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Old 02-10-2013, 11:50 PM   #1
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1973 Argosy 24
Houston , Texas
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1973 Argosy Axles... looking for opinions

I pulled the drum off one of my wheels to see what the overall condition was. Bearings look good, races look good, grease is in good condition. There is some where on a "round" magnet, but the lever moves in either direction just fine.

Ordinarily I would just do a bearing/seal/race job and call it a day.

However, these are 40 year old axles, so looking at the torsion performance is in order.

The non-scientific measurement says there is spring left. I weigh about 200# and when I jump up and down in the trailer there is a decent amount of bounce.

Visual inspection of the shocks validates that they are pre-scrap.... time to change the shocks.

A more scientific evaluation of the axles shows that they have resistance to load.

With the trailer up on jack stands (2 at tongue, 2 in front of axles, 2 behind axles and 2 at rear bumper) I put a castle nut on the end of the spindle and carefully positioned a floor jack to contact it. I measured the distance from the nut to the ground. I then jacked the spindle until the trailer began to move. Total travel is just approximately 2.25 inches.

I've heard 3 inches banded about, but I don't have any good specs. Flexiride axles have great specs and show about 2.5 inches of travel for a similar setup.

Unloaded angle does not appear to be 22.5 degrees. However, it's not flat either.

My outside bracket to outside bracket measurement is 61.375" (61 - 3/8). That seems to be universal on Airstreams. Interestingly, my hub face to face appears to be 77 inches. I measured this by clamping angle iron to both hub faces and then clamping the tape measure to the inside of the angle iron on one side and holding it to the inside of the angle iron on the other side.

I do not appear to have any frame sag or major frame challenges.

So the question I'm left with is this:
A) Is the axle serviceable?
B) What other measurements should I consider for the axles?

I've attached a few images showing the angle iron scheme for getting the hub face measurement, the wear pattern on the magnet, and the break assembly.

NOTE: While I do have 8 jackstands under the trailer, I also leave the jacks in place... just in case. The jacks are readily visible in a couple of photos and I didn't want anyone to think it's okay to work on something supported only by jacks. I have a healthy respect for the weight involved. A falling trailer will seriously injure or kill whomever it lands on.
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Old 02-11-2013, 12:39 AM   #2
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Opinion: replace them with all new brakes, bearings and wires. You also can get ones that you can grease with a grease gun from the exterior, or never lube ones. You can change the width of the axle so it fits better in the wheel opening and that makes the tires easier to change. You can get extended wires so the splice can be pushed up into the belly pan and not be exposed to the weather. Self adjusting brakes can be ordered.

I had the single axle on my '74 20' Argosy changed. It drives better, tracks better, brakes better and was well worth the money. I had the width changed slightly, and it is easier to change the tires now. I can grease the bearings with a gun. No more electrical issues or brake adjustment issues. Win, win, win in my opinion.
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:33 AM   #3
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If they are unserviceable, then yes replacing them with more modern ones makes sense.

At a minimum I'm considering replacing the bearings.. For the money involved I usually don't repack bearings... I just replace them.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:21 AM   #4
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At 40 years old, the axles are shot. The rubber looses its resiliency. Nobody will service them. Replace them as complete units with new drums and brakes. Figure on about 700+ per axle. Some axles are coming without the shock brackets installed, the pair I got was like that. Cost me an extra 100 bucks to have a welder put them on. Wish I had known about that when I ordered them. Hope to get my new pair of axles mounted this week. I think it's money well spent.

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Old 02-11-2013, 12:38 PM   #5
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Based on your observations and my opinion. And to some degree your planned usage in the near and distant future.

The bearings and races are serviceable. No marks or evidence that they are worn you should be good to go. This is also a indicator of the previous service to the trailer appears to have been good. (Repack and replace the seals)

The axle is still serviceable, however it is at the end of it's service life. Prolonging the service life means using the trailer. A static trailer will allow the rubber in the torsion axle to harden. Usage of the trailer or movement in the torsion system will keep the rubber axle rods pliable, extending the service life for some time. And know this system has a much shorter service life than leaf springs. At the current age of the axles, replacement would be a prudent thing to do soon. Upon replacement ride height should be higher and axle to coach movement will be greater allowing for greater cushion in load handling.

Replace the shocks.

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Old 02-11-2013, 06:16 PM   #6
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1973 Argosy 24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquinob View Post
At 40 years old, the axles are shot. The rubber looses its resiliency. Nobody will service them. Replace them as complete units with new drums and brakes. Figure on about 700+ per axle. Some axles are coming without the shock brackets installed, the pair I got was like that. Cost me an extra 100 bucks to have a welder put them on. Wish I had known about that when I ordered them. Hope to get my new pair of axles mounted this week. I think it's money well spent.

Who did you order axles from? It looks to me like you have 12 inch brakes.

I can weld and fabricate so I'm not too worried about putting my brackets on or getting them.

My understanding is the fabricating factory determines if you get brackets.... one factory will put them on, another won't.
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Action View Post
Based on your observations and my opinion. And to some degree your planned usage in the near and distant future.

The bearings and races are serviceable. No marks or evidence that they are worn you should be good to go. This is also a indicator of the previous service to the trailer appears to have been good. (Repack and replace the seals)

The axle is still serviceable, however it is at the end of it's service life. Prolonging the service life means using the trailer. A static trailer will allow the rubber in the torsion axle to harden. Usage of the trailer or movement in the torsion system will keep the rubber axle rods pliable, extending the service life for some time. And know this system has a much shorter service life than leaf springs. At the current age of the axles, replacement would be a prudent thing to do soon. Upon replacement ride height should be higher and axle to coach movement will be greater allowing for greater cushion in load handling.

Replace the shocks.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>Action
I probably have 3 trips on the agenda this year. My dilemna is that I would like to get some use out of the trailer before I spend the summer working on it. The bathroom has classic tail-rot. I pulled off a banana peel last night to peek. The holding tank situation needs attention. I'm trying to resist the nagging urge to strip the interior and re-arrange the trailer. I've had that infection before with a GMC Bus. It wasn't pretty or cheap and it didn't end well.

I did however re-do a sailboat twice.... so it's not a lost cause... I just have to be careful.... as I have a history.

I have an Argosy because I love the look and durability of Airstreams but didn't want the hassle of a mirror to polish. I can live with cleaning it and painting it once.

I swear I saw the "while-im-there-zilla" bug crawling around under the trailer. It's got a nasty bite that is only cured with liberal repetition of BOAT. (Bring Out Another Thousand).

I agree the axles eventually needs to be replaced. As does the wiring that goes to them, the insulation, the paint, the bathroom floor, the black water tank, the plumbing, the interior bed..... the finish floor, the countertop laminate, the sink. lol.

I sometimes swear this forum is a cross between a support group and an enabling group.
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:45 PM   #8
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Usage of the trailer (with out further damage) would be dependant on how much "tail-rot" has occurred. There are many opinions and the most prudent would be don't use until everything is fixed. There is some risk in using with the damage as more use could create more damage. The floor is part of the support structure of the trailer. Bad floor could mean not enough support for the body. And I have towed with a bad tail end. The well used axles will add to the issue as the axles won't take the pounding out of the road as a new axle set would do.

Based on what you have stated, expect a lot of "while I am there, might as well handle ........."

Good luck.

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Old 02-13-2013, 07:11 PM   #9
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I appreciate all the feedback. I called one of my local trailer dealers and they quoted me $350/axle for Al-Ko axles. I'm going to take one axle off and go see if we can get them ordered at the price. LTL freight to Houston is additional, but that should be around $125-150. That makes replacing them much simpler.

It's a reputable dealer and they will measure the old axle and take responsibility for the new one matching, which is great.
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Old 02-13-2013, 08:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hotpuppy View Post
I appreciate all the feedback. I called one of my local trailer dealers and they quoted me $350/axle for Al-Ko axles. I'm going to take one axle off and go see if we can get them ordered at the price. LTL freight to Houston is additional, but that should be around $125-150. That makes replacing them much simpler.

It's a reputable dealer and they will measure the old axle and take responsibility for the new one matching, which is great.
Word has it that ALCO has never made an axle to properly function on any Airstream. If so, they would be a leader in the market, at that price.

Andy
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:13 PM   #11
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Wow! We are all interested in this $350 axle. I've never seen an Al-Ko axle, but I do know they have some sort of stake/merger with Axis axles. Interesting.
If that doesn't work out for you, try these guys. Shipping will be a lot less.
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Old 02-13-2013, 09:35 PM   #12
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The AL-KO design is a "3 rubber rod" design instead of four, like what Axis, Henschen or Dexter uses, so the suspension dynamics will be different. They won't come with shock brackets welded in place or mounting brackets with holes to suit your trailer either. All of this can be overcome with additional work & $, but it won't be a "bolt in".
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Old 02-13-2013, 10:31 PM   #13
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1973 Argosy 24
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Originally Posted by Colin H View Post
The AL-KO design is a "3 rubber rod" design instead of four, like what Axis, Henschen or Dexter uses, so the suspension dynamics will be different. They won't come with shock brackets welded in place or mounting brackets with holes to suit your trailer either. All of this can be overcome with additional work & $, but it won't be a "bolt in".
Thanks,
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The lighter axles are 3 rod. The 3500 pound is a comperable drawing to the Dexter.
http://dexteraxle.com/i/u/6149609/f/...0_Lbs_1-12.pdf

http://www.al-kousa.com/pdf/U19_U29_U35_2200-2900lb.pdf

I personally think Flexiride is a better engineering design... it's in sheer not compression. http://www.ucfamerica.com/FlexirideT...%20torsion.jpg

I read in one of the threads that SWW can't fabricate to the specs for Airstream. I think TOP was the one who mentioned it.

As far as Dexter vs. Al-Ko....

Dexter has been around a long time and has a great reputation. They have approximately 1200 employees world wide.

Al-ko is a German based international company with 4,000 employees and 40 corporate entities. They are ISO 9001C certified which suggests that they have robust quality control and engineering processes. They will also have sound risk management processes.

Yes, the shock brackets are a minor nuisance... as are the flange holes.

I have a few tricks in my garage for both of those.

Image # 1 is what I built a couple of weekends ago. I don't think that the shock brackets will be a big deal. I have a few welders and a plasma cutter. I also have a CNC Mill should I want to make super accurate parts. The top on that table is 1/2" steel and weighs 500lbs. The table itself was an evening project.

I modified a boat trailer a few years ago and changed it from springs to Flexi axles. Drilling isn't that big of a deal. I find that chucking an inexpensive end-mill makes short work out of anything I need a hole in.

Btw, it took me about 2 hours to get the axles out from under my Argosy... working by myself, with the trailer up on jack stands already.
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Old 02-13-2013, 10:46 PM   #14
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Here are the shots of removing the axles.

I show the type of wrench I used to hold the nut in one image.

How to support the axle with a floor jack in another.

The Pblaster can of miracle juice that helped the bolts loosen.

And the axles themselves on moving dollies.

I'm using a $99 Harbor Freight compressor and a $40 harbor freight 1/2" impact wrench.

My plan is to put an axle in my utility trailer and take it up to Trailer Wheel and Frame (the local dealer) and see what my options are. They were the ones who quoted $350 plus freight for a 3500# Al-Ko axle with electric brakes. TWF is a good company and I'll see what the Dexter upgrade is while I'm there. I've always had good, honest service at TWF and have rented from them, bought parts, and had service done there.

I'll admit the price seems a bit low and I asked the guy if he was sure that was the right price. lol. SouthwestWheel is normally the low ball player and they are at $495 for Flexiride axles... which is still not that bad with $96 in freight from Dallas. That has the added advantage of being brought to my house and I can unload it from the freight truck via forklift and be done with it.
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