Axle Conversion 2006 Fleetwwod Niagara

Discussion in 'Tires / Brakes / Bearings / Axles' started by FirePro911, Aug 1, 2013.

  1. FirePro911

    FirePro911 New Member

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    Working on my axle Conversion to put the leaf springs on top of the axle. You should never just flip the axle as it has a camber to it. You can buy the kit to do this, though I fabricate and weld as a hobby, so all I did was purchase the spring perches for about 12 bucks for the pair.

    Here is how it sat on my TV when I got it home for the first time today. The TV is a 1998 Durango 4x4 with 12" of lift and 35" tires.
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    Here is the tire in the fender well, doing this conversion should get me 5" of lift on the camper. Right here it measures 22 5/8" from the ground to the center of the fender well.
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    Camper is up on jack stands right now. Springs under the axle as of now.
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    Looks like the bottom hole might net some more lift if I move the bolt down in it.
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    Had to cut these wires to the electric brakes. I cut the blue/white wires so I know which ones to reconnect. Will solder them back together later.
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    I'm thinking they had a blowout at one time, which now explains the damage up front.
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    Rub marks
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    Rear hanger showing another hole
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    Can you make out the arch in the axle? This is why you simply do not just flip them.
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    Once all nuts and bolts are removed, simply pry out the spring as it is held in place from the hangers pinching it.
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    Axle info
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    Up on the saw horses, took me 20 minutes to get to this stage.
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    Removed the springs
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    Set the new spring perches next to the old one for comparison. Both are 1.75" wide, though the new ones are for 3" axles, but I can weld them in anyway.
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    See the gap on both ends since they are for the 3" axle?
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    Went ahead and removed the drums to check the brakes and other components, plus change all the grease out.
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    Back of drum showing the rear seal. All bearings checked out good.
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    The part that activates the brakes. This is the electrical part of the system. When it activates, it magnetizes and grabs the inside of the drum, when it does, it pulls the arm that moves the pads against the drum to stop the camper.
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    All pads need replacing
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    As well as the brake adjustment bullet, notice the upper spring missing from it?
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    Drums are in good shape. I will mask off the inside hub where the bearings go and sandblast the entire drum and paint.
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    Need new rear seals as the springs are shot
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    Over at the shop, I leveled the old axle perches and tacked the new ones in place.
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    Put a cutting disk on the Angle Grinder to get the old pads off once the news ones were tacked in place.
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    After removing the old perches
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    I used a Tiger Paw disk to clean the area where I ground them off. The Tiger Paw does a clean smooth job of grinding metal down.
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    Filled in the grooves I made and will grind them down smooth.
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    Welded the perches in place. I welded them a little at a time and rotated back and forth between the two so the heat would not warp the axle.
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    That is how far I got today. It took about 3 hours to do all this. Tomorrow morning I head back to the shop to sandblast everything, paint and then start putting it back together. I have to see if I can get brake parts locally or else order them online.
     
  2. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

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    Nice work. Trust me, it will be so much nicer to get the PUP up a bit higher. Fleetwood just really had their PUPs too low to begin with, even without a lifted vehicle in front of them.

    My before:
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    After:
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    And before getting a new hitch of the proper height:
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    As for the brakes, I went to etrailer.com and got the left and right full brake kits for about $40 each. It is everything except the drum itself: pads, springs, magnets, etc. Just unbolt the old, snip the wires, take them off, put the new on, reconnect the wires and move on to replacing the seals and greasing the hubs. After that little tidbit I learned here, I will just replace the entire assembly again as needed in the future.
     
  3. IslePilot

    IslePilot Member

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    Great photo essay. I can't wait to see Part 2! Thanks!
     
  4. FirePro911

    FirePro911 New Member

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    Day Two:

    Picked up a set of brake kits, they were $39.00 each. Just buying the brake shoes alone run $37.00 and the magnetized part is $29.00 each, so it is s much cheaper to just get the whole unit.
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    Went ahead and broke the leaf springs apart to sandblast them. I'll get a pic tomorrow of them sandblasted, I guess I forgot. lol
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    Sandblasted the axle
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    Sandblasted the drums inside
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    And out
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    So tomorrow I work at the FD, so I will treat everything first with Prep and Prime to convert any rust that might be left on parts.
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    Then paint everything, so hopefully Sunday when I get off at 7AM, I can start putting it all back together.
     
  5. The Postman

    The Postman You gotta love Camping!!

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    Wishing I was at Waskesieu!!
    This is exciting to see the difference in before and after. Those parts all look new when you are finished - a fine job indeed!!!
     
  6. DigitalGuru

    DigitalGuru Active Member

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    Looking good, real good! Looking forward to the remaning project. Happy camping!

    DG
     
  7. FirePro911

    FirePro911 New Member

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    Got home from FD this morning about 7AM and started washing and degreasing a lot of parts despite being up half the night responding to an idiot in jail who claimed he swallowed a baggie of drugs, since I am driving the box this string.

    Springs after sandblasting
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    After brushing on the Jasco Prep and Prime, any dark spots are where some rust was left behind. I also brushed the entire inside, that way it might hold off the rust where the magnet and brake shoes do not rub.
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    After drying in our 100 degree Texas heat, everything was ready to paint, which pretty much baked on quickly due to the heat. lol!
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    Painted the center, then the outer part, then the stud heads. What paint I got elsewhere will be rubbed off by the braking
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    Treated the nuts and bolts also
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    Then shot them with flat black. Gloss black would have gummed up all the threads. With flat black, I can still apply some never seize to them and the paint will still hold.
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    Used this to clean a lot of the under carriage, especially all around where I will be working. Once everything dries, I will go back out and treat all the rust I see with Jasco and then paint black.
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    Springs stacked on top of each other.
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    Tires and rims were real dirty, especially the inside of the rims with a lot of brake dust.
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    U-bolts, plates and spring holders cleaned up, this will all be painted once it is back on trailer.
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    Had to clean the inside hubs out real good with degreaser and Joy liquid to make sure I removed all left over sand from blasting them Friday. Any sand left over could eat up a bearing.
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    Same thing with the spindle ends
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    Bearings were cleaned real good in Acetone and then degreaser and soap.
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    New dust shields
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    Cleaned spindle hardware
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    So once I am finished today, I will post the rest of the pics that I take. We will then see how level it rides behind the Durango.
     
  8. FirePro911

    FirePro911 New Member

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    Here is some rust before I paint the Jasco on it
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    And after it starts to convert the rust to a paintable surface. Eventually it will turn the rust completely black.
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    Putting the leaf springs together, I painted each one with Anti-seize to help hold off the rust as they rub together during use.
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    Clamp to hold together enough to put in the center bolt
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    Painted about 3/4's of the frame after treating a lot of it for mild surface rust. I'll treat and paint the rest before Labor Day camping.
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    Springs are hung again
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    Used the dolly to roll the axle under the springs so as to not damage it by dragging it on the concrete.
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    Torqued down the u-bolts to 55ft lbs. Make sure you tighten them down similar to wheel lug nuts. Do not just torque one at a time until you reach 55ft lbs. Once I had them tightened down with the air tool, I turned each one 10 to 15 times each as I rotated between them until I got to 55ft lbs. The reason for the 55ft lbs for me is because of the anti-seize I put on the threads.
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    Passenger side or Left Side as these Electric Brake are right and left. If you do not have the sticker on yours, then always put the smaller shoe facing forward.
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    Axle is hung
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    Drum is on, repacked with fresh grease
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    Springs are now on top of axle
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    The bow in the axle is still arched upwards.
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    Camper sitting level
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    Pretty good lift I got out of it. From my measurements before and after, it looks to be about 5 1/4". I had 23 1/4" at fender well center, now I have 28 1/2".
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    My hitch measures 25 1/2" to top of ball, Camper measures 22" to bottom of tongue, So I have to raise tongue 3 1/2" to meet Durango when they both sit level. These measurements are pretty much perfect as when I lower camper onto Durango, it sits just enough to cause the bubble on the level I had on top of the camper to ride the front line slightly. Looking at it, you really cannot tell and it looks level.
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    Need to tow it around town Tuesday when I am off from both jobs and see how she rides. About to head into the Fire Station now though for my 24 hour shift. Next project will be to remove front tongue assembly, build a storage rack, then a new tongue assembly. Most likely do that after Labor Day. So be prepared for lots more pics and documentation. lol!
     
  9. You-And-I

    You-And-I Ozarks Ɯberland Basecamp

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    FirePro911,

    Very nice job, I LIKE IT! [;)]

    [UNI]
     
  10. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

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    Very nice work. It is a very well balanced and level look when all hitched up. The only thing that concerned me was the reuse of the U-bolts and the shackle bolts. Even Dexter advises against re-using the same U-bolts and the fluted ends of the shackle bolts don't have full bite when going back into the shackles. That's part of the safety design, should the nut ever come off - they don't back out of the shackles very easily as you found out when taking them apart.

    Now, the fun of setting up, leveling and stabilizing that tall beast. You may end up with something like these for the stabilizers since they hardly reach the ground anymore:
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  11. FirePro911

    FirePro911 New Member

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    I like that setup. I was thinking of fabricating drop mounts for the jacks, but those look good.
     
  12. FirePro911

    FirePro911 New Member

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    Ok, finished up with underneath the camper.

    Sprayed everything, frame and all with Simple Green Degreaser.
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    Wiped the worm gear on the Whiffle Tree down and then sprayed it also.
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    Treated this with the rust treatment after cleaning
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    Removed this funky plate setup, already bought a new holder that goes behind the tail light. Just waiting on the new LED tail lights to come in.
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    Here is some of the damage it had when we bought it. I believe the camper came off their hitch at some point, or they had a blow out and jack knifed it.
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    Screws pulled though the diamond plate. I will replace it with a full sheet front and rear once I start the front end mod of fabricating a storage area and extending the tongue.
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    Gotta build the wooden platforms in bondebond's post.
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    Saw this and had to remove the rear bumper
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    Other than the rivet, the curly metal has been in there since the factory.
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    Started painting, though the dealer had already rattle canned a lot of it, including the body with over spray.
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    Once the rest of the frame was painted underneath, I greased the worm gear.
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    Everything painted
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    Screws for the cover on the Whiffle Tree was replaced with stainless
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    Inside part of cover was coated with Corrosion X, the green can.
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    All I have to do now is grease the worm gears on the stabilizers. Most likely do it with the Corrosion X, the red can as it does does attract dirt like WD40.
     
  13. TX_F2

    TX_F2 New Member

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    Great write up, thanks.

    We have a 2008 Niagara and have wanted to do the axle conversion also but then it won't fit through the garage door opening. [:(!]


    Are you from anywhere near the Corpus Christi area by chance ?
     
  14. FirePro911

    FirePro911 New Member

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    Up the coast from CC, we live in Texas City right by Galveston Island.
     
  15. rattlehead

    rattlehead New Member

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    great job,love all the photos
     
  16. Up the Mountain

    Up the Mountain Member

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    very good post with all of the details and pictures. Not sure if Anti Seize is the right product to use on spring u-bolts, tho. Are the nuts compressed Lock nuts? From my understanding of springs, shackles, and mounts is that you do not want them to come loose, you want them to stay torqued so anti-sieze seems to be the opposite of what you would want. I can understand if it is on there so that rust does not lock the nuts up...
    You will need to go back and check the torque on those bolts after a trip or two...
     
  17. FirePro911

    FirePro911 New Member

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    Actually, before we leave on our first trip in it Labor Day weekend, I will have nylon nuts on top of the other nuts just to be safe.

    Plus once at campground, I will recheck all the nuts and bolts again on everything axle, hub and brake assemblies.
     
  18. Up the Mountain

    Up the Mountain Member

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    top notch job, very nice
    But that one point that someone else brought up about reusing the spring U-bolts is valid. Usually you do not reuse those particular parts because the torque that you put on them shapes them to the spring setup. Then they say to re-torque them shortly thereafter.

    If you do go with replacing them, go the extra step of using mechanically compressed nuts. I use nylons when I cannot find the others, for non-critical points but you do not find nylons on auto or truck assembly in those type of critical points of contact.
     
  19. George Rose

    George Rose Member

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    A lot of good information here. Looks great so far. I am interested in seeing what you do to the front. [MOD]
     

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