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Old 04-25-2011, 12:51 PM   #1
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Leaf Spring HD Shackle/Wet Bolt Install

It's important to check your TT, FW, HTT, etc., OEM leaf spring suspension shackles for wear as your towing miles add up. The OEM shackles aren't very robust and the mounting bolt clearance holes can become compromised potentially causing the suspension to fail. Most OEM leaf spring suspensions don't come with lube points, so basically you have metal-on-metal action taking place. Even the cheap plastic leaf spring bushings will wear and fall apart in time.

To the best of my knowledge many Jayco suspensions are compatible for the Dexter Axle Heavy Duty leaf spring suspension upgrade kits. The following two product kit lines are are the most common:

1) HD suspension wet bolt kits including EZ-Flex equalizer: http://dexteraxle.com/e_z_flex_equalizers

2) HD suspension wet bolt kits including standard lubed equalizer: http://dexteraxle.com/heavy_duty_suspension_kits

If you plan to use the equalizer's supplied by Dexter with any of the kits, compare the dimensions of your existing OEM equalizer to the new Dexter model (hole dimensions are critical). Contact Dexter directly if you have any questions prior to purchase.

Anyway, I'm focusing on the OEM shackles because they seem to be the suspension component that will show wear first. It should be noted that the OEM leaf springs use a plastic bushing, but the Dexter HD kits come with a bronze bushing for the leaf spring.

Here is an example of a worn OEM shackle:



Here is a comparison of the Dexter HD shackle w/wet bolts and a OEM shackle:



I did purchase the complete kit with the Dexter EZ-Flex equalizer, but found out "after-the-fact" that the OEM equalizer Jayco used on my particular TT was a "tall" equalizer (by 2"), so the EZ-Flex equalizer holes didn't match up. Refer to the following photo:



Had I installed the Dexter EZ-Flex equalizer I would have lost 1" of wheel well clearance. A 3" wheel well clearance is the required minimum, and I was already at 2 3/4" under loaded conditions. So I plan at a later date to extend my existing equalizer hanger bracket by 2" plus reinforce it, then install the EZ-Flex equalizer.

What I did do was install all the other Dexter HD components provided and added a wet bolt to my existing OEM equalizer. Here is my Dexter HD kit after installation (HD shackles/Wet bolts/Bronze bushings installed at other end of leaf springs as well):



Rather than explain in detail the process of my installation, I'll refer you to an excellent forum thread describing a typical installation should you decide to tackle it yourself: http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fu...d/21609645.cfm

I highly recommend the base Dexter HD upgrade kit at a minimum, especially on the heavier TTs, FW's, and HTT's.

Bob
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Old 04-25-2011, 01:16 PM   #2
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Hi Rustic.


Good warning that all Leaf Spring systems should be "torn apart" and inspected for wear every few years. They always wear out in the hidden areas. And when re-installing, do apply marine wheel bearing grease (that resists natural moistue much better then normal wheel bearing grease) on their moving parts as well. Especially on its plastic bushings (in the coil spring eye) and its "steel on steel" contact points. Good warning to many others....

---------

As a suggestion...

Phase 1 - One could drill new holes in the existing U-shape bracket. For example, between the frame and its existing hole. Yes. This will lower the trailer by by approx 1-1.5" - based on your picture at: http://i51.tinypic.com/2cras87.jpg

Phase 2 - One could install the much better Dexter EZ-Flex equalizer. One may have to cut off 1/2 - 3/4" of the bottom of the existing U-shape leaf spring support plates.

Phase 3 (mandatory) - One then performs an axle re-postion upgrade. re: Remove the axle and install "under" the leaf spring - keeping its natural U-bend in its beam pointing upwards. Re-Positioning the axle creates 4.5" lift. For more details, surf: http://www.rverscorner.com/articles/axles1.html

Outcome: Lower by 1.5", then raise by 4.5". = chassis height increase by 3.0". And best of all, the U-Bolt hole is much closer to the axle frame - where is has much lower risk of bending (from over stress on sharp corners).

While doing this suspension upgrade, one might want to replace its factory linear brake wiring with much better Star Wiring design. For a visual, surf:
Factory Build: http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w...ing-Linear.jpg
Much Better: http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w...iring-Star.jpg
Wiring Support Chain: http://i178.photobucket.com/albums/w...g/100_1433.jpg

If wondering, I have upgraded STAR design brake wiring and support chain on each of my trailers. Their stopping power from before and after upgrade comparison is amazing. IMO, STAR design with wire support (chain or steel cable) should be minimum code on all trailers. But, that's a topic for a differnet post. And, the support chain reduces road garbage or other ground junk from "easily" ripping out its 10 Guage brake wires.

Hope these other upgrades help in your reasearch as well...

.
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Old 04-25-2011, 01:49 PM   #3
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Spike99,

Thanks for the feedback, and I see where incorporating your Phase 1-3 would address the wheel well clearance issue. I'm also considering incorporating a heavier gauge hanger bracket (2" wider/2" longer) with an inside gusset weldment, and then run a cross tube from one side of the TT to the other welded to the opposing equalizer hanger brackets. I'm thinking this will address any of the side load issues when making TV turns during towing. Still noodling this approach.

But I agree, having the equalizer pivot point closer to the TT frame is a better condition.

Bob
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Old 04-25-2011, 07:26 PM   #4
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You`ve been a busy guy, R Eagle. That`s gonna be one super modded trailer.
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Old 04-25-2011, 07:56 PM   #5
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Lee,

Looks like the next project may involve some black rustoleum paint

Bob
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Old 04-26-2011, 12:41 AM   #6
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Shackle failures are a common occurance throught the industry. How much would it cost for a factory to use wet bolts in the initial construction. Friggin bean counters are everywhere you look.
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Old 04-26-2011, 09:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clutch View Post
snip....... Friggin bean counters are everywhere you look.
Couldn't agree more!
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Old 10-22-2011, 06:19 AM   #8
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If you are like most of us we are winterizing our RV's, so it's a good time to take a close look at our suspensions while the low point drains are doing there job. A guy on another RV forum (http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fu...g/1/page/1.cfm) posted the following photo yesterday while he was waiting for road service on his 2010 fifth wheel......;



Another tip, if you haven't had your wheel bearings packed and brakes inspected in the last two years, leave a note in your winterized RV to have it done first thing next spring.

Travel safe.

Bob
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Old 10-22-2011, 08:20 PM   #9
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Bob, my "pot trailer" could use some new hardware like the shackles shown. They are thin from rusting out even though I replaced them about 20 yrs ago (sigh)
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Old 10-22-2011, 09:15 PM   #10
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Bob, my "pot trailer" ...
I'm glad I already know what you do for a living. :hihi:
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