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Old 07-07-2014, 03:59 PM   #1
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Tow Vehicle/Fifth Wheel Leveling.

Hi,

First time RV'r here and I am working on leveling my tow vehicle and fifth wheel when hitched. Trailer is a 1994 Shadow Cruiser (27ft), and the tow vehicle is a 2006 Ford F150 super cab. On level ground, loaded, the rear trailer frame to ground is 14", the front trailer frame to ground is 22". Clearance from the truck bed side to the camper is 5" in the back and 6" in the front.

The fifth wheel has Al-Ko torsion axles.

Wondered if there is there mathematical way to determine how much to lift the trailer to level it out, or will I need to jack and measure?

Thanks,
Pete
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Old 07-07-2014, 04:48 PM   #2
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It would appear that you need to raise the trailer up in order to have it level. You should be able to flip the axles to the underside of the springs in order to accomplish this. While you do that its a good time to replace all of the hardware associated with the axles. once you raise the camper enough then you can raise or lower your hitch to match the correct height. As it is now you have too much weight on your rear axle.
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Old 07-07-2014, 07:00 PM   #3
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Appreciate the feedback! Not sure I can flip torsion axles, as they are bolted directly to the frame. Suppose I need to install some type of lift blocks, just wondered the best way to determine how much lift. I'm thinking about building some ramps out of 2x6's and backing the trailer up on them until level, then measuring the height of the ramps. That should get me close? Thoughts?
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Old 07-07-2014, 07:20 PM   #4
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You need to space the whole torsion assembly up that much I believe......I dont know a lot about them, but you should check and see if the assemblies are welded to the frame or bolted on
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Old 07-07-2014, 07:23 PM   #5
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Is your truck lifted by any chance? A little trigonometry should be able to help you figure out what's required to level it. Most good RV shops can advise on the proper, safe way to lift your trailer, there are differences between manufacturers.
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Old 07-07-2014, 07:44 PM   #6
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Here's how I would go about it:

1] With the trailer wet and loaded ready to tow to the playground, but not hooked up to a tow vehicle, get the floor of the trailer level, front to rear. I use a 4' carpenter's level to do that. Adjust the front landing gear until the floor of the trailer is level front to rear.

2] Measure from the ground to the base of the kingpin on the level 5er

3] Estimate the hitch weight of the wet and loaded 5er as 17% of the GVWR of the 5er.

4] Go to a big-box store and buy enough play sand or something that weighs about equivalent to the hitch weight of the 5er, and load it centered over the rear axle of the truck.

5] Measure from the ground to the top of the bed at the tailgate.

6] Subtract 5] from 2]. If the answer is less than 6" then you know how much you need to raise the trailer so there is at least 6" clearance between the underside of the 5er overhang and the top of the bed when the trailer is level and the 5er's hitch weight is mashing down on the pickup suspension.

To raise the trailer, you cannot simply "flip" the axles from under the springs to over the springs, because you don't have springs. I'm not familiar with Al-Ko torsion axles, but if they were Dexter TorFlex torsion axles then Dexter makes a kit designed to raise the trailer a few inches. I suspect Al-Ko does too. Al-Ko has a reputation for good customer service, so holler at them and see if they make a kit to make raising the trailer easy.

If Al-Ko doesn't make a kit, all is not lost. You can have a good welding shop fabricate spacers to go between the frame of the trailer and the mounting brackets for the Al-Ko axles. Do a search on lifting trailers with Al-Ko torsion axles and you'll probably get some hits.
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:18 AM   #7
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Good catch Smokey, I missed the torsion axles part of the question.
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Old 07-08-2014, 10:46 AM   #8
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Thanks Gents, some good ideas.

From the research I have done it looks like a max of 2 inches difference between the front frame to ground and rear frame to ground measurments on the 5'er is acceptable? Sound about right for a 27 footer?
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Old 07-08-2014, 11:00 AM   #9
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JMHO: SmokeyWren, has given you the info you need to get set up , but didn't ask what weights you have ; trailer weight , truck ratings ; few 90's built 5ers of 27' length would be considered 1/2 ton towable.
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Old 07-08-2014, 01:17 PM   #10
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Raise the kingpin. Lower the hitch. I would raise trailer as last resort.
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Old 07-08-2014, 02:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glennwest View Post
Raise the kingpin. Lower the hitch. I would raise trailer as last resort.
Rule 1: The wet and loaded trailer must be level when hooked up to the wet and loaded tow vehicle. Otherwise your rig is not safe.

Rule 2: You must have 6" clearance between the bottom of the 5er overhang and the highest point on the top of the sides of the bed - which is usually at the back corner near the tailgate. You can "make do" with a bit less than 6", but the result is usually crunched bed rails caused by dragging the trailer across dips and ditches and bumps.

So adjust the hitch and pinbox all you desire, but if you cannot maintain a level trailer while maintaining at least 6" clearance between truck and trailer, then you must either lower the truck or raise the trailer.

On most rigs, it's easier to raise the trailer than to lower the tow vehicle. Plus some of the younger guys would rather take a whooping than to lower their truck. So raising the trailer is usually the first thought when you must do something to safely match 5er to tow vehicle.
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Old 07-08-2014, 03:22 PM   #12
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If I keep my truck it will get a hauler bed. Much better for towing and no need to be concerned about bed clearance.
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Old 07-08-2014, 07:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glennwest View Post
If I keep my truck it will get a hauler bed. Much better for towing and no need to be concerned about bed clearance.
Hauler beds are relatively expensive. Several years ago the Western Hauler basic bed started at $6,750, the headache rack added $550, and the rear bumper added $299. Gooseneck hitch setup added $685. Mud flaps added $145. That's $8,429 so far. Probably over $9,000 today. Oh, you also want the 90-gallon wedge auxiliary fuel tank shown in the photo below? Add $1,500 and you're over the $10,000 mark.



WESTERN HAULER BEDS

Not as sexy looking but just as function is a plain ole flatbed with side boxes. Most truck accessories shops can install one for half the cost of a hauler bed.
Truck Flatbeds - Farm, Ranch, Fire & Emergency Vehicles - Winkel MFG

Another good source for a hauler bed is Herrin Haulers. They have hauler beds, western style hauler beds, rv haulers, and flatbeds. I haven't priced them.
Herrin Haulers-Herrin Welding Service, Inc. Truck Body Manufacturer of Heavy Duty Hauler Beds-Western Style Hauler Beds & RV Haulers

Also consider a Knapheid Westerner Storage Body - a low-slung service body. I think they are a better deal than a hauler body and more useful than a plain flatbed.
Westerner Storage Bodies | Knapheide
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Old 07-08-2014, 07:36 PM   #14
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2 weeks work for me
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