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Old 09-16-2008, 08:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Off road trailer Suspension Tech

So after looking around at all the trailers for a bit, and seeing a few different styles of suspension...what is everyones preference for all around capability?


I know the suspension is not as crucial as on the tow rig, but is flex as important? soft or firm ride? solid axle or independant suspension? A sway bar with the independant suspension?



I know for me I'd like one that will follow easily on the rocks and not beat up everything inside
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Old 09-17-2008, 05:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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ive seen that most people run leaves, but the chaser trailors AT makes use indepedntant with air bags. i think what i have seen that helps the most is shocks, they often get left off of trailors.
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Old 09-17-2008, 08:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I run leaves on mine, in fact they are the same leaf springs as the tow rig. I also run shocks on mine just to reduce the pogo effect. I built my trailer around the 88 Toyota V6 p/u rear axle housing. It uses the same leaves, axle, shackles, plates etc as the tow vehicle. This allows me to always have spares available for the truck if needed as well as the same wheels and tires if I need another spare. If needed I can swap the whole housing into my truck if I really f it up since I have the same gears and a lunch box locker in the trailer axle (it came that way when I bought it, I didn't add the locker). I was looking at interchangability for the use this truck/trailer gets out in the boonies. IMO leaves are easier to fix or rig than just about any other suspension, and are durable too.

Again, IMO, match your trailer axle and suspension to your tow rig.
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Old 09-17-2008, 11:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Wheelerfreak it sounds like you've got a pretty good setup going.

I think the issue with having shocks on a trailer is the space requirements. Under the body of the trailer there just isn't enough space unless you have a really tall trailer. On the sides of the body would work, but you'd probably have to mount the shocks inside the wheel wells -- possibility of damage from rocks getting picked up etc.

The alternative might be to stick with leaves and add some of those "helper shocks" that are advertised and get mounted along the length of the spring pack.
I've heard they do in fact help with excess bouncing in a pickup, so why not in a trailer?
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I gotta say one of the biggest reasons I went to a relativley soft suspension and shocks was my beer I was sick of getting to a camp site and all my bottles were broken or popped open due to the rough ass riding typical trailer suspensions. Or you would pop one open and it would foam up mmmmm So I guess I'm an alcoholic since that was my motivation
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Old 09-17-2008, 04:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Beer is one of the greatest motivators in the world.

There's other equipment i wouldn't want to get beat up too badly also... I'm thinking about my camp stove, and my lantern specifically. It would suck to roll up to camp, unload the gear and start making dinner only to find out one of the lines in the stove was damaged...
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:19 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Lone Wolf Expedition (good read btw) brought a tough, leaf sprung trailer. He spent a lot of time and effort repairing it multiple times.

I thought:

A: Geez, get an on-board welder! more than once he needed one bad.

B: An independent trailing arm axle might have stopped all his troubles before they started.

I realize leaf springs are tough, but they don't absorb rough roads so smoothly - they tend to take a hit from a pothole with a violent transmission of force, rather than a smooth action of the suspension. A swing axle tends to swing back from the bump as it goes up, helping the hit get spread out more smoothly. I've searched a bunch, the Aussie's seem to use a lot of trailing arm suspensions under their campers - and they have a lot of rough roads in the Outback.

Plus my own experience with a swing axle trailer has been trouble free, and I've abused mine with loads of logs towed over downed trees, down rough trails and usually way overloaded. I then took the same trailer, widened the deck, added a box for camping/cooking, and took it to Washing D.C. and back - from Anchorage, Alaska - about 15 thousand miles in one trip. The tow rig was an AWD Aerostar - not a real expedition rig, but it served to carry the family of 5 and averaged 17.5mpg overall. Off road getting firewood I have hauled it loaded over downed trees and thru deep water crossings. It's never needed anything other than a couple of bearing services, which was easy with a standard spindle/cone bearing arrangement.

I know it sounds weird to say "go to the junkyard and get an old small car suspension" but it worked great for me so I thought I'd offer up the idea.

pics.


Here you can see the swing arm suspension - it's got built-in torsion springs - easy as pie to bolt to a frame of your choosing.


the camper box. I can put stuff in it, cook from it ( the side door flops down and makes a shelf) and it's strong enough for a 300 pound man to walk on.
Obviously, it's removable so I can use it as a flat-bed stuff-hauler.


2300 pound pallet - too much for the Suby, it's almost bottomed out - I off-loaded about 5-600 pounds to the tow rig before hitting the highway at 65mph. So this is a LIGHT DUTY trailer, like less than 1500 gross for long distance travel. Luckily, it's a LIGHT TRAILER - I can pick it up easy, I'd guess it's less than 350 pounds as a flatbed. That leaves a lot of capacity for carrying tents,fuel,water, etc.



Off-road - it's got GREAT clearance. Also Subaru is a 4 on 5.5 circle, you can easily do a 6 on 5.5 conversion or a 5 on 5.5 conversion with care. My plan is to swap to toyota rims to match my Zuk's new axles.




I'm sure it would keep your beer safe too. It's very smooth riding
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Old 10-30-2008, 10:35 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maytag View Post
I know the suspension is not as crucial as on the tow rig, but is flex as important? soft or firm ride? solid axle or independant suspension? A sway bar with the independant suspension?



I know for me I'd like one that will follow easily on the rocks and not beat up everything inside

I think "flex" really has nothing to do w/ the trailer. w/o 2 axles, there aren't any opposing forces, so the only "flex" the trailer will have in its suspension is just from the slight COG changes when it leans over. All the "flex" will be between the towrig and trailer through the hitch.

I'd say the suspension on a trail-trailer should be as soft as reasonable to handle the weight.....again, mostly for taking away the harshness on the cargo ( )
thats all about spring rate.....fancy suspension design is probly somewhat wasted on a trail-trailer, the tires aren't powered or braked, so there won't be any weird dynamics......but if you go w/ some trailing arm setup, make sure the angles aren't such that it'll jack while backing up against an obstacle.

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Old 10-30-2008, 09:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm starting on one fore a friend of mine that will use a Range Rover chassis and stock 3-link with coils, we figure it will have about the same weight on the axle as a loaded Range Rover would so everything will end up sitting and performing about the same as a full truck. It may end up a few hundred pounds lighter in which case we'll I'll take the medium duty Rovertym springs out and swap in some lighter duty 2" lift OMEs and add a spacer so it'll still sit level with the truck and flex about the same.

I'll post a build thread once we really get it started.
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Old 12-12-2008, 02:49 AM   #10 (permalink)
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For those with really lightweight trailers, how much do you think the tire sidewall is your main suspension vs. the leaf springs or torsion bar or other type suspension used to support the axle?

I am looking to just swap a heavier duty axle under a lightweight aluminum utility trailer and go up to stock size jeep rims and rubber. In talking with some folks they said that until I load up the trailer with some decent weight I won't be using much of the suspension on the trailer.
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Old 12-12-2008, 05:47 AM   #11 (permalink)
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For the people that are running the same suspension as their vehicles; do you limit the travel on the trailer to keep it from falling into everything on the road? How much flex is really necessary on a trailer with a dumb axle?
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Old 12-12-2008, 02:00 PM   #12 (permalink)
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For those with really lightweight trailers, how much do you think the tire sidewall is your main suspension vs. the leaf springs or torsion bar or other type suspension used to support the axle?

I am looking to just swap a heavier duty axle under a lightweight aluminum utility trailer and go up to stock size jeep rims and rubber. In talking with some folks they said that until I load up the trailer with some decent weight I won't be using much of the suspension on the trailer.
what is "really lightweight"? Less than 500 ? 1000? No sidewalls other than ATV tires will flex or absorb much with really light loads. My Samurai on 35's had to run 18 psi on the highway just to get the tread to lay flat, and rode like a cement truck with my stiff leaf springs.

My Subaru trailer moves it's torsion suspension a lot on bumpy roads with only a few sheets of 3/4 plywood from Home Depot on it. I've been behind it while driving, torsion arms seem to react to very small bumps. Even completely unloaded it does not bounce. Even with it so soft, the only time I had trouble with sway on corners was when I had a 3 foot tall box built on the back, and stacked a couch up on top of that to take home - it swayed a bit on corners, but then I had no shocks on it then either.

I would guess unless you get a really soft leaf set-up you are right, not much spring flex, mostly bouncy 35" tires. This is maybe a reason not to use the leaf system if you can. Rubber torsion axles are not very expensive and plenty strong, imho. Even a 3500 pound torsion has a couple inches of initial take-up that would allow a light load to be suspended by something other than the tires.
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Old 12-12-2008, 05:29 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I agree with the idea of using a car suspesion to even out the bumps. An expo trailer shouldn't be carring heavy loads anyways. Personally, i plan to use the left over bits from my blazers ifs to make my trailer. I think it will promote a lot of good handling stuff in my expo trailer as well as hande lot of abuse.
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Old 05-14-2009, 08:52 PM   #14 (permalink)
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trailer Independent swing arm bagged

I have a little tent trailer that I want to convert from a solid torsion to a independent swing arm, using air bags (springs) and shocks.

I need assistance in designing the suspensions system. Here is what my original thoughts are. Swing arm pivots towards the front of the trailer and the axle welded to the other end of the swing arm and the bag in between.

The original axle was rated at 1500lbs so it is fairly light, however I have purchased axle/hubs rated at 3000lbs because I am going to add a little weight bigger tires and possibly carry a little boat on the top.

Thanks for your help.

existing set up.




Rough Idea of what I am thinking, just don't know how long to make the sing arms and where the best place to mount the air bag and shock

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Old 05-16-2009, 10:04 PM   #15 (permalink)
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that looks like an AT Adventure Trailer style suspension - also used on lots of Australian off-road trailers. It's an excellent choice. If cost is a consideration, the Suby suspension might still be something you want to look at but AT has spent years of trial and error and come up with just about what you have drawn there.
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Old 05-18-2009, 04:33 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I have a VenturCraft pop-up tent trailer with torsion arm type suspension. There's no axle bar or housing to get hanged up on the rocks. I don't think I have ever loaded it to capacity (700 lbs), but the beer isn't shook up at the end of the trail. I think the tires are the primary suspension, but I am sure the trailer suspension is also softening up the bumps a bit as well. I am running 33x9.50 MTs on the trailer.

Unfortunately Venturcraft went out of business several years ago. They also made the trailer for towing behind touring motorcycles. I think it was called a Kwik Kamp. I recently spotted one (the motorcycle version) being towed behind a Samurai.
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Old 05-18-2009, 11:49 PM   #17 (permalink)
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this trailer has good on and off road manners plus is nice and soft
so you dont tend to brake stuff.




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Old 05-20-2009, 09:23 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I started to reply "Oh, that looks like an Australian style - they have gotten trailers to survive severe abuse down to a science" and then I noticed it IS in Australia I like the disc brakes too.

It looks like it would be easy to make your own from that style - maybe run some old TJ rear springs - they are a dime a dozen. That and and a 3k spindle and some square tube and you have instant homebuilt off-road trailer axle
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Old 05-22-2009, 10:48 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Dang deepmud, thats a cool idea of using a rear torsion suspension off a small passenger car from the junk yard!
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Old 05-22-2009, 01:18 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Dang deepmud, thats a cool idea of using a rear torsion suspension off a small passenger car from the junk yard!
Thanks! Being broke is sometimes the mother of invention too
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:04 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Used a set of XJ leaves swapped end for end to move the axle back. Turns out they were to soft. Added a main and a short to the pack and went SOA with a set of Monroe Gas shocks.





While this is still a project in the making. Thus far it has worked very well.

One of the keys (IMHO) is the tires. 37`s aired down to about 15 lbs. The sidewall takes up a lot of hit.

By the time it`s done it will have a complete RTT, water and electrics.
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Old 05-25-2009, 03:50 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Hey Sheps: Thats a beautiful trailer, thanks for sharing the pics.
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Old 05-25-2009, 05:05 PM   #23 (permalink)
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no worries mate. it is my 70y/o parents trailer. they can set it up in less
then 5 minutes. i will get some photos next time it is set up for you as it
is a brilliant set up, even has aircon

i am copying the suspension setup on a light weight tent trailer that i am
building to use behind my suzuki when i have a bit of progress i will post some pickies.

have a look at these, especially the t-van. they will follow a 4wd anywhere.
http://www.tracktrailer.com.au/
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Old 05-25-2009, 05:08 PM   #24 (permalink)
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no worries mate. it is my 70y/o parents trailer. they can set it up in less
then 5 minutes. i will get some photos next time it is set up for you as it
is a brilliant set up, even has aircon

i am copying the suspension setup on a light weight tent trailer that i am
building to use behind my suzuki when i have a bit of progress i will post some pickies.

have a look at these, especially the t-van. they will follow a 4wd anywhere.
http://www.tracktrailer.com.au/
How do they actuate those rear discs?
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Old 05-25-2009, 07:47 PM   #25 (permalink)
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jsawduste trailers lookin good. cant wait to see what ya do to it. keep us posted
curious what materials you built it out of. and dont say metal!

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