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Old 01-11-2008, 11:15 PM   #1
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I received an email today from a friend who was offered a '67 Caravel for what appeared to be a very reasonable price. The initial pictures he sent showed a nicely polished, clean interior, unit. Based on those pictures the trailer was probably worth 5 to 6 times what he was asked to pay.

Then he sent the "rest of the pictures" and it turns out its a major project and not worth a 1/3 of what is now being asked. At 60 mph the right side (curb) spindle broke when it probably hit a pothole along the shoulder of the road and the trailer went down into the gravel on the shoulder. It turned sideways a bit, and the spindle on the other side snapped off in the exact same spot. It skidded along on it's belly pan until it stopped. It did not roll nor get hit by the traffic - so no one was injured.

Basically from (and including) the door back the bottom third of the trailer is destroyed. The water heater is mangled, the door frame is broken, bottom cupboards are ripped away from the wall and two snapped spindles are clear in the pictures. The frame is bent, the belly pan is torn off, the floor is also broken.

In hindsight replacing the axle would have been relatively inexpensive but the owners did not realize that this type of thing could happen to an axle. I also understand that these people were not knowingly negligent, the bearings had been properly greased, it had good tires on it, but the axle gave out.

We often have folks on the forum telling folks looking at buying an old trailer that the axle looks like it needs to be replaced and to many that is a scary thought. They have visions of the costs being exorbitant and decide to just "run with it" and see what happens. The price one pays for not doing it may be far dearer than anyone would wish.

Sadly, the Caravel was not insured. A sad ending to a beautiful little trailer.

Barry
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Old 01-11-2008, 11:33 PM   #2
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Sadly this has been a common issue for these trailers. Take a look at this one:
'65 Caravel - Axle Damage
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Old 01-11-2008, 11:43 PM   #3
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I can guarentee you, changing the axle was worth every penny, and I paid professionals to do it! Since your trailer only has one piece of 'running gear', I figured if you can keep it rolling, everything else can be fixed when you roll back home. Too bad those folks didn't know that could be a problem before it was too late!
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Old 01-11-2008, 11:50 PM   #4
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yea, we replaced mine this past spring, its a nice peice of mind!
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Old 01-12-2008, 12:28 AM   #5
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Could you guys explain more what axles are so accident prone?
I am restoring 1965 Safari, that I am pretty sure is on original axle. Shall I worry?
Thanks for any info.
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Old 01-12-2008, 07:13 AM   #6
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Kajtek1 - Tired axles are harmful in a number of ways but this report relates to the lower capacity axles used on the smallest Airstreams of that period: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f437...ion-29429.html
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Old 01-12-2008, 09:08 AM   #7
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Kajtek1- Please consider changing out your axle. It's definitely a "peace of mind" issue. I had mine changed out last summer and the difference is amazing. Had new shocks installed at the same time. The coach now sits level and definitely a little higher. It literally glides down the road and I do have an enormous peace of mind since completing that task.

I would have done the work myself (with some help) but had a knee replacement this last year and was recuperating from that. I took her to the Airstream Dealer in Colorado Springs and they did an awesome job.
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Old 01-12-2008, 09:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kajtek1
Could you guys explain more what axles are so accident prone?
I am restoring 1965 Safari, that I am pretty sure is on original axle. Shall I worry?
Thanks for any info.
Yes, please include a new axle in your budget. At best, your existing axle will be marginal.
To clarify: The snapped spindle syndrome does not seem to apply to the larger axles, such as the one under your trailer. However, a new axle with new brakes makes a world of difference in the long run. You should be able to get one installed for under $ 1000.00
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Old 01-12-2008, 11:04 AM   #9
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I actually replaced my axle because it had lost it's 'bounce' and was giving the trailer a bone jarring ride. The new axle lets the trailer just float along behind. It was worth it for that alone.

Then I met someone who's spindle had snapped, leaving them looking for a repair shop in Guatemala or some other far away country, and after hearing her story I was REALLY glad I had done it!

So do yourself a favor and budget in a new axle. The old one is 43 years old, and your whole investment is riding on it.
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Old 01-12-2008, 11:08 AM   #10
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Wow. Makes we want to replace the axles on our 67 sooner than later.

And I DO know spindle failure. The left-front spindle on our 1948 tractor broke off clean while I was clearing snow last week. Not a difficult repair (new spindle and associated bearings/sleeves), but a tractor wheel falling off at 3 mph is a bit different from one falling off an Airstream.


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Old 01-12-2008, 11:44 AM   #11
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Spindle failure on your 67-30 footer, is not impossible, but certainly not very likely.

The rubber rod failure in your axles, at this point, is a guarantee, since the composition of the rubber was incorrect, from 1974 and older.

When the rods are gone, bottoming out will happen, which can cause spindle failure as well as damage to the frame, shell, etc.

Andy
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Old 01-12-2008, 12:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uwe
Yes, please include a new axle in your budget. At best, your existing axle will be marginal.
To clarify: The snapped spindle syndrome does not seem to apply to the larger axles, such as the one under your trailer. However, a new axle with new brakes makes a world of difference in the long run. You should be able to get one installed for under $ 1000.00
$1000 is way more, than I paid for whole trailer
Thanks for the response. Now I know that my axle is "not the one". At present I have one side with wheel and drum removed and the spindle is about the same size I have on my F450. I drove the trailer on original axle and tires (!) short distance from my neighbor, while the trailer had about 4 tons of books inside, so that was a good test.
Don't take me wrong, I might change the axle because of rubber parts in it in the future, but at present I am planning to use the trailer as storage on my construction site and don't even know if I'll tow it on the freeway.
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Old 01-12-2008, 02:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kajtek1
$1000 is way more, than I paid for whole trailer
Thanks for the response. Now I know that my axle is "not the one". At present I have one side with wheel and drum removed and the spindle is about the same size I have on my F450. I drove the trailer on original axle and tires (!) short distance from my neighbor, while the trailer had about 4 tons of books inside, so that was a good test.
Don't take me wrong, I might change the axle because of rubber parts in it in the future, but at present I am planning to use the trailer as storage on my construction site and don't even know if I'll tow it on the freeway.
Block the trailer up, to remove most of the weight from the axle, since it's not going to move.

In that way, you won't make the axle any worse than it possibly may already be.

Andy
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Old 01-12-2008, 06:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In
eubank
Spindle failure on your 67-30 footer, is not impossible, but certainly not very likely.
The rubber rod failure in your axles, at this point, is a guarantee, since the composition of the rubber was incorrect, from 1974 and older.
When the rods are gone, bottoming out will happen, which can cause spindle failure as well as damage to the frame, shell, etc.
Andy
Ah, good! We've already got plans to replace the axles, but it's going to have to wait until we can make it to California. The axles are marginal now, but not entirely shot, by my measurement.


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Old 01-12-2008, 06:32 PM   #15
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Ah, good! We've already got plans to replace the axles, but it's going to have to wait until we can make it to California. The axles are marginal now, but not entirely shot, by my measurement.


Lynn
There is another "axle" test that you should consider.

Jack one side of the trailer up. The tire should drop 3 or more inches.

If not, then the rubber rods have solidified.

If that's the case, then the trailer will get a rough ride, even though the torsion arm position might show some life left.

Andy
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Old 01-12-2008, 07:38 PM   #16
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Those early caravels do indeed have that spindle breakage trouble, seems like 65 was the key year prone to that ,any caravel owner needs to get that axle replaced .The robber rods as andy has pointed out is the other failure that all
old torsion axles have .As many here have said ,the axles should be replaced for that very reason as well .On the leaf spring trailers such as my 60 trdwnd 24ft it has a heavily rated factory axle in it ,no spindles issues on these or
torsion type problems ,brand new springs and bushings ,YES along with
regular greasings ,seals ,that type of thing .The thing to remember is that other airstreams do not seem to have the caravel problem ,its clearly the fatigue of under sized spindles and design of the attachment to the square
axle tube ,mainly the complete spindle assembly breaks off the square axle ,
at the weld ,poorly built and engineered really is the problem ,and if the axles are bottoming out do to worn rubber rods ,that just hammers on the spindles
adding to the problem .A shame the trailer was destroyed ,hate to hear that .

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Old 01-12-2008, 08:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
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There is another "axle" test that you should consider.
Jack one side of the trailer up. The tire should drop 3 or more inches.
If not, then the rubber rods have solidified.
If that's the case, then the trailer will get a rough ride, even though the torsion arm position might show some life left.
Andy
Interesting test! I'll have to do that when I get to work on the rig later in the year. (RIght now, the AS is buried in snow, so no work on anything until this all melts!)

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Old 01-12-2008, 09:15 PM   #18
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Thank you so much for this thread! I am leaving in 3 weeks for an art show "tour" in Florida from Virginia. I'll be traveling for 4 weeks. I'm going in my newest '66 Caravel; taking it on it's maiden voyage. My other 2 ( 65 Safari & '68 Caravel) had the axles repaced immediately before any other work was done. The '66 has all systems working now... I've re-done the upholstory, curtains, new tires, awning fabric is on order...etc...etc! But.... no new axle (Which I ALWAYS thought was IMPORTANT!) After reading this thread.. and MAKING my husband read it... The Jayster(the '66) is at this very minute up on blocks with it's original axle removed and a new one on order... all done within an hour! This very issue had been bothering me and I wasn't real confident it taking the Jayster on the road. Now I'm excited and bonding with the new baby!
THANK YOU!
Thank you again!!!
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Old 01-12-2008, 11:04 PM   #19
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Caravel axel failure

Hey let's not leave out 1969-71 Caravels!

Does anyone know if they are they in the equal opportunity axle falure/weak spindle club as well?

Inquiring aluminum minds want to know...
Thanks
Stephen
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Old 01-13-2008, 12:39 AM   #20
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I thought perhaps some pictures might help. These don't show the other side which is in the same condition, nor the inside where cupboards are broken away from the wall and cracked. The door frame is also broken. It was a real beauty before this happened.
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