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Old 06-09-2013, 08:26 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1973 25' Tradewind
Bloomington , Minnesota
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 5
1973 Tradewind axle replacement

Hello everyone.
Well, this is the beginning.
After two years of owning a 1973 Airstream Tradewind, I started my major rebuilding.
Actually I gutted the interior last year and let sit the winter. This year over the three-day Memorial Day weekend I did the removal of the shell from the trailer, and strip the trailer down to the frame. It is an surprisingly great shape. There is some heavy rust on the outriggers and rear cross support and under the water tank frame support. I am going to have the frame sandblasted and then use the POR 15 rust prevention system on it. I just ordered that product today.
I have several questions and hopefully you good people can help me answer these.
1. I want to replace the axles. I've read a whole lot in the forums about this. I still have a couple of major questions. When replacing these axles how important is it to consider replacing the complete break systems? Why if it is recommended?

2. I know there are two different types of axles. What are the differences between Dexter & Henschen axles? Is one better than the other? I am assuming that 2600 pound axles are installed on this. The plate welded to the actual is too rusted to tell. I assume they are original as this trailer sat from 1991 until I purchased it two years ago. Should I be increasing rating of these axles slightly?

3. Are there different angle options for the axles? Should I be considering a slightly higher angle so the body rides a little higher off of the pavement?I (Need to add gray and black water tanks, hopefully in the frame. Draining this from the bottom through the underbelly skin, is a concern.)

4. I see Andy's name from Inland RV and most regard him as the predominant guru, but being cost conscience is it better for me to approach my local Airstream dealer in Minneapolis-St. Paul area to find axles? I'm trying to be fiscally responsible and want to make sure I spend money actually were needed. (Shipping Costs)

I'm sure that my questions will be continuous for the next couple of years. Please be patient with me. I may ask dumb questions. Or I may ask questions that I already know the answer and I'm just looking to have those answers validated.

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Old 06-09-2013, 10:26 AM   #2
Rivet Master

1973 25' Tradewind
Beautiful , Oregon
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 547
Call Colin Hyde He will treat you right from all acounts

Colin Hyde
Trailer Restorations
Plattsburgh, NY
(518) 578-7772


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Old 06-09-2013, 12:11 PM   #3
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1968 24' Tradewind
Rural, blink and you'll miss it , Missouri
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 692
Images: 19
I am glad that we did not attempt this axle swap ourselves. What we saved in shipping we spent in welding the shock brackets onto the axles. If you weld and have access to a MIG welder that may not be such a big deal for you. The brackets were not shipped at the same time as all of the other pieces: centramatic balancers, shocks, etc. creating more delay.

No matter who you order from you need to ask what all is included and what modifications will be needed to be made to your trailer to permit installation. What bolts up? what welding can you expect to make upon receipt? Do your own measurements and calculations. Don't expect that giving someone your trailer's id number prior to purchase will decrease your hassle or improve your experience.

Good luck to you!
Not knowing enough to be afraid... (I know more than I did, but I did it anyway!)


1968 Tradewind Double.
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:07 PM   #4
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1968 24' Tradewind
1959 17' Pacer
Vintage Kin Owner
holly springs , Georgia
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 404
I just purchased mine from Colin Hyde. No welding, no drilling additional holes, most of the required mounting hardware also included. Very easy installation, the hardest part was some problems mounting the shocks, some of which was my fault.

Colin will also guide you on what size axles, and angles etc.
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:17 PM   #5
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Action's Avatar

1966 26' Overlander
Phoenix , Arizona
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 5,786
Images: 13
Specific answers in my opinon, assuming you are asking about your Tradewind.

1) 40 year old axle, 40 year old brake backing plates and other brake parts. A fully loaded axles isn't that much more and you will get updated technology. Unless you are skilled in brazing up brake backing plate wear points (where the shoe rides) just get the whole system handled. Less to be concerned about on vacation. (You are going to use it on vacation correct?)

2) Only one type of axle and that is a torsion spring axle. The spring is rubber insdie a tube. Henschen is no longer in business. In most cases a slight increase in load capacity is desired. Trailers are like humans, they gain weight as they age.

3) Yes and it is a Goldilocks kind of thing. A little works ... too much and it won't work as well. This is a discussion you need to have with the company you are going to buy from and have install the axles. Do seek professional opinons. (Unless you are the installer. And it isn't that difficult.) Be careful with adding more load to the trailer. (Tanks with liquid) The entire trailer was designed for a specific load. Changing one compoenent (Axle assembly) does not change the load capacity of the trailer. The frame, brake system, wheels, tires, shocks, hitch were all designed for a specific load. There was some over manufacturering back then and loading the trailer beyond the total designed rating by more than say 5%, may open the door of a bad vacation.

4) Inland is not the only source. However your local AS dealer may not be able to handle an order for a 40 year old trailer. Have you gone in to your local Ford dealer recently and asked for a part on a 1973 Maverick Grabber? Most AS dealers only deal in recent parts for the last 10 years or so. Axle manufacturers are Axis and Dexter if I am not mistaken.

1966 Mercury Park Lane 4 DR Breezeway 410 4V, C-6, 2.80 - Streamless.
1966 Lincoln 4 door Convertible 462 4V 1971 Ford LTD Convertible 429 4V Phoenix ~ Yeah it's hot however it's a dry heat!
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:38 PM   #6
1 Rivet Member
1961 24' Tradewind
Minneapolis , Minnesota
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 18
Images: 2
Collin Hyde was very helpful to me. My trailer has a single axle and is an older model. I think yours should be a little easier, especially with the shell removed.
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:22 AM   #7
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Inland RV Center, In's Avatar
Corona , California
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 16,501
Images: 1

The basic design of torsion axles, is the same.

What makes a huge difference is the quailty of the parts that are used.

Other than the shock bracket question, Dexter and Henschen, built the same high quality axle.

We had another seemingly popular brand of axle, "laboratory tested".

The square shaft is mild steel instead of tempered.
The rubber rods are of a cheaper quality and harder, extruded instead of molded.
The method of welding the spindle on one side and brake brackets was very inferior, as they were spot welded and not continuously welded as they should be for durablilty.
The axle mounting plate not completely welded to the tube.
And finally, no attempt at alignment prior to delivery.

Plus, and amazingly so, down grading the 12 inch brakes to 10 inch brakes.

All that is necessary for correct ordering of replacment axles, is the trailer serial number.
A good distributor will know what the specs are and what they can be increase to.

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Old 06-13-2013, 12:06 PM   #8
1 Rivet Member
1973 25' Tradewind
Bloomington , Minnesota
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 5
Thank you very much everyone for responding to my questions. "Action" I am very appreciative of the information you gave me. It helps immensely. I will take all of your recommendations to heart and research to tiny bit more before I decide what to do. I trailer is currently in be in sandblasted and I should have it back the first part of next week so I can do the POR 15 painting rust prevention on it. If I am to replace tanks, I'm hearing that I should go with smaller tanks to not overload the frame and structure. Thank you again everyone so far it is been great help to hear all of your suggestions.
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Old 06-13-2013, 12:26 PM   #9
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1975 Argosy 24
1976 Argosy 28
Alamo Heights , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 5,707
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Blog Entries: 7
Rockwell American also manufacturers rubber torsion axles that are performing well on my '75 Argosy and a few other trailers I know of. I'm planning to use them again for the '76.

— David

Il Carriaggio — 1975 Argosy 24 | Il Progetto — 1976 Argosy 28 Center Bath | WBCCI# 15566

He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. — Sir Winston Churchill
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