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Old 05-31-2013, 06:10 PM   #1
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1973 31' Sovereign
Milton , Delaware
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 12
My Tandem Axle Purchase Nightmare Plus Theft

The old sage “Buyer Beware” has never been more appropriate then in my ordering new tandem axles from an Airstream dealer. This know-it-all who had the vin# positively assured me that it would be an easy fit; just bolt them on; no cutting, no drilling, and no welding; positive! Well guess what?

The slot opening in my frame to position the axle is 2& ¾” The axles are 3” So my mechanic had to cut steel to enlarge the slot opening.
No drilling? Ha! The holes didn’t line up.

No welding? I was given shock absorber mounting brackets, and yes they had to be welded to the axles. Now I wonder what that heat did to the rubber in the torsion axle interior.

My mechanic originally quoted $400.00 based on a simple installation. Well after all the cutting, drilling, welding, and the unanticipated alignment, the reasonable bill came to $735.00

Now for the theft. I gave the Airstream dealer’s secretary my credit card no. after the dealer and I exchanged several conversations and mutually agreeing in emails on the total cost. So unbeknown to me, and without my permission, an additional $200.00 was charged to my account! When I complained the explanation was that the 8 lug drums that I ordered cost $50.00 more each than a 6 lug drum? And they did not realize that.
Would you pay $50.00 for 2 screws?
In all fairness I don’t think that it was the dealer, but his larcenous secretary, and he is trying to make it look legit.

In hindsight I should have taken my old axle to an axle manufacturer and had them duplicate same. Don’t ask me the name of this disreputable thinks he knows it all dealer; it’s not my style to expose chicanery on a public forum. It’s buyer beware.

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Old 05-31-2013, 06:57 PM   #2
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What a nightmare. Shoddy business practices and work. I admire your ethics in not naming them here, plus I don't know if there are legal and/or forum issues surrounding that. Axles are a big deal, too.

"Let's look Death in the face and say, 'Whatever man.'"
~ Hurley

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Old 05-31-2013, 07:07 PM   #3
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Does not sound like theft to me. Just an honest mistake in the original pricing. Not sure what you mean about the 8 and the 6 lug drum? I thought Airstream used 6 lug drums. Do the new axles require 8 lug drums? They probably do cost more. It does sound like some poor communication on the dealers part. On Airstreams I would not expect everything to go perfectly. The have probably changed frame manufacturers several times and maybe not all made the same. I would be unhappy that it did not fit, but would probably not try to hold them to a pricing error. All in all it sounds like you do have it together, just at a higher cost than expected. That is the way most of my Airstream projects go. And it is hard to take back angry words on the internet.
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Old 05-31-2013, 07:37 PM   #4
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Sorry that you had such a bad experience. To answer you question yes I would pay $50.00 a wheel for 2 lug bolts if that was the bolt pattern my wheels required. Would have you bought the 8 lug drums had you known the additional cost or would of you been able to use 6 lug drums?. I replaced an axle on a previous trailer, I gave the dealer the serial number and the axle was dropped shipped to me, I bolted the axle into place myself. That is what should of happened in your case. I see you only have 8 posts here, did you ask about replacing axles here? Many here have done this repair and would of been glad to share their knowledge with you. In the long run it cost $575.00 more than you had estimated to get your rig back on the road safely, things could be much worse.
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Old 05-31-2013, 07:56 PM   #5
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1974 31' Sovereign
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Originally Posted by rjpapp View Post
In hindsight I should have taken my old axle to an axle manufacturer and had them duplicate same. Don’t ask me the name of this disreputable thinks he knows it all dealer; it’s not my style to expose chicanery on a public forum. It’s buyer beware.
Sorry to hear that you had such an ordeal with axles.

I took the axles off our '64 Overlander to Axis about 7 years ago to have a new set made, and even though they had the old ones right there they put the brackets on the wrong way! I didn't realize until I got the new ones home. Fortunately I got the old ones back from them. They shipped 3 more axles to me before I ended up with a pair that was right. To their credit they took full responsibility for the error and made no excuses.
Grant Davidson
Milton, ON

1946 Spartan Manor
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1964 Overlander
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Old 05-31-2013, 11:15 PM   #6
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You are in Deleware - I am shocked if you are referring to an Airstream dealer in the next state over as I have had nothing but the absolute best in the purchase of three Airstream's from them and all the associated work that they have completed for me...
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Old 06-01-2013, 04:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by JFScheck View Post
You are in Deleware - I am shocked if you are referring to an Airstream dealer in the next state over as I have had nothing but the absolute best in the purchase of three Airstream's from them and all the associated work that they have completed for me...
Reading between the lines, I think maybe the place he is referring to is a few thousand miles west of him, and may possibly not even be an Airstream dealer.
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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Old 06-01-2013, 05:43 AM   #8
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I had a similar experience. "Complete and ready to install" was less than accurate. Shock mounting studs were 1/2 inch longer than original. Had to weld the shock brackets onto the axles. I am ever so glad that we did not attempt to do this ourselves as originally planned. When I contacted them to question the differences and to express my displeasure at the less than expected experience I was told "we're in the business of selling axles, not installing them". I was berated for selecting my mechanic, whose business name has "muffler" in it to do the install. This mechanic services several fleets of school buses, farm implements, all makes of vehicles. He hired a guy with MIG welder to make the welds. What I saved on shipping, I paid out in welding.

I might have made different choices if I had read here in the forums that there would be additional welding and alterations required.
Not knowing enough to be afraid... (I know more than I did, but I did it anyway!)


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Old 06-01-2013, 07:38 AM   #9
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I'll add my own anecdote: I ordered my axle from a very reputable source. There was a mistake in the shipping, and I got the wrong axle. Had to ship the one I got back and then go get the correct one. This resulted in three trips to a trucking terminal (since they wouldn't deliver to a residential address), and each time I had to rent a small trailer to cart axles back and forth. This added up to a lot of wasted time and added expense in trailer rental. Naturally, there was hardly even acknowledgement that a mistake had been made, on the part of the shipper or seller. The axle came without shock studs, and I still have to purchase new ones and weld them on. Installation went as expected--I was fore-warned that the holes wouldn't line up perfectly and I would have to do a little modification. No big deal.

I am a DIYer to the extreme. As DIY projects go, it feels like most Airstream related projects are typically more trouble than expected. I have read lots of glowing accounts of the fantastic experiences various folks have had ordering axles from various sources on the forums. Maybe I just got unlucky. I suppose if you want to have a truly guaranteed trouble free experience, you haul your trailer into the mothership or other "reputable dealer," and let them deal with the whole headache. You just hand them the credit card at the end.
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Old 06-01-2013, 08:30 AM   #10
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1972 27' Overlander
New Haven , Connecticut
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I had excellent results ordering from Colin Hyde

I am sorry to hear about people's difficulties with axle replacement. After quite a bit of research I ordered my axles from Colin Hyde who is the distributor for Axis Axles. I told him my year and model and placed the order.

The axles fit perfectly and came with shock brackets. I had a question on a Sunday when I was installing them and called Colin. He returned my call within a half hour and could not have been more helpful.

I hope this info helps someone who is looking to order replacement axles.

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Old 06-01-2013, 08:42 AM   #11
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Vintage Kin Owner
Phoenix , Arizona
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Posts: 469
I think that the heavier duty hubs are probably worth the extra $200, but once the price is quoted, it shouldn't be changed without mutual consent. A deal is a deal. It sounds like a binding contract was broke. I'm wondering if the heavier hubs came on a heavier axle, which created the whole problem to start with.

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