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Old 06-14-2017, 12:21 PM   #1
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Dexter Lift Kit... Eliminates Rear Bumper Drag, too?

Troutboy of Colorado did excellent coverage of adding a lift kit to his Airstream. Also the feedback of others made this Thread... a stellar example of the talent within the Airstream Community! Also Troutboy's Solar installation is another example of a step by step tutorial. Both, well done.

My question. My wife and I primarily Boondock Off the Grid. Upgrading from 15" to 16" wheels and tires gives our 25 foot International more tire stability, in my opinion, but... does lifting the frame off the axles 3" reduce the potential of 'Bumper Drag' from a non lifted trailer of the same length? I would believe that the longer the trailer, the less effect of decreasing Bumper Drag...

You may have additional clearance from traveling on even surfaces, but I have to make the assumption that the LIFT creates better rear clearances on irregular surfaces. Otherwise, what is the primary reason to lift the trailer higher above the axles. Much like a Lift Kit for a 4x4 Pickup truck, your axles still have no more clearance from the surface. But being a vehicle, the front and rear 'body' have more clearance from uneven surfaces Off the Grid irregular roads. I believe that for vehicles it is more to install larger wheels and tires, than the threat of clearances.

The Trailer being towed, as you increase the length, would seem to me to have no more and maybe LESS clearance in creek crossings and dry western washouts across the road.

Can someone explain to a bystander how the rear bumper clearance(s) are affected by lifting the frame? I find that the bumper clearance may be a totally different issue, after increasing the lift of the Airstream off its axles.

For Service Station testing: Most of the stations in Flagstaff, AZ and one of the stations on the north side of the highway at Magdalena, NM are Trailer Grooved... If a lift kit can reduce the possibility of rear Bumper Drag... that alone would be worth the expense.
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Old 06-14-2017, 01:05 PM   #2
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Ray, thanks for the kind words and let's go boondocking soon.

My primary reason was to increase the ground clearance of my waste pipes. The distance from ground to those valves and flanges. The lift installed was just under 3 inches. And after the install, measuring from concrete drive, my valves were 3 inches higher than before the lift.

You are correct that the clearance from axel to ground is the same. I didn't measure the number, but it seems to me that the bumper is 3 inches higher as well. I know that the steps and door are three inches higher, as well as the ball hitch point on the frame.
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Old 06-14-2017, 03:37 PM   #3
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That is a great point that I have... yet... to have any dragging experience. Since the plumbing is gravity drained... and the PVC diameters of the Black and Grey are already engineered to provide maximum drop to the dump station... the lift is the only obvious remedy. My 16" Michelin tires give me less than 1/2" additional clearance, which is better than nothing.

Just this advantage would be a big plus.

Plumbing exposure for us does require Nancy to walk the left side for sage brush and when straddling a two rut road... like Oregon Buttes Wyoming 2016 Adventure... the survivors no doubt did the same!

The bulging tail lights on the 2008 Tundra were also a risk factor when making a sharp turn. The tail light would engage just above the rock guards. This was the same for a 25 foot Arctic Fox... which my friend discovered when he traded in the 2000 Tundra! Fiber glass was a less expensive repair.
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Old 06-14-2017, 05:01 PM   #4
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Ray, that is EXACTLY the reason to install the lift kit. My sewer pipes HAD 7-1/2 inch clearance...now they have 10-3/8" clearance. While on our most recent trip, on at least 3 occasions it was necessary to cross over crowned curbs and various ditches that, without the lift kit, would have severely damaged the sewer pipes.

If you tow your trailer "level" then your bumper and frame will enjoy exactly the same lift as the kit provides at the axle. Furthermore, you will gain wheel-well clearance as well.

We've been unable to detect any change in handing/towing other than enjoying the additional clearance/freedom from dragging.
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Old 06-14-2017, 07:48 PM   #5
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Also... now that we are discovering the advantages of the Dexter Lift Kit...

The brake wiring can be taped to close the loops that can catch on small branches alongside some Off the Grid Boondocking campsites. The Lift Kit does not add any extra height to the brake wires, but one can take black electrical tape and wrap the brake wiring to avoid catching and pulling the wiring apart.

Wrapped tightly and raises them at the same time. Any branch will slide off the side without injury or detaching your brake wiring.

The wiring from the brakes were exposed as two wires. They can easily be torn apart by catching a small branch on a stray bush while setting camp Off the Grid.

Even if you do not think this a good idea... check your brake wires. Find one dangling loose? You may discover a better way to protect the wiring... but at least do the 'Look and See' first and go from there.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:44 PM   #6
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yes it does. our sport 22Fb was way too low. i will get it install soon

BTW, my bambi only needs one set and i had to buy two. PM me if you want to buy the other half for a bambi unit
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Old 06-15-2017, 08:29 AM   #7
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Yes, it's unfortunate that the lift kits are only sold for a pair of axles, leaving a single-axle-Bambi owner with twice as much materials as needed. I was fortunate to read in another thread where an owner had mentioned he would sell the excess and that's how I acquired the parts. I PM'd (Private Message'd) him and offered $100 including shipping and we were both happy. In fact, he even included all his old/removed hardware as a gesture to insure I had sufficient...not necessary but a considerate gesture.

waninae39 , I hope you list your excess also over in the Classifieds... I think that's where many folks will look. You might also make a new thread in the Bambi forums at this site, if the moderators will allow that.
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Old 06-15-2017, 09:44 PM   #8
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I installed the lift kit on our 13 31' classic, have 5000 miles so far, I like it , no drag at the dips into some stations and approaches, no difference in towing, with wind....all is good...
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:58 AM   #9
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Hi did yíall install the lift yourself or do you know a good mechanic with experience?
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Old 09-23-2018, 10:23 AM   #10
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We have not experienced this with our AS but have on our big enclosed car trailer. Lower is better for loading cars and we had roller installed on the bottom of the frame to allow it to not drag on things. They work great and allow us to get in and out of those gas stations with those big humpy curb drains.

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Old 09-23-2018, 05:14 PM   #11
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Bumper rollers are not recommended on Airstreamís. Possible to put too much stress on the frame causing severe damage.
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Old 09-24-2018, 09:59 AM   #12
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I did my own lift-kit install. Two floor-jacks, Four jack-stands, one half-in impact-wrench with a good air compressor, and a few beers to celebrate. Took four hours by myself, half of which was admiring my result with the beer.
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Old 09-24-2018, 04:26 PM   #13
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I did 1 axle at a time....1 jack, 2 small fack stands,I had to weld a tab on a few of the bolts when you couldn’t get a wrench on them
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:18 PM   #14
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I am also interested in this. We have been boondocking a bunch in the Mt, ID, WY areas around Teton, going through a bunch of crazy dirt roads. Plus, I end up dragging the leveling bars on my ProPride hitch through dips, ruts, speed bumps, whatever.

I did watch some videos on the installation on you tube. They were taking the trailer after installation to an alignment guy to ensure the axles were straight after installation. Any idea where this can be done? I'm guessing a car alignment shop is out. Perhaps a big rig shop? Is it really necessary?

I don't think I would have any issues with installation. I'm fairly handy, It's the alignment thing that had me.
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:57 PM   #15
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Alignment is not a big deal. Put reference marks where the axles were originally located. After lifting, if the axles are still square relative to those marks, you're golden. I've watched my tire wear since and absolutely no sign of irregular wear. Tracks absolutely straight as it did before.
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Old 09-28-2018, 03:10 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pteck View Post
Alignment is not a big deal. Put reference marks where the axles were originally located. After lifting, if the axles are still square relative to those marks, you're golden. I've watched my tire wear since and absolutely no sign of irregular wear. Tracks absolutely straight as it did before.
Perfect. That's kinda what I was thinking, but was curious from someone who had installed it.

Looks like that mod might be next on the list.
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Old 09-28-2018, 08:50 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kkdesigns View Post
Perfect. That's kinda what I was thinking, but was curious from someone who had installed it.



Looks like that mod might be next on the list.


Agree, alignment is easiest part of the mod. Getting wrenches on bolts to remove and tighten is greatest challenge. But itís not a technically difficult mod. Lots of good threads here of folks documenting how they did it.
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:29 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mojoe7009 View Post
Bumper rollers are not recommended on Airstreamís. Possible to put too much stress on the frame causing severe damage.


Rollers installed in place of skid plates, extending no lower, would subject the frame to less stress than skid plates.
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Old 09-30-2018, 07:40 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Rollers installed in place of skid plates, extending no lower, would subject the frame to less stress than skid plates.
How would the rollers engage before the factory skids if they extended no lower? Unless you were to cut back the stock skids?

The trailer doesn't care if it's being dragged on steel skids vs rollers (It slides along just fine). The road surface does.

The real goal is to minimize vertical jacking forces on the tail corners of the airstream. There's been cases of too much vertical load warping the rear skins.

That's the real issue here which a lift solves. Rollers don't really help.

The other concern is not just the tail. If you ever look at your hitch with all the WD gear hanging down there, it doesn't leave much clearance to the ground. Even if your proud truck has tons of clearance. I've been to many campsites with slopes and drops where you can see the deep gouges from hitches and trailers.

I like to visit these places that have more interesting topography. I prefer not to have to stress about clearance in these situations. A lift enables that.

BTW, I drive very low sports cars. Dragging steel frames on speed bumps or other road irregularities is a regular occurrence. Steel slides rather well. Aluminum, not so good. Good thing the frame is steel.
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Old 09-30-2018, 10:13 PM   #20
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I can attest to vertical forces wrinkling skins in the corner. It doesnít take much of a bump to produce a rather deep wrinkle that will be a huge pain to remove. Sigh.
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