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Old 01-23-2009, 09:32 PM   #1
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Is alignment needed on new axles?

I'm planning to put new Henschen's on sometime soon. I was wondering if they need to be aligned after installation, or if any other work must be done, other than the installation of the axles themselves (including brakes, etc).

My assumption is that if I use the Henschen's, they should pretty much be a drop-in. If that's not the case, I'd rather find out beforehand.

Thanks!

Jon
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Old 01-23-2009, 09:37 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by fitzjo1 View Post
I'm planning to put new Henschen's on sometime soon. I was wondering if they need to be aligned after installation, or if any other work must be done, other than the installation of the axles themselves (including brakes, etc).

My assumption is that if I use the Henschen's, they should pretty much be a drop-in. If that's not the case, I'd rather find out beforehand.

Thanks!

Jon

Henschen axles are aligned before they are shipped.

Andy
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Old 01-23-2009, 11:59 PM   #3
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Hi, you might want to check the alignment just to be safe; Some shipping companies are brutal. Look for marks or signs of physical damage. I have seen engines, transmissions, and a truck frame that were damaged in transit.
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Old 01-24-2009, 04:23 AM   #4
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Axle questions have been hot beds of debate and even arguments. What I am saying and asking are honest questions. I just do not understand and would like to know, so here we go....

How exactly is an axle aligned? Aligning usually deals with things being parallel. Not sure how that is done in a factory in Ohio. If the bolt holes are slightly out of parallel, will it still be aligned? Is balanced a better term or is this something different? I just measured for new axles. Interestingly the Henschen from 1962 were mounted off center. The axle was 1/8" off center side to side. Is this considered aligned? Could it actually be balanced? I also found that the axle centers front to back are not equal from curbside to street side, there is a 3/32" difference. That would seriously effect alignment too. I put 5400 miles on my tires last year and see no sign of uneven wear, so it must not have too much effect. None of these differences would have been noticed, had I not been measuring for new axles.

My new Axis axles arrive this coming week. I ordered a pair of 3700# down graded to 3200#, powder coated, with 10" electric brakes for $1160 including shipping. Interested to see how it goes.
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Old 01-24-2009, 05:57 AM   #5
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'62 Overlander--your point is one reason why I ask. I should be careful to say that I'm trying to correct my own ignorance and not provoke anyone.

The part that confuses me is that the Airstream factory might have mounted my original axles crooked and then aligned them up. If I needed to align a replacement axle on such a rig, it might not be the fault of the new axle. Still, it might need to be done, and I'd rather know the risks up front.

It's also my understanding that I will need to drill some holes. I'm not exactly sure where, or more importantly, if they can be drilled with the new axles in place as a guide. I know how to use a center-punch and drill. But, it does make me a little nervous.

Having spent some time under the unit contemplating this, I know that the brackets help to ensure alignment with the frame. But, I couldn't help being a little worried at how the width of the frame rails wasn't exactly an even measurement.

Anyhow, there's no teacher like experience. And there's no greater source of collective experience than these forums. So, if there's nobody out there who had the problem I'm worried about, that'll be a pretty good sign.

Thanks to everyone for your comments.

Jon
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Old 01-24-2009, 06:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fitzjo1 View Post
I'm planning to put new Henschen's on sometime soon. I was wondering if they need to be aligned after installation, or if any other work must be done, other than the installation of the axles themselves (including brakes, etc).

My assumption is that if I use the Henschen's, they should pretty much be a drop-in. If that's not the case, I'd rather find out beforehand.

Thanks!

Jon

When we had our Henschen axle upgrade done at JC they did an alignment.

FWIW 'shaker
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Old 01-24-2009, 06:22 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by fitzjo1 View Post
'62 Overlander--your point is one reason why I ask. I should be careful to say that I'm trying to correct my own ignorance and not provoke anyone.


Thanks to everyone for your comments.

Jon
Me too, on all that. Unfortuntely when talking axles, someone is always offended. I am trying hard to understand all the nuances.
Another thing I learned measuring... the standard for my trailer was 58" frame rail to frame rail. But mine is 57.875". If I was to order using specs from a book the new axles would have been too tight. I was told that the new axles have the shock brackets already mounted and all the hardware included. I was told that one hole might need a slight enlarging, but no new hole drilled. Axis and GSM have been working hard at getting axles made that require zero alterations.
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Old 01-24-2009, 08:10 AM   #8
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62 OVERLANDER

How exactly is an axle aligned? A solid axle, like trailer axles would be positioned to a set of engineered spectifcations. And actually in an alignment shop the technican is looking for correct tire or wheel position, not axle position. If the tires or wheels are correctly positioned, it is assumed the axl is in the correct position. So an alignment check is a comparison to a set of specifications. Any adjustments would be to get the tire or wheel assembly to be in alignment with the specifications that were engineered and published.

Aligning usually deals with things being parallel. This would be true if the trailer was never in motion. When a vehicle moves down the road there are many forces that cause movement. Then there is the event called turning! Most vehicles do not have the wheels parallel in all dimensions. Most wheels on a axle have some toe in that is not a parallel dimension..

Not sure how that is done in a factory in Ohio. If the bolt holes are slightly out of parallel, will it still be aligned? There is a tollerence. Plus or minus so much. Few things in this world are perfect. The patterns in a facory are constructed such that consistant manufacturing occurs.

Is balanced a better term or is this something different? Balance would refer to condition of something in motion usually revolving like the tire wheel assembly. An axle assembly doesn't move, well there may be slight movement and it is not likley the aveage person could measure it.

I just measured for new axles. Interestingly the Henschen from 1962 were mounted off center. The axle was 1/8" off center side to side. Is this considered aligned? The proof will be when the wheels are mounted and how the tire meets the road. I do not know enough about the actual Airstream spec to comment.

Could it actually be balanced? Against what? To balance some thing (in this context) one is looking at a moving part. On your trailer the axle does ot move.

I also found that the axle centers front to back are not equal from curbside to street side, there is a 3/32" difference. That would seriously effect alignment too. I put 5400 miles on my tires last year and see no sign of uneven wear, so it must not have too much effect. None of these differences would have been noticed, had I not been measuring for new axles. Results, a far better measure than anything out there. If it works and works well then it doesn't really matter what the spec are? Does it?


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Old 01-24-2009, 08:14 AM   #9
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When I got my new Dexters I asked the factory the same question. The answer was the same. There were shipped ready to go with no further alignment necessary. All I can say is I have not noticed any problems.
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Old 01-24-2009, 08:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fitzjo1 View Post
I'm planning to put new Henschen's on sometime soon. I was wondering if they need to be aligned after installation, or if any other work must be done, other than the installation of the axles themselves (including brakes, etc).

My assumption is that if I use the Henschen's, they should pretty much be a drop-in. If that's not the case, I'd rather find out beforehand.

Thanks!

Jon
It wouldn't be a bad thing to have the alignment checked after everything is installed. It may cost you an extra $50 to know that everything is set up correctly. After all you are installing an axle set on a 40 year old trailer. Could the trailer mounts (frame and such) have moved? Not likley and anything is possible.

An alignmnet check after an axle installation is not common. It would be like a double check that there are not issues.

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Old 01-24-2009, 10:41 AM   #11
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I checked my Dexter before I bolted it in. The only thing you need to do is make sure that they are square with the frame. to do this find a common spot on both sides and then measure to the center of the coupler . Mine was within a 1/16th so I bolted them in.
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Old 01-24-2009, 11:04 AM   #12
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Axle alignment

The axle should be at an absolute right angle to the frame.

A new axle can be in perfect alignment, but if the axle mounting plates were not properly installed. then you could have a misalignment, not because of the axle itself, but because of the position of one of the axle mounting plates, or the position of the frame with respect to the shell.

The clearance between the tires and the shell, on each side, should be exactly the same.

Over 30 years ago, there was a big "Boo boo" in that the frame was sometimes installed with a curve in it, instead of a straight line. That was caused by the way the frame was attached to the floor. OUCH.

Again, over 30 years ago, for some still unexplained mystery, the axle mounting plate location on one side was either 1/8, 1/4 or 3/8 of an inch off, from the other side, on some trailers.

You can check that by measuring from the lower front corner of the axle mounting plate, to the center of the back side of the jack. That dimension should be "EXACTLY" the same. If not, the the axle would have to be intentionally, "mis-aligned" to compensate for the difference, or the trailer will tow dog legged.

In the case of a 31 foot trailer, (sounds like Maury) by actual measurements, if one of the axle mounting plates is off 1/8 of an inch, from the other, the trailer will tow "dog legged" 3 inches. If it's 1/4 inch off, then 6 inches, and if it's 3/8 off, the trailer will tow 9 inches dog legged.

I know, I had one of those. It was a crazy sight to see in your outside towing mirrors. It also didn't do much good for the tire wear either.

As always, the correct reference point is always thru the center line of the trailer, if there is any question.

Those problems happened with the early 70's models.

Andy
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Old 01-24-2009, 11:51 AM   #13
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I don't know if it was caused by the same curved frame floor installation boo-boo, but the axle in my '59 out of line by just less than 1/2". We fixed it during the rebuild by uncurving the frame with the floor off. We uncurved it while welding a new coupler on.

Only other option would have been to cut off and relocate the spring hangers on one side.
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Old 01-24-2009, 12:10 PM   #14
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Action, Thank you for that excellent explanation. Now I understand.
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