Torsion vs. Springs (through the eyes of a Rookie) - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-22-2012, 01:41 AM   #1
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Torsion vs. Springs (through the eyes of a Rookie)

My Li'l Bigfoot is currently equipped with a full Torsion axle. I have a feeling it's tired and needs replacing and if I'm gonna do tires, rims and bearings, I might as well do it all at the same time.

I know, springs are easier and give you an option of achieving higher ground clearance, but I'd have to modify the frame to attach the springs. The Bigfoot frame isn't perpendicular to the axle,,, it tapers in toward the tongue. Bummer.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe there is an option of turning down the torsion ends to either 22.5 or 45 degrees to achieve more ground clearance. Does that work and which angle is more advisable?

Here is a picture of how the axle is attached. They've created a plate at the same angle as the frame. Is there a universal system (bolted) to attach the axle or will I have to get it done custom (welded)?

Lemme know! Help a Rookie!
Thanks and Happy Holidays.
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Old 12-22-2012, 04:20 AM   #2
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Should be able to order it like that. If you're not comfortable with all the measurements, etc, just take the trailer in and tell them what you are planing and let them measure it and give you suggestions. Installation shouldn't be that difficult but can't see where it would be more than an hour or two of shop time either if you just want to get it done.
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Old 12-22-2012, 05:54 AM   #3
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Dave, I had a flexi-ride torsion axle put under our Scamp. I chose this brand as the arms are on an adjustable spline, so I can adjust the ride height as desired, as well as to be able to lower the trailer enough to store it inside the garage through a standard 7' door opening. You do have the option to bolt or weld the axle to the frame.
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:04 AM   #4
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Thanks!

Good information and confidence building as well.

I've always been the type that bites of a job and chews.

I'll digest the info over the Holidays, then make a few calls.


Cheers and thanks again.
D.
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:14 AM   #5
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Here's the Beast

First tow.

Picked it up 6 weeks ago and the interior is almost complete.
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:05 AM   #6
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I thought you were going to put on new tires also, those old ones appear to be automotive type with the white walls turn inside.
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:17 AM   #7
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Those are the old ones... They're kinda new on account of the blue stripe, but the profile is too small, thus I wanna get more suspension height and get proper tires. It'll be a combination of information I'll get. How much clearance will determine the wheels...
I wish I could snap my fingers and have all the right numbers and measurements, but as we all know it's a process... and sometimes us rookies learn the hard way.

Cheers,
D.
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:23 AM   #8
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Looks to me like your clearance is fine.
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Old 12-22-2012, 12:00 PM   #9
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I went w/ a 13" rim already mounted w/ a tire (there is a 13 lower profile tire on there now). Purchased from a trailer supplier, but it was too large. I'd like to stick with a 13 rim (at least), so I'll try to tweak the angle on the torsion to maximize clearance without compromising the engineering.

Phew, I really appreciate all the help.
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Old 12-22-2012, 01:44 PM   #10
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Another advantage of torsion axles is that they are somewhat self damped as opposed to leaf springs, plus the center of the axle doesn't rise and fall, which requires clearance.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daverosy View Post
My Li'l Bigfoot is currently equipped with a full Torsion axle...
I know, springs are easier and give you an option of achieving higher ground clearance..
All suspensions have springs. The ones in the original "torsion" axle are rubber. To describe the alternate design which is presumably being considered, the term would be "leaf springs".

Quote:
Originally Posted by daverosy View Post
I have a feeling it's tired and needs replacing and if I'm gonna do tires, rims and bearings, I might as well do it all at the same time.
Sure, the whole package (of axle with bearings and brakes) is much cheaper and easier than piecemeal replacement / addition.

You don't have to guess whether or not the rubber springs are shot. You can just remove the wheel and look at the arm where is it welded to the bar that runs into the axle tube. I have described this before, but can't find the post at the moment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daverosy View Post
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe there is an option of turning down the torsion ends to either 22.5 or 45 degrees to achieve more ground clearance. Does that work and which angle is more advisable?
The angle between horizontal and the suspension arm - when there is no load on the suspension - is called the "start angle".

In general, the start angle which leaves the arm nearly horizontal when carrying normal load rides best. If the arms are leading (wheel ahead of axle tube) which appears to be the case in the posted photo, the arms should be level or up (hub above axle tube) when loaded; choosing a more "down" angle to gain even more clearance is generally not advised.

I am only aware of one brand of rubber-sprung "torsion" axle which has an adjustable start axle - that is the Flexiride (by UCF) that David mentioned. Some Flexiride suspensions can be adjusted in 6-degree increments (but some are not adjustable).

Quote:
Originally Posted by daverosy View Post
Here is a picture of how the axle is attached. They've created a plate at the same angle as the frame.
I've never seen a Bigfoot 13 chassis before, but given the torched-off axle brackets, the big square hole in the frame, and the structurally questionable mounting design, my guess is that this was not the original design... or Bigfoot was pretty sloppy in their early days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daverosy View Post
Is there a universal system (bolted) to attach the axle or will I have to get it done custom (welded)?
Dexter makes "side mount" brackets for their Torflex axles - the bracket is welded to the frame and the axle is bolted to the bracket. There is no need to use their brackets, and their online documentation (in the Dexteraxle.com resource library) contains lots of good information about choosing and mounting trailer suspensions... much of it applicable to other brands as well.


This trailer looks bizarrely tall as it is. I doubt it is original, and since most small trailer suspensions have very little travel, it looks like there is lots of room for larger-diameter tires as it stands.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David B. View Post
Dave, I had a flexi-ride torsion axle put under our Scamp. I chose this brand as the arms are on an adjustable spline, so I can adjust the ride height as desired, as well as to be able to lower the trailer enough to store it inside the garage through a standard 7' door opening. You do have the option to bolt or weld the axle to the frame.
If you choose to stick with a torsion axle:

I think the Flexiride is a big improvement in the torsion axle world, not just for the reasons given above, but because unlike Dexters, Flexiride spindle arms are actually replaceable!

Flexiride's a bit more expensive than Dexter, but if I were faced with axle replacement I'd spend the extra money.

Francesca
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:36 PM   #13
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Hi Dave, Welcome to the Forum.

As Brian mentioned another thing to consider is electric breaks.

I did a bit of research into adding breaks and changing my axle just recently. In the budget now for spring.

If the axle doesn't already have the mounting flange for breaks it's about the same price or less to get a new axle w/breaks included. Apposed to welding new flanges on then installing breaks.

If you are in the Vancouver/Chiliwack area make sure you give escape industries a call. They were by far the best price locally. I checked about 5 places. They we're also very helpful and have a great reputation amongst people on the forum. Lucky to have them in our backyard.

Cheers,
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:45 PM   #14
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Thanks folks and Mark, especially for the "Escape" lead. Lots to digest and budget in the next few weeks.

D.
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