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Old 08-13-2007, 08:28 PM   #1
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Interesting Axle information

A poster on here suggested that I had shot axles based on the photo I submitted of my 1973 Argosy. I contacted a local Airstream dealer and informed him what the poster said, and what I saw with my axles. He said that in the 20 years he has been working on Airstreams, only a handful of them needed to have the axles replaced. He suggested I go to the axle shop and have them check it out, since just because the arm is close to parallel with the frame, does not always mean you need new axles. They looked at them and said that the were old and warm, but still had some life left in them, and if i was not going to be going all over the country with them, thousands of miles a year, that they did not need replaced unless i wanted them to. They felt that longer trips would put a lot of additional wear on them in a short period of time, but for your short weekend trips they would be fine, but to check them every year, since no axle last for ever.

If i wanted them replaced they could put complete sets of Dexter's on them, including brakes, installed for around $1,080. I thought that was a pretty good price. I am not planning on changing them for the rest of the year, but to be safe, I will probably replace them next spring. This also gives me a little time to save up for the replacemetn bill.

What do you think of that price? I have not seen anything lower, what I have seen on here is $1,600 just for the axles and breaks, but not installed. If anyone has any ideas, or other places to look, let me know.

Thanks,
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Old 08-13-2007, 08:45 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WestMichCamp
A poster on here suggested that I had shot axles based on the photo I submitted of my 1973 Argosy. I contacted a local Airstream dealer and informed him what the poster said, and what I saw with my axles. He said that in the 20 years he has been working on Airstreams, only a handful of them needed to have the axles replaced. He suggested I go to the axle shop and have them check it out, since just because the arm is close to parallel with the frame, does not always mean you need new axles. They looked at them and said that the were old and warm, but still had some life left in them, and if i was not going to be going all over the country with them, thousands of miles a year, that they did not need replaced unless i wanted them to. They felt that longer trips would put a lot of additional wear on them in a short period of time, but for your short weekend trips they would be fine, but to check them every year, since no axle last for ever.

If i wanted them replaced they could put complete sets of Dexter's on them, including brakes, installed for around $1,080. I thought that was a pretty good price. I am not planning on changing them for the rest of the year, but to be safe, I will probably replace them next spring. This also gives me a little time to save up for the replacemetn bill.

What do you think of that price? I have not seen anything lower, what I have seen on here is $1,600 just for the axles and breaks, but not installed. If anyone has any ideas, or other places to look, let me know.

Thanks,
You obviously got professional opinions already, so there should be no question but to question the professional opinion...does that make sense?
My experience with these old Airstreams has been that they ALL need axles, unless they were done recently. It's not necessarily the angle of the torsion arms alone, but the rubber compound gets hard, unable to properly suspend the trailer. The Torsion arms on my 63 Overlander had a nice downward tilt to them, but no suspension whatsoever.
To accurately price the axles, one would need a bit more information, such as brake size, etc. For Dexters, $ 500to $ 600 sounds about right.
Add to that some installation cost ( about 4-6 hrs) and the cost to have shock mounts welded on.
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Old 08-13-2007, 08:58 PM   #3
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I agree with UWE, the price sounds in line with what others have posted here before. I recently got an "informal" estimate of $500 to $550 for new axles for my '73 (Dexters). Informal because I'm thinking I can drive a few miles to pick them, rather than paying shipping and I haven't made up my mind on the brake question yet.

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Old 08-13-2007, 09:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uwe
...they ALL need axles, unless they were done recently. It's not necessarily the angle of the torsion arms alone, but the rubber compound gets hard, unable to properly suspend the trailer. The Torsion arms on my 63 Overlander had a nice downward tilt to them, but no suspension whatsoever.
I (and most everybody here) will agree with that statement. Every trip I have found more evidence that my trailer was getting beat to pieces. I also had a decent down angle left in the axle, but it was/is not providing any suspension. My replacement axles are on order now.

Quote:
To accurately price the axles, one would need a bit more information, such as brake size, etc. For Dexters, $ 500to $ 600 sounds about right.
Add to that some installation cost ( about 4-6 hrs) and the cost to have shock mounts welded on.
Dexter does offer a premounted shock mount. The pdf picture even lists it as an "airstream" option - however it may (probably) be in the wrong position for alot of vintage trailers. I ordered mine with the option (E_1501) and will find out when they arrive The price you were quoted sounds like a good one for installed axles, but you would need to know all the specs to do an accurate comparison.
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Old 08-13-2007, 09:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uwe
You obviously got professional opinions already, so there should be no question but to question the professional opinion...does that make sense?
My experience with these old Airstreams has been that they ALL need axles, unless they were done recently. It's not necessarily the angle of the torsion arms alone, but the rubber compound gets hard, unable to properly suspend the trailer. The Torsion arms on my 63 Overlander had a nice downward tilt to them, but no suspension whatsoever.
To accurately price the axles, one would need a bit more information, such as brake size, etc. For Dexters, $ 500to $ 600 sounds about right.
Add to that some installation cost ( about 4-6 hrs) and the cost to have shock mounts welded on.
They guy I talked to said that they were made to fit airstreams now, but he figured 2 hours to install, three if things were really rusted and took a little more time. You are stating 4-6 hours. Do you think my estimated quote is on the low side? Did you go with Dexters, and did it take 4-6 hours to put them on? Extended time to install could really run up the total cost.
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Old 08-13-2007, 09:42 PM   #6
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We have had a 72 Argosy, which needed and got a new axle, a 63 Overlander that still had some life left in the axles, and a 74 Sovereign that is slowly sinking on the right side because of axle problems.
I also helped out with a 77 Argosy 24 that had axles at the correct height and angle, but were so stiff an elephant could dance in the trailer, and they wouldn't move.
The "at a glance" check is if the wheelwell covers the top part of the tire down to the top edge of the wheel. If so, it generally is considered to need axles. If the axle angle when at rest, with weight on them is near zero (trailing arm is straight), or above zero (part where wheel goes is above axle line), the axles are considered to be worn out.
If there is no "give" when moving around inside the trailer, even when the above factors are good, the axle should be replaced, because it is transmitting all road shock and vibration to the inside of the trailer. This is when you find things tossed around in the trailer, or popped rivets inside and out.
There are several axle manufacturers that build torsion axles comparable to what Airstreams have, the two major players are Henschen and Dexter. Henschen is basically "plug and play", while Dexter may require some modifications to enable their axles to fit properly. Both are good quality axles, the difference is whether you want to install OEM with no modificaitons, or go with the competition for less, but knowing you may have to do some work to make them fit properly.
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Old 08-13-2007, 09:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WestMichCamp
They guy I talked to said that they were made to fit airstreams now, but he figured 2 hours to install, three if things were really rusted and took a little more time. You are stating 4-6 hours. Do you think my estimated quote is on the low side? Did you go with Dexters, and did it take 4-6 hours to put them on? Extended time to install could really run up the total cost.
I have installed axles on several Airstreams, and the minimum time it has taken was 3 hours for a single axle trailer. I use air and power tools wherever possible. If the guy is firm in his price, no matter how long "extra" it takes, that would be good. I'm kind of concerned that he may get it apart, and find it will take longer to put back together, and you at that time wouldn't have much choice but to pay him to get it done.
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Old 08-13-2007, 09:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
We have had a 72 Argosy, which needed and got a new axle, a 63 Overlander that still had some life left in the axles, and a 74 Sovereign that is slowly sinking on the right side because of axle problems.
I also helped out with a 77 Argosy 24 that had axles at the correct height and angle, but were so stiff an elephant could dance in the trailer, and they wouldn't move.
The "at a glance" check is if the wheelwell covers the top part of the tire down to the top edge of the wheel. If so, it generally is considered to need axles. If the axle angle when at rest, with weight on them is near zero (trailing arm is straight), or above zero (part where wheel goes is above axle line), the axles are considered to be worn out.
If there is no "give" when moving around inside the trailer, even when the above factors are good, the axle should be replaced, because it is transmitting all road shock and vibration to the inside of the trailer. This is when you find things tossed around in the trailer, or popped rivets inside and out.
There are several axle manufacturers that build torsion axles comparable to what Airstreams have, the two major players are Henschen and Dexter. Henschen is basically "plug and play", while Dexter may require some modifications to enable their axles to fit properly. Both are good quality axles, the difference is whether you want to install OEM with no modificaitons, or go with the competition for less, but knowing you may have to do some work to make them fit properly.
Mine still has some "spring" in them, but I know that they are on their last legs. I was going to have them replaced anyway, along with some other items that still work, but need updating.

I guess the real question on the Dexter's is, are they now really plug and play as the Henschen are? I have heard varying estimates and modifications, and on how much time and effort it now takes to install them. Has anyone recently installed the Dexter's since they now come availible in "Airstream" specs? In dealing with cars and RV's quotes, for some reason they seem to be on the low side when it comes to labor, and knowing what someone actually spent on labor would be good to know.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WestMichCamp
I guess the real question on the Dexter's is, are they now really plug and play as the Henschen are? I have heard varying estimates and modifications, and on how much time and effort it now takes to install them. Has anyone recently installed the Dexter's since they now come availible in "Airstream" specs? In dealing with cars and RV's quotes, for some reason they seem to be on the low side when it comes to labor, and knowing what someone actually spent on labor would be good to know.
You can contact Pizzachop, one of the forums members here. He recently installed Dexters on his Sovereign, and should have pretty up-to-date info on them.
I am getting Henschens for our 74 Sovereign, it will be interesting if we can compare time and effort for the two installs. His is a 73, nearly identical to ours. Being in the mechanical biz, I prefer OEM stuff, it usually fits better and lasts longer than most aftermarket, but that's just me. Many folks can use aftermarket items and never have a problem, but it always seems to bite me when I can least afford it.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
You can contact Pizzachop, one of the forums members here. He recently installed Dexters on his Sovereign, and should have pretty up-to-date info on them.
I am getting Henschens for our 74 Sovereign, it will be interesting if we can compare time and effort for the two installs. His is a 73, nearly identical to ours. Being in the mechanical biz, I prefer OEM stuff, it usually fits better and lasts longer than most aftermarket, but that's just me. Many folks can use aftermarket items and never have a problem, but it always seems to bite me when I can least afford it.
I usually like to go OEM myself if possible, but with the, take the labor out, $1,000 vs $1,600, based on my rving usage its hard for me to substantiate the extra $600 dollars. My last camping trailer I had for six years, and never left the state of Michigan with it. Now if the istall labor gets out of control, then I would have to reconsider. Where I live now, my garage is not tall enoungh, and my drive is to short, so I will probably have someone install the axles, regardless of manufacturer. I am figuring I can use the additional $600 on new cushions and fabric, toward new curtains, or my KT lock repair.

Who would ever have thought a new axle and a door lock would cost about the same. I don't think I have to replace the lock, just repair two parts, a pin, and a spring. I have them on order, and that has set me back $68.00, with shipping, OUCH!!

But hey, I did not go into this blind. I knew there would be costs for repairs and updating it, but to me its worh it.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WestMichCamp
but to me its worh it.
Uh, that was a typo, right?
If a shop is going to perform the work, their hourly rate will dictate how much you would spend on mods. If there, like here, the rate is around $100/hr, it doesn't take long for it to add up. 4 hours labor to mod the aftermarket axles will have your cost approaching the OEM units.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:52 PM   #12
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Uh, that was a typo, right?
If a shop is going to perform the work, their hourly rate will dictate how much you would spend on mods. If there, like here, the rate is around $100/hr, it doesn't take long for it to add up. 4 hours labor to mod the aftermarket axles will have your cost approaching the OEM units.
Unless the guy was blowing smoke up my tail pipe, he said it was $40.00 per hour for the install. I thought that was pretty good.

No typo, just meant the finished prouduct is worth it. The individual parts, they feel more like a trip to the dentist, painful and you pay them to do it.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:55 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by WestMichCamp
Unless the guy was blowing smoke up my tail pipe, he said it was $40.00 per hour for the install. I thought that was pretty good.
$40/hr is cheap for this area. If he was here, I'd let him do all the work on our trailer, I can't do it myself here for that. Of course, prices vary all over.
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Old 08-13-2007, 11:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by overlander63
$40/hr is cheap for this area. If he was here, I'd let him do all the work on our trailer, I can't do it myself here for that. Of course, prices vary all over.
You have the same base rate as we do in Michigan. There is just a $60.00/hr surcharge in FL for the extra Sunshine.
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