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Old 09-23-2005, 10:11 PM   #29
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Axle Replacement - $$$Cost?

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Originally Posted by 85MH325
Julison, looks like you got a steal, and you should REALLY be pleased that you have the "D" windows from the '70 model rather than the one-year-only square corner windows on the 'standard' '69. Good job! From the Airstream weights file, your '69 Caravel weighs 2880lbs dry with a 360lb hitch weight. Your Hyundai has a tow rating of 1500kg (roughly 3500lbs). You're going to be at the upper limit of your Hyundai's ability with the Caravel. Use a weight distributing hitch (my experience is with Reese, but there are other excellent brands out there as well) with built-in sway control. Load the trailer lightly, and try to travel with the tanks empty. Water weighs 8lbs/gallon.

The axle, IMHO, appears to be marginal. The 'bounce-test' is probably the easiest way to determine whether you need a new one. Have someone stand outside and watch at the level of the wheelwell, and someone else with some bulk stand inside and 'bounce' the trailer. If the outside observer sees travel in the suspension, it's probably still OK. If all your observer sees is sidewall flex, then it's time for a new axle.

Good job! You really did well!

Roger
Thanks Roger,

I AM pleased with the purchase...kinda wierd, 3 weeks ago I'd never even heard of "Air Stream" trailers - now I own one.

Question: I have two small children so I tend to focus on safety in any situation. IF the axel is even remotely a source of danger, I'd like to replace it. What kind of cost would I be looking at... Since I only paid $2500 CDN, I would consider dropping a few hundred if it was required. >$500 and I would have to save a bit first.

thanks again,

P.S: IF you are ever travelling through Ottawa, Canada, You've got free hook-up...just send me an email.
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Old 09-24-2005, 12:01 AM   #30
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Hi Julison!

Hi, congrats on your new caravel! What a great little trailer - we love ours!

I did an axel replacement on mine because the old axel had no play left in it, and gave the trailer a very rough ride. I took it to a local RV shop which was highly recommended to me by other Airstreamers. They had never done an airstream axel, but they had replaced axels on many other types of RVs and felt sure they could do it.

They recommended a 3500 pound capacity Dexter axel. The complete axel with new brakes and everything, was only $350. I liked having the extra capacity as well (although some will tell you the frame cannot handle the extra stiffness, from conversations with other owners who have done the same thing I don't think it's a problem, but that's just my opinion). Fully loaded my trailer was carrying 2800 pounds on a 3000 pound capacity axel - pretty close to the limit.

So I took my trailer to the RV shop and they measured the old one and custom ordered the new axel. They had some trouble mounting it, had to make up new mounting brackets because the 65-68 caravels in particular have a very short mounting flange. I don't know if your Caravel would have the same problem. They also added shocks though they were surprised I wanted them. They said they normally wouldn't put shocks on this kind of axel because it has built in rubber dampeners to absorb shocks. I figured Airstream put them on for a reason so I had them install them anyway.

Total was about $1000 for the axel and installation. That included many hours of puzzling their way through the custom mounting issues for the first time. They later did another Airstream that I recommended go to them and did it much faster (and cheaper). So I paid the price for being their guinea pig!

But I'm VERY happy with the new axel. It rides like a dream, and we hauled it all the way from the west coast to Oklahoma and back last year without any problems.

So, I just wanted to share my axel experience. Yours may vary a bit, but I'd say if you need to replace yours, try to save up about that much money, and find a place that has some experience with airstreams, or at least with replacing axels on other RVs. Try to get recommendations from other 'streamers.

Check the forum for many discussions of how to know if your axel needs to be replaced. My axel looked good, but I knew it needed to be replaced because of the rough ride it gave. So you are the best judge of your axel's condition. If you think it needs to be replaced, and it is 35 years old, you might just have more peace of mind by getting it done so you don't have to worry about it. It's hard to enjoy a trip if you're worrying all the time!

Enjoy your new toy, it looks wonderful!
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Old 09-24-2005, 09:06 AM   #31
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Thanks for the kind offer! We've never been to Ottawa... that may just be the nudge I need to head there one day!

I think that Stephanie pretty well covered it. There are a number of manufacturers of torsion axles; any of them would be just fine. Your most Airstreams have Henschen brand axles OEM. Just make sure that the folks who do the replacement are competent and do the fitment properly. As Stephanie said, there may be a need for some fabrication, but a competent shop should be able to handle it just fine.

These axles have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years, so it wouldn't be surprising that yours would need replacing.

There isn't really any "danger" per se to having a worn-out axle. The problem is that the trailer will beat itself to death relatively quickly. If you look at unsuspended cargo trailers bouncing down the road, you'll get the idea about what happens when the suspension is worn out. The problem is that the trailer body flies into the air on bumps and then crashes uncontrolled down onto the axle with each bump. It's really not good for the frame or the coachwork. You'll have rivets popping, your cabinets could separate from the frame, and you'll begin to see a variety of other problems surface.

You bought the trailer reasonably enough that you can do a WHOLE lot to it and still not be into it more than it's worth...

Enjoy!

Roger
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Old 09-24-2005, 12:19 PM   #32
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I also had floor rot under the battery and converter on mine. That's about in the middle of the streetside. Here's a link to my whole adventure of repairing it.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ight=expensive

Now, in my case I found more rot, and broken frame members, and ended up doing the whole front half of the trailer. It was dirty, nasty work, but it really wasn't that hard, it just took a while to puzzle through. I had to hire a welder to come fix the frame. But the important part is the whole front half of my trailer is fixed now (the back half was ok), I think it cost about $2000, but that included new appliances (heater, fridge, and converter), and it only took the winter before it was back on the road and being used again. So although it was a big mess, looking back it wasn't that traumatic!

Of course you may be able to get away with just cutting away the bad wood and putting in a new patch. There are lots of people on the forum who have had to do that. If the wood isn't too bad there are products like Rot Doctor that will solidify the rotten wood without having to replace it. So explore around and ask more questions, and we'll be happy to try and help.
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Old 09-24-2005, 10:17 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
I also had floor rot under the battery and converter on mine. That's about in the middle of the streetside. Here's a link to my whole adventure of repairing it.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ight=expensive

Now, in my case I found more rot, and broken frame members, and ended up doing the whole front half of the trailer. It was dirty, nasty work, but it really wasn't that hard, it just took a while to puzzle through. I had to hire a welder to come fix the frame. But the important part is the whole front half of my trailer is fixed now (the back half was ok), I think it cost about $2000, but that included new appliances (heater, fridge, and converter), and it only took the winter before it was back on the road and being used again. So although it was a big mess, looking back it wasn't that traumatic!

Of course you may be able to get away with just cutting away the bad wood and putting in a new patch. There are lots of people on the forum who have had to do that. If the wood isn't too bad there are products like Rot Doctor that will solidify the rotten wood without having to replace it. So explore around and ask more questions, and we'll be happy to try and help.
Hi Steph,

I just read your epic "Floor Repair". Great work.... you should be proud.

After reading your acount, I have a bad feeling about the frame in the back end of my trailer (where the plywood is rotted). I was crawling underneathe ...basically just looking around and I noticed that one side of the trailer is slightly lower than the other....just along the very last 2 feet..again where rot is.

I'll have to find some time to check this out some more....
I don't have much time ( I've got two girls 2 & 4 yrs...and more than a full time job) but I'll ensure that the I know the scope of the problem before I make any big decisions.

thanks for the help,

Julison
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Old 09-25-2005, 04:22 PM   #34
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Now that's Depressing!

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Originally Posted by Julison
Hi Steph,

I just read your epic "Floor Repair". Great work.... you should be proud.

After reading your acount, I have a bad feeling about the frame in the back end of my trailer (where the plywood is rotted). I was crawling underneathe ...basically just looking around and I noticed that one side of the trailer is slightly lower than the other....just along the very last 2 feet..again where rot is.

I'll have to find some time to check this out some more....
I don't have much time ( I've got two girls 2 & 4 yrs...and more than a full time job) but I'll ensure that the I know the scope of the problem before I make any big decisions.

thanks for the help,

Julison
So, I traded some hours with my wife...she got to go for a long run while I took the kids to the park...then later, I got to tear the belly pan of the Caravel....what a deal!

I started at the back - where I knew there was some floor rot in the battery compartment. What a sad sight. THe main frame actually had perforation right through it near the back bumper. Also, the last two cross members were rusted completely off the main frame. It shocking to see how much damage can exist underneathe what seems like a "solid trailer".

I then proceeded to remove the rest of the belly pan. Thankfully the rest of the frame is solid....rusty to be sure - but solid.

So, I'm not really sure what to do next.
I'm thinking I'll remove all that blown in foam insulation and then brush the remaining frame clear - and then apply POR15 . Then the tough part.....Do I cut the frame off aft of the wheels and then try to weld on a replacement or (and this is my favourite) sister up some re-inforcing pieces to the existing (failing) frame and then weld that in place. With the main frame re-enforced, I could go about welding the replacements for the two rotted cross members.

Only then can I address the rotted floor.

I'll take some pics for those who like to see how bad things can get.

So, let's recap - I bought this "steal" for $2500. It's funny how relative the term "deal" is.

P.S: It was a real pain getting that belly pan off... It comes off in two pieces - one about 4 feet long, the 2nd about 12 feet.
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Old 09-25-2005, 05:25 PM   #35
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Julison... keep your $2500 in perspective... a NEW Airstream is about $2300 per linear FOOT! You got a steal. Your Caravel is rare; in relatively good condition (even with the floor rot and axle issues, the body is pristine...). So, when you're done you have some hours and a couple thousand more in it... and you'll have the coolest Airstream on the block!

Roger
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Old 09-25-2005, 05:30 PM   #36
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Don't worry, you're still in a good position. It's not fun work, but it's not terribly expensive. I think you're on the right track with cleaning out the old insulation and POR-15 on whatever is good to protect it further.

Can you weld, or will you be hiring that out? My welder had no problem fixing the frame, but on mine the welds had broken and there was no rust-through. Is your rust through the cross members, or the big C channel pieces that run from front to back?
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Old 09-25-2005, 08:35 PM   #37
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Frame Rust

Hi Steph,

Where the cross members are welded to the "C" main frame the cross members are rusted away..gone. The "C" mainframe is also badly rusted in this area - a couple of holes are rusted right through.

The cause, I'm 90% certain, is that the banana rap goes over the outside of the skin and the insde of the belly pan.... a pretty effective funnel.
30+ years of rain had the expected effect. I am lucky in that the mainframe is solid once the frame exits the underbelly and joins the bumper. So. I've got solid frame on both side of the week spot. I used to be an underwater welder ~ 20 yrs ago...but I don't have the equipment, so I'll likely have to bring someone in. First I'd like to look around at some welding or sheet metal shops and see if I can obtain an engineered cross brace to replace the rusted ones.

I'll borrow a camera from work tomorrow and document the before very clearly.

I'd like to get this repaired ASAP, and get the underbelly back on before the snow hits (about a month).

One other issue: I coulnd't get the propane disconnected under the AS, so to remove the underbelly I had to do some surgery..snip here and there. Has anyone tried to make there own underbelly...if so, from what material and how many pieces would you use. Mine was almost all one contiguous piece - very difficult to get in and out to be sure.

thanks for the support & advice

P>S: My wife has indicated that this deal was likely a very bad idea...just the motivation I needed.
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Old 09-25-2005, 09:09 PM   #38
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Oh no! The naysayers only make the project more difficult It sounds like you are very much capable of handling this project. Look for Chris's caravel project here

http://www.airforums.com/forum...=chris+caravel

He did all new bellypan, if I recall. Do a search, as several others on the forum have as well. I'm glad I didn't have to touch my bellypan!

It sounds like you are on the right track. Now for the wife, tell her that price really was a steal. If you fix it up and have it back together in the spring, have it all working and the frame repaired with pictures to prove it, and advertised it on the net, I'll bet you could get close to $10k for it, or even more! People go nuts for these little trailers in the spring. This summer I saw a lady here in the NW pay $6000 for a Globetrotter that was so rotten it was unusable, but she loved the size and had high hopes for fixing it up. I sold a Bambi that was unrestored to a lady in MN who paid $9k and drove all the way out here to WA to take it home. I had offers from a guy in Japan! I occasionally get offers for my Caravel even though it's not for sale! In the spring, there are people who will go to any length for one of these little Airstreams.

So, you bought at a great price, at the best time of year, and you have time and it sounds like the talent to fix it up. By spring this should all be behind you and you'll be enjoying camping in it.
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Old 09-27-2005, 04:05 PM   #39
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Rust Never Sleeps

Hi,

So, I've got some pics of the frame degradation that I saw once I peeled of the underbelly.

A very depressing site to see - so much rust!

In short, the last 2 of the last 3feet of C channel mainframe is VERY rusty. the last two crossmembers have rusted completely off the ruight hand side main frame. Luckily, everything forward of that is fine (rusty but solid).
I'm trying to get a competent welder to assess the best repair route.

Julison
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Old 09-28-2005, 12:38 PM   #40
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Frame Repair - Blown in Foam insulation

Hi,

Last night I removed the blown in foam insulation from the underside of the AS - from the axle back to the bumper.

Things of note:
Frame was MUCH better condition wherever the insulation was covering it.
Plywood looked almost brand new where the insulation was well adhered.

Does anyone know what the insulation is composed of (chemically). I wore a dust and organic respirator just to be safe.

This week I hope to get a custom weld shop nearby to assess the frame stabilization options. I can't find a local supplier (Ottawa , Canada) for POR-15...is there a similar product that might be more readily available North of the Border?

thanks in advance,

Julison
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Old 09-28-2005, 01:01 PM   #41
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I don't know what the insulation was composed of, but I also used a respirator when dealing with it. It was nasty and moldy. Handle with care.

I have a friend who has replaced the floors in many '68 models (I believe that's when they started using the blown in insulation) and he blames it for the rotted floors. He says that the floor gets wet and the insulation holds the water in so it can't dry out.

On mine as well the metal that was covered by the insulation still had original grey paint on it.

As for the POR-15, I always have to mail order it from the net. I can't find it locally either.
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Old 10-04-2005, 05:10 PM   #42
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69 Caravel Restoration Update

Hi,

So I took the day off work today to get some real work done on the Caravel.

I dropped the belly pan to get a look at the "soft spot" around the battery compartment. Sure enough the wood was very rotten in the whole back 3 feet of the trailer. The frame has some perforation in it as well in this area....bring on the welder.

To make the repair "easier???" I removed the back couch, and bathroom - VERY difficult getting the shower / toilet unhooked form the pipes!!!!
Thought I was stuck when I tried to get the shower out of the trailer door - I had to fight to get in out; I was beginning to think that perhpas they built the AS AROUND the shower! However, patience and a past summer job with a moving company allowed me to get in out eventually.

Had to rent a U-haul to bring the AS to the weld shop as I don't think my tow vehicle is up to the challenge (Hyunda Tuscon - V6). The owner's manual say's that the gross combination weight is 6600lbs, while the max towable weight is 2000lbs - with e-break. The clincher was that the tongue weight is stated as 150lbs. I tried to meaure the tongue weight with our "human" weigh scale....it stopped moving (crushed) at 370lbs...mmmm

At any rate, the Caravel is at the shop and the tech said that he wasn't sure how he would fix it - but that he would get creative an make it as good as if not better than before - for my sake, I hope he's is right and cheap

Last thought..... WIth the shower out of the back end, the trailer looks so much bigger. I hate the thought of changing anything with the trailer - seeing that it is virtually unchanged inside and out since manufacture, but I thinking of the options, because let's face it, that shower is almost too small for humans.

I'll keep you updated,

Julison
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