Getting Lexi off the Ground

One of the projects that we really want to get right before we go is having the RV lifted a few inches to enable us to clear the ruts and potholes we will encounter on the road, maybe even get us down a dirt road or two to the beach. Even backing into the driveway at the house had the sewer lever dragging on the concrete. I searched around the internet and came across a suspension place in Escondido that got great reviews from Yelp. I spoke with the guy on the phone and he gave a price that seemed a little high but assured me that with new leaf springs and coils on the front, we would be set for life. I took the motor home in a few weeks later. The owner was out of town but his son was in charge and said they could do the job no problem. My first clue should have been the way they just wrote your name on a notepad and said we’ll call you later. 20150821_084959He also got excited when I mentioned fabricating the bull bar for the front with a platform for a winch. He got right on it and I left for work. Don’t believe everything you read on Yelp.

Friday, I went back to pick the van up and the bar had been sent off to get painted (I thought powder coated, but it came back gloss black). I drove it home and put it back in its place in the driveway and measured things up. The rear was up 2″ but the front was only maybe 5/8″ higher. We tried backing it in, but it still rubbed the driveway. Our driveway is not seep by any stretch. Needless to say, I was bumming a bit. Called the shop and the guy said it had been raised more than the 1/2″ I had measured and got a little defensive. I brought it back and told them that I needed it to be a little higher for what we are doing. He said he wanted us to be happy and that they would get a little more lift. 20150821_085202They called later and said that those were the biggest coils made that would fit the Chevy van chassis. His dad had returned and he set about fabricating spacers for the front. He also added blocks to the back to lift the rear more.

When I came to pick it up, the RV was definitely up there, probably 4″” all around. The profile looks pretty cool. The bar had also been installed on the front. It looked o.k. A little lower on one side but not that you’d notice without looking closely but the winch is tight up against the grill. The wiring was all run to the front as there is no room to set it up on the back side where it would normally go.20150923_165330 I bought a cover but it won’t squeeze behind the winch as it is touching the grill. The winch will work but will be exposed to the elements. This fix cost an extra boatload of money. I was bummed but wanted to get out of there and just get the rig home. It was late and they closing up for the day.

As I pulled onto the highway I noticed a whining sound every time I started out from a stop. It was coming from mid way back in the RV. The motor home also felt a little spongy on the corners. I rolled on home, but I’m really concerned with way the thing handles. 20150923_165237I took the RV back the next day and they immediately knew what the sound was. The carrier bearing was at too steep of an angle. I’m sure they knew that handing it back, but didn’t let on. They supposedly drove it to get aligned. You couldn’t miss the vibrations. It would take a lot of time to fabricate spacers to drop the drive shaft, he tells me. I’m already this far into it, what else is there to do? We also decided to add new Bilstein shocks to the rear hoping to give the ride some stability.

I came back a few days later and drove away another $670 poorer and feeling pretty well had. The ride still isn’t right, but no way am I going to go back and drop any more $ at their shop. 20150923_165306Hard lesson learned. Go with a professional shop and not with the “bros” that want to give you a deal if you pay cash. I have a feeling the soft rear end is due to the aluminum brick they stuffed in there to get the extra lift  in the rear rather than going the extra length and adding in another spring.

As it stands, more work is going to have to be done before I’m comfortable driving this thing south of the border. Will keep you posted on what’s next. A week later I took the motorhome to another suspension shop and they looked things over and the owner took it for a drive. He said the work was actually o.k. A few things could have been done better but it was tight. I’ve been driving it and getting used to the new feel and it is going to work out o.k. The extra height definitely changed the overall ride, but it is nice to able to go over ruts and dips without bottoming out on the sewer pipe.

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