View Full Version : Now that's really stupid...

06-20-2012, 06:26 PM
Bought my boat about 4 years ago from the 2nd owner. He says shortly before he bought it the original owner had a trailer axle replaced under warranty at the dealership. I don't think about it again, but I always felt like the trailer suspension was loud, clunky, and rode like the axles were welded straight to the frame. The equalizer was never centered no matter how many different trailer hitch drop heights I tried.

Sooo, at the end of last season I finally took a good, hard look at what was going on under there and discovered that the replacement axle the dealership installed had a different drop than the original axle: the front had about 1/2-inch less drop than the rear. Doesn't seem like much, but that was enough to render the equalizer ineffective and put the front spring/shackle right up into the frame. So that's why it rode like a rigid.

Here's the replacement front axle.

Here's the original rear axle.

Here's the damage. Yes, I hold myself responsible for not catching it sooner. I was the one operating it and didn't check others' work. Thankfully the wear doesn't go through and none of the welds are cracked.

Dig the dealership's fancy spring U-bolt plate installation. Pure fut-nuckery. It goes with the curved edges pointing front-to-back, not side-to-side. Because of the way they installed them, these bent. I ordered new ones, but I'll throw it back together with these 'till the new ones show up.

The difference in axle drop height is just over 1/2-inch. Rather than drill out a new lift block I decided to just buy an old used leaf spring from my local trailer supply place for $5 and throw it in the chop saw.

I didn't really want to increase load capacity on only one pair of springs, but here's what I came up with - one leaf that's 4-inches long and another that's 2-inches long. I reassembled the packs with longer centerpin bolts to get the spindle-to-main leaf distances equal.

Here it is buttoned back up with the bent U-bolt plates. I figured I'd pull it all apart when the new parts came in, but D'oh! I put the spacers on the wrong axle. I had to pull it all apart again and put the spacer leafs on the rear axle. That's what you get for rushing things.

The results aren't perfect. Now, rather than the rear being 0.50-inch lower than the front, the front is about .12-inch lower than the rear. The rear spring bushings are also way hammered, so I'll order up some new ones as well and probably some new shackles for good measure. I don't have any big trips planned, but this quick fix should be good enough to pull it around locally without bad stuff happening.

Rather than buy a new axle I think the cost-effective solution is to have some lift blocks machined to the correct height to truly level things out. I'll remove the factory locating/spacer blocks and will weld on the new ones after I have 'em built.

At least I caught it before any catastrophic damage happened. Man, oh man. This is why I normally work on my own stuff.

06-20-2012, 06:57 PM
Well, atleast you'll be an expert at it after you get done. :D