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Old 07-03-2013, 08:56 PM   #1
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1976 27' Overlander
San Marcos , Texas
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1
Looking For Suggestions, Rusted axle

My uncle has recently passed on, leaving me this overlander airstream. I don't know a single thing about it, but I am anxious to fix it up. First thing is getting it to my place to work on it; it's been sitting out on a deer lease for about 6 years and the axel is pretty rusted. I plan on replacing the tires of course, but I am curious of what else I should do before attempting to move this thing a couple hundred miles. Any thoughts? Also where do I look to find the year/model.

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Old 07-03-2013, 09:16 PM   #2
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1999 34' Excella
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Round Rock , Texas
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There should be a metal VIN plate on the outside. Look on the streetside (driver side) below the windows.. By the VIN you will be able to check the site or post here for evaluation.

Jack the Airstream (AS) carefully.. only where marked. On your camper, the proper method is to use a ramp then back up or pull the camper forward on one tire.. that will lift the other off the ground to change.. repeat on other tires... one at a time.

Note how much the tire 'drops' when the load is off.. Do NOT jack on the axle because you will damage it permanently. You can 'jack' next to axle, carefully, by jacking on the vertical plate where the axle is mounted. Do not get underneath ...

As long as the angle of the axle is correct, they should be ok.. at least for a tow home... make sure you have good brakes..

This may be a blessing...hope all is well.. send more pics!!!

Peace and Blessings..
WBCCI# 30676
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Old 07-03-2013, 09:31 PM   #3
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1964 26' Overlander
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Anna , Illinois
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Looking For Suggestions, Rusted axel

Greetings loco_greengo!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstream ownership!

The VIN tag on most Vintage Airstreams is on either a cast plaque or an aluminum plaque immediately to the right of the door either at belt-line level or rub-rail level depending upon era. Later model Vintage Airstreams have VIN plates behind the LP tanks below the front window. I have attached pdf files containing information on interpreting Airstream VINS.

The Henschen Dura-Torque axles appear to be original to the coach, and based upon the length of time that it has remained parked they are likely in need of replacement prior to contemplating many road miles. To get the coach home, you will want to repack the wheel bearings which will give you the opportunity to inspect the brakes as well. The brakes are likely Kelsey Hayes or Dexter, either of which have ready parts sources. You may find that you only want to make repairs necessary to get you home, and hopefully you will find the only problems to be rusted springs (available in replacement kits) or one or two other small components . . . it is always best to compare the cost of needed parts with the cost of fully loaded backing plates as it doesn't take too many individual parts to approach the cost of a fully loaded backing plate.

You can assess the condition of your coach's axles using the information in this link. You can also learn about the configuring of a hitch for your Vintage Airstream at this link.

Good luck with your Vintage Airstream!

Attached Files
File Type: pdf 1950s Airstream VINs.pdf (143.2 KB, 21 views)
File Type: pdf 1960s Airstream VINs.pdf (193.2 KB, 14 views)
File Type: pdf 1967-1968 Airstream VINS.pdf (81.5 KB, 18 views)
File Type: pdf 1969-1980 Airstream VIN.pdf (87.5 KB, 32 views)
File Type: pdf 1981-Present Airstream VIN.pdf (96.1 KB, 11 views)
Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 07-03-2013, 11:26 PM   #4
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1972 Argosy 20
Snoqualmie , Washington
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 379
"Do NOT jack on the axle because you will damage it permanently."
I don't want to hijack this thread, but why not jack on the axle, assuming it's a single axle? Is the axle tube too thin, potentially resulting in a bent axle?
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Old 07-03-2013, 11:58 PM   #5
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1967 22' Safari
MILAN , Illinois
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Axles tandem or single

Originally Posted by DryFly View Post
"Do NOT jack on the axle because you will damage it permanently."
I don't want to hijack this thread, but why not jack on the axle, assuming it's a single axle? Is the axle tube too thin, potentially resulting in a bent axle?
DryFly, The trailer we are talking about here has a tandem axle set as it is a longer & heavier trailer. But if it has two axles or one the answer is the same. Yes! If you jack the trailer up under the axle tube you could bend the axle and create a dangerous tow issue that might even cause axle failure at highway speeds. The axles are Henchen OEM and the tube itself is a torsion axle tube. (It has rubber rods inside that are installed to cause the axle to cushion bumps). This is a different designed axle than ones with springs. If the tube is damaged it could cause the tires a serious alignment issue that might cause tire or axle failure to result. Those original axles will need to be replaced ASAP as from sitting in one spot for years the rubber rods have taken a set (hardened) that has caused them to lose the ability to absorb road shock from bumps or poor road surfaces and can cause the trailer to shake itself apart due to vibrations that can caused popped rivets or even frame failure. Hope this answers your question. Ed
1967 Safari Twin "Landshark" w/International trim package
1999 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT

"My tire was thumping, I thought it was flat!
When I looked at the tire... I noticed your CAT!"
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Old 07-04-2013, 02:55 PM   #6
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1974 31' Sovereign
1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
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There is a SOB trailer at the shop right now with spring type axles that was jacked up by the axle. It has a bent axle now because of it, which will have to be replaced. Torsion axles are not the only ones that can bend when jacked improperly.

Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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