RV.Net Open Roads Forum: TT Spring Hanger Stiffening (Long, lots of pics)

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

 > TT Spring Hanger Stiffening (Long, lots of pics)

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JBarca

Radnor, Ohio, USA

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Posted: 02/11/11 07:22pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi Folks

Just passing this along incase someone has this same issue and is looking for options to get out of the problem. In my case the problem stems from 2 different issues.

1. Bent spring hangers. This is partly due to having 5” long spring hangers and the way they are mounted on the TT. The other part deals with a heavy camper, ~ 9,200# when loaded including fresh water, and doing sharp turns on solid surfaces. My driveway is one of those situations. When the weather is soggy out I cannot back onto my lawn to turn around with out the almost guarantee of getting the camper stuck. Ask me how I know this…..So I end up having to do a 180 degree turn on my concrete/gravel pad.

2. Reduced tire to fender clearance due to upgrading to 6,000# axles, an adjustable axle seat and using a Dexter EX flex in place of a Alko rigid equalizer.

So this upgrade may not apply to too many folks however I’ll pass it along in case someone can find use from it. So let’s look at the bent hangers.

You can see here the hanger is bent inwards. This comes from the high force in turns hanging down so far on standard spring hangers. While I have a TT, when you go 5th wheel (usually heavier weights then TT’s) these same type of hangers often have a reinforcing rib welded inside and they can be mounted to a piece of square tubing and then mounted to the frame. This makes the hanger shorter and spreads the load out on the frame more. What you see here on my Sunline is very common in the RV industry on TT’s. It is just the way they do running gear. Light duty.

[image]

Part of the issue is the I beam flange is unsupported. If you grab the hanger with no spring attached jacked up off the ground by hand you can flex the I beam lower flange. This made me concerned on top of my turning issues. If the hanger bent then the lower I beam flange is taking a high stress as well.

Due to time, (never enough of it) I did a staged approach to the correction. The first was to stiffen up the lower I beam flange to stop the twisting. Sunline already did this correction on the main equalizer hanger they just did not do it on the end hangers. You basically install a reinforcing rib between the lower flange and the I beam web. Like this.
[image]

Then stitch weld it in place. Enough to hold it but not over heat the flange. This really strengthen up the lower flange and spreads the hanger load out more even. That is 1/4 x 2” wide flat bar, about 18 inches long.
[image]

You can see here during my axle replacement Sunline had that rib in the center equalizer area. The equalizer area gets twice the load as the spring end hangers.
[image]

So that now helps the lower flange. Next is the hanger itself. By installing a piece of 2” sch 40 pipe between the hanger it creates a more rigid hanger. In effect it makes it a shorter hanger of the ends that hang down to the axle bolt unsupported.
[image]

You can weld that pipe in or place a piece of flat bar between the 2 sides of the hanger. In my case this was a progression correction and I needed the bolt hole for a 2nd stage fix of the hangers. The combo of strengthening the lower I beam flange and the hanger inside support made a large improvement in hanger stability. And as such I ran for almost 1 ½ years this way until I can get to last stage fix.

See here on this older Jayco Designer 5th wheel. It has the hangers attached to a tube and a piece of flat bar over the tube to the hanger to create this similar stiffening. This is now a shorter hanger.
[image]

[image]

Here is another brand I cannot remember which brand…. And they have the gusset on the lower flange and a short hanger. Also note the spring pack is on top of the axle. Sunlines have many low rider TT’s and most have the spring pack on the bottom of the axle needing a longer hanger to get to the spring.
[image]

So this is a hanger fix that is not that complex to do. The next upgrade takes the hanger stiffening to the next level. To connect the 2 sides of the camper at the hanger for increased rigidity and in may case, TT lift. Mor Ryde makes a aftermarket bolt on kit to help this problem http://morryde.com/php/products/aftermarket/xfactor.php In doing some research folks who do a lot of off road camping (Toy Haulers also) have hanger twist as well going up and over large uneven surfaces. Following what some have done they weld in channel iron between the left and right side of the camper at the hangers. In my case I uses 2” sch 4 black iron pipe and flange plates.

Here is the pile of plates for the front and rear axles. This is an exercise in being about to layout and drill accurate hole spacing as the clearance hole is size to size with the bolt.
[image]

[image]

I also need to create the wet bolt feature so I can grease the bushings. After I made these I realized they sell extra long wet bolts for heavy duty 1/2" thick hangers used on heavy equipment trailers. Start with a 9/16 grade 8 bolt and drill and tap for a grease fitting along with a grease hole cross drill. Most spring bolts are grade 5 so I have even a tougher bolt.
[image]

Then you tack weld the parts together and you make hanger stiffeners and a TT lift kit.
[image]

[image]

You custom drill each location to be size to size with the bolts. You also reuse the old spring bolt hole.
[image]

There is a 1/2" sch 40 pipe spacer that goes on the old spring bolt hole and the 2” hanger pipe goes on the top hole.
[image]

You need to weld a 1/2 – 13 full nut on the inside of the hanger plates as you will not be able to get to that nut later on.
[image]

Here we are drilled and the spring lowered to the new location.
[image]

Install all the hanger plates and measure exactly between the hangers. Cut a length of 2” pipe to fit between, tap in place and tack weld the pipe in place. I used a sheet metal shield so the weld flash would not melt the camper plastic in the area. Then remove the pipe and end flanges and full weld it out.
[image]

And here it is on the camper
[image]

The front axle
[image]

The rear axle
[image]

And from a while ago the equalizer center hanger.
[image]

[image]

[image]

[image]

So now my suspension upgrade is complete. In my case, I plan on keeping this camper a real long time so the upgrade is worth it for me. Plus being able to do the work myself helps offset the costs and is very therapeutic at the same time.

Hope this helps someone in the future

John


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LAdams

Northern Illinois

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Posted: 02/11/11 10:01pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nicely done John [emoticon] Another great article [emoticon]

Les


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byronlj

Arizona

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Posted: 02/11/11 11:23pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You showed pictures of fifth wheels and even stated
Quote:

While I have a TT, when you go 5th wheel (usually heavier weights then TT’s) these same type of hangers often have a reinforcing rib welded inside and they can be mounted to a piece of square tubing and then mounted to the frame. This makes the hanger shorter and spreads the load out on the frame more.
, why didn't you just do this? It seems like you used a lot of time and material when you could have just put some shorter hangers on some square tubing welded to the frame.
Dave


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JBarca

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Posted: 02/12/11 08:43am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

byronlj wrote:

You showed pictures of fifth wheels and even stated
Quote:

While I have a TT, when you go 5th wheel (usually heavier weights then TT’s) these same type of hangers often have a reinforcing rib welded inside and they can be mounted to a piece of square tubing and then mounted to the frame. This makes the hanger shorter and spreads the load out on the frame more.
, why didn't you just do this? It seems like you used a lot of time and material when you could have just put some shorter hangers on some square tubing welded to the frame.
Dave


Hi Dave

As far as time, yes the method I used did take a while longer but I could do it in phases to fit the time I had. To convert to the 5th wheel concept I would of had to cut all the hangers off, weld on the new tube and hanger setup and still add the lower I beam stiffening gusset as I have I beam frame, not box frame like that older Jayco did. And yes I could of upgraded to 3/8" or 1/2" thick hangers to come close to or better then I have now.

In my case I fixed the center Equalizer area first now over a year ago. That was a easy fix, just create the kit and add it in. It gave me the wheel well clearance I needed to be able to run with the Dexter EZ flex and my 6,000# axle seats and axle seat adjusters. I was doing an entire axle rebuild, self adjusting brake upgrade, brake wiring upgrade and fixing the messed axle alignment that started all this. Then again in time I came back and added last month the front and rear supports when I added my TT shocks as I had to do the final ride height adjustment. So yes I piece mealed it.

There is however 1 notable benefit I have with my concept that the Jayco 5th wheel version does not. By adding the cross tube between the hangers it creates a very rigid setup for side thrust loads left to right when turning that goes into the hangers. Which was part of what I was after to correct. The hanger loads and frame flex loads share the heavy side thrust on both sides of the camper that come from a hard 180 turn. The Jayco 5th wheel version still has that problem that the cross tubes greatly reduces.

The ultimate would be to do the older Jayco fix, use heavier hangers and add cross tubes or channel from hanger to hanger. Now in hidesite... if I was ever going to do this over again, If I was only doing a hanger fix and not everything else at once... I would seriously consider the box tube, heavier hangers and the cross tubes as a one shot deal. It's always easier the 2nd time LOL

Thanks

John

* This post was edited 02/12/11 08:51am by JBarca *

JBarca

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Posted: 02/12/11 08:48am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

LAdams wrote:

Nicely done John [emoticon] Another great article [emoticon]

Les


Thanks Les. The snow is still flying here so I had the time to get this up. Searching the forums here, many talked about adding stiffeners but never saw any pics... Well now we have pics!

Believe it or not it is suppose to hit 50 next week.... we had below zero wind chills here this past week.... Maybe next weekend we can sneak out for a weekend campout providing all the snow melts.

I have to reset the hitch for the ride height change, maybe this Sunday if the 1" thick ice melts off the concrete pad... What messed up weather ....

John

byronlj

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Posted: 02/12/11 09:33am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi John,
I hope I didn't come accross wrong. I like your setup, just seemed like a lot of work. Like you, I worry about the sideway stress while backing sharply. When backing into my driveways, I try to hose down the concrete to help my tires slide a little.
Dave

JBarca

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Posted: 02/12/11 11:28am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi Dave

No worries but thanks for clarifying. When I finally found out the reason my tires where wearing so bad and part it it was from the hangers being put on wrong, the thought crossed my mind. Fix the entire mess and start over. But I had so much else going on I took the phased approach. I learned a whole lot about axle alignment and the way TT suspensions are built in this process I never would of given much thought to before. I mean the foundation of TT should be solid to start with right?? .....

The terms "light duty" do not even do justice to this. Live and learn and if I ever buy another new camper I'm armed to know what to look for. And I will never take delivery of a new unit unless a full alignment report is provided and within Dexter's spec. I'm sure that may be a challenge to get but a new camper is many years away at this point, if ever. I may just rebuild this one. Hopefully the RV industry will get their quality act together by then.

Have a good one and happy camping

John

Securiti

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Posted: 02/12/11 11:28am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Very good job. Way more safe then original. Its nice to see someone makeing there equipment safer when they dont have to.


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Dandy Dan

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Posted: 02/12/11 01:58pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

John, I was quite impressed in the way you did your reinforcement and very glad you added pictures. I am one of those that can understand more from pictures at times than just reading about it. We are only abour 80 miles apart. Maybe I should hire you to do my 5er.[emoticon][emoticon][emoticon]
Also I am really happy about the weather forecast for the upcoming week. Wow, actually temps over freezing. Whart a novelty....


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Slowmover

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Posted: 02/13/11 06:46am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Again, a nicely-done approach in TT longevity/reliability upgrades. Time -- not just miles -- work against us, and the series of fixes done on this trailer illustrate "the right way" to do it! (Even if we might have do it only a bit differently).

The stress on tires, alone, in a full-over u-turn should cause us concern. We don't always think about the suspension attaching points (the combined set of stresses on parts other than tire sidewalls) and, IMO, it should concern us.

Heavy crosswinds and the need to maneuver fast-as-we-can to avoid road problems make this sort of work E-Z to my mind: no weak links any where we can find and correct them.

Thanks!

.

.


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