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Old 10-26-2002, 10:25 AM   #57
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New Axles

Hi Pick,
New axles come again with unbalanced drums. My personal research has shown that trailer parts mfg. do not balance their assemblies. So you would have to get your running gear balanced and aligned after installing new axles, in orderto have it smooth and perfect. The charge around here is only $ 24.00 per assembly.
My tires acted like a pendulum in a way, when I jacked up the trailer recently to pack the bearings and check the brakes. I reset the wheels on the studs a few times on installation to minimize this effect. This was strange, because my tires had been computer balanced, but resetting them on the studs made the pendulum effect much less noticeable.
The vibrations caused by out of balance running gear apparently are not always visible.
I hope this answers your questions.
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Old 10-26-2002, 10:48 AM   #58
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Just being curious, I called a large Mfg. of trailers (non Airstream) in my area and asked them if they balanced replacement axle/brake/hub assemblies before shipment. They reported to me that it was up to the installer to perform this as part of the final assembly.

Just chatting with him, he said that most of their replacements were due to accidents and not wear and tear. He said he rarely gets requests for anything older than 10-12 years old as the topside usually doesn't last any longer. I thought that was pretty funny. Probably because it vibrates to pieces.

-BobbyW
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Old 10-26-2002, 10:53 AM   #59
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So do cars balance there Drums?. Ifnot why would you do this to a trailer..
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Old 10-26-2002, 10:59 AM   #60
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Yes, automotive drums are balanced from factory. The vibration of unbalanced drums and wheels would destroy your differential and axle bearings. Oscar
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Old 10-26-2002, 11:05 AM   #61
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So when a drum or rotated is turned and not balanced we are causing damage because it would then be un balanced.

There was a post before saying Airstreams have not had a balanced drum since early 80's correct? I guess I am saying I am not sure it is needed to do this as this post is leading all to believe.

I fell it would defiantly not hurt but help to do this but not completely necessary


Again maybe I am full of it too..
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Old 10-26-2002, 11:07 AM   #62
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Automotive Drums

JP,
All of my experience has been with European Import cars and American made vans/trucks.
The Euro parts were all balanced, which was evident by shallow holes drilled in the drums, or by material being removed on certain areas. This differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some shaved, some drilled. The drums on my Dodge are not balanced, at least not that I can see. I am not sure if this would be necessary on a vehicle with a 300lb axle. ( I am guessing on the weight of the axle) I own a vintage Mercedes with 4 drum brakes, and the drums on this car came balanced as well, even though they are very small as compared to an airstream drum. I suppose it differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, and on top of that I would say that some designs necessitate balanced assemblies, others don't. I consider it unlikely that a heave rear axle of a dually, for example, would be faced by a brake drum not being balanced. A light car with independent suspension, on the other hand, might transfer vibrations from a spinning drum that's out of balance very easily.
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Old 10-26-2002, 11:18 AM   #63
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The drums on my "78 bronco are balanced with a wieght that has been resistance welded to it (Ford 9" rear end). Turning the drums won't effect the balance since turning is done on the center line of the races. Material removed in negledgable. Oscar
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Old 10-26-2002, 01:01 PM   #64
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Rear End Droop

I got this from the old (really old) Airstream Central Site. Back when Charlie Burke did a wonderful ask the tech service (Thanks Charlie!!). It is quoted directly.

Quote:
Subj: Rear Bath - 1974 Airstream
Date: 96-08-03
E-mail Ronald
Have a 1974 27 Ft Airstream with Rear Bathroom. I am concerned about the comments that rear bath units of this vintage were prone to break off. Can you give some additional details of this problem and the factory corrective action used to repair. I plan to use additional jack stands under the rear when camping and not travel with the two rear holding tanks full. Any comments and suggestions would be appreciated.

Subj: Re: Rear Bath Airstream

Break off might be a little strong. Droop would be more appropriate. When the second holding tank was added not enough reinforcement was added to hold the extra weight of a full tank bouncing down the road. (Airstreamers take their coaches to some gosh awful places.) It took several years for the problem to show up. The symptom is a wave or ripple in the side sheet metal in front of and behind the wheel wells. The factory designed an add on reinforcing plate to correct the problem. It is a project to put on, doesn't "require" an Airstream dealer, but you do have to be careful.
The added jack stands are of questionable value, can't hurt. Traveling without full holding tanks is a very good idea. Just remember to "fill before you dump".
I had my 1969 Overlander checked out at Airstream service in Jackson Center in 1998. They inspected the frame. The frame was not bent and did not require the Frame Kit. If it was, the frame kit goes around the axle area. It is pictured in the first post.

Another problem is frame separation. This is where the frame separated from the body. Total strength of the unit is compromised. There is another fix for that, where they cut the rear skin and reinforce with triangular steel. I had this done to my coach. Bolts holding body and frame together in rear broke due to rust caused by a leak over the years.

All models are prone to damage due to vibration of out of balance running gear. Just like your car.

Jim
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Old 10-26-2002, 03:15 PM   #65
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Exclamation More revealing Evidence.

Jim thanks for the research.

Is Charlie Burke still contributing? If memory serves me right he was a RV technician, am I correct?

The mention of the wave certainly corresponds with Uwe's referral to it elsewhere in this thread. These are the first references I have seen of a visual clue to the 'Tail Droop'. They should provide an immensely valuable tool in appraising vintage Airstreams.

Do you (or anyone else) know whether the repair kit from Airstream comes with detailed instructions?

Did you see the factory guys inspect your frame? If so how much aluminum did they have to remove? could you describe?
Would you be willing to share the cost of the inspection.


In your example of 'Frame to Shell Separation';
Perhaps this is what is addressed in the Service Bulletin linked above.

What were the indicators that there was a problem?
Did Jackson Center do that work as well?
Cost of repair , if you don't mind?
Did you observe the repair?

thanks
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Old 10-27-2002, 08:07 PM   #66
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Interesting thread!!!

Did I miss somrthing? The Service Bulletin refers to 1969 - 1972 models. Does this separation occur on other years as well? Some have said that it has... Or is there a difference between a little sag of the entire rear end and wholesale separation of the body from the frame?

Thanks to whoever can answer...
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Old 10-27-2002, 08:23 PM   #67
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pj,

I saw the waves in the body on more trailers then I care to remember. Most of them were outside of the 69-72 range. Most of them were older than 69. All of them were longer than Safaris. 22ft.+, if I remember right. I had hundreds of pics, because every trailer I looked at I took pictures of to show my wife. Just recently deleted them - unfortunately. Many of the pictures showed the waves in the aluminum near the wheel wells. Please don't take this as a rule of things, but just as my experience while shopping for airstreams.
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Old 10-27-2002, 10:34 PM   #68
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Hex,

In response to your questions:

I see Charlie post on the VAC and Airstreamlist list serves from time to time. Don't know if he is a member here. I learned a lot from reading his Q&A posts when he did them in 1996 or so when I bought my Overlander.

From what I remember "hearing", I don't think the repair kit from Airstream comes with detailed instructions. One dealer I spoke to about it said it took a lot of drilling, emphasizing the point by saying he went through several drill bits for each job. Charlie gave a fairly detailed instruction on how to do it on the old Airstreamcentral site. I don't think I have that saved (have not found it at least). From what I remember you jack up the trailer and put it on jack stands front and rear, remove the axles, leave it suspended on the jacks at either end over night, install the kit, replace the axles, get them aligned.

The factory guys inspected the frame by having one guy look at the frame just aft of the axles where the frame is exposed through the wheel wells while the other jumped on the rear bumper. They were looking for signs of frame fatigue by watching for movement of the frame and observing the aluminum skin around the wheel wells. With the 1973 - 1976 gray tank problem, the frame actually bent just rear of the wheels. I am sure there are other frame problems that can occur to any year trailer and at any section of the frame, but the specific problem with 1973 to 1976 (or so) trailers had to do with a frame design weakness exposed by the weight of the addition of the grey tank on rear bath models, especially the longer trailers. 1969 was the first year of the "areo stress frame" and body style used throughout the 1970's and early 1980's. That specific problem showed up when they grey tank was added, however, people who put bike racks or other additional weight on the back of their trailers can cause the same problem with other years. Airstream corrected the problem in later years by strengthen the trailer frame.

The inspection was free. I had the trailer at Jackson Center for other work. Based on their inspection result and recommendation, we did not have the frame kit installed. At that time it would have been about $2500 to have them do it. Most of that was labor. The kit itself was $200 - $400.

What I did have them fix was a case of 'Frame to Shell Separation'. It sounds like the same thing in the Service Bulletin above, but they fixed it differently. They cut the skin on either side of the rear trunk door and bolted a triangular steel piece to the trunk door frame and through the body to the trailer frame with over sized bolts. See the attached photo of the aluminum patch over the cut. I don't remember exactly what it cost because I had them do a lot of maintenance type work at the same time. I think it was around $200.

I find that Airstream Service does a good job and are surprisingly reasonably priced.

Jim
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Old 10-27-2002, 11:33 PM   #69
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Saggy Bottom

To everyone who has commented on this thread:

As a potential Airstream owner of either a Bambi 19' or a International AS, do I have to be concerned about the dreaded saggy bottom? Has the Airstream factory and engineers solved any of the balancing, etc. concerns that you people talk about?
Thanks in advance for your already posted information and for any replies to my questions!
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Old 10-28-2002, 12:09 AM   #70
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International AS

I can only tell you that I can tow my AS for hours over good roads and find the place mats and objects left on the table or galley counter still in place. That indicates to me that there is trivial vibration.
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