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Old 08-31-2016, 01:23 PM   #15
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1977 Argosy 28
Euless , Texas
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Posts: 144
Air Bag suspension

At this years Airstream international rally, the vintage concourse best engineered feature was an airbag suspension built out of of the shelf, readily available components from the hot rod crowd. It was a single axle with top and bottom trailing arms, a Panhard rod (crosswise location), sway bar, tube shocks, airbag springs, a 12v on board compressor with the ability to raise or lower either side independently up to 8" to eliminate leveling blocks when parked. They said the parts for a single axle cost about $500 and that it rides better than any other axle system. They use these on hot rods all the time and the air bags can be bought in many load ranges. You could build this on a sub-frame that just bolts in place of the existing axle!

There is a good picture of the suspension in this months Vintage Airstream club newsletter.

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Old 08-31-2016, 01:59 PM   #16
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The fact of the matter is all springs wear out or loose their spring. And t the Airstream design isn't old! It is far newer than leaf springs.

Torsion axle design with rubber rods has several advantages as noted above.

Torsion axles incorporates the axle and springs assemblies in a smaller space. That space is used to expand the coach and storage in the coach. Another reason why shocks went from vertical mounting to horizontal mounting in 1967.

Torsion axles offer a soother ride. Yes each wheel is independent from side to side and from front to rear in multi-axle set ups.

Torsion axles can offer a lower ride height and/or center of gravity.

As noted above torsion axles are very simple in design with much fewer moving parts. Less parts to go bad. While it isn't a totally radical design as Chrysler Corporation used torsion springs in the late 1950s across the entire car line up. Packard used torsion springs before that.

Down side to the Airstream design -
They are much more expensive than a leaf or coil spring designs
The axle assembly in not serviceable. If the springs need to be replaced it is done by replacing the axle too.
For trailer that sit unused for long periods of time the torsion rubber rods loose their flexing properties. The rubber tends to harden.

The use of this axle type is on a much smaller production level than most other springs. So many of the companies listed above failed due to the lack of sales. Especially in the economic down turn that occurred in the last almost 10 years.

Hope this helps.


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Old 09-01-2016, 08:48 PM   #17
2015 25' Flying Cloud
2016 30' Flying Cloud
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Some of you might be aware that some aircraft also have 'trailing beam' axles on the landing gear.
This style gives a much smoother touchdown compared to straight oleo.
Examples are: Aero Commander 112-114 series; Mooney, Cessna 414, Bombardier 'Global Express', Gulfstream, all high end or top business aircraft.
Obviously those who spend the bucks want the most comfort.
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Old 09-01-2016, 09:32 PM   #18
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1991 25' Excella
Stanfield , Oregon
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Im a big fan of my torsion axles on both my AS and my snowmobile trailer. Both of which were made by Dexter axles. But I would really like to install an air ride suspension from Kelderman.
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Old 09-02-2016, 04:58 AM   #19
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Thanks for starting this thread, Ray, ...also for the research work!

I must say that there is some incorrect information out there from the "experienced" group. The Dexter axle on my 2008 22' Sport has a negative trailing link angle. This is not an indication of needing replacement. This is NORMAL. It's designed that way. There are a number of different angles offered by Dexter, and one should consult their catalog specifications before arbitrarily deciding anything other than a downward (positive) angle is bad.

I suggest a simple way to determine if your torsion-axle is past it's prime:
Load the trailer to GVW, then get on-board, and walk through the trailer...while jumping up and down... and observe if the axle still has "spring" and/or if it's bottomed-out or refusing to flex.

I don't see how that wouldn't be a valid test, (although admittedly is subjective.)

I am curious about how the design assures the axle stays within the axle-housing and avoids/prevents drifting laterally out of the hollow axle-housing.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:44 AM   #20
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If you are looking at new axles, keep in mind that if you switch to the Kodiak disc brakes and you have the original wheels, they will not fit. You will need to buy new rims. Contrary to what Andy might say.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:57 AM   #21
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Only if you use aluminum wheels, steel wheels are not a problem.


Originally Posted by SilverB View Post
If you are looking at new axles, keep in mind that if you switch to the Kodiak disc brakes and you have the original wheels, they will not fit. You will need to buy new rims. Contrary to what Andy might say.
Bill Kerfoot, WBCCI/VAC/CAC/El Camino Real Unit #5223
Just my personal opinion
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Old 09-07-2016, 08:12 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by SilverB View Post
If you are looking at new axles, keep in mind that if you switch to the Kodiak disc brakes and you have the original wheels, they will not fit. You will need to buy new rims. Contrary to what Andy might say.
I have the T03-6555 Sendel wheels and 16" Michelins on my 2002 Classic 30 slideout. I'm planning on replacing the drum brakes with Kodiak discs. I'm assuming that since Airstream uses this combination on the new Classics and provides disc brakes that the Kodiak calipers will fit. Can anyone confirm or refute this?



"You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not been reasoned into"

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Old 09-10-2016, 06:02 PM   #23
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2006 23' Safari SE
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2017 23FB has 15" wheels and same axles as my 25 footer

I looked at a 2017 23FB Flying Cloud today that has not only 15" Marathons, but also the same axle number as my 2014 25 Foot International. Date of manufacturer... June 2016.

Airstream, Jackson Center finally did something great to this wonderful shortest double axle trailer. Better tire options and Dexter axles that will last.

Human Bean
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