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Old 09-29-2014, 06:22 PM   #1
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1961 Ambassador with welded on Torsion Axles

I just took a serious look at my axles on my 61 Ambassador, the Torsion axles are REALLY welded on there! I looked through the most current 300 posts and found NOTHING on this welded on Axle subject (A search brings up literally 49000 threads).
If I converted over to leaf springs and straight axles, this would be a SIMPLE "New axle project" and even if I miss the alignment, it's SIMPLE to adjust.
Anyone have any suggestions for me? I'm on a budget, so taking it somewhere really isn't an option. I have welders in my shop, so that's not a real big deal. Getting the existing axles off without destroying the frame is my biggest concern. It doesn't appear to be factory installed.
If I just cut out the axle and left the plate, that wouldn't me to bad as it appears the top of the axle isn't welded to the bracket, but I would assume I can't put that much heat on the rubber torsion springs???

I really do understand having the independent suspension is the best way to go, but touching these axle plates out does not seem like a great idea unless I want to get into a full on Frame repair too (Which the frame appears 99%, beside the back bumper area on the curbside, that I want to redo).
EVERYTHING I read talks about "Bolted on axles", so when I was shopping for an early 60s AS, I just knew I wanted new axles. Had I noticed the brackets were welded on, I may not have jumped on this unit. The inside is camp ready for the most part, and the body is really nice besides a good budding.
Thanks in advance for any options/ideas you may have.
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Old 09-29-2014, 08:53 PM   #2
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See if you can find an ID on the axle tag to see if they are original or not.

Perry
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Old 09-29-2014, 08:58 PM   #3
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The first year they were welded on. Airstream advertised that the axle was forever and would never need to be replaced.
Cut the welds and bolt the new one in...
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Old 09-29-2014, 10:25 PM   #4
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^^^ What he said! ^^^

In the first few years or year they were welded. Very few were assembled that way. You are sort of lucky!! OK may be not so much.

If you go to a leaf spring you will have to design your own system and create mounting points that will hold the spring attachments. And pray there is enough metal to hold the attchment points.

Or cut with a grinder the old axle out. Using a torch may be too broad depending on how the axle is welded in.

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Old 09-30-2014, 12:05 AM   #5
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My question is now, when are the plates welded on at the axle factory? Before or after the rubber is inserted?
After thinking about it, I could have those axles off in a couple hours with a grinder, leaving the plate and the "U" where the new axle will go. I could set the new axles right in the existing plate, no way to not put them in right, then cap the bottom. Where's it going to go?,,, Assuming I can weld on the ends of those axles?
But the conversion to the leaf spring seems easier at this moment. I'd be adding a 1/4" plate at the bottom of the main frame rail, running back a ways then adding angle to the back, allowing me to mount a bike rack back there and fix a minor issue (right now)at the point where the bumper meets the frame rails.
I'll scan some drawings in and include pics of existing before I pull the trigger. Just need to know my options at this point.
I should also mention that I wouldn't mind having it up several inches, even needing a double step would be fine. With those big wheels and tires, it would look cool with another 5 inches showing, and allow for my big truck to not need a drop.
Thanks for any ideas you may have. Once it's in my shop, I'll pull the wheels and get some real pics (in a few weeks it becomes my full time job until it's done, with one of my guys getting stuck doing most of the buffing.
Axles and the frame issue is first on the agenda, JUST like I down when redoing a house or a car.
I'll add the pics in a following post. Not seeing how to do it from here. Sorry.
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Old 09-30-2014, 12:10 AM   #6
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The weld on the axle to the plate is NOT on the top. Only the sides and bottom of the square tubing.
I'll get some better pics tomorrow if needed, but until I have the wheels off, it's tough to get a good shot.
Thanks again!
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Old 09-30-2014, 05:32 AM   #7
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I cannot believe I am getting involved in an axle discussion!

I think you might be a bit confused about the system…
First, you should visit the Dexter site and look at what is a torsion axle actually is. You do not weld on an arm to your existing axle, you replace it all. The axle has a welded on bracket that bolts to the plate hanging down from the frame. Your current axle is welded to it. After your one year, they bolted instead of welded. You will however need to remove the shock mount from your old axle and weld it onto the new one since only Airstream uses shocks on their axles. The heat from this weld will not effect the rubber rods inside the axle tube.
I would abandoned the the idea of the leaf springs. By the time you buy the axles, the springs, the shackles and make the points of attachment, you will be in it as deep as with a torsion axle.
The axle is unique. It is not standard fare due the mounting bracket. I strongly encourage you to contact one of the guys who sells them on this forum and work with them. They will make sure you get the correct axle.
You do not cap the notch that the axle goes in either. You bolt the axle to the plate.
You can easily get the axle in the wrong place. Once in the notch you must make sure you align it to the frame. It can be out by as much as 3/8" if you do not pay attention at this step.
Now you wanted to go up with the trailer. That can happen by selecting the correct start angle of the torsion arm. Once again, the guys who sell these will help guide you. I am going to however say, you have a 1961 and they look stupid jacked up. The sleekness of the 58/62 units is due in part to how high or actually not high off the ground they are. A drop hitch is a small price to pay for keeping your trailer looking as it should.
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Old 09-30-2014, 06:48 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Studioman View Post
The weld on the axle to the plate is NOT on the top. Only the sides and bottom of the square tubing.
I'll get some better pics tomorrow if needed, but until I have the wheels off, it's tough to get a good shot.
Thanks again!
If welding your axle in place damaged the rubber rods, then why do you think it lasted so long?

Weldindg the axle in place cause ZERO damage to those rods.

On the other hand tordion axles only last ball park 25 years.

Or even less if parked and not used for a couple of years or so.

Many of out customers have welded the axles in place, with ZERO problems.

Andy
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Old 09-30-2014, 07:46 AM   #9
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I see. SO the plate that the axles goes through stays? I was assuming it would have to go from the 100s of pics I looked through of axle changes.
I know of a guy a couple hundred miles to the West of me (In MI) who sells torsion axles CHEAP, but they need modification is my assumption. I want to say I can get both axles, with import bearing (I'd change them to Timken) and brakes for under $700.
And I wouldn't "Jack it up". I was thinking 5 inches total. By looking at it, I'd guess I'll see 3 to 4" just putting good axles on it.
THANKS for the heads up on the "Lifting". VERY valid point and as thinking about it, I 100% agree with you. The thing I don't dig about new "Bread box campers" is they are to high...
(I see why I couldn't post pics, I was on/am on "Quick Reply").
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Old 09-30-2014, 08:21 AM   #10
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Here is another guy I was considering checking out...
2 Axles 3500lb Torsion Brake Trailer Axles 94 5HF 68MI 72mo 22 Degrees Down | eBay
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Old 09-30-2014, 08:30 AM   #11
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Why do you want a hub face of 94.5 inches?

Then, with that supplier. no 12 inch self adjusting brakes, or shock brackets.

Also 22 degrees instead of 32 degrees?

That's a cheap price for something you can't use, at least on your Airstream.

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Old 09-30-2014, 01:04 PM   #12
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My question is now, when are the plates welded on at the axle factory? Before or after the rubber is inserted?
To answer the question, the welding occurred after the rubber was inserted into axle tube. The axles were manufacturered and the installation took place after the manufacturering of the axle assembly. Proper welding can occur on an axle tube and not have a negative effect on the axle performance. Welding on shock brackets to a new axle assembly is a common example of that statement.

On another area - if cost is an issue, cut out the old torsion axle and install a new torsion axle. The trailer was designed to have a torsion axle and it will be far easier to use that design to reinstall a new torsion axle the trailer was designed for in the place it was designed to be placed. If cost isn't an issue, design what ever axle system you would like to do. I am pretty sure you will have all kinds of problems that could be lots of fun to overcome in mounting a system the trailer was not designed for. It's only time and money.

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Old 09-30-2014, 04:45 PM   #13
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torsion axles for an Airstream have a reverse bracket. They are usually low profile brackets. The start angle from the factory is 22.5 degrees. All of these things are unique to Airstream and not used by many others.
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Old 09-30-2014, 04:46 PM   #14
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I cannot direct you to it, but there are many blogs with vivid photos showing axle changes
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