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Old 05-16-2012, 08:49 PM   #1
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1958 18' "Footer"
San Luis Obispo , California
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New Axle for 1958 18' Traveler

Hi everyone,

So we are really starting to get into our AS and the further we do the more we are leaning towards a full frame-off resto! I've been fighting it but I also know that we want to do it right if we are going to do it at all.

That being said, there's no better place to start than from the ground up, which starts at wheels and the axle.

We had contacted Andy at Inland inquiring about replacing our leaf axle with a new torsion axle but haven't heard back from him (yet).

What are your thoughts about the best direction to go? We're planning on going with a torsion axle but what about brakes? Is it worth it to go with discs? Is there anything else we should incorporate to make the set up safe and reliable? Are there pre-configured set-ups that we can order and bolt on?

Thanks for your help!
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Old 05-21-2012, 11:14 PM   #2
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1957 30' Sovereign of the Road
1959 28' Ambassador
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Originally Posted by bluemoontwo View Post
Hi everyone,

So we are really starting to get into our AS and the further we do the more we are leaning towards a full frame-off resto! I've been fighting it but I also know that we want to do it right if we are going to do it at all.

That being said, there's no better place to start than from the ground up, which starts at wheels and the axle.

We had contacted Andy at Inland inquiring about replacing our leaf axle with a new torsion axle but haven't heard back from him (yet).

What are your thoughts about the best direction to go? We're planning on going with a torsion axle but what about brakes? Is it worth it to go with discs? Is there anything else we should incorporate to make the set up safe and reliable? Are there pre-configured set-ups that we can order and bolt on?

Thanks for your help!
I have done numerous conversions from leaf spring to torsion axle. You will need to fabricate some mounting plates & have them welded to the side of the frame rails. I can supply you with the drawings if you're interested. This will allow you to bolt the new torsion axle on in the same fashion as all later Airstreams. Upper shock mounts will also need to be fabricated. A torsion axle is much lighter than the leaf spring assembly & the trailer will ride much better. You can certainly go with disc brakes, but in my opinion, they would be overkill for your trailer. 10" electric brakes are rated for axles up to 3700 lbs & 12" brakes are typically used on 5000 lb axles but are also used on 7000 lb axles.
Thanks,
Colin
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:07 AM   #3
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1958 18' "Footer"
San Luis Obispo , California
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Thanks for the reply Colin! It sounds like it's more than just a bolt-on replacement. Any drawings you have are greatly appreciated.

In your opinion, is it beneficial and/or worthwhile to change from leaf to torsion on our size and year trailer? I want to add brakes definitely but will explore other options if they are the preferred way to go.

By the way, I just purchased the back podcasts and have been listening everyday. I was actually listening to you when I got your reply. Pretty cool. Thanks for all of your helpful insight and contribution on the show. It's really inspiring and helpful!
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:59 AM   #4
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I purchased my axles through Colin when I did the springs to torsion conversion on my Caravanner. Colin sent the drawings for the mounting plates and made the whole process easy.

Springs are still fine, but I'm very happy with the way my trailer rides.

cheers,
steve
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Old 05-22-2012, 10:02 AM   #5
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
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Originally Posted by Colin H View Post
I have done numerous conversions from leaf spring to torsion axle. You will need to fabricate some mounting plates & have them welded to the side of the frame rails. I can supply you with the drawings if you're interested. This will allow you to bolt the new torsion axle on in the same fashion as all later Airstreams. Upper shock mounts will also need to be fabricated. A torsion axle is much lighter than the leaf spring assembly & the trailer will ride much better. You can certainly go with disc brakes, but in my opinion, they would be overkill for your trailer. 10" electric brakes are rated for axles up to 3700 lbs & 12" brakes are typically used on 5000 lb axles but are also used on 7000 lb axles.
Thanks,
Colin
Hi Colin,

On a similar note, we have '55 and '62 FCs, and a '64 Overlander (tandem axle) that I'm sure all need new axles. Is it better to change over to a torsion axle for them and are electric brakes adequate for them also?

Given good frames and mounting surfaces, could you give me a very rough ballpark figure as to what the costs would be to fabricate the mounting plates and convert to torsion axles?

And if you could send the drawings to me also, I would be very grateful. Thanks for whatever you can help me with!

Vivian
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Old 05-22-2012, 10:50 AM   #6
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axle mounting plates.

Axle mounting plates are nice, but not really necessary.

Airstream started using torsion axles with the 1961 models and some of the 1962 models as well.

They "welded" the axle mounting bracket to the frame.

Today's bracket is even nicer, since it also has a one inch rise.

To use the axle mounting plat, the dimensions from the back side of the jack post, MUST BE exactly the same. Also the plates must be installed "VERTICALLY" exactly the same. If not installed vertically the same, the trailer will have a "tilt".

Converting the spring type axles to the torsion axles, is not that difficult.

The hardest part is removing all the old stuff.

Then position the torsion axle exactly where you want it to be, and weld the mounting bracket to the frame. Job done.

Andy
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Old 05-23-2012, 07:15 PM   #7
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1957 30' Sovereign of the Road
1959 28' Ambassador
1949 24' Limited
Peru , New York
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Hi Colin,

On a similar note, we have '55 and '62 FCs, and a '64 Overlander (tandem axle) that I'm sure all need new axles. Is it better to change over to a torsion axle for them and are electric brakes adequate for them also?

Given good frames and mounting surfaces, could you give me a very rough ballpark figure as to what the costs would be to fabricate the mounting plates and convert to torsion axles?

And if you could send the drawings to me also, I would be very grateful. Thanks for whatever you can help me with!

Vivian
Hi Vivian,
Your 55 has a leaf spring type axle, & yes it would benefit from a torsion axle, plus the assembly is lighter than what you have now. The drawing is for the side mounting plate, similar to what you have on your 62 & 64. Although Airstream welded the axles onto the chassis on the smaller trailers in 61 & part of 62, this practice was dropped partway through 62. The side mount plate design was adopted in 62 as it simplified axle replacement in the event of an axle failure due to accidents etc. When we perform conversions for clients, we always fabricate & install the side mount plates, then bolt the axle to the plates as per Airstream's later design.
Electric brakes are fine for all of your trailers, plus you have a choice of either 10" or 12" brakes, regardless of the load rating chosen. I'm afraid I can't quote prices to you on the Forums as it is contrary to the rules.
Thanks,
Colin
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Old 05-23-2012, 07:52 PM   #8
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1959 28' Ambassador
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Originally Posted by bluemoontwo View Post
Thanks for the reply Colin! It sounds like it's more than just a bolt-on replacement. Any drawings you have are greatly appreciated.

In your opinion, is it beneficial and/or worthwhile to change from leaf to torsion on our size and year trailer? I want to add brakes definitely but will explore other options if they are the preferred way to go.

By the way, I just purchased the back podcasts and have been listening everyday. I was actually listening to you when I got your reply. Pretty cool. Thanks for all of your helpful insight and contribution on the show. It's really inspiring and helpful!
Bluemoontwo,
Beneficial.................certainly, why do you think Wally went in that direction The Cape Town to Cairo was the big test & his "gold trailer" made the trek with flying colors, however numerous leaf spring axles failed.......................granted, this was an extreme test, but once Airstream changed over, they never went back, even for Argosy's.
Once the mounting plates are welded to the sides of the chassis, axle installation is a simple "bolt on". Keep in mind that this is not "Rocket Science" for a home fabricator with welding capability & certainly very easy for a welding shop. I'm sure you could get a mobile welder to come by your home to do this as well.
Brakes will certainly be a benefit for a trailer of your size & likely a law in most states.
Glad to hear you're enjoying theVAP, we have a great time doing it I'll be doing the next show from Alumapalooza in Jackson Center.
Send me an email & I'll forward you the mounting plate drawing.
Thanks,
Colin
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Old 05-23-2012, 08:12 PM   #9
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Stay with the springs. You won't regret it. By the way, I don't sell axles.
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Old 05-23-2012, 08:41 PM   #10
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Stay with the springs. You won't regret it. By the way, I don't sell axles.
Springs work & I still have them in my 59 Ambassador International. I rebuilt both of the assemblies 10 years ago & it was a lot of work, & still ended up with "Model T" technology. All of my other trailers, 57 Sovereign of the Road, 49 24' Limited, 48 Vagabond 262 & 48 Mobil Glide will all get torsion axles when I refurbish them. Leaf springs were used by Airstream in the early days because that was what was available & reliable. In 61 they went to torsion axles & never looked back. Leaf springs are used today on trailers that are built to a "price point" & as you know, this has never been the philosophy of Airstream. I sell all sorts of axles, including leaf spring versions, however I would never recommend them for a travel trailer............of any sort.
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Old 05-24-2012, 08:35 AM   #11
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1958 18' "Footer"
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Thanks for everyone's responses! This helps out a lot! Colin, thanks for explaining things so clearly and being patient with my questions. I've sent you a PM with my email.
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