The ultimate Off-Road suspension!

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The ultimate Off-Road suspension!

Postby Gerdo » Tue Sep 05, 2006 4:52 pm

Just thinking while driving for 16 hours to Dallas. What makes a good off-road suspension. Is it different for a trailer than a vehicle? I know you don't have articulation like you have with a 4 wheel vehicle. Just some thoughts. Lots if travel, shocks, long soft flat leaf springs (flatter springs typicaly flex better than a big arched one), a good coil or coil-over spring 4 link set-up, a set-up that will droop about 1/2 way with normal load, Bump-stops.

What are your thoughts?
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Postby jimqpublic » Tue Sep 05, 2006 5:18 pm

Look to Australia for all the options.

FWIW our `2000 pound trailer has 2900 pound rated Dexter trailer springs. Both leaves broke on our first trip. This was after a bunch of washboard and potholed roads.

We added shock absorbers and swore to keep it on the road after that point.

Soft, supple, and damped enough to prevent bounce but not so much that your damping device overheats and blows out. Large diameter tires that can be run at low pressure would be good too.
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Postby Gerdo » Wed Sep 06, 2006 8:39 pm

I belive that tires can make all the difference in the world. Large, wide, tall sidewall. The larger the tire, the more volume of air, the more weight it can carry, the lower air pressure you can run and still carry the load, the lower the air pressure the softer the tire will be. A soft tire will absorb alot of rough road.
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Postby jagular7 » Wed Sep 06, 2006 10:27 pm

Its a difficult to determine what a suspension could handle off-road. I would strongly suggest a suspension that could handle bounce with limited re-bound. Therefore, a shock system should be used.
Milltary trailers use leafs, long leafs, with shocks. Tires also add to the mix. You want a flotation type of tire. But you got to know your limits of both your driving, vehicle and terrain.

Even a trailer with torsion suspension, I've seen trailers bounce and rebound after hitting a decent size pot hole. Vehicles have been known to bend a rim after hitting a hole.
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Postby Heepin » Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:28 am

Some friday get through the workday gearhead rambling:

The kind of articulation I envision of would come from the coupler in most cases, so the suspension just has to be really good at absorbing bumps and keeping the tires in contact with the road.

With that, my first goal would be to distribute the suspension across as much of the trailer frame as possible. That would reduce the impact shock the trailer body sees and allow you to use a suspension that can better react to bumps and not just transmit them and bounce around.

My ideas would be:

1) If you've got $$ or the resources to fabricate: A long trailing arm / control arm suspension with flexy coils and neutrally valved shocks or coil-overs. I think just 3 links would be fine (2 trailing arms and a panhard bar to center the axle).

2) If you want close to the same end result but don't have the $$ and don't care as much about the bling factor, a budget alternative would be to swap in some long leaf springs and add shocks. A small compact pickup might be a good donor. I'm not sure how easy it would be to get the spring rate right, so you might end up at the spring shop getting something custom.

There shouldn't be any issues with the damper overheating as long as they're quality. You could always get some fancy bilsteins with remote reservoirs.

I agree that proper tire inflation makes a huge difference as does airing down for long stretches of off pavement driving.

Tom

:thinking:
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Postby vairman » Fri Sep 08, 2006 11:03 am

Heepin wrote:Some friday get through the workday gearhead rambling:

The kind of articulation I envision of would come from the coupler in most cases, so the suspension just has to be really good at absorbing bumps and keeping the tires in contact with the road.

With that, my first goal would be to distribute the suspension across as much of the trailer frame as possible. That would reduce the impact shock the trailer body sees and allow you to use a suspension that can better react to bumps and not just transmit them and bounce around.

My ideas would be:

1) If you've got $$ or the resources to fabricate: A long trailing arm / control arm suspension with flexy coils and neutrally valved shocks or coil-overs. I think just 3 links would be fine (2 trailing arms and a panhard bar to center the axle).

2) If you want close to the same end result but don't have the $$ and don't care as much about the bling factor, a budget alternative would be to swap in some long leaf springs and add shocks. A small compact pickup might be a good donor. I'm not sure how easy it would be to get the spring rate right, so you might end up at the spring shop getting something custom.

There shouldn't be any issues with the damper overheating as long as they're quality. You could always get some fancy bilsteins with remote reservoirs.

I agree that proper tire inflation makes a huge difference as does airing down for long stretches of off pavement driving.

Tom

:thinking:


I had the same idea, except using airbags insted of springs, that way you can adjust the ride height as conditions warrent..

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Postby jagular7 » Sun Sep 10, 2006 11:29 am

Minivans are a good source to look for axle, leaf and shock design/placement. The rear suspension on my Dodge Caravan has the longest single leaf at 58" I've ever seen on a vehicle (and yah it's bent but still works like its suppose to). (I know GM trucks have 63" long multi-leaf pack.) It has a drop style axle and the leaf is secured to the axle through a rubber damper on top of the axle. The shocks are at a mean angle and there is a panhard rod to keep the axle centered.
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Postby M. Olsen » Mon Sep 11, 2006 1:33 am

And they'll flex too!!

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Postby Bill_Storey » Wed Sep 13, 2006 7:38 am

Now I've never pulled a trailer in a true offroad situation, so the following questions are coming from a point of true ignorance.

Why are you worrying about suspension flex on a trailer? You don't have a drive tire to keep in contact with the ground.


If you don't have to worry about flex, isn't all you need suspension-wise, is ground clearance and a soft enough ride to keep from breaking trailer components and contents unnecessarily?
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Postby PaulC » Wed Sep 13, 2006 7:50 pm

Bill_Storey wrote:If you don't have to worry about flex, isn't all you need suspension-wise, is ground clearance and a soft enough ride to keep from breaking trailer components and contents unnecessarily?


You got it in one Bill. The KISS principle at it's best. Leaf springs, beam axle = minimum fuss in all situations. I do not need the "look what I've got" conversations when I'm out bush.

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Postby Gerdo » Wed Sep 13, 2006 8:41 pm

I was just stirring the pot and geting the thinking juices going with this thread.
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Postby Jay VT » Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:14 am

One thing to keep in mind if you are using a trailer for serious offroading is the limitation of the ball coupler. I used to offroad quite a bit and learned from others mistakes that a pintle setup is required. It is really ugly to twist the tounge off your trailer out in the middle of nowhere, not to mention blocking the trail for everyone else.

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Postby M. Olsen » Thu Sep 14, 2006 1:06 am

Sorry Bill, I had my tongue firmly planted in my cheek when I posted the two pictures of the van. Of course spring/axle flex in an off road trailer doesn't really matter but I would agree that the coupler between the trailer and the tow vehicle is of great importance when you get off road and start to have the tow vehicle and the trailer leaning in different dirrections. Bee that front to back or side to side.

Dave needs to enlighten us on the "Lock and Roll" coupler. IIRC I believe that he got on for helping the company regain a domain name and put up a bit of a web page. Dave's my hero because he has on and I don't. I guess ny trailers aren't quite complete yet.

Mike

P.S.Check out this link for the lock-n-roll hitch.
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Postby mikeschn » Thu Sep 14, 2006 4:25 am

Jay VT wrote:Avid Lurker and Future Builder


Hey Jay,

Welcome to the forum... you're going to build off-road I gather??? Hope to hear more from you as you firm up your design and photos as you start building.

Mike...
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Postby PaulC » Thu Sep 14, 2006 5:17 am

Yeah Jay, What Mike said :lol: Keep us posted on your progress

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