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Old 08-04-2004, 09:20 AM   #1
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two vs three axles?

I am thinking of getting back to Airstream.

I see that 20 footers have two axles while 34 footers have 3. At least some 32 footers have only two. Is there a point at which the two axles are inadequate for the weight or length?

How does the third axle change the towing and handling of the unit.

Thanks for any leads.
Jerry
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Old 08-04-2004, 10:04 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newmanjk
I am thinking of getting back to Airstream.

I see that 20 footers have two axles while 34 footers have 3. At least some 32 footers have only two. Is there a point at which the two axles are inadequate for the weight or length?

How does the third axle change the towing and handling of the unit.

Thanks for any leads.
Jerry
Jerry, the third axle really doesn't carry any weight. It's merely a carrier that allows you to carry two spares for the other two!

Actually, there's not a great deal of weight difference between a late '80s/early '90s 32' and 34'. I believe that the tandem axle trailers use 3200# axles though, and the my 34' has three 2800# axles. I can tell you that the 34' trailer is extraordinarily well balanced and smooth driving. I can't tell any difference (other than the weight, of course) between towing it and a 27' Overlander. I can tell you that the 34' trailer is the easiest trailer to back up that I've ever had.

In the wide-body trailers these asssessments may be different, and I don't have any experience towing the newer trailers. Perhaps someone else can give you the benefit of their experience in that regard.

Roger
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Old 08-04-2004, 10:54 AM   #3
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While I don't have a 34' unit, the answer I hear from many 34' owners and my dealer is that a 34' unit is probably the most stable of all the Airstreams to pull. Now that doesn't address parking, turning etc. My dealer's folks have told me that when they have a choice in towing trailers to rallies, or shows, they choose the 34' unit.

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Old 08-04-2004, 01:51 PM   #4
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I have to second Roger on the backing aspects - definitely a piece of cake. Before now I used to pull a large pop-up trailer behind a Jeep Cherokee, and this rig is easier even than that to back up. Actually, the only difference in overall towing is that I have to pay a little bit more attention in turning due to length, and a bit more forethought into what potentially lies ahead in terms of roads, construction, traffic, etc.
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Old 08-04-2004, 02:52 PM   #5
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IMHO: One of the major advantages of the 3rd axle is more lateral resistance. Better tracking & sway control.
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Old 08-04-2004, 06:33 PM   #6
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I've never pulled an Airstream three axle trailer, so my comments should carry absolutely no weight when discussing an Airstream trailer. Having said that, I have extensive experience pulling a number of trailers with the three axle configuration here on the ranch. Granted that in almost every instance, these trailers carry extremely heavy loads from time to time as they are loaded (probably overloaded) with hay, heavy machinery and/or cattle. Hopefully, most of us are more conscious of loaded weight when pulling our Airstream. It has been my experience; none-the-less that with the three axle configuration, one must be extremely careful in making sharp turns while turning around and while jackknifing a trailer when backing it up. The third axle takes a real beating under these conditions. My neighbors frequently break an axle when they aren't careful and make too sharp a turn. Again, these trailers are probably overloaded when this happens, but we subject two axles to the same abuse and don't have the same problems. The tires on the rear axle of a three axle configuration also seem to wear much faster than their counterparts on the front two axles. Here on the ranch, it seems we also have a lot more flat tires on the three axle configurations than we do with either dually axles or dual axles. I wouldn’t let my comments keep me from considering an Airstream 34’ with three axles, but if you buy one or own one you might just keep these observations in mind and try to minimize jackknifing and keep a close check on tire condition and wear. The comments I’ve made are probably like comparing the proverbial “apples to oranges.”
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Old 08-04-2004, 08:56 PM   #7
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GStephens,

Those are interesting observations indeed. I can't reconcile your ranch trailer experience with that of my 34'. I presume that the experience of other 34' trailer owners is similar. Because of the distance from the hitch to the axles, the 34' trailers turn relatively slowly when backing compared to shorter, single axle trailers. I can put my 34' trailer into tight spots quite easily; I find it much easier to back up than my 17' Burro trailer. I can also tell you that the tires scrub a little when turning tightly, but if you keep them inflated to max psi, the tread may scrub off a little on the front and rear axles, but I've never heard of anyone breaking one of the Henschens while turning, nor have I heard of anyone jackknifing a 34' while backing.

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Old 08-04-2004, 09:08 PM   #8
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Thanks to all!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by newmanjk
I am thinking of getting back to Airstream.

I see that 20 footers have two axles while 34 footers have 3. At least some 32 footers have only two. Is there a point at which the two axles are inadequate for the weight or length?

How does the third axle change the towing and handling of the unit.

Thanks for any leads.
Jerry
((I have learn much and enjoyed the humor!))
Thanks again
Jerry
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Old 08-04-2004, 09:23 PM   #9
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As a general rule, the longer a trailer is, the easier it is to control while backing. A 40' semi trailer is a thousand times easier to back than an 8' utility trailer. (I've done plenty of both) And the shorter the tow vehicle is in relation to the trailer the easier it is to back. The longer trailer takes longer to get to any given angle, and gives more time to make corrections. A short trailer on a long truck will jackknife in a heatbeat. A short truck can make the corrections faster, it has to move the front wheels less distance to get to the needed angle. That's why you don't see long wheelbase double sleeper tractors doing local delivery, and yard horses are so short the front and rear wheels almost touch. Of course, there are other considerations, especially if you are of the persuation that you can't safely pull a Bambi with anything less than an extended wheelbase ten wheeler.

If you have multi axles on a trailer and turn it very tightly, it is hard on the tires. All of the tires, 4, 6, whatever, are going to turn at different speeds and sometimes directions. If you've ever looked closely at a semi making a slow speed, really tight u-turn, you'll see some of the trailer wheels turning forward and some turning backward. One or two will hardly be turning at all, just twisting on the pavement. Can't be good for the tires. It would be interesting to see what a 3 axle 34' does.
Neal
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Old 08-05-2004, 12:56 PM   #10
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Neal and Roger are correct....

When backing up, the longer the distance from the hitch point to the turning center of the trailer the easier backing up will be. This is because there is less reaction of the trailer to the input of the towed vehicle. --- I didn't know about the tow vehicle wheel base having impact. The difference between a Bronco and a Suburban. (Thanks Neal)

And multi axle trailers will wear out tires faster than single axle trailers. The turning point center of a trailer with 2 axles is some where between the axles not in the midpoint of an axle or tire. So with a 2 axle trailer, the tires are always sliding (to some degree) in a turn. More sliding takes place in a tighter turn. In a 3 axle trailer it becomes worse for the front and rear axle. ---- However, I still have to replace my tires because of cracks due to weather way before the tread wears off due to use. I just do not use my trailer (by towing) that much.

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Old 08-05-2004, 01:23 PM   #11
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what about this

Triple axles just look cool.
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Old 08-05-2004, 01:32 PM   #12
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Ok, here is a question. Would it be wise to rotate the wheels on a tridum axle trailer? If the tires on the middle axle don't wear as fast as the tires on the other two axles, then wouldn't this make sense? Or is the wear from tire scrub insignificant because it happens mostly at low speeds only? Or is the treadlife of a trailer tire usually not the reason for replacing them because sidewall cracking from UV rays is more common? Or is having to rebalance your running gear after every rotation a reason not to?

Do you ever get the feeling that you've answered your own question?
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Old 08-05-2004, 02:03 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by biggerbadbrad
Ok, here is a question. Would it be wise to rotate the wheels on a tridum axle trailer? If the tires on the middle axle don't wear as fast as the tires on the other two axles, then wouldn't this make sense? Or is the wear from tire scrub insignificant because it happens mostly at low speeds only? Or is the treadlife of a trailer tire usually not the reason for replacing them because sidewall cracking from UV rays is more common? Or is having to rebalance your running gear after every rotation a reason not to?

Do you ever get the feeling that you've answered your own question?
Brad, it's not a bad question at all. Yeah, if you want to maximize the tread life of the six tires, it's a good idea to rotate them. The PO of my trailer did, and I will. That way you really only have to (usually) replace one set of two tires at a time. The middle axle tires on mine were the originals, and I only replaced them this spring. They were 11 years old, but to my surprise didn't exhibit any signs of weather checking until just this spring. Even then, it wasn't the sidewalls that checked, it was between the tread!

Roger
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Old 08-05-2004, 02:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Action
When backing up, the longer the distance from the hitch point to the turning center of the trailer the easier backing up will be. This is because there is less reaction of the trailer to the input of the towed vehicle. --- I didn't know about the tow vehicle wheel base having impact. The difference between a Bronco and a Suburban. (Thanks Neal)

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The ideal tow vehicle is 30 feet long when towing, and ten feet long when backing. The ideal trailer is 16' when towing and 34' when backing!

Talk about building a better mousetrap!

Roger
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