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Old 02-20-2019, 01:58 PM   #1
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Regina , Saskatchewan
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 2
Axle size and lift kit

I am considering a Dexter lift kit for my 73 Sovereign. Itís a 31ft with side bath and rear twins. Any advice on how to determine the axle size and any advice or opinions on the lift kits would be greatly appreciated. Iím a first time AS owner and first post in a great forum for information. Thank you. Dale in Saskatchewan.
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Old 02-20-2019, 08:13 PM   #2
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 6,594
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Hello from Colorado and welcome to the Airstream community. Dexter hasn't made ordering replacement axles very easy. I recommend you find an Airstream axle "expert" to place the order for you. Maybe someone can recommend someone there in central Canada.

Your trailer was designed with a "gross vehicle weight rating". It is on the VIN tag likely on the front street side of the trailer. You can remodel your trailer with a masonry fireplace, granite countertops and a tile floor, but the frame, axles and body were designed for the gross vehicle weight rating. I wouldn't exceed it.

Let's pretend it says 7600 pounds. You will have about 800 pounds of trailer weight on the tongue, so we will subtract that yielding 6800 pounds on the axles. You have two axles, each carry about half that weight. So you would need axles built for 3400 pounds. That might be a good weight rating axle to order. You can crawl under your trailer and try to read the dirty, rusty, painted over tag on the axles themselves.

You mentioned a "lift kit". Some people do this because they tow their trailer up old mining roads in the mountains, or they live around roads with steep approaches. These situations are hard on the trailer. Most of us don't need any more ground clearance than Airstream originally designed for. I don't recommend increasing an Airstream's ground clearance. Others will disagree with me.

I do recommend ordering bearings and 12" drum brakes with your axles. And new shocks too. The welded on shock mounting brackets are also an important specification for new axles.

Here is a photo of my original axles under my Overlander. You can see how the "starting" angle is no longer 22 degrees down, but the swing arms are now horizontal. Not good. This reduces ground clearance and signifies the rubber suspension rods are hard as a hockey puck. I'll mount new axles this spring.

Others more knowledgeable than me will surely help out here.

David
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Old 08-18-2020, 03:16 PM   #3
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1975 31' Sovereign
los angeles , California
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Lift kit for vintage trailer

hello! did you ever end up lifting your Airstream? I'd like to lift my 1975; the attachment points look very different than the newer models however. Anyone else lift their vintage Airstream? It's not an option for me, this trailer scrapes/drags everywhere and has sustained some fairly significant damage from it that I've since repaired.
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Old 08-18-2020, 07:25 PM   #4
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
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Many folks "lift" their vintage Airstreams. I don't necessarily like the look, but I've done it.

My Overlander gained about 3" in ground clearance when I installed my new axles. The starting angle was the normal 22 degrees, but the fresh rubber meant I got 22 degrees out of the axles, plus I order the "high profile" 1" mounting brackets which gave me another inch. It actually went higher than I figured it would. Here is a photo of the results.

The new Dexter axle mounting brackets have little resemblance to the ones used in 1975. You are very likely drilling new bolts holes to mount up new axles. I have on the three trailers I have installed new axles.

We worked all winter on my friend's 76 Sovereign. It needed it. We installed new axles under it also. My friend ordered the 32 degree starting angle as well as the high profile mounting brackets. Here is a photo of the trailer on the ground. It certainly helped ground clearance.

David
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__________________
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VAC Region 11

See my 1969 Globetrotter 21' Renovation Project:
In Knowledge Base

See my 1966 Trade Wind 24' Reno Project:
In Knowledge Base

See my 1975 Overlander 27' Improvement Journal:
In Knowledge Base

See our 1976 Sovereign 31' Renovation Project:
In Knowledge Base
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Old 08-19-2020, 10:59 AM   #5
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1975 31' Sovereign
los angeles , California
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i think your trailer looks great taller! I have a 31' that has always looked too low, esp towed behind my factory-high F350. I had no plans to replace axles, is that a necessary thing? Everything seems to work fine with them, and I've kept up with brake and bearing maintenance
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Old 08-21-2020, 07:37 PM   #6
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1986 34' Limited
1975 27' Overlander
Conifer , Colorado
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Posts: 6,594
Images: 1
The expected life of the rubber rod "dura torque" axle is about 30 years. The rubber rods get hard as hockey pucks, take a set and loose their suspension effect.

Axle condition assessment is easy. First, get your floor jack and jack up one side of your trailer watching the wheels "fall" down in the wheel well. I would expect a couple of inches as the weight is released from the axle. If no movement of the wheels, the rubber rods are hard.

Then remove the wheels and look at the swing arm. It ought to point down about 20 degrees below horizontal. The swing arms on old axles stay about horizontal creating a lower ride height for the trailer. Old axles tend to jiggle the trailer apart when being towed also as there is no suspension effect. See photo of my old Overlander axles.

Hope this helps out some.

David
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__________________
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VAC Region 11

See my 1969 Globetrotter 21' Renovation Project:
In Knowledge Base

See my 1966 Trade Wind 24' Reno Project:
In Knowledge Base

See my 1975 Overlander 27' Improvement Journal:
In Knowledge Base

See our 1976 Sovereign 31' Renovation Project:
In Knowledge Base
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