Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Koni Shocks

I spent much of the past few days installing a set of Koni shocks on our Winnebago Journey. The front shocks went on easily, although I had to us a cheater bar to break the bolts loose. The rear shocks were another situation altogether. I asked for suggestions on forums, and decided to remove the rear wheels to get at the shocks. The lug nuts are supposed to be torqued to 500 ft/lbs, but they were on MUCH tighter than that. I have a light 1/2 inch drive impact wrench that I use on the cars, but it wouldn't begin to help with the RV. Saturday I had to help my older son replace the springs on his garage door and since I was near to Orlando, I went to Harbor Freight to check out a 3/4 inch impact wrench they had on sale. It's supposed to be about 900 ft/lbs of torque and I hoped that would do the job.

Back home, the new impact wrench did nothing. I had to resort to my 3/4 inch breaker bar with a three foot cheater pipe AND another bar beyond that. It was a total of just under 8 feet and by putting all my weight at the end I was just barely able to move the lug nuts a little. When I got them a bit loose, the impact wrench finished the job.

This is my "breaker bar"

The Craftsman 3/4 drive breaker is at the right, next is the pipe, and then the steel rod.

There are 10 nuts on each wheel and I got all the ones on the rear right and six on the rear left before the socket split. I was actually amazed that the breaker bar and socket lasted this far. The Craftsman is a quality product, but the 1 and 5/16 socket came from a 3/4 inch socket set that I bought at one of those flea market tool stores. I paid $49.00 for the whole set of sockets, breaker, ratchet, slide bar, and extensions. Made in China, but I sure got a lot of use out of them. However, without a socket I was out of business. Monday morning I checked every place local, but there was no socket of that size to be had. Even at Sears, an impact socket of that size had to be ordered. Phooey!!!

I checked the internet and found the item at for $11.99 with a lifetime guarantee. At Sears it was $49.99 plus tax. From Amazon it was $20.99 with overnight shipping and I had it early Tuesday afternoon. Once the tires are off, the actual shock replacement takes about 3 minutes using my new impact wrench. I think all men like tools and I perhaps more than most.

A second benefit to doing the job this way is that I was finally able to read the date codes on all the tires and found them to be much newer that I had suspected. The rear tires were made just a couple of months before I bought the Journey and I can't imagine why someone would replace tires on an RV he was trading in. The front tires are a few months older, but I still have two or three years before new tires are needed.

Many times on the RV forums it has been asked if any of us could change the tires on our coach if we had to. I changed the tires on my Southwind (19.5 inch wheels) and I changed the tires on my Safari (22.5 inch wheels). I have always believed that I could do the job on the road IF I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO! Many have commented that the weight of such a heavy tire and wheel combination would be too heavy to lift. That is true! Anyone who tries to lift one of those suckers is a fool. My biggest problem was breaking the bolts loose and I ended up using a very long cheater. I could and I have used a jack to pry up on the end of the breaker bar. With the bolts removed, I use a bar to "walk" the tire back into position and lift it back in place with the pry bar.

Before I started on the shocks, I made sure that I would still be alive if a hydraulic line failed. Levelers make it easy, but they are not safe by themselves.

Here I'm putting the inner tire on by "walking" it back. I never lifted the wheel, so my back is still OK.

Getting closer, so I'm using a bar to pry the tire into position. Part of the trick is that you don't want the tire to be way off the ground. All you need is a little space to work with.

Here the inside tire is back in place. The outside tire will go on the same way. As soon as there is enough of one bolt to put a nut on, I do that to ensure that it doesn't come off. Then you just push until you can get another nut in place and tighten to bring the wheels into place. Add the rest of the nuts and tighten in a proscribed pattern.

This is my torque wrench. When I place this on the wheel nut, my weight on the blue stripe gives 500 ft/lbs. I did the math and at my weight the blue stripe is 2 feet 2 inches from the axis of the bolt. I could also slide the pipe out and let my wife stand on the line, but I can't tell you how far because then you could figure her weight and I'd be in the dog house.

Now I have to admit that I have a road service and used it many times in the past when I had Michelin tires. I do not plan on doing this myself, ever again. is a comfort for me to know that if I'm on one of those long stretches of the Alaska Highway with no cell and no other service............I COULD do it myself. Perhaps a much younger man might see the plight of this old codger and choose to help out.

At the end of this job, two of the levelers refused to return. They are 10 years old and the springs are pretty rusty, so new springs are on order. Another job for next week.

Work safe and live longer.


  1. Looks like a great job, you are getting the rig ready for a trip.I feel like you do ,ten years ago I could be all over or under my truck or cars and not feel a thing, yesterday I worked under the truck on my back installing steps and I could hardly get up after I finished the job.You are so right about the right tools, My son just got a set of Hitachi 24 volt tools, a drill and impact included, I couldn't believe the power those things have in drilling and impacting.Would a I trade my air tools and compressor , probably not, but they did the job at hand really well.Give the girls a pet from us. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna...

  2. What a brave man you are taking on such a HUGE job! Glad it all came out well...
    Have fun & Travel safe

  3. I have change a many of tires on coal and long haul trucks, The 1200X24 tires are really rough I know what you have been through, Nice Job, And yes I think your right, Anyone should have the means to do this job, Just in case they have too.