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Old 10-19-2010, 12:19 PM   #1
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torsion suspension vs. Leaf Spring

Hello everyone, I'm a newby here.

I just put a deposit on a 2011 Surveyor SP295, subject to test tow.

We are sold on the outside kitchen. This is the only ultra light unit with outside kitchen weight less than 5500lbs and under 33ft (overall length). Mine is 5231lbs. We notice it is a Sports Model with a few "options" missing such as the Torsion suspension. All others, such as electric water heater, I can live without. (unless someone suggest otherwise)

I have a 06 Durango with upgraded suspension that can tow up to 10,000lbs. The length of the unit, is of course, a concern, but I don't think it is a deal breaker. (unless someone suggest otherwise) I'm here in Calgary, Canada, just an hour drive to the mountains. The road is rather long and straight. But we prefer a larger unit so that I don't have to upgrade at a later time. The TV, of course, can be replaced of upgraded.

We will go for a test tow on Friday.

My concern is, of course, towing. I've driven 30+ft Class C motor home for vacations without much problems. Obviously, towing is in a different league.

If I don't like the tow, I can cancel my contract at any time, or opt for a non-Sports model with Torsion suspension system.

I have a few questions that I would like your valuable inputs.
  1. What should I look for during the test tow?
  2. Expect that the Torsion system delivers a quieter ride, how exactly does it improve tow handling? Would that improve safety? Someone mentioned the Torsion system allows the unit to sit lower with lower centre of gravity, but by how much? The Surveyor SP295 has the lowest exterior height of all ultra light (Bullets, Jayco, Outback, Aerolite, Tango, Coachman, etc.)
  3. The underbelly is not enclosed. Do you think it worth the extra to install electric heat pads and have it enclosed? I'm in a winter country
  4. I also notice may other ultra light units sit higher than the Surveyor. Is the lack of ground clearance a concern?
  5. Should I try towing a SV291 with a Torsion suspension system?
Thank you all for your help!
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Old 10-19-2010, 12:58 PM   #2
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The torsion suspension would give you a slightly better ride, but I would not be too concerned about that, because you're not riding in it while in motion, anyway. I think I would definitely get the heated and enclosed underbelly, especially living in the cold climates like you are. I would also really test out the Durango for a tow vehicle- I have an 04 Hemi Durango Limited, it comes with the factory tow package, and trans. cooler, HD radiator, PS cooler, etc. BUT it has a 3:54 rear end, and P rated 245 70 17tires. My 06 Ram 1500 that I tow with pulls my camper much better, but it still has the same drivetrain and gearing. I put hellwig helper springs, bilstein shocks, and LT rated tires on it, and it greatly improved towing, but the rear end needs to be a 3:92 for a better pull. I would not take my setup into the mountains- gas mileage would be awful, and the tranny would probably fry. Your set up is lighter however, and you may be able to do it. I would surely try it on some good hills, though. Good Luck, Randy
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Old 10-19-2010, 01:00 PM   #3
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I assume since it's a test tow that you won't have a WDH. You really need one or you won't like towing it at all. If you are going to have a WDH then you need to make sure it's adjusted correctly for the RV/TV combo. Does the Durango have P rated tires or LT tires. It makes a big difference in how it handles a trailer.

1. How your TV handles the RV during all manuvers and how much power it has towing. Don't worry about fuel economy you're gonna get about 8 to 9 mpg.

2. I've towed many spring hung trailers and several torsion trailers and I can't tell much difference either way. The height is the only difference and I don't believe there's enough difference to really matter in those units.

3. [s]I thought all Surveyors had an enclosed underbelly.[/s] [EDIT] Just checked the site. "N/A Sport Models" Bummer. It's definitely worth the extra to insulate and enclose the undebelly. Be sure you specify 3/4" or 1" styrofoam sheeting full coverage to be layed on top of the coroplast and that all openings be filled with expanding foam. You'll thank me for that.

4. I have a Surveyor and have never had an issue with ground clearance. You just have to be aware of your surroundings. As you should at all times whether towing or not.

5. Yes you should if it's available to you. You may find that the Durango tows one much better than the other due to weight distribution.

Speaking of weight distribution. Make sure the RV is loaded with approx 12%+ TW (tongue weight). If it's loaded less than 10% you're not going to like towing it! That goes for any trailer you tow except boats.
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Old 10-19-2010, 08:46 PM   #4
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Great idea doing the tow test. Hope the dealer is providing a WD hitch with sway control and has someone THAT ACTUALLY KNOWS HOW TO SET ONE UP PROPERLY...seems sorta rare. The key thing is to ensure that front suspension ride height is the same or preferrably less when the camper is hooked up...the only way to know the the weight being transferred forward.

The enclosed underbelly and tank heaters a good idea to help extend the camping season. Our first camper had the tank heaters without the enclosed underbelly...they worked fine.

I doubt that you'll notice a difference in ride between leaf springs vs torsion suspension. The lower ride height isn't an outcome of the torsion suspension...the ride height depends on the amount and size of the steel spacers between the frame and the axle mount. I believe that FR offered a lift kit that would raise the camper 4" with the addition of a 4" spacer block. I don't know if that could still be ordered when built.

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Old 10-19-2010, 10:55 PM   #5
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Thank all for your help. Much appreciated! I'll write back about the tow test.

I doubted the dealer would have the Reese Dual-Cam setup for the test tow. The vehicle will come with a equalizer, which is part of the deal.
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Old 10-19-2010, 11:14 PM   #6
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surveyor 295, you didn't say what engine the Durango had. If it's not the 5.7 Hemi, you'll be very disappointed in the towing performance, and gas mileage, too. The equalizer hitch will be just fine, but you'll want it properly installed BEFORE your test pull. If you don't, it will be very scary!
Best of luck, Randy
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Old 10-19-2010, 11:26 PM   #7
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My Durango is with a 5.7Hemi.
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Old 10-20-2010, 07:28 AM   #8
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Just keep in mind that there's a difference in the equalizer hitch and a Equal-i-zer hitch. The latter provides sway control and is a much better hitch than what most people call an equalizer. If it's not the Equal-i-zer brand then you'll need a sway bar and that RV is too long for a friction sway bar to work correctly. Especially with your TV.

Make sure you get either a Equal-i-zer or a Reese Dual Cam hitch and make sure it's set up correctly before you first test tow. Even if you have to front a little more money it'll definitely be worth it.

It only takes about an hour to install the Equal-i-zer and there's no drilling of the frame so it's easily changed from one RV to the next.
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Old 10-20-2010, 07:54 AM   #9
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Surveyor 295, I just checked the 2006 Durango towing guide, and I don't see where any 2006 Durango is rated to tow 10,000 lbs. Since you didn't stat some of the specifics on your Durango (trim level, 2wd vs. 4wd, and final drive ratio), it is hard to determine the maximum tow rating from this website: http://www.dodge.com/towing/D/vehicl...vehicleFamily=


That is a long trailer being pulled by a fairly short wheelbased tow vehicle. A good rule of thumb is to divide the TV wheelbase in inches by 5 and that should be the maximum overall trailer length in feet.

Be careful out there.
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Old 10-20-2010, 08:46 AM   #10
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I love the torsion system. It allows the trailer to sit lower (as you know). This means a lower center of gravity and less wind resistance. On most of my towing trips (some of which are over 2,000 miles), I average 11 mpg @ 60 mph. I attribute some of this to the lower height of the trailer. The lower center of gravity has to result in increased stability and safety. The torsion system is also, in effect, and independent suspension; so a big bump on one side of the trailer doesn't de-stabilize the other side; unlike a leaf/solid axle system. The only time I ever see 9 mpg is into a heavy wind and/or climbing into the mountains.
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Old 10-20-2010, 03:26 PM   #11
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I can't say enough thank you to everyone!

My Durango comes with upgraded heavy duty suspension. I first didn't believe it but I went to the dealer and ask for a build sheet. Yes, my suspension system, or whatever combination is, got me to the 10000lbs limit, at least on their book. I saw it with my own eyes. Even without the heavy duty suspension, my setup can still pull up to 7700lb. I think I'm ok.

I know the wheelbase is an issue. I'm going to install a Reese Dual Cam sway control on the distribution hitch.

I asked the dealer to let me test tow the following two trailers:
1. SP295
2. SV291

If it turns out to be a scary exercise, I will then try other shorter models.
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Old 10-20-2010, 03:40 PM   #12
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Sounds like you got a good handle on things. Let us know how they tow.

1 other thing to check is the maximum hitch weights. There should be a sticker on your factory hitch with those ratings.

And I mirror acadianbob's thoughts on the torsion axle suspension......they tow sweet. But my only experience with leaf springs is with a utility trailer and a pop-up, so I don't really have anything to proper to compare with.
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Old 10-20-2010, 03:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acadianbob View Post
I love the torsion system. It allows the trailer to sit lower (as you know).

The biggest reason that the camper sits low is because it has an "above the floor" slideout. If it is a "flush floor" slide, the ride height is higher as the slide has to clear the wheel well. If you're comparing the ride of these campers vs other manufacturers, you may well be comparing above floor vs flush floor slides.

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Old 10-20-2010, 06:46 PM   #14
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I believe the reason they ride lower is that the torsion system allows the axle to go right up against the trailer frame. This isn't possible with leaf spring systems.
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Old 10-20-2010, 08:53 PM   #15
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Quote:
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I believe the reason they ride lower is that the torsion system allows the axle to go right up against the trailer frame. This isn't possible with leaf spring systems.
Some newer trailers ( earthbound rv and Visa by gulf stream) actually have the torsion suspension right in the frame. Extremely low ride height. I know someone with a Visa, there is no exterior step! You likely won't find a flush floor slide torsion suspension setup, as mentioned the leaf spring suspension is normally used for this type of slide.

happy camping,
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:54 PM   #16
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You likely won't find a flush floor slide torsion suspension setup, as mentioned the leaf spring suspension is normally used for this type of slide.
Actually all Rockwood/Flagstaff campers with flush floor slides do come with torsion suspension, they just add spacers between the frame and the axle mount.

Dave
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Old 10-21-2010, 05:41 PM   #17
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Actually all Rockwood/Flagstaff campers with flush floor slides do come with torsion suspension, they just add spacers between the frame and the axle mount.

Dave
Cool! Guess that is one of the reasons people love rockwood/flagstaff!
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Old 10-22-2010, 10:11 AM   #18
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Some newer trailers ( earthbound rv and Visa by gulf stream) actually have the torsion suspension right in the frame. Extremely low ride height. I know someone with a Visa, there is no exterior step! You likely won't find a flush floor slide torsion suspension setup, as mentioned the leaf spring suspension is normally used for this type of slide.

happy camping,
Wow! I'm going to have to check those out!!
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Old 10-27-2010, 01:51 PM   #19
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Hello guys.

We did the test tow last Friday. My TV is 06 Dodge Durango.

We test towed two unit: Surveyor 295 and Passport 2590. The Passport is 3ft shorter than the Surveyor and is less than 200lbs lighter. We first tested the 295 with only the Reese WD. No sway control for neither unit.

Surveyor 295 towing impressions:
It was ok. Nothing really exciting. I do find the sway acceptable. It would be much between improved after dual cam sway control is install.
- handling (6/10) -without any sway control
- parking (2/10) - because the unit is slightly longer than my driveway. Backup turning radius is poor.
- ground clearance (2/10) - my driveway is only slightly slopped. It becomes next to impossible to pull into campgrounds here in Alberta without some damages.

Next, we tested the Passport. Oh my goodness! It is much easier to drive and with no sway at all! What a difference. The passport sits much higher than the surveyor but it is much more stable.
handling - (9/10) almost perfect, compare to the surveyor
parking - (8/10) yes, it fits into my driveway!
ground clearance - (10/10) No issue at all

My wife insisted I try the surveyor again. Yes, we did arranged another test tow on the following Sunday. Nothing has changed.

Here is the conclusion:
We aren't going to buy the surveyor.
We aren't going to put an offer for the Passport. My wife isn't exactly thrilled with the interior decor.

We have since looked at a few others and the Aerolite255 looks nice. It is comparable in term of length and weight of the Passport. We did put a deposit for one and guess what, we are going to test tow it tomorrow.

Sorry guys. I guess I'm going to be a surveyor owner after all.
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Old 10-27-2010, 02:18 PM   #20
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Sounds like you have done a thorough comparison with those 2 models. Have fun with your continued shopping.....something just right will appear.

Concerning the Aerolite, do a research on the frames. I have heard that there has been a problem in the past with the Norco frames that were used.
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