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Old 05-21-2007, 01:18 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1968 26' Overlander
Clackamas , Oregon
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 7
Axle Replacement (60's Vintage Airstream)

Hello Everyone:
After several trips in our '68 Overlander, I was curious about the stiffness of the suspension. Going over bumps, or ruts the trailer bounced severely, after long drives it was not uncommon to find overhead and cabinet doors open with items on the floor. I decided to replace the shocks and while I was at it, put new brakes on the trailer. I contacted Andy at Inland, he advised me that shocks would not cure the problem. The rubber in the original axles, was so old, it had grown stiff and hard, preventing the pivot arms from functioning as designed. Andy explained I was beating the heck out of the trailer. Though the pivot arms appeared to be at the correct position when the trailer was dry or loaded, hid the fact that the rubber was hard as a rock causing a very stiff ride. I ordered new axles through Inland, (Airstream Innovations at Inland RV Center, Inc. (951) 734-8130) and since they're custom made, they took about 4 to 6 weeks to arrive.

Installation: (Simple)
This installation took place on a '68 Overlander. I removed the LPG line, detached the brake wiring, removed the 4 bolts holding the old axle in place, while putting my floor jack in the center of the old axle. I then lowered the jack, dropping the axle to the ground. I pushed the new axle in place, and rather than going to the trouble of creating a jig, I simply starting moving the axle into place by stacking wooden blocks under each side. Once I had the axle close enough to the frame, I lifted it by hand and slipped the bolts into place, then moved to the other side and did the same. I torqued the nuts to 100 ft lbs. (you can tell me if this is enough.) I then installed shocks, the backing plates, hooked up the wiring etc. I put the tires on the new axles and took picture, the old axles were so stiff that the control arm held the tire about 4" above the ground, while the tire mounted on the new axle touched the ground. Though I had my floor jack supporting the trailer, but the difference was clearly evident.


I hooked up and decided to go on a test run. In my circular driveway, I have a tree root from a white pine that bulges up from the ground. My trailer always seems to find this root, and bounces as it goes over it. Using the new axles, I couldn't even detect the root as the trailer glided over it. Towing was greatly improved, the trailer tracks beautifully, and I'd swear it just slips along better, feeling even lighter. When I returned home from my test drive, to my surprise, no cupboard doors were open, nothing on the floor, all was right with the world. Finally, the trailer sits a full 4" higher, which I imagine is its correct height.

In closing, of all the work I've done to my trailer, no where have I made a better investment, in performance, and towing safety, then by installing these new axles, shocks, and brakes. You might be fooling yourself if your think that shocks alone will improve the ride on the older 60's trailers. I would contend that the old axles are so stiff, new shocks cannot possibly compensate for torque created by the hardened rubber.

Happy Trailering!


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Old 05-21-2007, 03:28 PM   #2
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PizzaChop's Avatar
1973 31' Sovereign
Danielsville , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 690
Images: 197
No Disagreement Here

I replaced the axles on my '73 Sovereign a few months ago with Dexters and would echo your thoughts regarding the investment.

While I never was an unbeliever, I'm definitely a believer now. I really don't care how high or low the axle sits, if it's 30 years old, it's hard for me to see how the rubber in the torsion axle is acting as it should. And it really wasn't that difficult of an installation.

Ron Kaes
Psalm 112
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Old 05-21-2007, 04:08 PM   #3
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2005 30' Classic
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Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 511
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So, did either of you (PizzaChip and Pfefferd) have any alignment work done after installing the new axle(s)?

Also, did you use the old wheels? Did you (re)balance?

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