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Old 02-25-2015, 03:31 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1972 27' Overlander
Sioux City , Iowa
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 5
Axle hacks

I'm putting a new set of axles on my '72 27' Overlander. Actually, the local trailer shop is. Based on what I've read here, I could handle it myself but due to current weather conditions I think it would be better to pull it into a shop. What I'm looking for here is tips and suggestions from the folks who've done it. Things like being sure to mount the shock to the axle before mounting the axle to the frame. Torque requirements on lugs, brake parts, etc. How long it took per axle. Really just some things I can maybe print off for the installer to help prevent surprises. The complete axles are ordered and shipped so hopefully we don't have to go into "who from" and "why there?" So far I've been PB Blasting for a week and hoping the ground stays froze so I can get it pulled out of where it's at. I've read just about every axle thread on here and I'm looking forward to a concise, constructive thread of helpful suggestions for the project.
(Perhaps when it's done I'll update how it went and maybe even divulge "from who" and "why there?' for the folks who think they have to know. Maybe.)

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Old 03-02-2015, 08:59 AM   #2
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Belegedhel's Avatar
1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,715
Well, here are my two cents, in concise form. Shouldn't be any new information here:

1) Ordering axles (I know this wasn't requested): You can order from one of the known, and much discussed suppliers, or make your own measurements and have an axle built by some utility trailer supplier. My experience was that the extra cost of going with the "known" was nominal, and the axle fit perfectly. It was worth it to go this route rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Order complete axles, with the brakes and "bearing buddies" already installed. It isn't worth it to try to reuse 40 year old brake assemblies.

2) Shocks: Order only the "official" Airstream shocks, which are designed to be installed in a horizontal position. Install the shocks on the axle before putting the axle on the trailer. There is a link from that shows a video describing how to replace shocks without removing the axle, in case you do things out of order. Also, some axles will arrive with the shock mount in place, but no shock stud welded on. The studs can be ordered from the "known suppliers" as well.

3) If you are doing a shell off rennovation, and are using gantry frames to flip your frame, I recommend flipping the frame and installing all insulation, tanks, and bellypan with the bottom of the frame facing up. Final step is to lower the axle into place--much easier than jacking the axle into place from underneath the trailer. On the other hand, if you are not doing a shell off with gantries, it makes sense to wait until your rennovation is almost done to change the axles.

4) The maintenance manual for my year of trailer didn't list the torque spec for the axle mounting bolts. So I came up with my own spec based on the diameter and grade of the bolts, and what it took to fully compress the lock washers. I won't publish here, as I don't want to steer anyone wrong if my figures aren't correct.

That's it--I found axle replacement to be one of the easier projects for a vintage trailer. There are dangers involved (ie., working under the trailer, lifting the heavy axle into place, etc. that must be considered).

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Old 04-03-2015, 09:34 PM   #3
3 Rivet Member
1976 31' Sovereign
Springfield , South Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 237
I removed the old wore out 3500 lb axles on 76 Sovereign and replaced them with 5200 lb axles by myself. It was a little slow on the first one as it took me about 8 hours to think through and get all the stuff lined up to do the job and I developed a procedure utilizing jack stands and a 3 ton jack.

Here is a pic of the first axle installed and ready. A good representation of what a worn out axle looks like and a new one with 22į down angle.


Send me a PM with your phone number and I will call you and walk you through it. I have unlimited long distance plan. Got more pics.
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Old 04-03-2015, 09:43 PM   #4
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2018 23' Flying Cloud
Huntsville , Alabama
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 248
Nice job. That's a big task by yourself.

16' Sport 2015
Sent from my iPhone using Airstream Forums
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:20 PM   #5
3 Rivet Member
1976 31' Sovereign
Springfield , South Carolina
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 237
I actually wasn't that hard once I figured out the procedure which included cutting the side plate on the frame to open it up to accept the new axle which was about 3/4 wider. I also had to add some 3/8" spacers and I made them extra long to distribute the load to the frame better.

The first one took about 9 hours all together. Once I figured out the game plan it took me four hours on the second one. It is absolutely critical to have a 3 ton jack as it is just way to heavy to hold up there yourself.

I also fabbed a template to guide me where to cut axle.

Note thin line in how much I had to relieve the side plate to fit the new heavier axles. I figured Airstream had done a superb job of drilling the side holes in the proper place and I sure did not want to elongate or relocate with new hole or elongated hole on trailer. Thusly I made up a template from the new axle and clamped it in place and scribed the line exactly where it needed to be.

Once I cut out the U shape I was good to go.


I figure that had I had a helper it would have gone faster. As it was I had my best buddy to keep me company.

He is gone now and I miss him so much.
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