Our recent attendance at the Truck Camper Adventure Rally brought home to us the need to take another look at our suspension modifications. That look confirmed that our current system no longer worked…because it was no longer there! Yep, the Timbren on our right side was gone. Simply missing.
Suspension modifications are part of the normal preparation for hauling the weight of truck campers. When we first began looking for a truck and truck camper, we sure learned a lot. Everyone knows that trucks can tow a lot of weight, but we didn’t fully realize the difference in towing capacity vs. hauling within the truck bed. So we had a crash course in understanding gross vehicle weight rating or payload capacity. Our truck camper weighs almost 5,000 pounds when fully loaded with us, our belongings and a full water tank. We needed a truck with a high enough payload capacity to be able to haul the camper.
When we bought our 2005 Dodge Ram 3500, 4×4, 5.9 liter, one ton dual rear wheel truck, we didn’t know the first thing about suspension modifications for trucks hauling slide-in truck campers. We still don’t know a whole ton, but we’re learning. Let’s chat about our current suspension system and about the two additional options we’re debating adding.
If you’re more inclined to watch a video about this very interesting topic (I know, I know) then jump on over to our YouTube channel. There’s a bit more cussing over there, but it’s generally bleeped out. 🙂
Timbren Suspension Enhancement System
We have the Timbren SES Kit on our truck. When we bought our Arctic Fox 990 (named Cupcake!) in 2020, Boardman RV suggested Timbrens. So we went with them. And that is honestly all the homework we did at the time. We knew nothing about truck ownership, much less about trucks carrying a sh*t ton of weight in their beds. The dealership sells a lot of truck campers and they know what they’re talking about. That seemed good enough for us!
Timbrens are progressive hollow springs made from 100-percent natural rubber. Their specific design keeps your truck level. they help reduce roll and sway, as well. For me, they don’t look like any springs or shock absorbers that I’d seen in the past. They’re fairly big pieces of hard rubber that smash way down once the camper is loaded on the truck.
Our failed Timbren happened because the bolt attaching it to the metal piece sheered away. The Timbren then literally flew off of our truck, probably while driving on a bumpy, gravel road. It’s surprising that we didn’t hear or feel it happen at the time, but we didn’t. The bolt on the left side of the truck also showed signs of wear.
The installers for the new set of Timbrens think our suspension system stays under the heavy load of Cupcake, since we rarely remove her. This constant load causes more wear and tear to our entire vehicle but especially to the suspension. In April, not quite two years after the original purchase, we replaced both Timbrens. Well, technically the shop replaced them, but Steve is confident that with the right tools he could do it himself in the future. We’re once again enjoying a smooth and even ride. And…we’ve added checking the bolts to our regular maintenance schedule.
SuperSprings Suspension Modifications
Our friend, Vinnie told us about the SuperSprings company. He’s used them on his current and last truck camper set ups. We met Vinnie at the Truck Camper Rally and are planning to head up to his place in Omak, Washington in August. I’m sure looking forward to it! Another friend, Carlos, is heading up at the same time, so we’ll have our own mini-rally.
SuperSprings are steel helper springs that easily bolt on to the existing leaf spring. This combinations helps eliminate rear-end sag, while stabilizing sway & body roll. So we’re looking at getting either this or the Hellwig helper spring to put on the right side of our truck. Some truck owners swear that adding a helper spring can raise the gross vehicle weight. I’m not sure that I believe it, but losing weight in our camper while adding a helper spring should still improve our ride.
The right side of our camper is heaviest because it houses our slide-out, refrigerator and generator. With that much extra weight on the right side, we think that adding a helper spring will lift and even out that side. Maybe it’ll prolong the life of our Timbren? For sure it’ll help with any future truck camper listing.
Hellwig Suspension Products
The other thing we’ve talked about adding to our suspension system is a Hellwig Sway Bar. An anti-roll bar or “sway bar” helps your truck resist its natural tendency to pitch from side to side during cornering. With our truck camper loaded, we feel the “sway” when turning a tight corner, when going over speed bumps or down rough gravel backroads. The truck lurches a little from side to side before stabilizing itself.
A sway bar is a wide, U-shaped bar that always wants to remain parallel. It works because it is a torsional spring that keeps its shape by springing back into place whenever it gets twisted. So if one end pulls up, the secured opposite end pulls the body’s frame back down. Then as you drive, the bar is constantly adjusting by pulling the higher side back down to level the ride. Thus the driver experiences increased cornering ability and an overall smoother ride.
What Suspension Modification is Right for You?
While, I’ve listed the suspension modification options that we have or are considering, it doesn’t mean one of these is necessarily best for your situation. Some questions to ask are whether or not you leave your truck camper on your truck constantly? Or do you only use it for a short vacations throughout the year? When the camper is unloaded, is your truck a daily driver? Your truck added to the size and weight of your truck camper determine the best solution for you.
Hopefully our experience and thought processes give you some ideas to check out when determining you own next steps! For us, Timbrens are our current solution. And we’re happy with them. But who knows what the future brings? We’re always looking for the smoothest, safest ride.