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Old 10-25-2011, 09:34 PM   #1
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1969 18' Caravel
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New axle for 1969 Caravel

I am in the process of ordering a new axle for my 1969 Caravel. It sounds like I have the option of a 3,500 lb or a 4,000lb axle. The 4,000 lb axle would require a new set of wheels with 6 lugs for the 12" brake drums. The original weight of the trailer is around 2,800 pounds with a hitch weight of about 350 lbs. Although I am doing a complete remodel and am adding some weight, I can't imagine I would add enough (minus the hitch weight) to exceed the need for the 3,500 lb axle. From reading threads in this forum, it seems the lighter weight axle would provide a better ride for the trailer. My assumption is that this will be beneficial (less stiffness / smoother ride for the trailer). Anyone with experience on this issue would be helpful. Also any knowledge as to whether the Henshen axle needs welding for the shock absorber mounts?

Thanks in advance for any and all help with this.

Scott
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Old 10-25-2011, 09:52 PM   #2
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New axle for 1969 Caravel

Greetings Scott!

Something to keep in mind is that the 2,880 pound weight as advertised by Airsream is the dry or empty weight. This weight does not include any options or accessories installed on the coach nor does it include the weight of fluids such as water, LP Gas, etc. When you add the weight of what you pack in the coach to the weight of just fresh water and LP gas, you will have very minimal carrying capacity remaining. There will be even less carrying capacity remaining if your remodel adds weight over and above the original. Remember, the curbside awning (if your coach is so equipped) was an option as was air conditioning (if your coach is so equipped) and these two options can add considerable weight as well.

My 1978 Argosy Minuet carried very similar specifications, and while I kept most items stock when refurbishing . . . I did add air conditioning and Armstrong laminate flooring -- both items that added weight (about 150 pounds when combined). When my servicing dealer ordered my new axle, I specified the 500 pound additional capacity along with maximum down angle to increase the coach's clearance slightly. I have no regrets. The coach rides very smoothly with the new axle and I don't have the continual fear of overloading the axle. I still try to keep within the coach's GVWR, but I know that the extra 100 pounds that the axle carries above the original's rating won't pose a problem with the new axle.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 10-25-2011, 10:14 PM   #3
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I'd say your instinct is right that too much axle may not be a good thing. As I recall I ended up with a slightly higher rated axle when I replaced mine - I think I went from 3000 to 3500. Of course the old axle was shot, so the ride was greatly improved, even with the stiffer axle. I don't plan on using the extra capacity, it's just the only size that was available at the time.
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Old 10-25-2011, 10:36 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by scottwtalley View Post
I am in the process of ordering a new axle for my 1969 Caravel. It sounds like I have the option of a 3,500 lb or a 4,000lb axle. The 4,000 lb axle would require a new set of wheels with 6 lugs for the 12" brake drums. The original weight of the trailer is around 2,800 pounds with a hitch weight of about 350 lbs. Although I am doing a complete remodel and am adding some weight, I can't imagine I would add enough (minus the hitch weight) to exceed the need for the 3,500 lb axle. From reading threads in this forum, it seems the lighter weight axle would provide a better ride for the trailer. My assumption is that this will be beneficial (less stiffness / smoother ride for the trailer). Anyone with experience on this issue would be helpful. Also any knowledge as to whether the Henshen axle needs welding for the shock absorber mounts?

Thanks in advance for any and all help with this.

Scott
All replacement axles for 1969 Airstreams and newer, have the shock brackets already welded.

It's the 1968 and older trailers that have the shock bracket location issues.

Andy
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Old 10-25-2011, 11:14 PM   #5
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My 20' 74 Argosy weighed in at close to 4000# when I put it on the scale prior to ordering a new axle. You would be surprised at how much weight they gain from additional things added vs. the factory dry weight. If possible, weigh the rig prior to ordering. It is what my installer required me to do, and with good justification it turned out.

I have not replaced the axle on my '71 Caravel yet, so I don't have the weight figures for it at this point, but I doubt it will be much lighter, as camped in, than the 20' Argosy. My guess would be about 3700# as it has no awning nor AC unit.
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Old 10-26-2011, 08:45 AM   #6
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My advice is to do all the remodel work first, then load it up with batteries, propane, water, and all the other stuff needed for use. Then take it to the scales to get an actual weight. Give yourself a cushion, because trailers-like people-get heavier with age.

Or you could do what I did when I got in a hurry. Bought one axle for what I estimated the trailer would weigh and then another for the actual weight. I now have a spare, almost new, 3500 pound axle that will probably go on a different trailer.

Sam
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Old 10-26-2011, 10:23 PM   #7
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1969 18' Caravel
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I opted for the 4,000 lb axle and I already feel some relief for the decision. Although I have been keeping the floor-plan and the cabinet designs very similar to the original lots of my replacement materials are heavier than the originals. Corian is heavier than the original counter top, aluminum skin on interior walls weighs something and drawers with bearing slides aren't light either. Long story short, I think I'm pretty happy to have the additional 500 lb cushion over the original axle rating. Although I probably won't use the full 500, I won't worry as much for the last of the remodel. Thanks for all of y'alls help.
Scott
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Old 10-26-2011, 11:08 PM   #8
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'65 weight

We did a complete renovation of a '65, which was reportedly 2250 lbs dry from Airstream. Fully loaded, with all gear for a week, with a new A/C and 2 golf cart batteries is just about exactly 3000 lbs. Higher math shows that we have 750 lbs of extra mods, gear and water. We really watched weight in the renovation. Here's a link if you want details of the weight we added: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f145...vel-45046.html

If you are close to our numbers, an added 750 would put you over the 3500 lbs.

John
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Old 12-17-2011, 07:46 AM   #9
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Anyone know what the rating for a 62 Bambi axle would be? There is no tag on the axle and the original dry weight is listed as just under 2000#. I'm thinking a new 3000# would be about right.
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:51 AM   #10
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Anyone know what the rating for a 62 Bambi axle would be? There is no tag on the axle and the original dry weight is listed as just under 2000#. I'm thinking a new 3000# would be about right.
That should suffice. Just be aware you'll need to replace the wheels as well, asthe ones on the Bambi are 4 lug, and the new drums will be 5 lug.
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Old 12-17-2011, 09:01 AM   #11
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That should suffice. Just be aware you'll need to replace the wheels as well, asthe ones on the Bambi are 4 lug, and the new drums will be 5 lug.
Thanks, Terry
Always an exception to the rules, mine has 5 lug, 13" wheels. The axle is the original welded on unit. I already have new wheels and tires for it.
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