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Old 10-23-2011, 10:13 PM   #1
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1971 Safari Axle Replacement

Up until about a year ago I was convinced that our Airstream (Moe) didnít need new axles. I didnít understand why the axles would need to be replaced. Yep, I was a dope and I definitely found out why they did what they didÖ Boy howdy was I wrong.



I didn't figure out I needed new axles by reading articles from folks on checking the angle of the pivot arms (or whatever they are called) on the axles, although that information helped confirm that I needed new axles. I knew I needed new axles because when I got back home to Marietta from a Kansas music festival (The Walnut Valley Music Festival just about everything I had on the beds, which included several guitars, a Dobro and other instruments (all in cases) where on the floor instead of on the beds. I remember thinking "what the heck happened here!?" This trailer isn't supposed to do this! Itís supposed to ride like itís on a stream of air! Dangit.


That started me on the path to replace my axles. Since then, I've read every thread about replacing axles. You folks are awesome! I can't thank you enough for the information.

I ordered my axles from Colin in June. I had spoken to Andy and he was really helpful (as was Colin!), but at the time the price difference between the two was very important to us. I ordered 2 - 3200# axles from Colin and I specified 12" brakes. I figured that the original axles had 12" brakes so the new ones should too. The upgrade from 10" to 12" was minimal - $100 or so. I paid under $1500 including shipping for the 2 axles. Colin was great. He answered every question I had with tons of patience. Thanks Colin!

At the advice of Colin, I bought 4 Monroe gas-matic shocks, model #555003, which cost $114 for all 4. The mounting bolts were included with the shocks. All I needed to add were 3 washers to the inside of the mounting bolt on the axles shock mount otherwise the bolt would rub and damage the tires. That was the only issue during the removal or install. Well, that and one drill bit the dust. Iíll get to that later.

Over the next few days I'll add photos and more details of the removal and installation. I hope that ok.

Overall I removed the axles Saturday (I had help for about 30 minutes) and installed the new axles Sunday (today). I had help with the axle installation today for about 4 hours. The worst part was drilling new holes in the frame; otherwise the process was just being smart and figuring out how to support the axles during removal and installation.


More to follow. Thanks for reading and allowing me to post this adventure, because it was an adventure. A very cool one.
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Old 10-29-2011, 05:53 PM   #2
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I'm going to use this thread to document the removal and install of the axles on our Safari. Several tools were necessary to perform the removal and install of the axles. 1/2 socket set, box end wrenches. 5/8" drill bits, cutting oil and 1/2" drill (Dewalt XRP batteryand Mikita wired drills). The axle bolts used 15/16" sockets and box end wrenches. I used a Titan ratchet breaker bar (24" length) and it was worth every cent. I forget the size used on the shock bolts. 4 floor stands and one floor jack. The floor jack I used was made by Titan and is called a hybrid floor jack. It's freaking awesome! It was indispensable when lowering and raising the axles.

Here's the floor jack:
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Old 10-29-2011, 05:59 PM   #3
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Next, I raised Moe (our AS) with the Torin floor jack and placed floor stands under the front axle brackets. The rear axles was the first to be removed.

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Old 10-29-2011, 06:09 PM   #4
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Here's a photo of the floor jack raising the axle. Since I had no plans on reusing the axles I raised Moe by placing the floor jack under the axle tube so that I could place the floor stand under the axle bracket.




Next is a photo of the axle bracket with the nuts removed.



Once the bolts were removed from both sides I was able to use a pry bar to loosen up the brackets from the frame. The pry bar was inserted between the top of the bracket and the lower side of the frame and I was able to pry the bracket loose. I placed the floor jack underneath to "catch" the axle from hitting the ground or me.
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Old 10-29-2011, 06:12 PM   #5
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Next I removed the shock. Here's a photo of the shock removed from the frame, but still attached to the shock bracket on the axle.



Here's a photo of the bracket after it broke loose from the frame:

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Old 10-29-2011, 06:17 PM   #6
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Here's the axle once it was on the ground! Hot dog! One down and one to go.




The axle was so rusted I couldn't read the plates on the axles:



Removing the second axle was essentially the same as removing the first. After I removed the second axle I painted the axle frame area with black Rust-Oleum. That ended Saturday.
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Old 10-29-2011, 06:30 PM   #7
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Sunday morning. I was able to lift the first axle with the Torin floor jack then move it under Moe. I used the floor jack to lift the axle and place 2 floor stands under each axle bracket. I then used the floor jack to lift each side and "press" the bracket into place.


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Old 10-29-2011, 06:44 PM   #8
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The worst part of the removal/install was drilling new holes in the frame. The bolts are 5/8". When drilling the new frame holes make sure to use cutting oil. I broke one drill bit before the first hole was completed because I didn't use cutting oil. A quick trip to a local hardware store and advice from one of the more experienced folks there I bought a bottle of cutting oil and several new drill bits. I was able to make it through the rest of the holes (8 total) without another broken drill bit.

This image shows the axle in the frame slot and the original hole in the bracket does not match up to the bracket.




Here are 2 photos showing the bracket hole mismatch. Holes needed to be drilled:




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Old 10-29-2011, 07:00 PM   #9
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All things considered drilling 8 holes in the frame wasn't a big deal. It just took some muscle and a dang good drill. I used one battery per axle. I was surprised that the DeWalt XRP drill was up for the task. I bought a new 1/2" Mikita electric drill for the project and didn't even get to use it.

Don't let that scare you from doing this work.

The next step in the project was to install the shocks. Definitely the easiest part of the whole project. The only issue with the shock install to be aware of is the amount of thread of the bolt that sticks out of the axle shock bracket. In my case it was enough to touch the tires. I used 3 washers between the shock side and the axle bracket. That prevented the bolt from touching the tire.


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Old 10-29-2011, 07:12 PM   #10
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I gained 4 inches after installing the new axles.




After I finished installing the axles I pulled Moe through a few areas that were very bumpy. A total of about 20 miles. It had a lot less bounce left, right, backward and forward. The soda can I put on the counter was in the same place on the counter when I finished my test run. That's pretty dang cool!

Next on the list is figuring out what kind of baby moons I should use...

I took a lot more photos of the project. If you'd like to see them they are here. Here is the axle removal album:

https://picasaweb.google.com/pickerd...eat=directlink

Here's the axle installation album:

https://picasaweb.google.com/pickerd...eat=directlink

Thanks,
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Old 11-04-2011, 12:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pickerdd View Post
All things considered drilling 8 holes in the frame wasn't a big deal. It just took some muscle and a dang good drill. I used one battery per axle. I was surprised that the DeWalt XRP drill was up for the task. I bought a new 1/2" Mikita electric drill for the project and didn't even get to use it.

Don't let that scare you from doing this work.

The next step in the project was to install the shocks. Definitely the easiest part of the whole project. The only issue with the shock install to be aware of is the amount of thread of the bolt that sticks out of the axle shock bracket. In my case it was enough to touch the tires. I used 3 washers between the shock side and the axle bracket. That prevented the bolt from touching the tire.


I think you have used incorrect shocks.

No one, repeat no one has the correct shocks, except Airstream.

They are black in color AND "horizontal shocks".

Vertical shocks will not work in a horizontal position.

Andy
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:55 PM   #12
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What's the difference between the Monroe Gas-matic shocks I used and the standard Airstream shocks? Doesn't Airstream use Gabriel shocks?
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Old 11-09-2011, 07:34 PM   #13
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Airstream for many years used Delco horizontal shocks.

For some reason Delco decided not to make them anymore.

Then Gabriel came on board, and has made the "horizontal shocks," also for many years, and only for Airstream.

Andy
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Old 11-10-2011, 01:03 PM   #14
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Thanks for the info Andy. What's the difference between a horizontal shock and a vertical shock (other than the position they are installed on the AS)? Are they made differently?
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