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OT: How to make a wagon with a flexible suspension


May 4, 2010
Cambridge, MA
I want to mount the axle for a wagon in such a way that it can flex, like the "trucks" on a skateboard. I don't need it to have a full spring suspension, just a little give so one axel can tilt one way while the other is tilting the other way. Assuming I using pillow blocks to mount the axle. What can I put between the pillow block and the frame to allow the axel to tilt with respect to the frame?

The wagon has six 16" wheels, each rated at 615 pounds. The kinds of suspension systems used for trucks are too big. So, maybe a leaf spring for a 3000-pound trailer? Except if I have six wheels, then I would need mini leaf springs.

Per john.k's comment I have found that McMaster sells "adjustable air springs" but it is unclear to me how to size these things since they list "Full Stroke Lifting Force @ Pressure " and "Beginning Stroke Lifting Force @ Pressure" as their specs. How do I relate this to tires that are 600 pound capacity tires? I am hoping to make the bed of the wagon 4x8 and it should be able to carry about 2000 lbs.
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What wheel configuration? How much suspension travel do you want? How large of wagon? An independent suspension for each wheel, or 3 solid axles, each with suspension to the body? A true wagon with no tongue weight, or a trailer with tongue weight?

A typical trailer configuration would be tandems on the back with a walking beam and a single axle in front. Karl's suspension depends on the flex in the wagon body. For a rigid body a rocking bolster is used. But neither really have suspension, just rigid with flexibility.
Here's a wagon spring design from over 100 years ago.


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Trailing axle with common automotive bump stops would work just fine.
The position of the bump stops can be used to fine tune spring rates

Add droop straps if the going is particularly uneven.