Anyone who has an Avion (or Airstream for that matter) knows that the clearance underneath these silver babies is less than optimal and can really cause issues especially trying to do boondocking or dispersed camping-which is something we plan to do a lot of once we are full timing starting in 2023. We found in our 28′ we had issues, but it was even more pronounced in our 32′ since our tail end extends that much further back from the tire axels.
At times we were even limited as to what gas stations, parking lots or even campsites because of the “dip” from street to lot/site. NO MORE!
After lengthy research, discussion with people who have installed it and with Technicians at MORryde and then more research we decided to take the big plunge and have the MORryde Independent Suspension System AND Kodiak (7K lb) hydraulic disc brakes installed on our 1987, 32S model Avion. This decision is not for the faint hearted and a huge investment (just over $7K total for axels/suspension/Kodiak Disc brakes as of this post in Fall 2021) and this does not include the new 8 Lug tires and rims we needed to get for the hydraulic brake install we wanted.
Anyone who has the original MORryde suspensions on their Avion’s (late 60s into late 70s) knows that the center rubber sheer spring that hangs down (encased in steel) in between your tandem tires takes a ton of the impact from road travel and it is certainly touted as one of the best suspension systems that Avion installed back in the day and any travel trailer can have. We loved it on our ’73 and missed it once we started traveling with our ’87. This new version from MORryde, called their “I.S.” (Independent Suspension) system basically replicates that type of system from the older Avion’s WITH ONE HUGE DIFFERENCE!
We now have that 70’s type of MORryde Rubber Sheer Spring on EACH OF OUR TIRES! The results is a super smooth ride, less wear and tear on the trailer frame–and with new axels and all these new components there is piece of mind that we will not likely have problems with axel failure/breakage and have a hard time trying to find the correct old “split axels- the Dexter Adjust-a-ride” we did have.
If you think about your suspension like we do, it is the foundation of your “house”. It needs to be strong, in good working order and built to last. Our Avion is our home (full time starting in 17 months, 3 days, 2 hours, 29 seconds but who is counting right??) and we want a strong foundation for the tens of thousands of miles we plan to do each year with her over some pretty challenging terrains.
For the sake of brevity, we will list PRO’s and CON’s of our experience, the system and the end results. In the end, would we do it again? yes, but read on!!
PRO’s to our process-products-end result:
- Increased our ground clearance from 8.5″ (at low point of old axels) to over 15″. No more worries about getting off road, into gas stations or parking lots. Our rear side frame and front tongue frame sit at right around 26″. NO more worrying about dips into parking lots from the street or uphill grades from street.
- The MORryde website has excellent information and videos. And phone calls in advance to their tech folks were very helpful in our decision making to go with the IS versus the 3000 or 4000 systems. Your Avion may benefit from the other systems and worth inquiring about!
- The Kodiak Hydraulic Disc brakes are game changers! Wow! what stopping power and peace of mind. So different than electric brakes! Makes braking of the trailer feel totally “as one” with our tow vehicle. No more grabbing, no more concerns on long down or uphill travels. These are beefy! Just the new brake system alone was worth the install!
- All new axels, rotors and all brake components so less chance of failure or need to hunt down vintage parts to fit/work. We like having a new, rocksteady foundation under our trailer.
- During install process we were able to examine the trailer frame since belly pan was removed (we had not done that prior) to see it was in excellent condition- even our Tech was super impressed with quality and condition of this 34 yr old frame!
- MORryde allows you to park the night before your appointment in their lot outside garage, then once install commences you are allowed back onto your “elevated rig” after the day shift is done. This saves on hotel costs– our install took 2.5 days.
- The MORryde Service center staff are very good. The Tech and Service Manager listened to our questions, were responsive to our concerns and talked us through the process as it was happening in real time. (BTW we were the first vintage trailer to get an IS install) They also gave us a tour of the entire facility so we could see these IS systems being fabricated on site.
- We knew what our costs would be before they started and this was all reviewed with us in advance. There was no type of upselling or gimmicks. The products stand on their own and we really feel their shop labor rates were very fair.
- The Tech you get is assigned to your rig from start to finish and are highly skilled and trained. They are very professional, the shop is clean, well managed and everyone is super friendly. (well you are spending a bundle too!)
- The waiting area during the day is stocked with goodies, drinks, etc. and very comfortable with overstuffed sofas and with WIFI and rest rooms. You can also order and get a complimentary lunch from several area restaurants who delivers to the MORryde office. No charge to you- we did Panera both days.
- To their credit, when an issue was relayed from us back to MORryde they made good on sending out new parts at their cost and covered the labor costs in a refund to us to have this correction done locally at a shop we found near to us. Kudos out to Adirondack Truck of Queensbury!
CON’s to our process-product and end result
- We did not know that the rig was going to be lifted SO high. Originally we were told up by 4-6″ and we were fine with that. Then as install progressed we were told it changed to 7-8″. We now have a full 11.5″ from top of our tire to top inside of wheel well. Looks odd because all of us are used to seeing our low lying, stealth to the ground rigs. To counter this somewhat we have purchased Fender Flares (aftermarket bought at Bontragers near Elkhart) to install by riveting on the exterior of the well lip to help mitigate the space visually. We will temporarily remove the track you see below that we riveted on to slide our Zipdee Tire Shades into, then will rivet the fender flares on using the same rivet holes and refasten the tire shade track over top of this once again. Due to the curvature of the wheel well opening (at approx. 1 pm and 11 pm locations) we are going to have to apply small sheets of anodized alluminum from behind to fill in those gaps. Not an ideal fix, but its the best we have come up with. If you have another idea please let us know!
- Our frame, (measured at front and rear frame on tail before it rises upward) now sits at 26″ above the ground. Before this install it was approximately 18″. This height has resulted in perhaps a lessening of the aerodynamic nature of the Avion design. However on our trips since we have not encountered any issues with this even on highways with winds and Semi trucks zooming by- but we also use a Hensley hitch which certainly is a big help and have a high top cap on our pick up which deflects wind.
- No pre install weigh in like video’s said they would do. When we watched the MORryde videos during our decision making process we really liked the fact that part of the process included weighing your rig so that the correct sheer springs weight range would be installed. We know our trailer is street side heavy due to Corian countertops and all appliance on that side. We had hoped this weighing step and install to account for this would solve any undo stress on one side of the axels/tires. Needless to say when we arrived we were told they no longer do that weighing part of the process. We were not happy with that explaining again we knew we were heavier on one side and in the end (keep reading full story) it would have saved a lot of angst as a result.
- We were not made aware that our specific I.S. axels were going to be wider than our original ones. We were told this is due to the necessary deflection needed for the tires to toe out or in independently we now had our tires extending out about 2.5-3″ outside of the wheel well! We question the need for this still. Was it really because this is the standard length for modern RV’s and what their shop is set up to make? This was a total surprise to us and not a happy one . We did not realize it until the entire install was complete. It really changed the look of the trailer profile. Hence another reason to purchase the aftermarket tandem aluminum fender flares at about $75 each. We have added another project to our list to rivet these in place after removing our tire shade track and replacing it over top the fender flares (a project just completed). ** The tires extending past our sidewall profile also can mean more damage should a tire fail, and certainly without the fender flare, way more road grime, water from wet roads, mud etc. spewing onto our vintage aluminum skin trailer body.
- “Houston we have a problem!” On our trip back to upstate NY (Lake George area) from Elkhart, IN- this is a 780 mile trip of all highways we found at our pit stops that some of our interior decor, drawers, gear, and equipment that NEVER had bounced around or shifted before was now doing just that! Wait a minute!!!!!!
- We were supposed to have a smoother ride, not a bumpier one! We also noticed porpoising (rocking nose down to nose up) of our trailer when hitting even slight road seam bumps that we had not seen before. Houston!!???? another issue!
- Not all communications via email were responded to in what we feel was a timely manner by MORryde staff, especially with our issue after install was brought to their attention. We do recognize that Covid-19 certainly had a part in this as did some staffing changes at MORryde. We know everyone is busy but waiting weeks for a reply is not appropriate in this tech age. Once a reply was gotten, we were instructed what measurements we needed to do and send to them. With this information, MorRyde determined that indeed the WRONG SHEER SPRINGS had been installed *Yup, that weight thing again”- Avion’s are heavy!!-they are not the cardboard box trailers produced today. Even though we had given them our weight parameters…someone obviously did not compute this correctly from the get go. So what was happening was that the #2 Sheer springs originally put on at the shop were insufficient to carry our weight and were causing the axels to bottom out when hitting even mild to medium bumps in the roadways-trashing our trailer inside and pounding on our frame unnecessarily on that first trip.
- Sheer Spring REDO! With new #3 sheer springs in hand, you can see the big difference in size! See photo below. We had to take another day off from work and had a local shop (Adirondack Truck on Big Boom Rd, Queensbury- who were great!) take out the springs from our install and replace with these beefier ones. We are very happy to report a 2.5 hr trip two days later on our next camping adventure proved we had no more jostling, drawers were shut, gear not strewn about–so issue appears to be solved and the ride is smooth as we had hoped for and been promised. Needless to say, the issue we had caused us undo stress wondering what on earth we spent all this money for? Did we ruin the quintessential look of our Avion only to have a bumpier ride? In the end…the ride is better, the clearance is better and we have the peace of mind of a very strong foundation (suspension) and a new braking system second to none!
Final thoughts read below…..
For those who wish to see some of the quick video footage we took during the install process here you go!
Welding of new brackets to support axels. Video link
New axels with highlight on the Kodiak Disc Brake system. Video Link
First axel being lined up for install. Video link
Our Tech, Matt doing the welding of first axel onto frame. Video link
Closer look at streetside axels after being welded to frame. Video link
Balancing and aligning our new tires on axels-Hunter System. Video link
In summary...it was a stressful project from start to finish. We were under the gun to have our house batteries relocated before we left for Elkhart, then a 780 mile trip out there. We did not get our Avion into the shop until 2pm on first day of appointment, ended up being there 2.5 days and missed two days with fellow Avioners at our SAF rally. We were shocked by the resulting height of the trailer and over extended tires past our sidewalls. AND, the saga did not stop and we had to have our sheer springs replaced within a month due to a size miscalculation on their part of which they did send us the correct replacements and covered labor. But all is well now and we are happy!
In the end…we have a super rugged, solid foundation to our home and now we have an AVION OVERLANDER® rig now….and that is the beginning of a new story!
PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG SO …You can stay tuned so you can see the debut of a new separate off grid adventure blog from us with a separate, additional URL at AvionOverlander.com that will only focus on off-grid, off road- boondock and dispersed camping adventures, tips and more—coming in 2023 when we hit the road full time and do a lot of boondocking and off road/off grid adventures! (not to worry thePewterPalace.com will not be going away and will continue to be the repository for our campground reviews, regular trips, projects, tips and more!)
As always, if you have any questions, want more measurements, etc. please do not hesitate to reach out to us at any time via direct email to PewterPalace87@gmail.com!
Till we meet on the road or around the campfire!