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Old 03-28-2020, 09:02 AM   #1
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Dream suspension recommendations

I have a 2018 Northstar Arrow U on a 2017 Ram 3500 SRW Cummins diesel with 20 inch AT tires.
I love this setup and have used the heck out of it but will be needing new tires and new shocks this summer. I think the ride could be better and it also has a bit of a top heavy wobble when turning at slow speeds that Iím hoping better shocks might help. I already added a Hellwig rear sway bar to help and also installed air bags to correct a little squat. If you could add your dream tires and suspension upgrades what would you go with?
Iím specifically wanting to soften the very rough ride with the camper on and off. Iíd also like to improve the wobble a bit if there is anything out there that could help. I chose not to go with a dually and go with a lighter weight non slide camper as I really like getting off the beaten path. I know very little about suspension systems so any education/ experience would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 03-28-2020, 10:45 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjweener1 View Post
I have a 2018 Northstar Arrow U on a 2017 Ram 3500 SRW Cummins diesel...
...I think the ride could be better and it also has a bit of a top heavy wobble when turning at slow speeds that Iím hoping better shocks might help.
I have a similar setup. 2016 RAM/Cummins HO/AISIN 3500 4x4 and a 2017 Arrow-U.
There is an annoying slow speed sway issue. At slow speed (like walking speed) I start to develop a side to side rocking action when off-roading that builds and builds until I have to come to a complete stop and let the truck stabilize.

I will be installing a set of Rancho RS9000XL Shock Absorbers this summer but I have a feeling they will do little to fix the low speed sway yet make the highway ride quite jarring. Probably rust-out in short order too since most after-market miracle products usually do.
We'll see.

Shocks >>> https://www.suspensionconnection.com...-rs9000xl.html

Other than the off-road slow rocking issue the truck/camper rides great!

As info...
My scale weight is 12,200 Lb when fully loaded.
I'm registered at 12,300 Lb.
Rear axle weight is right at 7000 Lb. (or just a tad over when carrying a gen-set).



Happy travels & keep us posted,
-Jake-
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Old 03-29-2020, 07:27 AM   #3
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Are your air bags plumbed together or separately? If they are plumbed together the air can transfer back and forth between them which is bad for sway.

You might try wheels with less backspacing so they give you a wider track.

I always had sway when I carried my 11' Fleetwood TC on my SRW Chevy. When I changed to carrying it on a dually the reduced sway was immediately noticeable.

As for the harsh ride I don't think there's much you can do about that short of installing a complete air suspension. Going with smaller diameter wheels may help. It would give you more tire sidewall to flex and "soften" the ride. However, this is likely to increase sway.
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Old 03-29-2020, 11:27 AM   #4
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Probably the universal joints on the front, because it is a 4x4 itís not made to drive around itís made for 4xing! Even though you donít have it in 4x4 it will still do it.
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Old 03-30-2020, 08:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Electrojake View Post
I have a similar setup. 2016 RAM/Cummins HO/AISIN 3500 4x4 and a 2017 Arrow-U.
There is an annoying slow speed sway issue. At slow speed (like walking speed) I start to develop a side to side rocking action when off-roading that builds and builds until I have to come to a complete stop and let the truck stabilize.

I will be installing a set of Rancho RS9000XL Shock Absorbers this summer but I have a feeling they will do little to fix the low speed sway yet make the highway ride quite jarring. Probably rust-out in short order too since most after-market miracle products usually do.
We'll see.

Shocks >>> https://www.suspensionconnection.com...-rs9000xl.html

Other than the off-road slow rocking issue the truck/camper rides great!

As info...
My scale weight is 12,200 Lb when fully loaded.
I'm registered at 12,300 Lb.
Rear axle weight is right at 7000 Lb. (or just a tad over when carrying a gen-set).



Happy travels & keep us posted,
-Jake-
Every October, Rancho has a 4 for 3 deal on shocks. I used them on my F250 when I switched to 19.5" wheels. Up front, I ran the setting at 5 and 9 in the rear. Unloaded, you can reduce the rear to 3. I never changed the front setting whether loaded or not because the front axle weight really did not change. Once you set for the right balance of damping to ride comfort, the fronts do not need to be adjusted. BTW: My OEM shocks went for almost 100k miles. The compression was still there but had no rebound resistance. You can test your current shocks by disconnecting one end and compressing and extending it by hand.
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Old 03-30-2020, 10:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bedlam View Post
1.) Every October, Rancho has a 4 for 3 deal on shocks.

2.) I used them on my F250 when I switched to 19.5" wheels.

3.) I never changed the front setting whether loaded or not because the front axle weight really did not change.

4.) My OEM shocks went for almost 100k miles.
1.) Thanks Bedlam! As usual your reply is informative and helpful.

2.) While your current 5500 rig is nice, I was always impressed with what you were able to do with that F250.

3.) Agreed. In most cases the front axle weight actually gets a little lighter with the camper on the truck.

4.) My 3500 has 23k miles on it so I'd assume the OEM shocks are fine, just not adequate for the task at hand.

Closing thoughts. . .
Since my rig and the OP's are identical and we seem to have a common problem I figured it wouldnt be too bad if I jumped in on his thread here.

The only handling issue I have had with my rig is the weird side to side rocking that develops when traversing any slightly wobbly terrain. It only shows up at a speed of about 2 or 3 MPH but if you are in a line of campers traversing a trail (even a mild trail) it gets embarrassing since the side to side oscillations get worse and worse until I have to come to a complete stop to let the truck settle down, And obviously, on a single-track trail I'm holding-up the entire line of campers behind me every time I stop.

It did it before I installed airbags and a Roadmaster HD antisway bar, and it does it after I installed the bags & bar.

I typically run 30 PSI in the bags and they are not tied together. Note that even with zero PSI in the bags my truck doesnt squat so the bags (IMHO) aren't even necessary.



Posted above is a side view of the fully loaded camper with 30 PSI in the bags.
Notice no squat. It actually looks quite trim. Rides great except for the 2 to 3 MPH off-road rocking issue.

* GVWR is 11,700 Lb.
* Scale weight fully loaded is 12,200 Lb.

Typically I'm 500 Lb over my GVWR on winter trips, and about 200 over during Summer.
Posted below is my typical Summer weight, keeping in mind that my front axle is rated at 6000 Lb and the real at 7000...



Sorry for hogging the thread but IMHO having some technical details to work with is a lot better than just a generic question.

Thanks for your comments or advice on all this, and perhaps the info will help the OP too.
Regards,
-Jake-
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Old 03-30-2020, 01:07 PM   #7
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A number of things will allow sway:



1. Tire sidewalls too soft
2. Shock damping too soft
3. Stabilizer bar too soft or missing
4. Airbags unloading main spring pack
5. Main spring pack too soft


I think you have two of these addressed, working on a third and it is one of the remaining items. Try inflating the bags to only 5 psi and see if sway is reduced to elimate bags as the problem. If you are not preloading the OEM spring pack with blocks on the upper overload and wedges on the lower, this would be my next suggestion. clamp wooden blocks on your overload perches and drive wedges between the lower overload and main pack to see if this helps. You can figure out whether buy Torklift products that do this or make something permanent once you see if it helps.
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Old 03-30-2020, 04:14 PM   #8
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Dream suspension recommendations

have seen a lot of handling issues caused by airbags. like bedlam says unloading the springs doesnít allow them to work together as designed. .
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Old 03-30-2020, 04:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Electrojake View Post
It did it before I installed airbags and a Roadmaster HD antisway bar, and it does it after I installed the bags & bar.
One other thought: Does your Roadmaster have more than one height position relative to the down links? Maybe your stabilizer bar is not really engaging enough and needs the ends moved up?
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Old 03-31-2020, 04:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by laj View Post
have seen a lot of handling issues caused by airbags. like bedlam says unloading the springs doesnít allow them to work together as designed. .
100% agreed!
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Old 03-31-2020, 04:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bedlam View Post
A number of things will allow sway:
1. Tire sidewalls too soft
2. Shock damping too soft
3. Stabilizer bar too soft or missing
4. Airbags unloading main spring pack
5. Main spring pack too soft
1.) I have been told that before, especially with nylon 'LT' style tires at extreme slow speeds.
2.) Rancho's coming soon.
3.) Hmm.
4.) Agreed, but 30 PSI is barely enough to keep the bags firm.
5.) But there's no squat?

My truck only has a lower overload leaf, And yes, they are pre-loaded.
The SRW version of the RAM 3500 has replaceable (adjustable?) lower overload rubber bushings. When I first got the truck I replaced the stock lower OL-bushings with step-two bushings which helped a little, and then a few months later I went to step-three bushings and I am happy with the result.
Note that going to a step-four bushing (if they even exist) would lift the back of the truck too high, (over-kill).

Here are a few pics...

The Stage-one OEM thin bushing...


.
.
In the pic below you can see the rear-most bushing on the lower OL leaf...


.
.
A better shot of the fatter rear-most stage-three OL bushings that I am currently using...


.
.
A shot of the fatter forward stage-three OL-bushing...



That slight increase in bushing height was the single best improvement in my truck's ability to handle my 3700+ pound camper.
The bushings are some kind of poly or rubber but they are rock hard.

One thing to keep in mind is that most suspension upgrades one might recommend will cause the tail of my truck to lift even higher than it already is, and I'm plenty tail-high already. I dont need any more lift, just less walking-speed sway.

And yes, the airbag system was expensive, about $1200 if I recall correctly, and they were NOT very helpful. If anything they made matters worse.
I'll probably remove them eventually.

Thanks,
-Jake-
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Old 03-31-2020, 04:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bedlam View Post
One other thought: Does your Roadmaster have more than one height position relative to the down links?

Maybe your stabilizer bar is not really engaging enough and needs the ends moved up?
Great point!
I'll post a few pics and perhaps you can give me some guidance on how I can 'improve' swaybar performance.

I'm going out to look at how the Roadmaster sway bar is connected. I dont remember any adjustability at all when I installed it but perhaps if I post a few pics or a short video you can throw a few suggestions my way.

FWIW... If you do have any suggestions for modding the swaybar my Son has a fabrication shop so I can have just about anything fabed, machined, or built, as long as it does not require a forge/furnace process and it's less than six foot long & 200 pounds.

Thanks!
-Jake-
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Old 03-31-2020, 07:56 PM   #13
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Some stabilizer bar setups have multiple holes in the down link bars. The higher the bar ends are set, the stiffer the cornering. I have heard some bars can be ordered with different length down links, but have not seen those.
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Old 04-04-2020, 07:23 PM   #14
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Greetings Bedlam & thread followers,
The rain stopped long enough to crawl under the truck and take a quick video of my (non adjustable) rear anti-swaybar.
The video has no sound and is only 31 seconds long so it shouldnt hurt to sit through.

There is very little tension on the bar and adjusting the length of the vertical dogbone links would not matter much (as far as I can tell), thus it appears as if making them longer/shorter would have no effect.

AdditionallyÖ
One of the stage-3 bushings on the lower overload leafs in my rear spring-pack is shown circled in red at the end of the video.
That simple little ribber bushing (four in total) has done more to help my anemic SRW RAM 3500 carry my 3700 Lb camper than any other suspension add-on.

While I was under the truck I also noticed that my right airbag was soft and the left was hard. The RideRite airbag system has been nothing but a $1200 pain the ass! Iíll be ripping it all out and simply installing a set of (non-contact) Timbrenís or SumoSprings in place of my OEM bump-stops.

Comments? Advice?

Hereís a link to the video...
https://youtu.be/myu2Vth5JNQ

" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350">

-Jake-
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