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Old 10-10-2016, 02:19 PM   #1
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1980 20' Caravelle
Chicago , Illinois
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Vibration Questions

My wife and I just purchased a 1980 20' Caravelle. We took her on our first trip this weekend, taking interstates avoiding potholes, and driving as smooth as can be. When we got to the campsite (about an hour and a half away), we found that the plumbing jostled apart a plastic coupling into the water heater and caused the couch to detach from the wall. On the way home yesterday, the couch detached again and the upper kitchen cabinets appeared to fall apart.

Is this much vibration normal? I know that the shocks need to be replaced - is that all I need, or is it a more serious problem? This is our first Airstream so excuse my ignorance!
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Old 10-10-2016, 02:42 PM   #2
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Axles might be gone.
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Old 10-10-2016, 02:55 PM   #3
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Jump up and down on the rear bumper, while the trailer is attached to the TV. If the axles do not deflect and the deflection does not die out rapidly, the axles and shocks might be shot. I would also check that the W/D bars are not too stiff ( too high a load rating). It also might mean that the tire pressure you are running is too high for the load you are asking them to carry. You likely do not need to push them all the way to their max pressure listed on the sidewalls to carry the load of your trailer.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:19 PM   #4
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Even if the axles are shot that is beyond what one would expect. Even when Airstream axles sage they are not likely to bottom out metal to metal.

Please give us as much information as you can. Tire pressure, trailer weight, TV, Hitch type and sizing, any evidence the tire were rubbing in the wheel wells.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:48 PM   #5
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What kind of tow vehicle and hitch do you have? Are your wheels balanced? Take a ride in the trailer and check out the vibration in person.

Shock absorbers absorb vibration, but are not a big factor. Big question is what is causing the vibration?
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Old 10-10-2016, 04:09 PM   #6
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1980 20' Caravelle
Chicago , Illinois
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Again, excuse my ignorance, but here's what I know as I haven't taken it to a scale:

1980 20' Caravelle, dry weight of 2539 lbs (per Airstream, I know there are other add ons). It's a single axle and I'm towing it with a 2015 Jeep Cherokee, rated to 4,500 lbs with the factory installed towing hitch. It tows well with no sway/fishtailing and sometimes I even forget that its back there. It's a standard 2 5/16 hitch.

15" tires rated up to 55 psi, I was towing them at about 50 psi. The sellers indicated that they had replaced the tires this past spring, and they currently show no wear.

I tried to repack the bearings myself right after I bought it as I've done it on boat trailers before but had never done so on trailers with brakes. I wasn't able to get the drum off and, rather than trying to pry, just took it to a trailer shop nearby (not Airstream/RV service center). Since the brakes never worked (according to the previous owners, who I don't think believed in regular maintenance), I had him replace the drums and shoes, along with replacing the bearings since he was working on it. Since the shock is bottomed out, I figured that I'd replace that later, especially because he claimed that he'd have to drop the axle in order to swap it out.

Thanks for the replies, and excuse my unfamiliarity.
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Old 10-10-2016, 04:23 PM   #7
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Your axles are most likely shot but you may be over hitched. Some wd hitches well beat your trailer up bad especially if your axles are shot.
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Old 10-10-2016, 04:36 PM   #8
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what tires and pressure? are the wheels and tires balanced? single or double axle?
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Old 10-10-2016, 05:02 PM   #9
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Get tires balanced first, preferably while on the drums. Drums should be balanced when new, and few shops are able to balance the complete wheel/drum while on the trailer. Are you using a weight distribution hitch? You may have the wrong bars/ or hitched incorrectly. I will bet that you need to replace the axle and shocks. Plan on doing that soon. Welcome, and good luck. Chris
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Old 10-10-2016, 08:22 PM   #10
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Thanks for the replies, I did the jump test and am now sadly researching axle options. If I have to go that route, has any one had experience going for something other than a Drexel axel, or is that the best way to go?
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Old 10-10-2016, 08:26 PM   #11
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Talk to Colin Hyde in Plattsburgh NY. He'll get you need.


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Old 10-10-2016, 08:52 PM   #12
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I regularly do a PM walk around inside and out with a Phillips screwdriver in hand. Never fail to to find a few loose screws.
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Old 10-11-2016, 12:05 AM   #13
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Replacing the axles or axle isnt a big deal. On mine I just ordered them from Collin it took about a day to swap them my self. But if you need them faster than 6+ weeks then Inland rv or a local AS dealer might have them in stock. While your at it change the shocks too.
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Old 10-13-2016, 09:29 PM   #14
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1980 20' Caravelle
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Thanks for the advice - I've decided to swap out the axel and, if it's not too much more, weld on a bracket for shock absorbers. Hopefully that'll keep my going for a while.
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