torsion springs or leaf springs - Fiberglass RV
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:01 PM   #1
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torsion springs or leaf springs

For a 13 foot Boler type camper. Leaf springs or torsion shocks? The price quoted for leaf springs is about $100.00 less than for torsion. Does it make a difference in function, pull, service, etc.

Opinions and reasons please.

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Cathy
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:14 PM   #2
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I think the springs will give a harsher ride vs torsion axle, things inside may be jostled more, IMHO
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:17 PM   #3
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Torsion springs are generally independent - so will track better on rougher roads. Some of the more expensive torsion springs (Flexiride) can be adjusted for angle ie. will change clearance.

Leaf springs are generally cheaper and can be more easily adjusted ie. spacers, axle mounted under or over spring to change ground clearance, leaf added to compensate for added weight, etc. Leaf springs generally utilize a solid axle and therefore do not provide independent suspension.

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:49 PM   #4
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I think torsion axles will allow for a lower to the ground camper vers the leaf spring.
I think the leaf spring will not go bad as the torsion axles do over time.
Has anyone ever seen a leaf spring setup go bad?
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:09 PM   #5
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Leaf springs allow the easy addition of shock absorbers to lessen the bounce on rough roads. Raz
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:24 PM   #6
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I think torsion axles will allow for a lower to the ground camper vers the leaf spring.
I think the leaf spring will not go bad as the torsion axles do over time.
Has anyone ever seen a leaf spring setup go bad?
Yes, but then one can have a leaf spring re-built at a modest cost, torsion axle generally has to be replaced. I would say the torsion axle with it's independant suspension would give a less jarring ride to the trailer. Can't prove it though. Shocks & leaf springs might change that.

Unlike a utility trailer which drives around half the time empty a camper is always carrying a load. Utility trailer springs need to avoid being too bouncy when empty. For a camper springs would have to be designed with that difference in mind.
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:57 PM   #7
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In my humble opinion, single axle leaf springs are noisier, heavier, will bounce more and need more ground clearance than independent torsion axles. Adding shocks may improve handling, but the added cost will not match handling with an independent suspension.

Leaf springs will also have a bit of lateral flex and the axle will amplify the effect of a pothole or bump simply because it is connected to the opposite wheel. This will make your sway bar become VERY important (tougher handling with lateral wind, or bumpy roads in curves). If a frame is designed for torsion axle, I don't think converting it to leaf springs and axle is desirable.

In both cases, one thing to make sure is that the load capacity of the axle is matched with the real trailer load, since old RV tend to gain weight over time (more equiment, more cargo, adding a battery, a second propane tank, etc). For instance, I increased the suspension and axle capacity from 2000 to 2500 lbs on my boat trailer, and it made a world of difference on rough roads, even with a plain leaf spring suspension.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:38 PM   #8
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I've read that the rubber in a torsion axle stiffens when left sitting for long periods... it stays limber if used regularly and thus functions better for more years.

On the other side, spring shackles can squeak like crazy.
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Old 08-23-2012, 03:58 AM   #9
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I've read that the rubber in a torsion axle stiffens when left sitting for long periods... it stays limber if used regularly and thus functions better for more years.

On the other side, spring shackles can squeak like crazy.
I agree 100%... on my boat trailer, getting in and out of water, leaf springs noise is quite noticeable on bouncy roads. It does attract people's attention far more than my humble 19" sailboat.

It has been said several times on this forum that it is better to put an unused RV on blocks, for better life on tires and suspension (especially torsion axle). This is the ONLY preventive maintenance recommended on torsion axles, other than periodic repacking of wheel bearings. Torsion axles are SILENT, offer a much better handling and quite unlikely to fail.

I'm still using the original torsion axles on my 1977 Trillium and I'm very happy with it.
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Old 08-23-2012, 05:50 AM   #10
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My previous trailer had leaf springs. Quite correct on the noise, especially at the start of the season. I found a little WD40 would quiet then down. Brake noise seems to also attract attention. Unfortunately, WD40 can't be used to cure that. Raz
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:01 AM   #11
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I have had both and much prefer the torsion axle, is much less noise. the squeeking in our last trailer was horrible, I lubed it many times and didn't really help any , also i am quite sure the ride is better as things seem to move around much less in our tralier with torsion axles.
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:58 AM   #12
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Might want to consider the cost. Torsion generally costs more, people will generally only pay more for a product considered better by enough to justify the increased cost. Especially true when the product has a long track record to establish value.

I know our trailer repair guy was most impressed at how they put torsion axles on air streams way back in the day. Or even on my small scamp. I got the impression from his comments that it was considered a premium and advanced system.
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:04 PM   #13
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Leaf springs allow the easy addition of shock absorbers to lessen the bounce on rough roads.
Torsion axles provide some damping, not a lot, from the rubber inside them. Unlike leaf springs without shock absorbers fitted, which have virtually no damping (just a little bit of friction in the leafs).
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Old 08-23-2012, 06:24 PM   #14
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Suspension for eggs

Vibration is the enemy of just any hardware. Independent suspension and rubber torsion axles will not only last a very long time, they will reduce damages to your egg's shell and equipment because damping of road vibration is far better than with leaf springs, unless you prefer scrambled eggs !
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Old 08-23-2012, 06:42 PM   #15
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Brake and suspension noise on eggs

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Originally Posted by P. Raz View Post
My previous trailer had leaf springs. Quite correct on the noise, especially at the start of the season. I found a little WD40 would quiet then down. Brake noise seems to also attract attention. Unfortunately, WD40 can't be used to cure that. Raz
I drove over 1800km with my Trillium this summer and never noticed any brake noise. I must say I installed a inertia type brake controller (Tekonsha Envoy, new old stock) which made the ride perfecly smooth under any road condition, including dirt roads. My previous brake controller on my previous RV was the basic all or nothing type, so electric brake coils used to overheat and burn randomly or produce unsufficient brake power at high speeds because I did adjust the brakes softer to prevent them to lock at low speeds.

I just want to say brake noise on an egg is not a fatality with a good brake controller. I'm not a mechanic, but I would guess some corroded parts are jammed or require to be adjusted/replaced.
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:36 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
I think torsion axles will allow for a lower to the ground camper vers the leaf spring.
I think the leaf spring will not go bad as the torsion axles do over time.
Has anyone ever seen a leaf spring setup go bad?
I've replaced all the leaf springs and shackles on my Fiber Stream when one of the then 30 year old long leaves broke.
Those parts were inexpensive since I didn't have to replace the axle tube itself.

My Compact Jr. has a 4" drop axle, and when installed "spring-under" the trailer is only 7" above the pavement.
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Old 08-24-2012, 08:59 AM   #17
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Squeaky springs. In days of old some leaf springs had Zert fittings so the shackles could be greased. Those that didn't we would put kerosene in a sprayer and spray the whole spring to get rid of the squeaks.
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Old 08-24-2012, 02:33 PM   #18
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Those that didn't we would put kerosene in a sprayer and spray the whole spring to get rid of the squeaks.
Ahhh... desqueakification*.

There is a perfect product for this - motorcycle chain lube, which have almost exactly the same lubrication requirements. Chain lube is a grease suspended in a volatile carrier and it even comes in an aerosol with a tube so that it can be applied along the join between each pair of leaves. The thin liquid is drawn into the gap between the leaves by capillary action (or just being sprayed in if rust has increased the gap): the volatile carrier then evaporates, leaving the grease behind in the right place.

It's just possible you may find that while the grease kills the squeaking that's driving you mad, it also removes the little bit of friction damping between the leaves so that the trailer is a bit more bouncy. But as long as it stops the awful squeaking, who cares?

* As a (former) professional engineer, obviously I have the training and experience to use these sort of advanced technical terms safely, appropriately and with respect to other peoples' cultures. I'm not one of those old dinosaurs who believe competent amateurs should not be allowed to use words like this, but please remember to use them with great care, only when wearing the correct safety gear and, above all, never in the presence of children. "Let's Be Careful Out There", as you may have heard someone say before.
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Old 08-26-2012, 08:12 AM   #19
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Thanks to all! I am grateful for the great information.

Cathy
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