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Old 04-17-2004, 06:39 PM   #1
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Upgrading/replacing axles?

I'm still toying with the idea of modifying an Airstream trailer to use as a race car hauler. My car is small (Formula Ford - 12' long, weighs under 1000 lbs.) but I carry a good bit of other stuff with me. By the time I put my four-wheeler, tools, spare wheels & tires, and assorted crap in there, I'll have a cargo weight of probably 3,000 lbs.

My original notion was to get a dual-axle 25' or longer trailer and lop off the rear, adding a ramp door. I'd wind up with about a 20-footer that could easily carry the weight. Now I'm thinking of finding a shorter trailer that I could keep pretty much intact, creating a clamshell or similar in the rear as my loading door.

The problem is that 20' and smaller Airstreams are all single-axle. I'll need a total load rating of probably 5000-6000 lbs., which means I'll have to install a new Henschen or Torflex axle in this range.

Has anyone ever replaced an axle with a beefier one to increase load capacity? I'm curious about whether the mounting points would be similar, or if I'll have to redo a lot of details to make such a swap. I'm figuring that I'll have to beef up the frame, but if I buy a really funky trailer to begin with, I'll be replacing the floor anyway so that's not a problem.

Bob McKeown
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Old 04-20-2004, 08:51 AM   #2
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Not sure an A/S is built to do what you want it to do. And all you want is the looks. So why don'tr you buy a shell and attach it to a toy hauler. There would be less engineering. All you have to do is figure out how to attach the skins. (The roof to side curve will be the worst) Otherwise you are re-engineering a trailer to haul more weight than it was designed. And what if your wrong and the race car has a crash and it wasn't even in a race?

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Old 04-20-2004, 09:01 AM   #3
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Bob

I think what you plan is a good idea, but I believe there are going to be some engineering problems. I have been up in the belly pan of my trailer for about a week, doing some plumbing work. The one thing that strikes me as something I would like to see done stronger is the structural framing for the trailer is very light weight. I believe that for your intended use, you would have to remove the shell and throw away the frame and floor and start with a newer stronger frame. Two birds one stone, much work and lots of expense. Good luck and if you do complete it, please post some pictures.

My $0.02
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Old 07-13-2004, 06:43 PM   #4
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TorFlex Axle

I put TorFlex Axle in the search box and this is the only post to come up. Wondering if anyone is familiar w/this axle as we have been watching the progress of a complete renovation of a 63 Bambi at the RV dealer where our trailer is currently stored. They put on a TorFlex and said something about it not using shocks. I am going to do a Google search for more info, but like to get feedback from reliable resources here too . There is some cost differential between TorFlex and Henschen which is interesting since those were the only 2 mentioned above.
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Old 07-13-2004, 06:50 PM   #5
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Found this...

OK, I did find this, so maybe there might be some discussion re: pros and cons of this type vs. Henschen.

Independent wheel suspension
Optional ride heights available
Easy installation with less maintenance
Single or tandem axle assemblies
Axle can be used as a cross member
Self-damping action
Rubber cushioning eliminates metal-to-metal contact
Less transfer of road shock which insulates cargo from road shocks and vibration
600 lb. to 10,000 lb. capacities, tailored for your requirements
Five year warranty on suspension system

The Torflex® suspension system is a torsion arm type suspension which is completely self contained within the axle tube. It attaches directly to the trailer frame using brackets which are an integral part of the axle assembly. The Torflex® axle provides improved suspension characteristics relative to leaf spring axles through the unique arrangement of a steel torsion bar surrounded by four natural rubber cords encased in the main structural member of the axle beam.

The wheel/hub spindle is attached to a lever, called the torsion arm, which is fastened to the rubber encased bar. As load is applied, the bar rotates causing a rolling/compressive resistance in the rubber cords. This action provides the same functions as conventional sprung axles with several operating advantages including independent suspension.

Except for periodic inspection of the fasteners used to attach the Torflex® axle to the vehicle frame, no other suspension maintenance is required on Torflex® axles. They are, of course, subject to the maintenance and inspection procedures regarding brakes, hubs, bearings, seals, wheels, and tires as outlined in the Dexter Operation Maintenance Service Manual.

There is a pic on the website, can't get it here??

http://www.dexteraxle.com/torflex
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Old 07-13-2004, 07:52 PM   #6
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You'll find more results if you search for Dexter axle. Lots of discussions about them on the forum, vs Henschen. It's a hot-button topic though!
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Old 07-13-2004, 08:03 PM   #7
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Thanks Stephanie - Maybe I do remember some discussion....did you say somewhere that you are replacing yours w/Dexter? And you are going to the rally in C. Springs coming up, right? Would be real interested if that is the case, on your impressions after making the trip, as there is the Bambi in the yard where we are parked right now that just had the TorFlex put on. We will be at the rally on Sat. for the day visiting and meeting other forum members, can we talk?
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Old 07-13-2004, 08:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
You'll find more results if you search for Dexter axle. Lots of discussions about them on the forum, vs Henschen. It's a hot-button topic though!
Stef
I think "HOT" would be an understatement.
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Old 07-13-2004, 10:37 PM   #9
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There's a guy out there who appears to be doing the same thing (unless its you!). He's posted on ebay, trying to sell the interior finishings (for a mid-80s trailer). It may be worth contacting him, since it seems that he has started the work.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...category=50070

ttyl,
Mary
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Old 07-14-2004, 01:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
You'll find more results if you search for Dexter axle. Lots of discussions about them on the forum, vs Henschen. It's a hot-button topic though!
Here is a thought:

All HENSCHEN axles appear to be equipped with DEXTER brakes.
( mine were, when I bought them last year)
So, I wonder, why would Dexter not produce direct replacement axles for Airstream trailers? Let's just say that perhaps the loss of the Airstream/Henschen business due to competition might not be worth it.
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Old 07-14-2004, 09:42 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by uwe
So, I wonder, why would Dexter not produce direct replacement axles for Airstream trailers? Let's just say that perhaps the loss of the Airstream/Henschen business due to competition might not be worth it.
Right. I think it's that, and the miniscule size of the replacement market. It would be different if they were an OEM for Airstream. Dexter appears to be a much larger operation than Henschen. They probably don't want to put up with trying to please a very finicky market segment.
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Old 07-14-2004, 10:35 AM   #12
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If I am understanding the last 2 posts, you are saying that Dexter "might" be producing an axle of equal quality to the Henschen, but they don't want to rock the boat, so they don't go out of their way to advertise that fact?

Other ?, I am seeing some indications of AS owners switching to Dexter equivalent of the Henschen on some posts, but, so far, no one who has switched to the Dexter TorFlex. I'm real curious about this, since the newly renovated 63 Bambi in the RV yard where we are parked had the TorFlex added.
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Old 07-14-2004, 10:36 AM   #13
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You might want to take a look at what Dynojet in Reno did with an Airstream. This company has fixed up a trailer with a rear hatch so ATV's can roll up to the dynomometer in the back end of an Airstream trailer with the office in the front. I have posted pics at
http://sierranevadaairstreams.org/me...t/gallery.html
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Old 07-14-2004, 11:36 AM   #14
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Henschen vs Dexter

The hot topic is simply caused by trying to campare the Henschen system that has been installed on Airstream trailers since 1961, that has a proven performance, against another system that has zero performance data with respect to Airstream trailers.

The real proof of performance can only come from long term useage, that no one has. Long term useage would not be in time, but many miles along with the time element.

In the meantime, it is the owners choice to call.

The problem of insufficient ratings along with different brackets, is another matter.

There is an absolute limit to the amount of axle rating increase that can be installed on a given length of trailer.

Time and mileage will show the results of excessive increases via damage to the shell and chassis.

Without the engineering data, an owner who selects an excessive rating, will eventually find themselves in problems that they may wish they never got involved with.

But, as always, it's their call.

Andy
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