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Old 06-17-2012, 06:00 PM   #1
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1968 Airstream Ambassador axles?

My wife and I are looking at a 1968 Airstream that has been sitting for some time. It is mostly gutted, which is what we want. We want to retrofit it into a mobile kitchen. I'm reading posts on here and many are referring to the need for new axles. Is this a common issue with campers in this year? It is sitting about 2+ hours from home and would have to be trailered to our home for the retrofitting. The price is right and we know mostly what would need to be done for our purposes, but the axle problem concerns me. Is it safe to pull 2+ hours? Is it a foregone conclusion that we'll need to spend the $$s for new axles?

Thanks......Ron.
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Old 06-17-2012, 06:13 PM   #2
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If the trailer had been sitting for several years, the chances are very high that you will need to replace the axles. It isn't hard to do, and there are several threads here on both how to determine if you need new ones and how to replace the old ones. If you are converting to a mobile kitchen you may need to replace them simply due to increased weight of your equipment. Should you decide to purchase the trailer, put a new set of tires on it, and tow it home carefully. Trailer tires have a max speed limit of 65 mph anyway.
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Old 06-17-2012, 07:42 PM   #3
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There is a high probability you should replace the axels, but no danger that they will "fail" in some way to cause a wreck etc on any 2 hour trip. The wheels don't fall off. The rubber inside the axels gets hard, and does not have enough spring after many years. Since this trailer is mostly gutted, it will be lighter weight than it was originally and that is also a plus on tired axels.

If you have new axels eventually, you will get all new bearings, brakes and those kind of good things, which makes the money well spent.

For the trip home, replace the tires, as the damage from a blown tire can be thousands of dollars. Jack up the wheels individually and give them a good spin, and listen for any grumbling that might indicate a bad bearing. It would be nice to re pack them of course and some would say it is absolutely necessary, but probably not (my opinion of course).
Spend the money you would on re packing the bearings on the new axels. If you know how to re-pack bearings yourself, you could do that job for minimal cost, if you chose to do it.
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Old 06-17-2012, 08:06 PM   #4
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I got 2 new axles for my 69 ambassador, I had them delivered to a local dealer (red neck trailer supply) and was able to skip the shipping. I went through inland, they ordered giving them the specs I needed and up a reasonable up charge on it. They also shipped out the hardware, shocks, balancers, and a rock guard. I think it was about $700 per axle. I pulled mine with bad axles for about 500 miles, still pulled better and most trailers I pulled. Real smooth with new axles.

Also check it for rear end separation, it pretty common on some of these..
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rharlow View Post
My wife and I are looking at a 1968 Airstream that has been sitting for some time. It is mostly gutted, which is what we want. We want to retrofit it into a mobile kitchen. I'm reading posts on here and many are referring to the need for new axles. Is this a common issue with campers in this year? It is sitting about 2+ hours from home and would have to be trailered to our home for the retrofitting. The price is right and we know mostly what would need to be done for our purposes, but the axle problem concerns me. Is it safe to pull 2+ hours? Is it a foregone conclusion that we'll need to spend the $$s for new axles?

Thanks......Ron.
Hi Ron,
Your existing axles will be fine for the tow home, but you'll need to carefully consider the weight & position that you're adding to the trailer as it will likely require chassis reinforcement in addition to new axles that suit your "repurposing". As virtually all of these vintage trailers have some degree of floor rot along with associated chassis rust, you're going to want to make sure your "foundation" is solid.
Colin
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