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Old 04-22-2008, 10:52 AM   #1
30' 1999 Excella
 
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New Axles

We recently had a bunch of work done on our 1999 30’ Classic at Roger Williams Airstream in Weatherford TX. Pictures are more fun, and I can’t upload enough into a single thread. So I’m posting different threads covering 1) replaced axles, 2) upgrade to disc brakes, 3) wheels upgraded to 16” aluminum rims and Michelin LTX tires, 4) new stainless steel (rock guards, new access panels for propane heater and hot water heater, plus new kitchen vent). We also had Centramatics installed, but won’t comment on them – not enough mileage, and there’s lots of other threads on them.

NEW AXLES.
Our old axles had gone bad (PO let trailer sit for 3+ years). How can you tell? Get under the trailer and look at them. If the ‘trailing arm’ is level or points up, that’s bad (see pic - front of trailer is to the right on both photos). If it points down, its good. How much down is good? I don’t know but you can see the new ones in the pics. Click on the photos to get a larger view.

What we got (see pic): Henschen 4000 lb axles with 35 degree deflection. That represents an upgrade in capacity and deflection from our previous ones, which were 3800 lbs. New shock absorbers, also. For brand selection, I just went with what was recommended by David Tidmore at Roger Williams. I think there’s plenty of threads discussing Henschens vs. Dexters.

Results: Nothing noticeable, except higher clearance (presumably a smoother ride, but we’re not in the trailer when its in motion!). For ground clearance, I measured before and after, but the data is a function of both the new axels with higher deflection AND the new 16” rims with Michelin tires. I measured the side of the trailer from the ground to the top of the wheel well, and it is now 2 inches higher (27 ” vs. 25 ”)

Caveats: we had to get a new drop bar from Hensley, as the trailer was now higher.
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Old 04-23-2008, 07:57 AM   #2
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Great pictures and illustration. I know you had a lot of work done, but can you break out the cost of the axles and labor charge for installing them. That would be a good reference point for a lot of us.

Thanks

Don Hardman
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:00 AM   #3
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Nice visual/pic.....I think the red lines will help a lot of folks understand when they see them. Sometimes the angles can be a bit difficult to understand when trying to figure out the axles.

It's amazing how much improvement there is in trailer height and smooth towing after new axle(s) are put on.
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Old 04-23-2008, 08:52 AM   #4
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What it all cost...

In one of the threads I was asked what this all cost.
These numbers are rounded, so the totals may not add exactly:

Rock Guards: $1100 ($350 labor, $540 parts, $225 shipping)
Axels: $1800 ($350 labor, $1300 parts including shocks, $180 shipping)
Disc Brakes: $2800 ($880 labor, $1,920 parts)
Stainless Steel: $375 ($52 labor, $322 parts) for furnace panels, etc etc.
Replace tool box: $401 ($242 labor/welding, $145 parts)
Tires: Michelin LTX $139 x 5 = $695 plus $50 mount/balance
Aluminum wheels: $105 x 5 = $525 plus shipping ($75, I think)

A plain painted steel spare was $75, so I opted for a 'full-image' spare.

Hope this helps.
By the way, David Tidmore is no longer with Roger Williams Airstream.
Our loss. Best of luck to him in his future endeavors. He'll still answer questions from customers.

I'll post this in all the threads.
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Old 04-28-2008, 07:47 PM   #5
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replacement axles: We are in the middle of a complete skin out restoration of an old (1975) airstream. We want to do most if not all of the owrk ourselves. I suspect that the axles are bad. How hard is it to replace these myself? Anyone out there have any experience with this type of repair?

I want to remove the axles anyway because of some damage to the bottom of the trailer, but as of yet have not lifted it to see how hard the removal will be

Thaks for any help you can give me.

Rick Denisen
25' Trade wind
Toyota 4X4 tugger
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Old 04-28-2008, 08:31 PM   #6
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not that bad

I've read some of the many threads on this forum (some with very instructive pictures). I've also looked carefully at my own new axels.

I believe that if you're reasonably handy, replacing the axels in kind would not be that hard. If you can do a complete restoration, I don't think the axels will pose a problem.

Use the search tool here... I know there's some excellent threads out there.
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Old 05-19-2008, 11:01 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Phrwydde
replacement axles: We are in the middle of a complete skin out restoration of an old (1975) airstream. We want to do most if not all of the owrk ourselves. I suspect that the axles are bad. How hard is it to replace these myself? Anyone out there have any experience with this type of repair?

I want to remove the axles anyway because of some damage to the bottom of the trailer, but as of yet have not lifted it to see how hard the removal will be

Thaks for any help you can give me.

Rick Denisen
25' Trade wind
Toyota 4X4 tugger

Replacement OEM axles are direct bolt in. No modifications or adjustments necessary.

Also, changing axles on a tandem trailer, doesn't even require a jack.

Pull one axle up on some 2 x 6's so that the tires on the other axle are off the ground. Change out the axle and shocks with just hand tools. The hardware consists of two 5/8 inch bolts on each side of the axle.

When completed, pull the new axle up on the 2 x 6's and change out the other axle.

Nothing to measure, nothing to adjust, nothing to grind, nothing to drill, automatic alignment is guaranteed. This applies to all Airstream trailers from the 1969 model year to present.

With a helper, a pair of axles can be changed out in about 4 man hours.

Andy
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Old 05-20-2008, 11:36 AM   #8
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I just replaced my axles this weekend. I have my belly pan off and center subfloor out so access was a little easier than crawling underneath. I had pre-soaked the old bolts so they were easy to remove. Since my AS was on grass I could not slide the axles in and out so I had to get help (3 friends) to help me man handle them under (230# ea.). The rest of the removal and installation could have easily been done with one helper. I unbolted and dropped my old axles one afternoon (by myself) and the next day we were able to install the new ones in less than an hour. In the mean time I painted that part of the frame. As Andy said, the OEM axles bolt up exactly to the old holes and slots. Four bolts and nuts per axles plus two nuts on the shocks. All hand tools plus two small hydraulic jacks and two jack stands for safety (all on the axle mounting plates). No impact wrench although that would have sped things up.
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Old 08-18-2008, 11:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
Replacement OEM axles are direct bolt in. No modifications or adjustments necessary.

Also, changing axles on a tandem trailer, doesn't even require a jack.

Pull one axle up on some 2 x 6's so that the tires on the other axle are off the ground. Change out the axle and shocks with just hand tools. The hardware consists of two 5/8 inch bolts on each side of the axle.

When completed, pull the new axle up on the 2 x 6's and change out the other axle.

Nothing to measure, nothing to adjust, nothing to grind, nothing to drill, automatic alignment is guaranteed. This applies to all Airstream trailers from the 1969 model year to present.

With a helper, a pair of axles can be changed out in about 4 man hours.

Andy
Am I missing something, because on my 81 excellaII I think there are two bolts going up into the frame on each side, as well as the two bolts thru the frame horizontally.
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Old 08-18-2008, 11:59 PM   #10
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Replaced the axles on our 1981 Excella II weekend before last and it took four days with two people (we had all of the tools necessary). Andy is right about the fit and the jacking situation. Just pull the trailer front or rear wheels up on the blocks and the other axle is off the ground. Our problems began when we realized that two bolts per side of each axle go up through the pan. I assumed that the nuts on the other side had been tacked to the channel they sat in under the floor. We all know what happens when we assume. The nuts had not been tacked to the channel and would only turn when pressure was applied. To make a long story short measurements were made and holes were cut, some incorrectly and the axles were finally in place. Hopefully others will have better luck with the bolts through the pan than we did.
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Old 08-19-2008, 08:34 AM   #11
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Replaced the axles on our 1981 Excella II weekend before last and it took four days with two people (we had all of the tools necessary). Andy is right about the fit and the jacking situation. Just pull the trailer front or rear wheels up on the blocks and the other axle is off the ground. Our problems began when we realized that two bolts per side of each axle go up through the pan. I assumed that the nuts on the other side had been tacked to the channel they sat in under the floor. We all know what happens when we assume. The nuts had not been tacked to the channel and would only turn when pressure was applied. To make a long story short measurements were made and holes were cut, some incorrectly and the axles were finally in place. Hopefully others will have better luck with the bolts through the pan than we did.
HOLD IT. STOP. TIME OUT.

Henschen axles use a mounting bracket that permits multiple methods of mounting.

Airstream, never, ever, on any model, used bolts in the vertical holes.

For Airstream purposes, the vertical holes are "unnecessary and useless."

They do not need to be used.

The two horizontal bolt holes are all that is necessary to use, from 1969 and newer trailers.

From 1968 and older Airstreams, the mounting bracket holes do not line up with the axle mounting plate holes.

That "IS NOT" a problem.

Simply lift the axle in place. The square notch aligns the axle. Then drill 3 each 1/2 holes thru the mounting bracket, thru the axle mounting plate, insert and tighten the 1/2 inch hardware, and it's done. This is "ONLY" done on the 1968 and older Airstream trailers.

Once again, it's a total waste of time to use any vertical mounting bolts as it does not offer any practical use, as per Airstream and Henschen engineers.

In your particular case, a previous owner, for what ever reason or reasons, installed the vertical bolts.

Andy
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:23 AM   #12
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So, let me see if I have this right. If I have a '67 Overlander, I'm drilling 12 1/2" holes... three for each of the four mounting plates on a tandem axle? And I'm slapping 12 Grade 8 bolts/nuts to lash everything to the frame? Just a few other odd questions... when dropping the axles, do folks normally clean up the frame and hit it with some POR-15 and paint, at least around the mounting area? Do you normally mark the holes with a template, jig or just dry fit the axle and mark them in place? Do all of the axles require you to pre-mount the shock before installation? I'd be pretty disappointed to bolt in new axles and then find I couldn't make the shocks work. Of course, it would not be my first disappointment at the working end of a wrench.
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:55 AM   #13
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The axles are really easier than I expected.

removal and install 6 hours

Get them from Andy, they'll fit right on.
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:25 AM   #14
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So, let me see if I have this right. If I have a '67 Overlander, I'm drilling 12 1/2" holes... three for each of the four mounting plates on a tandem axle? And I'm slapping 12 Grade 8 bolts/nuts to lash everything to the frame?
Correct. We supply the grade 8 hardware with all of our axles. Bolts, nuts, lockwashers and flat washers are all grade 8.

Quote:
Just a few other odd questions... when dropping the axles, do folks normally clean up the frame and hit it with some POR-15 and paint, at least around the mounting area?
Clean up any rust etc, and then paint the area completely.[/quote]

Quote:
Do you normally mark the holes with a template, jig or just dry fit the axle and mark them in place?
No template needed. Simply drill the holes, one forward of the axle tube and two rearward of the axle tube.

Quote:
Do all of the axles require you to pre-mount the shock before installation? I'd be pretty disappointed to bolt in new axles and then find I couldn't make the shocks work.
1968 and back trailer axles will have the shock brackets not installed. Have them welded as you need them placed. There is a huge difference in shock bracket placement between the 2 plants as well as different models, as well as different years, therefore they must be field installed to allow the necessry clearance.

Then, the shocks can be installed later.

Also, once the brackets are in place, they can be bent outward to allow more clearance, if necessary. They can also be left in the bent position, as it will not cause any harm.

The shock brackets can be welded in place, without causing any damage to the rubber rods, or voiding the warranty.

Quote:
Of course, it would not be my first disappointment at the working end of a wrench.
Ask questions first, then the rest falls into place.

Assuming, usually causes the problems.

Mechanics is not difficult, but some people insist on making it that way.

We go to school to learn.

Different schools are available, regardless of the subject, even as short as one sentence, during a persons entire lifetime.

Different schools sometimes offer different methods, for different things, and they rarely include opinions.

The individual, must weigh that knowledge and make it fit to their liking, or their personal needs, or pocket books.

But as in grammer or high schools, some students get A's, and some students get F's, or the many grades in between.

Owning an Airstream, and being a DIY owner, keeps the brain on track, as there is usually always something to learn.

Not being a DIY person, also has schools, where you learn to pick out the right dealer (regarding Airstream) who has the correct knowledge, a good shop staff, a decent shop and at reasonable prices. Most graduate quickly, a few fail the course.

Some people replace tools, because they wore them out.

A few replace tools, because they broke them, usually through misuse.

And when you get older, like a senior, you buy some tools, because you either lost them, or you don't remember where you left the darn things.

And so it is.

Andy
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