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Old 03-21-2018, 07:34 PM   #1
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Trailer repair not quite as good as before

Had an accident with my 2016 17' coachmen clipper, and bent the frame. Jacked up the camper, pulled out the frame, and took it to a weld shop. New frame was made (heavier than the old one) and a new axle installed (bent a spindle on the old one). Everything measures square, axle is parallel to frame.

When I take it out now, it seems to sway more - never used a sway bar before (2001 F250). Happens with/without wind, smooth asphalt, grooved concrete... doesn't matter.

What else could be wrong?
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Old 03-21-2018, 07:44 PM   #2
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Using heavy material has probably upset the balance a little. Do you know your pre accident tongue weight? Do you know your current tongue weight?
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Old 03-21-2018, 07:46 PM   #3
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Following this thread. Those are major modifications introduced to the TT. Hope you get it figured out.
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Old 03-21-2018, 07:58 PM   #4
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Sway and tongue weight directly related... between 12-15% of total trailer weight should be on the tongue... less TW weight more sway... add tongue weight into front of trailer by filling FW tank if ahead of axle or add water bottles, concrete blocks, etc to front inside of trailer and see what happens... maybe 40-50# at a time and try to tow again

about how many # did you add to trailer weight? what was starting dry weight and now what is total weight with more frame added?

If you added 400# of frame weight you are probably on the lower side of the 12-15% of total trailer weight Vs TW now causing sway
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Old 03-21-2018, 08:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riley3131 View Post
Had an accident with my 2016 17' coachmen clipper, and bent the frame. Jacked up the camper, pulled out the frame, and took it to a weld shop. New frame was made (heavier than the old one) and a new axle installed (bent a spindle on the old one). Everything measures square, axle is parallel to frame.

When I take it out now, it seems to sway more - never used a sway bar before (2001 F250). Happens with/without wind, smooth asphalt, grooved concrete... doesn't matter.

What else could be wrong?
Was the axle aligned?
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Old 03-22-2018, 10:48 AM   #6
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I took the camper to a CAT scale (after it was loaded with gear and water).

Truck front axle: 3220
Truck rear axle: 3540
Trailer axle: 3380

Then I disconnected the trailer and put the tongue jack on one pad, but I didn't get it quite level since the trailer axle weight changed a little.

Tongue (jack): 520
Trailer axle: 3340

Then I moved a bunch of stuff out of the camper (dishes, bottle water) and drained the FW tank.

Truck front axle: 3300
Truck rear axle: 3560
Trailer axle: 3140

So, using the second weighing, trailer is 3860, and tongue is 520 = 13.5%.

Hard to know what the trailer tongue weight was the second time (since the truck weight changed by adding all the gear from the camper). Overall, 140 lbs or water was dumped. I could not tell any difference in it playing around before or after the gear. I do have some softener salt (and some concrete bags) that I can add and take a drive around. I will try and do that today.

I have tried a WDH (no help) and even rented a different truck (RAM 1500 from UHaul). The rented truck didn't seem any different, although bumps were softer (but probably just the difference from 3/4 ton to 1/2 ton).
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Old 03-22-2018, 11:01 AM   #7
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I would take the TT to a truck frame and axle shop and have the alignment checked.
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Old 03-22-2018, 11:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riley3131 View Post
Had an accident with my 2016 17' coachmen clipper, and bent the frame. Jacked up the camper, pulled out the frame, and took it to a weld shop. New frame was made (heavier than the old one) and a new axle installed (bent a spindle on the old one). Everything measures square, axle is parallel to frame.

When I take it out now, it seems to sway more - never used a sway bar before (2001 F250). Happens with/without wind, smooth asphalt, grooved concrete... doesn't matter.

What else could be wrong?
Did you replace the tires ? I guessing you would have seeing as how you had a bent spindle.
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Old 03-22-2018, 01:01 PM   #9
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New tires, upgraded from 13" to 14" wheels, and got a better tire Carlisle Radial Trail HD (2040lbs capacity) since I knew that there was going to be some extra weight. I took the spare and mount off the back bumper for weight concerns as well...
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Old 03-23-2018, 11:40 AM   #10
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Very interesting. 13% TW and still swaying.
I can't see alignment being an issue, with a new axle installed.
I would guess that something isn't quite as square as you thought. But I have no idea what to look for. You might need to take it to a trailer shop, tell them what you did, and get recommendation. They certainly have had newer trailers repaired (?), and may point you to a shop that has the right equipment to be sure your job was done right.
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Old 03-24-2018, 05:38 PM   #11
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I put a level on the tire and measured to the frame. One side was perfect (12.5" front and back). The other side was off 3/16" (13" in the back, 13 3/16" in the front). So the drivers side wheel is toe out, and the passenger side is straight. A little odd that the axle isn't perfectly centered, but only about a 1/4" off. Is the toe out on one side enough to make a difference?
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Old 03-25-2018, 08:02 AM   #12
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I put a level on the tire and measured to the frame. One side was perfect (12.5" front and back). The other side was off 3/16" (13" in the back, 13 3/16" in the front). So the drivers side wheel is toe out, and the passenger side is straight. A little odd that the axle isn't perfectly centered, but only about a 1/4" off. Is the toe out on one side enough to make a difference?
IMHO Something is not right ,some axles are made with very slight toe in no more then 1/16 " the axle would have been marked Front if that was the case .

Also some replacement axles require the end user to locate the the spring perch location including drilling the hole for the spring center bolt this has to be done accurately

Measuring off the face of the tire is not always accurate as you have done but is good enough to tell that something is not right .

Since the frame was made from scratch I would use a plumb bob and first establish that it is square drop the plumb bob off each rear corner of the frame then measure to the exact center of the coupler, should be within a 1/4" or less,if this is good do the same from each front spring hanger if both are good then measure between the two marks that you made at the rear of the frame to find the exact center and strike a chalk line to the center of the mark under the coupler, this will give you a centerline so that you can be sure the axle is centered.

The next thing is to support the axle so that you can remove both wheels and drop the plumb bob off the center of each spindle and measure again to the center of the coupler this should be the same on both sides.

While this will take some time it will determine where the problem lies and will cost very little.

Here is a link that may help.

http://www.alko.com.au/wp-content/up..._procedure.pdf
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Old 03-25-2018, 08:25 AM   #13
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IMHO Something is not right ,some axles are made with very slight toe in no more then 1/16 " the axle would have been marked Front if that was the case .

Also some replacement axles require the end user to locate the the spring perch location including drilling the hole for the spring center bolt this has to be done accurately

Measuring off the face of the tire is not always accurate as you have done but is good enough to tell that something is not right .

Since the frame was made from scratch I would use a plumb bob and first establish that it is square drop the plumb bob off each rear corner of the frame then measure to the exact center of the coupler, should be within a 1/4" or less,if this is good do the same from each front spring hanger if both are good then measure between the two marks that you made at the rear of the frame to find the exact center and strike a chalk line to the center of the mark under the coupler, this will give you a centerline so that you can be sure the axle is centered.

The next thing is to support the axle so that you can remove both wheels and drop the plumb bob off the center of each spindle and measure again to the center of the coupler this should be the same on both sides.

While this will take some time it will determine where the problem lies and will cost very little.

Here is a link that may help.

http://www.alko.com.au/wp-content/up..._procedure.pdf
Another link that may help.
Trailer Axle Alignment and Tire Wear Problems
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Old 03-27-2018, 05:49 PM   #14
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Okay - performed the measurements outlined in the Al-Ko pdf. From the spindles ends to the front ball, the right (passenger) side is 3/8" shorter. For the hub face to the frame, the right (passenger) side is 3 13/16" and the left (driver) side it 4 1/4", so about a 1/2" different, but only a 1/4 off each side from perfect.

The leaf spring pin (that holds the plates together) fits into a bracket that is welded onto the axle. So moving it the 1/4 is going to be a lot of work. Also, to move the axle forward/backward isn't going to work, because I can't just move the axle on the leaf spring (due to the pin that is in the bracket). I would have to cut the leaf spring mounts off, and re-weld... but I don't know if that will make enough of a difference to be worth the amount of work. Thoughts?
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Old 03-28-2018, 06:35 AM   #15
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Okay - performed the measurements outlined in the Al-Ko pdf. From the spindles ends to the front ball, the right (passenger) side is 3/8" shorter. For the hub face to the frame, the right (passenger) side is 3 13/16" and the left (driver) side it 4 1/4", so about a 1/2" different, but only a 1/4 off each side from perfect.

The leaf spring pin (that holds the plates together) fits into a bracket that is welded onto the axle. So moving it the 1/4 is going to be a lot of work. Also, to move the axle forward/backward isn't going to work, because I can't just move the axle on the leaf spring (due to the pin that is in the bracket). I would have to cut the leaf spring mounts off, and re-weld... but I don't know if that will make enough of a difference to be worth the amount of work. Thoughts?
I would go back to the shop that fabricated the frame and show them what you found,the 3/8 shorter to the ball is a problem,side to side not good but not as big of deal, it should be corrected as well.

Are you sure on the hub face to frame measurements ? should be more like 13 " not 3 .

you still need to establish a true center line , btw are the springs new ? if so make sure that they measure the same from the front eye to the center bolt I have seen new springs be off 1/4 inch .

Did you recheck the toe I know you said it was off but only on the left that would indicate a bent axle ,if it was be caused by the front to rear being off the right side would be toed in the same amount that left is toed out.

Lippert makes this kit but it is for much larger tandem axles
https://store.lci1.com/correct-track...sion-alignment

As it stands now by your measurements the trailer is trying to track left.

As has been said maybe take it to someone that does alignments on trailers they will be able to tell you for sure what is wrong.
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Old 03-28-2018, 10:11 AM   #16
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New springs on both sides... I have the tires on again, so I will probably have to jack it up again to measure the springs. I didn't measure from the hub face to the frame, but from the hub face mount on the end of the axle to the bottom of the I beam... so that accounts for 7 inches or so... When the spindle was bent, it also ruined the rim... but the hub and bearings seem okay, but maybe something with them is causing some problems still.

I live in a place without good options for trailer alignment - I will try to call a few semi-trailer repair shops and see if they will look at a travel trailer.
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Old 03-29-2018, 11:53 AM   #17
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Found a frame/axle shop in a nearby city that can help me out - I will let you know if they change anything and if it helps.
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