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Old 08-03-2014, 04:03 PM   #1
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
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1966 Tradewind Ground Clearance

I installed new axles and was a little surprised that the ride height of my trailer didn't increase. In fact it might have decreased a bit.

I have not measured the ground clearance as I am not parked on a hard, level surface this summer. I'm interested in the distance from the pavement to the belly pan between the wheels.

Take a look at the before and after photos below. Judge the ride height by looking at the wheel well trim versus the wheel. Both wheels are 15". The old tires were 15" bias ply, and the new ones are 15" GYM radials.

I assumed the new axles were the same dimension from the hub center point to the top of the mounting bracket. Both old and new axles sit on the frame rail. But I did not measure them.

I did have to deepen the square tube clearance notch in my frame to get the new axles to bear on the frame rails. I understood this is a normal new axle frame modification for mid sixties Airstreams.

I understand that hardened rubber rods in the old axles may not have resulted in much sag in the trailer. Hard rubber rods can result in no suspension effect while towing. We all know it is difficult to determine if your axles are bad. I replaced mine 'cause they were 48 years old.

I haven't seen a ground clearance specification for mid sixties trailers from Airstream. What should a guy expect?

Is my Trade Wind too low with the new axles?

David
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Old 08-03-2014, 05:41 PM   #2
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When I changed the axles on my '74 Argosy 26'. It originally had 2,800# axles. I increased the capacity to 3,200# axles. The additional 800#'s of axle capacity did not change the ride height significantly. Maybe an inch or at the most an inch and a half.
On some installations people are getting 3"+.
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Old 08-03-2014, 06:44 PM   #3
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1986 34' Limited
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I went with the recommended 3000 lb axles for my Trade Wind. The old one were 2600s if I recall correctly. They are the standard 22.5 degree angle, and they are 10" 6 bolt drums.

I did not experience any ground clearance increase after the installation.

David
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Old 08-03-2014, 07:01 PM   #4
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I went with 33 degree axle and did increase ground clearance, weight capacity does not affect clearance as much as angleClick image for larger version

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Old 08-03-2014, 08:19 PM   #5
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I encountered the same issue on my 65 overlander . I had to add 1 1/2 square tube to top of my axle& weld 5" tall plates to frame , major PITA when you have to do the axle job twice!Click image for larger version

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Old 08-04-2014, 05:40 AM   #6
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Thanks for the picture DFlores. The 33 degree angle on your new axles certainly increased the ground clearance.

Cochese, were the the modifications you did to your frame intended to maintain or increase ground clearance? Actually, I did not give ground clearance a second thought when I installed my new axles. I just figured the axle maker had designed a mounting bracket that fit a broader range of trailers.

Here is a photo of the modifications I did to the frame to get the new axles to fit. I cut the notch deeper. I clearly lowered the ground clearance from axle hub center to mounting plate by nearly 3/4 of an inch. The new bolt holes were about on the same centerline as the old ones. I would not have axle plate room for the bolt holes moving down.

To re-install my axles to increase ground clearance would be a major project involving new frame plates and mounting holes.

David
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Old 08-04-2014, 07:49 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
I installed new axles and was a little surprised that the ride height of my trailer didn't increase. In fact it might have decreased a bit.

I have not measured the ground clearance as I am not parked on a hard, level surface this summer. I'm interested in the distance from the pavement to the belly pan between the wheels.

Take a look at the before and after photos below. Judge the ride height by looking at the wheel well trim versus the wheel. Both wheels are 15". The old tires were 15" bias ply, and the new ones are 15" GYM radials.

I assumed the new axles were the same dimension from the hub center point to the top of the mounting bracket. Both old and new axles sit on the frame rail. But I did not measure them.

I did have to deepen the square tube clearance notch in my frame to get the new axles to bear on the frame rails. I understood this is a normal new axle frame modification for mid sixties Airstreams.

I understand that hardened rubber rods in the old axles may not have resulted in much sag in the trailer. Hard rubber rods can result in no suspension effect while towing. We all know it is difficult to determine if your axles are bad. I replaced mine 'cause they were 48 years old.

I haven't seen a ground clearance specification for mid sixties trailers from Airstream. What should a guy expect?

Is my Trade Wind too low with the new axles?

David
Normally, a replacement axle witha 32 degree starting angle, should raise the trailer so that you can see "ball park", 3 inches of the tires above the top of the wheels.

Andy
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Old 08-04-2014, 09:43 AM   #8
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Hi Andy,

DFlores certainly has all of 3" of tire showing below the wheel well trim. I only have the wheels showing, barely any tire at all.

I measured belly pan to ground and report 14" of ground clearance. This is pretty rough as I am on a gravel parking spot. My new axles are the standard 22 degree angle.

I noticed the Air Forums header photo of the trailers on caravan. The 1960s Caravel or Safari (I think) has less ground clearance than the newer 31 footer in front of it. Maybe Airstream built them lower in the 1960s?

Andy, have you ever seen a 1960s ground clearance specification from Airstream?

David
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Old 08-04-2014, 09:49 AM   #9
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Hi Andy,

DFlores certainly has all of 3" of tire showing below the wheel well trim. I only have the wheels showing, barely any tire at all.

I measured belly pan to ground and report 14" of ground clearance. This is pretty rough as I am on a gravel parking spot. My new axles are the standard 22 degree angle.

I noticed the Air Forums header photo of the trailers on caravan. The 1960s Caravel or Safari (I think) has less ground clearance than the newer 31 footer in front of it. Maybe Airstream built them lower in the 1960s?

Andy, have you ever seen a 1960s ground clearance specification from Airstream?

David
David.

Airstream never published a ground clearance.

Back then, cars were used as tow vehicles. Today, most tow vehicles have a much higher profile.

Original axles were always 22 1/2 degrees.

We changed that many years ago, to 32 degrees, which is as high as you can go, without causing other issues.

Andy
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Old 08-04-2014, 09:26 PM   #10
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Lower is better to me. The trailer will handle better as the trailer cg is lower. New axles give you proper suspension travel.

Reminds me of how MG met the new bumper height requirements in 1973. They raised the heighth of the vehicle! It is no wonder that MG was out of the car business years later.

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Old 08-05-2014, 05:47 AM   #11
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I also had to cut the notch almost 3/4" to get the axles to rest on main frame rails . Originally the axles never touched the frame rails, which was wrong ! Apparently 65 was a transition year for axle brackets, that is why I had to add a 5" plate to the frame & 1 1/2 " square tube to top of axle bracket


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Old 08-06-2014, 08:11 AM   #12
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Here is a fellow Trade Wind owner who, like me, has ground clearance anxiety. Maybe I need casters on my rear bumper! This tow vehicle appears needing more drop on the draw bar. The trailer looks nose up to me. Maybe that's the reason for the casters.

David


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Old 08-06-2014, 08:58 AM   #13
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Here is a fellow Trade Wind owner who, like me, has ground clearance anxiety. Maybe I need casters on my rear bumper! This tow vehicle appears needing more drop on the draw bar. The trailer looks nose up to me. Maybe that's the reason for the casters.

David


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Casters on the rear is an absolute NO NO.

In time, the 2 rear quarter panels will be damaged.

Then your insurance company can deny coverage because the damage was not sudden, accidental and direct.

Axles should always be ordered with a greater starting angle than original. If not, then the supplier is not doing their job for the customer.

Today's tow vehicles, for the vast majority of the time, are higher profile than years ago. Raising the trailer helps not only the hookup, but greater ground clearance as well.

Increasing the load rating, also helps gaining ground clearance, to some degree.

Andy
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Old 08-06-2014, 01:23 PM   #14
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Sometimes a customer has to opt for less starting angle because of carport restrictions!! Like in my case...


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