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Planned Designer Upgrades

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dave42w

Posts : 19
Join date : 2012-04-11
Location : Syston, Leicester

Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by dave42w on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 3:40 pm

Now that many of you have seen our somewhat Heath Robinson temporary roof rack from last summer.

We have had our Designer a couple of years now and are planning some upgrades with the intention of keeping it for many years (hopefully for retirement which seems to keep disappearing into the distance at the moment).

Our plans include all new electrics, larger gas and battery capacity, hot water, a bathroom with shower and an upgraded kitchen. They also include a much better roof rack to allow us to carry a wide variety of bikes (we have lots of weird ones and they are heavy to lift on top of the Berlingo).

So it looks like the first task is going to be upgrading the suspension. As we think our tyres are original and are certainly well over 5 years old it does make me wonder it would be best to go the whole hog to end up with the Dandy level, with higher capacity & standard parts.

a) Install a beam similar to the one by Bilbo described in t551-raising-ride-height . I am reasonably confident about the welding etc, it is also a nice solution because the whole thing could be unbolted to return to standard specification.

b) Fitting heavier duty suspension (I keep hearing 750kg mentioned but notice from the trailertek website that someone linked to that there are also 900kg units available). I saw someone say that these units put the wheel in a different place (longer arms or something?)

c) Fitting new larger wheels (our tyres are currently 145/80R10) that are a very standard size to make it easy to get tyres for in the future. Any suggestions as to what size I should be looking for?

My assumption is that the combination of (b) and (c) would mean that the plates on the bottom of the beam might need to be in different places to the plates on the top that bolt to the existing mounting. I guess I simply have to get the parts and then work out the position so that the wheels end up the same distance apart and same position front to back. Hopefully the differences are small enough that they can be handled by welding the plates onto the beam slightly offset from each other.

If I do all this then how would I get the chassis plate updated to show that the trailer can now take more weight, without doing that I guess I would be in trouble if stopped.

I have seen the posts about chocking, I have a trolley jack and will get axles stands to make sure everything is very stable before going under.

Anything else I should think about before starting this phase?

PS Sorry no links, forum not yet letting me include them.
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Helen
Dandy Owner

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Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by Helen on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 3:52 pm

We went for a straightforward change over to new units of the same spec, we may raise it a bit once we see how it settles. Nick has put some lovely mini wheels on his designer and John has put some on his Dandy and upgraded the suspension. Very Happy
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Helen
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Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by Helen on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 3:55 pm

Nicks Wheels

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dave42w

Posts : 19
Join date : 2012-04-11
Location : Syston, Leicester

Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by dave42w on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 4:03 pm

Helen wrote:We went for a straightforward change over to new units of the same spec, we may raise it a bit once we see how it settles. Nick has put some lovely mini wheels on his designer and John has put some on his Dandy and upgraded the suspension. :D

If I remember the post right then Nick scared me as I think he had to attack his wheels, cutting bits off to make them fit - very scary!

I don't think I have seen any posts about John's work but I have read the thread about your new suspension units.

If I could just bolt on 750kg suspension units (with or without new wheels) and make no other changes then I might well do that first and sort out the levelling later. Then it would be more likely to get done before this years holiday :-)
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mike
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Location : north east lincs

Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by mike on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 4:31 pm

dave42w wrote:
Helen wrote:We went for a straightforward change over to new units of the same spec, we may raise it a bit once we see how it settles. Nick has put some lovely mini wheels on his designer and John has put some on his Dandy and upgraded the suspension. Very Happy

If I remember the post right then Nick scared me as I think he had to attack his wheels, cutting bits off to make them fit - very scary!

I don't think I have seen any posts about John's work but I have read the thread about your new suspension units.

If I could just bolt on 750kg suspension units (with or without new wheels) and make no other changes then I might well do that first and sort out the levelling later. Then it would be more likely to get done before this years holiday :-)


All i can tell you is my first dandy was a delta,the previous owner had fitted 750kg units and retained the mini wheels,i have no idea if there were any complications or not,the wheels looked as though they where in the centre of the wheel arches but thats all i know.
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Helen
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Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by Helen on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 6:16 pm

750KG units don't fit right on and alterations do have to be made using spacing plates and with having recessed wheels we decided against it as we have managed with our 500kg suspension and they had been on there for 21 years. I also worried a bit about the balance of the Dandy if we had to adjust anything to do with the placement of the wheels, perhaps I am over cautious but we're happy enough with what we've done.
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mike
Dandy Owner

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Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by mike on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 6:30 pm

Our plans include all new electrics, larger gas and battery capacity, hot water, a bathroom with shower and an upgraded kitchen. They also include a much better roof rack to allow us to carry a wide variety of bikes (we have lots of weird ones and they are heavy to lift on top of the Berlingo).


Hot water are you thinking gas and electric or one of the new electric caravan units,bathroom and shower that should be interesting what ever your solution lol!
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Helen
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Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by Helen on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 6:34 pm

John's installing a loo so with Dandy owners you just never know Laughing
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John

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Age : 70

Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by John on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 8:28 pm

using 750kg units without doing anything else, moves wheels back 31mm and increase trailer height by 7mm, I thought the trailer was under tyred so used 5inch rims and it does look a lot happier when looking at it from the rear

dave42w

Posts : 19
Join date : 2012-04-11
Location : Syston, Leicester

Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by dave42w on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 8:28 pm

mike wrote:Hot water are you thinking gas and electric or one of the new electric caravan units,bathroom and shower that should be interesting what ever your solution lol!

We are planning a standard caravan hot water tank that can be heated by mains or gas. We will put the tank in a new, larger front box,

We are taking out the original kitchen and will use the space for a shower and as a place for the loo. If we don't have the awning up then we will bring the kitchen indoors and place it in the space.




dave42w

Posts : 19
Join date : 2012-04-11
Location : Syston, Leicester

Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by dave42w on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 9:13 pm

John wrote:using 750kg units without doing anything else, moves wheels back 31mm and increase trailer height by 7mm, I thought the trailer was under tyred so used 5inch rims and it does look a lot happier when looking at it from the rear

Thanks John. A couple of questions.

1. All the 750kg units I can see at the trailertek and towingandtrailers websites seem to have 8 hole plates. Where did you find a 6 hole 750kg unit?

2. I know almost nothing about sizing of wheels and tyres. When you say a "5 inch rim" is that wider or larger diameter than what is on at the moment (my current tyres are 145/80R10)?

Thanks
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John

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Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by John on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 10:14 pm

indespension units keep away from trailer tech, indepension are what is fitted to a dandy, come with a 10 year guarantee, or you can use an alko axle which I could have got for £200 but it would have lifted the trailer 75mm, the best option is alko just depends on how much messing about you want to do or if you are happy with the towing height of the trailer, in hind-site I wish that I had used an Alko beam axle which was rated at 900kg, my brother was in the trade and he could get 70% off the cost, that is where the 200quid came from, changing the wheels is another problem there are lot of different mini wheels from 3.5x10 to 7x12 negative offsets to positive offsets lots of food for thought good luck Very Happy

dave42w

Posts : 19
Join date : 2012-04-11
Location : Syston, Leicester

Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by dave42w on Thu 12 Apr 2012, 11:14 pm

John wrote:indespension units keep away from trailer tech, indepension are what is fitted to a dandy, come with a 10 year guarantee, or you can use an alko axle which I could have got for £200 but it would have lifted the trailer 75mm, the best option is alko just depends on how much messing about you want to do or if you are happy with the towing height of the trailer, in hind-site I wish that I had used an Alko beam axle which was rated at 900kg, my brother was in the trade and he could get 70% off the cost, that is where the 200quid came from, changing the wheels is another problem there are lot of different mini wheels from 3.5x10 to 7x12 negative offsets to positive offsets lots of food for thought good luck Very Happy

Thanks John,

I am starting to get a bit more understanding. Thanks for the Al-Ko and Indespension tips.

I have found westerntowing who sell Al-Ko axles. If I got one of the "standard" models I would need to make an adaptor plate to get from the 6 hole per side fitting to their 2 hole per side fitting (that would also add to the height increase and 75mm sounds a lot). But it would make it easy for me to get the front and back adjustment right to centre the wheel.

However, they also sell "special trailer axles" and I have asked if this would include one with mountings ready to bolt straight onto the existing 6 hole fittings. That would be very easy, providing the wheel is not set too far back.

They also sell the Indespension 6 bolt units. So I could just direct replace my 500's with 750's and keep the same wheels - looks like there is currently about a 100mm gap. If I want bigger wheels then I could later add a spacer like Bilbo but offset a bit so that the axle is moved forward to nearly the current position.

I could jump to the 1000kg Indespension units but sadly the PCD is then different. So I would be immediately into new wheels and shifting alignment for it all to fit.

Lots to think about!

dave42w

Posts : 19
Join date : 2012-04-11
Location : Syston, Leicester

Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by dave42w on Sat 14 Apr 2012, 1:16 am

Hi,

An update on the Alko suspension option.

I had a long and very useful conversation with someone at WesternTowing. I have all the measurements needed to work out if I can/should go for an Al-Ko axle. It will depend mostly on how to get it's mounting points to connect to the Dandy. The measurements now just need working out into exactly where the axle needs to be (and where it will move to as the suspension moves) and therefore where the mountings need to be.

Looks like it would be a choice between a 10" wheel or a 13" one with a lowish profile tyre.

dave42w

Posts : 19
Join date : 2012-04-11
Location : Syston, Leicester

Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by dave42w on Sat 14 Apr 2012, 5:54 pm

yet more on the Al-Ko axle for our Dandy Designer.

We have been working with cardboard cut-outs and think we know what is possible.

The Al-Ko mounting is 2 hole. Fortunately, the alignment seems quite simple.

We bolt the back hole of the Al-Ko mounting to the back outside bolt hole of the existing 6 hole plate (it will need drilling out for the larger 12mm bolt).

I then create a mounting for the front hole by welding a bridge to the longitudinal beam that runs along the inside of the wheel well of the Dandy Chassis. The front hole then bolts to this bridge.

I will probably add a triangular plate between the Al-Ko mounting and the Dandy, this will bolt to the inside 4 bolts of the existing suspension plate and the al-ko bolts will go through this as well.

In terms of positioning the axle will be centred in the wheel well approx 75mm below the existing axle. I plan to upgrade to a 12" wheel and this will add an addition 25mm of height.

I estimate I need to raise the Dandy about 70-80mm to be level and this way it will be raised about 100mm. So I am looking at ending up with a slight nose down attitude (which is what most caravans have).

The cost of the Al-Ko solution is approx £350 compared to £230 of the Indespension upgrade. I figure there are advantages in terms of better alignment and better quality of ride.

I am looking at a 900kg rating which gives me plenty to play with for the upgrades and loads we plan. I am wondering whether at any point I will need to beef up the chassis a little, but that is a challenge for another day.

Not completely decided yet but this is looking attractive and the cost is not a big issue over the next 20+ years.
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Tow Itch
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Location : Leigh Gtr Manchester

Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by Tow Itch on Sun 15 Apr 2012, 1:56 am

I understand some bits of this but there are some issues that are beyond me please feel free to correct me as I err.

The coupling is an AL-KO delta coupling and though I cant read mine. I believe it's rated from a lower mass to a maximum of 700Kg

The Indespension suspension units are 500Kg units of the Knott type brakes (not AL-KO)
See the picture below. The Knott brakes are adjusted by a bolt not the star adjuster of AL-KO types. Yes I know if you look the whole axle is of a Knott type but it's the only photo I could find.

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The spring or energy store I have never understood. I don't know if its an old Indespension design it doesn't look like their current energy store. It looks more like a Knott or Bradley item. Anyone know for certain?

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I spoke to Ian at Riva about 750Kg suspension to see if he had any reservations. Be it frame strength or whatever, but no despite being less than happy about many mods he sees he has no issues about 750Kg suspension.
I did have the strangest conversation with him about the physical size of the suspension units though which I need to clarify.

Dave

The dimensions of the different sized units are shown here.

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With off the top of the head maths the 500Kg unit has the axle 54mm behind the centre line of the suspension.
The 750Kg unit is 80mm. So that is a difference of 26mm. The difference in the width of the mounting holes is 19mm so quite where the writer got a difference of 50mm from I don't know. I would check these dimensions against ones supplied by Indespension or whoever you use.

So I'd check the upper mass on the coupling if it is 700Kg then that's the limit but I'm going off a non Dandy AL-KO unit I've never been able to read my coupling.
If your thinking of going to 900Kg you will almost certainly be looking at a new coupling.

If your considering new wheels and you may have to be looking at a new coupling then I'd say look at all the options.
You can look at whatever combination of coupling,suspension and wheel suit you.
I might give Riva a call to see how Ian feels about you upping to 900Kg

As your replacing the suspension units inserting a spacer or through axle is not too much extra to do but others might choose to look at these where the ride height can be adjusted.
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Though a given mass of trailer would have a different effect on a unit set at 450 off horizontal and one set at horizontal.

If your going to go to a high enough mass and keep the dandy long enough then you can choose your features all that constrains is the cost. Sealed for life bearings, self adjusting brakes and even electronic stability systems or just as simple a mod as changing the PCD to one that suits your choice of wheel.

I'm enthralled to see what you consider and what you choose.

Peak Trailers [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Three different suspension products. Independent units and through axles.


Knott Avonride [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


Knot's promo video showing self adjusting brakes and electronic stability [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Knott online shop. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]



dave42w

Posts : 19
Join date : 2012-04-11
Location : Syston, Leicester

Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by dave42w on Sun 15 Apr 2012, 9:11 am

Tow Itch wrote: I understand some bits of this but there are some issues that are beyond me please feel free to ccorrect me as I err.

This whole thing is a steep learning curve for me so I am very grateful for everyone's thoughts.

Tow Itch wrote: The coupling is an AL-KO delta coupling and though I cant read mine. I believe it's rated from a lower mass to a maximum of 700Kg

I am replacing the coupling with an Al-Ko with a built in stabilizer rated at 200kg-3000kg so that should be ok.

Tow Itch wrote: The Indespension suspension units are 500Kg units of the Knott type brakes (not AL-KO)
See the picture below. The Knott brakes are adjusted by a bolt not the star adjuster of AL-KO types. Yes I know if you look the whole axle is of a Knott type but it's the only photo I could find.

I want to both sort out the ride height and increase the weight capacity. If I stick with Indespension then I can replace the Indespension 500kg units with either 750kg or 1000kg units. There are a few issues.

a) 750kg units are available with 2 wheel bolt patterns, one is the same as the 500kg and the other the same as the 1000kg. I like the idea of moving to larger wheels to help with the weight capacity and also the ride height so the heavier duty wheel bolt pattern of the 750/1000kg units apppeals.

b) I would want to move the mounting forward so that the axle is in the same place. At the same time I would want to insert spacers to move the mounting down to increase the ride height.

c) Having read one thread where someone noticed that the suspension units had always been misaligned I have a slight preference for a system which comes with a full axle so that I know the wheels will definitely be parallel.

If I used the Indespension units my idea would be to get 2 of the 6 bolt mounting plates from Indespension per side. I would weld 2 lengths of 50mm box section running longitudinally between the two sets of bolt holes of the top plate and then weld the bottom plate onto the same box sections but offset forward enough to compensate for the longer swing arm of the suspension unit. (the cramped space between the box sections for welding the inside joints is the key challenge with this idea).

It is a bit like the solution Bilbo did but instead of having a single beam running across the Dandy and spacing the mounting plates vertically I would space the mounting plates with 2 short box sections per side each running forwards then the plates can be offset from each other without blocking any of the bolt holes.

The result would be that the axle would be in the same vertical place when unladen despite the longer arm. But it would be a bit lower to correct the ride height.

Tow Itch wrote: The spring or energy store I have never understood. I don't know if its an old Indespension design it doesn't look like their current energy store. It looks more like a Knott or Bradley item. Anyone know for certain?

I hadn't thought the energy store. You are right, if I decide to go beyond 750kg am going to have to look at upgrading this to the same weight capacity as everything else. H'mm that makes sticking to a 750kg limit more attractive.

Tow Itch wrote: I spoke to Ian at Riva about 750Kg suspension to see if he had any reservations. Be it frame strength or whatever, but no despite being less than happy about many mods he sees he has no issues about 750Kg suspension.

I have emailed him about the issue and whether he would be interested in doing the work, I have had no reply yet.

Tow Itch wrote: The dimensions of the different sized units are shown here.

dandy-suspension-revisited

With off the top of the head maths the 500Kg unit has the axle 54mm behind the centre line of the suspension.
The 750Kg unit is 80mm. So that is a difference of 26mm. The difference in the width of the mounting holes is 19mm so quite where the writer got a difference of 50mm from I don't know. I would check these dimensions against ones supplied by Indespension or whoever you use.

I have only done the detailed calculations for the Al-Ko solution so far. Basically I started with a cardboard cut out of the wheel that covered the full space needed through the whole suspension movement. That confirmed that providing I dropped the axle by 55mm I was ok. In fact due to the size of the Al-Ko unit it has to drop by more than this (or the suspension mountings end up almost in the caravan :-) That is ok as it contributes to the levelling of the Dandy. When I lined it all up it was just a fortunate co-incidence that the rear of the Al-Ko mounting could re-use the rear hole of the existing mounting, so all I need to do is create a new front mounting.


Tow Itch wrote: So I'd check the upper mass on the coupling if it is 700Kg then that's the limit but I'm going off a non Dandy AL-KO unit I've never been able to read my coupling.
If your thinking of going to 900Kg you will almost certainly be looking at a new coupling.

Coupling is fine as I was changing that anyway. The energy store is what I had forgotten.

Tow Itch wrote: If your considering new wheels and you may have to be looking at a new coupling then I'd say look at all the options.
You can look at whatever combination of coupling,suspension and wheel suit you.

There are a lot of options aren't there!

I feel reasonably comfortable narrowing it down to Indespension (easy sell because that is what is currently fitted) and Al-Ko (because it seems to me to be the industry standard for Caravans so again an easier sell).

Tow Itch wrote: I might give Riva a call to see how Ian feels about you upping to 900Kg

Agreed. Maybe email isn't his thing. I am still interested in him doing the work as I don't have lots of time. Plus I still need to get someone to issue a new trailer plate with the new weight capacities on it and he is the obvious person to do that.

Tow Itch wrote: If your going to go to a high enough mass and keep the dandy long enough then you can choose your features all that constrains is the cost. Sealed for life bearings, self adjusting brakes and even electronic stability systems or just as simple a mod as changing the PCD to one that suits your choice of wheel.

I can easily get carried away with fancy ideas :-) However, I also want to be able to get this done reasonably quickly so will try to resist the temptation to built the ultimate chassis.
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Tow Itch
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Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

Post by Tow Itch on Mon 16 Apr 2012, 2:24 am

I am replacing the coupling with an Al-Ko with a built in stabilizer rated at 200kg-3000kg so that should be ok.

By coupling I mean the entire coupling not just the coupling head. The damper within the coupling (drawbar) is also mass sensitive.


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I hadn't thought the energy store. You are right, if I decide to go beyond 750kg am going to have to look at upgrading this to the same weight capacity as everything else. H'mm that makes sticking to a 750kg limit more attractive
If you were replacing the coupling then the energy store would be included.
a) 750kg units are available with 2 wheel bolt patterns, one is the same as the 500kg and the other the same as the 1000kg. I like the idea of moving to larger wheels to help with the weight capacity and also the ride height so the heavier duty wheel bolt pattern of the 750/1000kg units apppeals.
From recent issues elsewhere I'd certainly look at something with larger studs. Either that or just not let people service my dandy who slam the nuts on with a windygun when the torque on a 3/82ths stud is only 42lbft. (There has been a few wheels fall off post servicing)

c) Having read one thread where someone noticed that the suspension units had always been misaligned I have a slight preference for a system which comes with a full axle so that I know the wheels will definitely be parallel.

If I used the Indespension units my idea would be to get 2 of the 6 bolt mounting plates from Indespension per side. I would weld 2 lengths of 50mm box section running longitudinally between the two sets of bolt holes of the top plate and then weld the bottom plate onto the same box sections but offset forward enough to compensate for the longer swing arm of the suspension unit. (the cramped space between the box sections for welding the inside joints is the key challenge with this idea).

It is a bit like the solution Bilbo did but instead of having a single beam running across the Dandy and spacing the mounting plates vertically I would space the mounting plates with 2 short box sections per side each running forwards then the plates can be offset from each other without blocking any of the bolt holes.

The result would be that the axle would be in the same vertical place when unladen despite the longer arm. But it would be a bit lower to correct the ride height.
I can't reconcile the desire to put an axle in place to true up the suspension then talk about units being bolted to the Dandy plates that would have caused the misalignment.
I also can't work out what your proposed design is. if you can sketch the plan and scan it I may comprehend.

There are more raised suspension solutions than Bilbo's I've spent an age looking for John's pictures and can't find them. John may oblige.

Some of the options I mentioned I doubt anyone will be fitting but just so you know it's there.

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Re: Planned Designer Upgrades

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