Holding pattern

Well, it looks like we’ll be staying in the Carlsbad area a bit longer than expected but it’s for a good cause.

Back in July, when we were traveling through Nevada, we had an unexpected stop in Ely to have a wheel issue repaired. At the time we noticed the tread on one of the two tires on the passenger side of the 5th wheel was wearing down unevenly. It was diagnosed as a bearings issue (not a bent axle or anything more serious) which was fixed quickly and with a new tire installed we were back on the road within a few days.

But a couple weeks ago we noticed that the tread on the other tire on that side was also wearing unevenly so we booked an appointment on Thursday of last week at a repair shop right next to the campground we are staying in to have it looked at. This time the diagnosis was a little more serious – bad (or overburdened) leaf springs.

Apparently the leaf springs installed by the 5th wheel manufacturer are rated to handle 3,500 pounds each and with four sets of springs (one for each wheel) that gives us a load capacity of 14,000 pounds (7,000 on each side). On travel days some of our total weight is also distributed to the truck bed through the hitch the 5th wheel is resting on and that gives us a total GVRW (gross vehicle weight rating) of 15,000 pounds. We know (from a stop at a CAT scales a while back) that with all the upgrades and stuff we have packed for full-time living (washer/dryer, batteries, solar panels, etc.) that we are right at that 15,000 pound limit.

So, it’s possible that either our leaf springs are bad and worn down or our total weight isn’t evenly distributed and the passenger side is too heavy for the springs we have (or a bit of both). The solution is we’re going to have more heavy duty springs installed with each set capable of handling 4,000 pounds and increasing our axel weight capacity from 14,000 to 16,000 pounds. Luckily, leaf springs aren’t too expensive so it won’t cost too much to have all 4 sets upgraded.

Coincidentally, on the morning we took the 5th wheel over to the repair shop for the leaf springs issue we noticed a hydraulic fluid leak under the front jack on the passenger side. Since the 5th wheel was going to be in the shop anyway we had them look at that as well and it turned out to be a broken seal. Unfortunately you can’t just replace the seal on those jacks so the entire jack on that side will also have to be replaced. That one is a bit more expensive to fix but at least the issue came up when we already had the 5th wheel in the shop.

We had the shop order the parts for both repairs and now we just wait to find out when they’ll arrive and when we can get the 5th wheel back into the shop to complete the repairs. We’ve extended our stay at the campground another week and had them hold the site we’re at for an additional week after that, just in case.

In the meantime, we’re taking the opportunity of being in a town big enough to have a Lowe’s to get a few projects done. This weekend we re-caulked the bathroom and kitchen sinks, dealt with a noisy oven hood vent, re-potted some plants, built a little plant shelf for Lauren’s work area, and placed some Amazon orders for a few other odds and ends. While it’s nice to take a pause and get a few things done, our hope is that the 5th wheel parts come in this week and the repairs can happen quickly so we can get back on the road and into West Texas before Christmas. Fingers crossed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *