Installing Wheel Spacers on a Class B Campervan

White-knuckle barely described it. I was all over the road. Every passing truck pushed me half-way out of my lane. Would I ever dare let MsBoyink take the wheel?

Our first drive in Sally was an eye-opener.

Our truck and fifth wheel was a very stable rig going down the road. Semi trucks would pass us and I’d hardly notice. The stress of driving was more about the length and height than keeping it on track on the road.

Then we drove Sally.

Like a Houseboat

Years ago we rented a houseboat on the Mississippi River. It was a 55’ box on the water. Steering was a constant see-saw of correcting one way then the other.

Sally felt like that houseboat.

I stayed in the lane - on average.

One advantage of buying an older Class B is that there are years of experience out there to draw on. I searched for handling issues on the 1990s-era Pleasure-Ways and Road-Treks (also built on the Dodge platform).

I found various solutions including wheel spacers, rear anti-sway bars, and airbags.

4” Narrower

I discovered that these ‘90s-era Dodge vans have a 4” narrower wheel track in the rear vs. the front. Once I read that, the difference was obvious. I always thought the rear of these vans looked a bit….doofy.

The theory is that by having the rear wheeltrack that much narrower than the front you catch different parts of the road, which leads to the instability.  Installing wheel spacers in the rear would make the wheeltrack the same as the front which should help.

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At $110/pair the wheel spacers were the cheapest fix. I decided to try them, and look to the other solutions if they didn’t work out.

Even if they didn’t solve the handling issues, Sally’s rear stance wouldn’t look so doofy.

I ordered these spacers.

Installation

Installation was straight-forward:

  • Remove rear wheels
  • Slide spacers on
  • Install lug nuts on spacers, torque down lugnuts
  • Install wheels onto spacers, torque down lugnuts

 

 

Stock rear stance.

Stock rear stance.

Wheel spacers installed

Wheel spacers installed

Stock rear stance - before wheel spacers.

Stock rear stance - before wheel spacers.

2

2" rear wheel spacers installed on a 1995 Pleasure-Way Class B RV.

Wheel spacers before wheels are re-installed.

Wheel spacers before wheels are re-installed.

Results

Once we had them installed MsBoyink and I went for a 30-minute drive, had lunch at a park, and drove back. That drive included some interstate and backcountry Michigan roads. The day had winds ranging from breezy to gusty.

It drove like a different van.

Even in crosswinds I just had to have one hand on the wheel. Passing trucks still push me around but not nearly as much.

I’m not pursuing the other fixes.

Other Solution

The other solution suggested by a mechanic friend was to just run wider wheels and tires on the rear.

I like that idea. I think it’d look kinda bad-ass - like a drag racer with a narrowed and tubbed out rear end. But I had just spent nearly $1K on these new tires and didn’t want to have to sell two of them off again.

I’ll stick with the spacers. When these tires are done I might look into the wider wheels/tires.

1990s Class B Owner?

If you do own or have owned one of these older Class B’s - what did you do about the handling?  Leave a comment below.

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6 Comments Installing Wheel Spacers on a Class B Campervan

  1. Picture of Joseph LaskowskiJoseph Laskowski May 30, 2017

    I just received mine in the mail today 5/30.  Got steel ones for $370 from wheeladaptor.com.  Looked at the rear sway bar, way too crowded back there.  Can’t wait to install them.

  2. Picture of Michael BoyinkMichael Boyink May 30, 2017

    @joseph - I think I could fit the sway bar, but after putting the spacers on don’t need to. Hope your results are similar!

  3. Picture of Joseph LaskowskiJoseph Laskowski May 30, 2017

    From others it seems it works well.  While the wheels are off I’ll check the shoes and let u know how they worked.

  4. Picture of Shaun MullinsShaun Mullins July 31, 2017

    Hey, nice blog! I’ve been eyeing the rear spacer mod as well lately.  It’s on my to do list.  Like you, I would love a wider wheel/tire combo on the back, but that’ll rule out tire rotations…  Have the spacers you bought held up well? I’ve been debating on whether I need all steel or if alloy will hold up under the weight.

  5. Picture of Joseph LaskowskiJoseph Laskowski July 31, 2017

    yes, they are fine.

  6. Picture of BoyinkBoyink July 31, 2017

    Thanks for the comments!

    Yes, the aluminum are fine. I’ve a good friend who is a pro mechanic. He has a collection of trucks, vintage Jeeps and Blazer. He run aluminum spacers on most of those rigs and doesn’t baby them. He’s never had an issue.

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