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Disc Brake and Shocks on Fiver


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Marginally off topic but still HDT related:


Our fiver is a Cedar Creek by Forest River. Nice, well built unit that serves us well but still typical to the upper end of mid-entry level fivers with a Lippert frame – not New Horizons or Space Craft quality.


The trailer has 7K Dexter Easy lube Axles, Goodyear G614 tires, and Dexter centerpoints. It came with shocks that rubbed the tires so we cut them off. They were on the outside of the frame and at a 56 degree angle so they really didn’t do anything. Brakes were the expected Dexter 12” electric drum brakes.


After getting back from Florida in April, I changed the brakes to Kodiak disc. I built up some mounting plates for upper inside shock mounts and welded lower shock brackets to the axles. I picked the shocks from the Monroe on-line spec sheets that give length, stroke and mounting. All the parts for the shocks set me back about $150.


My air spring is on the pin box, with two shocks. My hitch is solid.


I had driven the rig around some roads at home but had not made any sort of trip.


Well, we may be crazy but we pulled out yesterday with a 107 heat index and headed east to Walker’s Dam. I was pulling the trailer with the Volvo and Nancy was following in her SUV with our boat. I intentionally drove down old Route 60 knowing it was a rough road. Lots of big bumps and dips in an old concrete surface.


Boy oh boy – the difference was amazing! The shocks on the trailer did a great job and I could see with my back of cab camera that they eliminated a lot of bounce at the air bag pin box. The ride in the Volvo was still stiff but any influence from the trailer was gone. Much better control of the trailer and stuff inside was not thrown around. Nancy (behind me) commented that the trailer did not bounce like it used to. It looked pretty smooth. When I hit a big bump the suspension did not keep bouncing like a basketball – the damping action of the shocks eliminated that issue.


The disc brakes are fabulous! I can stop the Volvo and trailer in a considerably shorter distance. There is a slight delay as the actuator pumps up after getting a stop signal. Not sure what I can do to correct that other than hit the Johnson Bar to apply the trailer brakes just before I move to the brake pedal – that is if I have time. Even without it, stopping is much shorter.


Anyway, the disc brake upgrade was worth the cost of parts and my labor. The shocks have always been needed – at least shocks that worked. The Volvo handles and stops noticeably better with the trailer behaving. Not all of us have MorRide IS under our trailers or a ET hitch. Us po' foks can't always follow Jack's lead! :( (nice if we could). Maybe with the next trailer and upgrade??? Some pics and comments follow.




Disc Brakes are on. Hub is separate from rotor. If replacement is needed I only buy rotors.



QEM Lippert shocks. 56 degree angle, both pointed same direction, rubbed inside of tires. Cut off and tossed. Simply useless!



Parts kit I made for mounting the shocks. Top to bottom: Shocks & bushings, axle mounts (weld on), upper mounting plate that bolts to cross member between axles. All grade 5 and grade 8 bolts, nuts and washers.



RED = Two 2x2x1/4" angle iron cross members welded to center spring mounts and bottom of frame (also added cross members at front and rear spring hangers - keeps things underneath straight).

BLUE = 1/4" thick 14" x 7" steel mounting plate bolted to cross member.

YELLOW = Upper mounting brackets for shocks.





One shock on. Optimum 42 degree angle achieved. Shocks are 16" centered. 4" stroke up or down. Monroe Gas-Magnum.



Monroe shocks on - inside of frame mounting.



Lower mount welded to axle.


There is a kit made by Joy Ryder (RV Improvement Systems) that mounts on the inside of the frame using a different type of mounting but allows for the proper angle and stroke from a similar quality Red Ryder (Gabriel) shock. Their kit is a no weld system. Joy Ryder II includes an innovative axle alignment system that appears far superior to the Lippert Correct Track as part of the kit.


Just curious..... how many of the fivers being pulled by HDTs in our group do not have shocks that work properly on straight leaf spring axles? Just wondered if I was alone :).

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Randy Our Mesa Ridge didn't come with shocks and the Cardinal's shocks were a a angle they couldn't have helped. I love what you have done and hopefully I'll get the chance to put some on our rig. Only time will tell. Pat



The Old Sailor

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Nice job! That will pay you back over time.


My Cyclone came with the EZ-Flex, but no shocks. I used KYB gas adjust shocks from the rear of a G20/30 Chevy van figuring valving would be firm enough to control 7K on short leaf springs. I used Rubicon Express weld on shock brackets on the axle and used the studs that came with the shocks. I also added a leaf to the pack as I was running right up to and sometimes slightly over until I added the third axle under it.


Never got around to doing the disk conversion, but once I added the third axle, I was only putting 15k on 21K of brakes/running gear so it really wasn't a problem anymore.


The Hitchhiker we just picked up looks to have Dexter disk, Neverlubes, shocks, and Centerpoint air, but I'm sure an upgrade will be in order for the shocks in the future. At least it's all there for now.

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Great project!


Now add BluDot and get rid of any of the delay in braking ;)

Yes, I know Jack. But, like a dummy I did not keep the glad hands when I bought the truck - so that would be yet another expense. I've tried to learn more about the Blue Dot (sorry I didn't pay more attention awhile back). Tell me, is the antilock feature required? I don't really think I need them on my weight trailer - but, I could be wrong.



Randy, how did you come up with 42* being optimal for shocks?


OK - on the 42 degree angle........ What I found from the gas shock manufacturers application data sheets was that anything over 45 degrees severly reduces the damping action of shocks made for suspensions with vertical movement. They are built so that their valving does not work properly at a greater angle and when you give them a workout, even the nitrogen in the fluid will not keep them from foaming. Under a leaf spring trailer like mine where you want to have the longest shock possible to get an effective working stroke it is best to shoot for a 40 degree angle and no more than 45 degrees - that is a challenge without lower mounting extensions and having the top right up against the frame. Vertical would be best, but then the shock stroke is too short with the space I had to work with. There are shocks made to work well at angles greater than 45 degrees, even laying flat like some of our cab shocks or steering dampers. But, they are supposedly valved differently so they will work properly in that position as we are damping forces from a different direction. Truthfully, I don't know much (if at all) about designing the valving inside a shock. But, I can tell you that back "in the day" when I was totally eaten up with the sport of autocrossing I knew all to well how just a small turn of my adjustable Koni's, which altered valving action, could make a difference in winning or losing an event. Back to my "42 degrees" - simple mathematics and some HS Physics taught me that you can't expect effective vertical damping when you lay any shock down at an angle like the OEM shocks in my first pic. At that angle it is nothing but a useless lever that isn't even adding beneficial leverage. Maybe OK if trying to dampen front to back movement, but that is not the problem I was working to resolve.

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Yes, I know Jack. But, like a dummy I did not keep the glad hands when I bought the truck - so that would be yet another expense. I've tried to learn more about the Blue Dot (sorry I didn't pay more attention awhile back). Tell me, is the antilock feature required? I don't really think I need them on my weight trailer - but, I could be wrong.


No, the ABS is not required - it is an expensive upgrade. I have no experience with the ABS system, so I cannot tell you if it is worth the money. But I'm very happy with my non-ABS version.


HERE is a pdf of the last time I did the BluDot presentation at the HDT Rally. It will remind you of the basics.

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Yes, I know Jack. But, like a dummy I did not keep the glad hands when I bought the truck - so that would be yet another expense. I've tried to learn more about the Blue Dot (sorry I didn't pay more attention awhile back). Tell me, is the antilock feature required? I don't really think I need them on my weight trailer - but, I could be wrong.



Several years ago, I upgraded my Teton to the Mor/Ryde IS, with Kodiak disc brakes. For me,(and I guess I must be the only guy in the USA,) it was a big mistake. Not the Mor/Ryde, but the disc brakes. I have the Blu/Dot, and really like that, but I had so much trouble with the brakes, the ONLY way I could use the 5th without burning up the bearings, and brakes, was to install a front axel hold-off valve on the Blu/Dot. After installing that, at a low braking pressure the trailer brakes would not apply until there was 4# and up air applied, but at least I didn't have to keep replacing bearings, pads, calipers, and spindles. Also, as I'm sure you noticed, there is no backing plate on disc brakes, so I ended up on my 2nd or 3rd rebuild ordering SS pads, and caliper pistons, because everything was rusting up. The HD drums I replaced, had about 65-70% wear left on them after 65K miles, and always worked very well. I know this post will get a negative response, because I was told many, many times, I needed to bleed the brakes, because I must have air in the lines to cause the problem. I think I went through 5-6 gallon of fluid. As far as stopping faster, I have never under stood how disc can stop so much faster than GOOD HD HYDRALIC drum brakes. I DO know the disc brakes have some advantages like less fade while wet, or hot, but with a Jake that is not a problem for me. BTW, my new Space Craft I purchased has HD drums. Not trying to cause any conflict, but if I were you, I would not combine Blu/Dot with Kodiak disc, and as Jack has mentioned, on a triple axel Dexter, you need two boosters, and master cylinders for more fluid volume. Also, I would like for you to be available if I ever need to have some repair done on my axels, your work look great.


Dick T

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Thanks Dick,


I had Dexter magnetic drums. Working them with a BrakeSmart. If I had hydraulic drums I would have left them alone. But, the magnetic brakes leave a lot to be desired. We were out earlier this week and I was able to fine tune the BrakeSmart for the disc brakes. Much happier now.

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Thanks for that write up. Just when I thought i had reduced my to do list, I need to crawl under my Cedar Creek too and do the same thing. I'm really interested to see if my shocks are rubbing the tires also. that's disturbing to say the least. Well done, it looks awesome

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