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Old 08-07-2009, 10:25 AM   #1
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1971 23' Safari
Portsmouth , Virginia
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1971 Safari, First Time Owners

I've read dozens of threads on this site and finally decided to register. After years of casual discussion/wanting/looking, my husband and I bought a 71 Safari (23 ft) in mid-July. We are the 4th owners. She seems to be in overall great shape although we do have a plumbing issue to get checked out. The pressing question seems to be whether or not the axles need replacing. Two professional mechanics (who haven't seen the trailer-they are family members and far away) were astounded at the thought of replacing an axle. Yet there are a million threads about replacing the axles simply due to age. Are AS axles different from other axles? As the expense is great we don't want to spend the money if we don't need to. Neither my husband nor I are the least bit mechanical (please, no one laugh at us!. Is anyone out there from southern Virginia and know of a reputable service center? We are planning a cross country trip to WY for hunting season the end of September and we'd like to feel she's up to the drive. Incidentally, she's just "she" as we haven't arrived at a name yet!
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Old 08-07-2009, 10:40 AM   #2
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1970 23' Safari
2005 30' Classic
1986 31' Sovereign
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Welcome!

I camped and traveled two years on a bad axle in my single axle 1970 safari. The interior did take on some damage, like broken cabinet latches.

I would suggest that you get the "safety" part done first. Be sure you have good brakes, lights, bearings, tires, and wheels and your hitch is safe.

Then be sure the expensive stuff stays put! Does all your doors, windows, and hatches close and lock good? Is your propane secure?

The rest is gravy! You should now have a safe trailer to tow and a safe place to sleep.

You could do your axles yourself with some help for less than a grand. Probably closer to $800.

Direct bolt-ons will cost more.

Good luck! Take your time and have fun.
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Old 08-07-2009, 10:42 AM   #3
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1967 22' Safari
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Safari

Welcome to the forums! You might want to give Andy at InlandRV.com a call and he can best bring you up to speed on your axle condition. He is very knowledgable and has helped many here with vintage trailer issues and questions. The axles are different on Airstream trailers and they are very important to the safe towing of your trailer. I'm sure others here will chime in on this but don't ignor the axles! Have them checked out by someone who know torsion axles. Bearings are another important issue so get it all checked before you tow any real distance. It is always a good practice to check the axle bearings for excessive heat while on the road. You may save yourselves some expensive repairs as well as saving you the possibility of an unwanted accident. Be Safe! Happy Trails, Ed
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Old 08-07-2009, 10:49 AM   #4
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1971 23' Safari
Lilburn , Georgia
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Howdy and welcome. I have the same year and model trailer as you and have wondered the same thing about the axles. I'm fairly new around here as well, I bought my Safari this past February. From the discussion I've had with others who have replaced axles, it's not a bad idea to do it and there are many benefits to having new axles which are properly installed. That being said, I've had someone look at my camper who has replaced their axles and he said mine are in much better shape than his were. From everything I've read, if you have roughly 3" of clearance from the top of the rim (not the tire) to the body, then your axles are still OK (I have about 2 1/2"). I do plan on eventually replacing them but for now I have other issues which are taking precedence.

Cost is always an issue with most folks, but as with all things vintage, eventual failure of different components is inevitable.
Todd
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Old 08-07-2009, 10:55 AM   #5
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1970 23' Safari
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Please don't take this the wrong way, and perhaps this deserves its own thread, but this is an interesting statement:

"The axles are different on Airstream trailers and they are very important to the safe towing of your trailer."

Does the ability of an axle to suspend the trailer have a substaintial impact on the safety of the tow package?

Maybe you were talking about the overall condition (spindles, hub,....), but just because the axle rubber is past there prime, does this mean the trailer is unsafe to use?

Again, just wondering outloud......
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Old 08-07-2009, 01:17 PM   #6
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1971 23' Safari
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Dan B - great advice; thanks! The safety stuff you mentioned was already on our list so I feel affirmed we are moving in the proper direction. We drive a Suburban and already have a tow package from a different camper so we are good as far as towing.

Bassfiddler - we will do some measuring this weekend and see how we measure up according to your three inch rule. Thanks!
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Old 08-07-2009, 01:21 PM   #7
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Also, as BIGED52 mentioned, if you haven't done so yet get the bearings checked and repacked if needed for sure before you tow if too far.
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Old 08-07-2009, 01:26 PM   #8
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The three inch rule is ok for a quick guideline & overview, but be sure to do a more comprehensive check using the technique on inland Andys site.

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Old 08-08-2009, 08:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanB View Post
Please don't take this the wrong way, and perhaps this deserves its own thread, but this is an interesting statement:

"The axles are different on Airstream trailers and they are very important to the safe towing of your trailer."

Does the ability of an axle to suspend the trailer have a substaintial impact on the safety of the tow package?

Maybe you were talking about the overall condition (spindles, hub,....), but just because the axle rubber is past there prime, does this mean the trailer is unsafe to use?

Again, just wondering outloud......
DanB, The axles can cause improper wear and premature tire failure which would be not only a safety issue but could cause expensive to repair damage to the trailer. My ' 67 has damage to both wheel wells as well as damaged outriggers behind the wells and bellypan damage all caused by tire failure. The axle (single on my trailer) was not aligned properly and will have to be done before I ever put it on the road again. That is not only for my safety but for the safety of other highway users as well. In addition, the loss of torsion in these type axles can cause rough ride for your trailer (as in) things being bounced around inside. As well documented in these forums is skin damage, frame damage and popping rivets due to rough ride from worn axles. Your trailer could lose the ability to follow your tow vehicle correctly down the road and be harder to stop without swaying and causing loss of control of the TV. I don't want to be a soup box preacher but... do what you feel keeps you and yours safe. IMHO this is info we all need to be aware of. Ed
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Old 08-08-2009, 08:27 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twistboys View Post
Dan B - great advice; thanks! The safety stuff you mentioned was already on our list so I feel affirmed we are moving in the proper direction. We drive a Suburban and already have a tow package from a different camper so we are good as far as towing.

Bassfiddler - we will do some measuring this weekend and see how we measure up according to your three inch rule. Thanks!
Twistboys, Your tow vehicle should be OK but do check the running gear out thoroughly for the peace of mind in knowing it is all right. Be safe and enjoy the adventures. Happy Trails, Ed
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1967 Safari Twin "Landshark" w/International trim package
1999 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT
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"My tire was thumping, I thought it was flat. When I looked at the tire, I noticed your CAT!" Burma Shave
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Old 08-09-2009, 08:05 AM   #11
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Hi, welcome to the forum and congrats on your new 'girl'. The 3" rule of thumb (we will not get into where the 'rule of thumb' originated) is good, but if I remember correctly on Inland RV's website Andy has a very good discription of measuring the angle of the suspension arms.

I am extreamly jealous on the hunting trip to Wyoming in September. Wyoming is very high on my retirement list, I just returned from a 'jaunt' around Wyoming the last of June, really did not want to come back to Oregon.

Safe travels, good luck on the WY trip!
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Old 08-10-2009, 05:59 AM   #12
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1971 23' Safari
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Ed, we are getting everything checked out this week and hopefully it will either be ready to go or we'll just get it fixed! Thanks for your info - you clearly know a ton about this stuff!

Igor, lucky for me I grew up in eastern WY on a cattle ranch and my husband, from NW Montana, is a bowhunter. Being in the military makes an annual trip hard but we go when we can! It's a great way to combine road travel with our two boys, hunting and seeing parents/grandparents all in one shot! Depending on where you look you can get property in WY fairly inexpensively. Good luck!
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