Fleetwood Neon SOA Mod Question

#1
I recently picked up this Fleetwood Neon, and among other mods, I am considering an SOA swap. I believe this will give me about an additional 4 to 5 inches of lift to accommodate somewhere around a 30" tire. I am hesitant to go any larger, as I'm not completely comfortable with how stout the stock axle is.

IMG_0572.jpg

The springs are on extended blocks welded to the frame in what looks like a factory lift; I've seen reference to an off-road version of this trailer, and speculate this is what is offered:

IMG_0571.jpg

Here is a closeup of the spring and U-bolts where they are bound to the axle:

IMG_0570.jpg

I know a number of Neon owners have done the SOA conversion, so I am looking for any issues that were encountered; it looks pretty straightforward, and the previous posts didn't detail the process so I have to think it wasn't too challenging.

At this point, before I start moving things around, I'd like to hear any thoughts or about experiences with this mod or anything peculiar I should be aware of.

Any comments about optimal tire sizes and wheel selection would be welcome as well.
 
#3
Thanks for the information - I was hoping it would be pretty starightforward. I also have a Coleman Niagara (in the background on the first picture) that could probably benefit from a conversion as well, but the Neon will definitely be taken into areas the larger camper will never see.

Regarding your lifted Utah, can you give me an idea of what kind of wheel width/backspacing you found to work? Also, the tire size you went with?

Thanks
 

Captm

Adventurer
#4
I went with a tire/wheel package from http://www.etrailer.com/dept-pg-Tires_and_Wheels-sf-Tire_with_Wheel-pc-15_Inch.aspx.
I didnt look for a specific back spacing, just went with what they had. When they arrived I didn't get the tire I ordered but I needed them for a trip so I didn't send them back. Worked out fine though. http://abctrailerparts.com/ is in your neck of the woods, they are very helpful. If I had your trailer I would go with a 3500lb "lift" axel (drop axel in reverse), brakes, OME springs, Rancho shocks,
tires and wheels to match the TV. Then again I've always been good at spending other peoples money!
Cheers
 
Last edited:
#5
I may end up with all that, but I think I will just go with a simple flip of the axle under the springs for the time being :D

I did spend a bit of time looking at what abctrailerparts had. The prices seem pretty good, so an updated axle at some point is not out of the question. Looks like all new updated springs, axle, and hardware would be less than I was imagining. I also saw some aluminum wheels on etrailer that would probably work well.

Thanks for the links - I think maybe you've been researching these things pretty thoroughly.
 

Skeptic

Adventurer
#6
The SOA modification is complete. A short writeup for anyone looking at doing this:

neon-2.JPG
The first step was in getting the trailer off the ground and on jacks – allowing the springs to decompress and to begin disassembly.

neon-4.JPG
One issue encountered right away was a spinning wheel stud; getting the left side wheel off was problematic. In fact, it couldn’t be removed at all, and the subsequent SOA conversion was done with the left side wheel still attached. It was in the way at times, but we were able to work around it until we could attend to it later. In fact, one advantage in keeping the one wheel on was that it allowed the wheel to support the weight of the axle once it was free of the springs, and it made it easy to rotate the axle later.

neon-3.JPG
Next were releasing the U-bolts and the springs from the frame. The front of the spring used an eye, while the rear of the spring floated on it’s bolt. Other than some wrenching and copious amounts of WD-40, there were no issues in removing the bolts. Though the bolts cleaned up nice under a tabletop grinder wheel, their low cost prompted me to just go ahead and replace them with new ones.

neon-5.JPG
Once the springs were removed, the entire axle was dropped and rotated, and the springs reinstalled above the axle. The axle was repositioned under the springs and the index tab on the springs were aligned with the axle perches. The same U-bolts were used to reassemble the parts since by now I resigned myself to the need for a new axle.

neon-1.JPG neon-6.JPG
The additional clearance is obvious in the photographs, but I know it’ll have a completely new look and additional under-axle ground clearance once larger wheels and tires are on. The total lift was about 5 inches, and rough measurements tell me a 31 inch tire would just fit under the fender.

Following the SOA, the following additional observations were noted:


  • The axle is very visible now, and it appears that there might be a slight bend in the tube directly in the center that I hadn't noticed before.
  • The spinning wheel stud will make it necessary to cut off the lug nut.
  • The 4 x 4.5 bolt pattern should probably be replaced by a 5×5 to match those on the Jeeps and the wheel size should be a 17 inch wheel so that used tires from the Jeeps can be rotated to the trailer. My wife's Jeep WK has BFG All-Terrain 245/75-17′s that would be an ideal trailer tire for this configuration since they are nearing end-of-life.
  • The bent axle tube, the desired wheel size, and the lug nut issue can be quickly resolved by replacing the axle.
  • The tongue jack and the stabilizers are at their limits with the SOA and the stock tires; replacements or extensions are needed from this point on.

Other than the issue with the spinning stud, the swap was pretty straightforward. The total time was a couple hours.

The lift for my Jeep WJ is on the way. Though only conferring a slight height gain over the existing spacers, matching the Neon with the SOA and the larger tires may impact the overall height level of the two together. It may be desirable to go back to the spring under axle configuration and move the fenders up some. My concern is that the trailer would be too high, and this would restore some utility to the existing jack and stabilizers and make door entry easier.

The next steps are to order wheels, and rotate the Jeep's tires to those wheels. Once I have those available I can measure the required axle specifications with the appropriate backspacing and get the axle ordered. After that I can start thinking of a tire carrier, storage box .......
 
Last edited:

Skeptic

Adventurer
#8
Neil,

Thanks for the heads up on the camber bend. I wish I had caught that post in my initial searches.

At this point I will replace the axle - probably in the next few weeks, and don't plan on using the trailer until mid-May, so it can remain as is. The axles I saw at the trailer dealer looked like ordinary straight tubes, but they will have to weld on the spring perches to meet my spacing requirements anyway, so I assume they can weld them on top of the tube if that becomes necessary due to limitations on the orientation of the axle.

Regards -
 
#10
I only pulled the trailer locally since I did the SOA swap - maybe a total of only 15-20 miles, while I went around trying to find an appropriate replacement axle. I didn't notice any differences in how it tracked. I would suggest that if you want to do the SOA and want to retain your original axle, that you have the spring perches relocated on top of the tube so that you don't have to rotate the axle and have the axle's built in camber reversed.

I've since replaced the axle and installed the larger tires and wheels:

IMG_0609.jpg

The trailer build is documented here if you're interested: http://www.inlandcrossing.com
Good luck - let me know how you make out.
 
#11
I see this is an older post but does anyone know anyone that converted the Fleetwood neon suspension to the timbren axle less. The kit seems reasonable priced
 
Top