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Old 06-29-2014, 08:54 AM   #1
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How long do axles last

I am going to look at a 76 Soverign 31 in a week to see if we want to buy and fix up. How long are axles suppose to last. I also see where you can lift it 3 inches. Any ideas on that.

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Old 06-29-2014, 09:27 AM   #2
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Howdy! If stored on blocks I would say 30 Years is pretty good.

As for lift, you "can", but why? Do you need clearance for some reason?

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Old 06-29-2014, 09:41 AM   #3
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It seems that 25 years is the average life. I replaced my Argosy's at 35 years, and by that time they were pretty stiff and the rig had a hard ride.
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Old 06-29-2014, 10:38 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by beetlebob View Post
I am going to look at a 76 Soverign 31 in a week to see if we want to buy and fix up. How long are axles suppose to last. I also see where you can lift it 3 inches. Any ideas on that.
The are multiple answers to your question, so I'll try to go answer them individually.

If the trailer was not used much and has relatively few miles on the road, axle wear will be minimum and the axles will need a good inspection and the bearings repacked / replaced and packed (either way I advise packing grease new or not).

If the trailer has many miles on the road, you have a higher likelihood that the axle is weakened. And could snap off whether it appears to be in great shape or not. It is not a guarantee by any means, but I am in the business of people people bringing trailers to my shop and asking how much to replace because an axle has broken. And how long to get it done. (it's not how long to do it though, it's how long to get the axle, especially if it is an odd/short[length] size). It is pretty much older axles that are 25+ years old.

Axles can also get bowed over time. This can cause inside wear your ties and can lead to blowouts because you are not expecting the tires to unevenly, and every turn wears them quickly. Look for that.

Do to changes in design bearing sizes are not easy to find our get in the middle of nowhere, so you would want to have a beating set out two left in the trailer in case a bearing takes a crap. (that is good advise new or old though)

Suspension is another variable. Older leaf springs that have had weight on them at all tend to have a rougher ride. The metal is old and the spring action is tired. At 38 years, unless it had been up on blocks, you want will likely have some sag. Usually one side will say moor than the other. So look for that as well.

If you think you need trailer height, the easiest way to address that is a spring of over conversion. Some people do not like them on the grounds that it weekends the axles. I've seen zero evidence that it weakens it. The reason that spring overs fail and the conversion is faulted is the owner knows they have more ground clearance and decides to take it on a rough or rougher road which this kind trailer axle is just not made for.

Trailer height can also be addressed by putting new springs underneath, as well as by putting larger hangers for the springs to mount to. But if you only want an inch or two for painfull parking lot entries, a new set of springs will likely fix you up.

My hunting box trailer had old springs, bowed axle and dry bearings when I got it. It is a '71 so the age is similar. Since it is my hunting and rough camping (not just boondocking, super boondocking!) rig, I did everything, and was able to change tire size a little to give me more clearance.
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Old 06-29-2014, 10:52 AM   #5
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38 years, they are way done and should be replaced.
Also think about up gradeing to 12" drum brakes.
shocks also.
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Old 06-29-2014, 11:08 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by beetlebob View Post
I am going to look at a 76 Soverign 31 in a week to see if we want to buy and fix up. How long are axles suppose to last. I also see where you can lift it 3 inches. Any ideas on that.
Based on many threads here on this forum, I'd say there is a good chance that axles are going to be the "easy" part of a restoration project on a 38 year old trailer.
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Old 06-29-2014, 01:54 PM   #7
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70's era trailers have elastomer based torsion axles. Rubber generally looses its bounce over time, so no doubt, if the trailer of interest is riding on its original axles, they will need replacing. The axles are a much easier fix than the rear end separation that 70's trailers are also notorious for.

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Old 06-29-2014, 02:19 PM   #8
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The axles are usually the least of your worries. I would not spend money on axles right away. It is something to worry about once you are sure you are going to keep the trailer. You don't want to spend $1500 on something that will end up being sold as scrap because it got to be more than you wanted to deal with or had time to deal with. These things are more time consuming than a child and probably as expensive.

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Old 06-29-2014, 02:35 PM   #9
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How long do axles last

I bought a 72 that had some rear separation and a 75 that didn't.

I had the 72 on the road in. 90 days after repair and a full interior refit, and the 75 we turned to functional, habitable, and on the road in two weeks.

Look it over closely, if the frame is serviceable, the other repairs are not that difficult.

There are commercially available kits to raise your trailer two inches. These cost about $200.

I raised mine 3" using 3" angle welded under the stock axle mounts notched and drilled to accept the axles.

I think that raising these trailers just makes sense, I don't care for dragging donkey entering and leaving every second gas station.

If there is a down side to raising one of these trailers I don't yet know what it is.

If the axles are stock they will probably be toast because of the degradation of the torsion rods, but they will probably be fine to transport and build your project on, needing replacement before putting the trailer into service.

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Old 06-29-2014, 02:41 PM   #10
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As with all things, the older they get the more they sag.
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Old 06-29-2014, 05:13 PM   #11
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Thanks all. I do not know what I will do until I look at the TT.As far as redoing it there is a company called Felver Design in Beauford SC. I have seen his work and will talk to him to have him do a off the frame rebuild. I can do it but we are spending all of our time fixing up the S&B to sell. Just have to wait and see.
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Old 06-29-2014, 06:15 PM   #12
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You don't have to worry about the axles until you need to worry about them, if you get what I mean.

As well, unless you know the provenance of a trailer, the axles are not necessarily as old as the trailer is.

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I met David and Julie Flever at a rally in the high Georgia mountains a few winters back. Their renovation of a Spartanette was STUNNING. You will be in good hands there.

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Old 06-30-2014, 09:10 AM   #13
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The torsion axle with rubber rods for springing last longer if the trailer has been used. If the trailer has not been used for a long time the rubber takes a set and does not flex as much. These torsion axle will loose the spring over time and that will show up as a trailer that is lower to the ground. Get under the trailer and look at the trailing arm from the axle tube to the wheel, if that arm is pointing down from the tube you are good. If level it is questionable. If pointing up the service life is over.

The axle tube WILL have a bend in it about midway in the tube. this was done at the factory and is not a concern.

There was an issue with spindles breaking on much smaller trailers in the mid 60's. Your trailer should be fine.

Feel free to ask more questions.
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Old 06-30-2014, 09:36 AM   #14
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Torsion axles, the metal parts, last forever, except when rust comes into play.

The rubber rods is always the failure.

Ball park life, when used frequently, like 2 to 3 times a year, is about 25 years.

If the axle rubber rods are not exercised, due to the trailer being in storage for 2 to 3 years or longer, then the life will be cut short to that same 2 to 3 years.

This is true regardless of the manufacturer.

The best that can be done, if long term storage is planned, is to place the trailer up on jack stands, so that the tires do not touch the ground.

Then and only then will the life of the rods be extended. How long varies.


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