40 years trailering
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Simcoe, On Ca
2012 Graywolf 26RL problems and my fixes.
Hello all. Hope everybody has had an excellent and safe summer season. I guess it’s time to report my recent experiences on this forum.
Back in March I took delivery of a new 2012 Graywolf 26 RL. In June we traveled for a month from southern Ontario to the Maritime Provinces, and had a wonderful time. The trailer pulled well, and everything worked splendidly, at least from the ankles up. I had scaled the unit before leaving, and it weighed about 1500 lb. beneath it’s GVW rating, so it was definitely not overloaded.
After about the first thousand miles, I began to see significant wear on the tires, although they were maintained at 50 psi as per spec. They were the original load range C, 14” trail express bias ply tires, and of course I figured on them not lasting long after having read about them on this forum. The troubling part was the really wonky patterns of wear; they all had wear on inner and outer treads, as well as severe cupping. I felt quite fortunate to make it back home without having to replace them all, as they were truly scrap by the time we got here, after only about 4000 miles. Also there was evidence that the suspension had bottomed out more than once on the door side (marks on the frame above the axle u-bolts) although the roughest roads we travelled were on the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island—hardly the world’s worst. There were also circular scrub marks from the tire sidewalls on the inner wheel well housings on the door side of the trailer. And no, the tires were never curbed, and had run over nothing but highway pavement.
Also I had noticed while hanging mud flaps prior to the trip, that the tires stuck out about 3/8” farther on the slide side than on the door side, but didn’t really clue in that a problem may exist. It was, after all, a brand new trailer. Thought it was designed that way.
It was obvious that repairs or modifications were in order before the unit was used again.
I reckoned that I’d do the repairs myself rather than aggravating and worrying myself about the problems . That way I’d make certain that the finished product was an improvement over the original set up, and not just returned to original specs.
I decided to swap out the axles on it as well as the springs for more substantial ones. I sourced axles for it and I had them made 2 inches longer than the old ones, and out of heavier gauge material. So starting with that, it took me half a day just to jack up the whole thing and block it properly, etc., so it would be safe to work on. Cut the brake lines and dropped the axles and springs all as one unit, x 2, and then had clear access to check things out more thoroughly. I found that by grabbing the spring hangers and pulling and pushing them side ways, that the whole frame would twist a bit just with arm power. Not impressive. I also found cracks in the welds on both sides that held the rearmost spring hangers to the frame. Speaking of welds—one crosser supporting the water tank had dropped about 1” from it’s proper position due to another poor weld. Also discovered that the driver’s side frame rail was wowed out about a half an inch starting just ahead of the front hanger back to just behind the rear hanger. Little wonder that the axles weren’t centered side to side. I then knew why the old tires were wonky.
So the fix was as follows. Cut a 6 ft. length of ¼” angle iron ( 4”x2”) for each side. Placed them inside the frame rails (had to cut 2 of the original crossers to do it) with the wide side against the frame; then starting at the center, drilled through the frame and angle and using grade 8 bolts, fastened the angle to the frame from the center out to the ends. Forgot to mention that I plated the outside of each frame member with 4”X ¼”X 6' steel strips, sandwiching the frame between the exterior plating and the interior angle. That drew the frame back in and it ended perfectly straight. Also took all flex out of it. Did that on both sides. Then I welded the original crossers back into place, after gently jacking the water tank back into position. I then re-welded the 2 rear spring perches where the original welds had cracked. After that, cut 3 more pieces of angle, capped the ends, and bolted them across the width of the trailer to each set of spring hangers. Then welded an additional crosser side to side to the angle iron inside the frame and above the angle connecting the center spring hangers. Lastly, I welded plates to connect the new crosser to the center spring hanger angle iron beneath it. The job resulted in the frame and axles being solid as a rock –no twist, no flex, and straight as an arrow. The angle I installed between the front spring hangers provides an additional support across the center of the water tank.
I then did the job of installing the new springs and axles. The spring vendor sold me springs rated at 6000 lb. per side, and after seeing the original ones told me that they were only rated for 2000 lb. per side---good, he claimed, for a hardtop camper.
Anyway, I installed the new springs and axles, brake assemblies etc. Finally, I installed bump stops above each axle for insurance that the thing can never bottom out the tires into the wheel wells. The ride height didn’t increase much with new springs, maybe ¼”.
I finished off the job with the installation of 4 new tires, stepping up to 225R- 15, load range D Goodyear trailer radials, which are about 2” taller than the originals .Had them balanced where I bought them. I had to reassemble the drawbar on the truck so the ball is 1” higher than it was in order for it to ride level.
After all that it was time for a test run. I filled the water tank, put some gobs of grease on each bump stop so I could see if there were any bottoming issues, and then hit the road. Seemed ok after 2 roadside checks in the first 10 miles or so, so I drove about 60 miles up and down the roughest roads I could find, at speeds up to 65mph. Everything was excellent, no contact with the bump stops at all. And the axles are now centered properly side to side. Brought it home and spent the next 2 days crawling underneath and painting everything. Then another several hours hooking up all the wiring and testing everything—no problems there, luckily. I neglected to mention that I had disconnected every electronic device, appliance, and system to avoid any electrical damage from stray voltage while welding. The final chore was to buy a new spare tire and wheel to match up properly. I took the original spare and mounted it on my utility trailer.
The whole exercise cost me $1500.00 all in, including the new wheels and tires, and in my mind was well worth it. The trailer has about another thousand miles on it since repairs, and all is well. Incidentally, the above modifications raised the weight of the unit by about 200 Lbs. total.
Some may point out that I’ve voided the frame warranty, and are likely correct. However, the rabbit faces that assembled the thing didn’t mind fastening stuff with zip screws through the frame all over the place, nor did the dealer hesitate to drill 4 holes in the tongue to mount the sway control plate. All which have created no problems whatever. Drilling and welding to strengthen things are just a good reason for Lippert to hide behind in case they are called upon to stand behind their shoddy workmanship and design.
Anyway, hope I haven’t bored everyone that reads this with this overly long post. Just want to make sure that people with unexplained excessive tire wear realize that more than faulty axles or cheap tires may be causing problems, and to make certain that a real close examination of virtually everything south of the flooring may be in order before wasting money on just better tires.
2012 Greywolf 26RL
2006 GMC 1500HD, 4x4, 6L.
Chipped, K&N Cold Air Intake, Magnaflow Exhaust