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Old 03-10-2012, 08:35 PM   #1
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1979 31' Sovereign
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Rear Axle Noise

We are on the road with out 1979 31' for only the second time. Its a two axle airstream and I started hearing a noise coming from the rear axle. I just got it out of the shop yesterday (new water heater and some plumbing work) and they said the axles will need to be replaced soon but didn't mention any noises. It sounds like metal on metal almost whistle and it doesn't get louder as we go faster or change when the brakes are applied. Does anyone have any idea what this maybe and how big a problem this maybe?

Thanks
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Old 03-10-2012, 08:49 PM   #2
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Rear Axle Noise

Greetings jsbraun!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstream ownership!

My first thought while reading your post was how long has it been since the bearings were last repacked? Particularly since it is the rear axle, as it is the axle that is often stressed on a Vintage tandem axle coach where a previous owner has towed it nose high placing stress on the rear axle causing the rear axle to carry a greater load. When you stopped, did you try placing your hand near the hubs on the rear axle to note whether they were warmer than the front axle?

It is also possible that you might have a brake shoe(s) hanging up in either one or both drums on the rear axle, but this should be causing the coach to pull to one side in addition to making noise. A brake inspection may reveal a variety of issues if this wasn't done prior to your purchase as it doesn't take long for rust to take a toll on infrequently used parts in RV electric drum brakes.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 03-10-2012, 08:51 PM   #3
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I did go back and touch the hubs and every where on the wheel I could get my hands too and it was not hot at all.
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Old 03-10-2012, 09:07 PM   #4
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Rear Axle Noise

Greetings jsbraun!

Another possibility is hitch noise that is echoing and being interpreted as axle noise. Many late 1970s coaches had Reese Dual Cam hitches and if your coach came with hitch inclued it was quite possibly one of these hitches and many a new owner has been shocked by the noises that these hitches can make particularly at lower speeds. I have these "classic" style Reese hitches on both of my Airstreams and find them to be perfect for the task . . . but they do take some familiarization when first being introduced. The Dual Cams are metal on metal so will make some noise whenever the trailer moves left or right relative to the direction of the tow vehicle. The saddle that the spring bar rests in should never be greased, but it is permissible to apply some petroleum jelly to the saddle to temporarily reduce the noise . . . the point where the spring bars attach to the hitch head receive oil where the mark can be seen.

If your coach doesn't have a Reese Dual Cam, I don't really have any other ideas as to where a metal on metal noise might be coming from.

Kevin
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Old 03-10-2012, 09:11 PM   #5
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Thanks for the reply but its not the hitch. I had my wife drive a few feet while I stood by the axles and walked along to try to pin point the noise. My first thought was bearings but it makes the same noise on both sides of the trailer so I didn't think both bearings would go out at the same time, but maybe thats all it is.
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Old 03-10-2012, 09:31 PM   #6
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Electric brakes are notorious for breaking internally....the magnet can come loose too..a spring break...etc. Verify where the noise is coming from and check it out by pulling the hub off. Tie that inspection in with a bearing grease and check. The axle will not make any noise and that work can be delayed until you can easily afford the expense.
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Old 03-10-2012, 09:36 PM   #7
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Going to have to jack up your wheels one at a time and spin it listening for that scraping to locate the problem.
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsbraun View Post
We are on the road with out 1979 31' for only the second time. Its a two axle airstream and I started hearing a noise coming from the rear axle. I just got it out of the shop yesterday (new water heater and some plumbing work) and they said the axles will need to be replaced soon but didn't mention any noises. It sounds like metal on metal almost whistle and it doesn't get louder as we go faster or change when the brakes are applied. Does anyone have any idea what this maybe and how big a problem this maybe?

Thanks
Sounds like one of the pins holding the shoe in place may have come off, & although the brake may still work, the edge of the shoe is rubbing on the inside of the drum. Jack up the wheels, one by one & spin them, then disassemble the offening drum/brake assembly. It be very simple & cheap to make a quick fix & be fine until you get a chance to order new axles.
Good luck,
Colin
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Old 03-10-2012, 11:59 PM   #9
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Longshot but by chance does your trailer have disc brakes? If so the calipers do rattle.
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