So it begins! Our NTU 2008 Arcadia

Discussion in 'Camper Restoration Projects' started by William Freeman, Jun 3, 2018.

  1. sceri

    sceri Active Member

    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    63
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2018
    Location:
    Washington State
    Great work William, love the updates. It's great your family is getting back into camping. Looks like you're spreading the fever....
     
  2. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    Before the big thunderstorm (and downpour) late Thursday afternoon, I wanted to get the camper stored. The canvas had plenty of time to dry after I washed and re waterproofed it on Tuesday. Once I got the beds pushed in it started to drizzle, so I had to hurry to get the roof down, hooked up to the truck and backed out of the yard. Then the drizzle stopped! I went ahead and cut grass. After that I went back to the camper and applied some seam sealer (I found it at Walmart) to the awning bag stitching where it connects to the rail. The awning bag zipper fabric is rotted on the front end which leaves about 4" of the bag open to the rain and sun. There isn't enough fabric left to hand stitch it back to the vinyl bag. I am thinking that I will have to sew the front and back of the bag together to close the hole up. The awning doesn't go all the way to the end of the bag, so unrolling the awning shouldn't be a problem if I do that. I also noticed that a lot of the stitching is missing (I guess it rotted away) along the top edge of the bag - glad it was double stitched! Looks like I might be needing a new awning next season.

    I ordered the Chillgrille for the A/C and a new fresh water inlet (since I'll be replacing the hose going to the tank) from Camping World because I had a $25 coupon. I also ordered new Pyle marine speakers for the outside (found out they were bad last week). My wife has been busy "accessorizing" the interior with new kitchen supplies.

    We are going to TRY to go camping on my next week off for a few days to try the camper out. We are going to go Mon-Wed so I will have a few days to get it popped back up, Chillgrille, speakers and fill hose/inlet installed. Going during the week will also be easier to get a reservation.
     
    HappyTraveler likes this.
  3. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,454
    Likes Received:
    2,276
    Joined:
    May 31, 2018
    Location:
    Nj
    Sound like progress!
     
  4. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    New speakers and fresh water tank fixes. I tried 3 times to add a description, but it wouldn't save for some reason. I'll add the description in the next post.

    20180708_163730.jpg 20180708_162618.jpg 20180708_162601.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
    HappyTraveler likes this.
  5. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    I ordered some parts before we went on vacation and they arrived before we got home. After I finished some yard and pool work yesterday, I started working on the camper.

    First order of business was to replace the fresh water tank fill hose. (First thumbnail)I had about 15' of 1.25" clear vinyl hose from an old sailboat project years ago - fit on the tank inlet perfectly! I also installed a new inlet because the old one was looking pretty bad (like the other ports on that side which will also get replaced). The other thumbnail shows the new inlet installed along with the rotten original hose that was full of dirt dauber nests.

    Then I moved on to the speakers. You can see in the first picture that the cones were completely GONE! The front one was attached with rivets. I drilled them out with an 1/8" bit and pulled the old speaker out. Once I cleaned the old sealant and silicone from around the hole. I came up with the idea to use lap sealant (the only thing I had on hand) to "glue" small squares of 1/4" luan behind the screw holes to attach the new speakers because the original holes were too big for screws and I didn't want the new speakers to be canted to make new holes - I wanted then vertical. I also taped the luan to help keep it from turning when installing the screws. Then I temporarily put the speaker in place to mark the screw holes. I used an 1/8" bit to drill pilot holes in the luan so I didn't have to use a lot of torque which would dislodge and twist the luan. I ran a bead of lap sealant, hooked the wires up, installed the speaker and screwed it in place - the luan worked perfectly!

    The rear speaker had been replaced with an identical one at some point because that speaker was canted slightly and self tapping screws installed. I removed them and installed the new speaker in the same manner as the front.

    I used 6.5" PYLE Hydra marine speakers (bought on Amazon)as replacements. They actually sound pretty good for a $36/pr marine speaker!

    I also received my Chillgrille on Friday. I will be installing it this Friday (my next day off). Also on Friday, I will have to go pay taxes and get the tag for the camper and get the spare tire replaced. I have booked this Sunday and Monday night at Cane Creek Park in Waxhaw NC for our first trial with this camper. It's only 30 miles from home and looks like there is plenty to keep my daughter and her friend (12yr olds) busy for 2 days!
     
    HappyTraveler and Sjm9911 like this.
  6. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    A little update after our first outing this past weekend. We camped at Cane Creek Park in Waxhaw, NC. We Stayed 2 nights (Sun, 7/15 and Mon 7/16).

    Let me start with the trip prep. On Friday, 7/13, I pulled the camper to the shop late afternoon - popped it up, hooked up electric, turned on the propane and turned on the fridge (on propane for faster cooling). Saturday (7/14), around lunch, I went out and turned on the A/C - the fridge was cold, so I switched to electric and turned off the propane. Throughout the afternoon, we loaded the camper, cleaned up and loaded the fridge.

    Around 7PM I turned off the A/C because we were done loading. I went into the shop to close the roll up door. Came back out and looked into the camper one last time to make sure the lights were off. To my amazement (actually, my DISGUST!), water was dripping (GUSHING) out of the ceiling assembly! I quickly put a Tupperware container underneath to catch the water and dried the water on the floor. After saying a few choice cuss words, my wife suggested lowering the top to see if we could see anything. As soon as I started lowering the roof, water started running off the back corner. Then I realized that I had NOT seen any condensate dripping off the rear all day - from the A/C! I had leveled the camper almost perfectly level, so the condensate pooled at the A/C unit. I lowered the roof all the way down onto the bunk ends and used an extension ladder to look at the roof - couldn't see anything. Next, I placed another short extension ladder across the roof rails and put a board on top of that so I would have a place to sit. I removed the A/C cover - still couldn't see anything. I couldn't reach the front cover on the A/C, so I pulled the first extension ladder (with my wife's help) onto the roof on the front side of the A/C. I removed the cover to make sure the condenser trough and drain were clean - they were. I looked down inside and saw that the gasket was only about 1/4" thick! I figured that was the problem. By this time, it was starting to get dark - I figured I needed to bolt it all back together since I didn't have enough light to do anything else. I put the covers back on and removed the ladders. We popped the roof back up and installed the door/set the canopies back up and went inside.

    The decision was made to go ahead and go camping on Sunday - we would just set up with a good fall on the camper to make sure that the condensate ran off instead of IN! I got out of the house around 10AM on Sunday and loaded a few last minute things and a few things around the house. When my wife/daughter and her friend got home, we loaded luggage and packed up the camper - ready to head out.

    It was a short trip - only 30ish miles from home. Once at the campground, we rode around to our site and checked it out - pretty level, paved, full hookup, table, fire pit, shade and about 100' from the lake. We drove on around to the camp store to check in (checking was AFTER 3:30PM). The store was CLOSED (closed at 12PM on Sundays), as I walked back to the truck, a guy walked up and asked if I was checking in - we went in and he wrote me up as a walk up (even though I had made reservations by phone earlier in the week). He couldn't take a CC payment (exact change or check only - everything was shut down). He told me I could come back on Monday to pay since I didn't have exact change. We went back to the site and set up - 2" fall side to side and 2" fall front to back. I was HOT outside with NO breeze! I turned on the fan only and opened up the windows. We went for a walk around the campground and noticed that the arcade was being renovated - cool. Nice playgrounds and nice beach. There was a construction barrier blocking water access (swimming area) from the beach. We got back to the camp and relaxed while the kids went to play. They got back a couple of hours later, so I cooked supper. They went back to the playground while we cleaned up. They were told to be back by 10PM - quiet time started at 10:30. When they got back, I went to the bath house for a shower. It was OK - pretty much like a state park. It was clean, but could use a remodel. Got back to the camper and we all got in bed. They insisted on zipping up the windows - I convinced them to leave them cracked for airflow (since I didn't want to turn on the A/C for fear of water leaking in). It was a miserable night - mid to high 70s with high humidity. I had a light sweat going all night. On a good note, there was NO loud people, music or dogs barking all night!

    My wife and I got up early (she actually got up an hour before me - at 7AM). The first thing I did was turn the A/C on low and zip the windows. I made some coffee and went outside. It was beautiful looking across the lake early in the morning, drinking my coffee. Within minutes I started hearing the condensate dripping off the canopy - maybe it would be ok to leave it running, I thought. About 2 hours later, the girls got up and wanted breakfast. They walked over to the camp store while I cooked - it was closed! Said it was only open from 2-3PM on Monday! WTH! I cooked, then we cleaned up. Around lunchtime, we decided to go kayaking. Luckily, there was a spot where someone had moved the large rocks (from the bank) to make an entry point for kayaks/canoes pretty much directly behind our site - EXCELLENT! We paddled around the shore line for about 2hrs, then had to come back so I could pay for the site. We walked over to the Camp Store and got there at 2PM on the dot. I paid for the site, the girls got some junk food and we decided to play a game of Putt Putt. Putt putt was free, so that was good. I asked about the arcade - he said they were renovating it into a meeting place. We were on hole 16 when the ranger came out and closed the entry gate - I guess he was hinting for us to hurry up! After the game, we went back to the camp site and relaxed - the girls watched a movie, then went to play. I cooked supper around 8PM and we were in bed again by 10. That night was MUCH better! I actually used a blanket!

    We slept late - got up at 9AM. We went outside to enjoy the morning with our coffee. The squirrels were hilarious there - would come up to you for pretzels or your left over eggs and bacon! We had ducks walk up behind our site, plenty of birds and a flock of geese that walked along the shore line. The girls still weren't awake at 11, so I went ahead and made breakfast for the wife and me. They finally got up a little before noon and wanted breakfast - NOPE, not going to happen. I don't know what they ate that day. They started watching another movie while my wife and I went kayaking before packing up. We left at 12 and paddled to a different part of the lake. We saw 2 bald eagles fishing, along with some blue herons and an egret. We paddled around until 1:30 when we got back and started packing to leave. Checkout was at 3PM - we pulled out of the site at 2:59! I convinced my wife that she needed to learn how to tow a trailer, so she drove home since it was only 30ish miles. She did great! She doesn't like driving my F250 to start with (too big and sloppy steering), so she was on edge all the way home (2 lane roads and had to go through one city by pass). She finally got to see why I am so tense and on edge every time I pull a trailer - people have no respect and leave no room to anyone towing or driving an RV/big truck!

    We got home, popped up the camper, unloaded everything and closed the camper back up (leaving the fridge cracked). I parked it beside the shop with a slight fall front to rear and side to side. I am planning on replacing that A/C gasket the next time I'm off since my wife will still be out of school (she's a teacher) and can help me with it.

    All in all, we liked/loved the campground. For us it was great - relaxing, nice paved roads and the full hookup sites were paved (the other sites were level gravel), quiet, excellent views, excellent wildlife, excellent kayaking and OK bath houses. For the kids, kinda boring since the beaches and the arcade are closed - not much for them to do. We are planning on going back in the fall.
     
    HappyTraveler and Sjm9911 like this.
  7. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    We've had some monsoon rains this week. My wife and neighbors had to cover the camper with a tarp one night wile I was at work because I was worried that the a/c gasket would leak. Earlier this week I was researching building a 20x30 shed to cover the camper, tractor, side by side, lawnmower and truck - was gong to cost $3600 for materials! I have other stuff that needs to be bought before a shed. So today I was checking email and ran across a harbor freight sale and they had their 10x20 carport on sale for $99! That would be big enough to keep my camper out of the wweather and I wasnt feeling too good about the tarp that was covering it. I went to the next town over and picked one up. After finding the best (out of the way) place to put it and trimming a tree, it only took about took me (by myself) to put it up. I spread the legs to make it 11' at the ground to make backing into it a little easier. It took about 5 min to get the camper centered in it. I ended up having the rear a little over a foot inside and almost 1.5' on each side. At least it's out of the rain now! I'm planning on replacing the a/c gasket when I'm off again in 2wks - IF we don't go camping.

    20180804_165015.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2018
    HappyTraveler and Sjm9911 like this.
  8. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    Prepping for a weekend trip this coming weekend. I had a few things left to check off the "to do" list. I adjusted the brakes, scraped the dirt dauber nests from underneath and caulked all of the holes that went through the floor - then took it for a test drive with my wife's new (to her) 2017 Expedition to check the brakes. Man, that backup camera put the ball right under the coupler the first time I used it! Now I have to get a retrofit one for the F250! And MAN, that 3.5L turbo took the 10,000# combo to 60mph in ~9sec! Backing up with the standard mirrors was a PITA though - the truck beats it hands down there.

    Anyway, back to the camper. I popped it up to replace the factory smoke detector which was completely dead. I just bought a cheapo 9v battery model. While I had it open, I replaced my broken factory receptacle on the sink cabinet with a new box and dual receptacle with 2 USB ports for charging phones/tablets. That was a big one because the first time we took it out, the kids had their phone chargers plugged in there almost every time I needed to plug something in - now we can do both. The receptacle was a little pricey though - $23 + $1 box. I had to trim the cabinet a little to fit the new box in also.

    I waited on a day with only a small chance of rain to tackle the A/C gasket. I finally got to do that on Friday. It was a fairly easy job (even by myself), although I DID have to fix some rigged up crap that the P.O. had done. Pop the top halfway to remove the ceiling assy and remove the bolts, lower it back down, separate an extension ladder and put a half on each side of the A/C unit with towels on the side rails to keep from scratching them. That was my scaffolding (after adding plywood for walk boards) to keep my weight off the roof. Next, I rolled the unit on it's side onto another piece of plywood while I did the work. The P.O. had obviously removed the factory s.s. trim ring when painting the roof and must have messed it up removing it. He used 1/2" aluminum angle cut to fit around the opening and screwed down(with regular screws, not ss) to the roof after putting butyl tape underneath to seal it to the roof. He caulked the seams of the aluminum channel and screw heads with silicone caulk. ANOTHER thing he screwed up was that he installed the pieces of angle with the angle UP in the air instead of down as the instructions show. When he reinstalled the A/C, the gasket sat half on the upward pointing angle, which made it impossible to seal!

    OK, enough ranting about it. My fix: I removed all of that, cleaned the roof with paint lacquer thinner as best as I could, re fit the angle with it pointing down into the opening, used silicone and ss screws to seal the angle to the roof. Next, I applied 4" Eternabond tape from the inside aluminum channel (inside the opening), over the aluminum angle and onto the roof (about 2"). This provided a nice flat sealing surface with no chance of leaking UNDER the angle. I am planning on continuing the Eternabond through the opening onto the ceiling panel when I get around to fixing that). I followed the factory A/C install directions for installing the new gasket - used a large bead of silicone in the center of the gasket and a bead along the inner and outer edges of the gasket. After flipping the A/C back over the opening and measuring to ensure it was square, I popped the top about halfway and went back inside to re install the bolts and ceiling assy. Then drop the top and BACK on the roof to apply new aluminum tape on the seams of the evaporator box and re installed the shroud. Whew - that took about 3hrs by myself!

    Sunday, I went to Home Depot and bought a piece of vinyl siding "F" channel and some fiberglass window screen. I cut the F channel nailing strip off and cut the channel down so that it would fit under the A/C unit drain to drain the condensate off of the roof. I haven't figured out how I am going to attach it while we are camping yet - it has a small bow to it, so it won't just lay there flat. I don't want to permanently attach it - I want it remove it while travelling. Right now I just have it held in place with a brick, lol. I cut a couple of pieces of screen to cover the water heater openings and used a dollop of Dicor in the corners to hold it in place (on the inside of the door, of course!). I was going to do the same with the fridge openings, but I have read that you don't want to restrict air flow at all, plus I didn't see any signs of wasp or dirt dauber nests. I still want to get covers for the heater.

    That was it for the prep before camping this weekend. I ordered a new (el cheapo - $17) stereo with Bluetooth streaming (from your phone) as well as online streaming. It didn't even have a cd player, but I didn't really want one anyhow. I ordered it from Walmart with the free 2 day shipping to store - YEAH, RIGHT! It was supposed to be here last Thursday so I could install it while doing the rest of the work. As of now, Walmart is saying it will be tomorrow (Tuesday, which will be 8 days instead of 2!). That's the second time I've ordered something from Walmart with free 2 day shipping and it was "delayed" - and I've only ordered 3 times! Oh well, my mother in law still has Amazon Prime - and they deliver in 2 days or less, 95% of the time! I guess I'll forget Walmart and order through them for sure the next time. I'll pick the stereo up on the way home from work tomorrow and install it the day we go camping - or maybe even once we get there!
     
    HappyTraveler, jnc and Adam H like this.
  9. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    First off, I'm sorry for the long post - there was just a lot that went on, on this trip!

    So we went camping at Denton Farmpark for my annual military vehicle rally this past weekend. I had to tow my M38a1 and trailer on the car hauler, so my wife was left towing the Arcadia behind her New TV (2017 Ford Expedition that replaced the '08 Expedition).
    I have been pushing her to drive as much as possible when we go camping so that she would have experience in towing before the trip to the rally this year. She had pulled the camper about 75 miles before this trip.

    On our first trip towing behind the new Expedition, I noticed that the camper had a tendency to sway a little when the steering wheel was suddenly moved. So I pulled over and installed her 2" drop drawbar and ball (I had installed the 3.25" drop from my pickup and didn't test drive). This helped a lot. On the way home from that trip, we adjusted the loading of the camper and cargo in the back of the Expedition to further reduce the sway.

    The next 2 trips it towed pretty good.

    On Wednesday (the day before the trip) I installed an anti sway bar that I bought at Harbor Freight for $24. I welded the ball mount onto a spare 2" drop drawbar that I had and welded the ball mount to the frame of the camper. It had holes where one had been previously mounted, but most of the holes didn't line up. I felt funny about drilling MORE holes in the frame in the same area, so I just welded it on to be safe. I installed the bar and tightened it down according to instructions, then took it for a shake down ride. I had to tighten it down one more turn before the sway was almost completely gone.

    So when we left for Denton, NC on Thursday, I loaded about the same way. About 10 miles into the 110 mile trip, she called and informed me that it didn't feel right - that the camper was pushing her side to side. We pulled over and I looked at it from the side. It appeared to be loaded tongue heavy or the TV was loaded heavy. So I took all of the bags out of the back of the Expedition and put them in the back of the pickup (prob 250# of luggage!), and moved one kid to the front seat (another 130#). We pulled off with me following this time.

    When we drove off, I immediately noticed the tires were not vertical. The top of the tires were closer than the bottom - a LOT closer. Now is the time to mention that the P.O. had done a spring over conversion on the camper before I bought it. I am guessing that he just flipped the axle and bolted it back on. If that is the case, the brakes probably weren't switched side to side either - ANOTHER problem! This might be the reason for the sway to start with!

    We made it to the rally and set up. My mom and step dad should've been at the campsite about an hour behind us, but 2 hrs later - no show. A phone call revealed that they had a mishap about 45 miles from home, got back on the road and were now lost! The hitch pin came out (cotter pin came out some way or another), the draw bar came out of the receiver and the camper (1998 Viking 1706 that my brother and I rebuilt the roof on) tongue fell to the chains and tongue wheel. They were flagged down about the problem and were able to get the drawbar back into the receiver, used a tongue lock as a hitch pin replacement, and got the camper hooked back up and on the road (with NO help from passers by I might add - my parents are 68 and 75yo BTW). We talked them to the campground using landmarks that we had passed - I don't know why she wasn't following the GPS. When they finally got there, we got them backed into the site and set the camper up for them (my step dad is disabled and my mom was too rattled after the trip). She kept saying that this is probably their last trip and was visibly upset about the fact that she couldn't do the driving and setting up anymore, but loves camping. I think I will probably force her to let me tow the camper where she wants to camp and set it up for her/them.

    Once my mom settled down, the trip was great! The first night was a little warm which required the A/C to run on low. The next day was beautiful until about 3pm when the storm rolled in - heavy rain until about 6pm. Once that was over, the wind started - that blew constantly, with gusts up to 45mph for the next 2hrs! There were limbs falling and leaves flying everywhere! After the wind subsided, the rest of the night was clear and cool in the lower 50s. I actually turned the furnace on to warm the camper up and then the electric heater was used to maintain a mid 60s temp inside. Saturday night was almost perfect weather - only running the fan on the A/C to circulate the air with the windows open.

    We got ready to leave around noon on Sunday. We packed up my mom's camper and hooked it up (using a new hitch pin with a lock this time) first. Mine was last with no problems. When we left, I led the way with my mom in the middle and my wife with the Arcadia pulling up the rear. A few miles down the road, my wife called and said the camper wasn't pulling right - AGAIN! I worried that the axle was the problem because it was packed the same as the trip up. We pulled into a gas station to fill up and I checked it out. It seems that I, ME, YOURS TRUELY, had neglected to latch the coupler on the camper! What an IDIOT! I am truly humbled by the fact that GOD kept that thing from disconnecting and possibly causing them to wreck or be killed! After latching and pinning the coupler and getting back on the road, she said it was pulling fine now.

    We stopped for lunch about an hour later. When I pulled in behind her, it looked like the passenger side camper tire was sitting at a greater angle than the driver side. My mind was made up at that point - buy a new axle and PROPERLY do a spring over conversion before our next trip! I am considering installing a 5200# axle since the factory 3500# one is overloaded as soon as you load the camper (3000# camper + awning + A/C + food is 3500#, not to mention anything else that is used for camping in there - another 500#). The problem with that is $400 for the axle and brakes + install kit + new rims and tires = $800 easy. I might still do it!
     
    HappyTraveler and Sjm9911 like this.
  10. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,454
    Likes Received:
    2,276
    Joined:
    May 31, 2018
    Location:
    Nj
    Wow. Lucky. And weird. Glad it worked out. No help on the sway though. Could a break be sticking or something?
     
    HappyTraveler likes this.
  11. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

    Messages:
    7,266
    Likes Received:
    3,016
    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2006
    Location:
    Dukes, Fl
    Sounds like y'all had a real adventure, (or adventures) but you got everyone /everything home and that make a big difference. Sounds like you might have a bent axle, or the axle flip over . Check the springs first, there could be a broken leaf /s or some other problems with the springs. Good luck and Happy camping
     
    HappyTraveler likes this.
  12. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    I'm pretty sure the sway is coming from the negative camber with the axle upside down. It is slow at work tonight, so I've been researching replacement parts.
    Yeah - lucky for sure! I think the axle bent because it had negative camber instead of positive (because the axle was installed upside down), resulting in more pressure on the axle when the weight of the camper was put on it. I am going to pull the camper back out when I get home from work in the morning to get a better look at the situation. That way I can make sure that it was installed upside down, is bent for sure, whether the brakes are backwards or correct and get some measurements for a new axle if needed.

    My wife and I talked it over and decided to check everything out and decide if the axle is bent or not. If so, I will replace it with a new Dexter 3500# UNDERSLUNG axle using the original brakes and springs and install the correct D load range tires. The new axle costs about $165. If the new axle bends, then I will replace with a larger axle/brakes/springs and tires/wheels (major $$).
     
    HappyTraveler likes this.
  13. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    I pulled the camper out this afternoon to check out the axle situation. Here is a pic from the rear. It doesn't look as bad in the picture as it really is, but it gives you an idea of what I'm talking about.
    axle.jpg
    I crawled under the camper and found that the axle HAD been flipped correctly. It had new spring perches tack welded to the top of the axle and mounted under the springs. The brakes were on correctly. I found the Dexter model number on the rear of the axle (Dexter 113447024). Nextg, I jacked the camper up and removed the wheels so I could measure the axle. The spring center measurement is 57". The hub to hub measurement is 71 5/8".

    While I had the wheels off I decided to repack the bearings since I haven't done that since I have owned the camper. When I removed and cleaned the passenger outer bearing, I noticed that the inside of the bearing had a discoloration on it. The bearings looked and felt fine. The races looked and felt fine. The drum wasn't heavily scored. The brake shoe material was CRACKED though! I didn't take pictures of this, but both shoes were cracked in a straight line from top to bottom. I couldn't do anything with it today, so I re greased the bearings and put everything back together. The driver side was in about the same condition with MORE cracks in the shoes.

    After seeing that the axle was properly flipped and bent for some reason plus seeing the cracked brake shoes and burnt bearings, I have pretty much decided to do an axle upgrade. I am going to call a local trailer manufacturer to see if they will do the axle upgrade for me or will sell me the parts to do it myself. I want to install a 5200# axle with 12" brakes, 5000# springs and 15" aluminum wheels. I haven't decided what size tires yet.
     
    HappyTraveler likes this.
  14. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    I had decided to do the axle and wheel/tire upgrade last week. I talked to a local trailer builder and got a price of ~$490 for a 5200# Dexter with brakes and springs. The springs were 2" wide, so it would require welding on new hangers. Different (6 on 5.5") hubs, so I would have to buy new wheels/tires also. I wasn't comfortable in my welding ability (for safety reasons), so I would have to have the axle installed - 2hrs labor @ $60/hr. Total for this upgrade would be in the $1000 range. The upgrade would raise the camper another 1.75" on top of the 5.5" after the axle flip. This is due to the new springs (double eye - shackles will add 1"), larger wheel (although using same tire size, the wheel being 1" larger adds 1" diameter, so 1/2" lift) and 5/8" larger diameter axle (adds a little over 1/4" lift). I think this is TOO much lift for me.

    Over the weekend, I did a little research and found that I can buy a custom 5200# axle from Southwest Wheel Co. for about the same price ($470 delivered, no tax), no camber, self adjusting brakes, no springs add U bolt kit. The spring perches come loose, so I can do over or underslung mounting. Then I can buy 4300# slipper springs, 1.75" wide from etrailer for ~$70. This would give me a 4300# axle (based on the weight rating of the springs) with larger brakes. It would also be 1" less lift because I would be using slipper springs. It would also be bolt on - the springs are the same size as the originals, so I would save the $120 of labor. Total lift would be 6.25" which is still more than I want, but better. Total price - ~$900, which is also better. This would also give me the option of using double eye springs and going back to underslung if I didn't like the additional lift. But I am afraid doing this and only gaining 2" lift would not be enough.

    While researching this weekend, I also found that Dexter makes a D44 axle. This has a 3" tube with larger outer bearings and 10" brakes - stronger axle for less $$ and weight (30# lighter). The only problem here is - I can't find anybody online that offers them! In my opinion, this would be the perfect axle for this camper if it is at least $100 cheaper.

    I took my camper to the local Pilot/Flying J and weighed it on the CAT scale (which is super easy with the app, BTW). This brought up ANOTHER possibility - GREAT, ANOTHER OPTION!

    The axle weight of the camper was 3520#! I am GUESSING that my tongue weight was ~450 given the weight of the truck being 7350# (It is supposed to weigh 6380, but added options junk in the truck and my weight would bring it up to ~6900#. The camper would probably be lose to 3600# once food and a few more things are loaded back into it.

    Now, with that said, should I spend the $$ and replace the axle with another 3500# one and re use the same wheels and brakes (replace the shoes and tires with D load range though), or spend the $900-1000 and upgrade? I haven't priced a custom length 3500# axle only, but shouldn't be much.
     

    Attached Files:

  15. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    OK, a little update. The other day I removed the stock axle from the camper (after removing the tires/wheels of course). Then I re bent the axle to provide about 1/2" of camber. It was pretty much flat when I took it out. I used a railroad crosstie with jack stands sitting on top of it for a mount. I placed the spring perches on the jack stands and chained the ends of the axle to the crosstie. Then I measured for the center of the axle tube and marked it. That is where I placed the 12T bottle jack and proceeded to bend the center in a couple of stages. Once 1/2" of camber was achieved, I reinstalled the axle. Once back on the ground, it looked great. So I pulled it up the driveway to settle the suspension. At the end of the driveway (about 1/4 mile), I got out and looked again. The wheels were toed in at the top again, but the camber was still in the axle. This led me to deduce that the axle ends are bent! Well, at least I tried! The whole process (including the test drive) only took slightly more than an hour, so this fail wasn't that big of a deal.

    So today I bit the bullet and ordered a 5200# Dexter axle with self adjusting brakes. I ordered that from Southwest Wheel. It came to $426 including shipping and a 3" u bolt kit. Then I ordered new 15" wheels and 205/75r15 tires (load range D) and a pair of 4300# slipper springs from etrailer. This ran me $455. The springs are the correct length AND width (1.75"), so I won't have to re weld new hangers. I could have ordered heavier rated springs, but I don't want that heavily rated suspension (4300# is PLENTY) under the camper. I am hoping that the lighter springs will provide a better ride.

    These parts should arrive next week, so I can get the axle upgrade done shortly thereafter. I am hoping to sell the original wheels/tires and use the brakes on the 2nd axle of my car hauler.
     
    HappyTraveler and Sjm9911 like this.
  16. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    So all of my parts finally arrived - well, MOST of them anyway! The wheels, tires and springs (from etrailer) arrived in 3 business days. The axle ended up NOT being in stock (Southwest Wheel Co. in Dallas), so the axle, brakes and u-bolt kit didn't ship until June 6th. I received the brakes and u-bolt kit on Monday the 10th - in POOR condition. The boxes they shipped in were not heavy enough for the weight of the PKG. Also, the taping didn't hold up to the trip. One of the boxes had a large hole in the top of it caused by the hub. The u-bolt kit was also in this box. Concerning the u-bolt kit, the plastic bag that contained the parts was ripped open and missing 4 nuts and 5 washers! I emailed Southwest about the missing pieces, but they haven't bothered to reply yet. I guess I'll end up buying those myself.

    The axle arrived yesterday - it seems to be in good condition except for one missing brake mounting stud. The brake install hardware includes all the studs, so that doesn't really matter.

    Today I am measuring and marking where the spring perches will be welded on so that I can get that done and everything installed Monday or Tuesday. I will post some pics when I can get on my laptop to resize and upload them.
     
  17. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    Here are a couple of pics
    IMG_20190610_195147607.jpg IMG_20190613_125432398.jpg

    I'm not going to bash Southwest Wheel too bad, but I DO have a few concerns.

    1)They should have let me know that the axle was NOT in stock when I ordered it. Instead, I called them when it still showed that it hadn't shipped (said it would ship within 2 days)in 3 days. It was then that I was informed that it was not in stock, that they were expecting a shipment 2 days from then and would let me know if my axle was in that shipment. I didn't receive a call or email. I emailed them, received NO reply, but kept checking shipping status until I finally saw it shipped last week.
    2) When I received the damaged package I emailed them about the missing bits and didn't receive a reply. The nuts and washers will only cost me a couple of $$ at the most plus my time going to acquire them, but they could've at least replied and said screw you, we aren't sending you sh*t!
    3) Their packaging sucks! Even I would've known that those cardboard boxes wouldn't hold up to shipping that kind of weight!
    4) Customer support means a LOT when it comes to sales and repeat business!

    In closure, I bought this axle kit from Southwest Wheel Co. because I was able to order it for roughly $75 less than the local place. Plus the local place was going to take 3 wks to deliver a custom ordered axle WITHOUT self adjusting brakes. Southwest Wheel ended up taking almost as long to deliver, with a few dollars worth of missing pieces. So, it is really a tossup - I'm not sure if I will order from them again though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
    HappyTraveler likes this.
  18. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    I FINALLY got the axle upgrade finished! There were a few bumps in the road (to be expected), but I finished it up in about 4hrs. First step was to remove the old axle and springs. That only took about 15 minutes once I got her up on jack stands. I removed the springs while I was going. An impact wrench really makes quick work of those rusty nuts and bolts. I removed the axle and springs as one assembly. Once that was out, I removed the springs to line the old and new axles up to mark where the spring perches go. That's when the problems started popping up! I noticed that the backing plate flanges weren't the same distance apart. Then I started assembling to make sure. The inner wheel bearings slipped right on but the outer ones wouldn't go! I started polishing with emery cloth and finally got them to go on. Then I installed the drums. After that was assembled, I pulled out the framing square and tape measure and sure enough, the new axle was 1 1/8" SHORT! I checked my order and the DEXTER sticker on the axle - 72"HF, but it was 70 7/8"! I was about to give in when my wife suggested temporarily installing it to see if there would be enough clearance for the tires. So I installed the new 4400# springs and she helped me slide the new (HEAVY) assembly under the springs and bolt them up. I centered the axle and installed the new wheels/tires - THEY FIT! It looked a little odd being tucked up under the camper even more than stock, but at least they had room. To tell the truth, I probably could have gotten away with a 74"HF. So with my mind at ease, I tore it back down and measured for the spring perches with the new axle on the saw horses, marked them out, ground away the paint and welded them in position. A little black paint and it looked factory.

    After the paint dried, I reinstalled the bare axle because I was working by myself now.

    Then I installed the backing plates, greased the bearings and installed the drums. That's when I realized that the axle WASN'T an easy lube axle! I thought ALL Dexter axles were easy lube? I checked the website and order but there was no mention of it - oh well, Bearing Buddies it is!

    I realized that the center caps from the old wheels were smaller than the new ones and there was no way I would be able to get a regular lug nut down into the lug nut recesses of the wheels, so I was forced to re use the lug nuts from the old wheels (1.75" long rusty chrome). I will have to order new caps and lug nuts. Converting to the bigger axle, 4400# springs and 15" wheels (with the same size tires) resulted in 2" additional lift, which I didn't really want. I was only expecting less than an inch of additional lift. I guess I'll have to live with it now. Of course I didn't measure after I pulled it down the road and back - maybe everything settled a little!

    Overall, I am happy with the upgrade. Now I have vertical tires, bigger, self adjusting brakes and a 4400# capacity axle so I don't have to worry about overloading. The camper tracked straight, didn't bounce as much and stopped very nice. The upgrade was fairly simple to do, but having the correct length axle and all of the parts I needed would have been nice.

    Another item crossed off the "To Do" list. The only big things left are replacing the ceiling where it got wet and delaminated and replacing the awning bag.
     
  19. jgdurbin

    jgdurbin New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2017
    Location:
    Annandale, VA
    I have a 2004 Hemlock, an earlier predecessor to your Arcadia. Were the original slipper springs on your Arcadia also "Open Eye" leaf springs with the open end curving up at about 180 degree angle? Or where they "hook end" with the open end pointing down at about a 90 degree angle?

    I have what I assume are "hook end" slipper springs on my Hemlock. Like you, I am unhappy with the under spec-ed axle. When I purchased the trailer the tires were heavily worn on the inside...and when I weighed the trailer w/o much inside it was pretty much at capacity. I also drag my front jack when backing up my slopped driveway.

    I am very interested in doing what you did: replace the axle with a heavier axle and doing the axle over conversion w/o welding new spring hangers, etc. I am confident I can do most of teh job...but am unsure if I can just replace the "hook end" slipper springs with similar length "open eye" or ??

    Anyone have any advice or suggestions?

    Thank you in advance!

    Respectfully,

    Jim
     
  20. William Freeman

    William Freeman Active Member

    Messages:
    177
    Likes Received:
    97
    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Location:
    Richburg SC
    The originals were the "hook" type slippers. They are more like a lazy U on the end, pointing at more of a 30-45deg angle - just enough to make it a slipper and not come out from under the retaining bolt when the suspension is unloaded.

    Yeah, for what these things cost new, it looks like manufacturers would up-spec the axles and tires. Dexter actually makes a 4400# axle D44, but the local place I got a price from said it would cost about the same as the 5200# one (D52) as a custom order, so I went with the D52 because it has larger outer bearings than the D44.

    The axle over conversion gives you one less thing to worry about - dragging the rear. The P.O. of my camper did the spring over on mine, which lifted it about 5.5". When I added the larger axle and heavier springs, it raised it even more than I expected - which I don't really like. Now the roof is as tall as I am - CLOSED! I am 5-10". If I would've known, I probably would've ordered a 4" drop axle, which would put me at about 3.5" higher than STOCK, instead of 7.5".

    This job was fairly easy if you can weld or know somebody that can. It was definitely worth it for the peace of mind (and the self adjusting brakes)!
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.