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Old 06-14-2020, 01:38 PM   #1
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No Bo 19.8 Axle, Wheel & Tire Upgrade

I competed an Axle, Wheel & Tire Upgrade. My motivation was mainly to increase the safety factor of a single axle and increase a measly 900# cargo capacity. That weight would get eaten up very very quickly. It only had D rated tires, which had to go as well (too squishy). I also wanted a little more ground clearance and better brakes. The factory axle only had 10x1-1/2 brakes and they felt weak to me. Coming from campers and my utility trailer that has dual axles, I really noticed the lack of stopping power. We got a great deal on the camper, as we were actually the 2nd owner. I was able to justify the added expense of the upgrades.

I unbolted and cut off the old Lippert torsion 4400lb axle plates, build a 2x2 (1/4 wall) rectangle frame to raise the new axle up. I ordered a 5500lb rated Dexter Torflex axle with Never adjust brakes and Never Lube sealed bearings and 12"x2" brakes. It arrived in a couple weeks and I put it on. You can see the 2" tubing under the main frame. I'm not very good at taking progress pictures, but I have a few pics of the job. I went about the axle alignment measurements from the coupler to the axle using a "convert-a-ball" and a dowel to secure a rigid measuring point at the tongue. Then I leveled two wheel studs and measurement to the closest bolt on each side. I was only an 1/8" off on my first measurement. Wow, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. I got it to under a 1/16" from side to side.

I got larger E-rated AT rated tires in 265/75/16. I admit I'm a sucker for the offroad look and I wanted a big stout wheel again for some safety factor. These were only a bit more than a top quality trailer tire. We have plans to do an AK trip and also a Newfoundland trip as well, so the tires will be tested. So these tires are about 2-3/4" taller than the factory tires and 1" wider. I calculated this in when I ordered the axle as to have proper clearance in the wheel well and not stick outside the camper wall, as you can see.
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Old 06-14-2020, 01:40 PM   #2
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Did our first trip out a couple weeks ago with the new setup. Boondocking. Just a 2 hour drive to test everything and one overnight with the family. Rock solid now. Tows beautifully, stops WAY better than before, and I love the extra clearance.
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Old 06-14-2020, 01:50 PM   #3
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A-Frame Reinforcement

While I was deep into the camper upgrades, I decided to reinforce the A-frame.
Here are a few of the reinforcement. I know camper models that had A-frame and header issues over time due to stress and a light build. This camper used such light frame materials that I felt I would have issues eventually. I wanted to put more weight up there and again wanted more safety factor. And it just felt springy and weak to me. So I reinforced it by adding 2x2 tubing under the existing A frame. It made a huge difference. Much stiffer now and gives me the confidence she will hold up for long rough trips fully loaded. As you can see in the last picture, I also have a Hensley anti-sway hitch installed. I got used to having one on my last big 30' camper and they work so well, I decided to get one for this smaller camper too. Got a great deal on it used.
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Old 06-14-2020, 04:52 PM   #4
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Wow! That is good work! Glad that the upgrades made a noticeable difference for you and gave you increased stopping power.
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Old 06-14-2020, 09:01 PM   #5
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That's an impressive modification, nice work! I like those tires, a substantial upgrade from the stock Westlake. I'm curious about the specs of the new tires, what is the speed rating on those?
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Old 06-14-2020, 09:07 PM   #6
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That's an impressive modification, nice work! I like those tires, a substantial upgrade from the stock Westlake. I'm curious about the specs of the new tires, what is the speed rating on those?
Thank you. The tires are an AT passenger truck tire. BF Goodrich KO2 (E-rated 10 ply) in 265/75/16. Not sure about the speed rating, but if they are good enough for my truck (same model tire, different size are on my truck), they're good enough for the camper.
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Old 06-15-2020, 08:00 AM   #7
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Did a quick look-up, speed rating is 106mph. I use this number as a rough gauge as to how "tough" a tire really is...yes, it is a crude way to judge a tire. Our NOBO has stock Cooper tires which were standard equipment before they cheapened the build, they are pretty impressive compared to the Westlakes and have similar (very high for a trailer) rating.
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Old 06-15-2020, 08:44 AM   #8
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Thats really impressive work and a very nice frame/axle modification.
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Old 06-21-2020, 10:49 AM   #9
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Wow amazing modifications. I wish I could do those to my 19.8 . How much additional weight did all these things add?
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Old 06-21-2020, 10:58 AM   #10
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Wow amazing modifications. I wish I could do those to my 19.8 . How much additional weight did all these things add?
Thanks. Not exactly sure how much weight it added, but I'd guess about 40-50 lbs to the tongue and 60-70lbs for the axle framework. The axle and wheels maybe another 100lbs there. I feel much more comfortable knowing something is overbuilt than something it built light and wondering if I overloaded it, is the road t0o rough, etc.

Although the the axle is rated at 5500Lbs, that is just the rubber. It's really a 6000 lb axle with 5500 rated rubber torsion in it. So i'm still way ahead over the old one.
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Old 06-25-2020, 09:54 AM   #11
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Nicely done. I'm looking at this same camper and I have the same reservations on the axle rating and available cargo capacity, and was thinking about doing the same thing. I just have a quick question for you if you don't mind me asking.

Did you add the 2" tubing for the axle mount in order to give you more clearance for your bigger tires, more clearance for your camper frame, or to give it a stiffer mount? One of the other upgrades that I would do to this camper would be to add an additional 30 gallon fresh water tank above the axle. Running this tubing would give me a solid mount point for that, Although some angle iron would probably work just as well for that.
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Old 06-25-2020, 10:45 AM   #12
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Wow interesting reading this post. I just bent my axles on Monday on my 19.8 on a large pop hole. Trailer is at dealer now accessing the damages.
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Old 06-25-2020, 05:12 PM   #13
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Nicely done. I'm looking at this same camper and I have the same reservations on the axle rating and available cargo capacity, and was thinking about doing the same thing. I just have a quick question for you if you don't mind me asking.

Did you add the 2" tubing for the axle mount in order to give you more clearance for your bigger tires, more clearance for your camper frame, or to give it a stiffer mount? One of the other upgrades that I would do to this camper would be to add an additional 30 gallon fresh water tank above the axle. Running this tubing would give me a solid mount point for that, Although some angle iron would probably work just as well for that.
Mostly I added the 2" tubing for increased structural support. I wanted to spread out that point load as much as possible. I think I accomplished that. The clearance didn't really matter, because when you order a torsion axle the starting angle can be anything you want so you can easily compensate one way or the other with just a new axle, depending on your wheel/tire size, frame lift etc. I like the extra water tank idea. I think there is plenty of room right there above the axle for one. Now you got me thinking about another upgrade...hmmm. I think you would want to add the 2" tubing framework if you are going with a heavier axle and definitely if you have an extra water tank there too.
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Old 06-25-2020, 05:20 PM   #14
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Wow interesting reading this post. I just bent my axles on Monday on my 19.8 on a large pop hole. Trailer is at dealer now accessing the damages.
Wow man sorry to hear that...what a bummer! What part of the axle bent? I'd love to hear more about what happened. How big was the pothole...the size of a manhole? Ouch. I would insist on a heavier axle even if it means paying the difference (assuming insurance covers it). There would be no difference in installation labor, unless you wanted a 2" frame added like i did. If you went with another Lippert axle you could size up and the the existing brackets (assuming they aren't damaged), would bolt right up. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 06-25-2020, 05:52 PM   #15
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Yeah I am waiting for service guy to give me a call for the damage. I want a serious upgrade I'd like to do exactly what you did . Geico is covering the damage and towing so far. I was about 150 miles from home and hit the pot hole. It was large enough to consume the entire wheel but relatively shallow. I was traveling around 25 mph merging onto a main road. The wheel looks like it has a slight negative camber. The top is almost touching the inner fender. I had a full fresh tank and minimal gear; unacceptable No Boundaries except pot holes . Sigh.
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Old 06-25-2020, 09:55 PM   #16
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Yeah I am waiting for service guy to give me a call for the damage. I want a serious upgrade I'd like to do exactly what you did . Geico is covering the damage and towing so far. I was about 150 miles from home and hit the pot hole. It was large enough to consume the entire wheel but relatively shallow. I was traveling around 25 mph merging onto a main road. The wheel looks like it has a slight negative camber. The top is almost touching the inner fender. I had a full fresh tank and minimal gear; unacceptable No Boundaries except pot holes . Sigh.
Well that does not seem like enough force to trash an axle. It may have only bent the spindle, which on some axles are replaceable. I don't think they are replaceable on these Lippert axles though. So I paid about $1300 (shipped) for my Dexter Torflex axle with Never Lube Bearings (sealed bearings) and Never Adjust Brakes. In the event you do want to replicate what I did. Here are the details that I gave Axle Inc, in Indiana, where I ordered it from. Great folks to work with there.

5500# #11 Dexter Torflex Axle
22 Degrees Down
80-1/2 Hub face to Hub Face
59.25 Inside Frame to Inside Frame
Stud pilot 8-6.5 bolt pattern with 1/2 studs
Never Lube Bearings
Never adjust Electric Brakes
Mounting Brackets

In the attached picture, you can see the old axle label. I increased the hub face measurement just a bit to ensure i would have enough clearance inside the wheel well, with the wider tires. It came out, spot on, with good inside clearance, and the tires are flush with the fender on the outside. If you kept the original tires and wheels, you would want to match the original bolt pattern and hub face measurements, which are shown on the axle tag/label. My original label is attached. But of course, verify before ordering.
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:56 AM   #17
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Great job!

Great mod, and an awesome write up. Im looking to lift mine a little bit as well. And strengthening the frame at the same time its a great idea.

Have you thought about adding a secondary freshwater tank? I was crawling underneath this weekend I noticed there might be enough space in front of the current freshwater tank to add another 20/30 gallon tank. What are your thoughts?
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Old 09-16-2020, 10:10 PM   #18
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Great mod, and an awesome write up. I’m looking to lift mine a little bit as well. And strengthening the frame at the same time it’s a great idea.

Have you thought about adding a secondary freshwater tank? I was crawling underneath this weekend I noticed there might be enough space in front of the current freshwater tank to add another 20/30 gallon tank. What are your thoughts?
Funny you should mention that. Why yes, yes I have. lawless154 mentioned that above, a while back, and I just ordered this 39 gallon tank. It's 6" tall plus another 2" at the sump (the little well that stick down). Our frames are 5" tall, plus my 2" additional axle riser frame and this tank will sit inside of that. So I'll have 1" of that sump below my frame but I "think" the plastic belly pan will sag enough to cover it. We'll see. I believe I can route a 2nd fill port, through the floor, just in front of the wheel well, (where it will be hidden inside the slide out wiring/wheel well box) and then out the side of the camper wall. I haven't decided how to connect the output from the tank to the water system yet. Either a 2nd pump to fill the first tank or a valve system to be able to switch from one tank to the other when one is empty.

I'm completely comfortable adding another 420# of water since I have a heavier axle and also because it will be carried entirely by the axle (and not the camper frame or body) as it will be attached to that axle reinforcement/riser frame I added. Non modified No-Bo's could certainly use a smaller tank and plan to fill close to their destination. I'll write up the install in a separate post when I complete it.

I also ordered the rest of the components to rework the power system...300w solar, 200ah lithium batteries, Victron Multiplus Compact 12/2000/80 inverter-charger, etc.

It should be highly self contained rig when I'm done with these 2 projects. Especially, if I tote my Honda 2000 genny around with me.
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Old 09-19-2020, 11:50 PM   #19
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2nd water tank added. Posted here.
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