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Old 10-07-2020, 08:05 PM   #1
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2004 28' Classic
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Axle Replacement 2004 Classic

I started my axle replacement on my 2004 Classic 28 last weekend. I jacked up the trailer on Sunday and loosened the eight bolts holding the Henschen axles in place. On Monday, I picked up the new axles in Ft Collins. They have a three inch lift built in plus a 22.5 degree down angle, 4700 pound rating on each, never lube bearings and never adjust brakes. I took off the front axle on Tuesday (about one hours work) and installed the new front axle today (about three hours work). The front axle was easy. No major issues. Easier to put in than new axles and a three inch lift kit. I expected the rear axles to be more challenging.

Below are pictures with the old axles on the trailer, the new axles, and today, with the front axle installed.

I start on the rear axles removal tomorrow. More to follow...
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Old 10-07-2020, 08:33 PM   #2
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Dave, we have a 2005 28’ Classic. So I’m watching this closely, what caused you to replace the axles?
Hopefully mine will last a little longer.
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Old 10-07-2020, 09:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KYShelby View Post
Dave, we have a 2005 28’ Classic. So I’m watching this closely, what caused you to replace the axles?
Hopefully mine will last a little longer.
I wanted to lift my trailer to make it easier to get in and out of my driveway, so I started paying more attention to the suspension.

The first thing I noticed was that the trailer was sitting very low and that when I jacketed it up, the wheels hardly dropped down at all. The trailer also pulled very roughly over washboard gravel roads.

I then did some research on this website, Inland RV's website and communicating with knowledgeable people. I learned that the axle arms should have a positive down angle when loaded. Mine were less than 1 degree on three wheels and negative on one wheel. I also learned that the wheels should drop (articulate) at least one inch when the trailer is jacked up (3 inches according to Inland). Mine were less than 3/4s inches.

The effective life of torsion bar axles is estimated at 15 to 20 years by the industry. It can be shorter if the trailer is not used a lot and just sits there. The two previous owners of my trailer had used the trailer very little.

It becomes a judgement call, but I knew they were coming to the end of their usable life soon, so I decided to do it now rather than wait, and get the advantage of the higher ride height.

Here is the link to the Inland website https://inlandrv.com/dura-torque-axle-article/

Feel free to ask me more questions. Good luck!
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Old 10-08-2020, 05:44 AM   #4
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Dave,

Yeah rear might be a little more involved due to potential pan interference, you'll figure it out.

Folks might be interested in side by side shot of new vs old to show built in lift. I didn't know Dexter offered that.

Gary
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Old 10-08-2020, 12:46 PM   #5
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Gary,

Good idea!

The picture on the left is the old axle with a one inch lift bracket. Airstream uses this as their standard axle. The second picture on the right is the new axle with the three inch rise in the bracket. This gives an effective lift of two inches in the bracket in comparison to the old bracket and I get another inch from the 22.5 degree axle arm. Thus, my lift should effectively be three inches total compared to the old set-up
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Old 10-08-2020, 02:35 PM   #6
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I see this in my future

Very interested in this project please overload us with pictures as you progress.
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Old 10-08-2020, 03:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KYShelby View Post
Dave, we have a 2005 28’ Classic. So I’m watching this closely, what caused you to replace the axles?
Hopefully mine will last a little longer.
With ours it was simply age.
The inside edge of the front curbside tire started waring out a BN GYE.
I thought at first I had a bent axle, turns out the rubber in that side had failed. I went with standard lift 4000lb,(3500std), with conventional bearings. Work was done at JC in August.
Nothing is for never.

Bob
🇺🇸

POI I babied our axles since new. Our Classic had 3500 with a AS GVWR of 7500lb.
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Old 10-08-2020, 07:58 PM   #8
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Finished hooking up brakes and machining out the mounting holes for the front axles. Installation complete for the front!!

First picture is the difference in the axles heights. Second picture is with about half the trailer weight on the front axle. You can see a sizable difference. Part of that is the articulation of the new axle. Some of that will be reduced with the full weight of the trailer.

Tomorrow, I remove the rear axles (hopefully!).
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Old 10-09-2020, 04:41 AM   #9
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Can you post a copy of your order/specification sheet? Alternatively, the details on the labels affixed to the axle tubes?
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Old 10-09-2020, 07:50 AM   #10
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Dexter Order Form

Here is the order form I sent to my axle guy who then sent the information to Redneck Trailer Supplies. They confirmed that the three inch mounting bracket was available for the 4700 pound axle.
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File Type: pdf Order form for Classic 28 Axles 072020 (2).pdf (523.3 KB, 22 views)
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Old 10-09-2020, 04:59 PM   #11
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Rear Axle

This afternoon, I removed the pan for the gray and black tank, and removed the rear axles. Took about four hours.

The mounting brackets for the axle were hooked over the edge of the pan on both sides, so there was not choice. It seems that Airstream does everyone of these differently. I will be modifying the pan to make it easier to put back in and remove in the future.

The big empty space is where the new rear axle will go in...
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Old 10-10-2020, 04:59 AM   #12
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Thank you very much for posting your order sheet. New axles are on my to-do list in the spring.
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Old 10-10-2020, 08:52 AM   #13
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Nice job on the axle replacement. I like the idea of the higher brackets vs the standard size. When I replaced I went with 32 degree down angle because they were not doing the high brackets.
The tank pan is definitely a pain in the butt.......I have had that less than wonderful experience too.
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Old 10-10-2020, 08:08 PM   #14
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Rear Axle

After experimenting with the front axle, I documented the rear axles install a bit more.

The first two pictures show maneuvering the axle into place with furniture dollies at both ends. The added advantage of this is that the drum brakes sitting in the dollies keep the axle from trying to rotate. You will see if you try this...

The third (sideway picture) shows the position of the jack to raise the axle brackets up into position without the axle rotating (get the jack under the flat part of the axle bracket on the bottom). Raise each end of the axle a few inches at a time for it to slide between the two sides of the frame and align to mounting holes. Jack the axles up high enough that they are tight against the frame. Then put the screws into the mounting holes and torque them down to 140 foot pounds.

The fourth picture shows the mounting hole(s) I had to machine out with a die grinder. My trailer had Henschen axles which had narrower mounting hole placement (off about 1/4 of an inch).

The last picture shows the rear axles in place. I will put the tires on after I finish reinstalling the pan. This all took about four hours.
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Old 10-11-2020, 08:18 PM   #15
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So, here is the final take. Completed putting the tank pans back in today and got the trailer off of the jack stands. This resulted in in just over a three inch lift from where we were with our worn-out axles. Very happy with the new ride height. Should allow us to go in and out of the driveway without changing hitches and give us more clearance for boondocking!!

Pictures are before and after.
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Old 10-11-2020, 08:40 PM   #16
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Pan

BTW, putting the pan back in was a PITA as many have reported!! I put in new foam insulation and squishing it all into place was not easy. Tanks are much better insulated now than what the factory did. I also had to cut down the two forward facing corners to accommodate the three inch lift brackets.

My DW documented the efforts...
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Old 10-13-2020, 07:41 PM   #17
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Just an FYI, as an after-thought. I had most of the tools, floor jacks, jack stands, die grinders, etc. from prior hobbies/experiences to do this install. If you would need to buy all of this stuff, it would be cost prohibitive and I would recommend having some one who does this kind of work, do it for you. It is not for the faint of heart to do this install. I did four hour stints doing this work. After 5 days of crawling/sliding around under the trailer, I was ready for a couple of days rest!
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Old 10-14-2020, 07:22 AM   #18
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Big tools and a supply of bandaids. It don’t get any better than that.
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Old 10-14-2020, 08:06 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveP View Post
So, here is the final take. Completed putting the tank pans back in today and got the trailer off of the jack stands. This resulted in in just over a three inch lift from where we were with our worn-out axles. Very happy with the new ride height. Should allow us to go in and out of the driveway without changing hitches and give us more clearance for boondocking!!

Pictures are before and after.
TETO for sure.

Bob
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Old 10-14-2020, 08:15 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveP View Post
After 5 days of crawling/sliding around under the trailer,
I hate to use a creeper on pavers. Annoying enough I'd have to get some more plywood to roll on. I wished many times I had a die grinder when I did mine. I used the old 5/8" drill bit to ream out the necessary bolt holes but a die grinder would have been much more professional.

Looks good and congratulations.
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