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Old 06-02-2013, 12:04 PM   #15
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There were some available in the past but it's easier to build your own set up. There are several posts on the Heartland forums and the Forest River forums. Do a search using my name and/or search for installing shocks. Several guys have built their own systems. It's really not as difficult as one would think. You can use the four bolts that hold the backing plate to the axle flange. You'll have to get bolts that are a little longer then add a plate with two or three of those flange bolts as the mounting plate. For the top mounting you can bolt a plate to the frame and arrange your mounting system.
When designing a system you have to determine your location and always try to get the shocks as vertical as possible. If you've been under as many vehicles as I have over the last 40 years you'll see about every angle. You want to have the shocks able to compress in about the same direction or arc that your suspension moves. If you are off some it's OK.
There are two ways that shocks are mounted to a vehicle and some shocks are a combination of the two methods. One way is to have a long stem bolt with threads at the end. This fits through a hole and two rubber bushings and two concave washers are used to complete the attachment. This method is OK but you have very little movement to adjust for changes in angle. The second method is the best and it uses a bushing with a 1/2" or larger bolt that I call a thru bolt. It is at right angles to the shock. It's the best because the shock can adjust for differences in the swing of the suspension. Many shocks will use one method for the top and the other for the bottom.
Next you'll have to determine your compressed and extended movement of the suspension. I actually found a sight that explained how to determine what shock you want to use based on those two dimensions. I'll try to locate it and post later. Once I determined those dimensions I called a shock company and told them what I was doing, the weight of my TT and they recommended a shock.
If you want or need any other info just PM me.

TeJay
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Old 06-03-2013, 09:16 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by TeJay View Post
That's a real good question. We have had 2 MH's and then in 2010 switched to TT's. I was shocked, no pun intended, when I realized that the TT did not have shocks. I put some on and it really improved the ride. When a TT or MH or any vehicle travels down the road there are three axis of movement that need to be reduced, controlled and or dampened. They are up and down, usually controlled by the shocks, side to side or sway, controlled by anti-sway bars, and yawl or twisting of the chassis left and right and controlled by track-rods. Yawl is like when you encounter a semi on a 2-lane road or if one comes from behind the TT or TV will try to move left and/or right until the disturbance of the wind ceases. TT's don't have shocks, anti-sway bars nor track bars/rods. I taught automotive for 35 years, aligned vehicles and do understand the need to control these forces but the TT industry is only interested in making $$$. Now think about this. If you installed shocks it would dampen the effect of both up and down but also rock and roll or the side to side movement. If you hit a bump with the left side the shocks would tend to dampen the movement of the TT and reduce the sway. So why not install shocks???? Well they want you to spend $400 $800 for a WDH which also has some anti-sway control capability as well. Bottom line is just that. They want you to spend the extra $$ to control something that they should build into the unit. Ask yourself these questions. Why do most TT still use drum brakes. They figured out how to activate drum brakes with an electric magnet. Why can't they invent a way to activate disc brakes as well. Anybody with any intelligence at all knows that disc brakes are much better than drum. Would you be surprised to know that Lippert one of the major axle builders still sells axles with drum brakes and they are not self-adjusting brakes. Self-adjusting brakes came out in the early 60's. They expect you to re-pack your bearing every 12 months or 12,000 miles and to adjust your brakes while you're at it. Dexter does make self-adjusting brakes on their axles. They still expect you to re-pack your wheel bearing every year. That's stupid real stupid. Bearing on cars and truck, those tht have front wheel bearings only need to be re-packed every 30-40,000 miles. Why are TT different???? Some will tell you that they carry more weight and are expected to carry a bigger load. Then put bigger bearing on the axles. Don't make the consumer bear the expense of re-packing bearings and adjusting brakes every year. TT are built on the cheap, cheap, cheap. Our last TT weighed 6,000 and had a maximum capacity with cargo of 7,000. It came from the factory with 2-3,000 -LB axles. That's only 1,000 LBS under capacity. They will tell you that the tongue weight is subtracted for the axle weight. There may be some truth to that but you are still on the edge of overweight and over capacity.
AS you can tell I have written about this subject many, many, many time on the different forums. I know what I am talking about and I will stick to my guns. TT's are built on the cheap and they will get away with it until they get sued.

We just traded out thrid TT in for a new Winnebago MH. I was tired of the crap they pawned off as quality units. I was always adding stuff, spending $$$ to make them safer and more reliable. I didn't want to get stuck with a broken down unit.

JM2CW
TeJay

Well for most people travel trailers sit for most of the time, unlike cars which are generally driven very regularly. So i wouldn't want disc brakes solely for that reason. They can exhibit what's called "lot lock" where the pad will freeze the rotor. This would be a nightmare for a procrastinator who decides to get their rig ready the night before a trip.

Closed drum brakes probably hold up better over the long run with far less worries about seizing up due to sitting for too long.

As far as shock absorbers go, you have to keep in mind that anything a manufacturer puts on their product is subject to warranty claims. It's simply another part which could fail and need replacing at their expense under the warranty period. So you'll probably only find them on higher priced models. So unless they are charging higher margins for their products, you have to cut costs on addons and warranty claims. So it's simply easier to leave the suspension as a flex axle or leaf springs which are known to be very simple and reliable for the warranty period.
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:54 PM   #17
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trailer shocks

you can check out MONROE Shocks & Struts. They have a kit available. You should read the pdf files for measurements.
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Old 06-03-2013, 10:19 PM   #18
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Monroe stopped producing the shock kits. The shocks can still be easily found. The lower brackets are very hard to find but are out there if you dig enough. Heavy Duty Truck Parts Online, Brake Parts, Light & Medium Duty Truck Parts, Transit & School Bus, Coach, Trailer, Forklift & Semi Parts-Find it Parts has the RB511 lower brackets. The upper brackets are pretty much NLA as far as I know. The upper ones are not that hard to fabricate. The exact detail of mounting the upper brackets depends on whether you mount to the outer or inner side or the beam and also if the I-beam is a I-beam or box beam. This is all for leaf spring suspension and torsion axle is different. You can get the lower brackets and shocks for a bit over $200 IIRC. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, it's not a difficult job. If you have an enclosed underbelly or a slide-out, it does complicate the installation.

If you have a trailer with a rear kitchen (like us) you will experience more problems with bounce. This is because the trailer bounces around the hitch as the pivot point. The leverage effect makes the rear of a trailer move up and down more. Our last trailer had a kitchen in the center and we never had any problems with bounce. With the rear kitchen in our new trailer, the cabinet doors open while travelling and things fall out. Broke a treasured frog ornament. Sure you can tie the handles together and/or pack foam inside the cabinets but that's such a bother and ridiculous to have to do. You spend ten of thousands on a trailer and the cabinet doors fly open?

Yes, I agree the manufacturers should be putting shocks on some of the trailers and at least ones with rear kitchens. And why don't they offer it as an option? After we got our trailer, we told the dealer and their reply was that they'd have to take it for a road test. They don't know about this problem??
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:29 AM   #19
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You may have a point when it comes to disc VS drums. The self-adjuster part I'll never understand. Self-adjusting assures that whatever the quality of the drum brakes at least they are adjusted to give you the best of what they got. They get around that by recommending that you re-pack wheel bearings and adjust your brakes every 12 months or 12,000 miles. That way they are covered.

As far as shocks becoming a warranty item I doubt they would be covered just like brake pads/shoes, belts, hoses, coolant, air filters, oil and oil filters. They all fall under normal wear and tear and usage.
I wonder how many accidents were caused by a TT that got out of control because the inexperienced driver didn't know what to do once the swaying got started. I wonder how many TT's sit because the new owner is afraid to take the TT on another camping trip. They well remember the miles and miles of white knuckle driving they experienced on the last trip. I've got a lot of experience driving motor homes and school buses but nothing prepared me for the experience of driving a TT. Encountering 18-wheelers from front and behind, wind gusts, openings in the wind breaks along the expressways, and the TT bouncing and swaying on occasion. Shock absorbers would absolutely assist in reducing bounce and trailer sway.

I've said it before. The TT industry gets away with building on the edge because most TT after 2-3 years sit on the side of the house or in storage. They figure to make a quick buck and hope there are not to many law suits. I read some posts on the FR forums. This guy had frame cracks that were serious. He bought it new. At the time of the frame cracks I don't remember if it was still under the factory warranty but I believe he had an extended warranty. It had never been overloaded. He had never hit a curb and they refused to do anything about it. He fought with them for months and eventually had it repaired himself. He also had larger axles/tires installed. All of this was at his expense. He had to do it because he wanted to use the TT but it just felt unsafe and under built.

TeJay
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Old 06-04-2013, 02:06 PM   #20
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I remember the post on the FR forum you are referring to. As I recall, Lippert just blew the owner off by saying he overloaded it. One day after we got our new trailer about 2 months ago, we found that 5 of 6 spring hanger are bent and one is 1/2" out top to bottom. It took about 1.5 months for Lippert to reply and they said "it's within spec's". Have been to one frame manufacturer and tomorrow I'm taking the trailer to a government certified inspection facility. I know we didn't overload after only one day! (my rant for today)

Funny thing is that the dealer tech. looked at a few other units on their lot made by the same company and they all had the same bent hanger brackets. Great quality control. They must be using the same jig and cranking out defective frames on a regular basis. What Lippert says about quality: Quality

If you look at your frame, the metal is almost paper thin. The I-beam is just 3 pieces of sheet metal welded together. The welding quality on our frame doesn't appear to be the best quality either.

Agree that they make stuff to the limit/edge. Our trailer is 200 lbs away from the GVWR and we've hardly loaded anything into it. Can't travel with a full tank of fresh water without overloading it. Doesn't make sense. How are you supposed to go dry camping if you can't take water with you?

I'm not a structural or mechanical engineer, but I would think shocks would reduce the flex in a frame and minimize the chance of frames cracking.
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Old 06-04-2013, 02:36 PM   #21
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A friend told me a story that happened to him many years ago. He took a small trailer from AR to CO to visit his brother. The brother wanted the trailer so he could haul wood. They left AR and the trailer bounced all over the place. He had to travel 45 MPH or it got out of control. When they got to CO they installed shocks on it and it was just fine. Size has little to do with the need to have shocks. If it is on wheels, has a suspension of some sorts and you tow it then it needs to have shocks to dampen the suspension movement. You can install shocks on any unit for under $150. Consider the buying power for a TT company and how cheaply they could do it. I meant inexpensively not cheaply. We know how they can build stuff cheaply.

TeJay
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Old 06-05-2013, 12:27 AM   #22
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I decided to go with a Dexter EZ Flex system first to see how well it works at reducing bad vibrations in the TT. Seems as it might be as good as shocks but both together would be the best. Might add them later. BTW, Dexter has them on sale right now.
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Old 06-05-2013, 07:39 AM   #23
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Clifty,
I think you are referring to the Dexter Tor-Flex axle suspension system. Our last TT had those and they are much better than the leaf spring system. Leaf springs are inherently more maintenance. Most have plastic bushings and most don't come with grease fittings. On our first TT I added the wet bolts so they could be greased but couldn't find any bronze fittings to replace the plastic (nylon) bushings. With only 2,000 miles on the original bushings they were 1/2 worn out when I added the wet bolts.

With the Tor-Flex axle there are no grease fittings to service. Even with the independent suspension they still need shocks to dampen the suspension movement. I called Dexter and they told me that Air Stream used their TF axles and installed shocks. If you want to see how it's done go to the Forest River forums and do a search for a poster named "Old Coot" He seems to be an excellent craftsman from what he's posted on the forums. He did an excellent job of adding shocks to the TF axles and there are a number of pictures included. I contacted him and he even sent me drawings of the brackets that he made. If you can't reach him let me know and I'll see if I can find them and send them to you. I was about to do the install when the DW suggested going from a TT back to a MH.

This past March we traveled to FL about an 2,400 mile round trip. The TT with the TF axles worked very well. We traveled through some awful wind and rain and it traveled well with very comfortable driving. I was looking forward to adding the shocks that "Old Coot" recommended to make it ride even better. Hr posts his comments before and after adding the shocks.

TeJay
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Old 06-05-2013, 08:49 AM   #24
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AL-KO Website Bearing Protectors / Shock Absorber Kits

Monroe Trailer Retrofit Kit - Shockwarehouse.com

Shock Mount Kits
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Old 06-05-2013, 10:20 AM   #25
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The ALKO mounts don't look bad but I didn't see a price. If you use shocks with the bolt coming out of the top and or bottom you better get it lines up exactly with the swing of the suspension. Those mounts are not very forgiving because they don't allow much for or aft movement of the shock top or bottom to compensate for the arc made by the suspension. A guy can build the shock mounts and buy shocks for about $175. The trick is getting the mounts. In most cases it's just laying a thin piece of cardboard and over say a backing plate where it is bolted to the axle and hitting the holes with a ball-pein hammer to mark the bolt hole patters. A piece of 3/8th inch steel, trace the pattern and have a shop cut and drill the holes if you don't have a drill press or cutting torch. It's really not that difficult and it saves you a ton of $$$$.
PM me if you or anybody needs or wants more information. Just trying to help save a few bucks and still get a good job done.

Some guys have contacted Monroe and they discontinued those shock mounts. I didn't check but that's just what I heard.

TeJay
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Old 06-05-2013, 11:04 AM   #26
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Old 06-06-2013, 06:13 PM   #27
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Monroe stopped producing the shock kits.
Monroe made three or four different versions to fit different frames - C-channel in, C-channel out , and I-beam, at least. Mine are I-beam, and my axles are rated 2500 pounds, so I need Monroe part number RB512 trailer retrofit kit. I checked several places online that showed up in a Bing search on RB512, and they all said sorry, but sold out and Monroe is no longer making then. I finally found one obscure truck parts store and they accepted my order, but later cancelled it with

"We are currently out of stock on this item. It is no longer available from Monroe. We have cancelled your order. THANK YOU for shopping TRUCKPARTSWAREHOUSEONLINE".

So a few minutes ago I tried one last place, and they accepted my order too. We'll see if they cancel the order too.

It's no a disaster if they cancel the order too. My local blacksmith shop is a guru at fabricating that type of parts, and I'll be surprised if he's not less expensive for custom fabricated parts than the $144 the two Monroe RB512 kits cost.
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Old 06-06-2013, 09:00 PM   #28
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Mobile Outfitters (a Lippert co.) has shock kits.

Monroe used to make a shock kit but stopped. You can easily find the shocks at various vendors, but the lower brackets are hard to find but still out there. The upper brackets are NLA. The upper ones are easy to fabricate.

Shockwarehouse.com lists the Monroe kits, but if you go all the way through their checkout, I am pretty sure they do not have the kits or brackets.
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