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Old 10-13-2015, 12:42 PM   #1
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Electric Brake has play and Suspension hangers

Two Issues:

First: I replaced all four brake assemblies on my Gulfstream Amerilite. The unit is still up on four jack stands. I adjusted the brakes. I then plugged the unit into my tow vehicle and had my wife fully depress the brakes.

The electric brakes fully engaged as they should ...however, I can rotate the brake drum forward and backwards (fore and aft) an inch or two...in other words the brakes are holding and not slipping at all, but the brake shoes appear to be moving with the drum a little....is this wheel play normal? I can move the wheel/drum a little in each direction then it stops solid as long as the brakes are engaged. The mounting bolts on the brake assemblies are properly torqued, so they are not loose at all.

It reminds me of moving a rear wheel on my truck when it is in the air...the wheel moves a little before the differential causes the opposite wheel to move...(said in an effort to explain)....that is how it feels. I wish I had moved the wheels in the same fashion before I removed the old brake assemblies, but I did not, so I do not know what is normal.

Second: I also replaced the suspension equalizer, bushings, and links (used a Dexter Upgraded Kit). My springs are 1 3/4" wide. However, the hangers that came on the camper measure 2" wide...so when I torque the link bolts they pull the hanger in and make it bow toward the springs and equalizers. The "before" photos that I took verify that the stock installation also pulled the hangers inward so that they angle down from the frame to the springs...Therefore when I torque the link bolts and seat the nut against the bolt shoulder it pulls the hanger sides inward. This is causing the serrated part of the bolts to pull out and not be fully seated.

Has anyone else had this problem? The guys at eTrailer seem to think that Gulfstream used the wrong hangers or the wrong springs and that the hangers should also be 1 3/4" wide. I hope this makes sense. Any comments?? See photo below:

Top of hanger:


Bottom of hanger


Hanger bows in allowing serration on the bolt to pull out:


and


Thanks for any suggestions!!
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Old 10-13-2015, 03:09 PM   #2
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First, the brakes are acting normally. The magnet sticks to the drum and it pushes the brake shoes apart as it cams into place.

The hangers usually have quite a bit of clearance. Mine are about like yours. Since I have a machine shop, I made or machined bolts and spacers to suit.

The only thing I see of real concern is that the bolt heads are not tight against the hanger. If the serrated area doesn't have full engagement and the bolt, at some point, begins to move it will eventually fail. That serration must be in good condition on both the hanger and bolt. Where you are going wrong is depending on the bolt and nut to seat its self. If you were to put temporary blocking inside the hangers and then press the bolt in, the hangers won't bend.
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Old 10-13-2015, 05:36 PM   #3
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Lynnmor,
Do you think I could place steel washers on either side of the spring to act as spacers? I realize what you are saying about placing something between the hanger sides and then seat the serrated bolt. I tried to do that by placing a large socket between and driving the bolt (using another socket to protect the zerk fitting), but it did not work for me...everything bounced too much. I saw a video that suggested that tightening the bolt would pull the serration in but I think that their application called for tightening the bolt very tight and then backing it off to allow movement...I think their bolts were 9/16 for the entire bolt...my bolts however are 9/16 on the shoulder and then 7/16 threads, so my nut tightens against the shoulder and is torqued to 55 ftlbs.

I worked on this issue a few hours this afternoon and got the bolts pretty well seated now. I found a 3 sided clamp and squeezed the bolt against the hanger while beating on the end of the clamp... It still bothers me that the top of the bolt is flush with the hanger (serration fully seated on top) but there is still a small gap at the bottom because the hanger is bent.

We are off to Florida next week but later this Fall I will tear it apart and find a way to make it right. Any other ideas that you have I will certainly appreciate!! What type of driver or clamp should I use to seat the serrated bolts correctly?

Here is a photo of the on of the hangers before I began work...they were bent from the factory (I guess):

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Old 10-13-2015, 07:08 PM   #4
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Since he is a machinist, when he answers back he probably will have an answer. Until then, I see no problem in using a flat washer(s) of a width to approach 1/4" and take up the space that the brackets are bent inward.
Are the bolts you are using a different length than the ones from the factory? Or is the shoulder part longer?
I recently redid the bolts on my Suites--working with 8k iron is a lot of work for an old man. I had to replace the wet bolts as they did not prevent the bronze bushings from wearing. Went to NevrLube bushings--will see how the Nevr part works in a year.
Joe
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Old 10-13-2015, 08:50 PM   #5
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My new wet bolts are the same size as the old bolts...I checked them before I began my installation. My nylon bushings were completely shot and wearing into my bolts...and that after just 10K miles. I looked at the Never Lube bushings and was going to choose them but I wanted the other upgrades that were included in the Dexter upgrade kit...which has the bronze bushings. I wonder why greasing your bronze bushings did not prevent them from damage?

I plan to try using 9/16" washers for spacers leaving just enough wiggle room for the springs to move as they should. I hope that my next camper has torsion suspension! (probably another set of problems though) Thanks for the reply!
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Old 10-14-2015, 02:53 AM   #6
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The problem with using washers is that you won't be pulling the nut up against the shoulder of the bolt. Now you see why I had to alter the bolt length to suit. There should be some clearance for the spring, I suggest between 1/32" and 1/16".

You might try a very large, heavy duty c-clamp to press the bolt in while using the temporary spacers and sockets to suit. Use grease on the bolt serrations.

Don't expect to get the hanger legs perfectly parallel. You should not back off the nut to allow movement, they need to be tight. I used better quality locking nuts and blue thread locker. I don't know what they sent you, but mine were cheap junk. McMaster-Carr is a good source for hardware.

The bronze bushings will wear, as Wingnut said. The problem is that the grease never gets to the loaded side of the bushing where its needed. To help with this, cut a figure 8 groove inside the bushing. You can use something like a Dremel tool for this, it doesn't have to be pretty, just don't cut too deep as they break easily enough.

Now take a look at your spring shackles, they should measure .250" thick. Mine were .196" junk imported steel. The holes were punched in leaving just a small portion that engaged the serrations correctly. If the bolt loosens, that movement will cause failure. I threw my shackles away and made new ones from better steel and bored the holes for a better fit all the way thru.

What you are seeing is two hundred year old manure spreader technology done on the cheap. The idea of going to the torsion suspension is probably good, if they didn't cheap out on that as well. Keep in mind that the torsion system won't equalize the tire loading when going over rough terrain, so it ain't perfect either.

Good Luck.
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Old 10-14-2015, 09:47 AM   #7
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I have no idea why the bronze bushings wore--I got the trailer 2 yrs old in '07 and it had no more than the trip from IN to TX on the suspension, + about 1000 miles. Went 5 years and had the bushings redone--originals were nylon and shot. Had the bronze put in w/wet bolts, made trip to AK and 2 more years, maybe 25000miles total but greased only twice after install. Then the Morryde RE center suspension failed and thats when I decided to replace the spring bushings with the Nevrlubes. Have only about 5000 miles so far, but trailer weighs 17400lbs, so lots of weight.
Guess I will pay more attention to the underside after all this.
Joe
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Old 10-14-2015, 02:34 PM   #8
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I understand what you are saying...the reason the hangers are drawn in is because the bolts are 3" (total length) and meant to be used for the 1 3/4" springs. When I torque the nut down it obviously pulls the hanger side in. To use spacers I need bolts that have 1/4" more shoulder. Since this came this way from the factory I am going to leave it alone for now...I am out of time...I will decide what to do about it this winter...maybe just trade up. Thanks again for the great replies!!
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