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Old 07-18-2019, 05:45 PM   #1
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T-1950 entry step

I did the axle flip on my '99 T-1950, and am tickled pink with how it turned out. The gain in ground clearance lets me take it places I wouldn't have dreamed of before, and I haven't noted any change in towing characteristics.

But there's a side effect I didn't anticipate. At 6' tall, 69 and still actively doing construction work, I don't really notice the extra height of the entry step. But my wife, who is shorter and older (though chronologically younger) and small grandkids could use an extra step.

I'd prefer to change the single step to a double, rather than carry a "stool".

A quick reconnoiter of Amazon comes up with nothing that I could simply bolt on as a like-for-like replacement. I can do modifications if need be, but thought I'd toss it out here to see if anyone knows of a supplier who's likely to stock such a critter. I'd druther be campin' than crankin'.
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Old 07-18-2019, 05:56 PM   #2
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Old 07-19-2019, 01:05 PM   #3
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Yes, I have not heard anyone yet complain about the extra ground clearance after doing the axle flip. But the step... that can be an issue.

Here are some thoughts. On our prior T2499 I made a step, a larger one and mega times more stable being on. It stored on the front of the camper. See here for a few pics of it. I may have more pics around if needed.
Replacing entrance steps ?

I used 4, adjustable conveyor feet with swivel pads on the bottom which allowed me to adjust and be stable on any campsite. The feet were throw aways from work. I had all the metal etc. parts laying around so this didn't cost me anything. And back when I was working, making a camper mod was very therapeutic. Still is.

Now to your attached step. That is going to be a project too. The one you have now I'm sure has part of it welded on. A 4 1/2" grinder with a cut off wheel can fix that, but your not going to find a simple unbolt and bolt on. BUT since you have a supply of tools and know how to go with them, this "might" work. Bolting can work in place of welding, but check back with where and how you are going to drill the frame. Some areas are OK, and some you do not want to drill there.

Sunline used a lot of Hickory Springs steps over the years. So I went looking at their site and found this one that may have some level of hope of fitting your camper.

A 7" rise one
https://www.hickoryrvsteps.com/extru...minum-7-double

A 9" rise one
https://www.hickoryrvsteps.com/extru...minum-9-double

They also now have curved radius ones. Seems Etrailer sells them. This one might be an option. They have other HS steps too.
https://www.etrailer.com/RV-and-Camp...20Perf%20-%202

You are going to have to measure and fiddle with it, but they have hope to maybe fit.

Another heads up, I pointed you to the Hickory Springs steps as in the past they have made stable ones. And the way they are made, the step fold out with toggle links on the side. Not slide out in a slot that binds and fights you on the way out and in. The toggle link type cost more but they work so much better. There is now a lot of junk RV steps out there. They twist, wiggle, bow, and fail. Watch what brand you get. Just wander around in an RV dealer looking at and stepping on what brands they have.

Another heads up. You are going from a 1 step unit to a 2 step unit. When you create the mount I suggest you add a support from the bottom of the frame to the step housing from day one. The cantilevered setup of the step housing can create a lot of lever force with a 200# or more guy on the end of 2 step unit. Sunline added that extra bracing on the 3 step units and it makes a major difference. The top was solid and the bottom tie member made all the difference. See here my prior 3 step HS step. This is the type of mount you want to create in principal at the top and bottom.

Sunline Entry Step 2 on Flickr

Sunline Entry Step on Flickr

Now how it mounts. There are outriggers on the frame at the top. One on each side. In this case they are 1/16" thk plates formed into an angle shape about 3 1/2" to 4" wide (tall) with a top 1 1/2" angle leg laying flat welded to the frame and then bolted up into the flooring. They are frame outriggers to help hold the walls up. The Hickory Springs (HS) step housing is then welded to the outriggers.
Strair frame inside rear on Flickr

On the bottom of the frame, a small 10 gage 1 x 1 angle iron brace welded from the frame to the step housing to take all that wiggle out.
Stair frame bottom side on Flickr

I have since replaced them on the main entry with a 4 step Torklift step unit to get rid of the separate 4th step we often need. Torklift GlowStep Revolution Installtion

Here is what I'm telling/showing you to watch out for. My neighbor brought me his Gulfstream Kingsport camper over to fix a few things. One item was his steps. The were bent downhill about 30 degrees. I looked how they mounted them and just shook my head... I used my 36" crow bar to straighten out the top sheet metal mount from the frame. It collapsed (buckled) right where it attaches to the frame in the flat metal at the top and that was the entire mount.

I then added angle iron brackets on both sides at the bottom of the frame to take out the diving board wiggle. Ideally the entire top mount needed to come off and be redone but the angle brackets got him what he needed. This camper model is a starter camper from Gulfstream. It is not in the league of a Sunline, but I'm showing you this so you try and not get it setup like this. Or a step unit like this.

These are after it was corrected
Kingsport step on Flickr

Kingsport step 2 on Flickr

Kingsport step 1 on Flickr

Hope this helps and keep us updated on how this comes out. We have many members in the same situation. I may even add it if yours comes out good on Project camper no 2. It has an axle flip and the high up step.

John
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Old 07-19-2019, 02:20 PM   #4
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Does your T1950 step mount look like this? This is on my 2004 T1950. If so, it looks like you may have 2 frame outriggers already to start with. Now, is the spacing right for a new step??

Step out on Flickr

T1950 step inside 2 on Flickr

T1950 step inside on Flickr

T1950 step outside on Flickr
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Old 07-19-2019, 05:21 PM   #5
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Incredibly helpful as always John, thank you.

You're correct, of course--the step assembly is indeed welded on. Near as I can tell from the pics, it's identical to your '04 T-1950. The bolts in the outriggers fooled me with the quick glance I took the other day.

Looks to me like the 7" rise Hickory Springs steps you linked to will fill the bill with a bit of rigging.



My step brackets are 25" wide, the Hickory Springs are 25.5". If I remove the existing brackets, I can add a 1/4" shim plate to the outside of each outrigger, remove the turned-in "L" leg at the top of the new brackets, and weld or bolt them into place.

The new brackets will be roughly twice as tall as what I have now, and extend below the frame. If I find that I need to address "diving board wiggle", I can mount stiffeners between the bottom of those brackets and the frame.

Sound like a Plan?
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Old 07-19-2019, 07:53 PM   #6
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H'mm, OK, Yes I 100% agree.

The concept of your plan sounds good. Basically if I got it right, after you get the old steps out/off which are mounted on the "inside" of the outriggers, that preps the old setup to accept the new. It might be easier to cut the old ones on the angle to match the gusset part of the outrigger. Again I do not recall where the weld is, so do as needed. But the lower angle part of the gusset shape is more out in the open to get to.

Then you trim off the formed L and cross member on the top Hickory Springs unit. That amount of cutting is all out on the open. Makes it a lot easier.

Then mount the HS unit on the "outside" of the existing outriggers. Shim as needed to close up the gap between the two. I can see that bolted on with good sized high grade bolts working OK. 3/8 to 1/2". at least 2 per side.

I would plan out of the gate to add the lower frame tie in point. The lever effect on that unit will be considerable. If you mitigate it on day one, then you know you will not have to deal with it.

It is amazing what forces are going on with that step hanging way out off the frame. Sunline learned long ago to mount them rigid. Even when the floor rots out, the step still holds.

Oh, heads up in case you did not think of it, put a piece of sheet metal etc clamped up to the bottom of black waterproof membrane when grinding or welding as a spark/weld flash shield. It is lot easier than dealing with the burn through after the fact.

Please post how this comes out. I'm thinking now I will do this on my T2475 when the time comes.

Thanks

John
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Old 07-19-2019, 08:39 PM   #7
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I truly appreciate the confirmation of my thinking. I'll definitely document the process if/when I get to it. Not sure if it will be this season or next--I'm furiously busy with work, and have yet to finish my refurbishing of the roof, which obviously takes priority.

80% done with re-caulking, and then there's the wait for outgassing before recoating the rubber. While of course there's no reason for that process to affect step replacement, there's only so much spare time available.
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Old 07-19-2019, 10:17 PM   #8
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Great!

And understand about being busy and priorities. Priorities change daily, sometimes hourly...

Always need to be thinking several project ahead. There never seems to be enough camper time.
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Old 07-25-2019, 11:40 AM   #9
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I have the T1850 and wanted to flip the axle for more height, but the mechanic I took it to said it would raise the camper 10" as it's a leaf spring axle. Thoughts?
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Old 07-25-2019, 05:11 PM   #10
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10" sounds like a lot. My T-1950 has leaf springs, and I didn't gain nearly that much.

Easy enough to confirm. Add the axle diameter to the total thickness of the leaf springs, and the sum is what you'll gain.
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Old 07-25-2019, 09:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
I’ll definitely document the process if/when I get to it.
Please do. We flipped the axles on our 2363 a few years back. Husband being 6’2” has no problems with the added height; while it’s still manageable for me, after a few days going in and out, my hip gets to hurting. This past weekend we were at the Ive’s Run M-n-G and our site was not level, I had to use our toolkit, which is also (conveniently) a stepstool, to get to the single step. We haven’t really researched a two-step entry so we’ll be interested in what you come up with.
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Old 07-25-2019, 11:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photokit View Post
I have the T1850 and wanted to flip the axle for more height, but the mechanic I took it to said it would raise the camper 10" as it's a leaf spring axle. Thoughts?
Hi Kit,

Your mechanic is not familiar with the camper generic term of "axle flip" which is literally an axle/over under move and not a real flip. It just somehow got nicknamed an axle flip.

He may have taken your words literally. Meaning, your underslung axle which hangs down a lot, if he flipped it over 180 degrees to a overslung axle, that could be about 10" lift. You really do not want to do that.

See here for what an underslung axle looks like. The axle itself has a bend in it at the end before going into the wheel. If he actually did flip it 180 degrees, he would have to move all the brakes around as they would be turned upside down and no longer work right with a true 180 axle flip. There are lefts and rights. And the axle toe alignment could get goofed up too. See here for what an underslung axle looks like.

Dexter Axleon Flickr

This is adjusting the brakes on an underslung axle.
brake adjust tool in location on Flickr

Dexter makes an over/under axle kit to make this easy do to. For a 2 /3" tube axle, which is more than likely what yours is, it would be Dexter K71-384-00: Over/Under Conversion Kit. Looks like this.



What happens is, with 2 guys is common, one on each end of the axle, they unhook one end of the leaf spring at a frame hanger, undo the U bolts, unwire the brakes. The axle tube is now above the spring pack. Then they move the axle tube completely out from being above the spring pack and move the axle off the end of the leaf spring pack which was unbolted from the hanger. Now the axle is out in the open. Then they move the axle back under the leaf springs and the leaf springs are now on top of the axle tube rather than under like before.

Since the leaf springs were on the bottom of the underslung axle tube get moved to the top of the axle tube and they need to put a new axle seat on the top of the tube. (The axle seat is the U shaped part with a flat on it looking from the side) The axle itself never really gets flipped, just moved from over the spring pack to under the spring pack, thus the real name, over/under move.

Assuming your axle tube is the 2 3/8" tube, I estimate you will get approx 4 1/16" lift from where you are now. I would have to go out and measure an axle seat and the spring thicknesses to be more exact, but a quick rough estimate should be in that range. Someone who have had this done recently may recall and can comment on that range of move on a 5,000 to 7,000# Sunline as they have the 3500# axles (2 3/8" tube) in this.

This thread by Sunline Fan has some good pics of the over/under kit being installed on an underslung cargo trailer. This would be very similar to yours.
Dexter Axle Over-Under Conversion Kit

Hope this helps

John
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