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Old 08-23-2006, 05:38 PM   #1
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1972 23' Safari
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Airstream Shocks?

I've been reading the Forum since before I got my Airstream and I've never seen any mention of Airstream shocks. In the strange and on-going saga of my Airstream, Airylle is presently at Oasis RV in Tucson having just been re-finished and clear-coated courtesy of the movie company that damaged her. In talking to Jay at Oasis, I mentioned that I had the tires and shocks replaced to make sure the contractor Oasis hired to tow her down there didn't have any problems. (Also had the wheel bearings greased.) Jay asked me, "Are the shocks Airstream OEM?" Of course they weren't because I didn't even know there was such a thing. The tire company ordered the Goodyear Marathons recommended by everyone here on the Forums and I left it to their best judgement what kind of shocks to put on. Now Jay tells me that shocks other than the Airstream OEM shocks (which are some sort of special Gabriel shock that can only be gotten through and Airstream dealer) can eventually damage the rig. If the shocks are too soft there will be bottom-out problems; too stiff and the interior will be destroyed, particularly in the kitchen area. So, friends, how many of you have replaced the shocks on your trailers with Airstream shocks? If you replaced with "other" have you had problems? The contractor can't bring my baby home until next week and I'm wondering if I should have Oasis put yet another new set of shocks on her>
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Old 08-23-2006, 07:18 PM   #2
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Replaced mine with shocks from Airstream.
I look at this shock thing as they were on when it rolled off the build line so I will put the specified shocks back on.
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Old 08-23-2006, 07:28 PM   #3
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I am also replacing my shocks when I put on the new axles. I am going with shocks from Airstream. I am not sure that that matters, however. I'm ready to be flamed.

It does make a difference that you use a shock rated for it's use and I was not sure about the rating for the Airstream axle. The shock is not part of the support system, however, but rather the dampening when the tire takes bumps. Think about a car without shocks. The suspension will hold the car off the ground at the exact same height unless the car is equiped with air shocks to raise the height - not stock. The shock does allow the car to keep the wheel on the road and prevent bounce leading to air time and poor control.

I just felt better going stock and I'm sticking to it. I am doing the work myself so I don't mind paying for parts and not trying to save money that way. I generally do shop around for the best price and service weighing both equally.

Joe
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Old 08-23-2006, 07:47 PM   #4
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I replaced the original shocks on my '65 GT with Gabriel shocks that I ordered on the Internet.
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Old 08-23-2006, 08:23 PM   #5
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So 65glb, how are they working out for you? (If it's been long enough to tell.) It's not like I told the guy at the tire place to just put any ol' thing on it. He's pretty experienced with travel trailers in general, but not Airstream specifically. And what he put on was supposed to be appropriate for the length and weight. I just hope that this thread alerts newbies like me that there actually are Airstream shocks.
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Old 08-23-2006, 11:18 PM   #6
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Just went through the shock investigation this week. According to the Airstream-certified tech at closest dealer (and according to Inland RV), Airstream uses exact same shock on every unit, from 19' to 34', and has been using same ones for >50 years!

I wound up going there because no one else had a double-eyed shock the right length and throw. Cost was ~$68 for two. They couldn't tell me its "rating," just that it was "the Airstream shock." It was made by Gabriel.

If I were you, I guess I'd try to find out from Gabriel what the "rating" is on their Airstream shocks, then call whoever made your shocks and see if the two are equivalent.
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Old 08-24-2006, 12:03 AM   #7
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Hello everyone ,
the shock used on the torsion axles mounts different than the early leaf
spring axle does .the torsion axle shock mounts at an angle more layed back
close to horizontal ,so the shock valving is designed differently for a shock that mounts that way.The early shock mounted in the normal position such as my 60 trdwnd ,in the vertical position as most vehicals are ,also can
be a gas shock or standard hydraulic type shock .I used Gabriel shocks
,regular hydraulic type .They work great .So the airstream shock talked
about here ,does need to be airstream specific do to that type of mounting.
I don't know of any real "Rating" of the shock however ,and a comparable
shock that mounts on the early leaf spring axle really can be matched to
your old shock at most parts stores ,if they take the time to look in the
cataloge under the shock specifications for most any shock.The specs are
by length ,eye on either end or not ,compressed length ,and extended
length or overall length (same thing).I did that exact thing to get my 60
shocks thru CarQuest Auto Parts store.and they are Gabriel as I said.
hope this helps folks in there shock shopping.

Scott of scottanlily
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Old 08-24-2006, 02:27 AM   #8
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I don't know how much that shock really does anyway. I would not worry about it.

The main concern is how your axles are. If they are fine you should be ok.

The torsion axles don't really need shocks from what I understand. When I replaced the 30 year old ones on my '71 Safari with the proper new Airstream shocks that I paid a premium for, the compression of the shock between the old and new one were the same, and not too hard to compress by hand. Meaning to me they did not do very much.

Of course, Airstream put them on so we don't want to re-engineer things, but in your case, if your axles are fine, I would not worry about the shocks.
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Old 08-24-2006, 09:30 AM   #9
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When checking the shock specks., dont forget the specs. for resistance on opening and the resistance on closing. This is important, to keep the tire in contact with the road. One obvious result would be tire cupping. You should be able to get these specs. from the shock manufacturer. Good luck
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Old 08-24-2006, 12:06 PM   #10
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Thanks for that insight SafariTim. The axels are in good shape according to Lewster. The PO bought the trailer in the late '80s and used it less than two dozen times. Then it sat for the last 7 years under a carport. The tires, while they had a lot of tread were basically rotten. I figured maybe the shocks were just worn out from sitting as well and I might as well get them replaced while the wheels were off to have the bearings greased. Yeah, ok, maybe Airstream has used the same shocks for the last 50 years. That tells me your assesment is right, that the shocks don't make all that much difference. Since the newer rigs are supposed to be heavier than the older rigs and, obviously, a longer one is going to weigh more than a shorter one, I just find it hard to believe that a one size fits all shock is that critical to the overall performance. In terms of vehicles you obviously couldn't put Hummer shocks on a Kia and vice-versa.
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Old 08-24-2006, 03:35 PM   #11
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Hi--In Aug 1989 I purchased 4 shocks at the A/S factory store in Jackson Center, for $13.06 each. They were made by Delco, part # 4975425, and the A/S part # was 400008.--Frank S
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Old 08-24-2006, 03:39 PM   #12
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Dear Lady,

While it is true that you don't want to put shocks from a Hummer on a Kia, it is not because the shock is part of the support system. The shoch absorber stops the tire from bouncing on the road. This could be from bumps or holes (dips) in the road or a harmonic result of unbalanced tires. Either of these would result in an unstable ride and the tire not in contact with the road. The classic appearance of tires on trailers with worn out shocks is "cupping". This looks like alternating areas of good tread and then worn tread followed by good tread etc. all around the tire.

Think of the shock as a dampener system for the tire bounce. Bounce a ball on concrete then bounce a ball on the same concrete with 2-3 inches of water on it. Similar effect with shocks.

So what is important in being able to compress the shock when the tire hits a bump and letting the tire relax back to the road without bouncing. The expension and compression of the shock absorber depends on several factors with one being the weight of the vehicle - thus no Hummer shock on the Kia.

Again, it is not part of the support system but a dampening system designed to keep the tires on the road yet still eliminate constant jolts to the coach that jars things loose like rivets, etc.

Although the rubber in the torsion axle and the spring in conventional suspension acts to slow any bouncing simply by the nature of their design, they are mainly for supporting the structure. I think the shock absorber is a necessary part of a complete suspension.

Ever ride a Harley hard tail? Try it and you'll get a better idea of the jolting. On the Harley, it's your kidneys and on the trailer, it's your Airstream.

I'm using the original, installing them myself and not guessing if it's rated properly.

Hope that helps.

Joe
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Old 08-25-2006, 01:37 AM   #13
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hello all ,I have presented the same thoughts on the shocks as defelice ,
but the axle manafactures say no need ,I see it different ,airstream does also .The shock need not be different because the coach is heavier ,as the axle carrying capacity handles that aspect ,the axle arm movement ,tire rebound is the shocks job of controlling that movement.Anyway the rubber torsion rods absorb some of that movement as they resist that action
of movement by design ,I like the idea of putting back on what was there.
Airstream still installs them today.

Scott
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Old 08-25-2006, 08:55 AM   #14
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Some shocking history ...

Early postwar (1947 and 1948) Airstream Liners did not have shock absorbers. Shocks were added in the 1949 model year when the chassis frame was strengthened by extending the outside spring hanger frame rails forward of the door in the pipe frame chassis. The shock absorbers used from 1949 through 1960 were vertically mounted on a leaf spring axle, also used through the end of 1960.

The Dura Torque (internal rubber compression) axle replaced the leaf spring axle for the 1961 model year and used vertical shock absorbers from 1961 through the end of the 1966 model year. The Super Dura Torque axle was introduced for the 1967 model year and it featured new (nearly) horizontally-mounted shock absorbers for increased floor space. These are the shocks that might have special valving for horizontal use, but I don't have any details on that. Nevertheless, please be aware of the year of your trailer and the mounting configuration of the shocks before ordering replacements.
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