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Old 01-13-2016, 07:40 PM   #1
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1976 25' Caravanner
Overland Park , Kansas
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 32
What would you do? Axle load sizing

I am in the planning stage of a shell-off, full monte for a tandem axle 1976 25' Caravanner.

This is not going to be a restoration but rather a complete re-design of the floor plan, appliances, etc. I will certainly be dropping weight from some areas but adding it others but there will be so many changes that it would be very difficult to estimate weight within 500 lbs. this early in the process. My goal is to come out even in the end as far as dry weight but this will be used as a full time rig for two and therefore may be loaded a bit heavier than the typical weekend warrior trailer.

As part of my "stage 1" plan I am thinking that it would be nice to remove the axles and tip the bare frame on its side using a couple chain hoists in order to more easily clean up frame rust and paint with POR-15. Then, while there is easy access I could install new axles and more easily measure to be sure they are aligned.

So I am debating about whether or not I should go ahead and replace the axles during this "stage 1" *or* should I do it at the very end of the process when I can weigh the trailer and more accurately gauge proper load rating and sacrifice some installation convenience?

How much of a difference will it make if the axle load rating is off by, say 500 lbs? I have heard a rule of thumb is to size them at 110% of the load that is supported by the axles when loaded up in the "as towed" condition. However, considering there are only so many increments to choose from anyway, it will never be possible to get it just right. Right?

Would love to hear the experience of others, thank you!

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Old 01-14-2016, 12:13 AM   #2
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1961 22' Safari
Union , Oregon
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 446
Images: 11
Complete the build first, weight the final (with personal items) then order and install new axle(s). Or do what I did and buy a second axle after determining the first new axle was under rated for the load. That way you can have an almost brand new axle just sitting around in your barn in the way.


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Old 01-14-2016, 07:14 AM   #3
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1994 30' Excella
alexandria , Kentucky
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What SAMB said is right-on.
Axles are not that tough to replace, wait till the end as your restoration plans for the trailer may change.
When I put axles on my trailer I went up from 4000 lb (oem) to 4500 lb. I felt that the factory was too close to the margin as in the axle being near its limit when loaded up. The trailer rides really nice on the highway and you can tell the suspension is nice and "springy" when parked (without stabalizers deployed).
Steve, Christy, Anna and Scout (Border Collie)

1994 30'11" Excella - rear twin
2009 Dodge 2500, 6 Speed Auto, CTD, Quad Cab, Short Bed
Hensley with adjustable stinger

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Old 01-14-2016, 07:18 AM   #4
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1974 Argosy 26
Morrill , Nebraska
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I would keep the old axles under the rig until you finish the rebuild. Then tow it to the scales. Actual dry weight. Then size the new axles accordingly based on the GVW rating. Keep in mind the frame, unless modified is one of the limiting factors when it comes to increasing load carrying capacity.
No point in putting age on the new axles if you are planning a long term rebuild.
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Old 01-14-2016, 08:26 AM   #5
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1978 31' Sovereign
Texas Airstream Harbor , Zavalla, in the Deep East Texas Piney Woods on Lake Sam Rayburn
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Great replies by knowledgable people!

I vote with the rest.

Keep in mind that if you are in a weight range that overlaps go with the more substantial axle. The increased wall thickness of the square tube will come in later on as an added benefit.

Take a look at the thread below:

Check out posts # 44,49, and 53.

I went with the #11 Dexters with the rubber cut down (3600 lbs per axle).

I contacted about four or five torsion axle manufacturers and none would warranty the axle more than 5 years. In a previous life I worked for a small offshore oil producing company, the large reciprocating engine vibrations were dampened by mounting the engines on a large cantilever, sort of like a huge tuning fork, and thick rubber sheets were utilized as a damper to limit the cycle severity - learned a lot about rubber life under compression.

I also went with the 45 degree start angle. I'm glad I did since it really increased my clearance all around. I would be more than happy to field individual questions.

"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Old 01-14-2016, 09:18 AM   #6
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1976 25' Caravanner
Overland Park , Kansas
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 32
Thanks and follow up question

Awesome, thank you for the advice everyone! The forum has really helped me to slowly but surely check off many of the questions from my massive list. Some answers will certainly have to come in time once I get my hands dirty but every last nugget of knowledge up front helps. Much easier to make progress when you can confidently move forward with a plan and avoid a bunch of second guessing.

So my follow up question is this: Would it even be worthwhile to remove the axles before cleaning up and painting the frame? Maybe even keep them off while installing the sub floor and working in the belly pan area? Then put them back on when its time to reattach the shell? Or would you just leave them on the whole time?

Thanks again!
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Old 01-14-2016, 01:56 PM   #7
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1971 21' Globetrotter
Arvada , Colorado
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Posts: 2,684
I left the axle on place until I installed the belly pan (I had to drop it to remove the pan and then reinstalled it) I then dropped it again to complete the belly pan. When I say dropped I mean only about a half inch. The final was a removal to replace.
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Old 01-17-2016, 05:44 AM   #8
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1958 22' Caravanner
not shared , Nebraska
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Posts: 166
Mr. Anderson: Call me and I'll share how I did my 1958 Caravanner 22' 402 296 3796

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