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Old 06-30-2007, 07:02 PM   #1
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1960 26' Overlander
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Leaf spring suspension grommets

Has anyone out there had any experience replacing the rubber grommets on a leaf spring trailer? My grommets are shot and the bolts are a banging over every little bump in the road. I had the job done 10 years ago but am considering doing it myself this time around. My main consern is taking everything apart only to realize that I need a press to get the new grommets in. The axle is heavy and would rather not have to transport it...

FYI my trailer is a 1960 single axle Overlander.
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Old 06-30-2007, 08:32 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Scott S
Has anyone out there had any experience replacing the rubber grommets on a leaf spring trailer? My grommets are shot and the bolts are a banging over every little bump in the road. I had the job done 10 years ago but am considering doing it myself this time around. My main consern is taking everything apart only to realize that I need a press to get the new grommets in. The axle is heavy and would rather not have to transport it...

FYI my trailer is a 1960 single axle Overlander.
Have you looked into replacing the whole spring. You can get springs of any length and rate at reasonable price. Springs do fail and if they do you are in big trouble. 50 year old springs are probablely reaching their service life do to hardening and stress cracks.
Try some place like Spring Works - custom leaf coil springs suspension bushings, or Google "custom trailer springs" you'll get hours of searching enjoyment.
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Old 06-30-2007, 08:54 PM   #3
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They're not easy to find, but any large truck spring shop will have them or can get them. I think you want bushings, not grommets.

I got mine from Standard Spring of Mineapolis. They were $7.39 each. They were identical to the originals.

You don't need a press to put the new ones in, just a large extra long bolt and some creativity. It's actually harder to get the old ones out than put the new ones in. I burned them out.
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Old 07-02-2007, 12:07 PM   #4
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Some possible sources.
Spring Works - energy suspension polyurethane auto suspension bushings sway bar bushings
Suspension Restoration Parts Co.
Eaton Detroit Spring

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Old 07-02-2007, 07:04 PM   #5
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Scott, why not remove the springs from the axle, and either get new springs made, or pick up a pair that are pre-made? Metal fatigue can cause springs to break pretty much without warning. The older, and more times they have been overloaded or compressed past their design limits, the more likely this is to occur. When you put it back together, use new U bolts and nuts. Springs are a lot lighter than the whole enchilada.
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Old 07-03-2007, 08:16 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies. At this point spring/axle replacement is not in the cards. When it is I will opt for a something with disc brakes. In the meantime I will search for the proper bushings. Thanks for the links! I don't live far from a major truck stop with repair facilities. If I can't find what I need, perhaps they can help.

FYI these springs appear to be longer and wider than modern springs, suggesting a special order. I am not afraid of the old springs. I know the trailer's history and it has never been overloaded or otherwise abused. Outside of the old caravan movies I have only heard of one spring breaking. I trust the old stuff more than the new. I didn't used to feel that way...until I replaced an item 3 times in a few years when the original lasted for decades.
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Old 07-03-2007, 11:28 AM   #7
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Scott,

I think you'll be OK. You should not have any problem getting the old springs replaced if and when you need to. I had a leaf added to my springs and the shop had the right width and thickness on hand. They also took the springs apart, inspected and reassembled with new hardware.

The spring stock is 2.00" wide and 0.34" thick.

Here is a picture of the bushings in my '59. The inner steel sleeve is serrated to bite into the shackle and not rotate. The outer sleeve is a press fit in the spring eye. In between is about 1/8" rubber.
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Old 08-22-2007, 11:22 AM   #8
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Exclamation

Quote:
Metal fatigue can cause springs to break pretty much without warning.
He ain't kidding!

I'm in the process of replacing leafs on a 75 trailer... one broke going down the Grapevine (steepest grade in Southern California) causing the front tire to tuck between the rear and the frame and lock up solid. I'll start a thread on the subject soon, but I wanted to interject, if in doubt buy new springs! I paid $124 delivered for a set of 4, which is cheap insurance. Now if I could only get Spring Works to return my messages, having paid online...

My springs broke in the very center at the pin hole, where you could not see the developing fatigue crack without disassembling completely. Perhaps that is why my trailer started saying, "Oh Snap" once in awhile.
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:02 PM   #9
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bushing part number

The part number for the bushing shown in photo earlier in this thread is "RB1" and can be ordered from Standard Spring of Minneapolis at 800-356-3897. Thanks markdoane.

A local truck spring/axle shop replaced the worn (non-original) bushings with inferior new ones. The new ones were only on the trailer 3 weeks when I noticed that they were going bad. So if you are going to go the route of bushing replacement be sure to get the real thing, which I believe to be the RB1, but will know for sure once they are installed. For those of you out there who believe that the running gear should just be replaced, rest assured that mine was checked over by two different shops...both were told that I thought that it needed replacing. Both said there was no reason to do so and that everything else was in good shape.

Once again the Airstream in question has the leaf spring suspension, which Airstream discontinued in 1961.
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Old 09-07-2007, 01:00 AM   #10
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On that type of bushing, note the center sleeve has teeth. Those are to grab the frame once tightened, so the sleeve does not rotate on the bolt, but rather so the spring can articulate silently because of the flexing of the rubber. No rattling, no rubbing friction. The downside is, the rubber has a very limited range of flexibility, and it is very important tofinal torque this type of suspension bushing with the suspension at RIDE HEIGHT. This means, on the ground, fully loaded, and the body "jounced" to settle the suspension... THEN you tighten the bolt and make those teeth dig in. The trick is to assemble the bolts almost-tight, then let the vehicle down and jounce it, then tighten the bolts to spec. This is one of those times when an impact wrench is your good friend.

If you tighten the bolts with the suspension hanging (which makes perfect intuitive sense) then the rubber will begin to rip as soon as you let the vehicle down, even with the best bushings in the world.

If a SHOP just replaced these 3 weeks ago, I would expect it to be under warranty.
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Old 06-02-2008, 08:26 AM   #11
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I just wanted to give a follow up on the bushing replacement on the suspension on my '60 Overlander. I did take it back to the truck axle shop. There they replaced the nylon bushings they used with the RB1 bushings I supplied. They were a perfect fit and appear to be the exact replacements for the oringinal bushings. After "finishing" the job they informed me that they only replaced 4 of the 6 bushings. They were conserned that replacing the last two would be too hard and did not want to do it. Perhaps this is why their new nylon bushings had failed after ony 2 weeks!

Well yesterday a buddy of mine (a truck mechanic) came over and within 45 minutes had pressed the old bushings out and installed the new ones. No problems whatsoever. Not a big deal if you have the tools to do it.

The trailer is still up in the air, as the tires (Goodyear Marathons) show signs of failure, so I will be replacing them and the shock absorbers while I am at it. One of the tires was also wearing like it was out of balance, even tho it was balanced. I will have it checked. If indeed it is still balanced that means that the drum is out of balance and I will get a set of the centramatic wheel balancers to solve the problem.

Scott
Tipton IA
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