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Old 08-27-2004, 08:49 PM   #1
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Broken Axle on 2004 Int'l

I was returning from a cross country trip in my new 28' int'l this past week. Another driver advised me that my tire was falling off. We got off the road and road side service advised me that my axle was broken. Our Airstream was towed to local Airstream dealer and the entire axle, tire, brakes were replaced. The cause of the problem was there was no grease in the bearings. The dealer pulled the front axle and the was no grease and they needed to be greased. Airstream did an excellent job fixing the problem and getting back on the road.

Has anyone else have this problem?
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Old 08-27-2004, 08:53 PM   #2
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We have 'heard' that your experience is not the 1st time with recent model Airstreams. I (Ed) had our '04 checked before our last trip.

"A word to the wise is (or should be) sufficient", ...Confusesed!
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Old 08-27-2004, 09:16 PM   #3
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things must be pretty busy at jackson center if they can't grease the wheels on a new trailer!

kinda reminds me of harley davidsons growing pains in the early '90's! after all, that is the business model airstream is following, hopefully they will get it sorted out soon.

glad to hear you happened across a dealer that was able to assist you!

john
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Old 08-28-2004, 12:09 AM   #4
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Makes you wonder how it was towed to the dealer without any grease on the bearings? My '04 was towed, what around 2,000 miles to deliver it to my dealer. I assume the bearings were greased.
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Old 08-28-2004, 07:51 AM   #5
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I had a similar experience with the mower deck spindles on a Cub Cadet lawnmower. The manual said to shoot a minimum of 2 shots from a grease gun into the zerk fittings. I did 7 shots. An hour or so later, one spindle spun a bearing, ruining that spindle housing. The spindle was so dry from factory fill that my 7 shots never made it to the bearings. I now grease until I see grease weeping from the seals.

Reminds me of the time I bought a brand new 1977 3/4 ton Chevy pickup. When I climbed into the cab to leave with my new truck, I turned the key to "on" and saw the gas gauge at less than 1/4 tank. I went back in and confronted the salesman. He answer? "We gave you such a good deal, there was no room left to fill the tank up." Dealer was out of business in less than a year.
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Old 08-28-2004, 09:08 AM   #6
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Imho

Don't blame Airstream, blame Henschen or probably Dexter who makes the hub assemblies!

The axles come to Airstream with hubs already mounted. There are racks of them behind the plant of all ratings ready to be mounted on trailers and I was passed on the road between Henschen and Airstream by a fork lift carrying a rack of axles with hubs mounted. There is no reason that Airstream should have to pull every grease cap to see whether there is grease the bearings.

The hubs probably come to Henschen from Dexter with bearings already in place and supposedly greased. The final assembler at Henschen should have noticed that the outer bearing had no grease when the hub was mounted on the spindle since it is difficult to mount a hub without seeing the outer bearing.
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Old 08-28-2004, 09:41 AM   #7
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Don't blame Airstream, blame Henschen or probably Dexter who makes the hub assemblies!
John,
I respectfully disagree. We don't want to pass the blame for these 'failures' further up the supply chain, and further away from the guy who cashed your check.

If there are four degrees of separation (Dexter to Henschen to Airstream to RV dealer) between you and the guy responsible for leaving the grease out, you have little power to slap him up the side of the head and tell him to fix it.

(This of course doesn't apply to civil damage lawsuits, where you sue everyone up to and including the guy who owns the oil well where the grease came from that wasn't put in your bearings.)

I expect the person who sells me something to take responsibility for the vendors and suppliers he selected. Otherwise it's a circle of finger pointing.

There was obviously a QA breakdown somewhere along the line. The corporations involved have elaborate ways to charge back expenses for correcting problems. You and I don't, all we can do is hope the dealer will correct the problem.

I think this where a dealer's reputation counts. If the dealer said "hey, not my problem, call Dexter" how long would, or should, they stay in business.

Now John, I know that's not what you meant when you said to blame Henschen or Dexter, but thanks for giving me the opportunity to get up on my soapbox this fine saturday morning.
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Old 08-28-2004, 11:01 AM   #8
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I wonder

I just remembered from the Henschen axle tour that Henschen does install the bearings. We talked to the tech that does it.

Most technicians woefully overgrease bearings. When we took the Henschen tour, the tech who installs the hubs talked about how much grease is in each bearing and it is a very small amount. There is absolutely no wastage of grease; every bit of grease is in the race and the bearing appears dry and clean on the outside. There is no visible grease in a newly built axle.

That makes me wonder whether it was a simple bearing failure, which is not too uncommon since the bearings are highly stressed parts. I had the same thing happen on my Scamp and the axle had to be replaced, although I limped home slowly with new bearings in a new hub.

Now, I'm wondering whether the tech at the dealer saw the nice, clean, grease-free-on-the-outside bearings and decided they hadn't been greased because he was used to overgreasing bearings.

C'mon, with axles randomly pulled from the supply racks and hordes of owners not having bearings fail because of no grease, what are the odds of all four hubs not being greased on a given trailer?
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Old 08-28-2004, 11:20 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by markdoane
John,
I respectfully disagree. We don't want to pass the blame for these 'failures' further up the supply chain, and further away from the guy who cashed your check.

If there are four degrees of separation (Dexter to Henschen to Airstream to RV dealer) between you and the guy responsible for leaving the grease out, you have little power to slap him up the side of the head and tell him to fix it.

(This of course doesn't apply to civil damage lawsuits, where you sue everyone up to and including the guy who owns the oil well where the grease came from that wasn't put in your bearings.)

I expect the person who sells me something to take responsibility for the vendors and suppliers he selected. Otherwise it's a circle of finger pointing.

There was obviously a QA breakdown somewhere along the line. The corporations involved have elaborate ways to charge back expenses for correcting problems. You and I don't, all we can do is hope the dealer will correct the problem.

I think this where a dealer's reputation counts. If the dealer said "hey, not my problem, call Dexter" how long would, or should, they stay in business.

Now John, I know that's not what you meant when you said to blame Henschen or Dexter, but thanks for giving me the opportunity to get up on my soapbox this fine saturday morning.

Thanks to a tip-off that I got from another person on this board, who also had a similar problem, I had my local garage check the grease in my wheel bearings before we left on a cross country trip with our new 2004 30' classic near the end of June. You guessed it - there was almost no grease on my bearings - not enough in the opinion of my experienced garage mechanics.

The following week I went to the factory in Jackson Center for some repairs, and when I told them about my grease situation, they expressed concern that maybe my local garage had put too much grease in the bearings which can also cause problems if the grease gets onto the electric brakes. So, they pulled all 4 wheels, checked the grease and found them Okay.

Airstream management told me that they asked their alxe supplier to reduce the amount of grease they had previously been putting in because they had been putting in too much. They also told me that there is no quality check at the factory of ANY purchased components. -- that sounded to me like they just take it out of the box, assemble it on the trailers/motorhomes, sell it, and hope for the best. That absense of a quality process is hard for me to understand; I certainly wouldn't excuse them of responsibility in this situation. (All I asked them was to reimbuse me for the cost of my grease job on my brand new trailer. They declined to do so.)
John

ps. I recently talked to a service manager at a non-Airstream RV dealership who told me they checked the wheel bearing grease on every RV before selling them. I'm sure my Airstream dealership didn't check mine.
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Old 08-28-2004, 11:36 AM   #10
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Has anyone else have this problem?[/QUOTE]

Big time. We almost lost our 2004 16CCD earlier this month. The bearings seized and locked against the hub, which loudly broke in two. The service guy who showed up after 10 hours said the retaining nut had been reefed down to the point he was suprised they had not failed before, and more importanly the dust cap had never been installed. The other wheel assembly was fine and the bearings and cap in pristine shape. Now, this was my family at risk. Had we been at highway speed the wheel could have come comletely off or axle broke. I came up the ALCAN, and always check tire pressure and lug nuts before each trip. Perhaps I should have checked the bearings earlier, but we are at 3500 miles and the manual says every 5,000. AS made good by the service charges, but if this is something more than a few isolated instances, or other than owner negligence, someone should put out an alert.
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Old 08-28-2004, 11:37 AM   #11
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A minor aside...general technical question.

What are the disadvantages of "overgreasing" the bearings? On the boat trailers that I have I pack them as full as possible (a la Pick) until they weep. I have always assumed that grease is cheaper than new bearings and a axle.

Also, has anyone in these forums replaced their caps with something similar to "Bearing Buddies"? I believe that these are mostly used on marine trailers, because they assure a void free, presurred grease pack around the bearing. I have them on my trailers, as it is easy to assess grease levels in each hub via a quick visual inspection before each tow.
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Old 08-28-2004, 11:52 AM   #12
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A minor aside...general technical question.

What are the disadvantages of "overgreasing" the bearings? On the boat trailers that I have I pack them as full as possible (a la Pick) until they weep. I have always assumed that grease is cheaper than new bearings and a axle.
Too much grease, and the excess will get slung out and contaminate the brakes, which you won't realize until you really need them in a full panic stop.

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Old 08-28-2004, 12:13 PM   #13
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What are the disadvantages of "overgreasing" the bearings?
It holds heat in the hubs.

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Old 08-28-2004, 12:22 PM   #14
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What are the disadvantages of "overgreasing" the bearings?

overheating for one!

i have a wells cargo enclosed car hauler, it has a 10 k capacity. it runs on dexter axles with the grease zerks built into the spindles.

the idea being that you just shoot a couple of squirts every thousand of miles. the grease travels through internal passageways and enter the hubs from the rear and work out thru the front rubber caps.

what happens after the fourth or fifth time you grease them the hub fills completely AND runs quite warm. hotter by a factor of two vs. my airstream that has conventional bearings.

i still remove them once a year or so and relube the bearings by hand and skip the zerks all together. they run cooler as a result.

and yes, i always use new seals every time i pull a hub wells or stream.

john
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