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Old 01-13-2011, 05:48 AM   #15
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The torsion axle widens the suspension roll center out to the walls of the trailer, in effect. And, as it is independent of other wheel/tire combinations present, it is less susceptible to tripping hazards. It is, in other words, more difficult to upset the trailer; greater dynamic stability for a given load & road.

Better ride is just icing on the cake.

And, if we posit that this trailer is well-built enough to travel 200k or more over it's lifetime, in fact it is not more expensive, but cheaper, as the components of a conventional leaf spring arrangement are subject to greater wear & fatigue. The simplicity of the torsion axle is it's virtue in this regard. (That many do not do the maintenance and inspections of a leaf spring suspension -- taking it completely apart is necessary -- is beside the point).

Consider drum brakes versus discs as a workable analogy of initial expense versus performance and maintenance simplicity.

.
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Old 01-13-2011, 10:06 AM   #16
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Don good luck with your axle conversion. I'm sure if you can build that airplane, converting a spring suspension to torsion will not be a problem for you.
OH by the way
THANKS FOR THE RIDE .
Id love to fly again in a tail dragger like that.
Roger
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:52 PM   #17
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enosburg , Vermont
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I agree with RickDavis concerning towability. The one we converted was a 1957??. It was about 15 yrs ago. It was used for a hunting trailer in northern Maine. A couple hundred miles of average paved roads then many miles of barely wagon ruts. On the worst back roads there was a benifit, especially ground clearance. On the paved roads we noticed very little differance between the two axle types. It was allways towed w/ 1/2 or 3/4 ton 4x4 pickups. No we did'nt ruin a classic, it was barely salvagable.
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Old 01-16-2011, 06:55 PM   #18
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Parts for leaf spring axle

I have a friend who has a 1960 18' Traveler. Can we still get parts for the axles? ie brake parts, maybe new back plate assemblies with new shoes and brake components etc. Spring and shackle bushings and so on.?
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Old 01-16-2011, 07:10 PM   #19
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I have a friend who has a 1960 18' Traveler. Can we still get parts for the axles? ie brake parts, maybe new back plate assemblies with new shoes and brake components etc. Spring and shackle bushings and so on.?
Very doubtful, as most of those parts are no longer available, and haven't been for many years.

Hub and drums have changed considerably, by using larger bearings.

Unfortuantely, typically, they won't fit the old axle spindles.

Many owners, either replace the axle with a spring type, or upgrade the trailer with a torsion axle, which is a far better way to go, as we all know today.

Brakes today, are totally different from 60 years ago.

Andy
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Old 01-17-2011, 08:12 AM   #20
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T G Twinkie,
Although the original brake components are obsolete, it is possible to install modern complete 12" diameter brake assemblies on early Airstream leaf spring axles. I rebuilt the axles on my 59 Ambassador International about 8 years ago & took a chance & purchased modern 12" brake assemblies. The original drums are retained but the original backing plate is completely removed in the conversion. Oddly enough, the center hole & the bolt mounting pattern & offset remained standard over the years so modern units are an easy "bolt on". Replace the bearings & seals easily by taking them to any local Industrial Bearing Supply shop so they can crossreference them with current manufacturers. This conversion has worked very well for me over the years, however unless you're a real stickler for originality, I would opt for a modern Torsion axle conversion. If you add up the cost & time involved to rebuild leaf spring assemblies, it makes more sense to upgrade to a Torsion axle as they are readily available through me or other suppliers. You will gain simplicity, greater ride comfort for your "Baby" & save about 100 lbs compared to the leaf spring version.

As noted in earlier posts, Airstream did weld early Henschen axles onto the chassis, however from my experience, it was limited to the smaller trailers, ie less than 24'. The axles on the larger trailers were actually bolted on, however not in the same fashion as everything since 61. The early bolt on axles had their mounting plates extending up on the outside of the chassis & bolted through the frame rail itself. This method made it difficult to replace without cutting into the bellypan. I would imagine it also made it difficult during production as well. Both of these approaches were obviously less than adaquate so Airstream went with the current method of side plates for the 62 models & newer.
Good luck with your upgrades,
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Old 01-17-2011, 09:13 AM   #21
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enosburg , Vermont
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Yes you can get all the parts you need to rebuild the original spring axle from various sources. You can even get the brake shoes relined and shackle components from a spring shop. BUT heaven help you if you have a problem on the road. With a modern X, either torsion or spring, all replacement parts are readly available. Not so with the rebuilt vintage, you could be sitting side the road a few days waiting for parts. Also remember "spindle fatigue" on an old X. The cost of damage resulting from a broken spindle would most likely buy 3 new torsion axles. The final cost between a complete new X and completey rebuilding an old one is probably less than $200. All things considered that ain't much.
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Old 01-17-2011, 09:35 AM   #22
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Yes you can get all the parts you need to rebuild the original spring axle from various sources. You can even get the brake shoes relined and shackle components from a spring shop. BUT heaven help you if you have a problem on the road. With a modern X, either torsion or spring, all replacement parts are readly available. Not so with the rebuilt vintage, you could be sitting side the road a few days waiting for parts. Also remember "spindle fatigue" on an old X. The cost of damage resulting from a broken spindle would most likely buy 3 new torsion axles. The final cost between a complete new X and completey rebuilding an old one is probably less than $200. All things considered that ain't much.
Be aware, that new style brakes will not fit the old style drums, which are too deep to accept the new brakes.

The outer edge of the drums will rub against the backing plates, unless you have them machined down.

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Old 01-17-2011, 05:05 PM   #23
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Be aware, that new style brakes will not fit the old style drums, which are too deep to accept the new brakes.

The outer edge of the drums will rub against the backing plates, unless you have them machined down.

Andy
Modern backing plates/brakes fit perfectly with my vintage 1959 Drums with no rubbing or machining necessary. I have done over 60,000 miles with this set up without issues. That said, I would go with a new torsion axle next time.
Colin
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