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Old 11-02-2009, 04:37 AM   #1
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1977 31' Excella 500
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Single vs. Tandem and Smallest tandem axle

What is the shortest tandem axle trailer that Airstream made? Best I can tell, it was the '65 and newer Tradewind 24 footers. I know the Overlanders are 26 footers. Is there anything else in this range?

As well, I guess I'm asking this of those of you that pull single axle you have any misgivings about the single axle vs. the tandem? Ever have a blowout? If so, how'd the trailer react?

I currently am pulling a 34 foot triple axle. I really like the coach, but I'd like to get a second trailer that is smaller. Something that I could really take just about anywhere. My grandfather has a '58 Traveler that I've been looking at hard. But, I'm a bit leery of the single axle trailers. I'm just afraid of what would happen during a tire blowout. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I want to set up a rig I can pull on rough roads. I'm figuring that with tandem axles, I could at least get the thing down the road a little piece with one tire blown. And, with tandems, I'm thinking that if a violent blowout occurs at high speed, it wouldn't automatically throw me into the ditch. But, I've never pulled a single axle trailer; only tandems and the triple.

I was thinking of finding the smallest tandem axle trailer and going from there. But, thought I'd throw it out here for everybody.

Any recommendations on years and models? Am I worrying about nothing on the single axle?


- Jim
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Old 11-02-2009, 04:43 AM   #2
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I pulled lots of boat trailers over the years with one set of wheels and had a few blow outs. I never got killed. Some trailers have skid springs attached to the axles so when the blow out occurs you don't drop all the way down onto the road but do put out a shower of sparks. I like the tandems for heavier trailers like Airstreams.

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Old 11-02-2009, 05:31 AM   #3
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One of my favorites is the 21' Excella and Sovereign from the 90's. A really great interior layout for a small tandem. Not an easy find but worth the search.
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:31 AM   #4
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I think you have talked yourself into a tandem axle, so let the '58 Traveler go to someone else.

I would be uncomfortable towing my single axle Tradewind if I didn't have pressure sensors on both tires. I think most sudden and catastrophic blowouts are preceded by a loss of pressure that would be detected by the pressure sensor. I've also beefed up the spring mounting plates so if I do lose a tire the trailer will drop onto the skid plate before it starts to run on the tire rim.

Along with meticulous tire maintenance, I have no reservations about a single axle.
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Old 11-02-2009, 08:06 AM   #5
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I have a 2006 22'CCD that is a tandem axle. When we bought I was looking for a short tandem and I love it. There seem to be a few of these around
My 57 Overlander thread ( Holly is her name)

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Old 11-02-2009, 08:47 AM   #6
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There are many of us towing single axle. I've used both and prefer single for my use. In all the years towing I've never had a blowout. Yes, lost air due to a nail or screw, never violently. Yes, known people who had tires disintegrate usually due to overloading, improper inflation, old tires, hitting curbs, etc. Other than damage to the fender well they all managed to pull over without incident. Of coarse there are exceptions to the rule incidents but if single axle trailers are unsafe don't you think they would be banned?
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Old 11-02-2009, 08:57 AM   #7
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Vintage tandem axle

If you are looking for a vintage coach, the 22' Argosy is a tandem axle. They are somewhat difficult to find as well. They were made from 72 to about 79.

We own a 34' as well & wanted something shorter that would fit in national park spots.

So, we purchased a 22' Argosy, which was totaled when we were sideswiped. Now, we own a 24' Argosy that is also a tandem axle. As far as size, weight, & maneuverability, there's not that much difference between the 22' & 24'. However, it's nice to have that extra 2 feet inside!

We have towed trailers with single axles as well. In our experience, the single axles aren't as "well behaved" as their double & triple cousins - they don't track as well and have their own mind when backing up!

We camped next to a tandem axle Bambi that was either a late 90's or early 2000's - think it was around 20'.
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Old 11-02-2009, 09:21 AM   #8
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1981 - 22' Airstream Excella II - tandem axle. Very easy to tow and maneuver. This trailer has very many similarities to the Argosy line (probably used up some old parts) but has more windows.

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Old 11-02-2009, 09:25 AM   #9
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Safety, sure a belt and suspenders are safer than just a belt. For most people a belt is sufficient.
Clearly if you have a catastrophic tire failure a second axle provides a backup safety net. If that extra degree of insurance puts an owner at ease then go for it.
But, tandem axles come at a cost; extra weight, extra cost in tires, more rolling resistance, extra cost of maintenance (bearings, breaks, etc), extra leveling blocks, to mention a few.
If single axle trailers were inherently unsafe then Uhaul wouldn't rent them. There are thousands of single axle utility and boat trailers out there that have no problems.
I keep close track of tire pressure & temperature, and hub maintenance and am totally comfortable towing a single axle 1965 Safari.
I also do fine with just a belt, no suspenders.
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Old 11-02-2009, 12:26 PM   #10
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21 ft. Sovereign

I have looked for a few years for one. Dual axle and nice size. I think the 21 is the shortest dual axle.
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Old 11-02-2009, 05:51 PM   #11
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I went through the same choice a couple years ago when we finally picked up a 53 Flying Cloud. I decided on the single axle for two different reasons: first I wanted maximum flexibility inside to redesign the floorplan, and second I wanted to limit the weight of the trailer as much as I could.

That second axle takes up a lot of extra space inside and it puts limits on where your various "rooms" can go. It also adds hundreds of pounds of extra weight when you factor in the axle and the tires/wheels. I tow with Honda Ridgeline so weight is a big issue.

I have tire monitors on my single axle wheels to hopefully handle the catestrophic failure, and a spare up front to get me back out of the boonies.

You could argue that I gave up some weight savings with the spare, but I also carried a spare when I owned a double axle Tradewind.

Think about what criteria is most important for you and your answer might come forward. I've heard you mention safety, that would put a double axle on top, and I think you mentioned ease in manuvering. The second one is a toss-up for me. The Flying Cloud gets into tighter spaces, but the Tradewind was easier to back up - double axles turn slower backing up.
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Old 11-02-2009, 08:40 PM   #12
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When I was looking for an old Airstream, I was horrified by the idea of a single axle. I looked and looked for a double axle Tradewind (I had decided on '66 or older), but they seem to be pretty rare. I ended up with our '65 Safari- we went about 30,000 miles over 2+ years, and never even had a flat on it. Terrible rutted dirt roads, driving over curbs, through fields and rocky terrain. Mostly stayed off the interstates, even. I'd still love to have a double setup, but oh well- I got over it, and it seems to work as it is. If you end up with a single, just make sure the skids are on the axle, and keep a full spare in the truck.

Maybe I should have held out for a World Traveller
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Old 11-02-2009, 08:55 PM   #13
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...And now I'm learning from other threads that skid plates may be a bad thing. How tragic.
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Old 11-03-2009, 05:37 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by 65Safari65 View Post
...And now I'm learning from other threads that skid plates may be a bad thing. How tragic.
I think skids on a torsion axle might be a bad idea, but leaf spring axles are a different matter.

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