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Old 01-24-2009, 08:53 PM   #1
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interior mods & axles

Yall,

I'm toying with the idea of redoing the interior of my A/S........custom cabinetry throughout, but maintaining the same layout.

I currently have mostly original tambour cabinets with abs drawers.

I am fairly certain that the new cabinets will be significantly heavier than the old. And therein lies the question.........should I upgrade the axles with a higher load capacity? Are original equipment axles designed to be able to handle lots of extra weight?

Oh, and I live in my camper for months at a time when out on a job. I only tow it from job site to jobsite; and usually only about every 8 months.

Is there a rule of thumb for such?

Thank you in advance,

Woody
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Old 01-24-2009, 09:02 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Woody.303 View Post
Yall,

I'm toying with the idea of redoing the interior of my A/S........custom cabinetry throughout, but maintaining the same layout.

I currently have mostly original tambour cabinets with abs drawers.

I am fairly certain that the new cabinets will be significantly heavier than the old. And therein lies the question.........should I upgrade the axles with a higher load capacity? Are original equipment axles designed to be able to handle lots of extra weight?

Oh, and I live in my camper for months at a time when out on a job. I only tow it from job site to jobsite; and usually only about every 8 months.

Is there a rule of thumb for such?

Thank you in advance,

Woody
Woody.

We usually upgrade the axle rating when someone orders the Henschen axles. The cost is the same.

How much to upgrade??

Depends on what your trying to do.

Can you ball park, the new gross weight of your trailer?

You now have 3200 pound axles. You can change them to 3500 or 4000 pounds.

Andy
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Old 01-24-2009, 09:07 PM   #3
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Not knowing how much the trailer will weigh makes it difficult to say. There should be a plate on the trailer / axle with the weight rating for the axles. That number should be used along with the weight of the trailer to determine if they are adequate. If your 38 year old axles are the originals, they most likely need to be replaced anyway. Replace the axles with the proper weight rating for the new weight of the trailer.
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Old 01-25-2009, 12:30 PM   #4
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mods first, then axles

Rich and Andy,

Thanks for the replies.

Would it make sense to do the mods first, then weigh the trailer to see what kind of axles are needed? (I'm concerned about how safe this would be, even if just driving a couple of miles to have axles put in.)

I'll be parked in Oklahoma City for two years, and should have plenty of time to get the interior done without running the risk of traveling with an overloaded trailer.

I could then take it to the nearest RV shop to have axles put in it without having to drive too far.

Rich, you are absolutely correct about new axles. I was planning on replacing them, just wasn't sure about the extra weight.

I'm a carpenter by trade, so I'm thinking I will build the cabinets myself. Some of my preliminary thoughts are:

1. 3/8 or 1/2" lightweight plywood for the carcasses. Not sure on this one, any thoughts? Could I go thinner?

2. Use drawers everywhere in the galley. Getting to the stuff in the back of the shelves is next to impossible without removing 50 items just to put them back again. Downside is added weight.

3. Don't use metal drawer slides, 200 year old technology will be much lighter in weight. i.e. oak strips waxed down well will slide just as good as a ball bearing. Also allows for greater usable space. Downside is lack of full extension, and the drawers will slide all the way out if one doesn't pay attention.

4. Magnetic catches to hold drawers shut, thank you to Carlos Ferguson for the idea.

5. Eliminate the wardrobes and replace with drawers. Seems to me that hanging clothes uses up too much space. This will create lots of extra cabinetry weight in these areas, all of which will be toward the rear of the camper. I've also got a rear bath, is this a good idea?

6. Add a woodstove to help with heating. Keep the furnace for when the fire goes out, and to heat the tanks below. I've always had a woodstove, and the idea is extremely appealing to me. This would also counterbalance some of the added weight in the rear.

I'm probably missing something, your thoughts would be most appreciated.

Woody
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Old 01-25-2009, 01:35 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Woody.303 View Post
Rich and Andy,

Thanks for the replies.

Would it make sense to do the mods first, then weigh the trailer to see what kind of axles are needed? (I'm concerned about how safe this would be, even if just driving a couple of miles to have axles put in.)

I'll be parked in Oklahoma City for two years, and should have plenty of time to get the interior done without running the risk of traveling with an overloaded trailer.

I could then take it to the nearest RV shop to have axles put in it without having to drive too far.

Rich, you are absolutely correct about new axles. I was planning on replacing them, just wasn't sure about the extra weight.

I'm a carpenter by trade, so I'm thinking I will build the cabinets myself. Some of my preliminary thoughts are:

1. 3/8 or 1/2" lightweight plywood for the carcasses. Not sure on this one, any thoughts? Could I go thinner?

2. Use drawers everywhere in the galley. Getting to the stuff in the back of the shelves is next to impossible without removing 50 items just to put them back again. Downside is added weight.

3. Don't use metal drawer slides, 200 year old technology will be much lighter in weight. i.e. oak strips waxed down well will slide just as good as a ball bearing. Also allows for greater usable space. Downside is lack of full extension, and the drawers will slide all the way out if one doesn't pay attention.

4. Magnetic catches to hold drawers shut, thank you to Carlos Ferguson for the idea.

5. Eliminate the wardrobes and replace with drawers. Seems to me that hanging clothes uses up too much space. This will create lots of extra cabinetry weight in these areas, all of which will be toward the rear of the camper. I've also got a rear bath, is this a good idea?

6. Add a woodstove to help with heating. Keep the furnace for when the fire goes out, and to heat the tanks below. I've always had a woodstove, and the idea is extremely appealing to me. This would also counterbalance some of the added weight in the rear.

I'm probably missing something, your thoughts would be most appreciated.

Woody
I would suggest that the wood stove not be attempted, because of the need to insulate the immediate area from the heat, plus some type of chimney.

The chassis you have, creates a limit within itself, unless you beef it up.

Your axles are 3200 pounds. You can go to 3500, or 4000 maximum, without frame changes.

If you change the frame, you can go to 4500 or 5000 pounds per axle.

Changing axles does not require a shop. Many owners do it themselves in the matter of 3 to 4 hours.

Andy
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Old 01-25-2009, 02:55 PM   #6
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axle ratings

Andy,

Thank you, those are some numbers I can work with.

Woody
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Old 01-25-2009, 03:38 PM   #7
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interesting chart

I just found an interesting chart in my service manual.

I have a net weight of 4990 or 5480. (I don't know which option package I have.) The gross weight is 7100. That would give me a load of either 1930 or 1460.

I did some math, and figured out that, excluding the tongue weight, the axles are carrying an approximately 60/40 split favoring the rear for the larger trailers. The smaller trailers have numbers closer to 50/50. I'll assume that the end product will have to be somewhere in that range.

I also noticed that the tongue weights of the medium sized trailers is much higher than the larger and smaller trailers. In addition to that, the percentage of tongue weight vs. GVW is also less than 10% except for the medium sized trailers. My 31 footer is only 7%. I was previously of the impression that 10% and 15% was considered the max low and max high for tongue weights.

Conclusion and assumptions:

1. Airstream factory must have done quite a bit of driving simulations with these weight combinations to assure the safety of those buying these campers.

2. In remodeling a rear bath, weight distribution should be considered much more so than a center bath, if one is to keep the rear bath layout.

3. These numbers must have had something to do with the demise of the rear bath.

4. For my remodeling project, I will have to start at the front and work my way to the rear. If and when I reach the 60/40 weight distribution mark, I will know when to quit.

Woody
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Old 01-25-2009, 03:42 PM   #8
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The numbers you are looking at are the dry weights. If you figure in the weight of the propane in the tanks, water and other stuff the numbers will be closer to the desired weight.

The numbers I show for your trailer are 4840-4910 and a hitch weight of 480-490 or 10%. Putting it on a scale will give you the real numbers.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf weights.pdf (100.7 KB, 35 views)
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Old 01-25-2009, 04:28 PM   #9
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Richard,

That makes more sense if I use the proper numbers.

My service manual is from a 1972, and that would explain the slight variation in our numbers.

Thanks,

Woody
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