View Poll Results: Anything wrong with replacing a drop axle with straight axle?
Don't do it. 2 14.29%
Nothing wrong with it at all. 9 64.29%
I wouldn't do it, but then again..I'm a vintage purist. 3 21.43%
Voters: 14. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-23-2009, 06:14 PM   #1
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1963 26' Overlander
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Rivet Straight Axle vs Drop Axle Sound off.

Today I removed the axle from my 53 Flying Cloud. I cut the U Bolts off as well as the rear shackle since the bolts were not budging at all. The bearings were completely gone on both wheels.

This trailer axle and springs are quite beefy. It has a 6 bolt star pattern, and ten total leaf pieces in the springs. I want to use the same type of tires, wheels, as my Ambassador so I want to keep the 6 bolt pattern. Every place I have called so far has said that I need anywhere from a 5000-6000 pound axle. I cannot see why this axle was installed on such a light trailer, but perhaps it was an option (?).

The axle is a drop axle, and pricing them out seems to be about $200 more for the drop on a complete axle. Other than the obvious differences of price, and the straight riding higher, am I okay going with a straight vs drop? I plan to add a gray water tank that may end up sitting below the belly pan. It would be nice to have added height from the straight axle.

Sound off on anything I have written. I want to go and get quotes tomorrow with axle in hand so they can get precise measurements.

Steve
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Old 03-23-2009, 06:27 PM   #2
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Steve here is my two cents... Don't try and re invent the wheel. You have a classic and you should keep it that way. Those axles can be rebuilt very easily.
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Old 03-23-2009, 06:39 PM   #3
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1974 31' Sovereign
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Steve,

There is nothing wrong with the old drop axles, or re-building them. However, I have converted my 56 to a torsion as well as the 48 curtis that you saw up here and a 58 pacer. The OEM drop axles had quite the stack of leafs that at that time were truck springs and very stout(now days they are not DOT approved). I can tell you that it is a night and day difference for control and ride going torsion. It is simple to do and you will find it is also much more cost effective. A 5000 lb axle from my supplier complete with 12 x 2" brakes FOB is around $285.00. The axles mounting plates are very simple to make but you will need a welder to install them and then bolt in the axle like normal. Go check out Rhonda's thread on our 56 and you can see the pictures of that install. Shoot me a PM and I will disclose my axle source and how to.


P.S. I would be very willing to bet that if the torsions were availble to AS in the 50's they would have used them!
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Old 03-23-2009, 06:40 PM   #4
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I'd keep it the way it came. Unless you plan on some major off-roading.
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Old 03-23-2009, 07:02 PM   #5
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1957 22' Caravanner
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I'm planning on changing from drop to a straight axle, but staying with the leaf springs, when I get to that point on my Caravanner.

While I like the look it has now with a pretty low ride, I know I'll be adding fresh and grey tanks in the frame. Most likely those tanks will be hanging down a little and I'll certainly have some plumbing down there I don't have now.

Plus, those fancy wheels I'm getting from Marc, 3Ms75Argosy, will show up better.

cheers,
steve
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Old 03-23-2009, 07:02 PM   #6
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I say go torsen axle... I think you'd be happier in the end....
My second choice would be to keep the drop type axle... have you priced out Axis?
2cents worth..
Marc
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Old 03-23-2009, 07:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drag'nwagon View Post
The OEM drop axles had quite the stack of leafs that at that time were truck springs and very stout(now days they are not DOT approved).
Well that isn't good at all. Should I contact my local DOT office to find out?

Quote:
Originally Posted by drag'nwagon View Post
It is simple to do and you will find it is also much more cost effective. A 5000 lb axle from my supplier complete with 12 x 2" brakes FOB is around $285.00.
That's quite a low price. Is that the Axis that you installed? Mine would likely be alot higher with freight charges.

Steve
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Old 03-23-2009, 07:12 PM   #8
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The longest new DOT springs that you can get are 26" long if I remember right, I know you can not get the 36"er's that are OEM.

Yes Axis has been great their prices have been great, and there stated delivery has always been spot on (10 days). After seeing the quality of build on the first Axis I bought, I think they are awefully hard to beat.
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Old 03-23-2009, 09:05 PM   #9
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Leafs are good

Personally, I like leaf springs. With the right spring rate and a good shock absorber you'll get a great ride. And they don't wear out like the rubber axles do.

As well, the heftyness of the axle doesn't really matter as far as the ride is concerned. It's the spring rate that determines that. I've seen many a fellow on here order a Dexter heavier-than-heck axle but with a reduced spring rate so that he gets the beefy bearings and brakes but a soft ride. Same with your application: Control the spring rate with the springs but get the big brakes and bearings.

The only difference between straight and drop is ride height. If you're towing with a truck instead of an Olds Vista Cruiser wagon, you're probably sitting 4" higher anyway. It never helps handling to raise the center of gravity, but I don't think this will be the end of the world.

My first choice would be a 4" drop axle with beefy brakes and bearings, but if a straight one is what you're after, go for it. Just make sure you spring it right and have good shocks, and you'll be set.

My current rig has what they call "Adjust-a-ride" suspension in which it's got six short Dexter axles pivoted at the center line of the trailer; each has it's own leaf spring pack and it's own shock absorber. So I've got six wheel independant suspension. I have a picture that sits on a standard hook that's glued to the wall. I've driven thousands of miles and that picture hasn't shaken off its hook. I also put my wife back there and went down the road one time as a test and via the cell phones, she said it rode just as well as the car. So leaf springs can indeed work just fine.

Take care and see ya on the road!
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Old 03-24-2009, 03:56 AM   #10
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Thumbs up Across the pond...

Steve

Yours is a very different style form my 53 FC drop-axle but its still the same 4" drop. Over here in the UK, drop-axles have to be specially fabricated, so the price is prohibitive. My plan is to fit a new straight one but use a 2" pad on top of the restored leaf-springs, so my ride height will only rise by 2", which seems acceptable. I agree that too high can look a little strange so I think this'll be a good compromise. I'd definitely keep the leaf-springs too - they'll outlast a torsion.
Great work, keep it up.
Chris
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Old 03-24-2009, 05:25 AM   #11
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I'd keep the 4" drop, but I like the low-rider look and I keep it on the pavement. I'm a little perplexed about the DOT spring thing; I had no idea the DOT has length limits on leaf springs and I can't find any mention in the Regs. Maybe drag'nwagon could provide a reference?

Anyway, I had a local spring shop add one leaf to my springs to adjust for the added weight of the A/C and graywater tank. The ride is sweet!
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:22 AM   #12
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I'm on my way to stop at a few shops today. I want to have the spindles looked at and see if the bearings being absent has casued damage in the case that they can fit all nuw drums with new brakes. I would be looking at around $300 for new drums and brakes plus a little extrac for new shackle plates and u bolts. This is about the cost of a new straight axle.

I'll see what the shops say.

Steve
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:39 AM   #13
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The reason I went with a straight axle is that I'm going with a black (19 gal.) and 2 gray tanks (39 gal. total) and need the 3 extra inches. With a local Dexter axle business was able to take the original axle in for very accurate measurements.

Axle is a Dexter.....#5200 straight 70" track 53" underslung...$189.00
Drum 12 x 2.....6 bolt.............................................. ............$159.30
Backing plate 12" L.H............................................... .........$68.99
Backing plate 12" R.H............................................... ..........$68.99
U-Bolt kit............................................... .............................$14.00
Shackle Link...2.5"....5/8 hole.............................................. $9.00
Shackle Bolt....5/8"/ lock nut............................................... $29.34
Bushing............14-73 rednek............................................ ..$89.94
Grease and Pin............................................... ...................$5.00
Parts total............................................. .............................$633.56
Labor............................................. .....................................$75.00
Sale tax............................................... ..............................$38.01

Grand total............................................. ..........................$746.57

Labor included: Install backing plate, clean and pack bearings, adj brakes
and weld on shock mounts, installed rubber bushings to leaf springs, plus
they answered all of my questions on wiring, brake away switch and much more.

The shocks where bought at Amazon.com
2 Monroe 555002 Gas-Magnum R.......$18.39........................2 $36.78
(Per Monroe tech support)

Had problems with installations of the shocks, and the below thread is my fix
Shock clearance


toastie


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