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Old 11-06-2018, 01:11 PM   #1
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Brazil , Indiana
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Axle questions from a "newbie"

Hello. I have been looking for advice on axles and think I have finally come to the right place. I have a 1949 Spartanette 23' travel trailer that still has the original drop axle under it. I am definitely going to replace the axle, but need some advice.

The spartanette sold at a weight of around 3000 lbs, single axle. Should I replace with a 5000 lb axle for safety?

The Spartanette I have was originally a single axle design. I am doing a full restore and can do dual 3000 lb axles. Is this something I should definitely do, or something that is not necessary?

The Spartanette originally had a 4" drop axle. She sits pretty low on the back-end, do many people put straight axles under these canned hams? Does that affect the look very much? I am all about having my clearance so as not to drag the back end...

I understand torsion axles are the way to go now, but is there any reason I cant do a standard style straight axle with springs etc? Is cost much different in the long run?

Thank you very much for any advice, I know the answers to these questions are probably on this forum, but searching out exactly what I need to know was proving to be quite time consuming!
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:07 PM   #2
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I would NOT go grossly over the weight (fully loaded) of the trailer.

Single Axle ratings that are 2000 pounds greater than what you have now will be very stiff under a much lighter load, and will beat the trailer up much more when towing. Going up on total axle rating by 500 to 1000 pounds max for total load capacity would be kinda reasonable. I'm not in favor of heavy overkill on axles because the frame and shell are not strong enough to take the beating.

Going to two 2000 pound axles might makes sense--a little more weight capacity, going up to 4,000 pounds total and gain the safety of dual axles...most modern 23 footers are dual axle. Even my 22 foot 2007 International is dual axle--and I like the way it tows and handles. It does have a fairly heavy interior.

The longer (front to back for dual axles) wheel wells will cause interesting issues in the interior design, however. Be sure to properly reinforce the frame in the entire area where the two axles would mount. You are making some big changes here...get some serious design help.
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Old 11-07-2018, 07:44 AM   #3
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Thank you for the information. Does anyone have thoughts on switching from a 4" drop axle to a straight axle? Will this give me the increased clearance I want without making the camper look like it is sitting high? Is it better to go Torsion over spring?
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Old 11-07-2018, 08:40 AM   #4
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I switched from a drop axle to a straight axle to gain ground clearance. If you're not doing a restoration I think it makes sense. Regarding axles, if you retain the leaf springs, then the axle capacity is unrelated to the spring rate. I would recommend replacing the leaf springs or at least have them rebuilt/re-arched. A straight axle may also allow you to go to a larger tire diameter also, if the wheel house clearance is there. Also, you tow vehicle probably has more ground clearance than they did in 49, so raising the trailer goes hand in hand, IMO.

Going to dual axles could require a lot of renovation, both to the frame and interior layout. The condition of your frame could help you decide which way to go.

I didn't make the decision on dual axles until I had sorted out a) how much of the original interior I planned on using and b) how much space I needed for new/additional mechanical systems. I decided to stay with the single axle. I was adding additional mechanical systems (taking out wall heater for forced air furnace, multiple batteries, solar components, larger above floor fresh water tank). I needed to retain the floor space.

As you go forward post photos to help with your questions. Have fun
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Old 11-07-2018, 09:50 AM   #5
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Thank you for this information. The trailer was mostly gutted when I got it (it was going to be used as a mobile office 40 years ago). I have coated the frame, redone all the floor and insulation. So I have a pretty "clean slate" to work with. I was leaning toward straight axle anyways and I am pulling with a full sized truck, so the tongue will sit higher than what was intended, so I will most likely go straight axle. Oh, and I will definitely replace the springs!
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Old 11-08-2018, 04:37 PM   #6
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If you know what the max load of the trailer will be when you get done with the trailer restoration go ahead and get leaf springs that can handle that load + a percentage.

Otherwise build the trailer, then weigh it in full load towing format and then buy springs for that max load plus a margin. And I would get new springs not re-arched ones.

I don't think you are going there and if it were me I would not go the rubber torsion axle route. Rubber torsion axles offer a softer ride that is why Airstream uses that axle arrangement. Leaf springs are not that bad. Changing means a lot of extra cost in designing a means to attach springs to the trailer.

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