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Old 01-13-2016, 08:01 PM   #1
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carlsbad , California
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Axle replacement / Floor Replacement - Newbies!

Hi, my name is Chris. My wife, 3 year old daughter, and dog are looking to fulltime it in a vintage. We are nearly ready to purchase and were currently looking at a 1982 Excella 27'. We love the layout and it fits our needs. In speaking with the current owner, she mentioned that the axels are original. The bearings were packed 3 years ago. She also said the floor seems in good shape but she has not lifted it up to see.

My questions is roughly how likely is it that the axels will need replacing? We would be driving it form Virginia to California. Also is there a rough cost for the replacement?

One last question, roughly how much is it replace the floor?

Thanks in advance for helping us out and we look forward to getting out on the road!


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Old 01-13-2016, 08:08 PM   #2
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Since you're driving back from Virginia, why not make a slight detour north to the Airstream factory and have them do the work? Call them now, book an appointment for the work. They'd be able to tell you exactly the time and cost. It won't be cheap. Maybe set it up so that they assess whether the axels or floor need work and set aside time to do each, but if nothing needs to be done you just carry on.

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Old 01-13-2016, 08:14 PM   #3
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It's hard to say what floor replacement/repairs would cost. It depends on the extent of damage. It may be OK; it might need some patching or require major repairs of large areas including complete replacement. Which in most cases requires lifting the body off of the frame.
If you pay to have the axles replaced it will cost in excess of $2,000. If you do the work yourself you may get by with $1,500 or so.
There are a number of threads here on what to look for when checking the axle conditions. But given the history of torsion axles of that age, I would say they are likely ready to be replaced.
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Old 01-13-2016, 08:42 PM   #4
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1967 28' Ambassador
1964 19' Globetrotter
1960 24' Tradewind
Edgewood , Kentucky
Join Date: May 2015
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long term investment...

A lot goes into the judgement call of upgrading or replacing the axle(s). Being that we don' know much about the trailer, better be on the cautious side and consider it PREVENTIVE maintenance. There is no harm in prematurely replacing them, it allows you to assure your safety of you and other on the road. When in doubt, go see a specialist. You do not want to wait until it really is an issue.

As far as the wood rot... If not terrible then you can get it to your place of establishment and worry about it at a later date (possibly a daunting project considering the extent of damage done).

Good luck and shop around the area for your best prices on repairs. Don't go with the first person you talk to, without talking to others first. More time than not you can say "you get what you pay for with repair services".
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Old 01-13-2016, 10:28 PM   #5
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Axle replacement / Floor Replacement - Newbies!

Re: Axles ... have a look at this:
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Old 01-14-2016, 08:41 AM   #6
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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Welcome to the Forums!

If I interpret the original post correctly, you live in California and are on the verge of buying a trailer that is in Virginia, and you will drive cross country to pick it up, and then pull it back. My first word of caution is that buying a trailer sight-unseen is a bad idea. At the very least, you you should use the "inspector finder" utility on the portal page to try to find someone who is local to the area where the trailer is to go and do a thorough inspection for you.

As for your questions, the axle question has been addressed above. Conventional wisdom is that the elasticity of the rubber rods in the axles will last about 25 years, so this trailer is probably about due for replacement by that measure. There are many threads that describe how to check your axles for actual condition. A google search from outside the forums usually helps.

Replacement of a rotting subfloor (ie., the plywood underneath the carpet or linoleum) is major, major surgery. If the trailer needs a subfloor replacement, then I would say the price had better be right. If you are talking about just replacing the surface flooring, well that is no big deal. Many people selling their vintage trailers do not have a very good idea of the actual condition of their floors underneath the cabinets and behind the sofas. You need a thorough inspection.

good luck!
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Old 01-14-2016, 08:58 AM   #7
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Slow down, take a deep breath, read the Forums.

All good advice here.

The best advice is to obtain a REALLY good education by others who have gone before you.

There are many, many rebuild threads here on the Forums. Read, read, then read some more - the best free university on all things Airstream you will find.

Only one thought of caution - give credit where it is due to those who have "been there and done that.

I would NOT want to attempt living in a trailer while doing major work on the trailer.

"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Old 01-14-2016, 10:37 AM   #8
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It sounds like you are properly planning for the worst case. Replacing axles and a floor are major items but may not be necessary. If the owner feels the floor is in good shape then absolutely check it (or have it checked out by a qualified mechanic). Unless an axle is bent or otherwise damaged they should not need to be replaced. I had the axle on my '69 AS inspected by a qualified mechanic 2 years ago and the original axle is not damaged or bent. I asked him to put new bearings on it and have kept them re-packed as necessary. When I stop for gas during a towing trip I put my hand on each tire and on the hub cap to check for excessive heat (which could also be caused by low tire pressure, a dragging brake pad, or a bearing that is thinking of seizing). Tire wear has been even and consistent. You may really luck out and not have to do either project!
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Old 01-14-2016, 11:19 AM   #9
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1970 23' Safari
Victoria , British Columbia
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These are good replies posted here . I bought mine sight unseen but was planning to do a major Reno before I picked it up . The po told me the floors where good and the owner before him had repaired them....... Not really when I dug in to the back end he added plywood over top of the back rot. I wanted to install grey tanks so removing the floors was part of my plan anyway.
My axles looked fine and I hauled it home no problems but once I dug into how the axle works I realized they where poooped out. Again no big issue as I had always budgeted for the possibility. Im very impressed with any airstream axles nearly 50 years old that are still good. Make sure you get a mechanic that knows what to look for with airstream axles ,as some I talked to didn't really understand what was different about them.
Good luck and don't buy to quickly especially if you plan on paying someone else to do most of the work, you could be farther ahead spending more upfront and avoiding major repairs.
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Old 01-14-2016, 11:25 AM   #10
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1957 26' Overlander
Three Rivers , California
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I would agree w/ Belegedhel. First of all you live in CA so wait and buy one from Cali.
There are many available if you are looking at 80's vintage. You will have less rot and rust and it will be easy to go check it out.

Most likely even in CA it will require some serious work unless it was under a roof and not used much. My 59' needed frame off, PO told me "it's soft around the edges. LOL! after ripping up carpet, plywood the put over old plywood, and under original was hanging on by a thread...OMG! heart sank.

I drove from SF to San Diego to look at one that seemed good only to see it was from back east and rusted.

I grew up in Ohio and worked in a body shop and let me tell you....most cars that came in that were crashed and 5 yrs or older we torched off the bumpers. They would be rusted in place like a weld.
here's one in Santa Cruz

Just look on craigs in the SW USA previously mentioned don't be in a hurry. Every day you read up here, look and learn is dollars saved.
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Old 01-14-2016, 11:32 AM   #11
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It can turn out to be a large can of worms, it may need more than just axle.
( axle, shocks, brakeing pates, brake drums,inter and outer bearings,rims lug nuts,breakaway switch, batery, and new tires.) ect ect.
That is just to git it road ready.
It may be best to look for one that is from AZ or CAL. they tend to have less RUST.
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Old 01-14-2016, 11:38 AM   #12
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1984 31' Excella
1976 Argosy 24
Olsburg , Kansas
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Posts: 129
Flooring can be checked from above in many locations with a ice pick or wood awl. Bathroom floor, under windows, doorway, etc., All trailers will leak sometime, somewhere since then shake and roll going down the highway and rivets in the outside skin can become loose and leak. You cannot check from the bottom of the trailer since there should be aluminum covering the frame, etc. You would have to drill out the rivets to drop the panels and then put panels back in place with rivets.

Axles should have a certain percentage drop when lifted on jacks. The axles have a rubber insert that will get hard/brittle over the years. On the 68 24 foot that we owned, the front axle had more drop than the rear so I changed out both for precautionary measures. New axles usually come with backing plates etc. for brakes. Do your axles have shocks, I replaced my with the type of shock for the trailer. Some people have replaced shocks with automobile shocks which does not work because of the valving for upright application. The AS are basically horizontal shocks. Some people do not replace the shocks, I did on my 68. My axles were purchased through Redneck trailer supply in 2010 for 484.00 each in Wichita, KS. The degree drop on the axle for mine was 22.5. It is my understanding from others more knowledgeable than me that new axles might be best with somewhat of a heavier rating than what came on the trailer. I know a person from Boulder, Colorado area that has done axle replacement for many AS, he helped me order my axles and I put them on the trailer. If interested I can give you his information via PM and you can contact him for a cost of installation. Paul Mayeaux from Texas does trailer restoration, etc. From what I hear he is very busy but might be able to help you on your trip from Virgina to California. Any place you decide to have replace the axles will need lead time to order axles, etc.

Currently I own a 84 31 foot and haven't replaced the axles yet. I do need to check the drop on my axles this summer.
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Old 07-02-2016, 05:05 PM   #13
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@clydecrashcu could you pm me the axle guy in Boulder? I'm south of Denver with a 66 Avion, need axle checked. Thanks!

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