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Old 02-13-2008, 10:11 AM   #1
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Epiphany Gets new Axles

Oh no, not another axle swap thread…

Well my intention is to document some areas that were lightly covered, or not covered at all in the other threads, in a light hearted positive manner.

First to cover the basics, thanks for the help Pizzachop and TN TUNDRA, and yup I’m doing Dexter’s. My ‘Stream is a rear bath ’77 29’ Ambassador International that was completely original until late ’07. It does have 5” frame rails and was fitted with the magical frame stiffeners. We use it at least once a month but info leads me to believe that although very well cared for, it did see extended periods of non-use in the last 31 years.

In the next few posts I intend on covering-
Why do I think I need new axles?
How did I figure out what I needed to order?
How the heck does one actually order a Dexter axle?
How well did the ordering process go and what was the cost?
Delivery- how, when and where.
What needs to be done to a Dexter so it will fit?
Measured ride difference, before and after.
Do I really need shocks?

Is there any other items I could post that might be enlightening?

I’m picking up the axles this afternoon and hope to have all of the preswap data gathered on Saturday, the swap done on Sunday and the post swap measurements on Monday…unless I get a better offer .
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Old 02-13-2008, 10:27 AM   #2
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Hey, as another who needs (1) new axle I'm ALWAYS in favor of informative axle swap threads. Just called my local TruckPro to inquire about ordering a Dexter from them and was told "that's too small for what we usually handle" even though they're listed on the Dexter site as a retailer. So I called a TruckPro 50 miles away and was told "sure, we can get you an axle." Go figure. I'm planning on actually bringing in the old axle to their shop to make sure it gets spec'ed/ordered correctly, unless I do the more-convenient-I-think-maybe option of getting a Henschen shipped (at twice or more the cost). You know the routine. But I've subscribed to your thread and think it's coming at a perfect time for me...and probably many others!
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Old 02-13-2008, 11:14 AM   #3
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Folks let's reread the first post and note that this thread is about the process and not a debate about which is better. No posts regarding the Henschen/Dexter debate. We've seen these threads end up in a closed mode. Let's just follow the originator's reflections of the process.

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Old 02-13-2008, 11:24 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcanavera
Folks let's reread the first post and note that this thread is about the process and not a debate about which is better. No posts regarding the Henschen/Dexter debate. We've seen these threads end up in a closed mode. Let's just follow the originator's reflections of the process.

Jack
Right On. The only point I wish to not ignore is that for those of us who are not fortunate enough to live in Southern California the cost of shipping a 100+ pound item must be considered part of the overall cost, if that is where the item must be shipped from. Unfortunately I have no way of knowing which product is better and, like many other folks, must decide based on the opinions of others. My gratitude for these opinions, as divergent as they may be, is boundless... ;-)
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Old 02-13-2008, 11:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fotochop
Right On. The only point I wish to not ignore is that for those of us who are not fortunate enough to live in Southern California the cost of shipping a 100+ pound item must be considered part of the overall cost, if that is where the item must be shipped from. Unfortunately I have no way of knowing which product is better and, like many other folks, must decide based on the opinions of others. My gratitude for these opinions, as divergent as they may be, is boundless... ;-)
If you do the search work there are lots of threads relating to axles and the debate as such. Most have ended up closed due to deterioration of the thread. From these threads one can gather the risks and benefits in considering using an axle from another manufacturer rather than the one originally present at build time.

We don't need another debate on this thread. Please watch the development of this thread carefully and from it understand whether considering another manufacturer's axle is worth your consideration.

Jack
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Old 02-13-2008, 01:15 PM   #6
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Couple of Points

Quote:
Originally Posted by HiHoAgRV
Oh no, not another axle swap thread…, and yup I’m doing Dexter’s. In the next few posts I intend on covering-
Why do I think I need new axles?...What needs to be done to a Dexter so it will fit?.
When I did the '78 sovereign I found that the "standard" bolt holes from Dexter were about a 1/2 bolt hole thickness too far apart....by mounting the front axle a bit to the front, and the rear axle a bit to the rear I increased the distance between the axles by about 3/4" of an inch - never know when that will come in handy....see http://www.airforums.com/forums/f219...ign-14737.html post #53 for what I did with the extra space. I highly recommend the #11 axles with the Neverlube bearings. Documenting how you drilled the new holes for the frame and increased the cut out for the wider torque tube would be beneficial for the next poor soul who has to do it. I think Andy of Inland recommends a 35 degree max starting angle - I understand the method of his arguement.



Quote:
Originally Posted by HiHoAgRV
...
Measured ride difference, before and after.
Do I really need shocks?
Is there any other items I could post that might be enlightening?....
You might post some pics about the shock mounts - when I welded the old mounts onto the new arms I failed to shorten up the mount enough to let the increased swing of my 45 degree start angle have any extra movement room - there is enough, but just barely.

LOTS of before, during, and after pics would be nice.
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:09 AM   #7
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Why do I think I need new Axles?

The axle trailing arms themselves are close to level when empty and when loaded, they do have a very slight upangle. When the stabilizers are retracted the trailer does move a fair amount when someone walks around. So why do I think I need new axles?

As it turns out, the Can Opener ’08 is almost a literal wording. As part of our trip we visited a family member and the route could be used as a BMX track. The asphalt was so lumpy and humpy that 25 mph would have you leaving your seat at times. Arriving in Florida we noticed the mirror on the wall that divides the kitchen/bedroom had torn its lower mounts loose and it was sitting on the stove. Closer examination revealed the entire wall had pulled away from the shell and moved 1” at floor level. The ‘fridge wall had also broken a bracket and pounded it to pieces. For that to happen, the roof had to move upward by at least ¾” eliminating vibration as a possible cause. Attached is a photo of the destroyed bracket. The last 3” of the extrusion broke away and spun as the gap opened and closed, flattening the extrusion and splintering the wall.

Time for new axles.
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Old 02-14-2008, 10:14 AM   #8
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How did I figure out what to order?

I don’t mind a little challenge (these words will haunt me, soon...)and the possibility of saving some money sounded good so I decided to get a quote from Dexter.
I got a cheat sheet from another forum member that had done a Dexter swap, measured my trailer and looked at the Dexter site until I understood all of the measurements. Total time so far is about ¼ hour in making the measurments. The only 2 measurements I needed from my trailer were the inside frame spacing and the hub spacing. Mine ended up at a frame spacing distance of 61 3/8 inches and hub spacing at 79 7/8. I suspect the factory originally shot for 80” wide axles. These numbers agree closely with other members measurments

So at this point I want: (Here is the cheat sheet info…)

Axle Capacity: #11 axle derated to 3600 lbs. (stock is 3500 lbs, I wanted extra capacity, the #11’s are bigger that the stock, and come with the other options I wanted below)

79 7/8” Hub Face Dimension

61 3/8” Outside Bracket spacing

Bracket Orientation: Reverse, High Profile Side Mount, “HP-Rev (O)”

12” electric brakes. The stock ones work fine, no reason to change.

Hub & Drum Size: 12” 6X 5.5 with ½”-20 studs

Nev-R-lube hubs

35 degree down angle (per some Forum discussions this sounds good, but not really mandatory. SEE BELOW WHERE THIS ENDED UP!)

And for the stuff you WON’T get off of the Dexter website:
Shock Option E-1492

With this info I called Dexter’s Product Information line, went over the dimensions with them and requested a Dexter form to fill out and carry into my dealer, which she faxed to me. The only thing that didn’t work was the shock option plus the 35 degree down angle. They would only do the shock with a 22.5 degree angle. I think I could have discussed the problem and got the 35 degree, but it was not that important to me. Now I’m ready to approach the unprepared distributor of my choice…
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Old 02-14-2008, 11:57 AM   #9
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Vern, for the benefit of us that are completely clueless (like me ) could you explain these items in a bit more detail?

Jim

Quote:
Originally Posted by HiHoAgRV
.....
79 7/8” Hub Face Dimension

61 3/8” Outside Bracket spacing

Bracket Orientation: Reverse, High Profile Side Mount, “HP-Rev (O)

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Old 02-14-2008, 12:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim & Susan
Vern, for the benefit of us that are completely clueless (like me ) could you explain these items in a bit more detail?

Jim
Hub Face to Hub Face is the distance between the points where the rims touch the hubs
Bracket spacing is easiest to see on a bare axle, thus the sketch. This is an outside to outside dimension on the axle, inside to inside on the trailer mounts! Looking under your Camper, you will see how the axle slips between the two plates that hang down from the trailers frame.
The Bracket Orientation specifies which way Dexter welds on their bracket. They normally do it differently for a non-Airstream mounting configuration. The "High" means the top of the brafket is spaced slightly above the top of the axle tube. My trailer's original axles have a space to that's how I specified the Dexters.
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Old 02-14-2008, 01:10 PM   #11
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A Picture is Worth is Bunch of Words

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim & Susan
...could you explain these items in a bit more detail?
Here's a pic of a very well used axle from a '78 sovereign on the ground -
note the shocks still attached....

Double click on all pics to enlarge




The distance between the brackets (outside to outside),





and what a low rise mount looks like.

The bottom hole is a grommet hole for the brake electric lines.
The top hole is for the bolt to the trailer frame.
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Old 02-14-2008, 01:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH
Here's a pic of a very used axle from a '78 sovereign on the ground....
Pictures ARE worth 1,000 words.
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Old 02-14-2008, 01:16 PM   #13
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What needs to be done to a Dexter so it will fit?

First and foremost, make sure it gets ordered to the proper dimensions. Guess what…

I told ya’ll I would cover the good, the bad and the ugly. Here comes a potential trailer load of ugly.

An Airstream with 61 3/8” frame spacing won’t allow an axle with --- 61 ¾”---- dimension to fit. Some where between my paperwork and the dealer’s paperwork the 3/8 turned into a ¾. Now we get to see where this goes.

Stay tuned, this ride is gonna be bumpier than a worn out set of axles…
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Old 02-14-2008, 01:23 PM   #14
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I'm sure you know this but document everything that was sent so if the dimensions are wrong you won't have to eat the wrong dimensioned axle.
I measured a couple of times, put everything on paper and reviewed a couple of times to make sure everything is correct. I believe you need to spec a reverse oriented bracket but I would have to double check my records to be certain.
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