super Duty, 4x4; 6.8L V10 with 4.10
CC, SB, Lariat & FX4 package
21,000 GCWR, 11,000 GVWR
Ford Tow Command
1,700# Reese HP hitch & HP Dual Cam
2 1/2" Towbeast Receiver

2004 Sunline Solaris T310SR
(I wish we were camping!)


JBarca

Radnor, Ohio, USA

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Posted: 02/04/11 05:40pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Shocks Continued: I think I have sorted out my front shock. So ordered 2 shorter length shocks.

Here is how I came up with this. The rear shocks I ordered long on purpose. They have 7 1/2” stroke that I split equal for up and down travel. Now I know there is no way I will ever use that much but I needed the longer shock to get the mounting pin up higher out of the way. That worked good on the rear shock.

The front shocks well with the enclosed tanks compartment and not enough room between tire and frame, I’m onto plan C. Basically I had to figure out the total travel and back into what standard sizes shocks they offer.

See here last year. This is total travel of the equalizer. This was a test to see if I had fender clearance when I went from a rigid Al-Ko equalizer to the Dexter EZ flex. The dimensions of those 2 equalizers are different so I needed to test I was not going to bottom out in the fender well. You can see the tire on the left is full up and the one on the right has air under it. This position kissed the fender well. So when I installed my new axles I lowered the equalizer 1 1/4" to gain back fender clearance.
[image]

Now fast forward to today. I mocked up the equalizer position to see how far down the front axle will go short of having shackle flop. Shackle flop occurs when you jack up the camper and the shackle goes over center and flops down. I have never seen this occur when towing. By looking at many other factory RV shock they are short stroke shocks. And it seems the worry more about the tires lifting then dropping. They also seem to sometimes mount then very horizontal which I do not thing is great for shock action. It may be more from ease to mount them that way.

[image]

So no knowing where full up is and full down I can sort out how to mount the front shocks that will not bottom out and cover all the bases. See here for the static position of the area I have to work with.
[image]

I felt I needed to keep the same angle on the front shock as I have on the rear shocks so the shock dampening would be equal per inch of axle movement. This come out to be 14 degrees from vertical. See here a mocked up shock in location on the inboard side.
[image]

It was always my intention to lower the front and rear spring pivot as well by 1 1/4" to match the new center equalizer. I even have the parts all made up just never made it to mounting them. This will gain me 5/8” more tire to fender clearance. And this extra 1 1/4" helped make the whole shock thing just fit to a standard size shock of the same series I have on the rear. So here it is mocked up.
[image]

Final Stages:

Last weekend the weather cooperated enough that I could work on finishing the shock install. My concrete pad outside the shed was dry and the weather was suppose to reach 34F on Saturday and Sunday was to be clear as well so I took advantage of the situation. Put on the Carhart bid overalls and heavy jacket and got into it.

This took me 2 days to finish up. I also had to complete stiffening up the end spring hangers before I mounted the front shocks. I’ll make a separate post on the hanger work but you will see some of it here. This hanger work also raised the camper 5/8” and I needed to have that done before I set the distance on the shock mount. The need for the height stem’ed from my axle upgrade 2 years ago and adding the Dexter EZ flex upgrade on an Alko rigid equalizer. I lost fender well clearance by 1 1/4". When I did the EZ flex I redid the center hanger and gained back 5/8” that made it workable and today….. yes almost 2 years later I gained back another 5/8” to get back to where I started.

So here are the new shorter front shocks. They are the same diameter as the longer rear ones and they are mounted on the same angle so the cushion rate between the 2 axles will be the same.

Here is the new front shock bracket clamped in place. It is a piece of 3 x 3 x 1/4 angle iron trimed down on one leg. This matches the 3” I beam frame well and is plenty strong enough.
[image]

[image]

Here you can see the lower mount. I welded on a piece of 1/2” sch 40 pipe onto the U bolt plate. It has a perfect ID for a 5/8” bolt that is the size of the shock rubber mount.
[image]

I had a surprise over night… Woke up Sunday morning and we went to Church. Oh great, it snowed….. So after Church I shoveled and broom swept and back at it.
[image]

Here we are mounted, no tires. The bracket is welded on. I was going to bolt it however my I beam lower flange stiffening gusset prohibited me from getting a nut on. Plus I would have to right angle drill the holes under the spring which is not fun. Those black lines are end of stroke and this higher one mid stroke. With no tires on the axle is just hanging lower the way I had the bottle jacks.
[image]

[image]

Here we are with the tires on the ground and all weight on the suspension. The stroke of the shock is right on the mid point of travel. I was very pleased all my calculations actually came out right on.

This is the door side
[image]

Here is the slide side.
[image]

[image]

So now I have all 4 shocks. YEH!!! Now I just need some good weather to go test them out and see how the frame oscillation is after going over a bump. I’ll report from the road test once it ever comes to pass. Is it spring yet…..

John

RoyB

King George, VA

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Posted: 02/05/11 01:33pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

After reading LAdams post I am doing what everyone else has done and that is scrolling back to the top to see where you are from haha...

My OFF-ROAD POPUP shown below sure could use something different. I ended up making about 8 trips across NORTHERN ALA on I59 last year and the road was buckled up every concrete section for about 50 miles. There was no speed you could go to not be affected by this. I would see my poor ole POPUP coming OFF THE GROUND every 8-feet for the fifty miles... I didnt get away with it either. My roof mounted A/C started leaking not long after that and then later on I went through a set of tires in only about 25K. I didnt notice the wheel weights were bounced off.

My POPUP has shocks under it but they are pretty small I think for the 4200LB weight of the trailer. They are also installed at about 45 degree angle which cant help much either..


My Posts are IMHO based on my experiences - Words in CAPS does not mean I am shouting
Roy - Carolyn
RETIRED DOAF/DON/DOD/CONTR RADIO TECH (42yrs)
K9PHT (Since 1957) 146.52M
2010 F150, 5.4,3:73 Gears,SCab
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ExRocketScientist

Laurel, MD

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Posted: 02/05/11 02:56pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice job John. Out of curiosity, why did you decide to drill the frame for the upper shock mount on the rear shocks instead of welding them to the frame. After all, you, like me, weld. I put the Dexter kit on mine and had to make some custom upper mounts too. But I welded everything.

I like the way you welded the pipe between your hangers. I had frame issues and ended up welding a truss box arrangement from one I beam to the other just in front of the front axle. I did it this way with an alterior motive . . . I enclosed, insulated, and heated it by tapping into the heat duct overhead. I moved my AGM batteries there. It lowered my center of gravity and cured the problem of one side of the trailer riding lower than the other.


ERS

downtheroad

Pacific Northwest

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Posted: 02/04/11 07:55pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

John,
Great winter project..nice job.
I'm thinking that your fantastic and very detailed write up took almost as much time as the project itself.

I'm glad our present rig came standard with shocks..I don't think I would have tackled such an undertaking.


"If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."

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LAdams

Northern Illinois

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Posted: 02/05/11 12:21pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Another great job John... When can I bring my rig over [emoticon] [emoticon] [emoticon]

Les


2000 Ford F-250SD, XLT, 4X4 Off Road, SuperCab
w/ 6.8L (415 C.I.) V-10/3:73LS/4R100
Banks Power Pack w/Trans Command & OttoMind
Sold Trailer - not RV'ing at this point in time



HUNTER THERMOSTAT INSTALL

HOME MADE WHEEL CHOCKS

ExRocketScientist

Laurel, MD

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Posted: 02/05/11 03:03pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

RoyB wrote:

I ended up making about 8 trips across NORTHERN ALA on I59 last year and the road was buckled up every concrete section for about 50 miles. There was no speed you could go to not be affected by this. I would see my poor ole POPUP coming OFF THE GROUND every 8-feet for the fifty miles... I didnt get away with it either.

That stretch of interstate is notorius. Seems a lady hit one of those potholes and it kicked up a huge chunk of concrete that killed a person behind her (also damaged her vehicle).

Shocks on an angle will still work, but they need to be "stiffer". Shocks are nothing more than a damping device to minimize harmonic motion. When placed on an angle, they don't travel as much, so they need to be providing more damping to get the same effect as one traveling straight up and down.

JBarca

Radnor, Ohio, USA

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Posted: 02/05/11 06:46pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

downtheroad wrote:

John,
Great winter project..nice job.
I'm thinking that your fantastic and very detailed write up took almost as much time as the project itself.

Down the road, Thanks for the good words. The write up…. I try to do these things in pics. Less words and more understanding. Time, well the actual shock mounting process was not that bad. Pre-thinking how to get them in there and the getting time to do it… well yes that was a stretch…LOL

LAdams wrote:

Another great job John... When can I bring my rig over [emoticon] [emoticon] [emoticon]

Les

Come on down Les. Have a 30 amp plug, fresh water hookup and a dump station. We will have a mod fest…. However better wait a week or two. There is now 1” of ice on the concrete pad that last weekend was clear….

RoyB wrote:



My POPUP has shocks under it but they are pretty small I think for the 4200LB weight of the trailer. They are also installed at about 45 degree angle which cant help much either..

Roy, wow that’s not great for sure. I’m assuming you did not have a WD hitch which could of played even more havoc on the A Frame. There is one short stretch of concrete road on I90 heading east in NY coming right out of the Lackawanna Thurway exit by Buffalo that sends my entire rig into almost a porpoise every time we go thru there. Since DW is from this area you can even feel it in a car just not as aggravated. Towing, slowing down a little semi helps but with the cars whizzy by ya, all I wanted to do is get the heck out of there. After hearing your adventure if I ever ended up in that for a long time the next exit I’d be on it. This NY stretch is only about 1,000 feet long. On a larger TT with a WD hitch, that can reek havoc for sure. The WD forces in into the A frame is a constant oscillation.

Shock mounting on an angle. Yes this is common in the RV world. I looked at many before I created my shock kit to see how the rest of the RV world did this. It’s a mixed setup. What I saw common was the mounted setup used locations that where easier to mount but where more angled due to it. A TT also has things to contend with when mounting shocks. I knew I did not want mine that way and as such it took me more time to work out a more vertical 15 degree angle solution.

Here are some other brands. This is a Sunny brook
[image]

This is Aritc Fox
[image]

[image]

This brand I can’t remember it is more extreme in the more horizontal mounting
[image]

[image]

And this one I can’t remember either
[image]

Those mounting kits are quick. I would think a shock kit on yours could even help dampen some.

ExRocketScientist wrote:

Nice job John. Out of curiosity, why did you decide to drill the frame for the upper shock mount on the rear shocks instead of welding them to the frame. After all, you, like me, weld. I put the Dexter kit on mine and had to make some custom upper mounts too. But I welded everything.

I like the way you welded the pipe between your hangers.

Hi Ex

Thanks for the good words too. To bolt or weld. The rear ones where bolted on purpose to make it easier to get the shock up in there. The one by the slide square shaft drive sort of just fit. If X years from now I need to change them I can unbolt the mount and deal with the shock stud out in the open. Monroe sent a shoulder bolt with the shock. The nut is buried up in the mount and if it ever rusted in there….. I’d be a cussing for sure on how to get it out short of cutting the stud off. So I bolted the bracket where I can at it easier.

I would of bolted the front too but it was not in the cards. However it that one freezes in there I can at least pull the wheel and drill out the shoulder bolt.

The hanger supports, thanks. Soon I will create a post on just that. I had some issues with bending hangers due to my drive way and I needed to lift the TT 1 1/4" to gain fender clearance when going from a rigid Alko Equalizer to a Dexter EZ flex and upgrading to 6,000# axles which have a different axle seat. The EX flex is a different hole center then the EX flex and I lost height. The 6,000# axle seat you loose 1/4" and then I made self adjusting axles seats and lost another 1/4". The combo created a need to get some fender clearance back.

Thanks all

John

t429p

ohio

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Posted: 02/05/11 07:13pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you for posting this and the pictures.

YOU may have solved the problem I have with the addition of shocks
on my little TT.

Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge.

Great post!


tp

ExRocketScientist

Laurel, MD

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Posted: 02/06/11 06:10am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I lost an inch when I installed the EZ-Flex. Figured I would get it back when I upgraded wheels and tires. That will only happen if I decide to keep it beyond the end of summer. I'm looking at the EverLite 29fk, but it only has about 16" of clearance under the frame. Not enough to get it in my driveway. When I get closer to having the cash, I will contact the factory about building one with 2" tube on the bottom of the frame where the spring hangers mount, 1" taller hangers, and cross bracing of the hangers similar to yours but with channel welded across the back. This is a recommendation of Dexter for 9K and up trailers. The EverLite frame is built by Dexter, so they will know what I am talking about. The other thing I would want is 225/15 load range C tires instead of the stock 205/14 load range C. All together it should give 19.5 to 20" and a margin for error on the loading of the China bombs when loaded to the maximum GVWR. I would prefer it be done by the factory as it would be one third the cost, and I would not have to immediately void the warrantee in order to get it in the driveway. Plus I don't like the idea of having it up on jack stands with no suspension out in the street 200' from the garage trying to weld on it.

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