Friday, August 5, 2011

Guest Blogger

I know....been awhile since my last post.  I guess it is just too darn hot to even type on the computer and my poor little brain is wilting!  The last couple of days the heat and humidity have eased up a bit...thank goodness.  At any rate, Billy and I have been making plans.  I asked Bill for a bit of technical information and he did such an outstanding job of explaining everything that I just decided to let him tell you of our upcoming plans........So here's........Billy

Our rig was factory equipped with 2 @ 7,000# AL-KO axles with leaf springs.  During the Americana conversion process, a Kelderman air ride system was added to the existing suspension.  Basically, the center equalizer was cut from the frame and attached to a newly installed "A" frame with a pivot point on one end and an air bag on the other.  We have enjoyed the ride of our rig and the capability of bleeding air or adding extra air to either bag allowed us to level the rig without having to put boards or leveling blocks under the tires.  This system worked well for us except for near yearly maintenance on the leaf springs and the popping and creaking sounds from the suspension operation.  We have weighed the rig several times and once using individual wheel weights.  We always came in very close to maximum allowance for each axle and each wheel position but not over.  During our 4-years of use, we have had one broken spring our first year out (replaced the one spring in Florida and replaced all 4 springs when back in Indiana) and replaced all 4 springs again last fall because the springs lost their arch.

Last fall, we traveled to White Pidgeon, Michigan to the Quadra Manufacturing plant and had a Bigfoot EZ hydraulic leveling system installed on our 5er.  We now have 17,000# hydraulic jacks on the front to replace the original electric landing gear and new 17,000# hydraulic jacks mounted behind the rear trailer axle.  The Bigfoot EZ is not a full automatic leveling system and uses a central hydraulic pump & reservoir with supply and return hoses to each of the 4 jacks.  You always operate the jacks in pairs, either two fronts, two rears or left or right side.  We still use sprit levels to verify level state for front to rear and side to side axis.  This system has certainly met our expectations and if a need arises, it will lift all four tires approximately 12" off the ground.

Because of our issues with the leaf springs and the fact we no longer need the adjustable air bags for leveling at camp ground setup, we decided an upgrade of our trailer suspension was in order.  A lot of research and thought has occurred over the last year or so and had narrowed our choices down to either the Mor/Ryde Independent Suspension (IS) or a Dexter Airflex system using torsion type axles and 4 air bags.  Because our friends Howard & Linda Payne had the Mor/Ryde IS system installed on their rig last year and the fact that Jack & Danielle Mayer chose the Mor/Ryde IS system over the Dexter Airflex on their new custom built New Horizons rig, we decided that this was the system we should use also.  We made an appointment with Mor/Ryde yesterday and during the coarse of the conversation, mentioned that we were at the point of new tires and wanted to go with 17.5" "H" rated tires and wheels.  Gary Wheeler was our contact at Mor/Ryde and he quoted a price of $600 per wheel position (mounted, balanced and installed) for the Hi-Spec Series 03 17.5"x6.75" 865 aluminum wheels and Goodyear G114 215/75R17.5  "H" rated tires.  The first thing we will do at Mor/Ryde is weigh our rig again and also consider planned weight additions (say Debbie's washer & dryer units) to determine whether we will use a 7,000# system or increase capacity to 8,000#.  Our intent was to automatically upgrade to the 8,000# capacity for a little extra "cushion" but Gary cautioned that the system needs to closely match actual weight conditions.  Anyway, the size of our upgrade will be determined before the work begins and was quoted at an installed price of $2,500 for the 7K and $3,100 for the 8K capacity.  We already have the Kodiak hydraulic disc brake system on our Americana and will reuse these as is.  Our install appointment is for the first week of September in Elkhart, Indiana so we will depart Lafayette the day after Labor Day and spend a couple of days at camp Mor/Ryde like Howard and Linda did.  Our thanks to the pioneers (this would include Mark Bruss, Jack Mayer and Howard Payne , et al) who have put in long hours of research and who have provided information of their experiences and decision making process to the others who are about to take the same journey.

Did a great job....didn't he?  Here are a few links for those interested.......

Dexter Axle Down Load PDF
Kelderman Air Ride
Big Foot Leverler
Hispec Wheel

If you have any questions for Billy you can email me or leave them in the comments section.

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