Greasable (wet) shackle kit installed on Bigfoot - Fiberglass RV

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Old 11-27-2013, 08:55 PM   #1
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
Posts: 347
Greasable (wet) shackle kit installed on Bigfoot

One of the things I noticed when I replaced the new leaf spring that failed on my 1989 Bigfoot was how worn the shackle bolts had become after only about 5,000 miles of travel on my Alaska to California trip. They were surprisingly beat up for being "new" plus they squeaked like a clapped out '64 Chevy Impala suspension. Drove me crazy. The thread about the leaf failure and replacement is here:

New leaf spring failed on Bigfoot

Because of the long distances I drive and the remote locations I often travel through I decided it would be wise to beef up the leaf spring shackle/eye hardware. I found some options on eBay but I wasn't convinced they were very high quality parts so I ordered a Dexter "Heavy Duty Suspension Kit", part number K71-358-00 for single axle trailers.

Dexter Axle - Trailer Axles and Running Gear Components - K71-358-00 Heavy Duty Suspension Kit

Today I installed it and I'm happy to report that it was a very simple installation although the leaf springs have to be completely removed in order to press the new bronze leaf eye bushings into the eyes. With air tools it was a pretty quick process.

The EMCO leafs that I recently had installed have cheap plastic bushings so the bronze replacements were a welcomed upgrade. Also, the shackles are twice as thick as the original ones and the bolts are now "wet" meaning they have a zerk fitting on the end and are hollow with two grease passages to allow grease to flow into the clearance between the outside of the bolt and the inside of the eye bushing. One thing to note is that the Dexter zerk fittings have the one-way ball bearing in tip of the fitting which prevents grease from "backing out" of the fitting and also helps to keep dirt out of the grease passages. Some of the cheaper bolts and kits I saw open hole in the zerk fitting, which was a deal-breaker for me.

I don't have much else to say about the kit but I thought it was worth posting some information on it for anyone who might be considering it in the future. I haven't towed the trailer yet, I just finished this a few hours ago. But there are no squeaks getting in and out of it and jumping up and down inside like there was with the dry shackles. Quiet is good.

Here's some pix of the parts installed on my trailer.

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Old 11-27-2013, 09:18 PM   #2
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Trailer: Oliver Legacy Elite II
Posts: 465
That looks like a first class install. Good job.

Steve and Tali - Dogs: Reacher and Lucy and our beloved Storm and Maggie (waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)
2008 Outlaw Oliver Legacy Elite & 2014 Outlaw Oliver Legacy Elite II
2014 GMC Sierra 6.2L Max Tow Pkg 4X4 Crew Cab
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:33 PM   #3
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
Posts: 23,907
When it comes to the shackle and cheap plastic... are you sure those weren't teflon? Not to question your abilities, but often folks assume what they're seeing are those China cheapo bushings, when in fact they're quality teflon...

Great writeup BTW, it will be helpful for the "Archives."
Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:57 PM   #4
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
Posts: 347
Hi Donna, fair question. I didn't examine the "plastic" bushings carefully except for one that was pretty much destroyed after only about 5K miles. It felt very brittle and decidedly unlike Teflon. They are all very thin and frail.

Regardless, if one got trashed that easily in so relatively few miles, I have no use for them. I hope the bronze holds up better. Of course, the key to reliability with wet bushings is to keep them lubed, which I will do on a regular basis. Installing wet shackle bolts then not keeping them lubed is probably worse than having dry shackles so I'll make sure I keep them properly serviced. Cheers!
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Old 11-28-2013, 06:29 AM   #5
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Name: Eddie
Trailer: Scamp 16DX
Posts: 1,402
Great info on the bronze bushing kit. I worked on a Mini Rover (East coast built Trails West) last winter and found worn out bronze spring bushings. All I could find was plastic or Teflon bushings for replacements at the time. Since I have not reinstalled the shell I may order a kit if it will fit the my smaller springs.
People with the lighter trailers (Trails West and Compact) need to check their spring bushings and shackles. The new bushings really take a lot of play out of the suspension.
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Old 11-28-2013, 06:30 AM   #6
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Name: jim
Trailer: 2016 2ndGen Escape19 Prairie Schooner pulled by 2014 Dodge Ram Hemi Sport
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I'm curious, would not it have been nicer to put the grease fitting on the outside vs inside for ease of lubrication?
Never in doubt, often wrong
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Old 11-28-2013, 07:56 AM   #7
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Name: Mike
Trailer: Bigfoot 17' DLX
Posts: 347
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
I'm curious, would not it have been nicer to put the grease fitting on the outside vs inside for ease of lubrication?
Heh, heh, heh..yeah I thought and fretted about this for awhile but I finally concluded that with the tire on it doesn't really matter that much if the zerks are in or out, I'll have to crawl underneath to grease it either way. So I just decided to install the new parts in the same orientation that the old ones came off (bolt head and spline inside, nut outside).

I also decieded that I want to be able to visually check the nuts periodically. The bolts have a spline on the shaft right under the bolt head which after tightening, wedges into the leaf brackets and inner shackles so they can't back out. The nuts, while lock nuts, are not completely tight since this is a pivot. I tightened them then backed them off 1/2 to 1 turn so the leaf can move. But I want to keep an eye on those nuts during my regular visual inspections (at every gas stop) so I put everything in the way the old parts came out.

That being said, I don't think there is anything mechanically that would stop you from installing them with the zerks out.

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