Lance Mount Enhancements

  Addressing Remaining Issues

Event Report 201907-10

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The Experience

Recently, Thor (our Mercedes Benz 1017A 4x4 truck) got new living quarters installed.  The installation went pretty smoothly and were anxious to test the "system".  A 3-month road trip was our "test".  Generally, things were as expected with the exception of a few items.  First, the way the trailer was installed on the truck frame resulted in swaying and flexing of the trailer frame when we were inside the rig.  When walking around inside, particularly at the rear of the living quarters, the whole rig bobbed up and down.  The reason was that there was excessive unsupported overhand behind the rear mount.  When coupled with all the "stuff" that Kathleen had packed into the rear storage closets, it resulted in vertigo when walking into the restroom.  The solution was to add some carefully designed supports to reduce the overhang.

Second was that the additional weight on the truck resulted in swaying when walking about in the living area.  While not a problem, per se, it was annoying.  The solution was to design a hydraulic stabilizer that would remove Thor's spring stack from the equation when parked.

Third, and most annoying, was the water fill port was on the opposite side from the normal utility connections making filling the water tank a true chore.  In addition to requiring de-coupling from the shore water source, the hose had to be run underneath or around the truck and the distances involved usually required coupling multiple hoses together.  Finally, given that the Lance trailer was sitting on Thor's frame, the fill port was almost 6 feet above ground level.  The solution was to tap into Lance's plumbing and install a mechanism to fill the water tank while connected to shore water.  Of course, this requires the operator to pay attention and not allow the tank to be over-filled.

This project spanned many months due to delivery delays and component availability.

The photos below are what we saw.

My Harbor Freight band saw was called into service to cut the 2x2x0.25" steel tubing used for the frame mounts.

Collars were cut from 2.5x2.5x0.25" tube to slide on top of the main mounts.

The collars were trimmed and gang-drilled.

More 2.5" tube was cut length-wise to make a mounting trough.

More tube was cut to fit inside the trough.

Oversided holes were drilled and die springs/bolts were used to allow the inner tube to slide relative to the trough in a fore-aft direction, but not laterally.

The supports for the frame were drilled to allow complete welds.  Given the intended location of the frame, existing hardware precluded full welds, so a 1.5" hole was drilled.

The frame parts were test-fit on the frame.  The U-shaped parts will be welded to Thor's frame and the balance of the frame will be held in place by 5/8" grade 8 bolts.  This configuration was necessary due to the pre-load requirement.

The balance of the support frame was fabricated out of 2.5 and 2.0 inch tube.

Now the crux: the triangular frame will be bolted to the frame-mounted U attachments.  The part on the right, the riser, will be inserted into the 2.5" portion of the frame.  The hole at the bottom has a nut welded on the inside to allow installation of a bolt which will be used to lift the riser until the desired amount of pre-load has been established.  Then, the riser will be welded to the receiver and the bolt removed.

Turning the bolt raises the riser to the desired pre-load.  This side is being test fit but will be welded soon.

The passenger side had impediments that prevented easy welding so a plate was added to allow welding without undue operator stress.  Note that the final position of the riser has been established and the riser has been painted with the stripe left for the actual weldment.

Once both left and right support frames were installed, we moved on to the hydraulic stabilizers.  Sliding collars were cut, drilled and nuts were welded to allow bolts to be used as set screws.

Sliding collars were installed prior to welding the ends on.

Hydraulic pivot points were added to the collars.

Tubing was cut and welded onto the existing trailer hitch to ease final assembly.

The hydraulic mounting frames were hard-welded.

We ran out of steel for the rear so we moved on to another ancillary project - a storage rack for our "truck Legos" which are used for leveling and foot blocks for a jack when changing a tire.  The rack is 1x1 tube on a hinge with a rubber hood latch to secure it.

After an extended trip to the "steel store" and a trip for more welding gas, we were back at it.  Pivot plates were cut, drilled and welded.

The stablizer arm is test-fit on the frame.

Our hydraulic cylinders finally arrived and the frame was complete enough for a test-fit.  While we were waiting for the cylinders, feet for the arms were fabricated out of 3/8" plate.  Note that both the arm attachment and the frame attachment points for the cylinder are adjustable.  When the final geometry has been confirmed, they will be hard-welded and the set screws will be removed.

Pivot plates were reinforced with DOM pipe to help distribute stress.

Test fit of the passenger side stabilizer arm.

DOM pipe was added to the pivot points for improved strength.

A test fit showing the retracted position of the stabilizer arm and cylinder.

Thor was driven onto blocks to elevate the rear for range-of-motion testing.

What the stabilizers will look like when in use.  We were stalled again due to parts availability.  Our hydraulic pump is stuck in China (likely due to Mr. T's trade war) and our custom tool boxes have an 8 week delivery time.  So, on to the next task.

We tapped into Lance's internal plumbing to add a bypass valve that will allow filling the water tank while connected to shore water. 

Some hose, a few tees and a box of hose clamps later we had our bypass.  Our tests were successful, so case closed.

I love food photos.  Particularly when I get to eat the subject of the photo.  We invited our dear friends Jim and Michele for dinner and got a 3" Delmonico steak.  A steak this thick (and expensive) requires special treatment.  Our plan was to brown the surfaces and put the meat into our Sou Vide water bath cooker.  The meat goes into a sealed bag and is then immersed into the temperature controlled water bath for about 3 hours.  This process allows getting all the meat done to the same amount (medium rare in this case).  When the meat is finished it is then removed from the bath.

The sealed bag is cut open and the surface of the meat was browned again in butter with whole garlic and spices prior to serving.  The meat juice was added to the pan to produce a savory sauce.  Trust me, it was as tasty as it looks.

Kathleen also made a fully home-made pie of fresh peaches.

Sorry to say that due to parts availability, our enhancement project is still on-going.  I am expecting the tool boxes around Thanksgiving, maybe a bit sooner.  The hydraulic pump?  No telling on that delivery but if the boxes arrive before the pump, I will cancel the order and get a pump from a different vendor.

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