|One of the major concerns 5th
owners have is the problem of maintaining sufficient clearance between
the bed of the truck and the underside of the camper. The
over the last several years for new model trucks from Ford and Dodge
been to make their 4WD trucks taller, aggravating the problem.
are two approaches to solving this problem:
(1) Raise the trailer by installing taller tires or "flipping the trailer axles". Flipping the trailer axles is a misleading term for the process. The axles are not actually flipped, but are moved from the top of the springs to below the springs, typically gaining about 4" of height.
(2) Lower the back end of the truck. This discussion is specific to 3rd Generation (2003 and later) Dodge 2500/3500 trucks, which are typically equipped with the Cummins Turbo Diesel engine.
I choose to use both approaches for my truck and trailer. When the trailer was spec'd, Northwood Mfg. offered to build it with 16" wheels and the axles "flipped" for no charge. On my 2001.5 Dodge 2500, there was a TSB to lower the truck for 5th wheel towing, which my dealer performed under warranty for no charge. When I bought my 2004.5 3500, I was looking for a way to accomplish the same effect. The following pages detail the process.
Two factors in the design of the Dodge trucks makes lowering possible. First, the trucks are "tail high" when empty, and are typically even "tail high" when loaded close the the GVWR. The second factor is that Dodge installs two 5/8" spacers between the rear axle and the spring pack, raising the truck 1-1/4" at the rear axle. By eliminating the spacers, the truck is lowered 1-1/4". In the case of my truck and camper, the truck was still "tail high" unloaded, and level with a 2000 lb load after the modification. For the sake of this discussion, I consider the truck level when the front of the bed is at the same height as the back of the bed as measured from the ground to the top of the bed rail.
Very few worthwhile accomplishments are ever completed without ideas, guidance, and direction from other people with similar interests. In the case of this project, I followed in the steps of several members of the TDR forum, specifically Matt400 and GerryDrake. Included in the following pages are photos and comments from Matt and Gerry, used with their permission.