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Old 10-03-2017, 05:24 PM   #1
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Default rough offroad trips and what to expect?

Hi all just wanted to share with you some tips when towing your camper down a rough road.

1. Make sure there is nothing too heavy on the fridge doors! Or plan ahead and somehow reinforce the door shelves. Too late for me!

2. Reinforce the room/bathroom panel divider! Mine broke off and now is inside the inner bottom slot! I would have used some additional staples and glue if I'd known ahead of time.

3. Make sure you go slow over any ruts and/or dips. This didn't happen to me but saw quite a few campers bottom out and the rear stabilizer bend nearly off!

4. Double check everything is stable inside because if not it will shift all over the place! Still need to contemplate how to do this, bungee cords?

5. If you bulb seal has any imperfections your rig will get very dirty/dusty!

Any tips/insights appreciated! Also share your story too!
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Old 10-03-2017, 11:17 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing!
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Old 10-18-2017, 10:28 PM   #3
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Default Things I've learned

This is an interesting topic, I must admit its a rarity that we don't take our hilo on dirt roads, that being said a few other things I've learned in the process:

1. Install child locks on all of your cabinets, the standard friction spring latches don't always hold and once a cabinet door opens not only does all of the stuff fall out, but the weight of a door combined with the rough road will shear the hinges. (I've broken two hinges and one cabinet door frame before I installed the child locks)

1a. Install child locks on your fridge, my fridge "latch" seemed to lost its tension. It will hold the door closed, but in the case where a large mayo jar rolls around, it will force it to open. (good thing the jar was plastic)

2. Get saveajacks for the rear scissor jacks. The previous owner of my trailer bent one of the rear jacks and I totally understand why. They are pricy but in my mind worth the piece of mind to not have to worry about hitting the jacks off pavement. It is a bummer that you have to put the jacks on and take them off every time but it gives you so much more clearance.

3. Bring plenty of 2x6s... I often use them for leveling but I've also found they make great bridging and elevating platforms to allow additional clearance when crossing washouts and ruts. Its amazing how just a small rain "gutter" on the side of a forest road is impassable without having to lift the trailer or the tow vehicle to clear parts of the trailer. Same for shallow dry streambed crossings.

4. Keep a close eye on your sewer connections... need I say more?

5. A FRS radio can help you and your spotter to be sure you are not going to hit the aforementioned sewer connections.

6. Ditto on the dust and bulb seal, I was wondering if it was just me where I have to clean off everything in my trailer after a long dirt road.

7. If you're upper door doesn't seem to latch correctly, check the rivets on the hinges, the heads on the rivets in my upper hinge were completely missing, not sure when that happened but it was at least an observation.

Neat thread topic. The biggest thing I wish I could figure out is if there is a way to relocate or raise the sewer connections. In the 17T they seem to be the biggest limiting factor.
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Old 10-18-2017, 11:45 PM   #4
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s205, I have a 17 footer, and I had the entire trailer lifted about 1.5" by having a spacer welded to the frame so that the axle comes out lower in the wheel openings. This also allowed me to mount wheels and tires that have a 1/2" larger radius. The effect is that the entire underside of the trailer is 2" higher and the axle is 1/2" higher than oem. Of course, this raises the sewer connections and the jacks by that same 2".

I have a thread on this subject here: http://www.hilotrailerforum.com/f19/...12/index3.html I start talking about relocating the axle in post #22, but you might want to read the entire thread to see why I had it done.

I've cut the sheet metal skirting in front of the wheel on the street side of the trailer so that the wheel opening is now larger. The wheel looks almost centered in it now.

Since we frequently camp in Forest Service Campgrounds, we are often on rough dirt roads getting to them.

I can certainly concur with having to use better latches on cabinet doors and on the fridge if driving on rough roads. I'd never thought of the childproof latches - what a good idea! I just added additional heavy duty magnetic catches to the cabinet doors along with the original latches and they seem to do the job. For the refrigerator, I insert a brass rod down through the top of the front trim at the corner and into the door (I drilled holes to allow this) and it locks the door closed. I also use a bungee cord across the middle of the fridge door as additional insurance.

I've never had to use planking to bridge gullies or deep ruts, but I can see how they'd be useful.

I'll add that your fridge latch probably lost its holding power because it's made of plastic and has worn down (if it was like mine). Fortunately, the catch part that was worn was screwed into the top of the door and was easy to remove and replace with an aluminum one I made that is much more durable and holds much better. My plastic one was so bad that the fridge door often opened DURING our stay at a camping spot. Don't have that problem with the new latch.

- Jack
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Old 10-19-2017, 10:12 AM   #5
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I too raised my trailer, by three inches, by putting in spacers under the the axles. In fact, it raised it enough that I often need to place a couple of plastic "leveler" squares down when I crank down the stabalizer jacks to get stabalized on the ground. I also had the sewer connection reinforced. That said- I'm in the process of winterizing and as I must do every years, it seems, I spend a good hour re-drilling and re-screwing many of the support brackets for doors, cabinets, couches, dinettes etc. That stuff just shakes loose after a season of travel especially if I am headed down gravel roads a lot. But, the most important thing I have learned to minimize issues is to JUST SLOW DOWN! I mean, I'm camping, so whats the hurry???

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Old 10-19-2017, 10:46 AM   #6
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Default Lift

Its nice to hear there are options that can successfully lift the trailer. That being said, I currently park my trailer in a garage. My AC unit brushes the trim on the garage door so unfortunately there isn't a way for me to lift my trailer. For a while I was tossing the idea of maybe seeing if one could retrofit airbags or some sort of adjustable suspension but in my research it seemed to be quite cost prohibitive.

I was also thinking about maybe having a skidplate fabricated for the sewer connections but not sure how robust that could be as it doesn't seem like there is much frame to tie into.

I also was toying with the idea of using flowjet pumps instead of gravity dumping to at least allow the sewer lines to come straight out, instead of drop down below the skirting, again, seemed a bit labor intensive.

Any other creative thoughts?
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Old 10-19-2017, 12:00 PM   #7
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I would try and keep it simple. My sewer connections have a "u bar" that sort of acts as a skid plate for the pipe and blade valves. also, here is a link about a repair I had to have done. Scroll down through it and find the photo of the simple but clever re-inforcement they fabricated for supporting the discharge pipe connection:
http://www.hilotrailerforum.com/f27/...nted-fix-4546/

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Old 10-21-2017, 02:03 PM   #8
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Jack -

On that other thread you mention there's a fair discussion of trailer weights, axle limits, axle and tire weights. It got me thinking about suspension - there's "sprung weight" (any weight supported by a spring) and "unsprung weight" (weight directly on the road - e.g. Tires/axles).

Any unsprung weight can be calculated to add HALF it's weight to the sprung portion and half is resting on the road. I'm sure in a dynamic scenario it changes dramatically, but for static calc this is a good ballpark.

I wonder if Hi-Lo considered the axle weights in this way when determing UVW?

205 - I'd think to add a skid plate you could just frame-out the hookups. Add the necessary steel crossmember between existing frame rails, then bolt a skid plate to that. Makes sense it would add a little security.
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Old 10-21-2017, 03:40 PM   #9
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Knotty - I have no idea how HiLo determined the weight on my trailer. I just know it actually weighs close to 500# more than it should, according to the label inside the trailer that supposedly includes all the factory installed options.

I can't remember if I said this before, but I discussed installing a higher capacity axle with a Dexter Axle rep and was told I couldn't do it because it would not fit.

- Jack
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Old 10-22-2017, 10:24 AM   #10
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Well Jack, I'd have to agree it wasn't just axle weight throwing those numbers off.

Do you know if anyone's looked into Timbren suspension? That would provide independent suspension and plenty of clearance since there's no axle shaft across the trailer.
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Old 10-22-2017, 11:53 AM   #11
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I've never heard of Timbren suspension. So, I just looked it up. I'm pretty impressed with the concept and certainly think it COULD work on a HiLo. However, I don't really think the axle is much of a problem regarding clearance since the waste outlets for the holding tanks are so low too. I think, in our trailers that the stabilizing jacks and the waste outlets are more of a clearance problem than the axle.

BUT, it's possible the Timbren axles would fit a trailer like mine and would provide a higher load carrying capacity.

I noticed that there is a rather serious caution in the installation pdf that says the axle in a trailer like ours is a structural member and that if removed, additional cross-bracing is needed to maintain structural integrity. I suspect that would be a fairly easy modification, however.

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Old 10-22-2017, 03:22 PM   #12
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I had wondered if the existing axle contributed to structure - it often does when it's attached by leaf springs (pretty solid lateral limit) or in the case of the torsion system it's a length of box steel. Seems like the existing axle would help prevent the frame from bowing down in the center (doesn't permit the sides to flex up/get longer). Just add a similar bar inside the frame.

Pricing doesn't seem too bad - $750 for a 5200lb system, with a 4" lift built in. The 2000lb system is about $100 less. I imagine an upgraded conventional axle would be in the same range.

They also make a 2-wheel version.

Re: Clearance - the more height you get the more clearance you get even for the waste outlets.
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Old 10-22-2017, 03:43 PM   #13
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Default Timbren

Hi All,

So I was also looking at a Timbren STI system as a possibility for allowing a raise and lower capability base on the air suspension. It doesn't seem to be a "advertised" selling point but inside I was wondering if this could be a benefit? I have no idea how much a retrofit like this would cost and also I'm not sure how I would be able to tell if the end result would actually buy something.

For example could you have a moderate ride height when traveling, air it up when crossing rough terrain, then lower it completely when parking? I know a lot of the air suspensions on SUVs do this now (lower for entry and cruising, higher for off road). Do you think this could be a viable option?

Timbren seems pretty popular in the "overlanding" community but mostly for increased ground clearance and adaptability to loads, not for squatting down and making things shorter...

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Old 10-22-2017, 04:28 PM   #14
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Doesn't look like Timbren has a ride-height feature in their air systems.

Increasing pressure doesn't increase ride height, just changes the spring rate (which may alter height, but you get a LOT more spring rate compared to increased ride height).

Altering ride height would require a different design, probably a separate height-adjusting air bag.

Also, increasing rate is the *opposite* of what you want on rough surfaces - you need to soften the suspension to absorb the big hits.
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Old 10-22-2017, 06:40 PM   #15
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I was actually looking at the STI systems by Timbren, but perhaps you're right, the control panel references higher and lower, but that could just be relative to the air pressure??

I agree, you want a softer suspension on rough stuff. Do you know how adjustable ride height systems work then if air pressure only adjusts ride stiffness?
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Old 10-22-2017, 07:12 PM   #16
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I don't know how it's done -I haven't read up on it. BUT...I would guess that there are a few approaches - the first two that come to mind are either a multi-bladder air spring (so they can pressurize independently) or separate air bladders - one for the spring portion and one for ride height.

Since air springs increase their rate logarithmically way (non-linear), seems it would be challenging to incorporate ride-height in a single bag. But that's just my non-engineer's 2 cents.
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Old 10-22-2017, 11:56 PM   #17
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I wonder how much of a problem a high center crown on a road is anyway? That would be the hazard for the axle that runs across the width of the trailer, much the same as the differential is the limit to road crown height for the tow vehicle. I've found when the crown is high on dirt roads, I can usually drive to one side or another so that the vehicle wheels are more up on the crown, eliminating that problem.

Of more concern though, is the wheelbase length of the tow vehicle or the frame length of the trailer. This comes into play when you have to cross a deep "ditch" that runs across the road. In fact, at Canyonlands National Park and at Arches National Park, my F150's wheelbase is too long to drive most of the unpaved roads. If I went over some of the crosswise "humps", the middle of my truck's frame would drag the ground. And, in some of the gullies, the front or rear of the truck would dig into the road. The only vehicles that can navigate these roads are short wheelbase Jeeps or quads.

Pulling a trailer, it's even worse. You are effectively twice as long (or more) and won't be able to follow the curvature of the gully or the hump at all. Axle changes won't fix this. Think of the stress on the WD hitch if the TV is going up while the trailer is going down (or vice-versa).

So, when pulling a trailer on undeveloped roads, you just have to be careful.

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Old 10-23-2017, 10:28 AM   #18
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Jack,

I agree, i don't really have too much issue with crowns, most of mine are pulling through dips and gullies. I've found as I pull into a dip, the nose of the trailer will implant into the opposite berm as well as the tail will hit on the way out. I usually have to add extra boards underneath the tires and this is ultimately the thing I'm trying to avoid with a lift. Same for pulling from the road onto a climbing slope, I will often come very close to the sewer lines on the way up.

We've half joked about getting bridging ladders instead of a lift
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Old 10-23-2017, 10:35 AM   #19
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Even at Drives connecting to highways or paved roads with Gutters [or dips], I learned to approach them at an angle. Especially since I now carry the 2 bicycles around & behind the spare tire. Gets awfully close to those tires!
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Old 10-23-2017, 10:43 AM   #20
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Yep, you both (Jack and S205) address the major problems I've experienced. Left one too many jacks behind because of a campsite entrance. Granted I wasn't well-prepared w/2x6's like I shoulda been...

Bridging ladders eh?
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