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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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