Finally got a Scamp! Axle/suspension perhaps needs work - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-10-2008, 10:22 AM   #1
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Trailer: 1976 13 ft Scamp / 2006 Honda Element
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So I found out through the referral section that there was a Scamp for sale in Grand Rapids at 3pm Saturday... talked to the owner and commited to buying it within 10 minutes... and left by 4pm from my home in Nebraska (stopping only at the bank) for a 1,300 mile trip to pick it up! Maybe the craziest thing I've ever done in my life! But well worth it.

While it's a 1976 13-footer... it has been fully restored, and looks really nice! (photos at http://www.hustonfamily.com/scamp ) They even put on new decals. I think it was a good deal for the asking $2500.

The only possible problem I have (assuming this isn't simply a short, light weight trailer issue that I have to contend with?)... is that it periodically bounces ALOT... depending on the road surface. It bounces enough, I think my wife and son might get sick to their stomach.

Understanding, I have no experience with travel trailers at all... what would suggested courses of action here be ? New axle? springs? something else entirely?

Thanks for your advice!

Jeff Huston
New Scamp owner
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Old 03-10-2008, 10:43 AM   #2
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I hope you're NOT planning on wife and son riding in the trailer.

From looking at your pictures my guess is that speed has more to do with the excessive bouncing than anything else. Some people try to tow at the same speeds you drive without towing, in the 70mph to 80 mph range. I'm one of the slow down and watch scenery go by with freeway towing speed between 55 and 60 mph. Adding your clothing, food, etc. to the trailer will increase it's weight and reduce the tendency to bounce.
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Old 03-10-2008, 10:58 AM   #3
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...its also just possible that your tow vehicle may not be adequately set up for towing that weight OR the trailer itself MAY be loaded incorrectly. All trailers do bounce to some degree being dragged where 'They Are Towed To Go', LOL!!! I understand there are still some states where it it STILL legal to ride in a vehicle being towed(???) This is NOT a practice I would induldge in whatever tha case.

....anyone else care to ADD to this? (please)
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:13 AM   #4
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(looking back at the message, I figured I might get this response)

heh heh... now that would be a funny sight... seeing my wife/son vomiting violently... holding the walls to brace themselves as I truck down the interstate.

No... I'm actually referring to the effect the bouncing has as felt inside the Honda Element (no doubt, a larger vehicle probably wouldn't feel the same effects). And when I brought it back home... it was as empty as it could be... so I don't think load distribution is an issue. Perhaps some other Honda Element owners might weigh in with their experiences.

Also... I did drive at no faster than 65 mph and mostly at 60mph (at which speed it seemed smoother most of the time). So we're thinking that if I add our 'stuff' to weigh it down a little... and keep it at 60mph... then perhaps all is fine. Perhaps even adding the extra passenger weight/'stuff' in back... would minimize the bouncing in the vehicle itself.

Another question... how noisy should the suspension be? as I went slowly over some imperfections in the pavement of a gas station (not like some big pot hole or something), for instance, it tended to make some relatively noisy banging noises. At least more than I remember hearing from a trailer I used to pull an old boat around with.

I guess to put it another way... is there something I should be looking for... to determine whether I should be considering new springs or not?

And what is the criteria for replacing the axle? I hear it being done fairly frequently here.

Thanks for all your insight!

Jeff
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Old 03-10-2008, 11:23 AM   #5
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Well, the suspension is going to creak and whine a little bit at times - until you completely rebuild it that is. Metal on metal or banging/clanging sounds are a pretty good indicator that you have something that requires a bit more attention than regular maintenance will take care of though. Leaf springs rarely "go bad," but a little teflon plate between the contact points on the leaves can do wonders for the noise and ride. Additionally inspect everything thoroughly for cracks or wear, to include your wheel bearings and spindles. Anything that has signs of stress or wear needs to go. Doublecheck your axle u-bolt torque and condition and take the wheels/tires into a shop when you get a chance to have them balanced. This will likely cure your bumpy ride.
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Old 03-10-2008, 12:12 PM   #6
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Nice trailer, I'm sure it was well worth it!!
It seems to have been kept up well.
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Old 03-10-2008, 12:29 PM   #7
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Reportedly, some very early Scamps had leaf spring axles, but the vast majority have torsion axle and there's no way to repair/replace the rubber in them. The entire axle must be replaced. Lots of info in the archives and also in the archives of Yahoo-Scampers group.

If the balance on the empty trailer is too light on the tongue, the tongue may be see-sawing up and down, making noise. Or your ball mount or coupler may be loose, likewise making noise. Try rattling it all around by hand.
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Old 03-10-2008, 12:38 PM   #8
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Good point. It doesn't have a battery on the tongue... and again, is empty. Ball mount shold be fine... UHaul just torqued it down Saturday. Perhaps if I add some load to the front it will smoothen things out a little. I feel like I got such a good deal on the trailer... I may just go ahead and replace the axle regardless of the situation. I've heard accounts suggesting that these trailers feel considerably different when having done so.

Thanks folks.
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Old 03-10-2008, 01:04 PM   #9
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Wow...congrats! I have a 1976 13' that I also purchased recently. I am loving it. I paid $1900 and everything is operational with no damage, however yours is beautiful. (Mine shows a bit of New mexico sun exposure). The one I have sits alot lower than yours, not sure if yours is closer to factory or if that is a mod your previous owner did. If so perhaps the bounce is caused by that mod. I'd be curious to know because I am considering "flipping the axle" and adding larger tires and rims (currently 13"). At any rate you did in fact get a very good deal in my opinion. Enjoy!
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Old 03-10-2008, 01:49 PM   #10
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You do have a few really bumpy roads over your way too. We are leaving for Pine Ridge, SD next week with our UHaul and a group of students from my university. Happily, I will be driving a second van, and Kevin gets his teeth rattled driving the van with the trailer. There are stretches of the Interstate between Chicago and SD near you that really bounce our UHaul.

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Old 03-10-2008, 02:02 PM   #11
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You do have a few really bumpy roads over your way too. There are stretches of the Interstate between Chicago and SD near you that really bounce our UHaul.
I've noticed that bumpy roads do bump the Forester up and down a lot, too. Sometimes changing speed a little helps but not much.
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Old 03-10-2008, 02:47 PM   #12
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Thanks Sojourner... it seems like there are all sorts of 13 foot trailers down in the southwest. My parents live in a retirement community near Phoenix... and I would see many advertised, but I couldn't motivate them to go check out trailers for me.

As for the roads between Chicago and here... I-80 in western Illinois is the worst I've seen... giant pot holes between the lanes. Just east of Omaha (points to anyone who knows what song that's from)... the lanes seem smooth... but there's some sort of pattern which seemed to contribute to it's bouncing... I couldn't find a speed low enough to alleviate it... then a stretch of asphalt would come and it would be gone.
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Old 03-10-2008, 05:55 PM   #13
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Glancing quickly at your photos I noticed right off that your Scamp sits a bit higher than most Scamps of that vintage. If it has a torsion axle it looks like it has a lot of spring left in it...like it's new. Good rule of thumb is to make a fist and see if you can stick it on top of a tire without touching the upper wheel well. If so, you axle is plenty fresh and doesn't have any sag.

If it's a leaf-sprung axle I can't offer any advice, except that it may be a home install job and the leaf spring is designed for much more weight than what the Scamp has in it. Fill up your water tank, load up the trailer with about 200 lbs of gear right over the axle and take it out for a spin. If the bounce goes away you will have found your answer.

Check your tire pressure, over-inflated tires can cause some bounce and rough riding. Overinflation can be just as dangerous as under-inflation. The tires you have may also not be trailer tires and not have stiff sidewalls, that can cause excessive wear and make things bounce too.

Creaking and banging isn't good, but first make sure it's not just lack of lubrication in your hubs or rust in your hitch reciever, all can cause squeaky noise.

Congrats on a great buy! Good Luck,
ConwayBob
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Old 03-10-2008, 07:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Good point. It doesn't have a battery on the tongue... and again, is empty. Ball mount shold be fine... UHaul just torqued it down Saturday. Perhaps if I add some load to the front it will smoothen things out a little. I feel like I got such a good deal on the trailer... I may just go ahead and replace the axle regardless of the situation. I've heard accounts suggesting that these trailers feel considerably different when having done so.

Thanks folks.
&Hi: Nice trailer and good $$$'s too!!! The ride height looks right in your pic's but if the trailer isn't level with the tug and riding empty it will have a tendency to pull up on the hitch. Bounce could be several things...air press. in the trailer tires too low...air press. in the tug tires too low... I changed to radial tires and found a slight extra bounce with them vs. the old bias ply's... check for proper clamp tightness in the trailer/hitch... check also for scrubbing evidence in the wheel wells above the tires. The last thing I would do is replace the axle if not 100% required.
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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