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Old 08-07-2009, 05:36 AM   #1
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Overlander axle project

Bear with me here, this thread topic has been covered a zillion times, so this is mostly for my own documentation. You gotta do it somewhere!

First task is figuring out the load bearing. I went to the local gravel pit and got the following weights. The 260 lbs error is a little disconcerting, but it might have come from the fact that the scales had a slight ramp at the entrance, so when I got the truck weight by itself, the Overlander was pitched back and pulling aft a little, since it was on the ramp.


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Then I estimated all the stuff that wasn't in the Overlander when I weighed it

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Then I computed the sprung weight (thanks whomever--I was reading other axle posts and was reminded to subtract the running gear!)


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So I'm thinking, two 2600# axles are what I need. Anyone see any serious errors in logic or estimates here?

Zep
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:42 AM   #2
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I know you've done all the math, but are you really sure you want to go with less than what it came from the factory with? (2800 lbs)?

When I replaced axles on my Sovereign, I went from 3100 to 3600 lbs and they seem plenty soft given the ride I've observed from my rearview mirror as well as the condition of the inside of the trailer after travel.
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Old 08-07-2009, 08:04 AM   #3
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I went from 3200 to 3500 on my Ambassador and it needs a full water tank to smooth out the ride. I guess I just need to carry more 'stuff'
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Old 08-07-2009, 08:32 AM   #4
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Zep
My axles were 2800 lb OEM. I replaced them with 3500 lb as per Andy. Our ride is soft enough. We went 250 miles with the dresser tauber doors open(forgot) and the drawers only moved out about 2 inches,the roads here and in Michigan are not what you would call SMOOTH. Also forgot the laptop which was in a bag on the dresser,it never moved.We have a rear bath that puts the mentioned items over or just behind the rear axle. We leave the Tv on the Credesena and stuff on the table, they dont move, so the 3500 lbs axles are not a problem. We almost always travel with a full tank of water . The rig you see noted below grosses out at about 14000 lbs(as per State certified scale) road and camping ready.
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Old 08-07-2009, 10:06 AM   #5
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thanks everyone, and TPHAN, too. I never thought to look at the axles!

Maybe I'll go with 3,000#, or a hair more. With an empty weight on the axles of 4600#, that says the Overlander is now overweight by about 400 lbs, since the original total weight was 4510 lbs.

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Old 08-27-2009, 08:47 AM   #6
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Here's my order:

#10 Toroflex, 3,000#
6 on 5.5" studs
Electric Brakes
EZLube Hubs
Reversed high brackets @ 61-3/8" (seems to vary from 61-1/4 to 61-1/2)
Hub faces at 61-3/8 + (2 * 9-1/8) = 79-5/8"
22.5 degrees down
30" brake wires with sleeves and grommet
Airstream shock mounts -- turns out this order comes from a factory that couldn't meet my deadline, so I dropped the brackets after calling UWE and getting his advice. So, no shocks at all.

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Old 08-27-2009, 08:54 AM   #7
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Luke's Maintenance

Many of us in the DenCo Unit or the 4CU know Luke. He gives freely of his knowledge at several of the Colorado area rallies. I was in a time crunch, so I wanted some help switching out my axles and I knew that he could handle any unexpected problems. Luke is in Ft Collins, airstreaminco@msn.com.

Here's just one example of the kinds of special "tools" he has, which I believe can convert any power outlet to any other...

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He also has these kinds of aids for trailer connectors, etc., etc. When you arrive at the address, you think you're in a totally residential area, but Luke's back lot is all business.

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Zep
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Old 08-27-2009, 08:56 AM   #8
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I had no idea William H. Macy fixed RVs on the side.
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:09 AM   #9
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Jacking the Overlander

Luke likes to keep the work area clear, so he jacks the trailer at the hitch A-frame and at the extreme rear end.

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This puts a lot of bend in the shell and a lot of stress on interior cabinets if they are attached to the shell. I knew that the shell deformed pretty significantly due to an earlier damage to a cabinet from a road that caused some big heaving/porpoising. This is the first time I was able to actually observe how significant it can be.

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If your cabinets are attached to the inner skin, I'd think about whether or not the rear jacks should be at the jack point behind the rear axle, even if that gets in the way a little.

By the way, there was no damage, it just looks bad. It does make me want to consider removing the screws in the skin that are above about 48" off the floor--the big shell movement is in the ceiling, not the walls. I don't show it in the photos, but if you have shelves between your partitions that are also attached to the wall, they can stabilize the partitions in the fore-aft direction so maybe the partitions don't need to be attached to the shell near their tops.

One note, which I've previously posted, is that no matter how you design your cabinets, you CANNOT make a box with a back. The cabinets must be able to deform like a parallelogram or they will break, eg, vertical partitions and horizontal shelves/drawers, but no backs.

Zep
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:13 AM   #10
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WoW! I didn't expect that level of flex from a static lift. I'm waiting to see how the new axles work out.
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:20 AM   #11
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that order looks familiar, as does the guy in the knickers...Congrats on your new cushioned ride!
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:24 AM   #12
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Luke's Maintenance

Luke is a terrific guy. He did a great presentation on axles this year at the 4CU restoration rally. I also bought a ZipDee awning from him (he is a ZipDee dealer) this year as well. I will see him in October at the Region 11 Rally which will be in Fort Collins.

Zep, Jan and I will be headed North from Albuquerque after the Balloon Fiesta with a stop over in Angel Fire. Maybe stopping in Palmer Lake?
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:40 AM   #13
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Axle replacement

On the way up to Ft Collins, I thought I could see that the Overlander was dog tracking, eg, not directly behind the tow vehicle because I could see the side of the trailer in the rear view mirror. I dismissed this as an artifact of the new tow vehicle's wider mirrors. Wrong. UWE has said that he has found missaligned fish plates (axle plates) on some vintage Airstreams, so Luke always measures the axle mounting holes to the tip of the hitch. Mine were off 3/8". This would cause approximately 2" of out-of-trail alignment, exactly what I thought I had been seeing. More on this below...

So, old axles come off, which is reasonably straightforward--a little rust but the nuts came right off the bolts. New axles go in, using Luke's special support tool on a floor jack--being able to roll the axle into place is a real pleasure compared to dragging it in place under a trailer than isn't jacked up very high (another reason Luke jacks up to 22"-24"). The "tool" isn't very sophisticated, but it not only balances the axle, but it holds it nearly level so the offset weight of the trailing arms/drums don't rotate it to some odd orientation. Never-the-less, you still need at least two floor jacks and preferably three, to tweak the axle into firm alignment in the axle mounting slot.

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The axles fit almost perfectly (a tad narrow, like 1/8", but you'd rather be narrow than wide, for sure). But the holes, damn, were totally off. The mounting plates were smaller than I had seen on my previous Axis axle and smaller than Luke had seen on other Dexters. We decided this was because they were #10 axles, which have a top load carrying capability of 3500#. Others, like the #11 that AEROWOOD ordered, have bigger mounting flanges and the holes are closer to the orginal Henschens. Anyway, what to do? Turns out AEROWOOD had recommended a special drill, which Luke had on hand. What a totally awesome device. Gets through 1/8" mild steel in less than a minute with almost no chatter and with a little care at the start, is essentially self-centering. You can see from the photos that the new holes are smooth and perfectly round. Gotta have one of these!

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Now, back to the misaligned axle plates. Turns out that the Dexter axle tubes are 5/32" small than the mounting slot. By pulling the axle aft on one side and forward on the other, we fixed 5/16" of the misalignment, which left only 1/16", which is way inside our measurement error. On the drive home, the difference in tracking was observable and perfect. Yay!

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Luke does a very classy joint for the wiring (solder and heat shrink). If you haven't seen his display at a rally, take look next time.

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First time this new awning was ever deployed! Nice to have it when the occasional sprinkle came by.

Zep
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverHoot View Post
Did you go with HIGH brackets to obtain a higher ride or were your originals high? A 32 degree down angle is available though it is not shown in the specifications.
(I guess there was an edit, because the above post now seems to be missing)

The HIGH brackets/flanges give you the same mounting face that was on the Henschens. The one you are referring to is EXTRA HIGH and is [a small] additional cost.

I wish I had known about the 32 degree option. I didn't want 45, but I would have liked 30 degrees, so that sounds optimal. I guess I stuck with the 22.5 degrees simply because I have several Airstreams and I don't want to have to buy a different hitch for each one.

I wound up with a height gain of 2-1/2". The old axles put the edge of the shell even with the top of the wheels, now you can see about half the sidewall--really a dramatic gain.

Zep
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