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Old 12-12-2007, 04:20 AM   #1
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1996 34' Excella
1996 36' Classic 36
Thousand Oaks , California
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Tag Along on an '85 Airstream 345

It is probably one of my most disappointing experience with an Airstream motorhome. I pulled into a parking lot in Flagstaff and barely going 5MPH and hit the curb. My rear right tag along just fell off hanging on to its shock absorber. What kind of micky mouse of a tag along is it? I will have it disconnected from the shock mounting and try and get it replaced. Any advise? I'm stuck in flag staff and don't know any Airstream repair shops in this area. Can any RV repair fix it? Can I drive my MH with one tag along for around 1000 miles? Any advise folks???
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Old 12-12-2007, 06:37 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edmelik
.....My rear right tag along just fell off hanging on to its shock absorber...... Any advise folks???
Bummer - the tags are really no more than torsion trailer axles with the proper mount for the AS MoHo frame - Henschen might be the quickest replacement since they should have the original blueprints. Inland RV handles the Henschen line.

Just wondering - were you towing anything when you hit the curb, or have you or the PO towed anything prior to the failure?

I would appreciate if you could post the type of failure so the rest of us who own a tag axle equipped unit could make an inspection.

Did the bolts, welds, flanges, or main frame fail?

Pictures detailing the failed area would really help with the post failure debriefing.

Thanks and good luck.
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Old 12-12-2007, 07:18 AM   #3
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
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Tag axle repair

Your chassie is most probably a GMC P-30. Most good RV centers will work on the frame and tags. You also might look for a truck repair center. Either GM or Freightliner center will usually afford some help. Good Luck!
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Old 12-12-2007, 07:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH
Bummer - the tags are really no more than torsion trailer axles with the proper mount for the AS MoHo frame - Henschen might be the quickest replacement since they should have the original blueprints. Inland RV handles the Henschen line.

Just wondering - were you towing anything when you hit the curb, or have you or the PO towed anything prior to the failure?

I would appreciate if you could post the type of failure so the rest of us who own a tag axle equipped unit could make an inspection.

Did the bolts, welds, flanges, or main frame fail?

Pictures detailing the failed area would really help with the post failure debriefing.

Thanks and good luck.
Hitting a curb, depending on how hard, can shear the spindle on a tag axle, just as easy as on a trailer.

The two major reasons tag axles replacements are needed, is surprisingly unnecessary.

First of all, the tag axle never wears out, but just like the torsion axles on a trailer, they can go bad by not being used. The motorhome must be reasonably used.

Secondly, and amazingly so, due to lack of proper maintainence, a bearing will get dry, overheat and seize, destroying the spindle.

Tag axles are just like those on a trailer. The bearings "MUST" be serviced every 10,000 miles. If not your asking for trouble. That trouble usually results in a axle replacement.Improper adjustment of the air bag valves can put excessive pressure on the tag axle bearings, which can fail from that as well.

Hub and drums are also subject to damage. It is also necessary to properly inspect the electric brakes, which are exactly the same as on a trailer. That must be done, every 10,000 miles as well. Something as simple as an adjuster spring breaking, will cause havoc with the the shoes and magnet, as well as destroying the hub and drum assembly. That trouble results in the need for a hub and drum replacement.

The costs for these components, is much greater for a motorhome than a trailer.

More importantly, tag axles are not something that is stocked in inventory.

Hub and drums, normally, are carried in inventory, in very small quantities.

Traveling with a tag axle equipped motorhome, is great, until you have a problem with the tag axle.

That usually results in being stranded someplace other than home.

Again, most tag axle replacements are not caused by an axle failure within itself. They are all replaced because of accidents and/or improper care.

We have replaced many tag axles on Airstream motorhomes, or provided them to other dealers, but never because one "just" failed on it's own.

Andy
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Old 12-12-2007, 07:59 AM   #5
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I am not familier with AS tags, But if like most, it could be chained in the up position an gingerly driven to a place repairs could be made. Depending on the weight your carrying the tires may need to be replaced on the main rear axel.
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Old 12-12-2007, 09:39 AM   #6
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Tag axle

It is not a good idea to chain up one side of a tag axle, unless you disconnect the air compressor.

If you chain up the bad side, the leveling valves will increase the pressure on the good side, which in turn, causes more weight to be on that wheel than it was designed for, which will probably result in destroying that side of the tag axle as well.

It would be better, to take the tire and wheel off the bad side.

The leveling valves will still do their jobs.

Andy
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Old 12-13-2007, 03:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edmelik
My rear right tag along just fell off hanging on to its shock absorber.....Can I drive my MH with one tag along for around 1000 miles? Any advise folks???
Based on this description it sounds like this was an axle or attachment failure rather than a wheel bearing failure due to lack of use or bearing maintenance.

I'm with 87MH on the specifics of the damage and pictures.

I was able to obtain many of the drum, pads, electric magnets and bearings for my tags from a local commerical truck brake shop here in town at a significantly lower price than from Airstream or an Airstream dealership.

If you have a frame/mount failure then you could be chasing parts or fabricating a new mount.

If you're lightly loaded back there (low/no water and low fuel) and move your gear forward in the coach then you might be alright moving the motorhome around. If you're towing I would not recommend it at all. Also, consider what Andy said about the air leveling system and keep in mind that you just lost some braking force (worse, you've created an asymetrical braking force) without this tag in place.
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Old 12-13-2007, 03:46 PM   #8
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What price do you get for a bare tag axle?
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Old 12-18-2007, 10:44 PM   #9
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1996 34' Excella
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Tag Axle on my 345 MH

I was pulling out of a parking lot going turning on the curb that was 4 inches high. I hit the curb on the left side of the Tag. it just broke off the axle and hung from the top bolt of the shock absorber. I checked the prices around and found that the price ranges between $800 and $1200. I found a good used complete axle off of a 95 Airstream for $300 without the tires and hubs as I already had them on mine and didn't need the rest. I had the axle installed in Joplin MO for $200.00 and now heading to Airstream dealer for air brake caliberation that I'm terrifed to anticipate the dealer's rip off prices. I was told by the mechanics who installed the replacement axle that my tag wheel had too much air and didn't have any room to take the hit it took upward passed the limit of the shock and the axle just ripped off. No one should inflate the tax beyond 60 PSI so it has room to take the upward shock.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH
Bummer - the tags are really no more than torsion trailer axles with the proper mount for the AS MoHo frame - Henschen might be the quickest replacement since they should have the original blueprints. Inland RV handles the Henschen line.

Just wondering - were you towing anything when you hit the curb, or have you or the PO towed anything prior to the failure?

I would appreciate if you could post the type of failure so the rest of us who own a tag axle equipped unit could make an inspection.

Did the bolts, welds, flanges, or main frame fail?

Pictures detailing the failed area would really help with the post failure debriefing.

Thanks and good luck.
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Old 12-18-2007, 10:58 PM   #10
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I was not towing any thing but found out that the tag wheel was over inflated and couldn't handle the upward hit. I was told not to drive the MH but I had no choice coz no one was able to fix it and the ones who could wanted arm and a leg and two or more weeks. I had no choice but to take my chances. All I did removed most of the weight from the side of the torn out axle (driver's side, left) and took off some air from the opposite side tires and the tag wheel to offset the weight a bit and carefully drove it all the way from Flagstaff AZ to Joplin Missouri without any problems whatsoever. The chasis of P30 Chevy is very strong to carry the weight of the Airstream. One has to only watch out that the weight on the tagless side is not too much. I watched the levels of the Motorhome from the back whenever I stopped and it looked pretty straight without any evidence of tilting on the side. It stood pretty straight. I sometime forgot while driving that I am short one tag wheel and drove between 70 and 75MPH. It made it all the way to Joplin Missiouri from Flagstaff without a hitch. So I guess all those who warned me and scared me not to drive it without one tag were wrong. I took my chances and made it all right. Price of repairs from Airstream dealers varied between $2000 to 2800. I had it fixed for $700 but without the electric brake adjustments. I will be taking the MH to the AS dealer to have the brakes done. Thanks folks for your input.
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Old 12-19-2007, 06:31 AM   #11
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Triple

Good report.
I know tags are not the most popular in the information circle.
While looking for a used one, I made the mistake of speaking the word 'Airstream'...that made the price go way up, even though they can come from a Holiday Rambler, or most any P-30 tag.
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