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Old 01-27-2014, 11:47 AM   #1
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Do I need new wheels if I'm getting new axles?

After searching though tons of axle posts, I couldn't find the answer.

After learning that my axles are welded on, I took my '61 Overlander to a trailer store here in town to get a quote to replace them. I was told that the hub hole and the 6 bolt holes on the wheels that I have were both too small to fit the new axles so I need to get new wheels too. Essentially the new axles have bigger holes so my current wheels won't fit. I do not have split hub wheels and I like the vintage style wheels so I really would like to keep them. I was looking at getting 2 of the 3,500lb Dexter axles, but he recommended that I get the 5,200lb axles because they come with 12in brakes and the 3,500lb axles only come in 10in. Has anyone ran into these problems before? It seems like I should be able to get 3,500lb axles with a 6 hole pattern to fit my original wheels...
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Old 01-27-2014, 12:52 PM   #2
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I would call Dexter and get the answers to your questions. Measure the center hole of your wheels, and ask Dexter if they will fit, and I would think 3500lb axles would be more than adequate for a 26' '61 trailer. You might ask if they are available as an option with the 12" brakes.
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Old 01-27-2014, 01:52 PM   #3
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That is exactly what I was thinking about doing. I should make sure I have the measurements first. I don't know what to do about the bolt holes sizes, I thought that would be pretty standard, but doesn't sound like it is according the the trailer place I took it to.
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Old 01-27-2014, 03:18 PM   #4
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I replaced the axles on a 54 with a newer Dexter and the old wheels I had fit
The six bolt pattern is standard. Some of the older trailers used 7/16 studs, newer 1/2 inch.
It wouldn't hurt to talk to dexter or find some one with a trailer with a Dexter axle, which is most of them regardless of brand.
I have the original axles on my 61 and am using newer Airstream wheels with no problem. If the bolt hole are two small just drill them out another 1/16th as you are holding them with a tapered nut, that should not be a problem
As I recall, and this is from memory the bolt pattern is 6 bolts on a 5.5 circle.
Since some one has already replaced your wheels with aftermarket wheels I am betting they will fit with no modification.
The original wheels of course were split rims
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:38 PM   #5
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Go to dexters site and email cust service with what you want to do. Unless things have changed in the last year you can "derate" the #11 axle to mid 3000 lbs and have the 12" brakes. Generally speaking the #10 X is up to 3500 lbs w/ 10" brakes. #11 the 5000lb range w/ 12" brakes. You just won't know all the options available to you until you speak with them. This includes down angle, bracket height ect. Great folks to work with. When its time to order they will send a spec sheet. You choose options, measure to their specs, fill in the blanks. Worked for me 1st time out, exact fit. And yes the wheels fit on a '61, '62, & '64.
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:57 PM   #6
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Have you checked if they really need replacing? Someone has obviously replaced the wheels and maybe even the axles, they would have never came from the factory welded on.
Don't let anyone put 5200# axles under your AS, it will shake apart.
Tom J
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Old 01-27-2014, 07:04 PM   #7
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The early trailer with torsion axles indeed had them welded on. The thinking probably was that they never needed replacing. After a few years the axles were bolted on. Dexter will not supply 12" brakes on the 3500 lb axles. The only way to get 12" brakes on that weight axle is to go with Axis through Inland RV or Colin Hyde.

And yes at 53 years the axles probably need replacing.

Bill

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Originally Posted by Valacidor View Post
Have you checked if they really need replacing? Someone has obviously replaced the wheels and maybe even the axles, they would have never came from the factory welded on.
Don't let anyone put 5200# axles under your AS, it will shake apart.
Tom J
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Old 01-27-2014, 08:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awetsch View Post
After searching though tons of axle posts, I couldn't find the answer.

After learning that my axles are welded on, I took my '61 Overlander to a trailer store here in town to get a quote to replace them. I was told that the hub hole and the 6 bolt holes on the wheels that I have were both too small to fit the new axles so I need to get new wheels too. Essentially the new axles have bigger holes so my current wheels won't fit. I do not have split hub wheels and I like the vintage style wheels so I really would like to keep them. I was looking at getting 2 of the 3,500lb Dexter axles, but he recommended that I get the 5,200lb axles because they come with 12in brakes and the 3,500lb axles only come in 10in. Has anyone ran into these problems before? It seems like I should be able to get 3,500lb axles with a 6 hole pattern to fit my original wheels...
5200 pound axles will destroy your trailer.

We have distributed Dexter axles ever since Henschen was closed down by their English owner.

We have provided many 3500 pound axles with 12 inch electric or disc brakes.

In part, it depends on a given dealers buying powers.

Andy
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Old 01-27-2014, 11:37 PM   #9
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So Andy... What axles would you put on a 70, ambassador, 29'?
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:09 AM   #10
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So Andy... What axles would you put on a 70, ambassador, 29'?
We always keep many popular sizes of axles, in stock, such as the ones for your coach, for immediate shipment or customer pick up.

3500 pound with 12 inch self adjusting electric brakes and with a greater starting angle by 10 degrees, and with shock brackets including the studs.

Andy
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Old 01-28-2014, 08:57 PM   #11
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Henschen was not closed down by its English owners, it was sold to Axis Products several years ago, who then merged with AL-KO a year later to form AL-KO Axis, the largest axle manufacturer in the world, by a huge margin. All of the Henschen parts, tooling, specs & Intellectual Property were moved to the Axis plant in Elkhart, Indiana & continue to be built today.

Torsion axles were welded to the chassis on many small Airstream's in 61 & a few in 62. Most of the larger Airstream' s had their axles bolted on, however not in the same fashion as we know today. Their axle brackets actually extended up the outside of the frame rail & were bolted through the rail into the bellypan cavity. Both of these installation methods would cause a lot of issues for future replacement, due to road hazards etc.
In 1962 they came up with the side mounting plate, which is what is still used today. For 61's & earlier, we supply a drawing of the necessary mounting plate, allowing the restorer to upgrade their mounting system to todays standard. You should never weld a torsion axle to the frame of your trailer.

There are two nominal sizes of torsion axle used by Airstream. They are commonly referred to as a 3500 lb & 5000 lb axles. Both of these nominal axle sizes can be derated & uprated in order to match the needs of your trailer.

The current Industry Standard for 3500 lb axles is 10" brakes (10" diameter X 2 1/14" wide drum) & can be requested with a variety of lug patterns, 5 on 4 1/2" or 6 on 5 1/2" are the most common patterns that Airstream has used for the past 55 years or so. You can also opt for 3500 lb axles with 12" brakes (12" diameter X 2" wide drum). 12" brakes will come with either a 6 lug pattern or an 8 lug pattern, however Airstream has only ever used the 6 lug pattern on trailers, as far as I am aware. Airstream currently uses 10" brakes on their tandem trailers up to around 4800 lbs, dry weight.

Keep in mind that 12" brakes are the current Industry Standard for 5000 & 7000 lb axles. Although most Airstream's came with 12" brakes on 3500 lb axles throughout the 50's 60's & 70's, like most things of that era, are in no way equivalent to what is offered today. Modern 12" drums have more mass, the magnets are different, & the shoe lining materials are completely different than their earlier counterparts. 10" brakes are actually certified for axles up to 4400 lbs, however the brake mounting plates on the axle spindle are beefed up in order to take the added loads. The 10" drums & brake assemblies are up to the task.

The limiting factor in braking, is the traction to the road surface & not the overall brake size. Larger brakes will give you greater "fade resistance" (ie they can dissipate more heat) than smaller brakes, due to their greater mass & surface area of the shoes. This is certainly helpful in sustained downhill grades with everything loaded to the max, but most will never feel the advantage. Some feel they need this & some do not. Back when I was involved in motor sports, we installed larger brakes due to the increased demand on the braking system, plus the tires were also much softer rubber compound & significantly wider than trailer tires, allowing more grip. Trailer tires do not have a large tread patch or a soft rubber compound, so the amount of braking force they can support is limited.

You should also realize that there are hundreds of thousands of trailers on the road today that have 10" brakes on 3500 lb axles. In fact, there are far more 3500 lb axles on the road with this configuration than with 12" brakes. If there was a problem, I'm sure NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) would have mandated a change many years ago.

As Al-Ko Axis owns the old Henschen tooling etc, axles are available for 69 & newer Airstream's that include the Henschen type mounting bracket, so no drilling or welding of shock brackets is necessary. Axles are also available with greater starting angle for those who want greater ground clearance, however this does raise the center of gravity & does not increase the suspension travel. Some models however were built in 78 & 79 that had "low profile" brackets that require some minor drilling in order to install. Minor drilling is necessary with all of the low profile brackets, regardless of the manufacturer. I believe drilling & welding is also necessary with high & low profile brackets on Dexter axles.

Thanks,

Colin
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:58 PM   #12
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A few years ago I looked into ordering dexter axle for my globetrotter , but the spec sheet from dexter was somewhat confusing & it was up to me to get everything correct on the order sheet. Ultimately I ordered my axle from Colin Hyde & was very pleased! I am getting ready to order axles for my 65 overlander from him as well. Point being, order from a vendor that is familiar w/ airstream, whomever you choose!
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Old 02-01-2014, 06:07 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
We always keep many popular sizes of axles, in stock, such as the ones for your coach, for immediate shipment or customer pick up.



3500 pound with 12 inch self adjusting electric brakes and with a greater starting angle by 10 degrees, and with shock brackets including the studs.



Andy

Thanks Andy! I'm hearing that if you install new axles, like the ones you mentioned, you don't need to put shocks on because they are not needed. What is your thought on this?
Thanks!
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Old 02-01-2014, 06:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin H View Post
Henschen was not closed down by its English owners, it was sold to Axis Products several years ago, who then merged with AL-KO a year later to form AL-KO Axis, the largest axle manufacturer in the world, by a huge margin. All of the Henschen parts, tooling, specs & Intellectual Property were moved to the Axis plant in Elkhart, Indiana & continue to be built today.



Torsion axles were welded to the chassis on many small Airstream's in 61 & a few in 62. Most of the larger Airstream' s had their axles bolted on, however not in the same fashion as we know today. Their axle brackets actually extended up the outside of the frame rail & were bolted through the rail into the bellypan cavity. Both of these installation methods would cause a lot of issues for future replacement, due to road hazards etc.

In 1962 they came up with the side mounting plate, which is what is still used today. For 61's & earlier, we supply a drawing of the necessary mounting plate, allowing the restorer to upgrade their mounting system to todays standard. You should never weld a torsion axle to the frame of your trailer.



There are two nominal sizes of torsion axle used by Airstream. They are commonly referred to as a 3500 lb & 5000 lb axles. Both of these nominal axle sizes can be derated & uprated in order to match the needs of your trailer.



The current Industry Standard for 3500 lb axles is 10" brakes (10" diameter X 2 1/14" wide drum) & can be requested with a variety of lug patterns, 5 on 4 1/2" or 6 on 5 1/2" are the most common patterns that Airstream has used for the past 55 years or so. You can also opt for 3500 lb axles with 12" brakes (12" diameter X 2" wide drum). 12" brakes will come with either a 6 lug pattern or an 8 lug pattern, however Airstream has only ever used the 6 lug pattern on trailers, as far as I am aware. Airstream currently uses 10" brakes on their tandem trailers up to around 4800 lbs, dry weight.



Keep in mind that 12" brakes are the current Industry Standard for 5000 & 7000 lb axles. Although most Airstream's came with 12" brakes on 3500 lb axles throughout the 50's 60's & 70's, like most things of that era, are in no way equivalent to what is offered today. Modern 12" drums have more mass, the magnets are different, & the shoe lining materials are completely different than their earlier counterparts. 10" brakes are actually certified for axles up to 4400 lbs, however the brake mounting plates on the axle spindle are beefed up in order to take the added loads. The 10" drums & brake assemblies are up to the task.



The limiting factor in braking, is the traction to the road surface & not the overall brake size. Larger brakes will give you greater "fade resistance" (ie they can dissipate more heat) than smaller brakes, due to their greater mass & surface area of the shoes. This is certainly helpful in sustained downhill grades with everything loaded to the max, but most will never feel the advantage. Some feel they need this & some do not. Back when I was involved in motor sports, we installed larger brakes due to the increased demand on the braking system, plus the tires were also much softer rubber compound & significantly wider than trailer tires, allowing more grip. Trailer tires do not have a large tread patch or a soft rubber compound, so the amount of braking force they can support is limited.



You should also realize that there are hundreds of thousands of trailers on the road today that have 10" brakes on 3500 lb axles. In fact, there are far more 3500 lb axles on the road with this configuration than with 12" brakes. If there was a problem, I'm sure NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) would have mandated a change many years ago.



As Al-Ko Axis owns the old Henschen tooling etc, axles are available for 69 & newer Airstream's that include the Henschen type mounting bracket, so no drilling or welding of shock brackets is necessary. Axles are also available with greater starting angle for those who want greater ground clearance, however this does raise the center of gravity & does not increase the suspension travel. Some models however were built in 78 & 79 that had "low profile" brackets that require some minor drilling in order to install. Minor drilling is necessary with all of the low profile brackets, regardless of the manufacturer. I believe drilling & welding is also necessary with high & low profile brackets on Dexter axles.



Thanks,



Colin

Colin, do I need to use shocks with new axles for my 1970 ambassador? I am hearing that shocks are not needed since the new axles are so good. Your thoughts?
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