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Old 08-16-2016, 01:37 PM   #1
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1976 27' Overlander
New Orleans , Louisiana
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 8
Newbies embarking on a 1976 Overlander Renovation. AXLE HELP!

Hi AS community,

I've been spending about 8 hours a day for the last two weeks reading about your full montys (LOVE THAT TERM and that movie!), successes and occasional failures. Thank you for inspiring us to take on this project and thank you in advance for sharing your advice and knowledge in the months to come.

After looking over many of your renovations, my husband and I came to terms with our discomfort with the possibility of having to do a shell off renovation, or extensive work to the body or frame (other than sealing and insulation). We also want to be out of our house and on the road by June 2017 so we're on a tight deadline. This led us to our decision to buy the Overlander, which has been gutted, had the belly pan removed and three corroded back cross members replaced, rotten subfloor replaced, is rewired and has an updated water system. So we think it possible to be road-ready by our deadline (doesn't everybody for a fleeting moment?).

As many of you advise: if you're going to do it, do it right. So we want to make sure, starting with the ground up, we are doing our renovation right. After finding conflicting information about when the axles need to be replaced or seeing some of you deftly comment that an airstream's axles are bad simply by looking at a picture, I wanted to post some pictures of our AS along with the belly.

We haven't done the "jack-up-one-side" test as recommended in this article, but will: http://www.airstreamcentral.com/arti...xle/Page1.html

In the meantime, I wanted to share these photos and see if anyone sees any glaring issues that might indicate axle trouble or trouble of any kind!

Thank you in advance!
Sarah
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Old 08-16-2016, 06:58 PM   #2
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1974 27' Overlander
Baltimore , Maryland
Join Date: Mar 2016
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Hi and welcome. That is a nice looking Overlander. Awnings all around, rock guard and segment protectors, body in great shape, even the belly pan looks good.

Yes, your axles look shot. I am saying this because I can't see the tops of your wheels from the side of your coach, so you're riding low. The real test is to look at the torsion arm behind the wheel, which I don't see a good picture of. The side the wheel is attached to should be pointing down toward the ground. Yours is probably pointing up, indicating that the rubber in your axles is shot.

You can still ride on axles with a shot suspension, provided your brakes, bearings, and tires are good. Just be extra gentle until you replace the axles.

How's the interior?
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Old 08-16-2016, 09:58 PM   #3
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1974 31' Sovereign
1979 23' Safari
Wayland , New York
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As with any major procedure you may want a second opinion, I agree completely with what thegreatleys said above.
From the looks of the torsion arm in the 3rd picture it looks horizontal or a slight up angle.
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Old 08-17-2016, 11:19 AM   #4
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1966 26' Overlander
Woodstock , Georgia
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Unless you have money to spend on axles, I would get the interior done to where you are happy with it. Water system, etc all ready to go. Then try the trailer out on the road when it is loaded. You may find it tows well and you can get by for quite awhile as is. Just be sure the bearings and brakes are ok.
I've been towing ours for 5 years since I bought it and no axle change yet. I judge the ride by the stuff that is still sitting on the counter after a haul. Not glassware, I'm not that crazy.
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Old 08-17-2016, 02:41 PM   #5
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1976 27' Overlander
New Orleans , Louisiana
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Hi Greatleys,

Thanks so much for your response...even if you did inform us that our axles are shot!

I'll get a better look at the torsion arm when we get back to the AS in a couple weeks but this is a good starting point. We anticipated needing new axles AND it's also nice to know that this might not be an immediate expense, although it is definitely an inevitable one.

The interior is gutted and in great shape. We might be removing the interior skins and re-insulating but I need to do more research. Did you do this?

I spent an hour surfing around your blog last night and I'm really excited to dig in more. There's a lot of information that is going to be SO useful to us. I've already got the sliding door hardware you used bookmarked and I absolutely love the stained glass window to the bathroom. I would have never thought of that in a million years!

Sarah
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Old 08-17-2016, 02:46 PM   #6
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1976 27' Overlander
New Orleans , Louisiana
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Hey Alan,

Thanks for your response! We do not have the $$$ right now to replace the axles BUT we will definitely take your suggestion to wait until we're actually on the road to make the call. I anxiously await the "glassless counter test".

Sarah
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Old 08-17-2016, 06:27 PM   #7
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1974 27' Overlander
Baltimore , Maryland
Join Date: Mar 2016
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I'm glad you are finding it useful. Check out the insulation section of the blog to see how I insulated. Dropdown menu at the top right.

I hear people complain about their ACs not performing and needing two for a similar size Airstream. I have a 9200 btu mach 8 cub, the one that will run on a Honda 2000 generator, and it's having no trouble whatsoever keeping the coach comfortable in 99 degrees and obscene humidity. It has to be the insulation. Admittedly, I haven't taken it to the desert yet.

I am planning on making some models and doing some actual studies of different insulation assemblies when I have time, but I am anecdotally very happy with the performance of my insulation. I think putting foam tape between the ribs and interior skin makes all the difference.
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Old 08-18-2016, 12:41 PM   #8
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1967 26' Overlander
Spartanburg , South Carolina
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Changed axles on our '67 Overlander last December. The old axles did not appear to be sagging but wheels did not drop down much when one side was jacked up. We seemed to have a lot of vibration judging from things in the rear of the trailer moving around. I bought new axles from Inland RV because they apparently had either inventory of the axles I needed or had a preferred position with Dexter manufacturing. They were shipped in two weeks freight allowed to the nearest Dexter distributor and I was able to pick them up there. If you decide to put new axles under your trailer, and I recommend you do given the age, do your homework and decide if you are willing to down size the brakes on the replacement axle or up size the axle to be able to keep 12" brakes as per original. For some reason the standard axle that is a direct fit to my trailer was changed to 10 inch brakes sometime during the last 50 years for some reason and I wanted all the brakes I could get.

I am amazed at how much better the trailer rides even with 3,500lb axles instead of the original 2,800lb ones and I know I can stop better with the larger brakes.
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Old 08-18-2016, 02:13 PM   #9
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1993 25' Excella
Venice , Florida
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My peace of mind was challenged when I bought my 93-25...so I replaced axels, brakes, drums, shocks, & tires. No more worries about breakdowns in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 08-18-2016, 02:33 PM   #10
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1976 27' Overlander
New Orleans , Louisiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob D View Post
Changed axles on our '67 Overlander last December. The old axles did not appear to be sagging but wheels did not drop down much when one side was jacked up. We seemed to have a lot of vibration judging from things in the rear of the trailer moving around. I bought new axles from Inland RV because they apparently had either inventory of the axles I needed or had a preferred position with Dexter manufacturing. They were shipped in two weeks freight allowed to the nearest Dexter distributor and I was able to pick them up there. If you decide to put new axles under your trailer, and I recommend you do given the age, do your homework and decide if you are willing to down size the brakes on the replacement axle or up size the axle to be able to keep 12" brakes as per original. For some reason the standard axle that is a direct fit to my trailer was changed to 10 inch brakes sometime during the last 50 years for some reason and I wanted all the brakes I could get.

I am amazed at how much better the trailer rides even with 3,500lb axles instead of the original 2,800lb ones and I know I can stop better with the larger brakes.
Hey Jacob,

Helpful information, indeed! When you upsized your axle for 12" brakes did you have to modify the frame to fit the thicker axle tube? On their blog, TheGreatleys mentioned having to modify the frame in order to get all the bolts to line up.

Also, did you install the new axles and brakes yourself? If so, was it a fairly straightforward change out or something a newbie should probably shy away from?

Many thanks,
Sarah
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Old 08-18-2016, 02:34 PM   #11
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1976 27' Overlander
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harryk View Post
My peace of mind was challenged when I bought my 93-25...so I replaced axels, brakes, drums, shocks, & tires. No more worries about breakdowns in the middle of nowhere.
Harry,

Did you make the replacements yourself? If so, are there any references you found helpful?

Many thanks!
Sarah
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Old 08-18-2016, 02:48 PM   #12
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1976 27' Overlander
New Orleans , Louisiana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGreatleys View Post
I'm glad you are finding it useful. Check out the insulation section of the blog to see how I insulated. Dropdown menu at the top right.

I hear people complain about their ACs not performing and needing two for a similar size Airstream. I have a 9200 btu mach 8 cub, the one that will run on a Honda 2000 generator, and it's having no trouble whatsoever keeping the coach comfortable in 99 degrees and obscene humidity. It has to be the insulation. Admittedly, I haven't taken it to the desert yet.

I am planning on making some models and doing some actual studies of different insulation assemblies when I have time, but I am anecdotally very happy with the performance of my insulation. I think putting foam tape between the ribs and interior skin makes all the difference.
That is VERY helpful information on your blog about your insulation process. I did notice that you mention the r-value of Reflectix is about an R-1.1 However, on the product description it is listed as ranging from R-3.7 to R-21 depending on application. Why the difference?

The PO already reinstalled new fiberglass insulation under the flooring but I will definitely be using your recommendations once we tackle the interior sometime in September. Maybe by then you'll have tested out your AS in the desert!

Back to the axles: in your blog you mentioned having to slightly modify your frame when you replaced your axles. Can you tell me more about what you had to do? We are weighing the cost of DIY axles replacement vs. paying our local RV center. Frame modification sounds....intimidating.

Sarah
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Old 08-18-2016, 03:03 PM   #13
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1976 27' Overlander
Delta , British Columbia
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 45
76 Overlander Club

Hi

I recently replaced my axles on our 76 overlander. It rides so much better. Albeit when fully loaded for camping I still can't see the top of my tires. I managed to stay with the 12" brakes as many describe by going with the 3500lbs dexter axles. Be very aware that these trailers must tow "flat" so that both axles are engaged.

Your skins look better than mine. Polishing is my next daunting task.

I will help with anything that I can.

Kristien
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Old 08-18-2016, 03:05 PM   #14
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1974 27' Overlander
Baltimore , Maryland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by earthmama9 View Post
That is VERY helpful information on your blog about your insulation process. I did notice that you mention the r-value of Reflectix is about an R-1.1 However, on the product description it is listed as ranging from R-3.7 to R-21 depending on application. Why the difference?

...

Back to the axles: in your blog you mentioned having to slightly modify your frame when you replaced your axles. Can you tell me more about what you had to do?
The r-values you are reading are deceptive because they refer to a complete *assembly* that includes significant air space. Air is also a good insulator, you know, so adding a bunch of air to your calculation inflates the r-value quite a bit.

The r-1.1 value I reported is for the bubble foil itself, not the assembly including air space. You are not going to have near the air space they suggest because the walls are only 1.5" thick. That's why I want to build and test some models of different insulation assemblies, so I can see if this stuff is worthwhile and if so, how best to assemble it.

R-value isn't what you're after on a radiant barrier anyway. R-value measures how conductive heat passes through a material, not how radiant heat passes. It's a different purpose entirely.

As for the frame, when I said I had to modify it for the axles, I meant the axle tubes were bigger than the old ones so the slots in the frame were too small, and the holes didn't line up. I had to use an angle grinder to enlarge the slot, and a drill to fix the holes. I also ordered shock brackets which had to be welded on, and I took them to my welder who did my major frame work.

I hear that Colin Hyde will get you axles that drop right in. I don't know if that includes 12" brakes or not, but I'm thinking it probably doesn't. I also don't know if 12" brakes are necessary. It would probably be worth talking to him. I also understand he can be hard to get a hold of, so good luck.

No reason to be intimidated by enlarging slots or drilling new holes if you need to. It's a pain, but by the time you're done your project, you'll be a pro. Plenty of info on this forum to help you out.
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