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Old 12-27-2010, 09:10 PM   #1
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Question about bolting in Dexter axles

I'm getting ready to install some Dexter axles. Those of you who have done this know that for at least some years (maybe all?) the bolt holes on the dexters don't match the holes on the coach frame.

I think I will drill new holes in the frame (the Dexter bracket is shorter than the original). But, I thought I would solicit suggestions from the many people who've already been down this road and who are undoubtedly more clever than I am.

Thanks!

Jon
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:03 PM   #2
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On my '77, I matched the holes by modifying the slots in the axles...it was easier than grinding under the 'stream...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f437...tml#post558525
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:06 PM   #3
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Make sure the axles are perpendicular to the frame centerline. Measure as carefully as possible from the center of the hitch ball socket to each end of the first axle. The dimension should be the same on each side. Then make sure the distance between the ends of the second axle are equidistant from the ends of the front axle.

Don't assume the original axle holes are correct. You might need to open up the cut-outs.
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:17 PM   #4
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I made new mounting plates that bolt to the frame and then to the new Dexter axles. That way I could drill all the holes on a drill press rather than laying on my side under the trailer. The more you can do while standing at the workbench instead of under the trailer the easier it will go. And as Markdoane says, measure very carefully!
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Old 12-28-2010, 05:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samb View Post
I made new mounting plates that bolt to the frame and then to the new Dexter axles. That way I could drill all the holes on a drill press rather than laying on my side under the trailer. The more you can do while standing at the workbench instead of under the trailer the easier it will go. And as Markdoane says, measure very carefully!
Sam
How about a sketch or photo?

Andy
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Old 12-28-2010, 06:38 AM   #6
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Jon:

My dexter plates did not match up either. I jacked the dexters into the slots on the airstream nice and tight. I then took a small drill bit and drilled a hole into each place to make new bolt holes. I then took a step up drill bit and made the wholes to the correct size (step up drill bits are awesome). I bolted the axels in and never have had a problem.

Brian
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:08 AM   #7
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Thankyou to everyone who has replied so far. I suspect that the Dexter #11 brackets may be longer than on the #10. I know for sure that the tube diameter is smaller.

I learned a lot about my options through an extensive discussion with someone in dexters engineering dept. But, I will post that info later when I summarize my install.

If anyone else has ideas to share, I have a few hours before its warm enough to go rolling around in my icy driveway..so please share.

Thanks again!

Jon
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fitzjo1 View Post
Thankyou to everyone who has replied so far. I suspect that the Dexter #11 brackets may be longer than on the #10. I know for sure that the tube diameter is smaller.

I learned a lot about my options through an extensive discussion with someone in dexters engineering dept. But, I will post that info later when I summarize my install.

If anyone else has ideas to share, I have a few hours before its warm enough to go rolling around in my icy driveway..so please share.

Thanks again!

Jon
Jon, the #11 should have the same tube size as your trailer. The # 10 is the smaller one.
When you go to put it in the welds for the bracket to tube will bind in the cutout for the axle. I usually grind the inside edges of the cutout to give a little clearance for the brackets. The original axle has the welds on the inside of the bracket so they do not interfear with the cutouts. You will understand as soon as you try to push the axle into place.
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:39 AM   #9
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Jon, the #11 should have the same tube size as your trailer. The # 10 is the smaller one.
It's been a few years but my Dexter #10s fit nice and snug into the axle slot with 0 clearance and no modification necessary except drilling holes.

As I recall Dexters call for using 3 1/2 bolts or 2 5/8" bolts on each side.
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:44 AM   #10
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The question always remains, "why go OEM".

There are several reasons why, as pointed out above.

Andy
Here's a counterpoint: I got my two bare axles shipped (nearly) to my house for barely more money than one bare "OEM replacement" axle without shipping.

The ironic part is that the company that I bought my axles from and that was ever so nice as to arrange shipping to a freight terminal only 15 miles from my house is now the company that is making the "OEM replacement" axles.

Who's making Airstream's axles these days? Are they still buying Dexter? Axis? or the Axis/Henchen? I guess I'll have to keep my eyes open for it next time I'm there for a tour.

No offence Andy, you gotta make a buck and there are people that want what you have to offer with OEM axles. But I gotta get a plug in there for us do-it-yourselfers when you start doin' the "shoulda bought your axle from me" dance.

-Jason
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:50 AM   #11
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I used Axis brand axles on my Trade Wind and had to redrill the holes to match. CAUTION, if you use the new axle bracket as a drill guide be aware that when the drill bit breaks thru the frame it will grab and if you are not ready you can break your wrist when the drill snaps around. I am very serious! A step drill should be less prone to grabbing. A 1/2 in drill makes lots of torque, just be careful.
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:50 AM   #12
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Jon:

My dexter plates did not match up either. I jacked the dexters into the slots on the airstream nice and tight. I then took a small drill bit and drilled a hole into each place to make new bolt holes. I then took a step up drill bit and made the wholes to the correct size (step up drill bits are awesome). I bolted the axels in and never have had a problem.

Brian

I'll second that motion. The big pain is that the holes (at least with my Axis axles) were overlapping with the Airstream ones. I put the new axle in place and then modified the hole in the trailer flange via a combination of drills and a rotary file in a die grinder. I chipped the 5/8" drill bit a time or two, but that's going to happen when you drill a new overlapping about 1/2 way with the original hole. I put in new Grade 8 standard-thread hardware and tightened it all down with the 1/2" impact wrench on high.

Amazing what new axles did for hauling / ride quality in the tow vehicle. And nothing fell off / out of the trailer this past year. Yeah!
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Old 12-28-2010, 09:48 AM   #13
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One set of the axle holes should line up. The other set of holes can be routed out on the Dexter axle plate.
Use a carbide burr. Quick and easy but be sure to wear safety goggles because the metal will be flying!

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Old 12-28-2010, 10:10 AM   #14
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My experience with my '72 Overlander was this: the #10 Dexter tubes fit up into the frame slots just as Lumatic's did- perfectly snug. With them jacked up into place, I then used a "blair cutter" kindly loaned from Aerowood. This is a kind of super sharp "hole saw" designed for metal, and worked well for the semi-overlapping holes of the frame/new mounting plates. Yeah, you're laying down and drilling sideways but it really doesn't take long with a 1/2" drill. As stated earlier here, be careful with the torque of the drill while doing this by having a firm grip with both hands! I had no problem and I'm kinda weak.
I did not measure beforehand to see if the factory-made slots for the axle tubes were the exact same distance from the tongue, as described here, I guess for 2 reasons: 1) I figured the geniuses in Jackson Center did this with some kind of jig when they built my trailer, and 2) Grinding or torching the slots to modify them was not something I had any real interest in doing. I liked the original snug fit.
I have made several trips with the new set-up and have only noticed good things- mainly a smoother ride. There is NO uneven tire wear or any other indications of out-of-whack axle placement.
When I measured afterwards (after reading a similar post) the factory-made slots were indeed in the right place. Just luck? Who knows, but pre-measuring certainly isn't a bad idea I suppose.
Last I heard, Airstream was using #10 Dexters on the newer trailers up to a certain weight category, heavier than my Overlander IIRC. That said, OEM's would be easier to install but budget is part of the renovation equation for a lot of us.
Good luck and have fun! -tim
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