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Old 05-07-2005, 04:15 PM   #1
azstar
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Use Dexter on AL-KO

Hi Folks,

I too like others am getting wear on my spring shackles.

I really like the Kit for Dexter Axle's and thanks to Farmer Don, I was able to see them at Trailer Parts Superstore for $89. They are difinitely a superior product to what comes stock.

Here's the question, has anyone out there in MOC land tried putting the Dexter Kit on AL-KO axle's?

There are differences in spacing. I've done some calulations and I'll loose .2 in. in clearence to the TT Frame, but that still leave's 1.5 in. The new shackles will be at a slightly different angle. 3.7 deg. and I don't see a problem with that.

All the dimensions are the same otherwise.

It would be great to know someone else that has done this.

Thanks and Happy Camping
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Old 05-07-2005, 04:24 PM   #2
fulltimedreamer
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Steve,
Great minds must think alike. I have the same question and hadn't gotten around to posting it yet. The posts showing the broken shackles are making me nervous. Great minds are waiting on an answer.
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Old 05-07-2005, 04:57 PM   #3
harleyrider
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I also would like to know if they will fit.For that price it would be nice to switch them out,before its to late.
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Old 05-07-2005, 06:13 PM   #4
HamRad
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My trailer has the AL-KO axles. The kit that we got was an exact duplicate of what we took off. Did not lose any height and the angle is the same. If what you're looking at is different then I'd look at another kit. Maybe that is why my kit cost what it did. The only difference was the thickness of the shackles and the greaseable brass sleeves.

HamRad
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Old 05-07-2005, 06:39 PM   #5
azstar
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HamRad,

Looking at your Pics. I think the Kit includes the same parts you got, but they also include the Tri-Angle Equalizer Bars. So if it becomes a problem I can just use my stock Tri-Angle Bars with the new shackle links, bolts and bushings.

Your Pics. really are helpful. I now know that the Dexter parts are going to work out.

Thanks,

Happy Camping
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Old 05-07-2005, 07:53 PM   #6
awaywego
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AZSTAR,
Thanks to the post about shackle wear by Hamrad I decided to check mine and found two were ready to break.
I went on the Dexter website and there are two didderent sizes of equlizers for the replacements.
You need to measure center to center on your axles. One set is for the 33 inch space and the other is for 35 inch space.
I ordered the 35 inch and like Hamrad's mine fit perfect.
I finished installing them Saturday afternoon.
Here is the website. http://dexteraxle.com/heavy_duty_suspension_kits
Hope this helps. I hope everyone checks theirs because we are leaving June 1 on a six month trip and if I had not checked mine I would have had major trouble somewhere.
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Old 05-07-2005, 11:36 PM   #7
harleyrider
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Awaywego

I have the same Montana as you I see.How hard was the install of the kit???
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Old 05-08-2005, 04:11 AM   #8
mgdg
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Why would anyone pay $89 for a shackle kit when you can go to www.etrailer.com and get shackles for .95 ea and shackle bolts for $1.59 each. Don`t people realise you never get parts from a RV dealer as they have a higher markup than a loan shark!! So for $20.32 plus shipping you have you replacement in 4 days or less. I am not affiliated with etrailer I just use their products as they sell name brand oem equipment for alot less. I always vote for saving money on good replacment parts. If you can`t wait measure the parts you need and go to your local automotive store(Murrays, Napa, Pep boys etc)and you`ll find those kinds of parts there a lot cheaper.
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Old 05-08-2005, 04:54 AM   #9
richfaa
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May I ask why the spring shackles are breaking and wearing so fast..wrong size, defective material, etc.
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Old 05-08-2005, 05:36 AM   #10
azstar
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mgdg & richfaa,

It's a Material problem. The stock ones are a poor quality imported steel. The shackles are stamped mild steel. I know you can replace them with the same from a lot of different places, but you will have the same problem again.

The Kit comming from Dexter are thicker shackles and are probably a higher quality steel. When I get them in hand I can verify this. They do not looked stamped. The other thing is they are fitted with zerk fittings so they will accept grease. You also get bronze bushings instead of plastic.

The Worlds best Steel came from the US, but as you know most of that industry has gone overseas. We traded lower price for lower quality. Even if the new ones are the same quality steel you will be riding on a larger lubricated surface area which will extend the life many, many, times even with a low quality steel.

mgdg, actually if the quality is as good as it looks it's a bargin, at $89.

You can see them at www.easternmarine.com

Happy Camping
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Old 05-08-2005, 05:37 AM   #11
awaywego
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Harleyrider,
Replacing the shackles was not to hard. They came with instructions.
Make sure you have the unit jacked and supported good since you have to pull both wheels and springs loose at the same time to replace the equalizer.
Hamrad has some helpful photos on his picturetrail. You may want to check them.
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Old 05-08-2005, 06:05 AM   #12
sreigle
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Well, I looked at the etrailer site and those shackles look suspiciously like those on the Montana. I think I'd be very nervous about using those as replacements. I've seen the ones from Dexter and there is a world of difference. This is just my opinion, though, and may not be worth much.

I'm not an expert on this but my understanding is the nylon bushings wear out or disintegrate, allowing metal on metal contact without lubrication and that's what causes the elongation of the bolt holes in the shackles/hangers. If I'm wrong, someone correct me.
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Old 05-08-2005, 06:31 AM   #13
azstar
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awaywego,

My axles are 33". That's the Kit (#K71 359 00) that "Trailer Parts Superstore" (easternmarine) is selling. When Dexter says 35" & 33" their probably talking about their Dexter axle spacing. With the AL-KO it will change things a little as I mentioned in my earlier post, if the dimensions on the web site are correct. Time will tell. I will have the Kit by the end of the week.

Steve, The shackles actually start out their lives Metal to Metal. Combine that with low quality steel and you see the result.
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Old 05-08-2005, 11:30 AM   #14
drhowell
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Reply to mgdg. Sure you can get replacemet shackles and you still have the same problem. And you may not get new bushings with the shackles. The original bushings were nylon and they wear out quick. Usually that keeps the bolt from moving in the spring and it starts to wear on the links and soon the top holes of the links are worn clear out.

The new kits have heavy duty oilite (brass) bushings with heavy duty shackles and greaseable bolts at all connections. If you keep them lubed they should outlast the rest of the trailer. From everything I can find out the Dexter kits fit perfect and the only difference between the K71-349 33" axle space and the K71-449 35" is the equalizer is 2 inches longer on the K71-449. I had to order the 449 and it wasn't avaliable at Trailer Parts Superstore. My local Auto parts store was able to get it for me at $127.00.

Will let you know how it works out.
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Old 05-08-2005, 12:10 PM   #15
mgdg
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My shackles look ok, the trailer is just over 1 yr old. I think the main thing here is keeping them lubed. I like the shackle bolts with the zerk nipple on them to keep them well lubricated. I am going to replace my shackle bolts with them. Its too bad that Keystone and Dexter uses cheaper products during production. Steve the Dexter replacments look really durable as they are 1/4in. thick. Even if you use the Dexter replacement and you don`t maintain it these will also fail as the oem parts that were on there before did. If they are not maintained then the bushings will fail and cause the shackle bolt holes to become elongated and out of whack, and before you know it, yes you will have to replace them. Maybe thicker isn`t better as there are many grades of steel. Its like thinking bigger is better but thats another subject!! China doesn`t even make much of their own steel yet, they have bought it all from North America to produce the parts they make using cheaper labour. China has discovered Capitalism and will start producing items that we have always done here in North America at a fraction of the cost. I lubricated mine last weekend while camping and will do so again before I put her away for the winter. After coming back from Key West in March and checking the shackles they were in great shape because I maintained them in October of last year.

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Old 05-08-2005, 02:04 PM   #16
sreigle
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Steve, (azstar), I don't think that's right unless I misunderstand what you are saying. I had a conversation awhile back with a Keystone exec about these shackle problems. At that time he commented he was aware of problems with the nylon bushings not holding up but was not aware of the hangers having problems. He is now. I can't imagine there not being some kind of bushing, in this case nylon, between the bolt and the shackle. Am I missing your point?
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Old 05-08-2005, 03:14 PM   #17
palebluedot
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My question is how many members have found worn shackle parts and how many miles on the unit when it was detected. I have inspected mine after reading the posts about this and don't have a problem so far, but I have less than 5,000 miles on the 03 3280RL. If this is a "common" occurance with low miles, then I have a BIG problem with Keystone. I can see cutting corners in some areas to keep the cost down, but using inferior materials in an area that affects safety is a whole different ball of wax. A broken shackle or associated hardware could cause a major accident in my opinion. The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) has a web site for reporting safety defects on motor vehicles, maybe you could report one on an RV there too. The vehicle does not have to be in warranty for them to issue a recall if they get enough complaints and their investigation confirms the issue as a safety problem.
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Old 05-08-2005, 06:41 PM   #18
azstar
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Hi All,

PBD,

I have about 15K on mine. It can be difficult to see the wear without pulling the Shackle plates off. Your right about the potential for disaster here. Looking at mine, I might forsee a scenario like this; (1) One set of Shackles fails, the spring goes up and rides on the frame, the RV'er sees their rig leaning and discovers the broken Shackle. Scenario; (2) One set fails goes up against the frame, then the RV'er takes a turn putting a side load stress on the worn Shackles on the other side of the Axle and causes a failure of that Shackle, allowing the Axle to move sideways and out from under the Coach. Now picture that in your mind. Not pretty. If not already, it's going to happen, for sure. So many of these Shackles out there, from all sorts of Manufacturers. Your right NTSB might just want to know about this.

Steve,

If you look closely at HamRads pics. you will see where the bolt has a wear pattern at the very end, right where the Shackle plate was attached. There are bushings in the Tri-Angle Equilizer but not in the Shackle plates.

mgdg,

Yep, China has the Steel Mills. What they don't have is the Raw Material. We in the US were and are blessed with this and we ship it out of the Country to them. The Chinese also buy all the scrap Steel they can get their hands on, ship it to their Mills and make all sorts of products like Shackles and Ship them back to us. There's no telling what your Shackles use to be, maybe an old Refrigerator.
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Old 05-09-2005, 04:33 PM   #19
sreigle
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As far as miles, ours has around 30k on it now. I can see there is some wear in the shackles because I can see where the bolt head used to be and that is not the same location it is now. Thus, the holes must be elongated. When we're at the factory service center in a couple of weeks they plan to check these out.
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Old 05-09-2005, 05:32 PM   #20
lightningjack11
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I have got close to 30k on mine and so far so good but my rig is lighter than most.

I have my trailer all jacked up to greese bearings and check brakes. Last time I checked I had no visible wear on the shackles but now I am detecting some. In fact it looks like two nuts have loosen up but I will know more tomorrow after my inspection. So it looks like one more trip and I will put the dexter shackles on. Only one is slightly worn but I will check the spacing more exactly tomorrow.
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