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Old 12-17-2011, 07:57 PM   #21
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1993 21' Sovereign
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I don't know why everybody continues to insist if the trailing arm is horizontal when the trailer weight is on it, the axle is shot. Per Henschen, Axis, Al-Ko,and Dexter, a torsion axle with a 22.5 degree starting angle will be at zero degrees when loaded to its capacity.
if you remove the weight, like jacking the trailer up off its wheels, and the trailing arm doesn't drop, then the rubber inside has hardened, and the axle will need to be replaced.
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Old 12-17-2011, 09:14 PM   #22
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Star Kitty, nice blog and nice trailer! I noticed an improvement in how the trailer towed, but I don't think our old axle was totally shot- I was not too springy and was causing rivets to shear from vibration, but I imagine it could be worse. The stories of wheels coming free made clinched it for me to decide to replace.
Thanks Globie. It's been fun for sure.

I don't think mine was shot either. I got two different visually inspected opinions and both parties said it was unnecessary. But I decided to replace it because most vintage owners recommended it.

I'm glad I did it for the piece of mind.
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Old 12-17-2011, 09:50 PM   #23
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As some wise soul once said:

"Use it or lose it!"

When we bought our 78 Ambassador three+ years ago, the axles had taken a 'set' and wouldn't retract fully when the weight was taken off of them...

From the existing notes that were on-board, the AS sat in storage for many years during the second half of it's life till then...

Those rubber rod 'muscles' do indeed become ineffective when they sit around without any exercise...

Andy fixed us up with a nice shiny new pair of axles that bolted right up without any difficulty...all it takes is $$$

When looking at an older AS to buy, it's probably best to just figure in the cost of new axle (s) with your purchase...

I can't say enough about the change in 'ride quality' after I'd changed the axles...we had taken 4 or 5 trips before the 'change', and it was all the difference in the world with the new axles and shocks installed!!!
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:14 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mexray View Post
As some wise soul once said:

"Use it or lose it!"

When we bought our 78 Ambassador three+ years ago, the axles had taken a 'set' and wouldn't retract fully when the weight was taken off of them...

From the existing notes that were on-board, the AS sat in storage for many years during the second half of it's life till then...

Those rubber rod 'muscles' do indeed become ineffective when they sit around without any exercise...

Andy fixed us up with a nice shiny new pair of axles that bolted right up without any difficulty...all it takes is $$$

When looking at an older AS to buy, it's probably best to just figure in the cost of new axle (s) with your purchase...

I can't say enough about the change in 'ride quality' after I'd changed the axles...we had taken 4 or 5 trips before the 'change', and it was all the difference in the world with the new axles and shocks installed!!!
Ray, did you notice "before" you would find loose or missing rivets inside, and did that stop when you replaced the axles?
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Old 12-18-2011, 09:30 AM   #25
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We installed a new axle on our 65 Safari 2 years ago. Before the install we did have sheared rivets inside and noticed the sharp jolts from the trailer through the hitch. After the install we gained 3" rise and a smooth as glass ride. We then installed a set of Centramatics and noticed an even smoother ride. Well worth the expense and effort IMO.
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:37 AM   #26
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axles

It isn't that the axles are just horizontal. My trailer is almost gutted, no weight on it now. Also, I had sheared rivets and missing rivets and the outriggers that had sliced through the lower skin. This is why I looked at the axles in the first place. But thats good advice to also check to see if they move when trailer is jacked up. Could save someone a few bucks if theirs are still good. I believe mine were the original axles from the condition of the outside. So, gonna throw some more money at it. At least till the insurance money runs out. Mery Christmas. Jim
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Old 12-26-2011, 10:09 PM   #27
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It's great to see all the responses. I towed ours Globie home 125 mi after the new axle was installed and didn't notice any sheared rivets, a positive change. It seems like a good investment for peace of mind, better if you can do it yourself, but worth $1k bucks to get it done right and quickly. I'm a lifelong DIYer but I have to draw the line somewhere.
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Old 12-27-2011, 05:28 AM   #28
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I replaced my axles 3 yrs ago. I gained 4 " in height ( the trailer did) and I did see a noticeable differnce in ride. Our TP would unroll,paper towel would unroll and there were popped rivets in the wheel well area.We would have cabinet doors open in transit. The final straw was we lost the mirror on the back of the bathroom door. We have rivets working in the interior also,you could tell by the little gray area around the rivet heads. We now leave things on the counter and on the couch andhave never had an open cabinet since I made the axle change. I think it was money well spent.
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:03 PM   #29
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I decided to replace the axles on the '74 Argosy '26. Today I removed the rear axle. Not a difficult job. All 4 bolts were removed without much effort, minimal rust.
BUT!!! To my surprise when I cleaned up the nameplate to read the data I find that the axle is rated for 2800#. Not only that, but this particular axle was 4 years old when installed. Manufacture date was 1970.
Another fine job by AS!!!
So for all of these years when the trailer was loaded to it's max GVWR rating of 6200# per the plate on the trailer the axles have been running at their absolute capacity taking into consideration that the tongue weight (10%) about 600#.
The trailer had considerable movement vertically when I would walk thru it without the stabilizer jacks deployed, so they hadn't lost their resilience totally. The trailer has settled over the years judging from the fact the 15" rim is about even with the top of the wheel well, especially on the street (heavier) side.
Needless to say, I am disappointed in what I found, I did not expect the axles to be 4 years old when installed let alone be loaded to the max capacity. I would have thought there would have been somewhat of a buffer on the axle capacity.
Makes me wonder what goes on at AS today. Do they through whatever they have on hand under these units.
So when I buy new axles. What should the rating be? I would think a 3200# axle would be the proper rating since it is tandem totaling 6400# on a 6200# trailer. Is two 3500# axles too much for this trailer?
The last time I weighed the unit it came in at 5500# ready for travel.
Now, I realize the axles don't carry their weight, I'm guessing they weigh 300# each with the tires and rims. Only the tires carry the total weight. So their would be a 600# buffer if my weight numbers on the axles and tires is correct. Was. This AS's thinking.
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:13 PM   #30
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Another quick note. Even with 42 year old axles, the trailer pulled just fine. No jarring or signs of rivets popping inside or on the exterior. Makes me think I want to go with 2800# axles. Then be keenly aware of the GVW when loaded for the road.
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:18 PM   #31
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2011-1970=41

old when installed, and overloaded. but they performed 41 years! you are disappointed? Why did you take out the rear axle? perhaps I am missing something...5500 loaded is not more than these axles were rated...even at 6200 they obviously were okay because they lasted 41 years. What did you want out of those axles? 65 years of life and a free replacement from the manufacturer? The newness of the ride and peace of mind from replacing axles on any trailer over 25 years old is worth the price in my opinion. just sayin'
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:32 PM   #32
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TG,
The tag on the trailer should tell you what the axle rating should be. There should be a separate line item for the front and rear axle. Both together will not be as much as the GVWR listed on the tag. Remember there will always be some weight on the tongue.
Here is a picture of a trailer tag that shows the axle rating on a tandem 22' trailer I used to own. Only 1850 lb axles - but notice the GVWR is 4200 lbs.

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Old 12-27-2011, 03:08 PM   #33
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Another quick note. Even with 42 year old axles, the trailer pulled just fine. No jarring or signs of rivets popping inside or on the exterior. Makes me think I want to go with 2800# axles. Then be keenly aware of the GVW when loaded for the road.
The 1974 Argosy parts book lists a 2800 pound axle for a 26 and 28 foot Argosy.

You can increase that to 3000 or 3200 pounds if you wish.

You can also increase it to 3500 pounds, BUT only if you will always travel with a heavy payload including a full water tank.

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Old 12-27-2011, 03:25 PM   #34
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Wmarsha: no I didn't expect the axles to last for any longer than they have and I'm not sure how many miles are on the originals. My query was about the ratings of the axles although at this point I'm not sure the front axle has the same rating as the rear or even if it was made in the same year. Referring to a 4 year old axle being installed on a new trailer. From my understanding: Age and the lack of "exercise" have an impact on the life of this type of axle. I fail to see the difference of the axle being on the trailer or on the shelf. It will still age and since it was on the shelf there was no opportunity for exercise. Would you be happy with something that was built using 4 year old parts? Even if it is 38 years old. I doubt it. If AS did it back then. What makes you think they aren't doing it today? They may be using fresh parts, but again they could be 10 years old. How would you know without reading the manufacturers plate?
I pulled the trailer up on blocks under the front axle much as one would if you were changing a tire or doing maintenance. I feel it is much safer to replace the axles one at a time while the opposite axle is supporting the trailer as opposed to having it on jack stands or blocks. Once the new rear axle and tires are in place I will back the trailer on to the blocks and while the rear axle supports the weight I will replace the front axle. I just makes sense to me to work in a safe manor.
Back to the age thing. I have read here on the forums where axles are being replaced on trailers less than ten years old. Maybe it's because 10 year old axles were installed on a new trailer. Now the axles is really 20 years old.
I consider myself lucky that these axles have given good service for all of these years without causing the damage to the trailer you so often read about here on the forum. If it weren't for the fact that they are riding so high (trailer riding low) I would not be replacing them at all. My concern has been that if the tire rides any higher it may hit the wheel well and cause damage that wouldn't occur with new axles.
What I want to avoid is beating the trailer to death because the new axles don't ride as smooth as the originals.
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Old 12-27-2011, 03:55 PM   #35
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Yup! The nameplate calls out 2800# axle on both front and rear.
Thanks for the info Andy.
Andy: Can you PM me with a price quote for 2 axles rated at 2800# plus shipping to 69358-4014? Thanks!
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:06 AM   #36
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I would recommend going with the higher than stock down angle on the new axle. It really helps with going in and out of fuel stations that have a steep angled approach.
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Old 12-31-2011, 11:27 PM   #37
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New axles are on my 68 Ambassador International. Thanks Andy. They fit perfect, no mods to my trailer or axles required. Glad you had them in stock when I called. What would the torque on the 5/8 bolts be for the mounting bolts to the frame. Raised the trailer about 2 inches or so.
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Old 01-01-2012, 12:10 AM   #38
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New axles are on my 68 Ambassador International. Thanks Andy. They fit perfect, no mods to my trailer or axles required. Glad you had them in stock when I called. What would the torque on the 5/8 bolts be for the mounting bolts to the frame. Raised the trailer about 2 inches or so.
Since the supplied hardware is grade 8, you can torque them up to 100 pounds, or even more, if you wish.

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Old 01-01-2012, 05:38 AM   #39
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I would recommend going with the higher than stock down angle on the new axle. It really helps with going in and out of fuel stations that have a steep angled approach.
Not singling you out here, you just are helping to make my point, for raising the start angle falls into the same category as tires, hitches, and unfortunately axles...

I would NOT recommend changing your start angle. You have a vintage rig and they just do not look good all jacked up. One of the main reasons we are attracted to these trailers is their incredible design and aesthetics. Raising the body changes all the visual lines. If Wally had wanted them higher, don't you think you would have made them higher? Maybe we should jack up the corvette a little, they ride real close to the ground. Those Lamborghinies and Ferraris ride fairly close to the road too. My point is, an Airstream looks much better the way Wally designed them.
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Old 01-01-2012, 09:09 AM   #40
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The "low profile" older Airstreams were also towed by "low profile" tow vehicles, like cars.

Today, it's a different story.

Almost every tow vehicle today, is "high profile" like trucks.

Raising the trailer by a couple of inches, according to Airstream and Henschen, has zero side effects, and does gain some positive effects, like making it easier to get in and out of driveways as well as service stations.

Service stations, many years ago, usually were not elevated like they are today.

Our records show that only "one owner" out of almost 1000, wanted to stay with the original starting angle.

But, once again, to each his own.

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