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Old 08-22-2020, 11:03 PM   #1
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90 degree turns while backing... Is it bad for the trailer?

So after replacing all of the shackles, bushings, wet bolts, etc., having both axles aligned - and replacing some Endurance tires that were worn unevenly due to the bad suspension parts - I am wondering how much of this was just wear from use vs. unnecessary damage I have caused.

Whenever I bring the camper home, I back it into the driveway and it's a hard 90 degree turn. Obviously, this drags the trailer axles a bit as it leaves skid marks when I make the turn. We almost always camp in state park campgrounds which have VERY narrow roadways. Backing into the sites is often the same thing. I'm making a hard 90 into the site - to the point where I am almost nearly jackknifed.

So my question is, do you think this is doing additional damage? Or are these things built to handle it?

My trailer is a 2015 Coachmen Catlina 273tbs. It's got about 20k miles on it.
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Old 08-22-2020, 11:39 PM   #2
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I donít know about damage but if you wet down the pavement in front of your house it might help reduce traction so the tires slide a little easier instead of binding up.
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Old 08-22-2020, 11:41 PM   #3
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I wonder the same thing. I’m sure those tight 90 degree turns put a lot of stress on the tires and suspension. You can tell by just looking at how the tires are sitting after pulling in.

I live on a cul-du-sac and when I make the circle my trailer (36’ 5th wheel) is turning real tight. I don’t think 90 degrees but above 70 or more. I leave rubber drag marks in the road. When I back in my tires are cockeyed. I typically lift each side off the ground with my hydraulic level up system to get them relaxed to normal. I know this is just sidewall flex but I still get them realigned. I understand that is why ST tires are recommended as they are specially built for these sidewall stresses.

I just had all my suspension rebuilt just today. New EZ-Flex suspension, wet bolts, etc. When I talked to the mechanic and asked how worn out they were he said the one on the passengers side was really bad. The bushings were pretty much powder. The one on the drivers side was worn but not that bad. He asked if the passenger side had more weight and I said no that the drivers side had my galley.

I think it might be from the heavy turn in my cul-de-sac. The passenger side is the inside wheels that get the most drag/side torque when making that turn.

The 5th wheel is 5 years old and probably over 40,000 miles. Lots of turns at my house. That’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

Bottom line, have the running gear replaced every 4 to 5 years, min.
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Old 08-22-2020, 11:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by dalford View Post
I wonder the same thing. Iím sure those tight 90 degree turns put a lot of stress on the tires and suspension. You can tell by just looking at how the tires are sitting after pulling in.

I live on a cul-du-sac and when I make the circle my trailer (36í 5th wheel) is turning real tight. I donít think 90 degrees but above 70 or more. I leave rubber drag marks in the road. When I back in my tires are cockeyed. I typically lift each side off the ground with my hydraulic level up system to get them relaxed to normal. I know this is just sidewall flex but I still get them realigned. I understand that is why ST tires are recommended as they are specially built for these sidewall stresses.

I just had all my suspension rebuilt just today. New EZ-Flex suspension, wet bolts, etc. When I talked to the mechanic and asked how worn out they were he said the one on the passengers side was really bad. The bushings were pretty much powder. The one on the drivers side was worn but not that bad. He asked if the passenger side had more weight and I said no that the drivers side had my galley.

I think it might be from the heavy turn in my cul-de-sac. The passenger side is the inside wheels that get the most drag/side torque when making that turn.

The 5th wheel is 5 years old and probably over 40,000 miles. Lots of turns at my house. Thatís the only thing that makes sense to me.

Bottom line, have the running gear replaced every 4 to 5 years, min.
Interesting. My issues started when the passenger side eating up tires. This led me to realize there were issues with parts in the suspension breaking down. This is also the side taking more abuse when I back in at home. Which probably happens 15-20 times per season...
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Old 08-23-2020, 12:43 AM   #5
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If you have spread axles...definitely! Especially hard on spring hangers and the frame where the spring hangers mount.
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Old 08-23-2020, 12:52 AM   #6
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If you have spread axles...definitely! Especially hard on spring hangers and the frame where the spring hangers mount.
I donít have spread axles. I donít know about the op but I can see where that would exacerbate the stress...
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Old 08-23-2020, 11:50 AM   #7
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If you have spread axles...definitely! Especially hard on spring hangers and the frame where the spring hangers mount.
You betcha'. The wider the spread on the axles the greater the shear stress on those parts.
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Old 08-23-2020, 01:20 PM   #8
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Can't speak for anyone else, but I would never, ever back a TT at a 90į angle. Those frames, and tongues, are not built to withstand that type of sideways force.
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Old 08-23-2020, 01:33 PM   #9
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https://youtu.be/p1B5d_K2__4

Watch this video.
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Old 08-23-2020, 01:53 PM   #10
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Can't speak for anyone else, but I would never, ever back a TT at a 90į angle. Those frames, and tongues, are not built to withstand that type of sideways force.
Sometimes we don't have that option. The campground we visit most often is gravel so I don't think the stresses are as bad. Our second go to is grass or dirt so once again, the tires get to slide more than if on pavement. Still,,,, I worry too.
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Old 08-23-2020, 02:02 PM   #11
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Nice video. I remember the ole alley dock from when I got my CDL over 20 years ago. I got a class B so didn't have to worry about trailers.

Unfortunately, the video doesn't really address my question. He used a 70 foot wide road. The roads in most state park campgrounds are maybe 30 get wide if you are lucky. I feel like most of the times I back in, I don't have an option other than to put the truck and trailer at a much tighter angle.
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Old 08-23-2020, 02:03 PM   #12
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Sometimes we don't have that option. The campground we visit most often is gravel so I don't think the stresses are as bad. Our second go to is grass or dirt so once again, the tires get to slide more than if on pavement. Still,,,, I worry too.
Agreed. Obviously, if I have the option I'll avoid a tight angle. It's just that most of the time I don't have the option.
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Old 08-23-2020, 02:12 PM   #13
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There's a world of difference between a vacant lot with pylons and a CG with infrastructure, topographical and terrain features to maneuver around. Very seldom do you get a 25 yard run for your angle of approach when backing into a CG site. There is no shame in having to pull up a time or two.
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Old 08-23-2020, 02:36 PM   #14
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Our fellow member, Tireman9, has some information on tire 'interply shear' from turning tires too sharply on trailers.


https://www.rvtiresafety.net/2013/11...no-babble.html
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Old 08-23-2020, 02:37 PM   #15
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Sometimes we don't have that option. The campground we visit most often is gravel so I don't think the stresses are as bad. Our second go to is grass or dirt so once again, the tires get to slide more than if on pavement. Still,,,, I worry too.
Low traction surfaces do relieve pressure on tires and suspension compared to pavement.

Also, when the wheels are rotating as you make these turns pressure is reduced as the tread is being picked up and laid down through the turn.

Eliminated? No, but reduced.

If axles are mounted on leaf springs the weakest point is the spring hangars. Most could benefit from some serious reinforcement not just for tight turns but for any sudden side-load while driving down the road.

Every trailer will be different so regular inspections should be in order. Look for cracking paint or rust forming at welds. a good sign stress is setting up a failure.
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Old 08-23-2020, 08:19 PM   #16
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Not sure about the angle, but if you take the bars off you should be able to. Once your in would be good to pull it forward and back (or whatever you can do) in order to take the stress off the wheels.
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Old 08-24-2020, 06:27 AM   #17
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It is not just the spring hangers or tires that are being stressed. It is also the wheel bearings, particularly the outer bearing which is smaller in diameter than the inner.

Because it is located on the outer end of the spindle, it is subject to a greater lateral stresses. The stresses can cause the outer race of the outer bearing to begin to spin in the hub. This will very quickly lead to losing a wheel at an inopportune moment. (ask me how I know this)

FR in their infinite wisdom installed hubs with a very small bearing on the outer end of the hubs of our camper. The trailer manufacturing business I took it to for repair after losing that wheel told me those were the standard bearings on 3500 lb axles not 5500 lb axles.

I caught one of them before it failed, the second one caught me. Now I have 4 new hubs with the larger outer bearings. And a significantly beefed up suspension.

One more point, the springs on our camper had plastic bushings for the spring bolts. As you can guess the plastic wears very quickly when being stressed by backing. Bronze or brass is a much better material if you are replacing them when they wear.

Just my .02
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Old 08-24-2020, 07:47 AM   #18
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Thanks for sharing that. Very interesting/makes sense to me.
We keep our trailer at home and have to turn at a pretty sharp angle. I always jimmy with the parking angle to get the tires back in line and relieve the stress.
Like someone else posted, oftentimes wonder what role this type of stress plays in blowouts.
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Our fellow member, Tireman9, has some information on tire 'interply shear' from turning tires too sharply on trailers.


https://www.rvtiresafety.net/2013/11...no-babble.html
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Old 08-24-2020, 08:11 AM   #19
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I would keep an eye on the spring hangers. I've had both rear hangers break on my Cedar Creek 36 CKTS and also had one break on my Jayco Designer.
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Old 08-24-2020, 08:40 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by wmtire View Post
Our fellow member, Tireman9, has some information on tire 'interply shear' from turning tires too sharply on trailers.


https://www.rvtiresafety.net/2013/11...no-babble.html
This was my first thought when I saw the title of the thread. The tires take a beating in tight turns. I have always done my best to pull forward/ back straight up a couple times after pulling into tight spots. This should unload the side force on the tires. Especially important (IMO) when parking for extended periods.
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