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Old 10-24-2005, 06:55 PM   #1
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Which Path for Axles and Brakes?

Hi Everyone,

I tried to post this three times on the axles and brakes forum at different times today, but it won't post. There are about a million messages on that one, so maybe it's overloaded. Thought I'd try here.

I have a í77 Excella that needs new axles. I have pulled the wheels and bearing caps and looked at the hubs. They all appear to be in very good condition. Light surface rust covers the outsides of the hubs, but the insides are pristine, the grease is very clean, the bearings look great, and I believe they are fine. I called Inland RV and talked to Andy, and one strong point that he made was that I could reuse my hubs on a set of bare Henschen axles. Strong plus for Henschen.

Next: my trailer has the disk brake option and I want to pull the brake calipers off and inspect them. What should I look for? Iíd planned to pull them off and tear them down according to the Airstream service manual. I figured that if the piston looks OK and the housing isnít pitted or corroded, I should be good to go, provided I can still get the rubber seals, etc. for them. What else is there to look for? Can I still get the parts for these?

Now for the path to choose, IF the disk brakes are good then the choice is made: I will replace the axles to the OEM type setup and get an electric over hydraulic brake unit and call it done. In looking at the various units available, I really like the one made by Towbrake. It works off a linear actuator, is very simple, and in tests did very well.

But, IF the disk brake calipers are shot (rusted up internally, etc.), then things get fuzzy. I would then be looking at getting complete axle assemblies with new brakes. The bit of research Iíve done leads me to believe that a new disk setup is much more expensive than drums, as well as will require the electric over hydraulic unit. Since that option seems to compound the costs greatly, I would very seriously consider replacing the disks with 12" drums and thus not require the E over H unit. And if I go that route, then the choice of which brand of axle to get is no longer so clear cut. I did speak with a man at Dexter who was very helpful. Iím an engineer and a mechanic and have built many things. I do not believe I would have much trouble mounting any brand of axle myself. The horror stories Iíve seen seem to be mainly a result of a bad installer, rather than a defective brand of axle. Iíve also seen the many arguments on these postings for Henschen vs. Dexter, and Iíve not seen a really good reason to take one over the other on quality alone. It would appear to me that if thereís the possibility of doing a direct bolt in replacement, then I should go with Henschen. If it will require fabrication, I might as well go with Dexter because they appear to be of equal quality and are less expensive.

To thicken the plot further, there's also Plan C, which would be to reinforce the frame (again, pretty easy to do) and install conventional axles with leaf springs. It would seem to me that this would cure the "permanent set" problem of the rubber suspension once and for all. I would then use conventional shock absorbers and probably go with the large electric drum brakes. While that may not ride as well as the fully independent setup, it should ride perfectly acceptably and Iíd never have to worry about jacking the coach up when it sits for a long period of time.

So to summarize:

If my brakes are good Iíll most likely go with a set of Henschens to replace the original ones and reuse my existing disk brakes, in conjunction with a new electric over hydraulic unit.

If theyíre not good, what do you recommend? Am I wrong in thinking that new axles with new disk brake assemblies are stratospherically priced? I know the disks are better (I'm a big believer in "The Numbers"), but Iíve towed a lot of trailers with drum brakes and Iíve not had a problem braking yet. That being said, Iíd like to keep the disks if I can.

What do you all think? Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Jim
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Old 10-24-2005, 07:06 PM   #2
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Jim,

Go to http://www.axisproducts.com ....there have been many members on this forum who have had great success with their product....they are, in my opinion, better built than Henschen and cheaper to boot...call them to find out for yourself, and you'll see that a complete setup, including brakes, will be way cheaper than Henschen. Dexter is also a good company to look into, as they are now the OEM supplier to Airstream.

Frederic
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Old 10-24-2005, 07:11 PM   #3
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Jim,

I wouldn't rush into this without a little more research. I 'think' you can re-use the disk brakes on a Dexter axle if you check the bearing numbers.

I might be wrong, but it's worth checking.

I'm pretty sure the old disc brake parts were a common GM manufacture. Again, a little more research would be needed to ferret that out.
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Old 10-24-2005, 08:20 PM   #4
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Jim:

Your coach has disc brakes made by Ausco, they are not GM part compatable. Pistons, "o" rings and boots are available. The spindles are a #42, common for 12" brake systems and use a 25580 inner bearing and 15123 or LM67048 outer depending on desired rating. I believe the 15123 gives it a 7200# rating for the hub and the LM67048 a 5200#. Either way your current system will be convertable to a new axle from any supplier as long as you spec a 5 bolt brake flange. The current disc brakes (Kodiak) that Airstream uses will work with your old Vacuum/hydraulic unit, and all the electric/hydraulics on the market will use no more current than 4 electric brakes, thats the beauty of these pumps, any brake controller will work with them, with minor adjustment.
Greg
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Old 10-24-2005, 09:00 PM   #5
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I have a 77 that had the disks. Like many others, I had repeated problems with them. When they worked, they worked great. When they failed again and again, I grew weary of them. When the welds on the carriers started to break, I gave up (like many others) and put on electrics. I have burned thru a set of Kesley Hayes and then changed to Dexter. Have not had any problems with them in two years and they stop pretty good (if the controller is adjusted right and the the drums are not rusted up by setting all winter). Anybody need an old vaccum hydrallic unit. It is still setting in my pile I think.
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Old 10-25-2005, 10:41 AM   #6
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JimGolden.

You can change the old disc brake to a new axle. Or, you can order new axles with new style disc brakes along with a new style actuator.

The only time a Henschen fitting problem comes into play, is on trailers that are 1964 and older. Other than that, they are a direct bolt in.

We now have the laboratory comparison tests results, between the Axis and Henschen axles. It will be posted within the week on our web site for everyones perusal.

Many repair parts are available for the old disc brake system.

Andy
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Old 10-25-2005, 11:37 AM   #7
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Thank you for your replies. This forum is great. I appreciate the spindle and bearing info, as well as the info on the various axle makers.

I'm going to inspect my calipers this weekend and go from there.

Is Axis a division of Dexter? It looks like they're really close to each other.

I'll be looking for the lab results of the Axis vs. Henshen comparison on the Inland RV website.

I am new to Airstreams, and appreciate the information one can find on here.

Thanks again,
Jim
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Old 10-28-2005, 05:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In

We now have the laboratory comparison tests results, between the Axis and Henschen axles. It will be posted within the week on our web site for everyones perusal.

Andy
Andy,

I look forward to seeing that. I'm sure that you also tested Reliable axles, Dexter axles and Alko axles right?

Regards,
Henry
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Old 10-28-2005, 05:45 PM   #9
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Nope!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimGolden
Is Axis a division of Dexter? It looks like they're really close to each other.

Thanks again,
Jim
Jim,

Axis was started by Dexter (it was called LaSalle axle then). They are not related any longer.

I hope this helps,
Henry
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Old 02-17-2006, 07:36 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In
We now have the laboratory comparison tests results, between the Axis and Henschen axles. It will be posted within the week on our web site for everyones perusal.

Andy
Just wondering what happened to the test results.
Looked over the website and I have found nothing about it anywhere.
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