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Old 05-09-2004, 08:09 AM   #1
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I need a raise!

I have a '57 Caravanner that we think rolled at one point in it's life. I've had it for a couple of years and am trying to sort out some issues with the axle and tire size.

The wheels that came with it are 14.5 inches (can't find a 3rd for a spare) and the trailer is very low. I have tires on it now with an outside diameter of 26 3/4 inches. I can't possibly go any larger; the tire only has one inch clearance in the front of the wheel well, 2 in back.

http://www.airstreamrestoration.com/...k/DSC00988.JPG
http://www.airstreamrestoration.com/...k/DSC00999.JPG

What I'd like to know is if it's possible to put longer "straps" on the "springs" (using quotes because I don't know proper names) and gain more height. I only have maybe 3.5 to 4 inches clearance from the bottom of the axle now. More height would allow me a 15 inch wheel and a 28.1 inch diameter Marathon.

I've included a link to a photo to the part from a most excellent site (don't have a camera).

http://www.vintageairstream.com/floy...,afterlink.jpg

So can I extend this "strap" 2 or 3 inches? Or is there a better way?

Scott
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Old 05-09-2004, 08:55 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaaudio
I have a '57 Caravanner that we think rolled at one point in it's life. I've had it for a couple of years and am trying to sort out some issues with the axle and tire size.

The wheels that came with it are 14.5 inches (can't find a 3rd for a spare) and the trailer is very low. I have tires on it now with an outside diameter of 26 3/4 inches. I can't possibly go any larger; the tire only has one inch clearance in the front of the wheel well, 2 in back.

http://www.airstreamrestoration.com/...k/DSC00988.JPG
http://www.airstreamrestoration.com/...k/DSC00999.JPG

What I'd like to know is if it's possible to put longer "straps" on the "springs" (using quotes because I don't know proper names) and gain more height. I only have maybe 3.5 to 4 inches clearance from the bottom of the axle now. More height would allow me a 15 inch wheel and a 28.1 inch diameter Marathon.

I've included a link to a photo to the part from a most excellent site (don't have a camera).

http://www.vintageairstream.com/floy...,afterlink.jpg

So can I extend this "strap" 2 or 3 inches? Or is there a better way?

Scott
Scott, personally I don't see a problem using 1" longer brackets for the springs there. It will raise your trailer about 1/2-3/4", and would allow you to use a tire that is up to 1 1/2" taller, although you would have to stay with the width. You would also be raising the trailer 1 1/2" while doing this.
your tire with the 28" diameter would probably fit up in the wheel well then.
a potential problem would be the length of the shocks.
While I don't think an inch or so is going to hurt, you should check and see how far down they will go before making any unalterable conversions.
I also think you could get those longer brackets at you local auto parts store, just try and find out what weight they are rated at. Usually they are built for performance, or 4X4 use, so they are heavy duty out of the box.
Some even come with the bracket, with one set of holes at one end, and a series of holes at the other, so you can adjust the height if needed.
Andy from Inland would probably have more insight on these, if he is lurking here today.
Terry
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Old 05-09-2004, 09:07 AM   #3
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Hi Terry,

I think a slightly wider tire would be ok. Right now the widest part of the tire is in the wheel well. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think a longer bracket would drop the center of the tire slightly below and the full diameter would no longer be in the well.

Also, I don't ave any shocks on it. The old axle was removed a month ago and the RV dude that put the Dexter axle on it said that shocks were not recommended...?

Scott
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Old 05-09-2004, 09:25 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaaudio
Hi Terry,

I think a slightly wider tire would be ok. Right now the widest part of the tire is in the wheel well. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think a longer bracket would drop the center of the tire slightly below and the full diameter would no longer be in the well.

Also, I don't have any shocks on it. The old axle was removed a month ago and the RV dude that put the Dexter axle on it said that shocks were not recommended...?

Scott
Scott, I think a single axle trailer would need shocks more than a tandem axle unit, it will tend to bounce more without the shocks. Bouncing may cause all manner of unpleasant things to happen inside your trailer, like popped rivets, broken fixtures, etc.
There is a thread here on the forum about whether shocks are needed or not, a search should find it. My personal feeling is that they would not have been put on at the factory if it had not been needed.
As far as the tire being below the wheel well, it can still travel up inside the well when going over bumps and holes in the road, so it would still rub.
Terry
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Old 05-09-2004, 09:55 AM   #5
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Scott,

I agree with Terry on the need for shocks. I put larger shocks on my '59 with a longer stroke. You should also keep in mind that you are raising the center of gravity of the trailer. Even if its only an inch, it's not going to improve sway, its going to make if slightly worse.

Be careful buying new shackles. Your original mounting hardware is 5/8" diameter bolts, and lots of stuff out there is 9/16". Not much, but some of the trailer parts places sell shackles that have marginal width to begin with, and if you drill the holes out larger you would have very little left. Stick with high performance parts like Terry says, and get the heaviest ones you can find.

I have carefully measured and detailed all the parts on my wheels, shocks, and axle and checked clearance across the entire range of motion. If I can find the autocad drawings again on my hard drive I will run your proposed changes and let you know if it works. If you want me to do this for you, send me more measurements of the spring depth, distance between spring mounting points, and proposed shackle length. From the looks of it, your trailer is probably built on the same template as my '59 Tradewind.

Oh, and the reason the RV dude told you shocks weren't recommended is he didn't have the required parts and he realized that shocks are a very tight fit with the deeper brake drums on the Dexter axle. Been there.
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Old 05-09-2004, 10:03 AM   #6
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I faced similar problems with 14.5 tires. I ended up getting four new wheels and tires from this guy on ebay. Great prices and great service.
rustybore@worldnet.att.net He is outside Philly.
I now have 9 14.5 wheels. 4 new and 5 to be determined to be good or bad.
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Old 05-09-2004, 10:07 AM   #7
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PS. The place that's putting the new axel and new 6 lug wheels on my Caravel said trailer wheels don't need to be balanced. Just a coincidence I'm sure that they don't have the equipment. Top of the line trailer frame place but still not AS wise. These guys build trailers for race cars, ect.
I'll have them balanced after I pick it up. New Inland Axel and new wheels shouldn't be to back a trip home.
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Old 05-10-2004, 08:56 AM   #8
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Follow up...

I also posted the same questions to the VAC list (I'm sure many saw both). They suggested that the springs should probably be checked and possibly be replaced before swapping to longer shackles.

Also mentioned was that during the famous African Caravans, Airstreamers moved their axles from over the spring to underneath for a few extra inches to make it through streams, over rocks, etc. A compelling option, if the springs are in good shape... but the sway....?

Thanks Paul for the wheel tip. I plan to call him later today.

Don, Terry, I hear you on the shocks. Been added to the "to do list". Man, that tax refund went fast...

Scott
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Old 05-10-2004, 09:54 AM   #9
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Tires will fit. I have a nice shinny set of wheels just about Identical to the wheels on the new Airstreams sittign in tha garage for it with a set of 225's on it. If your that concerned you can get 205's . That would be 27.1 tall not counting the fact most tires run a hair short.

I may sell the old 14.5 rims. They have tires with plenty of tread...only about 18 years old LOL.

Here is where I bought my new rims from. I went with the Aluminum rim in the center and theyse are properly rated.

http://www.trailer-parts-forless.com...l_assembly.htm
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Old 05-10-2004, 10:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaaudio
Follow up...

Also mentioned was that during the famous African Caravans, Airstreamers moved their axles from over the spring to underneath for a few extra inches to make it through streams, over rocks, etc. A compelling option, if the springs are in good shape... but the sway....?

Scott
Moving the axle requires a little bit of work. You will need to weld on new spring perches, and the total added height will be close to 5 inches. Great for backwoods travel at slow speed.

On my '59, the original springs were in really good shape. I was suprised, but then the trailer had less than 5000 miles on it. They will last forever if kept dry. Unlike the Henschen axles, they will not lose their 'sproing' unless they were abused or overloaded at some point. But, you did say your trailer was rolled sometime during it's lifetime?
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Old 05-10-2004, 11:06 AM   #11
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I think it rolled on to it's streetside. When you sit on the gaucho, you can see from the shape of the shell that it is slightly flattened on that side. The street windows were replaced (non-original) and leak a little.

http://www.airstreamrestoration.com/...k/DSC00986.JPG

We call the trailer Lumpy. It's still cozy inside and I don't worry about taking it anywhere.

The axle project will have to wait for another year. I just ordered an extra 14.5 wheel for a spare til then...

Scott
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Old 05-10-2004, 05:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaaudio
I think it rolled on to it's streetside. When you sit on the gaucho, you can see from the shape of the shell that it is slightly flattened on that side. The street windows were replaced (non-original) and leak a little.
We call the trailer Lumpy. It's still cozy inside and I don't worry about taking it anywhere.
The axle project will have to wait for another year. I just ordered an extra 14.5 wheel for a spare til then...

Scott
Scott, another possibility is that your trailer got sideswiped at some point in its life. I think if it rolled you would see more evidence of damage, and those panels that are dented would have had to be replaced. I have seen pictures of Airstreams that have rolled, they tend to turn completely turtle when they roll, kind of like a Ford Explorer that wants its belly rubbed.
Terry
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Old 05-21-2004, 05:10 AM   #13
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does anyone know the measurments from the tongue to the axle on a 20ft globetrotter?
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Old 05-21-2004, 10:32 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaaudio
I think it rolled on to it's streetside. When you sit on the gaucho, you can see from the shape of the shell that it is slightly flattened on that side. The street windows were replaced (non-original) and leak a little.

http://www.airstreamrestoration.com/...k/DSC00986.JPG

We call the trailer Lumpy. It's still cozy inside and I don't worry about taking it anywhere.

The axle project will have to wait for another year. I just ordered an extra 14.5 wheel for a spare til then...

Scott
Hahahaha I just looked at that picture and saw that honda and recalled you PM about simularities....we have a burgandy 89 Honda Accord just like that one LOL.
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