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Old 05-11-2015, 11:10 AM   #1
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1967 24' Tradewind
Greenville , North Carolina
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Dexter axle - no spindle flex w/ loaded trailer

I have Dexter axles that are pretty new, were put on a year ago and have gone maybe 1000 miles.

There seems to be very little if any "flex" in the spindle even with the trailer loaded. I am wondering whether the axle is performing correctly?

For instance, when I back the trailer into my driveway, when the rear axle climbs the curb, it lifts the front axle off of the ground immediately. There seems to be no "play" in the spindle. I would have expected at least a couple of inches of play.

I jacked one side of the trailer up and got the same result: both wheels come off the ground after lifting the frame less than two inches. The only "flex" seems to be in the tires themselves.

The angle of the spindles is positive maybe 30 degrees. The front axle appears to have a slightly more positive angle than the rear, but my driveway is not exactly level (it's gravel.)

This is with a completely loaded trailer that weighs right at 5000 pounds. It has all my camping equipment in it etc (I don't carry a lot.)

Are these axles too heavy for my trailer? Why am I not seeing the spindles move when I unload weight from the axle? It's like they're frozen. I got the axles and shocks from the same dealer at the same time, and he sold them to me based on the year and model of the Airstream.

How can I determine if the torsion suspension is working properly?
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Old 05-11-2015, 02:57 PM   #2
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How about if you jack one side of your trailer completely off the ground and remove one of the wheels. Now you will have a single wheel taking the weight of that side of the trailer when you slowly lower the trailer down. Watch to see how much the axle arm travels as the single wheel takes the weight. This may not tell you whether the axles are overly beefy, but it may at least confirm that they are capable of movement and not somehow frozen in place.

The number I have heard in the past is to expect 2-3 inches of arm/wheel travel as the weight is taken off the wheel. If you are seeing something dramatically less than that, then perhaps overly stiff axles were used (ie., instead of two axles rated at 2500 apiece for a total of 5000 lbs of support, you got two axles designed to support 5000 each, for a total of 10,000 lbs of support). You might slide underneath your trailer and see if there are any stickers/stamps on the axles that may indicate the kind of load the axle was designed to take.

good luck!
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Old 05-11-2015, 03:58 PM   #3
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1981 31' Excella II
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What is the spec on the axles you had installed? What are they rated at? I have a small cargo trailer that I bought with low miles on it. The axles have never moved in it and they are Dexter.

Perry
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:38 AM   #4
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According to the stickers on the axles, they are rated for 3500lb each.
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Old 05-12-2015, 12:31 PM   #5
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1996 25' Excella
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You may be expecting too much movement. My AS dealer told me if I lost a wheel on our 25' I probably wouldn't know it. We have members who actually lost the whole rear wheel and hub on a 34' and never knew it till they parked some 2 hours later.

When I need to change a wheel or check brakes, I back or pull one wheel onto blocks to raise the other. Admittedly there is some difference between the free wheel and the support wheel...about 1.5 " or so, but our AS is nearly 20 yrs old and the rubber mounts may be a bit weak or have taken some "set".

My understanding is the weight rating of the axle is adjusted by the length of the square axle in the rubber mounts.
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Old 05-12-2015, 01:26 PM   #6
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When our 34' climbs up on the ramp, the tire on the opposite end deflects about 1"(1 inch).

Original axles
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Old 05-12-2015, 02:44 PM   #7
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Sounds like my 30+ yr old axles are not so bad after all.

Perry
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Old 05-12-2015, 03:33 PM   #8
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Retrocar, not trying to hijack but was just going to post something similar, and you've got a similar setup. You've got 24' I'm working on 23'. I got replacement axles, increased in load from 2600# to 3500# each, and am starting to wonder if I should worry about them being to stiff before I put them on. Worried about them shaking the trailer apart if they're to stiff.
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Old 05-13-2015, 01:35 PM   #9
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Has anyone driven behind their trailer on the highway to observe the suspension in action? You ought to be able to see how the thing moves when it takes a bump. You can see an automobile suspension working -- the wheel moves within the wheel well, the body of the vehicle moves in a gradual motion rather than jarring.

I will do this when I get a chance. But wondered if anyone else has done this and what observations you have. Maybe the axles will flex under the force of movement underneath the trailer, for instance when the trailer is pulled over a rise or bump in the road, but are too stiff to show any movement with the kind of slow lifting/lowering than we are doing with jacks in our driveways.

I was on the Interstate a couple of years ago and someone passed me doing at least 65-70 with an Airstream in tow. It looked to be a early 80s model, 2 or 3 axles. I remember that the trailer was undulating up and down with the motion of the suspension, in a gradual way that would not cause damage.
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Old 05-13-2015, 04:06 PM   #10
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Try riding in the trailer to see how rough or smooth it handles. It works well to go over railway tracks. I have noticed a big difference before and after replacing axles.
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Old 05-13-2015, 06:03 PM   #11
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1981 31' Excella II
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There are apps for cell phones that measure and record g-forces. You could make a run down the same road with the old axles and the new axles and then you would have something more than speculation to base things on. Using axles that are way stiffer than you need is not a great idea. Using actual weight measurements with the trailer loaded down to what you feel is the max you will ever use with tanks full would be the number to shoot for then add 10-15% to that. Remove the axle weight and tongue weight from the total.

Perry
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