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Old 01-19-2016, 09:58 PM   #1
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Breckenridge , Colorado
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Boondocking axles

New guy here- my wife and I are thinking about a 23 fb in a year or so. We have had a pop up for 15 years or so and never hooked up to anything. And that's the way we'd like to keep it. We are somewhat knowledgeable about solar, water, etc. hanging out for awhile - but we have taken are pop up places some people would not take there 4x4. I know we have to adjust our expectations, but that being said, it seems there are some axle retrofits that might help us get to where we want to go. Does this make sense on a new
( 2012 or newer) model? Recommendations on axles or shocks that might give us more ground clearance and smoother ride over washboard. Thanks for any help.
- Dave
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Old 01-20-2016, 07:39 AM   #2
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I've got a 71, 21' and if there is ground clearance and I can pull it there (even in 4X4 low range) then I go. I like dispersed area camping. I love the Flat Tops and I just have to take it easy on the always wash boarded Coffee Pot Rd.

Welcome to the Forums from Arvada. We are almost neighbors, My family has a cabin on the other side of Georgia Pass from you.
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Old 01-20-2016, 08:38 AM   #3
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We love the Flat Tops too. Been here many times over the years.
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Old 01-20-2016, 09:03 AM   #4
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We swapped out the 14" stock GYM ST215/75R14C tires rated 1,870 pounds @ 50 psi and 26.7" in diameter tires and wheels of our 2015 23D International Serenity for 15" SenDel T03-56545T wheels (match the 16" SenDel T03-66655T wheels we put on our Classic) and Michelin LTX (P) 235/75R15 XL tires sidewall rated 2,183 pounds @ 50 psi but must be derated to 1,985 pounds for trailer use with a diameter of 28.9". This raised the trailer axles about 1.1" so there is more ground clearance. In fact, it is the same clearance we had with our original 2013 25FB International Serenity with these same tires that raised that trailer about 0.3" higher.

This change in elevation meant the 23D hitch was now at the same level of the25FB when we used a Hensley Arrow hitch with our 2007 Mer eyes ML320 CDI V6 diesel. We are using the same car and settings with the 23D.

The 2014 31' Classic is towed using a ProPride hitch and a 2012 Dodge 2500HDCummins truck.
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Old 01-20-2016, 09:09 AM   #5
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Dave,

We have a 2013 23FB, and had quite a bit of work done on it to enhance it's boondocking ability. All the work was done by Colin Hyde (Colin Hyde Trailer Restorations, Plattsburgh NY), and it included:

Replace axles with 32 degree torsion arm axles (original are 22-1/2)
Replace standard wheels/tires (14"/Goodyear Marathon) with Sendel 15", Michelin LTX MS/2
Install 2 GoPower flexible solar panels
Replace standard toilet with a Nature's Head

We just got back from a four month US circumnavigation, including lots of stops at BLM sites, and were really happy with the results. To get to your original question, however: while changing the axles and the tires did get us more clearance (around 2"), a higher load rating, and more confidence in the wheels/tires/axles, I wouldn't say that it was a total game changer. Yes, you'll feel better about rough road / off road, but it's an Airstream: you still have to be careful.
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Old 01-20-2016, 09:53 AM   #6
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Dexter makes a lift kit for their axles. http://www.dexteraxle.com/torflex_lift_kit
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Old 01-20-2016, 12:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoldAdventure View Post
Dexter makes a lift kit for their axles. http://www.dexteraxle.com/torflex_lift_kit
We had also looked into this kit, and ended up going with new axles/wheels/tires. The concern was that while this may be OK for single axle trailers, for double axle trailers there is a greater potential for misalignment with resulting tire wear.
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Old 01-20-2016, 08:03 PM   #8
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Some good suggestions here. Thank you. The Sendel wheels bolt right to the existing hub?
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Old 01-21-2016, 03:42 AM   #9
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There are two 15" model SenDel wheels - one for five lug brake hubs like on 14" wheels and six lug used by Airstream on all the other models. They also have two 16" wheels for either six lug or eight lug applications.

The T-03 models below are the ones used by Airstream on the 2015 and later Classics and the Eddie Bauer models. We also installed the same 16" Michelin LT225/75R16/E LTX M/S2 tire that Airstream used so there could be no argument of improper suspension equipment on our Classic if we had a warranty issue.

T03SM | Sendel Wheels
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Old 01-21-2016, 02:44 PM   #10
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While you can get 6-lug hubs if you go with new axles, we stuck with the original 5-lug. For the later model 23FB's, 15" wheels is about as big as you can go without running into clearance issues. We went with 5 wheels (both axles plus spare), and contrary to some other posts had no problem with the 15" wheel/tire fitting into the existing spare rack.

This is what we got from Trailer-Wheels.com:

TW-T03-56545T 15x6 Aluminum Bullet T03 Sendel Trailer Wheel 5 Lug, 2150 lb Max Load
TW-106EZSS-60C 3.19 in Stainless Steel Trailer Wheel Center Cap Open End with Removable Plug

And this is what we got from Amazon:

Michelin LTX M/S 2 Radial Tire - 235/75R15 108T

Dan
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Old 01-21-2016, 03:53 PM   #11
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We were able to reuse the Airstream center cap from the stock 14" wheels in the 15" SenDel T03-56545T wheels. We were also able to use the Airstream center cap on the stock 15" wheels on the Classic in the 16" SenDel T03-66655T wheels.

We could not get the 15" Michelin spare into the stock tire carrier on our 23D since the tire has a much wider cross section and is 2.2" larger in diameter. We made a custom support bracket.

There is no way on our 23D to even consider a larger diameter tire.

Both trailers also have the appropriate Centramatic wheel balancers and a Dill TPMS 1506-453 system installed.
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Old 01-21-2016, 09:33 PM   #12
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Thanks for the great info, switz. Noting that you are based in Arizona, do you have any out of the way places you'd like to share. If you don't , I totally understand - I'm pretty frugal with mine.
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Old 01-23-2016, 09:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTSmitty View Post
Replace axles with 32 degree torsion arm axles (original are 22-1/2)
Replace standard wheels/tires (14"/Goodyear Marathon) with Sendel 15", Michelin LTX MS/2
Any pics of the setup with these mods? I'm considering a very similar approach and wondering how the added height will look.

Ordering my axles next week and on the fence on which angle.

Thanks.
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Old 01-24-2016, 03:58 AM   #14
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Installing the axles with the 32 degree drop versus 22 stock will move the tire both downward and forward. You might find that the 15" Michelin tire conversion would not work as the front curbside tire might be against the metal. I have more clearance on the street side, so the wheel well cutouts in the skins are not symmetrical.
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