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Old 09-20-2006, 03:57 PM   #1
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Fixed or Torsion Axle for 1958 Traveler?

What is the accepted practice here? I have the original Axle with Leaf Springs on our 1958 18' Airstream Traveler and I would like to make sure that the Trailer is completely Road Worthy when I am done with the restoration. I am not planning on making this a "Museum Piece" but I don't want to make unnecessary changes.
Is there a good reason to spend the $8-900.00 to replace the original axle with a torsion type? Is this smaller trailer alright with the Oiginal leaf Springs and Straight Axle as Originally Equipped.
Steve
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Old 09-20-2006, 04:33 PM   #2
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Steve,

You are probably ok with the original design. You will need to carefully inspect the spring mounts and shackles, front and rear, for damage, wear, or rust. The original springs might be alright, but I would go with a new axle beam with new brakes. The new axle beam will have new and stronger spindles, which are less likely to give you trouble.

If you are going to do extensive repairs to the frame area, then an upgrade to a torsion axle system would be very nice, especially if you planon towing much or far. It requires some welding to the frame rails, as well as careful alignment of the new axle beam. You can expect a smoother ride from a torsion axle that is proportioned properly for your trailer.

Expect to pay about 30-40% more for a torsion axle.
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Old 09-20-2006, 06:06 PM   #3
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So you believe that the Torsion Axle would be easier on the trailer? I guess that would be only if there were no mistakes made when ordering the axle and installing it.
So far the Frame looks great and so I do not expect to do too much work on it but I am installing new Cabinetry because of the typical delamination and minor damages to the veneer over a 48 year life.
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Old 09-20-2006, 08:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piratesteve
So you believe that the Torsion Axle would be easier on the trailer? I guess that would be only if there were no mistakes made when ordering the axle and installing it.
So far the Frame looks great and so I do not expect to do too much work on it but I am installing new Cabinetry because of the typical delamination and minor damages to the veneer over a 48 year life.

As a Henschen distributor, all we need is the frame width and the dimensions of the wheel well with respect to the frame.

We also have the single and tandem axle mounting plates that you would need.

No biggee, getting the correct fitting axle or axles, the first time.

Andy
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Old 09-20-2006, 08:58 PM   #5
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piratesteve,

Our 60 24ft tradewind has the original 5200# hadco axle ,new brakes ,springs
bushings ,and shocks as originally equipped.It tows great no problems in 6000
miles or more of towing it .the leaf setup is reliable and strong ,and yours
would need the attention as uwe recommends .the torsion will require modifications and welding and correct positioning so the trailer tracks straight
down the road .The torsion is smooth and does ride nice ,no arguement .
your trailer will ride just fine with leaf springs even traveling alot or far.


Scott
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:07 AM   #6
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UWE & scottanlily,
You guys are making feel comfortable staying with what I have. I plan pulling the wheels and looking at the spindles, brakes, etc. in a few days (I am currently repairing and sealing the plywood floor) as well as checking the exterior wiring.
Steve
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:32 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by piratesteve
UWE & scottanlily,
You guys are making feel comfortable staying with what I have. I plan pulling the wheels and looking at the spindles, brakes, etc. in a few days (I am currently repairing and sealing the plywood floor) as well as checking the exterior wiring.
Steve
Hey Steve, don't get too comfy with the old axle...some of the splindles have been known to break without any previous signs of trouble. I can't speak from personal experience, but it did happen to several forum members that tow vintage single axle trailers.
I would at least replace the axle beam and brakes. A straight axle can be had for under $ 400.00, complete with electric brakes. This would take care of the brakes and spindles in one swift move...
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:45 AM   #8
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Tried and true!

Spring axles have very few problems if in good condition. There are far more spring axle trailers than torsion axle trailers manufactured every year. The disadvantage is that they do not have an independent suspension. Spring axles have changed little since the covered wagon days.

Uwe is correct - a new spring axle beam is very inexpensive and is an excellent insurance policy.

Best Regards,
Henry
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Old 09-21-2006, 11:15 AM   #9
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uwe,
the only axle ever known to break is the 65 caravel ,thats it.No one has ever posted on any other axle that I know of ,it had the small torsion axle spindle 5 lug wheel .so I don,t think that steves axle is in immediate danger of breaking.Steves axle should be a 6 lug with 12" brakes .Inside out had seen
at least two caravel axles break and I believe there have been 3 we know of so that seems to limit the axle troubles tothe65caravel torsion axle. I would do as steve is doing and see what he has ,but having all new does give peace of mind ,I would agree .

Scott
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Old 09-21-2006, 11:41 AM   #10
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Steve:
I have the exact same trailer that you have and the original axle. With regular maintenance and close inspections, you can have a looooong and extended axle life. Make shure you check spindles, bearings, shackles, springs etc. and always use new grase and never mix different kinds or brands of grease. I personally love the old spring set-up, and I'm thinking of just adding shock absorbers in the near future. Never overloading the trailer is also very important. good luck in your decision!

Ernie
'58 Traveler, 18ft.
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Old 09-21-2006, 12:27 PM   #11
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Hurrah for leaf springs!

I paid $320 for a 4" drop/5200# axle, with hubs and new backing plates. You might pay a little more if you have the springs taken off and refurbished.

It's called peace-of-mind.
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Old 09-21-2006, 01:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottanlily
uwe,
the only axle ever known to break is the 65 caravel ,thats it.No one has ever posted on any other axle that I know of ,it had the small torsion axle spindle 5 lug wheel .so I don,t think that steves axle is in immediate danger of breaking.Steves axle should be a 6 lug with 12" brakes .Inside out had seen
at least two caravel axles break and I believe there have been 3 we know of so that seems to limit the axle troubles tothe65caravel torsion axle. I would do as steve is doing and see what he has ,but having all new does give peace of mind ,I would agree .

Scott

All the early 60's torsion axles had small spindles.

Those spindles fatigue over the years when the running gear is not properly balanced.

We replace many of those that fail along with the Caravels, each week.

It appears not a matter of "what" but "when" will all the small spimdles fail.

Presently, the rate seems to be about 200 per year.

Forecasts predict that the vast majority of them will fail within 50 years, or less.

Andy
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Old 09-21-2006, 09:46 PM   #13
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andy thanks for that update as the only ones weve heard of have been the 65 caravel ,but I do know you have mentioned the small spindle on the bambi
too,never heard of them breaking but then I am certainly not the final word on that as you have seen plenty .the torsion design with the welded on the end arm does seem more prone to a failure than a one piece forging that my 60 hadco has , just a different design altogether .The one caravel I saw had the square welded part at the arm fracture off (the part with the spindle)
not the spindle itself ,the whole thing .So that would appear the weakness
is there at the welded area of the torsion arm itself.

scott
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