Snapped an old leaf pack in half, bent an old axle...doing some expedition trailer diy/refresh! Need suggestions...

old_CWO

Active member
I put leafs out of a Chevy Colorado under my trailer. Longer, wider leafs spread the flex over a longer area and seem to absorb bumps better too.
Pretty much anything in the appropriate length and weight rating is good, especially for free or already on hand. If starting from scratch I prefer Jeep CJ rear:
  • common and inexpensive
  • long enough for good performance but still fit under shorter trailers nicely
  • the reproduction hangers are very sturdy, easy to obtain and weld up really well
  • rear M20 u bolts are a reasonable fit on a 3500lb trailer axle
  • CJ rear u bolt plates have shock mounts on them - a little less fab work to do
  • huge selection of springs and shackles for stock and lifted on the market so you can play around with height and spring rate a bit
  • CJs are major enthusiast vehicles so finding your bushings, bolts, spring friction pads, etc. is never a problem
On the other hand, there are certainly members here with multiple thousands of miles towing off road on regular old trailer springs without much incident.
 

rnArmy

Adventurer
Deanorino,

I was looking at your pictures of your springs mounted up. If there's only one spring clamp, it should be on the front (forward) half of the springs, not the back-half. You've got them mounted backwards. I posted one of your pictures below.

I am limited to spring length on my little trailer, so I have to use trailer springs. Since I just broke one of mine in half (and the other side is shot), I've gone up from a 740lb 3-leaf pack to a 975lb 4-leaf pack (27.75" length). And since they're 1.75" wide (same as the early CJs), I use the spring plates with the built-in shock absorber mounts for the axle side of the shock mounts.
 

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old_CWO

Active member
I was looking at your pictures of your springs mounted up. If there's only one spring clamp, it should be on the front (forward) half of the springs, not the back-half.
That's interesting, never heard that before. Why is it supposed to be forward? I thought the clamp was just to keep the leafs from fanning out.
 

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rnArmy

Adventurer
That's interesting, never heard that before. Why is it supposed to be forward? I thought the clamp was just to keep the leafs from fanning out.
Good question. I just remember reading it somewhere when I got a set of leaf springs with a clamp only on one end. Couple reasons I can think of:

1. The front half of the springs are more likely to "take a hit" than the back half. Having the clamp on the front half keeps them from getting knocked out of place (fanning).

2. If dirt and such are getting flung-up onto the leaves, you're less likely to get stuff between the leaves if the front half has a clamp.
 

CampStewart

Observer
Good question. I just remember reading it somewhere when I got a set of leaf springs with a clamp only on one end. Couple reasons I can think of:

1. The front half of the springs are more likely to "take a hit" than the back half. Having the clamp on the front half keeps them from getting knocked out of place (fanning).

2. If dirt and such are getting flung-up onto the leaves, you're less likely to get stuff between the leaves if the front half has a clamp.
It seems you are giving advice on something you read long ago and are not sure about the reliability of that source or why that unknown source stated the information and you are making up theories off the top of your head to support that unknown source. I thought the reason Al Gore invented the internet was so people could access accurate advice and not just repeat vague unsupported information. I have no idea if clamps are supposed to be on the front of the spring and if they are why. Most spring packs I have seen have clamps on both ends, does that mean they are meant to go either direction lol. I know the most recent new pairs of trailer springs I have installed were marked F and R.
 

rnArmy

Adventurer
I remember asking this very question when I bought a set of springs with the band on just one side, and the response (from where I bought the springs, probably Stengelbros) was the band goes on the front half. That was years ago, and I'm sure the email (where I read it) is long gone. It wasn't something I just read somewhere. See if these links work.


I did say "Couple reasons I can think of" (which means off the top of my head).

You could contact where you bought the springs and ask them.

The latest springs I bought have two clamps, and they are the same on both ends. I've also installed add-a-leafs on my truck which had a front and back end.
 

old_CWO

Active member
The "expert" reply found on the etrailer link seems to have a logical answer: (paraphrasing) Yeah the clamp usually goes forward but it doesn't really matter. If you have off center springs however, the shorter end goes forward.

Nice link, thanks.
 

deanorino

New member
That's interesting, never heard that before. Why is it supposed to be forward? I thought the clamp was just to keep the leafs from fanning out.
Yeah I actually thought the same, that the clamp kept them in line as they shift rearwards under load! Iff thats incorrect il definitely swap over. I may end up going to a lighter spring rate, but I am going to weigh it as loaded as I can get it for a long trip to make sure my weight guesstimates loaded are accurate.
 

deanorino

New member
Well , i got to work the last few days and made some of the things I wanted to do happen. I used the HF tube bender and tried to bend 75 degree corners with 15 degree lowers and after many attempts could not get it done without kinking. It didn't kink as bad with sand packed, but the problem is in die. I saw someone on YouTube place a pin over the middle of the pipe, and based on everything I've seen, that will fix it. I will probably try that for my next project, but im happy enough for now.

To ensure strength il be gussetting the corners . I was going to notch tube and reinforce that way, but I don't have a big enough drill press for a tubing notcher.

I also designed and created a slide system for the trailer bed. I used roller bearings found at a local bearing shop (thousands of bearings on hand!) And a bunch of zinc plated hardware from tractor supply to keep the cost down...nuts and bolts by the lb is always nice when you need over 100 nuts bolts and washers!

I used 1 inch square tube for the slide and made a jig out of steel plate to try and get the spacing correct before drilling all the holes. Without a cnc machine, its really difficult to get excellent bearing positioning...they sell oblong adjustable bearings with studs at the bearing store, but they are 16 dollars each!

The design features the slide (welded) , the bearing rack (steel plate bolted to plywood) and the connecting bracket (angle iron bolted through both wood and steel plate).

The whole thing was designed to be easy to repair, adjust, and modify. It is actually really easy to build with the exception of the roller bearings...depending on how particular you are about free play. I was able to get tight fits on 90 percent of the bearing sets, which meant it sat snug with no rattling when stowed!!

I do need to add two more bearings to each side closer to the ends for added support when at max extension, a simple stop mechanism, the plywood, handles, and possibly a lock system, but it's not required as the plywood will be cut to fit snug when the trailer tailgate is closed. I also may tighten up the spacing as right now there is about 3/16 either side of the slides that allows for a little side to side motion when extended fully. Not a huge deal, but i really don't need that much.

I'd guess I spent around 280 dollars to complete it, but I also spent an extra 75 on steel i didnt use..

Here is what I've done so far.
 

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billiebob

My Uncle drove a government issued Jeep in Europe
I posted several pictures in the start of the thread. Would you like pictures of something specific?
ahh, sorry not used to that format. I've been there too. I now order only 3500# axles with 2000# springs for the same reason. 2000# and lighter axles bend real easy in off road, FSR conditions.

DSCN1000.jpg
 

billiebob

My Uncle drove a government issued Jeep in Europe
The issue I thought I'd run into with using a vehicle leaf is that my trailer empty is probably around 800 lbs , full is probably around 2k. I thought most jeep/truck springs would be too harsh for the little trailer .
I'm guessing but there are a few guys who used YJ leafs. The YJ weighs about 4000# so 2000# per axle or 500# per spring. I'll likely try this next spring and hope for a smoother more compliant ride. The longer leaf should give a longer stroke..... I hope. A lighter option might be something like Suzuki Samuri Leafs.
 

verdesard0g

Search and Rescue first responder
Springs break, not unusual at all. I used to tow a flatbed trailer for the forest service for canoes and rafts. We broke many trailer springs when the trailer was not loaded but traveling down rough forest service roads.
 

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