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Old 11-22-2014, 04:26 PM   #1
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Single Axle vs Double Axle

Hello, I am rookie when it comes to towing a trailer. I am still a few years away from retiring and spending my kids inheritance money but I like to do alot of research before buying a big ticket item like an Airstream. So my first of many questions is, what is easier to tow, maneuver, control and most importantly back up, single or duel axle trailer's? Thank you for any kind help!
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Old 11-22-2014, 04:33 PM   #2
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We're only a few months in on our AS experience but I just had a flat while I was towing to Jacksonville, Fl this past weekend. Heard a noise that sounded like I ran over something.... tire was flat when we finally arrived at our destination. Never felt a thing and it towed smooth. Dual axels are a good thing in my opinion!
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Old 11-22-2014, 04:35 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum.

The differences are slight, but a single axle takes less power to tow because it has less rolling resistance. The tandem axle will be slightly more stable, and has the advantage of tire/wheel redundancy in case of a failure.

All things being equal you will not tell the difference backing up, but the longer trailer will be easier to back up than a shorter one (not as quick to turn).

Again, all these differences are slight.
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Old 11-22-2014, 06:07 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by AS Wantabe View Post
Hello, I am rookie when it comes to towing a trailer. I am still a few years away from retiring and spending my kids inheritance money but I like to do alot of research before buying a big ticket item like an Airstream. So my first of many questions is, what is easier to tow, maneuver, control and most importantly back up, single or duel axle trailer's? Thank you for any kind help!

It's a noticeable difference. The tandem is significantly better in all respects.
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Old 11-22-2014, 06:20 PM   #5
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We have a 19' Bambi and the single axels are less forgiving than the dual axels. We have had our Bambi for four years and love her! It all depends on the size of the trailer you want. We love ours but a long way from retirement. A 25-27 will be in our future once we can spend more than 10 days traveling.
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Old 11-22-2014, 06:37 PM   #6
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We went from a 22ft Sport (single axle) to a 25ft FC. So here are the differences I found.

Single axle: maneuvering was easier (backing was more responsive and easier). However I was always in fear of getting a flat.

Dual axle: handles a lot better, more stable on the highway. More comfortable, not worried about getting a flat.

We love the 25ft, well worth the upgrade


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Old 11-22-2014, 06:48 PM   #7
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I have had both and not found a great amount of difference in handling. But I feel more secure with two axles if a tire should blow.

You can even tow the trailer - albeit slowly - on three wheels if need be, although I have not done it.

Another plus with a dual axle is that if you need to remove a wheel, you can simply pull the adjacent trailer wheel up on a ramp and the other wheel on that side will be suspended in mid-air for easy removal. No need to mess with jacks, and I think safer.

I do that all the time when greasing wheel bearings.

You buy interlocking plastic plates, each about a foot square and you can build a ramp with them or use them as pads under the trailer tongue jack and/or stabilizers. One brand name is "Lynx Levelers" you buy them in sets of ten at Camping World, or for about half price at Walmart! You need two sets to make a ramp for wheel changing - about $35 a set at Walmart I think.

I would not be very happy to go back to a single axled trailer - but I was ok with one when I owned it, and can't say I ever really had any problem!


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Old 11-22-2014, 06:54 PM   #8
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Blowing a tire on a single axle can do a lot of damage. I replaced the stock 15 inch Goodyear Marathons with Michelin LT M/S2 tires and 16 inch wheels on our 19. The Michelin's are much more reliable than the GYMs.

An Airstream friend of ours blew a tire on their 20 foot Flying Cloud a couple of weeks ago at the top of the Tejon Pass on I5 north of LA. They spun around and faced on-coming traffic. Pretty scary. They shredded the tire and destroyed the Goodyear Marathons as well as the wheel that came with the trailer.
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Old 11-22-2014, 08:29 PM   #9
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My experience with blowing a tire on single vs. dual axle Airstreams is that with a single axle you know it immediately and you will stop quickly prior to damage from flailing rubber pieces. With a dual axle, you may not realize that you have blown a tire at all, and the resulting rubber damage to the trailer can be quite severe.

I run 16" wheels and LT tires on both of my 20' single axel trailers, but would do the same with a dual axel one if I owned one now.

Having had both singles and duals, I really never found much difference between them overall. The dual axle ones may seem a bit smoother when towing but the difference to me has seemed pretty small.
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Old 11-22-2014, 08:55 PM   #10
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Resistance to side loads from wind, and in braking. More rubber on the road and spreading the load. Problems more critical with only two tires/brakes.
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Old 11-22-2014, 09:11 PM   #11
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We've had both.

I like the tandem axles because if there is a flat we can remove it and move on (slower and limited distance) on three tires. However with Michelin 16" XL on either trailer the chance of a blown tire is so remote it's hardly worth considering.

I think a single axle is easier to back because it's shorter, just back slowly and use small steering corrections, and it doesn't scuff tires sideways when you turn. A tandem axle must be perfectly level fore/aft when towing to equalize axle loads, not a big deal for single axle.
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Old 11-22-2014, 09:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AS Wantabe View Post
Hello, I am rookie when it comes to towing a trailer. I am still a few years away from retiring and spending my kids inheritance money but I like to do alot of research before buying a big ticket item like an Airstream. So my first of many questions is, what is easier to tow, maneuver, control and most importantly back up, single or duel axle trailer's? Thank you for any kind help!
A tandem is better than a single, and a triaxle Airstream is better than a tandem.

Backing up is more of a skill, than terror.

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Old 11-22-2014, 10:01 PM   #13
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My experience with blowing a tire on single vs. dual axle Airstreams is that with a single axle you know it immediately and you will stop quickly prior to damage from flailing rubber pieces. With a dual axle, you may not realize that you have blown a tire at all, and the resulting rubber damage to the trailer can be quite severe.
We run a TPMS (temperature and pressure monitoring system) on our 23D tandem axle trailer. Alarms sound if a tire's pressure is low or blown. Gives advance warning of pressure loss or immediate feedback for catastrophic failure.
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Old 11-23-2014, 06:58 AM   #14
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We run a TPMS (temperature and pressure monitoring system) on our 23D tandem axle trailer. Alarms sound if a tire's pressure is low or blown. Gives advance warning of pressure loss or immediate feedback for catastrophic failure.
That is the main reason I also use a TPMS - to reduce chances of damage in the event of a flat that I might not otherwise know about, and which could then fly apart and cause serious damage.

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Old 11-23-2014, 08:16 AM   #15
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Coming from a single axle Bambi II to a duel axle Safari 23 I find the larger trailer more comfortable to tow and much easier to back up.
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Old 11-23-2014, 10:09 AM   #16
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We run a TPMS (temperature and pressure monitoring system) on our 23D tandem axle trailer. Alarms sound if a tire's pressure is low or blown. Gives advance warning of pressure loss or immediate feedback for catastrophic failure.
Believe me when I tell you when the TPMS alarms after the blowout, the damage to the trailer is already done. Been there, done that, to the tune of about $2500, and it could have easily been lots more.

The TPMS will only save you with a slow leak of air pressure and probably in that instance prevent a blowout. When we had our blowout last June, we both heard the noise (Booom!), and then a few seconds later, beep, beep, beep. Too late, the damage was already done.

The moral of this story is, inspect your trailer tires for any damage or bulging on the thread at your every opportunity. Radial tires almost always fail after a thread separation.
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Old 11-23-2014, 10:46 AM   #17
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Believe me when I tell you when the TPMS alarms after the blowout, the damage to the trailer is already done. Been there, done that, to the tune of about $2500, and it could have easily been lots more.

The TPMS will only save you with a slow leak of air pressure and probably in that instance prevent a blowout. When we had our blowout last June, we both heard the noise (Booom!), and then a few seconds later, beep, beep, beep. Too late, the damage was already done.

The moral of this story is, inspect your trailer tires for any damage or bulging on the thread at your every opportunity. Radial tires almost always fail after a thread separation.
Steve hit it on the head.

Today's technology provides many gadgets and gizmo's to make pulling a travel trailer much safer.

BUT, the gizmo we all have is our eyes.

A walk around check, of the trailer or motorhome, should really be mandatory, for safety reasons as well as others, prior to getting behind the steering wheel.

Many problems, especially tires, usually give a little notice before becoming a huge problem.

Five years is the typical life of tires, in part depending on the climate they are exposed to, hot weather being the culprit, then perhaps changing them every 4 to 4 1/2 years, is a better way to do it.

Safety has it's costs.

Unsafe and/or assuming,most always, has far greater costs and inconveniences.

Have a blowout on a trip, and you instantly, almost always say, "damn I should have...........".

Fixing potential problems before hand is always far cheaper than when they happen. Not to even mention the stresses that go with it. And of course, the comments from MAMA, most often, are not printable.

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Old 11-23-2014, 11:41 AM   #18
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I can add this fact,, Tandem axles a person is more apt to pick up a nail or hardware kicked up from the front tire into the rear one.

Farming with single axle semis tractors and trailers,, we seldom would we have a flat due to a nail but now with full sized 18 wheeler semis with tandems,, we have to keep our speed below 40mph while driving on dirt roads.. Keeping the speed down cuts down flats 10 fold. Sodbust.
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Old 11-23-2014, 11:56 AM   #19
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Believe me when I tell you when the TPMS alarms after the blowout, the damage to the trailer is already done. Been there, done that, to the tune of about $2500, and it could have easily been lots more.

The TPMS will only save you with a slow leak of air pressure and probably in that instance prevent a blowout. When we had our blowout last June, we both heard the noise (Booom!), and then a few seconds later, beep, beep, beep. Too late, the damage was already done.

The moral of this story is, inspect your trailer tires for any damage or bulging on the thread at your every opportunity. Radial tires almost always fail after a thread separation.
Agreed that would be so with a sudden blowout. But it seems to me I have often read that most blowouts result from tires that have developed leaks and heat up because people keep running on them unaware that they are seriously below the correct pressure.

That is the kind of situation that I was hoping a TPMS might help me to avoid.

I do fully agree with your suggestion to closely examine all wheels/tires before and after each trip an also whenever you make a stop en route whether you have a TPMS or not. Something I do pretty religiously!


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Old 11-23-2014, 12:15 PM   #20
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Agreed that would be so with a sudden blowout. But it seems to me I have often read that most blowouts result from tires that have developed leaks and heat up because people keep running on them unaware that they are seriously below the correct pressure.

Brian.
Brian, obviously this can and does happen, but it has been my observation from my experiences, experiences of friends, and talks with tire retailers that see the bad tires come in for replacement, the vast majority of radial tire failures are due to separation of the belt from the carcass.

At least, this is what happens in this hot country we live in down here. How they fail in the environment you live and drive in may be a different story.

Once the separation is advanced, the carcass blows, and the tread departs the carcass, (almost simultaneously) which is what does the majority of the damage to our light built, and fragile aluminum trailers.
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