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Old 07-08-2019, 06:04 PM   #1
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Default 3 inch wheel spacers for 94 Leisure Travel?

Hi,
At the advice of my mechanic I ordered these 3 inch wheel spacers for the back wheels of my RV which is on a Dodge B350 chassis. The rears are inset 2" on each side and I'm now concerned that by going out 3" I may be creating problems. My mechanic already has received them and they came from the US to Canada so not sure if I can even return them without a lot of cost. Any advice on this whole thing? I know I have seen people add 2 inches with no problem but not sure about 3. I know a lot of people don't like spacers at all and my wife is very nervous about the whole thing.
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Old 07-09-2019, 04:22 AM   #2
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How does it drive right now without the spacers? Problems?
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Old 07-09-2019, 06:24 AM   #3
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How does it drive right now without the spacers? Problems?
It's not bad, except when I'm on the freeway going around 60 mph with all the effects of slight bumps in the road or wind it can jump around quickly. I got on this idea from a guy with a similar RV that added 2 inch spacers and it was night and day improvement. https://ditchingsuburbia.com/blog/in...ss-b-campervan
At this point my wife is so spooked by those who are against spacers that she doesn't want to proceed so I doubt anything is going to happen with it. I will probably have to spend some money on shipping them back to the US.
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Old 07-09-2019, 06:27 AM   #4
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I should add that I took the van to a very reputable place called Westshore Springs that do a lot of custom work and they suggested three possible improvements for handling: first, wheel spacers, second a rear sway bar (I already have a front one) and third shocks, though he told me my shocks weren't that bad.
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Old 07-09-2019, 04:45 PM   #5
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My perspective is limited. But I do have a 97 Pleasureway on the Dodge chassis. I got it 3 years ago from my father-in-law and vaguely remembered driving it 15 years before that and feeling "white-knuckled" from the handling. So I was prepared to do, as you're considering, a lot of work on that, including wheel-spacers. Read about all the pros and cons regarding them. There's a place in Oregon (can't remember the name off hand) which also specializes in handling. People drive from all over the US to get work done there.

Anyways, after I bought the RV I drove it from upper Wisconsin down to AZ. Straight down to New Orleans and then across Texas to Arizona. Winds were terrible in Illinois; so strong my wife couldn't open the passenger door at a rest stop. Handling WAS very skiddish. But when the winds calmed down, it didn't seem bad. I drove across Texas at 70-75mph without any issues. Since then I've put on 20k in the Southwest and mountains.

One thing I did learn from reading the forums is that most RVs are somewhat like "sails." If a strong wind hits them, it WILL have an impact; one that you wouldn't feel in a car given its lower profile. There's been a recent discussion on this forum about front tire pressure and the impact that has on handling.

But at the end, your model is different than mine. I'm unsure what differences in the handling geometry might be in their designs.
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Old 07-09-2019, 05:21 PM   #6
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We have had spacers on 2 LTV Freedoms. A 1997 and 2000.
Along with steel sidewall tires, better shocks, and adjustments to steering play, both vans handled very well at between 90km and 100kms.
The steering adjustments can be found on a Dodge Service Bulletin. Easy to do but very awkward. Google Dodge steering adjustment.
Our spacers were the 2" spacers, however any good spring or alignment shop should be able to advise if the difference is critical. Would not drive an old Dodge 350 without them. Probably over 100,000km with spacers and no problems. Make sure they are installed properly; Right torque etc.
Good Luck
Barry
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Old 07-09-2019, 10:51 PM   #7
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We have had spacers on 2 LTV Freedoms. A 1997 and 2000.
Along with steel sidewall tires, better shocks, and adjustments to steering play, both vans handled very well at between 90km and 100kms.
The steering adjustments can be found on a Dodge Service Bulletin. Easy to do but very awkward. Google Dodge steering adjustment.
Our spacers were the 2" spacers, however any good spring or alignment shop should be able to advise if the difference is critical. Would not drive an old Dodge 350 without them. Probably over 100,000km with spacers and no problems. Make sure they are installed properly; Right torque etc.
Good Luck
Barry
Thanks Barry...what was the make and composition of your spacers? I heard that cast aluminum wasn't good and that billet was. I think the ones I ordered are cast, but not sure if they'r'e aluminum. My mechanic is about 30 miles away and I haven't seen him since he ordered them. He was so reassuring about them but I'm not sure how much he really knows. With my wife spooked it's going to be very hard to proceed anyway...
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Old 07-13-2019, 03:13 AM   #8
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You should call your mechanic and find out what spacers he's ordered. Brand/composition. That might help your wife....and you. Here's the link to
Henderson's. I have no affiliation with them. Call them and find out their take on the
spacers. Their reviews indicate that they are top notch....but expensive. Maybe they'll
give you some advice.

https://www.hendersonslineup.com
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Old 07-14-2019, 08:45 PM   #9
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3" spacers don't make sense to me, but I haven't researched how a wider rear track affects class B handling. I think on some vehicles it probably improves handling in corners. It might help counter the nasty over-steer roll over tendencies that extended passenger vans are known for (due to too far aft center-of-gravity). Think college sports team van accidents (speeding is also usually a factor). As a side note, as much as is possible, I try to load my van with heavier items towards the front.

The problem that most class B Dodge and Ford owners are usually addressing with spacers is steering wander caused by the front and rear axles fighting each other for different groves or tracks within the lane when traveling on the highway. By matching the front and rear width (called "track" by the manufacturers) you eliminate (mostly or completely) that back and forth dynamic. It should be noted that there are other factors that also contribute to steering wander.

The downside of both steel and aluminum spacers is the increased load placed on the rear wheel bearing due to the introduction of a lever-arm between the wheel and the axle hub. The wheel bearings will probably wear out more quickly. I don't believe it's a significant problem with the 1-ton class B vans. If it is of concern to an owner, they could also replace the wheel bearings as a preventative measure rather than waiting for them to wear out.

A downside to aluminum spacers is that if they are cheap quality and/or not installed and torqued properly, they are prone to cracking which can lead to catastrophic failure. There are manufacturers in the U.S. who buy quality billets from China and then do the machining and install high quality studs (e.g. "grade 10") in their plant here in the U.S.. There are probably also manufacturers in China who produce quality spacers. There are definitely manufacturers in China who produce cheap spacers.

In my opinion and generally speaking, wheel spacers should not be considered until the front and rear suspension is brought back to as new, or at least nearly new, condition. Bushings, joints, shocks, tires, steering box and rear leaf springs/ride height always need to be considered suspect in these older vans.

The steering box (or steering gear) in the Dodges tends to be sloppy. The box should be removed and the thrust bearing preload adjusted on a bench. That's the way I did mine at least - I don't recall if it's even possible to do it place, but probably not. After the bearing preload is set properly, the over-center adjustment needs to be done. An experienced mechanic can adjust it by "feel", but the service manual calls for using a tiny, low-torque, torque wrench. This adjustment can often be done with the box in place. Many mechanics and DIYers go straight to this adjustment and skip the preload adjustment altogether. The steering box has not been properly adjusted if both of these adjustments, in the correct order, have not been made. New rebuilt boxes have gained a reputation for being no better than the unit they replaced. RedHead Steering Gears will rebuild your Dodge steering gear box and may make some improvements while they have it apart. I have read good things about their boxes, and I have added this upgrade to my wish list. I am not sure about the improvements/modifications - I have to do more research.

Another steering wander related upgrade that I am considering is the "Dodge Ram Steering Gear Box Stabilizer" from Dodge Ram Steering Gear Box Stabilizer. They make one for the vans. I suspect that this upgrade would make a noticeable improvement. How much an improvement would probably depend on how the van is loaded (fore/aft weight distribution) and how the van is driven.

I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies mentioned by name or reference. I only share what I have learned from hours of research combined with years of DIY auto repair plus some time as a mechanic and an automotive machinist apprentice.
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Old 07-14-2019, 11:24 PM   #10
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Hi Paul,
I drive a 2000 American Cruiser and added the 2in spacers. I would say I see some improvement on roads that are in poor condition but nowhere near a night and day improvement. I also put Gabriel hijacker shocks on the rear and found at 100 psi, they made a nice improvement . On a calm day the camper drives beautifully at 65 miles an hour but on a windy day you need to cut it back to 50 or 55.
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Old 07-15-2019, 01:27 AM   #11
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Default Wheel spacers r fine

First, millions of semi trucks have wheel spacers. Every pair of "Dayton" or spoke semi wheels has a spacer, from the early 1900s till today.
I have driven and owned DOZENS UPON DOZENS of them for decades.
There is absolutely zero to fear about wheel spacers.
They will widen your track and also spread each pair of duals so they can skirt a wider pothole.

They will increase stability just as spreading your feet increases your stability compared to having them close together.

You could add 5 foot wide spacers if you wanted to and it was legal.

As long as your lugnut studs r long enough and the outside tire doesn't hit the body, you will have a safer and more stable vehicle.

Don't involve your wife in mechanical decisions if she doesn't understand mechanical things. Women's emotions tend to override any change that they don't fully understand. Women are by nature not normally innovators. They prefer emotionally comfortable "sameness" as a general rule(stability oddly enough lol)

This is a situation where a literal 10 year old can understand the benefit of widening your track. The only danger is a crappy spacer or improper installation. And the installation is simple. Make sure your lugstuds are long enough and properly tighten the lugnuts. BINGO.

It really is THAT SIMPLE. you could also add some.sort of coil over shocks or an adjustable air shock, but adding six inches of width to your track should provide a noticeable difference cornering and In wind etc.
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Old 07-15-2019, 01:33 AM   #12
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One more thing, I would.get the steel spacers. The weight difference is minimal and steel is much stronger than aluminum.
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Old 07-15-2019, 01:43 AM   #13
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First, millions of semi trucks have wheel spacers. Every pair of "Dayton" or spoke semi wheels has a spacer, from the early 1900s till today.
I have driven and owned DOZENS UPON DOZENS of them for decades.
There is absolutely zero to fear about wheel spacers.
They will widen your track and also spread each pair of duals so they can skirt a wider pothole.

They will increase stability just as spreading your feet increases your stability compared to having them close together.

You could add 5 foot wide spacers if you wanted to and it was legal.

As long as your lugnut studs r long enough and the outside tire doesn't hit the body, you will have a safer and more stable vehicle.

Don't involve your wife in mechanical decisions if she doesn't understand mechanical things. Women's emotions tend to override any change that they don't fully understand. Women are by nature not normally innovators. They prefer emotionally comfortable "sameness" as a general rule(stability oddly enough lol)

This is a situation where a literal 10 year old can understand the benefit of widening your track. The only danger is a crappy spacer or improper installation. And the installation is simple. Make sure your lugstuds are long enough and properly tighten the lugnuts. BINGO.

It really is THAT SIMPLE. you could also add some.sort of coil over shocks or an adjustable air shock, but adding six inches of width to your track should provide a noticeable difference cornering and In wind etc.

I think the 94 Leisure is a single rear wheel, so all the duallie stuff doesn't apply. When you says studs long enough, are talking about using a through hole stud, not separate short stud spacer mount and a spacer mounted stud set for the wheel? That would be a recipe for disaster for a 3" spacer from everything I have ever read on the topic.



The rear axle is a semi floater so offsetting the wheels out put more load on the wheel bearings and also on the carrier bearings, which sometimes can be and issue. Same is true for the springs and shocks during single wheel bumps. The spacers on OTR trucks with designed in duallies are generally made to have the spacers in many cases, I think, so you would still have support centerline between the wheel bearings.
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Old 07-15-2019, 05:26 PM   #14
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I'm definitely talking about replacing the actual wheel studs and not using extensions. BUT if the extensions were designed and tested by competent non affirmative action engineers in the usa, then they would be safe.(boeing hired out programming for 737s to Indian engineers and now they crash.) All semi trucks for decades that used "bud" style wheels had outer studs that screwed onto the inner studs to hold the outer wheel on, and again, no problem(except getting the damn things off once rusted).
You are correct on the wheel bearing load question, however, I have never seen an axle bearing go out in any heavy duty american vehicle that was full of oil(or grease) that was not loaded ASTRONOMICALLY above its rated capacity for an extended period.
So I wouldn't worry about the slight load difference, I mean after all, every time you turn you are loading the outside tires more than the inner ones.
Unless there is some manufacturers warning because they use undersized Chinese or Indian or mexican parts, this will rarely(if ever) amount to any meaningful wear, and an easy way to check is to just touch your wheel hubs temperature with your hand after running down the highway for a few hours, then check them again w wheel spacers and see if they are meaningfully hotter. ...actually, y'all should do this once in a while anyway to ALL wheel hubs.
I do on all vehicles when traveling at sustained higher speeds, as losing wheels at 70mph can get exciting REALLY fast. Lol.
If you want to be even more precise, use a laser thermometer, they are about 15 bucks I think at harbor freight.
The running temperature will tell you if anything is in danger, and of course, do the normal oil changes(or grease) on your hubs and use the best synthetic oils and greases in the rear end and wheel bearings(any of the bigger name brands like valvoline etc).
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Old 07-15-2019, 05:36 PM   #15
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Oh and as for the van in question being a single wheel as opposed to a dually, the only difference would be that it won't save you from narrower potholes.
That said, there are also dually kits last I checked where you can turn your single wheel into a dually, and this would also greatly increase stability and the safety factor(although you'd need to add fender flares, but this is exactly what the manufacturers do). My class b is also a single wheel and i would prefer a dually when towing. However it is an older Ford w e rated 16" tires and i dont go crazy overloading it, but it's no Ferrari on turns either. Lol. I just drive slower than in a sports car because I'm a realist.
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Old 07-18-2019, 06:11 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 98LeisureTravelDodge View Post
Many mechanics and DIYers go straight to this adjustment and skip the preload adjustment altogether. The steering box has not been properly adjusted if both of these adjustments, in the correct order, have not been made.
For anyone who reads this thread, I found this TSB for the '94-98 Dodge Pick Ups titled "Steering Wander". It Apparently doesn't apply to the vans, but the steering gearboxes are more or less the same. Use at your own risk. My point in adding this post is that it appears Dodge decided that the Over-center Adjustment can be done before the Thrust Bearing Preload Adjustment. If I felt the need, I would follow this procedure on my van.

TSB 19-10-97

Also, I should have stated in my earlier post that I use 2" aluminum spacers that I bought on eBay from a company in CA. I found that they make a worthwhile difference, but as Jimbo614 said, nowhere near a night and day difference. I am comfortable with them as regards safety, but I keep an eye on them and as someone mentioned, I also frequently check all four hubs for high temps and temp differential. Before I added the spacers, I replaced all the front suspension joints and bushings with premium-line aftermarket parts (mostly NOS - new old stock - Moog, all made in USA, that I found cheap on eBay). I cleaned/repacked and adjusted the front wheel bearings, and I installed Bilstein shocks. I adjusted my Steering box and then I got a "good" alignment. I already had a rear ant-sway bar and a front Safe-T-Plus RV Steering Control.

I also changed the gear lube/oil and used synthetic oil (good for the bearings as well as the diff) which I believe is recommended when towing (it is in my jeep, anyway).
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