Bushtec A arm bushings


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M61A1MECH
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Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by M61A1MECH » Tue Sep 04, 2018 5:43 am



Has anyone else had an issue with the bushings in side the A arms disintegrating?
My Bushtec Roadstar trailer with about 20,000 miles on her started making clunking noises as we were traveling from Florida to Knoxville for Wing Ding. Initially I passed it off as noise from the vertical receiver, because I could not find any thing wrong with the trailer suspension. On the way home I grabbed the left tire and it moved in and out and made some clunking noises. Come to find out after a bit of internet research that there is what Bushtec calls an axle rod down the center of the A arm tube that runs fore and aft, that rod is welded to the front and rear frame sections and is supposed to be inside a bushing that is pressed into the ID of the A arm tube. Well my left bushings were completely gone.

We were able to complete our journey home with out incident, I am now in the process of replacing the axle rods and bushings on both sides. This involves cutting the ends off the rods and grinding down the welds that hold them to the frame so you can punch the rods out. I am waiting on parts and working on an idea for an alternate means to retain the axle rod to make it easier to service the bushings in the future. More on that later if it all works out swimmingly.

Underside of trailer
Underside of trailer


Rear of the A arms
Rear of the A arms


Front of the A arms
Front of the A arms


Weld ground off exposing the rod end
Weld ground off exposing the rod end

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Remains of the right side bushings
Remains of the right side bushings



Steve K
Edgewater, FL

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Re: Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by themainviking » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:13 am

Perhaps some grease zerks in the A arms, so the bushings do not wear like that would help. I just got done rebuilding the suspension on a 34 foot toy hauler with under spec'd parts. I increased the size and thickness of all steel strapping, and put greasable shafts with metal bushings in all hangers. (the trailer came with plastic bushings and non greasable shafts.) I dunno about companies that save a hundred bucks and cause a safety issue. This 34 foot trailer was blowing tires left right and center due to the suspension moving around with a lot of slop. It did not have more than 10K miles on it either. The hanger straps were 1/4 inch thick, and all the holes were elongated from the sloppiness of the system. Grease helps to prevent all this from going on. Half inch hanger straps take care of the rest. The whole repair kit's total cost was $156. The company who made the trailer could have probably costed it at about $80 or less. Just to save this amount on a $50K trailer seems to me to be really chintzy.

Sorry..... got a bit off track.
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M61A1MECH
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Re: Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by M61A1MECH » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:24 am

Thanks, grease fittings came to mind also, but the tube used for the A arm is pretty thin walled, I am not sure there enough wall thickness there to get a proper set of treads to hold the fitting, and then because it is just a 2 foot long hollow tube there is no way to be sure the grease going where you need it.
I am still pondering how to service after the fact with out having to do a complete tear down each time. I am going to install oil impregnated bronze marine grade bushings on the rebuild and lube everything as it goes together, it is just down the road and a few rainstorms later I am a bit concerned about.
Steve K
Edgewater, FL

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Re: Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by WingAdmin » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:27 am

M61A1MECH wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:24 am
Thanks, grease fittings came to mind also, but the tube used for the A arm is pretty thin walled, I am not sure there enough wall thickness there to get a proper set of treads to hold the fitting, and then because it is just a 2 foot long hollow tube there is no way to be sure the grease going where you need it.
I am still pondering how to service after the fact with out having to do a complete tear down each time. I am going to install oil impregnated bronze marine grade bushings on the rebuild and lube everything as it goes together, it is just down the road and a few rainstorms later I am a bit concerned about.
If you have a welder, drill a hole on the tube, then position a nut over the hole and weld the nut in place. Then you can thread the grease fitting into the nut.

And...I suppose if you pump enough grease in there, it's going to get to where it needs to go. :)

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Re: Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by M61A1MECH » Tue Sep 04, 2018 9:32 am

Yeah that would work, but alas no welder and it would take a lot grease to fill up the tube so I could be sure the grease was going to the bearings. The sway bar on the trailer is metal on metal and Bushtec suggests that you lube those 6 points with Superlube liquid every few thousand miles or before each trip, I am thinking there may be enough space between the bushing and the frame to sneak the same lube in there when I service the trailer be the next trip.
Steve K
Edgewater, FL

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Re: Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by MikeB » Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:26 am

Have you tried contacting Bushtec yet? They may have a polyurethane bushing upgrade.

And I find it hard to believe that you have to cut and re-weld something just to replace the bushings. Doesn't the crossmember, either for or aft, unbolt from the trailer for removal of the A-Arms? The designers made a huge mistake it cutting and welding is necessary for bushing replacement.
MikeB
Tacoma, WA, USA

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Re: Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by M61A1MECH » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:14 am

MikeB wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:26 am
Have you tried contacting Bushtec yet? They may have a polyurethane bushing upgrade.

And I find it hard to believe that you have to cut and re-weld something just to replace the bushings. Doesn't the crossmember, either for or aft, unbolt from the trailer for removal of the A-Arms? The designers made a huge mistake it cutting and welding is necessary for bushing replacement.
Yes the first thing I did was to get on their help line on the website, as it was a holiday weekend I knew no one would answer the phone. I have just replied to Andrew Preston in regards to my help request.

There is no getting the bushings out with out cutting the welded ends off. I have a plan for what I hope is a design improvement that will allow for much easier servicing of the bushings. Once I get it all worked out and prove to my self it is a sound design I will publish a repair procedure.
Steve K
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Re: Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by MikeB » Tue Sep 04, 2018 12:31 pm

M61A1MECH wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:14 am
MikeB wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:26 am
Have you tried contacting Bushtec yet? They may have a polyurethane bushing upgrade.

And I find it hard to believe that you have to cut and re-weld something just to replace the bushings. Doesn't the crossmember, either for or aft, unbolt from the trailer for removal of the A-Arms? The designers made a huge mistake it cutting and welding is necessary for bushing replacement.
Yes the first thing I did was to get on their help line on the website, as it was a holiday weekend I knew no one would answer the phone. I have just replied to Andrew Preston in regards to my help request.

There is no getting the bushings out with out cutting the welded ends off. I have a plan for what I hope is a design improvement that will allow for much easier servicing of the bushings. Once I get it all worked out and prove to my self it is a sound design I will publish a repair procedure.
I wonder if that is a design flaw. What did Andrew Preston have to say about the procedure to replace the bushings? What are the bushings made of?
MikeB
Tacoma, WA, USA

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Re: Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by M61A1MECH » Tue Sep 04, 2018 12:40 pm

Mike,
The replacement is straight forward, cut off the ends, drive out the axle rods, remove any bits of the old bushings, install new bushings and rods, shim as needed to get a snug but not tight fit, weld the rod ends to the angle support.

The pivot bushings are a urethane material impregnated with graphite, he claims they do not see this type of failure on trailers the age of mine (20 years old) and the mileage I have on it (21,000 miles). Andrew suspected some sort of chemical compatibility or excessive heat issue caused the bearings to fail.

I did ask him if the pivot bushings were compatible with the super lube they recommend for4 the sway bat lube points, I may have mistakenly lubed the pivot bearings with the super lube many years ago. no answer on that question yet.
Steve K
Edgewater, FL

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Re: Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by M61A1MECH » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:18 pm

Just a quick update on my progress.
I decided to order the chassis rods from Bushtec, decided the all thread would not give me the best surface for the bushings/bearings to reside on, and I found I could easily thread the ends of the chassis rods, so I ordered a special pair from Bushtec that are 1 inch longer than stock, that will give me plenty of length to put double nuts on the ends to ensure the nuts stay in place, along with some Loctite and lock washers, they should be secure. The new marine grade bronze bushings are installed, I actually had to press them into position using some long furniture clamps I have, they are not coming out any time soon. The rods are due in on Saturday, so by Sunday I should be able to make a test run and report more, so more info and photos soon I hope.
Steve K
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Re: Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by MikeB » Fri Sep 07, 2018 3:44 pm

M61A1MECH wrote:
Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:18 pm
Just a quick update on my progress.
I decided to order the chassis rods from Bushtec, decided the all thread would not give me the best surface for the bushings/bearings to reside on, and I found I could easily thread the ends of the chassis rods, so I ordered a special pair from Bushtec that are 1 inch longer than stock, that will give me plenty of length to put double nuts on the ends to ensure the nuts stay in place, along with some Loctite and lock washers, they should be secure. The new marine grade bronze bushings are installed, I actually had to press them into position using some long furniture clamps I have, they are not coming out any time soon. The rods are due in on Saturday, so by Sunday I should be able to make a test run and report more, so more info and photos soon I hope.
The chassis rods may not be anything more than mild steel rod. You are right, I believe the all-thread would have just eaten up the bushings.
I understand the system a little better after looking closely at the pictures you provided.

Bushtec put it all together thinking that it would not have to come apart again. But if necessary, it would not be a difficult task to disassemble and replace parts for someone with an angle grinder and welding skills.

Threading the rod ends should work for you. Maybe make a pair of rods from some mild steel rods and keep them as spares. That should guarantee you will never need them again.Maybe keep an extra set of bushings on hand as well for double insurance.

Nylock nuts and Red Loctite come to mind as a fastening method.
MikeB
Tacoma, WA, USA

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Re: Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by M61A1MECH » Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:54 pm

Well the repair/re-build is complete, took it out for about 60 mile ride, over rough roads and high speed interstate, so far no issues and the jam nuts are staying put, will monitor those on upcoming trips and keep a set of spares with me just in case. Pics of completed assembly are below, once I have enough miles on this set up to be confident, I will publish a short on how I did it. If I had to do it again, I would order or make the chassis rods at least 1/2" longer (1.5" over stock length) just to get a few more threads.
Nuts are Loktited to the chassis rod and there is a heavy split lock washer between the two nuts, just enough room between the frame member and A-Arm bushings to allow the nylon spacer room to rotate but not move fore and aft ,also not so tight that it is jammed up, still allows allow the A-Arm bushing to rotate on the chassis rod.
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Steve K
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Re: Bushtec A arm bushings

Post by themainviking » Sun Sep 09, 2018 3:08 pm

Good looking rebuild. You did not need any suggestions from our peanut gallery, :lol: .


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