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Old 06-11-2012, 05:34 PM   #1
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Do axles degrade without use?

I'm looking at a 30' 2002 Classic with Slideout. I have every reason to believe the seller that the trailer has never been towed or even slept in since it was brought home and parked - most interior equipment has dealer plastic and stuff on it that indicates it was never used and the exterior has not even a small scratch.

My concern is the axles. Do they/will they degrade just sitting there for 10 years? I will attempt to include a photo which shows one of the torsion arms (at least I think that is what I'm looking at) in the "zero position", parallel to the ground and visible frame. I was reluctant to ask the guy to jack the trailer up to check for reasonable wheel drop, but all 4 torsion arms are in the same position. If response here indicate that I should be suspicious, I'll get it jacked up.

Also, it's not completely clear from the photo, but it appears the one side was jacked up by the rim and bent the rim (neighbor apparently slashed 2 tires, necessitating a change).

All wisdom will be appreciated, and moreso if anyone notices anything odd in the photo. I took several photos, and can provide more if needed.

Thanks,

Chuck Brown
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Old 06-11-2012, 05:50 PM   #2
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It is not the rim that is bent but the backing plate has some metal missing most likely from a tire coming off and dragging the backing plate on the ground but if this is a dual axel trailer I have a hard time believing that both axels had a rim and tire missing.

The axels do go bad over time but since this one is only 10yrs old I think they are probably ok. My 81 axels are sagging some but they appear to be still be absorbing bumps. When I let it off the jack, there is plenty of movement there. It is best to store them on jacks.

I would be more concerned about the floors and whether or not they are particle board.


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Old 06-11-2012, 05:55 PM   #3
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Can't tell too much from the pic, but even if the axles have to be replaced (and tires for sure), it still may be worth it for an unused AS, if the price is right.

I bought mine in a similar state...but it only sat for 3 - 4 years (inside a barn) and was used maybe a couple of times before the gentleman got sick. I still had stickers on the countertops, and in the shower and the surfaces (counters and dinette table) had ZERO micro scratches from use. Tires still had injection "hairs" on tread, but were dated consistent with the AS manufacture date.

I will always be a little more suspicious of my axles, but they still have about 10 degrees of down angle when loaded and drop every bit of 3" when jacked up. I had few issues I could attribute to the non-use. I did have to replace a few components, but they were items of known poor quality like the flowjet pump.

I got a good enough deal that I am still very happy. Just had it appraised for insurance purposes and it is still worth $7000 more than I paid in 2010.

So my advice is, work the price as if it needs axles and ask a dealer for the true value...or PM some of the folks here.
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Old 06-11-2012, 05:55 PM   #4
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Yes sitting is bad for torsion axles, however I would be willing to gamble on a set that new and not really all that old.

I have a 1975 and the axles still sit okay and have some movement. I do plan on replacing them...eventually.

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Old 06-11-2012, 06:00 PM   #5
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I don't think Classics ever had particle board. I recall a discussion on another thread, and that seemed to be the consensus. I know mine is plywood....but check it out. Pull all the drawers out and look for plywood as well as water stains. But if it has been indoors all these years, there probably hasn't been any leaks. BUT, since all the sealers ARE 10 years old...REALLY check in EVERY nook and cranny after rains for the first year in particular.
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Old 06-11-2012, 06:07 PM   #6
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Yes axles go bad just sitting. I bought a 3 year old trailer that had sat in Fl. all it's life and the axles were bad. The photo you have shows the arm of the axle parallel to the frame. That are should be inclined downward to the rear about 15 degrees when new. Sitting the rubber takes a set. Now that said I did use my trailer for close to 8 years before I replaced the axles even given that i knew they had lost most of the cushioning.

That flat spot on the bottom of the backer plate is normal. I think it is designed in the allow the brake shoe dust to fall out.
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Old 06-11-2012, 06:34 PM   #7
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If you decide to jack the trailer up, study how to do it properly. You can damage the axle by placing the jack under the axle. You can damage the trailer by placing a jack in the wrong place under the trailer. I am attaching a link to a thread that discusses how to jack up your trailer. There are number of threads on the forum that explain how to safely jack up an AS.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f457...eam-18435.html

My 02 Safari had sat for several years before I purchased it. The axles are still in decent shape.

Good luck with the trailer. A 30 foot Classic is a fine rig.
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:20 PM   #8
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Well I do hate to go against popular lore but this is a question someone asked of the Dexter Axel engineer at Alumapalooza. I was surprised by his answer....
He said that there are two main reasons that the axels in an Airstream loose their spring. Overloading the axel and subjecting it to extreme heat (i.e. welding). He said that there are many many examples of perfect 50 year old axels!!! The other killer of rubber, UV radiation, is not an issue as the rubber is deep within a steel tube and never sees light.
He said that the real test is the height of the trailer on the suspension. If there is height the axel is good.
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Bruce B View Post
Well I do hate to go against popular lore but this is a question someone asked of the Dexter Axel engineer at Alumapalooza. I was surprised by his answer....
He said that there are two main reasons that the axels in an Airstream loose their spring. Overloading the axel and subjecting it to extreme heat (i.e. welding). He said that there are many many examples of perfect 50 year old axels!!! The other killer of rubber, UV radiation, is not an issue as the rubber is deep within a steel tube and never sees light.
He said that the real test is the height of the trailer on the suspension. If there is height the axel is good.
Bruce
He left out the part about QC...

Henschen had a known batch of bad axles where they had changed the rubber formulation and it didn't last very well.

Rubber has a definite life span, once it loses it's elasticity it is going to go down hill fast.

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Old 06-11-2012, 08:35 PM   #10
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He left out the part about QC...

Henschen had a known batch of bad axles where they had changed the rubber formulation and it didn't last very well.

Rubber has a definite life span, once it loses it's elasticity it is going to go down hill fast.

Aaron
Lets leave the mistakes out of this but I did speak to him after the seminar and he promised me that yes the rubber would loose its elasticity, "if" it is subjected to overloading. He also said that it would outlast most people, even with constant use, if it was kept within its design limits. Kind of like bending a paperclip until it breaks? I was surprised as I said but he was adamant....
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:39 AM   #11
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Thanks folks. Even though the opinion seems to be that the axles may be good, I'll negotiate from the position that they may not be - if I can swing a good deal I'll get new ones anyway - we plan to put a lot of miles on the trailer and would rather know that it is in the best running order possible. Will also upgrade to 16" wheels/tires.

The spec sheet says "8800# axle system, 9100# GVWR - does that mean each axle is rated 4400#? Should I consider going for a heavier rated axle, like 5000#? Any downside to going to higher rated axle?

Very little lube work, if any, has been done on seals, latches, etc, so those will get upgrades also. I have looked everywhere I could get access and see no sign of water even though the trailer has been outside for 10 years. Did not notice whether particle board or plywood floor though.

Just FYI, here's a photo

Thanks again,
Chuck
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:08 AM   #12
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There is no need to upgrade the weight of the axles. That will just make the trailer ride harder.

If you do not replace the axles soon, and there is not a pressing need to do that, You should consider replacing the complete backer plates for the brakes and the axle seals. The plates are cheaper than repairing any single part of the brakes.

You should change out the tires ASAP if they are original. If you go with 16 in LT tires DO NOT inflate them to the number printed on the side of the tire. Check the manufactures inflation chart for your weight. The tire company will grossly over inflate the tires if you do not make them check.
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Old 06-13-2012, 09:49 PM   #13
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Yes.

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Old 06-14-2012, 06:46 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by cccwwwbbb View Post
I'm looking at a 30' 2002 Classic with Slideout. I have every reason to believe the seller that the trailer has never been towed or even slept in since it was brought home and parked - most interior equipment has dealer plastic and stuff on it that indicates it was never used and the exterior has not even a small scratch.

My concern is the axles. Do they/will they degrade just sitting there for 10 years? I will attempt to include a photo which shows one of the torsion arms (at least I think that is what I'm looking at) in the "zero position", parallel to the ground and visible frame. I was reluctant to ask the guy to jack the trailer up to check for reasonable wheel drop, but all 4 torsion arms are in the same position. If response here indicate that I should be suspicious, I'll get it jacked up.

Also, it's not completely clear from the photo, but it appears the one side was jacked up by the rim and bent the rim (neighbor apparently slashed 2 tires, necessitating a change).

All wisdom will be appreciated, and moreso if anyone notices anything odd in the photo. I took several photos, and can provide more if needed.

Thanks,

Chuck Brown
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce B View Post
Lets leave the mistakes out of this but I did speak to him after the seminar and he promised me that yes the rubber would loose its elasticity, "if" it is subjected to overloading. He also said that it would outlast most people, even with constant use, if it was kept within its design limits. Kind of like bending a paperclip until it breaks? I was surprised as I said but he was adamant....
Bruce

Chuck,

Something I would check on your 02 Classic.

Up until recently AS was equipping their trailers with under-rated axles.

Ours came with two 3500lb axles with a GVWR of 7300lbs.

I haven't up-graded, but do put the trailer up on stands for Winter storage, and track our loading carefully. The Classics are heavy.

Bob
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:07 AM   #15
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Chuck,

Something I would check on your 02 Classic.

Up until recently AS was equipping their trailers with under-rated axles.

Ours came with two 3500lb axles with a GVWR of 7300lbs.

I haven't up-graded, but do put the trailer up on stands for Winter storage, and track our loading carefully. The Classics are heavy.

Bob
Don't forget that GVWR includes the weight that is supported on the tongue of the trailer too. That typically ranges from 10%-15% of gross weight, and in some cases can go as high as 20%.

So if you have a fully loaded trailer that weighs 7300#, 15% tongue weight of 1,095# you only have 6,205# sitting on your axles rated for 7,000# so you are still good.

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Old 06-14-2012, 08:27 AM   #16
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Chuck,

The first few years of production of the Classic S/O the axles were only rated for 4,400lbs which gave the trailer GVWR 8,800lbs (Classic GVWR is 9,100lbs) which caused one to assume that the hitch would carry the extra weight. When using a weight distribution hitch not all of the exta weight is carried by the hitch.
You may want to negotiate new running gear into your offer. I definitely would.
You'll most likely want to upgrade to the new standard which would be axles rated at 10,000lbs and wheels and tires to Load Range D.
In the Spring 2012 issue of Airstream Life you'll find an excellent article "The 2001-2009 30' Slide-Out" by Forrest McClure that covers these great units, no longer in production. Check it out and learn more.
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Old 06-14-2012, 08:52 AM   #17
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Don't forget that GVWR includes the weight that is supported on the tongue of the trailer too. That typically ranges from 10%-15% of gross weight, and in some cases can go as high as 20%.

So if you have a fully loaded trailer that weighs 7300#, 15% tongue weight of 1,095# you only have 6,205# sitting on your axles rated for 7,000# so you are still good.

Aaron

Aaron,

Not quite....

Bob
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Old 06-14-2012, 12:28 PM   #18
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Why would someone never sleep in or move something that expensive for 10 years? Were they spending all their time on their yacht or flying around in their jet and forgot about the trailer?

Perhaps I am too suspicious, but I'd wonder about that. Are they pumping up the trailer to get more money? Is this the truth? Maybe they only used it sparingly and figure no one will notice. It may not make any difference, but strange stories may have strange endings.

I don't know about the axles, but as you know tires and seals may be bad. Floor rot may exist under the flooring. This era's heavy and long trailers had a problems with front end separation if I recall correctly—you may have to deal with that eventually.

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Old 06-14-2012, 02:15 PM   #19
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Don't forget on your slide, be sure the stabilizer jacks are down prior to opening and closing the slide unit.

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Old 06-14-2012, 02:59 PM   #20
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Aaron,

Not quite....

Bob
Then you are either over gross or your plate is wrong.

I have been towing things on a personal and professional basis for many years. If a vehicle has a GVWR that is supposed to be a not to exceed rating, and DMV enforcement will be happy to write you plenty of expensive reminders.

The only thing that your swindle sheets tell me is that you have a certain weight on the axles. If your GVWR is 7300# you are over your GVW, pure and simple.

Aaron
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