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Old 06-13-2012, 03:11 PM   #1
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Do you think this trailer needs new axles (pic attached)

Hi all. First post here. Looking at buying a 76 Caravanner 25' in what looks to be pretty good shape. But its quite a ways away and before I commit to an 11 hour one way ride to see it, I'd like to get all my ducks in a row. One of the things that concerns me is that it is still on original axles according to the owner. He also says that the tires are probably going to need replacement in the near term though they look ok in the picture.

What would my cost be on new axles? I'm guessing probably 1100 or more from what I read here. That may be a deal breaker. A quick response would be appreciated as we were thinking about driving down this weekend.

Thanks.

Bob
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Old 06-13-2012, 03:21 PM   #2
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Odds are from the age it'll need new axles, but the photo doesn't offer definitive evidence either way.

More definitive indicators are the angle of the arm that runs from the torsion rod to the spindle, and the range of motion (and speed of that motion) that the unsupported axle moves through when you pull one wheel up onto a block or ramp.
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Old 06-13-2012, 03:41 PM   #3
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axle cost

I replaced a single axle via Colin Hyde for right about $800 including shipping. When I priced mine, this was about the best I could do with limited risk. At that age, you will likely need new axles--hard to tell from the pics. There are lots of descriptions on the forums describing how to decide if you need new axles. If the tires are cracking ont he sides or are more than 5 yrs old, you would want to replace them before getting on the road.

It is dangerous to make an 11 hr drive. Once you have made that commitment, it will have to look terrible for you to turn around and drive home without it. Make sure the price is right going into the deal, but be aware that the price you pay for the trailer will probably be peanuts to what you can quickly spend on repairs that are hard to identify without dropping the belly pan.

Almost a year ago, I bought a trailer after searching for 2 years. I drove 600 miles to retrieve it, and I'll be honest, I didn't look too hard to find faults, as I had no intention of going home empty handed. My biggest concern was making it safe for the long drive home, and I must have used up every shred of good charma I possessed in order to make it home unscathed. I thought I would be doing a superficial fix-up and would be camping by now, but right now my empty shell is sitting on the driveway, and the trailer frame has been practically rebuilt. The costs of the new axle, wheels and tires, frame repairs, new plywood subfloor, insulation and new grey tanks has equaled my original purchase price (I still feel pretty good about what I paid for it).

good luck!
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Old 06-13-2012, 03:54 PM   #4
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Nope
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Old 06-13-2012, 05:28 PM   #5
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Nope
Ok. Help me to understand why they should be good at about 36 years old? Aren't they using rubber as the suspension mechanism? Will any rubber product last that long? I read in another thread that if the tops of the tires are not visible from the line of the wheel wells then the axles are shot. Even the guy from Inland RV gave a 99% agreement with that statement. So what am I missing here?
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Old 06-13-2012, 05:33 PM   #6
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the wheels could be 1976 vintage, or newer, and there's plenty of rubber showing above the rim, but whether the axle MOVES up and down when off the ground will tell you whether the rubber torsion bars have oxidized and hardened.

1100 miles is a long trip to find a used Airstream... frankly looking at the wheel well, it looks a lot like my 2006 wheel well. (Go to www.colonialairstream.com and look at their new inventory closely. I'm looking at the trim on the edge of the wheel well. After that go to our classifieds and look at some 70's vintage units. Price - deal breaker.... Well it's worth what it's worth TO YOU! You are looking at a trailer that's 35 years old. It's going to need some TLC. It's going to cost some money to do it right.

Have you asked an inspector look at the unit?

I'm in VA Beach, and if you'd like to send me a PM with your photos I'll be happy to look them over.

Paula
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Old 06-13-2012, 05:38 PM   #7
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Those are the upgraded aluminum wheels for the era. I have the same ones on my 75 Trade Wind. My axles look the same and mine do drop when the trailer is lifted.
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Old 06-13-2012, 05:44 PM   #8
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Hi Bob,

Welcome to Airforums. We are glad to have you with us. Paula's information is spot on in my book. If you can get a local person to inspect the rig on your behalf it may save you some significant drive time. 22 hours doesn't sound enjoyable unless you happen to be going that for other purposes. Hope things work out in your favor.

Kevin
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Old 06-13-2012, 06:14 PM   #9
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I agree with Paula and others. The wheels look like the ones on my 77 Overlander. Gauging by the edge of the wheelwell it appears you will not need new axles Unless they dont move. Take a jack and jack on the plate between the wheels and see if you get axle drop. That will be the determining factor. GOOD LUCK
IF you have to change axles,Trust me, its a peice of cake. SEEMS lots of people think its an impossible task,IT NOT. I did mine when I was 70 yrs old.
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Old 06-13-2012, 06:15 PM   #10
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What Roger said.
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:00 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the quick replies. This is the trailer I'm looking at: 1976 Airstream Caravanner 25' - Airstream Trailer Classifieds - Airstreams Trailers For Sale

I've spoken at length with the owners and from what I can tell it's in overall good shape considering the age. It's down in GA in Lake Lanier which for me is about 550 miles one way. From the pix and the owners description it sounds like a good first airstream. I really did not want to get into a project that I had to dump a ton of money in just to get it out on the road camping. I'm a very handy guy and can do pretty much anything that is needed, but my wife would not be up for another long term project and I''m not either. It may need a new ac unit and it does need a new water pump. The axles are original. The tires may need replacement as they are over 5 years old. They say there are no soft spots in the floors, there is some rust on the axle, but that may be flash rust. I do agree that if I were to travel down to look at it, I would be hard pressed not to want to hook it up and take it home.

So how would I go about finding somebody in that neck of the woods that would be willing to do an inspection on it?
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:13 PM   #12
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It will be awhile before I could get up that direction. If you don't get any responses in the next few days, send me a PM. In the interim...

Volunteer inspectors are listed on the right hand side of the forum on the portal page under the classifieds, click the arrow to expand or collapse the drop down menu with field for state and unit type.

If the trailer has be used regularly and by that I mean towed on the road, the axles may well still be good. They haven't settled from looking at the picture, but if the rubber isn't "exercised" through use the rubber rods harden and basically freeze in place. When that happens, the axle must be replaced.
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquinob View Post
Ok. Help me to understand why they should be good at about 36 years old? Aren't they using rubber as the suspension mechanism? Will any rubber product last that long? I read in another thread that if the tops of the tires are not visible from the line of the wheel wells then the axles are shot. Even the guy from Inland RV gave a 99% agreement with that statement. So what am I missing here?

The only piece of information available to me is the picture. Based on the picture, the axles look fine.


`
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquinob View Post
Hi all. First post here. Looking at buying a 76 Caravanner 25' in what looks to be pretty good shape. But its quite a ways away and before I commit to an 11 hour one way ride to see it, I'd like to get all my ducks in a row. One of the things that concerns me is that it is still on original axles according to the owner. He also says that the tires are probably going to need replacement in the near term though they look ok in the picture.

What would my cost be on new axles? I'm guessing probably 1100 or more from what I read here. That may be a deal breaker. A quick response would be appreciated as we were thinking about driving down this weekend.

Thanks.

Bob
Bob,
This trailer looks to be in great shape from the pictures. The axles may need to be replaced, but maybe not. Axle replacements are easy compared to fixing rotten floor under a rear bath '70s Airstream. I think you should be more concerned with floor rot under the bathroom and the general soundness of the structural aspects of the trailer. The floor, frame etc. You would do well to have a forum inspector volunteer help you out. Good luck! The forum is here for you.
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