Leaf spring vs torsion axle: 1998 Scamp 13' - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-27-2014, 04:30 AM   #1
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Leaf spring vs torsion axle: 1998 Scamp 13'

I posted this in another forum before realizing it should probably go here. I've just started working on my 1998 Scamp 13' and am curious about the pros/cons between the two types of axles. I'm leaning toward the leaf spring because it's cheaper to purchase, install, and maintain but am curious if this will change anything about that towing, etc of the trailer. Also wanting a bit more clearance so looking into 15" tires but am also curious about whether I'll need a lift kit as well. Any information you can provide will be extremely helpful!! Thank you so much in advance!!
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Old 06-27-2014, 08:25 AM   #2
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If you are considering a torsion axle and want to increase your tire size, may I recommend going to Dexter Axle - Trailer Axles and Running Gear Components - Home. There is a wealth of information and some handy downloads, which will help you in your decisions. They cover both torsion and sprung axles.

I would recommend the Applications Manual as handy literature to any trailer owner.

Clif
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Old 06-27-2014, 08:47 AM   #3
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Thanks Clif! I've actually been on their site before as I've seen mention of their name numerous times on this site. I'm more curious about the difference between the two axles and the pros/cons. I'd prefer to save some money initially and just go with the spring but wasn't sure if it would make sense since I'd like more clearance and bigger tires.
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Old 06-27-2014, 08:57 AM   #4
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2 thoughts.
Torsion axles also have a shock absorbing action, leaf springs do not.
Think about where the leaf is going to attach on the forward portion by the door.

I've posted a lot of information on torsion axles in this thread:
Replacing an Axle - leading arm to trailing arm

My advice is to spend the time doing the research and planning before starting the project.
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Old 06-27-2014, 10:02 AM   #5
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While I personally have the knowledge, skill, ability, tools, equipment and facilities to change from a torsion axle to a leaf spring set-up at the end of the day when I did my Scamp I went back with a torsion axle, albeit a “stronger” one. I also went back with 13" wheels & tires although I did verify that 14" would clear and work fine. I saw no advantage to raising the trailer at this time and with the bolt-on brackets of the new axle I could easily (and cheaply) raise the trailer later if desired.

A torsion axle has real advantages particularly in an installation such as under an egg trailer. I personally believe it has dampening and independent acting characteristics that helps our aging eggs from getting beat to death, a real consideration to me. I am not doing all this work on my Scamp just to have to do it again or to create other problems I will have to solve/deal with down the road. I am already concerned that going to a 3500 pound axle introduced new stresses to the trailer, I did not want to compound that by also changing the attachment points. That said, a 13 footer is smaller, lighter, and shorter (less mass forward and aft of the spring perches) than my 16 and therefore the ramifications of an axle swap should be of less concern.

All that said, if 15” wheels & tires are really what I want (and I cannot imagine a scenario where it would be) I would seriously investigate a traditional leaf spring axle. The axle would be cheaper and probably available locally. The installation time and trouble would be similar although more involved as you would have four points to deal with instead of two.
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Old 06-27-2014, 11:05 AM   #6
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Reading what Tim said I would add that you really have six points of attachment to work out for yourself. Four for the leaf spring mounts, plus two shock absorbers. Without shocks I think a 13 ft. would go down the road like Tigger on a sugar rush (oh the legs are made of the rubber, the tail is made of a spring, that Tigger).

I suppose with some care one could have leafs that were tuned to the load that would bounce less but I'm betting you would really need shock absorbers too.
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Old 06-27-2014, 04:08 PM   #7
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Wow, this is really helpful!! Not having ANY experience with this, there are many things I didn't consider in my original thoughts. The idea of 15" tires actually came from another post here. She stated she used a Dexter 45 degree down axle and was able to use 15" tires to lift the clearance a total of 6". As it sits, I may just put new tires on it for now and save the money for the torsion axle. Just feel like it's an entire new language I'm learning!! Thanks all!!
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Old 06-27-2014, 05:02 PM   #8
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Unless you are going to tow off-road with a 4x4 rock crawler, why do you need all that extra clearance????? Also realize that raising the trailer also raises the center of gravity and reduces stability, especially in cross winds.
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Old 06-27-2014, 05:10 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
Unless you are going to tow off-road with a 4x4 rock crawler, why do you need all that extra clearance????? Also realize that raising the trailer also raises the center of gravity and reduces stability, especially in cross winds.
I'm very new to this whole thing, so I'm not sure exactly how much clearance I would need. I will be doing backcountry excursion where the minimal clearance I have now will likely high-center or drag. I've just been basing my information off of other posts as I have no personal point of reference.

A little more information: I am a travel RN and I will be full-timing in this trailer starting in mid September. Though the majority of my travel will be in established campgrounds, etc. there will also be many times I will be traveling "off grid" and will likely run into less developed dirt trails in the backcountry. I figure if I'm going to invest in a new axle and/or tires, I may as well try to put the money into it to get the little extra clearance I may need at a later point. If you have any other suggestions/information, I would be greatly appreciative! Thanks!
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Old 06-27-2014, 05:23 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
Unless you are going to tow off-road with a 4x4 rock crawler, why do you need all that extra clearance?????
FWIW I measured my 4x4 Rangers clearance the other day. I think it was for the battery box thread. There is 7" of clearance before you hit the differential.

If I recall the calculations right on the early bolers and Scamps. The total height minus the inside height gives a kitchen floor height of about 10". Take off a few inches for the wood and underlying subframe on the floor, you are probably looking at 8" clearance in a stock configuration. Which is more than my 4x4.

Just putting things into perspective.
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Old 06-27-2014, 05:32 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by katidesc13 View Post
I figure if I'm going to invest in a new axle and/or tires, I may as well try to put the money into it to get the little extra clearance I may need at a later point.
Replacing a dead axle with the same specs will give you about 2" more clearance. Adding the "high lift" mount on Dexters will give you 1" more. The bolt on brackets will provide another 1/4"

How much clearance do you have now? And how much on your tow vehicle?
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Old 06-28-2014, 12:35 AM   #12
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I haven't measured my current clearance but just looking at it, it's not much. I drive a 2010 tacoma so my tow vehicle had plenty of clearance. Thanks for the info! I may be just fine with the high lift dexter axle replacement.
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Old 06-28-2014, 07:31 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by katidesc13 View Post
The idea of 15" tires actually came from another post here. She stated she used a Dexter 45 degree down axle and was able to use 15" tires to lift the clearance a total of 6".
I believe I'm the "she" referenced in this post . Yes, my Scamp runs 15" tires, sits taller than most. But, I pull with a truck and the trailer tows beautifully. Never regret one about my decision. Although now what I know, I would have gone with a 22 degree down and used a spacer to lift the trailer.
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Old 06-28-2014, 07:36 AM   #14
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I believe you are!! Why the 22 instead of the 45 you installed?
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