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thenrie 02-23-2013 03:32 PM

Trailer spring-over conversion. Anybody done one?
I bought a 4-horse Circle W gooseneck trailer last year that has been converted to 2-horse with a camper. It was a good buy and the camper looks like it was a professional conversion. Gives me a place to get in out of the rain, spend the night on long hauls, hot water and a propane stove.

Anyway, it sits too low for my 2005 Dodge dually. With the gooseneck adjusted all the way up, the trailer still sits at a pretty steep angle. It's ok for short hauls, but I wouldn't want my horses to have to stand at that angle for an all-day haul. Additionally, I have to be very careful not to get gooseneck rash on my truckbed. I have barely 6 inches of clearance on level ground back near the tailgate and the rear of the trailer is barely 8" off the ground. The rear axle often hits the floor of the trailer when I hit bumps in the road.

After taking various measurements and jacking up the rear of the trailer, it appears that doing a spring-over conversion on the 2-3/4", 4"-drop axles will provide 5" of additional height at the wheels and pretty much level the trailer. That makes the rear of the trailer about 17-18" at floor level at the loading gate. Pretty high for loading and unloading horses. The trailer has a gate, not a ramp.

Has anybody done anything like this before on a horse trailer? It is a common conversion on gooseneck RV trailers, but I've never seen one on a horse trailer. One thing about this conversion is that it's easy (relatively speaking) to revert it back to the under-spring fit, if necessary.

Mostly my concern is getting the horses to load and unload safely at that height.

Jim Andy 02-23-2013 08:10 PM

Tony; If you have drop axles or they the type where you can loosen the U bolts
and turn the axles part way to adjust your height. If they are not that type then how about putting air bags on there to adjust height?

thenrie 02-24-2013 03:34 PM

3 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by Jim Andy (Post 1908843)
Tony; If you have drop axles or they the type where you can loosen the U bolts
and turn the axles part way to adjust your height. If they are not that type then how about putting air bags on there to adjust height?

You can't really turn the axles to adjust height. Axles aren't made that way. You can't turn them over either, because they are made with an arch in the axle to compensate for the bending the weight of the trailer causes.

There are several options available to me, but only the spring-over conversion can easily be reversed.

1. Spring-over conversion = about 5" increase in trailer height
2. Cut off the spring hangers and weld in taller ones = up to about 3"
2. Purchase and install straight axles, with no drop = 4"

In my case the only one that would bring my trailer up to about level is the 5" from the spring-over. Newer Dodge 4wd pickups are a lot taller than the trucks made back in 1991, when the trailer was new. I could lower the truck about an inch by removing a couple spacers, but that really wouldn't accomplish much and might change other aspects, such as steering geometry.

You can see it there next to the Toyota Tacoma I used to have. It had a 2" lift and large tires. My Dodge has a 2" leveling lift in the front (installed by the previous owner), but the rear is stock height for a 2005 Dodge 3500 4wd.

Jim Andy 02-24-2013 08:09 PM

I see what your saying check at your local dodge dealer and see if they have or can get a lowering kit for the back of your truck. Most trucks you can get different spring hangers that will drop the back about 2" without changing the ride or towing of the truck.

That should also make the back of the trailer about 1" higher by bringing the nose down. Most guys I know do that instead of raising the front of truck that changes the angels of all your steering components and how they work.

thenrie 02-24-2013 09:09 PM

That's an idea. I'll check it out...although I really do like the look of my big ol' truck.

Phly 02-24-2013 09:41 PM

I've seen this done. The trailer pulled really wonky after. I'm not sure why, but it wasn't right. Real squirmy. Air ride would be a good option. You could tow as high as you like but pancake it to load and unload. Anyone who could do a spring over should be able to do air ride. Really isn't much to it. Usually the shock brackets are the hard part. Well finding the right shock and mounting location. And it's trick as all get out.
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thenrie 02-24-2013 11:12 PM

I've looked into that a little bit. I could buy a new trailer for what some of those setups cost, and the ones I looked at involve a pretty difficult conversion. I paid $1,000 for the trailer, and no matter what I do to it, I'll not likely get a lot more for it when I move it on to the next owner, so I didn't even consider airbags an option. You are right, though. They would work well, if the trailer was worth the investment.

I've never seen a horse trailer with shock absorbers. I've seen airbag suspension on trucks that have shocks, but not on trailers.

Guess I'll have to look a little more before I decide for good.

tailskidwest 02-25-2013 08:15 AM

I rebuilt an old King LQ trailer a couple of years ago and had some of the same problems. It had 4 inch drop axles and only about 7 inches of ground clearance. Also had very little clearance between the trailer and truck. As I had one bent axle, I replaced both axles with straight axles and mounted them "spring over". It gave me the ground clearance I wanted, but also made for a 21 inch step up into the horse compartment. I went ahead and made a ramp for the horses. Its not so much the step up that's the problem, but rather the step down that bothers the horses. To solve the hitch end issue, I replaced the original coupler with one that had a 9 inch offset .... one like they use for short box trucks. That gave me the additional clearance between truck and trailer. The setup pulls great. You will have additional space between the trailer tires and fender wells changing over to a spring over set up, but mine actually looks better and its much easier to change a flat tire. Keep in mind you want the trailer to set level when loaded in order for it to pull correctly (safely).

thenrie 02-25-2013 08:34 AM

That's what I was looking for! Thanks for that info.

I think my clearance will be ok once I get it leveled out. I don't want to use the shortbed-type hitch, because it would set the hitch either right on top of, or just behind the truck axle, cancelling much of the benefit of having a gooseneck hitch. If I can just get the trailer leveled-out I think I'll be fine.

You're right about that step-down. That's what I'm worried about. I'd rather not have a ramp, but I may need to build one. Guess I'll just try it and see whether they'll unload or not. The box is open and wide enough that a horse can turn around and come out front-ways, so I'll try it first with just one horse in the box and see if I can get her to learn to back out and down that big step. It should only be about 17-18", maybe a little less when loaded, though, since I'll be re-using my drop axles.

tailskidwest 02-25-2013 09:16 AM

Glad I could help out. I'd recommend the "half in-half out" approach the first time you try a horse in the new set up. Nothing worse than a horse in a trailer that you can't get out! On the short bed coupler, I replaced the trailer side coupler with the off set, not the one that goes in the truck bed reciever. That way it doesn't change the loading point on the truck .... just in case you have to go that route. Good luck with the project!

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