Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 07-12-2009, 09:44 PM   #1
Rivet Master
DanB's Avatar
1970 23' Safari
2005 30' Classic
1986 31' Sovereign
Lorain , Ohio
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,633
Images: 9
Axle Replacement Photo Documentation

Following is the documentation of the DIY axle replacement project of my 1970 Airstream single axle Safari. Please understand that any information contained in this point is for your review only. This replacement was done by Larry (loudruff) and myself in Larrys garage.

I take no responsibility for your decision to follow any technique presented here. Use your head and if you feel uncomfortable with any part, get some help. Many steps involved with this project require you to lift the trailer. Not doing this correctly can severely damage your Airstream, and could kill you! Please be careful!

Additionally, axles are heavy. Don't expect to do this project alone without extended time.

I intend to present this as a "photo documentary". I'll probably edit more notes in later. But, I wanted to get this started while things were fresh in my mind.

Tools used:

2 jack stands for permanent use
2 "safety" jacks
1 large hydraulic jack
2 small hydraulic jacks

Various common sockets and wrenches
Sledge and other hammers

4" Angle Grinder
Arc welder

The Axle:

The Axle purchased was from Axis in Elkhart, Indiana. It came painted, with new brakes and hubs. Price was $330.

Trailer Lift:

The trailer was jacked up and secured in three places. Two jack stands placed as designed behind the axle mounting plate, and the tongue jack was used. Examine your trailer to learn specific design spots for jacking.

Additional jack stands were moved around as require for additional safety.

Old axle removal:

So my concern was how hard it would be to get 40 year old bolts out. I figure these things have been out in every kind of weather, so they probably will have to bee cut off.

Larry had been soaking the bolts with pb blaster for a couple of days. Much to my surprise, they all broke free fairly easily.

The small floor jacks were placed on either end of the old axle. The forward bolts were removed. Smaller "pins" (bolts) were placed and loosely secured with nuts. The pupose of this is to facilitate the rotation of the old axle out of its bracket. This is hopes of not dropping a 200+ axle on the floor.

The rear bolts were removed. The jacks were slowly lowered, This cause rotation foward. After some wood blocking was placed under the drums, the front bolts were removed.

The axle was then yanked from beneath the trailer. Two hand dollies were placed under each drum and the axle was moved up to the welding area.

Shock Bracket Relocation:

So this sounds easy. Cut the mounts off the axles, weld them on the new ones. Done.

Thankfully, Larry has all the right gear to get it done. Basically, he torched them off. Then he clamped them in a vice and cleaned them up with a 4" angle grinder. Then he used the grinder to remove the paint from the new axle where the new weld would be.

Larry used an arc welder to provide a full bead on each side of the brackets. Each side was allowed to cool prior to welding the opposite side. This reduced the heating of the shaft.

Finally, a quick coat of paint was applied to the bare metal.

New Axle Installation:

The axle was moved back to the trailer and push under in the approximate position. The jacks were used simultaneously to raise the axle in place. The bracket was seated in it's home, and it became immediately apparent that the axle sat about an inch too low. After lower the axle and studying the geometry, it appeared that the distance between the top of the axle and the top of the mounting bracket was significantly different.

In thinking about the situation, the frame should rest directly upon the axle mount. The bolts should not be relied on for the support of the trailer.

We decided to get out the torch and cut out part of the mount required for the axle to move up to meet the frame.

Be sure to protect your trailer when welding on it! Take a good look behind your "target" to see where sparks may fly. We had to move the brake wire out of the way, and a scrap wood barrier was placed to prevent a stray spark from flying up into the bellypan.

The axle was then jacked back into position. The rear bolts were placed. The front holes need some quick correction with the torch to allow for the bolts to fit.

The shocks were than easily mounted. The shocks have a lot of play in them, so I don;t think the mount placement would have to be very precise.

Final Notes:

The old hardware was inspected and reused. The brakes still need wired and adjusted.

The new measurement is 23.5" from floor to edge of wheel well. Basically, I gained 1 inch.

So the guy in the pictures is Larry from Lagrange (loudruff). This job wouldn't have gotten done without him! Thanks Larry & Lou.

Proud Member of the Wally Byam Airstream Club #24260

The “Ohio Airstreamer -- Informal forum for weekend camping” thread.
DanB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2009, 10:11 PM   #2
Rivet Master
purman's Avatar
1968 28' Ambassador
Cedaredge , Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,542
OMG, you used a cutting torch, and is that a Chevy blazer your towing with?

Just joking. That is really cool documentary. Wish I could have done it with mine, BUT I was lazy and had Inland RV do mine on my way through LA on my last trip...


May you have at least one sunny day, and a soft chair to sit in..

2008 5.7 L V8 Sequoia
AIR # 31243
WBCCI # 6987
purman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-12-2009, 10:16 PM   #3
Rivet Master
DanB's Avatar
1970 23' Safari
2005 30' Classic
1986 31' Sovereign
Lorain , Ohio
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,633
Images: 9
Originally Posted by purman View Post
OMG, you used a cutting torch, and is that a Chevy blazer your towing with?
We prefer the term "heat wrench".

And that is a dodge durango with a 5.9....

Proud Member of the Wally Byam Airstream Club #24260

The “Ohio Airstreamer -- Informal forum for weekend camping” thread.
DanB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2009, 01:38 AM   #4
Rivet Master

2005 25' Safari
Salem , Oregon
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 7,377
Images: 18
Blog Entries: 55
Hi, good job and great story. But I am surprised that you only gained one inch in height.

2005 Safari 25-B
"Le Petit Chateau Argent"
[ Small Silver Castle ]
2000 Navigator / 2014 F-150 Eco-Boost / Equal-i-zer / P-3
YAMAHA 2400 / AIR #12144
ROBERTSUNRUS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2009, 06:04 AM   #5
Rivet Master
crispyboy's Avatar
1994 30' Excella
alexandria , Kentucky
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,740
Images: 3
Nice write-up. It give people perspective on what can be involved in replacement.
We refer to the torch as a "smoke wrench".
crispyboy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2009, 06:10 AM   #6
4 Rivet Member
63Silver's Avatar
1963 28' Ambassador
Smiths Grove , Kentucky
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 406
Images: 43
Looks great! That is exactly the way we (94tri and I) changed out the axles on my Ambassador. Safety first and the heat wrench works perfectly.

63Silver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-14-2009, 08:31 AM   #7
Rivet Master
Mikethefixit's Avatar
1977 27' Overlander
Trotwood , Ohio
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 2,153
Send a message via Yahoo to Mikethefixit
Nice Job Larry , I knew it would be done right.
Dan<<<>>> Nice job of documenting,I have some pic's of our axle change but when you are wrenchin ya dont have much time fer cameras. Ours went so fast I really didnt have the time.
Roger & MaryLou
7.3 liter Power Stroke Diesel
1977 27ft OVERLANDER
AIR # 22336 TAC- OH-7
May your roads be straight and smooth and may you always have a tailwind!
Mikethefixit is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-14-2009, 09:04 AM   #8
Rivet Master
FreshAir's Avatar

1966 24' Tradewind
Placerville , California
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 3,327
Images: 2
Excellent photo documation. I posted a very recent thread on our tandem axle installation. We gained at least 3" lift, enough that I have to increase the auxillary step stool so my wife (and my arthritic knees) can more easily step up to the coach step. I also purchased a tongue jack stand extention to stre-e-e-etch the WDH bars in place easier.
Neil and Lynn Holman
FreshAir #12407

Kirk Creek, Big Sur, Ca. coast.

1966 Trade Wind

1971 Buick Centurion convertible
455 cid

1969 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight
455 cid
FreshAir is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2009, 02:16 PM   #9
Moderator dude
Action's Avatar

1966 26' Overlander
Phoenix , Arizona
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 6,242
Images: 13
Thank you so much for sharing! nother show and tell of what the big job can entail. Actually it isn't that big of a job in my opinion compared to floor repacement.

So if you need this kind of work done. Jump in and and get 'er done.

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!
Action is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2009, 04:07 AM   #10
Rivet Master
Zeppelinium's Avatar

1975 31' Sovereign
1973 27' Overlander
1977 23' Safari
Palmer Lake , Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 3,927
Send a message via Skype™ to Zeppelinium
Dan, when I did my Caravel in March of 2006, Axis told me that they weren't going to do Airstream axles any more. Did they change their mind again or did you order in some way that they didn't have to "hold your hand"? Here's my extensive thread, including lots of thoughts on what to do about the shock mount. This is the note that RIVKA got back from Axis about not doing any more Airstreams

My only problem with that Caravel axle was that it turned out to be under rated. A series of posts on this issue starts here You can see that INLAND ANDY is concerned about the higher modulus rubber used by Axis. Anyway, I got a replacement axle, installed it, and measured the operating flex on the arm--everything is OK except the Axis rating of 5,200 lbs must mean that they rate their axles for maximum load, not operating load.

Did you notice a low clearance between the brake plate and the swing arm on your Axis axle? See the issue here

Zeppelinium is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2009, 06:54 AM   #11
Rivet Master
PizzaChop's Avatar
1973 31' Sovereign
Danielsville , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 751
Images: 202
Nice documentation. A bit more scary with single axle.

Did you weld the skid plate back onto the new axles?

Also, I found on my Sovereign that while the axle mounting bracket was up tight to the frame, I could still slide a piece of paper between the belly pan and the axle mounting bracket. I deduced that it was the overall tight fit (including tight bolts) which distributed the weight of the trailer throughout the trailer axle mounting plates (if that makes any sense). Anyway, after tightening 1/2" bolts, I went ahead and welded the axels to the mounting plate just for good measure. I doubt I'll be doing the axles again.
Ron Kaes
Psalm 112
PizzaChop is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2009, 09:07 AM   #12
Rivet Master
tphan's Avatar
1972 27' Overlander
Longmont , Colorado
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 951
Not clear on why you made the frame notches deeper, but no wonder you only gained an inch in ride height after you were done. I think I might have modified the mounting brackets before changing the axle tube position, unless I'm missing something here. At any rate- nice foto doc of the process, thanks.
tphan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2009, 09:30 AM   #13
Rivet Master
DanB's Avatar
1970 23' Safari
2005 30' Classic
1986 31' Sovereign
Lorain , Ohio
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,633
Images: 9
The skid plate (I only had one) was a bolt on. I did not put it back on the new axle.

The frame was notched to allow the frame to rest directly on the mounting plate. In truth, this would not have happened if I understood the geometry better. The proper location could have been ordered.

Of course a couple of solutions could have been applied. The mounting bracket could have been altered, added to, and redrilled. We elected to give up an inch in ride height. This was probably the easiest answer.

So, in design terms, what's the impact? The trailer rides lower than it would have otherwise. But, still higher than it was. I suppose I have less "travel" space available in the event the axle needs to severely rotate. I really can't imagine it bottoming out though. Maybe if it took a curb hit at high speed?
Proud Member of the Wally Byam Airstream Club #24260

The “Ohio Airstreamer -- Informal forum for weekend camping” thread.
DanB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2009, 11:49 AM   #14
Rivet Master
PizzaChop's Avatar
1973 31' Sovereign
Danielsville , Georgia
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 751
Images: 202
The lower clearance will be less of an issue with a 23' than with a '31.

Depending on wheel well clearance (and I have no clue how much is there), there might be a risk of bottoming out. Otherwise, as long as your hitch is set correctly so that the entire rig is level, I don't see a big deal.

Ron Kaes
Psalm 112
PizzaChop is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
'75 Argosy 22' Axle Photo and Question uniquemicro Axles 3 10-18-2008 02:44 PM
Another Axle Replacement The Flintstones Axles 6 09-06-2007 12:38 AM
Axle replacement Pick Axles 92 02-18-2006 08:27 PM
Axle Replacement ??? FC54 Axles 6 10-10-2003 05:01 PM
Documentation!!!!!!!! thenewkid64 Airstream Motorhome Forums 2 04-10-2003 08:16 PM

Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:46 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.