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Old 09-14-2005, 03:45 PM   #1
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What should a person do with a Caravel axle?

I've seen the issues that have arisen from the design of a 65 Caravel axle in terms of metal fatigue and failure. My question is this: Do you need to replace the entire axle or can the old one be reinforced....just have the spindles replaced....or something less dramatic than a complete replacement? Thanks for any insight!
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Old 09-14-2005, 04:45 PM   #2
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Torsion type axles are not rebuildable. If you're reasonably handy you can install a completely new axle yourself or have your local garage do it. It's not that complicated providing you get a replacement axle that is a direct replacement. You can get an original Henschen axle through Inland RV that should drop into place or you can use other manufacturers axles such as Axis Products or Dexter. These axles use the same principle as Henschen however cost much less. Axis Products axles will drop right into place just like the Henschen does. Dexter axles will need some minor modifications in order to drop into a Vintage Airstream. The Airstream factory does not use Henshen axles anymore. They have switched to Dexter axles apparently as a result of warrantee claims that Henschen refused to cover.
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Old 09-14-2005, 04:50 PM   #3
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I put a Dexter on my Caravel last year, and I'm very happy with it. I wouldn't bother trying to fix up a 40 year old axel. The rubber's probably shot, in addition to metal fatigue. Just go with new, get new brakes and the works, you'll not have to worry about it again for many years.
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Old 09-14-2005, 04:51 PM   #4
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Just for a bit of input - on Axis - we had our 69 Torsion replaced with an Axis axle - just completed a two week Holiday touring about 2000 miles on her and we are extremly pleased.

Our 35 year old axle was pounding our baby to death - we are extremely lucky we did not do any frame damage from the stress. Although we did loose a window from stress, and sheered many rivets and many many screws fell out!!!

Don't wait - and all three are great options Henschen, Dexter but if you want quality without the OEM price then Axis will do you right.
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Old 09-14-2005, 05:03 PM   #5
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Great feedback!

Thanks so much for the thoughtful feedback. The only thing that I didn't hear anyone say was that axle replacement was a must. What do you think....is it a must? I've had one replaced on a 65 Caravel before but when I put the request into the service manager at Airstream, he asked me why I wanted to replace it. I just haven't seen anything that definitively states that replacing a 65 Caravel axle is a must. What do you think?
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Old 09-14-2005, 05:22 PM   #6
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As the tortion axles age the rubber can loose its pliability and thus its ability to absorb bumps in the road is diminished. This is important because as the axles ability to absorb bumps decreases, the amount of bumping and jaring transfered to the rest of the trailer increases. The increased jaring results in undue wear and tear on every other part of your trailer. Also, as your axles tire, the chances of the contents of the trailer being bounced about during transit increases.
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Old 09-14-2005, 05:32 PM   #7
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Replace the axle and never look back. The original spindle on ours broke and since it is not a pressed-in type, the axle is trash! Do you want a 40-year-old axle jeopardizes your family's safety?

I speak from experience.
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Old 09-14-2005, 06:06 PM   #8
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Check out axle info at www.inlandrv.com and if the angle of the trailing arm is near zero or up the axle must be replaced.
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Old 09-14-2005, 06:13 PM   #9
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My axel was giving the trailer a horribly rough ride. Rivets had come out. Things were thrown around everywhere after every trip. Panels were coming loose off the cabinets, one even fell off! Turns out it only had about an inch of play, just enough to get up some momentum before bottoming out. Now it just glides along behind, and everything is where I left it when we get to our destination.

If yours is riding smooth and looks to be in good shape, don't worry about it. There is the possibility of a spindle shearing off, but it's rare. Decide if you're up for the risk, and you'll know if you want a new axel or not. Otherwise just check the bearings, keep it maintained, and hope for the best.
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Old 09-14-2005, 10:04 PM   #10
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I love this forum!!

Thanks so much for your thoughts! I will determine the quality of the ride and ,when the wallet allows, I will make the switch. Keep up the great posts!
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Old 09-15-2005, 08:42 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fun2bethad
........ I will determine the quality of the ride and ,when the wallet allows, I will make the switch. .........!
You know the saying hind sight is 20/20. We made two mistakes.

One - as all our questions were everything but the running gear - we got all the great answers. Our torsion arm was borderline - but what is not explained is that it can petrify in a positive or negative angle - if she aint moving when you put people bouncing inside (best practical test) then I would say hold off on all other restoration and camping trips until you can afford. You can pick up an Axis product for under $300.00 3500# perfect solution. Don't go higher cause she will be too stiff!!!! That will get you another 25+ years on her if you take care of the Axle - meaning unload her when not in use for long periods of time.

Our mistake is we did not check into the axle more closely and seriously - and to us we lost something more precious - we found out after being a change over year - a window - irriplaceable - unless we can find a 69 being parted out.

Our second mistake - not hearing of anyone breaking windows on their travels and only hearing about those who just bought with windows missing - assumed they may have been missuse. Our stone guard was toast - so brittle it fell apart on the way home. Astetically for me - the one piece "sunglasses" as known here - is just not my cup of tea it is so 70's/80's on a 60's trailer and looks cheap - in my opinion they would look so much better in thre parts like the new ones - so that only the centre opens. So holding of on the fabrication - because there is so many other things to make it functional - guess who paid for that delay.

We lost a second window to a stone during our summer holiday. What luck!!!

Anyway there is something about the caravels - that even Andy at CanAm RV explained to us a while back - that they are so prone to severe bounce and their frames get too stressed.

So the very least get yourself some nice soft radials and new shocks - at least they can take some of the bounce - but if your axle is moving - then she just may have a bit of life left in her.

Good luck
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Old 09-15-2005, 11:31 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fun2bethad
Thanks so much for the thoughtful feedback. The only thing that I didn't hear anyone say was that axle replacement was a must. What do you think....is it a must? I've had one replaced on a 65 Caravel before but when I put the request into the service manager at Airstream, he asked me why I wanted to replace it. I just haven't seen anything that definitively states that replacing a 65 Caravel axle is a must. What do you think?
$0.02. For the mid 60s Caravels with their original axles, axle replacement is a must. Over the past 5 years, I've known personally of at least 3 1965 Caravels on which axles broke without warning on a rally trip. I have seen the consequential wheel arch modifications and body damage on many other short 1960s trailers that also used the light 5 stud axles. For one well documented example, look here:

http://www.vintageairstream.com/Myrtle/axle.html

In my non-engineering opinion, based on the unfortunate experience of such trailer owners, the 1960s Bambi & Caravel 5 stud axles were marginally spec'd for their job. That shows up a few decades later in metal fatigue and most typically in catastrophic axle splindle breakage.

By contrast, I've never heard of a 6 stud axle spindle breaking on a 19' Globe Trotter or any larger trailer. For these larger trailers, axle replacement may be recommended because the rubber suspension might be beyond the end of its useful life. But for Bambis and Caravels, metal fatigue and spindle failure seem the far more typical reason for immediate axle replacement, usually in an inconvenient remote location.

You now have one person's view of the collective experience of this particular Airstream community. I suggest you replace the axle on your 1965 Caravel as a first order of business.
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Old 09-15-2005, 12:11 PM   #13
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funtobethad.

According to Airstream and Henschen engineering, a 3000 pound "maximum" axle should be used on your trailer.

Andy
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Old 09-15-2005, 04:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fun2bethad
Thanks so much for the thoughtful feedback. The only thing that I didn't hear anyone say was that axle replacement was a must. What do you think....is it a must? I've had one replaced on a 65 Caravel before but when I put the request into the service manager at Airstream, he asked me why I wanted to replace it. I just haven't seen anything that definitively states that replacing a 65 Caravel axle is a must. What do you think?
My brother-in-law has my mom's 73 Sov. at Airstream right now. I told him that the reason he has gotten the rear-end separation AFTER Airstream repaired it was because his axles are completely shot. He did not believe me. He refused to replace them.
One Monday the service tech at Airstream told him "The axles are fine". Then on Tuesday the same guy called him and told him, "Your axles are shot and they should be replaced". Figure that one out.
I feel the replacing axles on something over twenty years old in NOT a bad idea. I subsribe to the theory that if something is going to break on you, it will be when you are using it. Like the fridge or your axles.
There are less expensive, quality options that you can use other than the "OEM" axle.
Axles are not a large investment any longer. I would not hesitate to replace yours if it was my trailer.
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