Adding leafspring suspension to, or lifting a Scamp - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-09-2009, 09:47 PM   #1
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Trailer: Scamp 13 ft
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Hi All,

I'm new to the forum, but have already gathered lots of info for my upcoming Scamp reno.

My wife and I picked up a 1977 Scamp this past summer for $520. It is in fairly good shape and is complete; aside from bunk posts, fresh water tank / plumbing and some AC wiring.

It's the next project, after I finish replacing the wood in my 15' aluminum boat. We're planning on completing a full renovation / customization.

I need to lift the Scamp to get to the remote locations at which I camp. The logging roads are often unmaintained. This topic is to discuss options for lifting a 13' Scamp / Boler (any other identicals?). My two considerations are a lift with square tubing (came across a how-to online), or adding leafspring suspension.

Leafsprings offer the benefit of having suspension as well as a lift. Does anyone know if there are any drawbacks to adding suspension?

Has anyone thought of, or completed this modification?
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:10 PM   #2
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After looking at the picture I understand your comment "Leafsprings offer the benefit of having suspension as well as a lift" -- the rubber torsion springs on your Scamp are completely dead.

You could replace the axle on your Scamp with a new torsion axle, which would give you a better ride and higher clearance than you have currently. If you want more lift than that you could have spacers welded to the frame.

Or, you could replace the torsion axle with a straight axle and leaf springs. Considering the rough roads you are contemplating, adding shock absorbers wouldn't be a bad idea either.

The frame you have is designed for a torsion spring axle, and you may find it easier to stay with torsion than converting to leaf springs. One problem you may run into with leaf springs is finding suitable spots for the shackles -- take a close look at the frame fore and aft of the axle and try to identify how you are going to mount them without creating problems.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:32 AM   #3
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Going with more of a down angle on the new axle will help considerably too. I have a 45 degree down and am now running 15" tires... if that's a consideration.
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:59 AM   #4
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I had our Scamp 5r raised and installed a new Torsion (BOLT ON) axle at the same time.
This way I can replace the bolt on axle myself when required.

I think the spring idea is good however may be a little more dificult. Be sure to add the shocks as previously recommended.
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:20 AM   #5
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After looking at the picture I understand your comment "Leafsprings offer the benefit of having suspension as well as a lift" -- the rubber torsion springs on your Scamp are completely dead.

You could replace the axle on your Scamp with a new torsion axle, which would give you a better ride and higher clearance than you have currently. If you want more lift than that you could have spacers welded to the frame.
Thanks for the reply. I'm not very familiar with axles as this is my first trailer. I didn't realize that my Scamp had existing suspension. I will look at replacing the torsion axle and probably adding a two to four inch lift with square tubing.

Does anyone have the measurements of the axle, or a part number of a suitable replacement? I will start looking for a replacement, unless there is a way to rebuild the stock axle...
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:16 PM   #6
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I am in the midst of adding 4 airbags from airbagit to 2 axles on my 21 Bigfoot trailer with leaf spring suspension. Someone else has done this type modification. The advantages of air springs are: highway/off road variable suspension height, side to side leveling on campsites, some reduction of suspension harshness as compared to leaf springs suspensions.



Adding air springs would not be as easy as replacing torsion or even leaf spring axle, I can vouch for it. But, I am looking forward to the end result.

George.


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Old 12-10-2009, 12:27 PM   #7
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One thing to keep in mind (and maybe you already are) is that if you raise the trailer by getting a new torsion axle with a steeper "down" angle, then the trailer, frame and axle will all be higher off the ground.

On the other hand, if you get a new axle (I think that's a given) with more of a stock down angle, but then raise the trailer (more) with spacers, then you are raising the trailer and frame, but not the axle. Raising just the trailer and frame can still be useful, because otherwise you can "clip" them in steep entrances and the like, but if I were going into places with rocks and whatnot, I would rather have them all raised.

One other point to keep in mind is that in stock configuration there is a limit to the amount of "off" or "rough" roading you can do without affecting the rest of the trailer. So just keep in mind that you may want to do some further "beefing" depending on how much or how rough your roads are.

Happy Scamping

Raya
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:47 PM   #8
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Call Scamp and ask what axle to order. Mine was a Dexter and Scamp sent it to me.
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Old 12-10-2009, 06:13 PM   #9
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Our TrailMite came with an odd axle/suspension design that I've not seen on any other trailers. It had a swing-link like a Scamp or Boler, but instead of having a torsion-bar in the pivot it had small (very small) leaf springs. The springs were so small that we broke one in the first summer that we had our TrailMite. We replaced it with the same size but knew that it would all eventually be redone since we regularly need to tow on rough roads .

Over the Winter of '07-'08 we replaced the tongue (it too was way underbuilt) took off the old axle, welded up some brackets and a cross member and installed a new axle and leaf-springs that resulted in raising the 'mite by about four inches.

What a difference! No more scraping on steep driveways, no more having to creep down dirt roads. We also took that opportunity to add brakes and a Prodigy controller. No regrets there either.

The photo below at Grand Tetons shows our original ride height. The image below that at Monument Valley shows our higher, more off-road/rough-road worthy Trail Mite.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:13 AM   #10
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I think I remember seeing another "odd" suspension like you're describing. It was a member here with a blue Boler American (can't remember his name but he did a neat musical/slide show about his mods, that is no longer accessible). The springs were parallel to the axle and maybe about 3-4" in diameter (?)

Not that it matters for the OP's query - just mentioning.

Raya
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Old 12-12-2009, 10:01 AM   #11
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Continuing the thread kijack, here is the spring torsion axle design that preceded the rubber torsion axle:


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Both of these are from 1960s Scotty trailers and, as far as I understand it, they are non-independent suspension - the two arms are fixed to the central tube and so they go up and down together.

Andrew
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Old 12-12-2009, 11:47 PM   #12
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Ah, I'm pretty sure those are like the ones I remember from the Boler American -- I hadn't appreciated that they surrounded the axle.
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Old 12-13-2009, 12:01 PM   #13
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I replaced the old worn out axle on our Boler with a new torsion one and gained about two inches in clearance. Without going and looking up the exact numbers, I think that the original was design rated at 1350 lbs and the new one at about 2100lbs. I do know that it rides better and tows much, much better. No more dishes on the floor at the end of a trip. A little trimming of the wheel wells and the next size larger tires and rims would also add a bit more ground clearance. But then I would have to carry a step stool for the entry.
Jim
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Old 12-13-2009, 07:02 PM   #14
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I might suggest that you will probably want to strengthen the frame for off road use. You might accomplish the replacement of your failed torsion axle and frame beef up at the same time. I think you should have a sub frame built to mount the camper on with a leaf spring and solid axle upgrade at the same time. I think that 2 " x 3" square tubeing with straps to weld to the existing frame would triple the strength of the trailer. The box tubeing would also provide a strong attach point for the leaf suspension. Shock absorbers may be hard to mount where they will clear the inner fender wells so you might look for an alternative to shocks for snubbing the bounce out of the rig. Remember you want 60% of the total length from hitch ball to axle for good handling. You may want to add a reciever at the back of the trailer for a bike rack etc. Don't forget you want to maintain about 10% of your trailer weight on the ball.
good luck with your project!
Marty
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