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Rear suspension mods needed for Hawk Shell on 3/4 ton truck?

Hawk shell suspension

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#1 Stringer



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Posted 11 March 2022 - 06:50 PM



I'll be picking up a new Hawk shell soon.


I drive a 3/4 ton Chevy Silverado. Aside from maybe getting E-rated tires, is there a clear need to make any upgrades to the rear suspension? I've read about torklifts, sumo springs, air bags, etc, and wondered how necessary all of it is for a 3/4 ton. My plan is to keep my load as light as possible. I'll delete the rear seats and the tailgate.


I will likely be off pavement a bit here and there, but I'm not planning on rock crawling or getting into anything too crazy.


However, I do have a 5x10 cargo trailer that I plan to tow occasionally. That, at most, would have a dual sport motorcycle in it, but most of the time it will likely just have random camping gear and bicycles in it.


With this in mind, what say you, experienced campers of WTW? Do I need to beef up my rear suspension, and if so, what's the best way to go about it? If I need it, I'd ideally love something that is as simple and minimalist as possible (I don't love the idea of needing a compressor for airbags and needing to make adjustments to them regularly - I think I'd rather have a "set it and forget it" type of solution back there, even if it means a stiffer ride). Also, for what it's worth, I plan to have the camper on the truck full time, so I'm not worried about how the truck would ride unladen.


Many thanks!

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#2 Wandering Sagebrush

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Posted 11 March 2022 - 07:38 PM

My 2ยข worth.  Measure and record front and rear truck height (ground to top of wheel well opening) before the camper is on.  Measure again when camper is installed.  If you believe it makes the rear squat too much, decide which method you want.   Since your camper will be on all the time, I believe a modified spring pack might be your best option.  Consult a reputable suspension shop.

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#3 Beach


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Posted 11 March 2022 - 07:54 PM

You should be ok, if you don't carry an excessive amount of gear in the camper and the trailer tongue weight isn't heavy. Get E rated tires and good H.D. shocks to start with. Install the camper and all gear and drive it, get the rig weighed, then decide if any mods are needed.

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#4 RC Pilot Jim

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Posted 11 March 2022 - 08:18 PM

My 2.5 cents worth (inflation)

The 3/4 ton truck is the ultimate in hauling trucking. Back in the day (1986) we had a 2,500 pound Lance camper sitting on our 3/4 ton  1977 Chev Silverado 454 V8, Turbo 400 trans, 3.74 rear gear - 4 door that also towed a 18 foot ski boat on stock rear suspension. plus 4 passengers and it got fairly decent gas mileage (8-10mpg) for the weight . Course gas was $1.25 per gallon  


What needs a spring upgrade is half and quarter ton trucks like below.

My old semi - improved 2012 Eagle shell  with the awning weighed 1,300 pounds dry. 


Food, water, firewood, chairs misc , beer for one person, for one week in the desert weighed another 350 ponds.

Occasionally I also towed a 1987 Suzucki Samurai.


The tow vehicle is/was a 2012 Tacoma 4 liter V6 4WD.with 3.74 rear gear (towing pkg) . Lots of low end torque  Camper was mounted full time. My local suspension shop changed out the springs for those that supported 1800 pounds.


Camper bolted down full time for 8.5 years and 67,000 miles with no problems. Mileage 12.5-16. 14.5 with Suzucki.

You will have no problems with a Hawk shell  on a3/4 ton truck with stock suspension

Edited by RC Pilot Jim, 11 March 2022 - 09:35 PM.

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#5 jdavis


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Posted 11 March 2022 - 09:24 PM

I have my Hawk on a 2500 Ram. The truck feels good when I'm driving with the camper on. I have an aftermarket sway bar and air bags. I don't put much air at all in the bags because the camper only squats the backend about an inch.


Before I had a Palomino that was quite a bit heavier. That camper made the truck sway and feel a little unsafe.

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#6 ckent323


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Posted 11 March 2022 - 11:14 PM

Put your camper on with all your gear and try it first.  Load range E tires strongly recommended.

If the truck rear sits too low or you don't like the ride then I concur with the approach suggested by Wandering Sagebrush.  Also be sure to check the spacing when fully loaded between the axle and the frame hard stop.  I suggest a minimum of 2" clearance.  Make sure the rear end when the truck is loaded is not lower than the front end as that can lead to handling and sway issues.

Both Deaver Suspension (Santa Ana, CA) and Alcan Spring (Grand Junction, CO) have good reputations.


The stock springs on my 1993 Dodge W250 3/4 ton were just too darn stiff and the front springs only had about 3/4" travel before the axle hit the rubber stop on the frame.  The truck had a tendency to bottom out and give a hard jolt on large bumps (even speed bumps).

I had new front and rear springs 2" taller than stock made and installed by Deaver Suspension.  Also new Bilstein 5125 shocks.

The truck now has a much better ride.  The springs are a bit softer which leads to a bit more sway than the original stiff springs so I ordered a Hellwig anti-sway bar for the back.  I am awaiting the delivery of the sway bar and I expect it will minimize the little bit of roll when going around corners that the softer springs caused.

I have never used air bags but I get off road enough and have read enough issues with air bag leaks that I decided against them.  I would not want to deal with a deflated airbag on some dirt track 100 miles from pavement and help.  I know some folks love them.  

Edited by ckent323, 11 March 2022 - 11:29 PM.

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#7 ntsqd


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Posted 12 March 2022 - 03:07 AM

'96 CTD 2500, with the then 6.5' Phoenix in it sat level and the overloads were not in contact. Took a pretty good bump to make them make contact. I ran that combo on Load Range D tires for ~50k miles of dirt and pavement. In more than a  couple ways I wish that I had that combo still.


The current Chucara XL weighs quite a bit more and the overloads are in contact. Load Range E's this time around.

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Where does that road go?

#8 camper rich

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Posted 12 March 2022 - 06:18 AM

I have a Dodge 2500 SB with a Grandby on it and pull a 4 x 6 offroad trailer.  I have made several Baja trips with a fair amount of off road.  I was going to get heavier springs or airbags but my spring dealer talked me into Timbrens which replace the factory jounce stops and are half the price of airbags, plus, they are solid rubber and don't leak.  Easy to install yourself and you put them on and forget them like you mentioned.  I liked mine so much I added a set to the front also.  They also help with the sway.

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#9 Lighthawk


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Posted 12 March 2022 - 07:01 AM

I've moved to a RAM 3500 and our loaded Hawk gave 1" of squat after I added a RC 2.5" spacer to the front springs. 

I did this to give room for 35" tires to increase our overall ground clearance.  


I ended up adding Timber Grove airbags to put us back on an even keel.  I tried rubber stops but they were too harsh on rough terrain when they would contact the axel.  The bags modulate sway both in compression and extension. 

In any case, measure for level so your ride is balanced. 

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2021 RAM 3500 Crew 4x4, 6.4 hemi/8 speed trans with 4.10 gears, Timber Grove bags, Falken Wildpeak 35" tires.

OEV Aluma 6.75 flatbed, Bundutec Odyssey camper on order for 2024

For this year we're still using our 2008 FWC Hawk with victron DC-DC charger, 130w solar, MPPT controler

with 2000w inverter and external 120v output and 12v solar input with 100w portable solar.   http://lighthawkphoto.com

#10 Stringer



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Posted 12 March 2022 - 04:42 PM

Thanks to all of you for great advice!


I'll keep the load light, make those measurements, get the camper on, and see how things sit - then go from there.


Excited to get out there. Thanks everyone.

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