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Old 09-16-2016, 11:54 AM   #1
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1960 26' Overlander
Tipton , Iowa
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Question ground clearance/new axle

I need a new axle for my 1960 Overlander. After getting an accurate quote for a leaf spring axle and all the related pieces parts I am at basically the same price as a torsion axle. My concern is not originality, but making sure I get the ground clearance I need.

The original leaf spring axle was remounted below the springs to provide clearance for modifications to the black and wash water systems. A black water pipe hangs down about 6 inches from the belly pan, right in front of the rear bumper. I have skid plates, but would rather not need to use them every time I pull out a driveway.

With a torsion axle and the standard (I think) angle of 22 degrees does anyone have any idea how far off the ground the trailer's frame will be? I use standard 225-75R15 tires.

Who out there has replaced their axle? What angle did you use? Can you take a measurement for me as to distance the bottom of the frame is from the ground? I think the best place to measure is at the axle. Did you use a lift kit?

Thanks for whatever help you can offer!
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Old 09-16-2016, 01:28 PM   #2
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Why do you want to replace the axle?

In a leaf spring design, the axle and the springs are separate assemblies. If the springs of your 1960 trailer are original they are well past their prime and are sagging. (No spring of any type stays springing forever) The design of a torsion axle is to provide a very soft ride. (Softer than leaf springs) As a result of that design a torsion axle usually provides less ground clearance not more. The would be especially true moving from leaf springs to torsion springs.

So if you are looking to regain or just gain ground clearance, just replace the leaf spring packs. If you want added clearance from there consider several options.

Add an additional leaf to the pack
OR
An added spacer block between the spring pack and the axle.
OR
Modifying the spring pack mounts
OR
Use taller tires

Axle replacement is not needed unless you have issues with the axle AND issues with the springs as well.

>>>>>>>>>>Action
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Old 09-16-2016, 01:35 PM   #3
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1991 25' Excella
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I replaced my 25 year old torsion axles with new ones with a 32 degree angle. It raised it up 2.75 inches.
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Old 09-16-2016, 03:33 PM   #4
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1960 26' Overlander
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpletKay06 View Post
I replaced my 25 year old torsion axles with new ones with a 32 degree angle. It raised it up 2.75 inches.
So how high up off the ground is your frame now?
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Old 09-16-2016, 04:30 PM   #5
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1960 26' Overlander
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In short, I have to replace the axle as the spindles are shot. Somehow I caught it in time before the bearings ceased up. The spindles are an integral part of the axle, not replaceable. There is NOTHING wrong with the springs and I actually would welcome them sagging about 2"!

Anyways, the old axle has a 2.5 inch dia tube and the modern ones use a 3 inch tube. So one would think that all I have to do is get 3" u-bolts. Only they do not make them long enough to accommodate the stack of 7 leafs that my springs have. So I either have to have them and a plate custom made, or replace with new springs. New springs don't cost much, but are only 24 inches, my current springs are 36 inches, so I would have to cut the old mounts off and have new mounts welded on.

Then because of the dimensions of the axle I cannot get a standard duty axle, but a medium duty one at a considerable increase in price. So, either I can spend $800 on a standard axle and the needed parts, OR I can spend $800 for a torsion axle and the needed parts.

What I need to know is what kind of ground clearance can be had with a torsion axle of a given angle.


Originally there was plenty of clearance, but the black tank outlet is on the wrong side and is simply a threaded hole in the belly pan. It is a half inch less in diameter than the current standard. Decades ago we had it altered to be the standard size, and put an elbow on it and 6 foot of pipe across the back with a valve on the end to allow us to use the campground sewer hookups with a little bit of grace and dignity as well as replace the leaking 2.5 inch sewer hose that we could no longer purchase new.

Unfortunately it is located at the very rear of the trailer and it scraped on the ground whenever we went over any kind of incline. So we added skid bars to keep from making a nasty mess. Well we just about wore through the skid bars when we watched one of the old caravan movies (Across the World?) and noticed one trailer sat higher than the rest. Talking to PeeWee we found out that they had "flipped" the axle to gain ground clearance.

I did the same to my trailer and it worked. Actually it worked too well. The trailer sits up higher than desired.

When it became clear that I needed a new axle, I thought that I would get a straight axle instead of the drop axle the trailer came with and just mount it normally above the springs. But with the price being equal to a torsion axle I thought the improved ride (and technology) would be desirable.

The current clearance between ground and frame is 20". With the axle mounted normally the clearance would be 14". I would like to get an axle that would put me somewhere between these two!

Is this enough info for ya?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Action View Post
Why do you want to replace the axle?

In a leaf spring design, the axle and the springs are separate assemblies. If the springs of your 1960 trailer are original they are well past their prime and are sagging. (No spring of any type stays springing forever) The design of a torsion axle is to provide a very soft ride. (Softer than leaf springs) As a result of that design a torsion axle usually provides less ground clearance not more. The would be especially true moving from leaf springs to torsion springs.

So if you are looking to regain or just gain ground clearance, just replace the leaf spring packs. If you want added clearance from there consider several options.

Add an additional leaf to the pack
OR
An added spacer block between the spring pack and the axle.
OR
Modifying the spring pack mounts
OR
Use taller tires

Axle replacement is not needed unless you have issues with the axle AND issues with the springs as well.

>>>>>>>>>>Action
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Old 09-16-2016, 04:49 PM   #6
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1954 29' Liner
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Scott,

I would look for an old school blacksmith shop or fabricator, who should be able to reproduce your 30" springs and then go with a new axle. Replacing with a torsion axle is also a possibility, but it will require some welding.

Bill
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Old 09-16-2016, 06:10 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by wkerfoot View Post
Scott,

I would look for an old school blacksmith shop or fabricator, who should be able to reproduce your 30" springs and then go with a new axle. Replacing with a torsion axle is also a possibility, but it will require some welding.

Bill
And more fabricating......... (Thanks for the explanation above) There isn't a mounting location for a torsion axle so getting a torsion axle to mount up means a lot more than just buying an $800 axle.

As to leaf springs ..... there are so many designs and outlets I would be surprised if you could not find leaf springs. Heck the design dates back to the horse and buggy. Doing an internet search will find several places that will make the spring you want assuming they don't have it in stock.
http://www.generalspringkc.com/
http://www.springworks.com/

As to U bolts - same same. These can be had in all kinds of sizes, shapes bolt diameters, you name it.

Custom hot rodders have driven this market since the 1940s and 1950s. Online sources are the best because they usually deal in volume and if they don't have the U bolt you want they will make it.

I don't want to convince you to get something that you don't want. It is just going the torsion spring direction is not likely to meet your objective because the trailer you have was not designed to have a torsion axle. So mounting a torsion axle so the alignment is correct is breaking new ground. You would have to design a mount and then have it installed. (welded) Then install the axle and hope you have the correct alignment, ground clearance and wheel spacing in the wheel well.

If you do decide to go the torsion axle route, please post on this forum. It would be good to document a change over as other have asked. I don't know of anyone that has done it.

Good luck my friend.

>>>>>>>>>>Action

>>>>>>>>>>Action
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Old 09-16-2016, 06:29 PM   #8
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Its roughly 21 inches.
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Old 09-16-2016, 07:03 PM   #9
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Action,

I had Uwe at Area 63 convert my 1954 Liner from springs to torsion, tandem axle, and Tim at THEVAP did the same thing on this Ambassador. Colin Hyde has talked about the conversion several times on THEVAP.

Bill

Quote:
Originally Posted by Action View Post
And more fabricating......... (Thanks for the explanation above) There isn't a mounting location for a torsion axle so getting a torsion axle to mount up means a lot more than just buying an $800 axle.

As to leaf springs ..... there are so many designs and outlets I would be surprised if you could not find leaf springs. Heck the design dates back to the horse and buggy. Doing an internet search will find several places that will make the spring you want assuming they don't have it in stock.
http://www.generalspringkc.com/
http://www.springworks.com/

As to U bolts - same same. These can be had in all kinds of sizes, shapes bolt diameters, you name it.

Custom hot rodders have driven this market since the 1940s and 1950s. Online sources are the best because they usually deal in volume and if they don't have the U bolt you want they will make it.

I don't want to convince you to get something that you don't want. It is just going the torsion spring direction is not likely to meet your objective because the trailer you have was not designed to have a torsion axle. So mounting a torsion axle so the alignment is correct is breaking new ground. You would have to design a mount and then have it installed. (welded) Then install the axle and hope you have the correct alignment, ground clearance and wheel spacing in the wheel well.

If you do decide to go the torsion axle route, please post on this forum. It would be good to document a change over as other have asked. I don't know of anyone that has done it.

Good luck my friend.

>>>>>>>>>>Action

>>>>>>>>>>Action
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1973 Dodge W200 PowerWagon, 1977 Lincoln Continental, 2014 Dodge Durango
1979 23' Safari, and 1954 29' Double Door Liner Orange, CA

http://billbethsblog.blogspot.com/
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Old 09-16-2016, 07:23 PM   #10
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Have you checked into just replacing the spindles. A good welder should have no problem doing that.
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Old 09-17-2016, 09:41 AM   #11
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1966 26' Overlander
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wkerfoot View Post
Action,

I had Uwe at Area 63 convert my 1954 Liner from springs to torsion, tandem axle, and Tim at THEVAP did the same thing on this Ambassador. Colin Hyde has talked about the conversion several times on THEVAP.

Bill

Didn't know that. Is there a thread on this site showing the change over?

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Old 09-17-2016, 10:10 AM   #12
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Not for my conversion, but I think that Tim documented his on his blog.

Bill

Quote:
Originally Posted by Action View Post
Didn't know that. Is there a thread on this site showing the change over?

>>>>>>Action
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1979 23' Safari, and 1954 29' Double Door Liner Orange, CA

http://billbethsblog.blogspot.com/
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Old 09-17-2016, 11:27 AM   #13
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I guess that is what I meant above to have one of those conversions documented on this site. I have not seen one posted here.

It is not a common thing to do. However leaf spring Airstreams (pre 1962ish) are not that common either.

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