Replacing the shocks…
After driving around Mexico, I felt it was time to replace the shocks since I got bounced and banged around so much down there. I was having control issues as well. The roads down there aren’t the best with lots of potholes and steep edges. I also found myself on gravel roads with ruts or narrow roads with huge potholes and no way to drive around them. And riding on them was no treat. Got my teeth rattled many times. I checked the repair records and couldn’t find any record that the original owner had ever replaced the shocks, and I had over 122,000 miles on the rig. Most owners say that stock shocks are good for maybe 20,000 miles on a RV. So I did a search on RV.net and read the stories by others on the net about the best shocks and prices. I settled on Bilstein’s since I found so many stories about how good they were. They also have a lifetime warranty and were about the same price as the other brands. I ordered a set from eshocks.com for $299, including shipping. The new shocks were smaller diameter then the shocks I was replacing and the fronts are longer then the rears. $299 worth of RV shocks…with a lifetime warranty.
I’m at my brother’s house and he has a compressor and impact tools so we decided to do the work out on the street. The street is very steep so I chocked the rig up good and raised and blocked the front. The weather shortly before we went to work…then the sun came out and it got hot.
After soaking with CR-2-26 spray lube, the impact wrench made short work of removing the nuts. But I don’t think it would have been a problem with a breaker bar and a ratchet. Since the old shocks were bad, there was no problem removing them since they were collapsed. One thing I noticed on the old shocks was that the neoprene was still soft and pliable. Good sign that the other rubber products on the chassis would still be reasonably good. Installing the new shocks was a chore since they are under pressure (350lbs I believe) we had to use a flat pry bar to get them compressed enough to get them on the mounting shafts. If I’d had the rig on a flat instead of a steep hill, that probably wouldn’t have been a problem since I could have jacked up the rig far enough that the extended shocks would have slipped right on. Top & bottom mounting of drivers side front shock:
There would have been plenty of room if we had removed the wheel but we felt we could get it done without doing that. We found that the flat washers wouldn’t fit back into the brackets with the new shocks installed, so we installed them just under the nut instead of between the ‘U’ bracket and the concave washers, which fit up next to the rubber mounting bushing of the shock. In a thousand or so miles, I’ll crawl under there and check to make sure the shock isn’t moving back and forth too much. If there is movement, I’ll just reinstall the washers. After we finished the fronts, we moved to the rears. No big deal back there except the transfer case is kind of in the way so we had to use long extensions and a wobbler to get on the nuts. On the passenger side, the bundle of wire and hose was right up onto the outer case of the old shock so we had to remove clamp bolts in order to move that bundle out of the way. Since the new shocks have a smaller diameter, there won’t be anymore rubbing. Rear shock:
Once all the new shocks were installed, we did a road trip. I’m always surprised when I read or hear other people talk about what a huge difference new shocks make but I’ve never seen or felt much of a difference all those other times I’ve changed bad shocks. And since my expectations are low I’m never disappointed. This time was no exception. I guess I’d need a calibrated butt. I’d say that Perhaps I’ll see a difference in the ride when I get back down to Mexico. [On Edit, 11-07] The shocks did make a big difference in Mexico. The rough roads down here were not such a bother after they were installed. My arms weren’t sore and my teeth weren’t rattled by all the pot holes and road cracks. I probably saved $200-$400 by doing it myself. Easy job that would have been even easier if the rig had been on a flat spot. Could have used my creeper. ——————————————–