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Old 02-05-2010, 01:11 PM   #1
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Axles

Everyone is always talking about axel replacement. I talk to a guy at an airstream service who said he had never, in 45 years, seen an axel fail except in the case of burnt bearings or a wreck. So whats up with this? He told me people were just selling axels. Is he wrong in spite of his experience? I'm confused
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Old 02-05-2010, 01:22 PM   #2
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Axles are made with rubber rods inside of them, and over time the rubber solidifies, and you have NO suspension. The axle doesn't blow up or fall off, it just stops being effective, and your Airstream pays the price.

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Old 02-05-2010, 01:48 PM   #3
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You want proof, jack up your trailer, take the tire off and set the trailer down on a jack stand. Now put a jack under the brake drum and jack it up to see how dead the rubber is. It should move 5 " before it raises off the jack stand. Your's will propably move 1" or less. Thats how much movement you have before it shakes the trailer apart.
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Old 02-05-2010, 01:50 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by lahrfarm View Post
Everyone is always talking about axel replacement. I talk to a guy at an airstream service who said he had never, in 45 years, seen an axel fail except in the case of burnt bearings or a wreck. So whats up with this? He told me people were just selling axels. Is he wrong in spite of his experience? I'm confused
Hi lahrfarm;
Torsion axle works on a principal of rubber rods inserted in to the corners of the main axle tube. The square end of a torsion arm is pressed in at 45 degree angle into the axle tube while the four rubber rods occupy corners of axle tube and flat sides of the torsion arm stub. The square stub of the torsion arm is pressed into the axle tube compressing the four rubber rods. As the torsion arm pivots under load and the rubber rods compress, thus offering soft progressive suspension. With time rubber looses it's elasticity mainly by growing in length and by deterioration. This limits the down travel [lift] of the torsion arm and tires can bottom out in your fender well. This may not be experienced on a level road but bumps may permit the tire to contact the inner fender. If you notice any tire rub marks in the fender well, it is time for new axles. Bent and out of line spindles is another reason for replacement. Thank, "boatdoc"
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Old 02-05-2010, 02:17 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by lahrfarm View Post
Everyone is always talking about axel replacement. I talk to a guy at an airstream service who said he had never, in 45 years, seen an axel fail except in the case of burnt bearings or a wreck. So whats up with this? He told me people were just selling axels. Is he wrong in spite of his experience? I'm confused
Actually, his statement could be true. He may never have been present at the time an axle actually failed so he never saw it. Perhaps he uses a different definition of "failed". But there is no doubt that axles can and do become unable to perform their function properly due to age, neglect, disuse, or misuse. There are ways to determine if your axle is in need of replacement.
One other thing to keep in mind: experience is of little value, if one doesn't how to use it.
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Old 02-05-2010, 02:30 PM   #6
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on this topic; fiance wants to install a utility trailer axle - its like $250 - his argument is ... "Why Not"?

i dont know the answer!!! this seems like something i dont want to do though. can anyone make the argument?
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Old 02-05-2010, 02:30 PM   #7
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We have two cracks in our frame as proof that his statement is incorrect- one at each end of the axle mounting plate on the curb side. Our axle was "frozen" in place due to hardened rubber rods, so the trailing arms were at a good angle, but the torsion bar wasn't absorbing bumps and vibration from the road. It's fixable, but it's also preventable- test what you have thoroughly or get a new axle before you do any serious travel.


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Old 02-05-2010, 02:41 PM   #8
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Axles

Personally, I don't think rubber torsion axles are worth a @#$@#$@#@$.

My '87 Avion has fully independant swing arm suspension with six independent coil packs and shocks. It rides like a cloud. And, it doesn't wear out like the rubber ones do.


That being said, there is a reason that Wally went to the rubber torsion axle around 1960: A lesser parts count, they work great when they're new, and there's not much to go wrong!

Wally Byam never envisioned them being 30 years old.

The rubber axles work well when they're new. But, they do have a definite shelf life.

Truth is, when they get to be about 15 years old, it's time to replace them. And, they are not really that expensive. You just buy one/two/three new axles and bolt them into the holes where you pulled the old ones off. You them reuse your existing hubs/brakes/etc.

They're a good design, but with a shelf life.

If you want something to last longer, then you need a different design.

Leaf springs work excellently. The problem with them (if you read Wally's 1959 book) is that they can snag on stuff in lower Africa and get broken. If you're just tooling about the U.S.A. then leaf springs are excellent. But if you're dragging your 'stream down trails that a LandRover or Jeep would fear, then you want a simpler more rugged design. The torsion axles fill that bill. They are more rugged...but the price you pay is shelf life.

Anyway, the dude that told you that is wrong. If your axles are over 15 years old they are toast. Call Inland Andy and get some new Henshen's sent your way. Or, call the folks at Dexter with EXACT measurements and they'll hook you up,

See ya on the road!
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Old 02-05-2010, 02:44 PM   #9
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Because it's the wrong part. Your whole trailer relies upon the axle for its suspension. If it's not the right axle you will have much more expensive problems in the future and the 5 or 6 hundred dollars you saved on the axle will go right into frame repairs, popped rivets, and all of the other problems encountered by folks who drove with bad axles. It's not that much more to do it right and remember, a lot of it is his labor, so using the wrong part could cause that time to have been wasted.

Rich the Viking

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Originally Posted by NJtoNC View Post
on this topic; fiance wants to install a utility trailer axle - its like $250 - his argument is ... "Why Not"?

i dont know the answer!!! this seems like something i dont want to do though. can anyone make the argument?
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Old 02-05-2010, 02:55 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by NJtoNC View Post
on this topic; fiance wants to install a utility trailer axle - its like $250 - his argument is ... "Why Not"?

i don't know the answer!!! this seems like something i don't want to do though. can anyone make the argument?
First of all, since he is only a fiancÚ, is the trailer all yours?
Then do what you want. Now is a good time to lay down the rules.

If he owns part of the trailer, then I guess you need a reason.

Is the axle the same physical size? Does it have the same weight rating?
Too heavy and too light are both bad. Is the camber correct? Etc.
If it seems identical in every way, call an expert, like Dexter Axle's tech support and ask for their advice.

Regards,
Ken
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Old 02-05-2010, 02:56 PM   #11
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<possible thread hijack>

What would be nice are steel torsion bar axles rather than rubber ones. Cars (and tanks!) have used torsion bars extensively; they work well but finding space for them can be awkward; w/ our trailers that's not a problem. Note that coil springs are really coiled torsion bars....

Such a design could have the longevity of leaf springs with the compactness and low profile of rubber torsion axles. Shocks would be mandatory, however; leaf springs normally provide significant (if insufficient) damping due to inter-leaf friction; steel torsion bars would have essentially no damping at all.

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Old 02-05-2010, 02:59 PM   #12
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Trailer is in my *technically* in my name... but considering the funding comes from our shared acct, and he makes considerably more than me, its prolly more than 1/2 his. It's just that, him being MALE... and that my father forgot to bring up his daughter workingon cars like the fiance's father did... he thinks he knows more than me on the topic. which he does. but DONT TELL HIM THAT!!

he'll start to think he's right on other things, too.

how *much* more...affordable are the dexters than henchens? i would rater go with dexters but i dont know what measurements to give them when i order. i have a 62 ohio globetrotter. anyone?
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Old 02-05-2010, 03:08 PM   #13
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Here's the deal:

If you are not that mechanically inclined, you call Inland Andy and give him the serial number of your trailer. He then gets you a new set of axles made by Henshen (the OEM maker of all the older ones) and they bolt right in. You will pay a little more for this convenience, but they are guaranteed to fit.

If you are tight for cash and pretty inclined in all things mechanically, then go to the Dexter website and see what dimensions they require to make you an axle. You will get it cheaper than Andy will give you, but if you mess up, it's your loss.

That being said, in general, here is what you want: You want the big axles with the big 12" brakes. But, you want to DERATE the rubber torsionrods to whatever the weight of your trailer is. So let's say you have a '77 Excella 500 31 footer and it weighs 7000lbs gross weight. OK, so you have two axles; 7000lbs divided by two equals 3500lbs per. Let's say you load her up pretty heavily....so add 200lbs to it. So now your gross weight is 7200lbs....that means 3600lbs per axle. You call up Dexter, tell them you want the heavy duty axles with the big 12" brakes, but derate the rubber rods to 3600lbs. You also need to give them accurate information on the bolt pattern of how the axle mounts.


Again, if you are not up to this, I recommend you call Inland Andy and he'll hook you up. True, you pay a little for his expertise, but that payment can go a long way.

But, if you can do all the important measurements yourself, you could save a little by ordering them directly from the manufacturer yourself.

Best of luck whichever way you go, and I hope to meet you on the road some day.
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Old 02-05-2010, 03:14 PM   #14
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Trailer is in my *technically* in my name... but considering the funding comes from our shared acct, and he makes considerably more than me, its prolly more than 1/2 his. It's just that, him being MALE... and that my father forgot to bring up his daughter workingon cars like the fiance's father did... he thinks he knows more than me on the topic. which he does. but DONT TELL HIM THAT!!

he'll start to think he's right on other things, too.

how *much* more...affordable are the dexters than henchens? i would rater go with dexters but i dont know what measurements to give them when i order. i have a 62 ohio globetrotter. anyone?
I don't know the answer to the price difference, but I am sure someone here does.

15 or so years ago, I had to order a replacement axle for a Casita TT. (also a rubber torsion axle). I just called Redneck Trailer Supply. They called Dexter and Dexter had all the info on file for my trailer to give me the correct Axle. In the case of an Airstream, I imagine Airstream's customer service would have all the axle data on file.

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Old 02-05-2010, 03:39 PM   #15
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I don't know the answer to the price difference, but I am sure someone here does.

15 or so years ago, I had to order a replacement axle for a Casita TT. (also a rubber torsion axle). I just called Redneck Trailer Supply. They called Dexter and Dexter had all the info on file for my trailer to give me the correct Axle. In the case of an Airstream, I imagine Airstream's customer service would have all the axle data on file.

regards,
Ken
Ken

Airstreams records for the specs of certain parts for the older trailers, is at this point, gone bye bye into history.

Andy
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Old 02-05-2010, 03:47 PM   #16
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how *much* more...affordable are the dexters than henchens? i would rater go with dexters but i dont know what measurements to give them when i order.
if you don't want to tackle this project on your own i recommend South Jersey RV. They were an Airstream dealer for years and now just do repairs. they installed an axle on my Trade Wind a couple of years ago. Excellent service.

see 1624 Harding Hwy

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Old 02-05-2010, 03:49 PM   #17
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Everyone is always talking about axel replacement. I talk to a guy at an airstream service who said he had never, in 45 years, seen an axel fail except in the case of burnt bearings or a wreck. So whats up with this? He told me people were just selling axels. Is he wrong in spite of his experience? I'm confused
Each factory service department mechanic, has certain specialties.

Obviously, the one you chatted with, knows near "nothing" at least when it comes to torsion axles.

His name should be given to Dave Schumann, so that he can perhaps be updated, or at least taught about another Airstream essential part.

There is huge difference between selling axles, and educating owners about torsion axles.

Educating anyone that owns an Airstream product, most always, gives them greater assurance of what they really have, how to use and enjoy it, and how to take care of it.

Lube shops don't sell cars.

Airstream dealer parts departments, provide a service of having essential parts available, for the care and upkeep of their Airstream trailer or motorhome.

Andy
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Old 02-05-2010, 04:14 PM   #18
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LahrFarm
The saleman who told ya that ya dont need axles is full of $%#^@&*(*& period. As has been said Jack up or pull the front axle onto 2x8's and see if the back axle arm stays at horizontal. If so thier shot. Mine stayed. I began seeing popped rivets in the outer skin and stuff moving about in transit. Then the comformation was when the all rivets sheared off and let the mirror on the back of the pocket door to the bath fall down and break.The fridge door kept opening and other things.
I called Andy at Inland,gave him my serial number and he arranged for me to pick up a pair at the factory on my truck. I did install them myself. They fit perfectly. First I wanted OEM Axles exactly like came with it new and I wanted to make sure there were no Slip-ups in measurments,because once you order from other company's, the axles are yours even if the measurements are incorrect. There is nothing wrong with AXIS or Dexter Axles but they do require that you do the measurements. I install my axles without a hitch,they fit perfectly,although you do pay for the convience of them fitting perfectly. NO cannot put regular car or box trailer axles on an Airstream,the frames are competely different.
GOOD LUCK with what ever you decide.
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Old 02-05-2010, 05:08 PM   #19
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Thanks for all the good input. I was just a little confused. Did'nt mean to step on any toes . I want to fix up my AS the best I can but dont have money to spend that does'nt need spent. The test checking the travel of the axel makes sense, I will try it! Thanks again
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Old 02-05-2010, 06:31 PM   #20
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Thanks for all the good input. I was just a little confused. Did'nt mean to step on any toes . I want to fix up my AS the best I can but dont have money to spend that does'nt need spent. The test checking the travel of the axel makes sense, I will try it! Thanks again
Read the axle article in the Airstream Central portion of this Forums.

That will help you understand them, and how to check them out.

Andy
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