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Old 05-11-2012, 05:47 PM   #1
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Judging axle condition by wheel well

I thought I might post three photos of the wheels on my three trailers, with some comments about them.

My first photo shows my 71 Caravel with original axel. You can see that if you judge it's condition by the space between the top of the wheel and the wheel opening, you would say it is good. After 41 years, I have my doubts, yet there it is with maybe 1.5 inches between the wheel well cutout and the top of the rim.

The second photo shows my 75 Argosy 22' with dual axels. Wow! Look at the space between the top of the wheel and the wheel well cut out. Must be 5 inches. Well, they are original axels and when you look at them from the rear, the arm is up, not even horizontal. They are in need of replacement, but by the wheel well test, they are great.

The third photo is of my 74 Argosy 20' with a new Dexter axle and 16" wheels and tires. The wheel cutout vs. the top of the wheel is the smallest dimension of the three I own, yet it is the newest and best axle.

So, watch out with the quick and dirty test to see if the axle is good or bad, judging by the top of wheel to wheel cutout. It may not agree with reality. Note especially how high the wheel cutout vs. the banana wrap to side transition is on the 75 Argosy. I don't know how common that high cutout is, but it is original on mine.
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:11 PM   #2
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I don't believe the distance from wheel well to rim is the factor, to me the fact the more than half the tire is hidden is evidence that the axles are shot, combined with a quick look at the "arm" for sure.

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Old 05-11-2012, 06:23 PM   #3
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If you compare like model to like model, maybe it is a good judgement. But between generations and models, the assumption that the distance between axle and wheel well cutout is the same would not be a good conclusion.
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:34 PM   #4
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The tandem axle Argosy could be frozen in that position. I recently replaced the axles on our '74 Argosy 26' with new Axis axles that are rated 200#'s higher than the old axles. The new axles raised the trailer height by about 3".
My reason for replacing the axles had more to do with the clearance above the tires in the wheel well. The old axles still had flex in them, so there was no problem with a rough ride. I just didn't want to have the tire move so high that it would burn thru the wheel well.
Can't tell any difference between the old and new when it comes to towing.
One thing I have noticed is with the new axles the track is about 3" wider. I can see the bottom of the tires on the front axle in the rear view mirrors. At least I can tell if one of the fronts has a flat.
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Old 05-11-2012, 07:29 PM   #5
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As another anecdotal comparison my wheel well looks a lot like your '74, plenty of hidden tire. If I used the wheel well method I'd say the axles are bad.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:10 PM   #6
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My 67 Safari had the axle torsion arm frozen with a good down angle so it looked like a good axle. When I replaced it I cut the axle slot up to the frame and now it rides a little lower and looks like it needs replacing. So the look from the side doesn't always tell you about the condition.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:32 PM   #7
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The relationship of the wheel to the wheel well is not always a good indication, but when you see something like this:
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you should have a pretty good idea that they are shot. Not only are these low, but the buckling of the skin and the outrigger wearing through the banana wrap are a very bad sign.

Jacking the trailer and measuring the wheel drop will let you know if they are frozen. Another test is to have someone follow you down the road to watch how the trailer rides. The ride should be smooth and not choppy.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:41 PM   #8
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Loooooowwwwww....riiiiiiiderrrrr......
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:14 AM   #9
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1964 Airstream Axle Swap - Why we needed it. - YouTube
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