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Old 06-11-2017, 10:36 PM   #1
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Dexter Lift Kit on 2017 Flying Cloud 23D

Last weekend I performed a lift on my 2017 23 flying Cloud. This was a difficult DIY project, I would only recommend that experienced/mechanically capable people try this on their own.

It was difficult because it requires very specific tools, requires one to be on the ground and in awkward positions, there are many very tight spaces that are difficult to get a Wrench on to tighten bolts, and for my rig, it required the gas line to the water heater to be relocated.

The install took me 8-9 hours, because of the gas line relocate. Maybe shorter, I had to run to Home Depot and took a few breaks.

The tools I used are shown below and include:

3 ton jack
Two 6 ton jack stands
Two 2.25 ton jack stands
24 inch, 1/2 inch breaker bar
250 pound torque wrench
15/16 inch box end Wrench
1/2 inch socket wrench and various extensions
15/16 sockets, impact, normal and deep
Air compressor
Air impact gun and accessories
Cordless drill, drill bits
Various other normal tools

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I want to stress how hard the nuts and bolts are to tighten, and the awkward positions you will be in to both tighten and hold the other side stable. I don't think I could have done this without the impact gun. I will describe the procedures and show pics below and in subsequent posts.

Make sure you order the right kit from dexter. I actually got mine from e-trailer as they had the best price. I suggest that you take a picture of your axel sticker and email Dexter, they will tell you the kit you need. My axel sticker is below:

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note: airstream orders larger axels and derates them. The 23D has a dry weight of 4000 lbs, with max load of 6,000 pounds. If you look on the Dexter site, it would show that a #10 axel is what you have. However, when I sent the pic above to Dexter, they told me I needed the #11 kit. I asked again, and that's when they told me AS uses the larger axel and derates it. So for the 23D you need the #11 kit. The actual order is shown in the second picture below.

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So with kit in hand, and tools ready, I started the process of installing the lift at around 2pm. The instructions with the kit are good, but not complete for my install on the AS. I had to temporarily re position the shocks to have access to the new bolts/nuts. I also had to relocate the gas line to the water heater as stated above.

Step 1, loosen all the lug nuts on the four tires.

Step 2, jack up the AS - you will need to jack it pretty high, and be able to have both sides lifted. I jacked up curbside first, putting jack on running gear frame. Once it was high enough, I removed the lugs and tires. I then placed a 6-ton stand under the running gear frame. See photo below.

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Then I did the same to the street side, jacked it up and placed another 6-ton jack stand under that side, so the AS was now lifted.

Step 3 loosen all the axel nuts. So I used liquid Wrench on all 8 bolts/nuts holding the axels to the AS running gear frame, and let it sit as I ran to Home Depot for a 15/16 Wrench (90 min). Then I used the wrench and the impact gun to loosen all the bolts. They came off relatively easy with the impact gun (150 psi max). Some pics below of the bolt heads and nuts to loosen (note rusty washers):

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Step 4. Follow the directions from Dexter, place a jack stand on the axel to have a controlled lower, then remove the bolts from the street side axel (only one, I did the rear first). Lower the axel 3 inches and place the lift spacer. Follow instructions and install open side as explained. On the 23D the open side will be pointing under the trailer, away from the drums. First pic shows jack placement, second shows what the lift spacer looks like installed (ignored the gas line for now):

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Step 5. Remove nut and washer from one side of the shock, and move so it's out of the way. First pic shows how bolt is blocked by shock, second shows shock moved.

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Step 6. Put the horizontal bolts in place. Follow directions for washers, direction of bolt, etc. no washer for the bolt, on the outside by the drum place washer and nut. These are special nuts, like a locking nut that are very difficult to install, as they clamp down the more you tighten.

More on next post tomorrow.....
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Old 06-11-2017, 11:26 PM   #2
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Step 7. Tighten the nuts/bolts to 150 lbs. this is interesting, hard, and will require some maneuvering. Each lift spacer will require 2 horizontal bolts and nuts. Luckily they self align, you can also use the outline of old washers as guide for alignment. One of the bolt heads will be in a tight square box area against the water tank. I found, when possible use the impact gun from outside if the nut was accessible. Some nuts will be behind drum, in this case I used the impact gun from under the trailer. Be creative under the trailer in the tight spot to get a wrench or a socket on the bolt head so you can tighten it. I had to use a deep socket in the breaker bar to hold the bolt head (see pics) for all horizontal bolt heads:

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Step 8. Once the lift spacer is mounted securely to the side steel hanger of the AS, make sure the bottom holes in the spacer line up with the holes in the axel plate. You may also have to slightly lift the axel up with the jack. Place a bolt and washer from the top of the lift spacer, down through the axel mount. Then place a nut and washer on the bolt. This is where it gets hard, there is enough room to get the open ended side of the box Wrench on the bolt head. Then use the impact gun from below on the nut. This takes some strength and positioning to hold both. Plus, my small air compressor would always run low on PSI, which required me to wait until the PSI built back up. NOTE: I did one bolt at a time, then used the torque wrench to torque the nut to 150 psi. This also resulted in the wrench usually getting stuck against the frame etc, and it had to be beaten loose. The pic below shows the dual axel, with one lowered.

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Step 9. Move to curbside, and drop the other side of the axel. This is where I discovered that AS ran the gas line for the water heater through the axel mounting plates. The copper gas line was encased by a white plastic tube. When I tried to drop the axel, it was pinching the line. This made me nervous, and in fact I couldn't lower it more than an inch. Luckily AS designed the line to be easily removed. I loosened two fittings, a few hangers, and was able to pull about 6 feet of the line out from between the axels. This allowed me to finish the dropping of the axels, and then re-hang and re-route the gas line. NOTE: be careful if you do this to not mess up the ferrule/flare end of the copper so it seals well when you reconnect. If you bend, deform, scrape, etc the bare copper, it may not seal properly and you would have to remake the ferrule/flare end with the right tools. When routing the gas line, I had to go the rear axel with the line (see pics below). It's the only way I could rout it. I felt okay with this as it is still not the low point, and there is another place up front where the gas line is lower where it goes under a stabilizer jack. After I reconnected, I leak tested and it was fine. I actually think it is better secured now than from the factory. The gas line relo took much longer than I thought, at least 90 minutes added to the time.

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The mechanics of lowering the curbside and the other axels and installing the lifts are exactly the same and went quicker. Once I had them all lowered and all hardware torqued, I marked the bolts with a white paint pen so I could watch them and see if they loosened. Also, it was very easy to line everything up the same as factory in terms of alignment. The side steel,hangers are a hard guide, and the holes lined up perfectly with the previous marks left by the old hardware. I feel good that it is in alignment. I then mounted the tires and lowered it.

It was late by this time, 11pm, so I forgot to take photos of the rig with the new lift. Then I forget the next morning. So I will update later with a photo of the finished product.

The last thing I had to do was raise my equalizer hitch ball. This was easy compared to what I went through the night before. I followed the equalizer instructions and also made sure my settings were good. I drove it back to storage and it towed fine.

We almost exclusively boondock, so this lift will come in handy. I do wonder if the new angle of the shocks will impact ride at all, as it is more horizontal than before the lift.

One other thing, if I had to do it again, I would have used some sort of mat or foam pad for when I was on the ground. My hip pointers are very sore from lying sideways on the hard concrete.

Let me know if you have any specific questions, I will do my best to answer.....

Thanks
Rich
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Old 06-12-2017, 06:04 AM   #3
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Troutboy,

I installed a lift kit on a classic ltd (not my slider) and I'd like to add one instruction to your detailed list that I didn't see.

Prior to loosening axle mounting bolts use a 6" combination square and lightly scribe lines up onto the frame to act as a reference mark for positioning.

These axles can be shifted a bit front to back this hopefully helps put them back in same spot.

You're right access to hardware can be a pita. I got a 15/16" shorty and it proved very helpful along with patience and a good helper and his support.

Nice write up.

Gary
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Old 06-12-2017, 06:05 AM   #4
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Nice write up! I see you did not need the welder? Thank you for posting. Not sure if I will try to tackle this myself. Plus I want to go to Oregon.
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Old 06-12-2017, 07:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCinSC2 View Post
Troutboy,

I installed a lift kit on a classic ltd (not my slider) and I'd like to add one instruction to your detailed list that I didn't see.

Prior to loosening axle mounting bolts use a 6" combination square and lightly scribe lines up onto the frame to act as a reference mark for positioning.

These axles can be shifted a bit front to back this hopefully helps put them back in same spot.

You're right access to hardware can be a pita. I got a 15/16" shorty and it proved very helpful along with patience and a good helper and his support.

Nice write up.

Gary


Thanks Gary. I was going to Mark the axels, but on mine, it didn't need marking as it was marked by nature and mud, lol. Plus with the side steel hanger, alignment was easy.

Gary, did you have to relocate any gas lines?
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Old 06-12-2017, 07:24 AM   #6
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Nice write up! I see you did not need the welder? Thank you for posting. Not sure if I will try to tackle this myself. Plus I want to go to Oregon.


Thanks gettinAway, No welder necessary!! But it must have been a royal pain doing this without an impact gun like Steve did. I would t do it with out an impact gun.
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Old 06-12-2017, 07:41 AM   #7
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No issues with gas lines on his rig. Just rear pan interference.

Dirt mark or scribe mark, it just trying to put it back where it was.

Suggest occasional inspections of brackets and bolts.
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Old 06-12-2017, 09:31 AM   #8
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Just my personal phobia but I would never crawl under anything supported by jacks. Leave the wheels on one axle with a couple of 2x8 under the tires, well blocked to prevent rolling and work on the other axle. I had a friend killed when a hydraulic floor jack failed and the car crushed him.
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Old 06-12-2017, 09:54 AM   #9
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Great write up. We want to do some more Boondocking and in our few times out we have had to watch clearance of especially the dump plumbing. Not sure when we will get to this work but I will certainly save this for the future. Thanks.
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Old 06-12-2017, 10:09 AM   #10
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You earned $217.00 for your hard work. My total cost installed was $378.00 for those of you that had not seem my earlier post on my 2016 23fb. Dave
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Old 06-12-2017, 10:59 AM   #11
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You earned $217.00 for your hard work. My total cost installed was $378.00 for those of you that had not seem my earlier post on my 2016 23fb. Dave
Plus bragging rights ,knowledge that he didn' have before and a new 15/16 wrench. Plus the lift👍🏻😀
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Old 06-12-2017, 11:54 AM   #12
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Just my personal phobia but I would never crawl under anything supported by jacks. Leave the wheels on one axle with a couple of 2x8 under the tires, well blocked to prevent rolling and work on the other axle. I had a friend killed when a hydraulic floor jack failed and the car crushed him.


Agree 100%. My rig which weighs 6000 pounds, was supported at all times by two 12000 Ton jack stands with safety closures. In addition, I had two 4500 pound jack stands for redundancy, and the hydraulic jack sometimes.

Safety is key for all of these and multiple layers of redundancy as well.
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Old 06-12-2017, 11:56 AM   #13
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Dave, I tried to have someone do it and called around. No luck. Then one place quoted me $1000.

I would have easily paid $230 for someone to do this.
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Old 06-12-2017, 11:58 AM   #14
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Wow. Impressive. Great Write up. A few questions. Due to a steep driveway situation, I've been trying to figure out how to raise the frame several inches. (I can get up the driveway with TV pulling it up, but not down). How much "lift" did you get from this install? Are there any other methods you know of to raise the AS? 17" tires?

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Old 06-12-2017, 12:00 PM   #15
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This lift provides just under 3 inches more. I do think tires can help, mine came 15 inch. I plan to keep them and once they wear out will consider 16 inch.

I think the lift kit and tires are only way to get more out unless you undergo some customization of the frame//suspension.
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Old 06-12-2017, 12:19 PM   #16
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We have a 23D on 14" tires and rims, with maybe 8" ground clearance for the discharge valves. I watched a YouTube on installing the lift kit over the w/e and had already determined I didn't have the skills to do it myself. Your write-up supports that! However, I'm waiting until I move up to 16" rims and tires to see if the kit is still needed.
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Old 06-12-2017, 12:48 PM   #17
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It appears from your description that you lowered one end of each axle, installed the lift kit, tightened the bolts to proper torque...and then moved to the opposite end of the same axle and repeated the process. If that is how you accomplished this task, then the bolts were not properly torqued because they were in a bind... as the axle was not level right-to-left (curbside-to-roadside) when the bolts were tightened. That method would also twist the frame and/or the lift-spacers.

Also, the tag on your axle clearly notes it is a #11 axle (11CA). The "derating" applied by Airstream is done by reducing the claimed carrying-capacity (GAWR) of each axle from the design-GAWR.
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Old 06-12-2017, 02:15 PM   #18
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Boxite, that is the proper installation method as prescribed by Dexter in written documentation. They also prescribe torque requirement in range of 140-150. I did check torque after both sides of axel were installed and there wasn't a difference, at Lear using the 250 pound torque wrench I used.

I don't think the frame twisted at all, but I am not an expert. I followed the written instructions to a tee. You can find them on the Dexter website.
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Old 06-12-2017, 02:23 PM   #19
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Boxite, that is the proper installation method as prescribed by Dexter in written documentation. They also prescribe torque requirement in range of 140-150. I did check torque after both sides of axel were installed and there wasn't a difference, at Lear using the 250 pound torque wrench I used.

I don't think the frame twisted at all, but I am not an expert. I followed the written instructions to a tee. You can find them on the Dexter website.
Thanks for the detailed writeup. I'm a DIY guy all the way but would love to find someone to do this for under $400, who knows what they are doing. I would have to rent an impact gun, that sounds like a must-have, and invest/borrow/rent a a couple more jackstands. If I can't find someone, I'll be going down this path for sure.

Great feeling of accomplishment I'm sure! that has value as well in my book, from a fellow 'wrencher.'
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Old 06-12-2017, 02:34 PM   #20
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Really great set of pictures and narrative on how to do this. Bookmarking for future reference. Thanks for taking the time to do thorough documentation!
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