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Old 01-27-2010, 11:54 PM   #1
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Axle on 1955 single axle models?

It's been awhile since I've been on the AS Forum. My 1980 Caravelle is just Great but this get's in your blood and I need other Silver Bullet! I am looking for a '55 or a '56 single axle model. I want to know the recommendations on the axle. Should I replace it with a newer one? How about shocks? I need to replace the wheels-what size and bolt pattern are the wheels?, Tire Size and # of Plys. You can tell I was a Boy Scout--I want to be preparded so I can tow the right rig when I find it!! Any information would be greatly appreciated. Don in Idaho!!!
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:04 PM   #2
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I would guess the decision on whether to replace your axle on a '55 or '56 Airstream is subjective and may depend upon how many miles you intend to pull it and what condition it's in when you get it. I'm sure some are still using the original axle. I chose differently and converted my '55 Safari from a leaf spring axle to a torsion axle. You can see a little of the slowly continuing story of my Safari here: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f338...ari-45822.html

It takes some measuring skills to order the axle and some wleding skills to weld the brackets on, but it is not a huge task. I think the torsion axle will end up being cheaper than new springs and regular axle. Plus I got new brakes with it. I expect the trailer will ride smoother, too, and I was able to adjust the ride height by selecting the appropriate arm angle on the torsion axle. Others opinions may vary.

Regarding wheels, my '55 Safari originally had (and still has) the same 6 on 5.5" bolt pattern as current Airstreams. I have seen '54 Safari's that also had 6 on 5.5". I have heard that some early '50s models may have had 5 lug wheels, but I do not know the breakpoint nor the exact pattern. Maybe that stopped in 1953 or earlier. Or maybe it was only on tthe smallest models (less that 20-footers?). If you are targeting 1955 or 1956 I think you will most likely find they all have 6 on 5.5" lug patterns.

Good luck, whatever trailer you get and whatever you decide as far as axles and wheels go.
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:46 PM   #3
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Maybe....maybe not....

Here is a picture of the original wheel pattern on my 56 Cloud. 5 x 5 1/2

Always get rid of split rims. Never use junk yard discoveries.

Personally, I like the original axle and leaf springs. You can make it ride at a different height by placing the axle mount either above or below the springs. Again my preference is below ...giving the belly more clearance.

Note, that some folks have had problems finding the correct bearing and seal sizes with the old axle....a real problem when broken down on the road. They opt for a new axle and brake assemblies just to avoid those types of problems.
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:11 PM   #4
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On the 54 Safari I used to have I replaced the original drop axle with a new straight axle from Dexter. This raised the trailer a few inches so I did not have to buy a drop bar and got me new 12x2 brakes. The old axle had warner brakes which are a parts problem. The original wheels were the standard 6 bolt pattern as was the new axle but if the wheels are original they will be split rims and should be replaced anyway. I kept the original springs and fabricated new shock brackets. Cost was about $300 as I recall
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melody Ranch View Post
Here is a picture of the original wheel pattern on my 56 Cloud. 5 x 5 1/2
It's never too late to learn something new. My '55 Safari is an Ohio built trailer and I am guessing your '56 Flying Cloud is California built because of the sloped wheel wells. Maybe the lug count differed between the two factories. Or maybe they just used what they had on hand or could procure and both types were intermixed. Maybe Fred Coldwell knows.
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Old 02-12-2010, 01:01 PM   #6
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New axle

Quote:
Originally Posted by RickDavis View Post
On the 54 Safari I used to have I replaced the original drop axle with a new straight axle from Dexter. This raised the trailer a few inches so I did not have to buy a drop bar and got me new 12x2 brakes. The old axle had warner brakes which are a parts problem. The original wheels were the standard 6 bolt pattern as was the new axle but if the wheels are original they will be split rims and should be replaced anyway. I kept the original springs and fabricated new shock brackets. Cost was about $300 as I recall
Do you know who made your new axle and who sells them? Did it come complete for $300?
Wally, H
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Old 02-12-2010, 01:11 PM   #7
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I have used these guys

Southwest Axle. I have used their complete assemblies...hubs, brakes, and axle. Good items, good price and fast shipping if you need that.
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyrc View Post
Do you know who made your new axle and who sells them? Did it come complete for $300?
Wally, H
Wally, these folks out of Calgary, Alberta sold my neighbor his set up, including springs, for $300 and a bit - I think about $350, but I know it was well under $400. All C$ so you get some upside to cover shipping.

He picked his up at their Port Kells (Surrey) BC office and didn't have to pay shipping, which you would, although they may have a Spokane or Seattle based outlet. Worth enquiring.

Leaf springs, trailer axles, stabilizer bars, and tillage tools by Standen's

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