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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Project

I began replacing the bushings in the spring shackles of my fifth wheel today. It is a bit challenging when you consider that you need to lift the trailer, remove the wheels then set the trailer back down on blocks. Today's task was to learn which type of bushings had been used at the factory so I know what parts I need to buy.

I used a couple of hydrolic jacks to lift the trailer so I could remove the wheels and set it down on blocks. I also used them to control the pressure on the springs as I removed the bolts and then the old bushings from the ends of the spring assembly. As you can see, the bushings in my rig are worn out. These are nylon bushings and I will be replacing them with the same type. I could order a kit for about $200.00 but I decided to go this way. My rig is a 2006 Montana 3500RL and I would guess it has about 12,000 miles on it.

I called the RV repair shop in my area to check to see if they had these bushings in stock. Of course they were out and had to order them. The say they will be there tomorrow.

Once I have all the parts I'll work on the rest of the places that need bushings. I need to put a new bushing at each bolt location. Each side gets a total of seven bushings.

Removing the old bushings from inside the spring ends was fairly easy. I used a threaded lag bolt about four inches long. The head of my bolt just fits through the hole which is 3/4 inch in diameter. I just put the bolt though the bushing and a large deep socket. I put a washer and a nut behind the washer and simply tighten the nut. This pulls the bushing out of the shackle and into the socket. These come out easily so there isn't much to it.

While I had the wheels off, I used the opportunity to check my wheel bearings and brake shoes. The bearings are good and the brakes are at 30 to 40 percent. Since I will be heading South down Highway 101 and on to Arizona in a few months I think I'll go ahead and replace the brake shoes now. I'll feel better about it, and it might prevent me from having to do this again for awhile. I'll get new seals for the bearings and clean and repack them while I'm at it too.

My rig has Dexter Axles with 12 inch drums. I learned that to get to the brakes I had to remove the crown nut and pull the entire hub off the spindle. This could allow dirt to get into the bearings so it'll be much cleaner to just do it right all the way.

Wells that's it for now, I'll continue as I progress with the project.

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