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Old 06-01-2006, 04:39 PM   #1
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Closing my Eyes, Crossing my Fingers and Ordering Axle

Well, I have read every post I could find on axles. In the end, since I knew I wasn't going to install them myself, I went to my local RV dealer/repair shop. These guys have been really good to me since I moved here three years ago and was living in the trailer while building my home.

So, here is what I am getting and you can all yell and scream if you want. But I had to do something!!!

(A good thing to since I had forgotten that on a trip almost a year ago I discovered loose lug nuts on one of my rims and it slightly damage the "bolts?".)

My Trailer - 1961 Bambi 13" - 4 lug/4 1/2" bolt pattern - with apparantly added later shocks.

What I am getting...
Dexter - 2300 lb. rated axle - 5 lug pattern - inset rims (it is what I have now) New brakes 10" . Keeping tires - 13" trailer steel radials C rating - Heritage - No shocks - Brackets to install with bolts as my axle is welded on.

Will give you the price after all is said and done but his estimate was good and I know they are honest and fair.

I'm pumped!
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Old 06-02-2006, 12:09 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by AirstrmGypsy
Well, I have read every post I could find on axles. In the end, since I knew I wasn't going to install them myself, I went to my local RV dealer/repair shop. These guys have been really good to me since I moved here three years ago and was living in the trailer while building my home.

So, here is what I am getting and you can all yell and scream if you want. But I had to do something!!!

(A good thing to since I had forgotten that on a trip almost a year ago I discovered loose lug nuts on one of my rims and it slightly damage the "bolts?".)

My Trailer - 1961 Bambi 13" - 4 lug/4 1/2" bolt pattern - with apparantly added later shocks.

What I am getting...
Dexter - 2300 lb. rated axle - 5 lug pattern - inset rims (it is what I have now) New brakes 10" . Keeping tires - 13" trailer steel radials C rating - Heritage - No shocks - Brackets to install with bolts as my axle is welded on.

Will give you the price after all is said and done but his estimate was good and I know they are honest and fair.

I'm pumped!
You will "ONLY" have two problems.

One, the brackets won't fit.

Two, you will shortly damage the axle, since 2300 pound rating is "grossly" under rated, plus, if it has a small spindle, you will shear one off, because of the under rating.

The axle, is by far, the most important part of an Airstream. Without them, you stay home. Lose an axle on the road, and grandma will spank you.

The early Bambi's and Caravels are all shearing the spindle's, because of what we know today, are too small, therefore they are fatigue cracking.

Yet in spite of warnings, some owners just don't want to hear it.

We replace at least one axle per week, for someone that has sheared a spindle, while traveling.

Then, of course, their trip becomes very unhappy.

Andy
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Old 06-02-2006, 03:22 PM   #3
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Andy,

This Bambi, with about half provisions, has 2270 lbs on the axle (the scale reading--which includes the weight of the tires, drums, brakes, and wheels, which are not being supported by the axle, they're supported by the tires). Add 10 gals of water, 50 lbs food, 100 lbs camping gear, and maybe the occasional rider and you get about 350 lbs additional load, almost all of which would be on the axle, not the tongue. That's 2620 lbs. Then subtract the drums, wheels, and tires to get the maximum sprung weight--about 2500 lbs. The usual max (without a rider, would be under 2400 lbs). So maybe 2300 lbs is slightly under rated. To be grossly under rated, the spec would have to be off 25-33% or 600-800 lbs, or more.

Unless I don't correctly recall the other many axle posts I've seen, don't you advocate rating the axle at slightly less than the absolute maximum load expected? This gives a softer ride and, as I've seen you post elsewhere, a major objective is to reduce the stress/beating on the Airstream for the normally expected bumps, nes pa?

Now, considering that this is a 1961 and that that was the first year that Airstream used torsion axles, maybe they had a problem with the early ones, particularly the spindles. But this will be a modern axle that is rated for 2300 to 3000 lbs, where only the rubber rod length is varied to provide different load ratings. IMHO, the spindles are way tough enough if their design load is 3000 lbs.

Is it possible the scale that Airstrmgypsy used isn't accurate? Do you think the weight is way off?

Yes, the brackets will be different, particularly because this early Bambi has the axle welded on. I wonder if that is the original installation? Knowing this particular Bambi, I'd guess that it is original. Ooh, shame on Airstream!
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Old 06-02-2006, 03:30 PM   #4
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My trailer weighs 2800lbs loaded, it came with a 3000lb axel, and we replaced it with a 3500lb Dexter. We've been happy with the ride, despite the extra capacity (some indicated it would be too stiff, but it is a much better ride than the old worn out axel).

A 3000lb axel wasn't available at the time, Dexter only makes certain capacity axels and 3000lb wasn't an option. I don't know if that has changed.
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Old 06-02-2006, 04:55 PM   #5
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Axle ratings

Ooh, shame on Airstream!

Zeppelinium

The original axle on your trailer was rated at 3000 pounds.

By todays standards, we can also say what a piece of junk, GM, Chrysler and Ford built, back then.

Lets be fair and understand that something built 45 years ago, has certainly been improved upon since then.

All too often some owners ridicule Airstream for something they built 30, 40, 50, 60 and even over 70 years ago.

Airstream was a leader then and they have maintained that reputation ever since. Gosh do they build a perfect product? Heck no.

Back then Art Costello was asked why Airstream could not build a perfect product. His answer was, "I have written to JC to send me some perfect employees, but he hasn't answered my letter yet". Humor, yes, Serious, also yes.

Until such time as any manufacturer of anything can find perfect employees, products can and will have problems. We invented the "robots", but we still have problems.

Accordingly then it usually is not wise, as an individual to try to out engineer Airstream or for that matter, anyone else. It is far better to inquire, when there has been failures, to find out the what and why's regarding those failures. Following that up with how do we do it today, especially for the older models, and why, solves the problems.

To install a Dexter axle on an Airstream that is over or under rated is not the thing to do. For that matter, the same holds true for Henschen axles.

Bottom line, is, there are facts and figures that have been made available to us, by Henschen and Airstream, regarding the upgrading of axles as well as their ratings, and to "do not exceed" upper as well as lower limits.

That information was very carefully compiled many years ago. As a result, replacement axle ratings on many of the older models have been changed to further improve the performance of the suspension systems on the trailers.

Dexter indeed, does make good torsion axles. However, they will not build anything other than their standard ratings, which "seldom" are correct for an Airstream or Argosy trailers.

As a result, typically, using an Dexter axle will be an excessive or inadequate rating.

Axle ratings are very carefully compiled by a group of engineers, and not simply guessed at, as many owners may think.

Bottom line in your case, is anything "over" or "under" a 3000 pound rating, will not meet the approval of the engineers, nor will it stand the test of time.

That has been proven over and over again. We will not supply an axle other than 3000 pounds for any Bambi or Caravel built prior to 1969.

Guess work, for an torsion axle rating, has never been one of the formulas mathematical elements.

But, as always, to each his own. With the popularity of E-bay, all of can get rid of any nightmare that we may have created, on purpose, or otherwise.

It happens every day.

Unfortunately, current laws can't do much about fraud.

Andy
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Old 06-02-2006, 05:27 PM   #6
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Red face Ducking for cover

Quote:
My trailer weighs 2800lbs loaded, it came with a 3000lb axel, and we replaced it with a 3500lb Dexter. We've been happy with the ride, despite the extra capacity (some indicated it would be too stiff, but it is a much better ride than the old worn out axel).

A 3000lb axel wasn't available at the time, Dexter only makes certain capacity axels and 3000lb wasn't an option. I don't know if that has changed.

I called early this morning because I was so nervous. And yes, I was able to bump up the rating.

Yes, Dexter does make a 3000lb axle.

Soooooo, I'll let you know.
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Old 06-02-2006, 05:30 PM   #7
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sorry Zep

I'm goin' with my trailer guy.

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Old 06-02-2006, 05:55 PM   #8
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Thanks for you input Andy, but I am a bit confused by these two positions....

So let's just say there is no margin for the small trailers?

Quote:
That has been proven over and over again. We will not supply an axle other than 3000 pounds for any Bambi or Caravel built prior to 1969....Andy
Quote:
Your records show that you received two 3000 (three thousand) pound axles on July 10th, 2003.

Additionally, a single axle trailer cannot take a huge increase in weight ratings, unless, it will always be heavily loaded.

Henschen says no more that 3000 pounds for the small trailers. We did have a request for 3500 pounds for a small coach, and Henschen refused to build it.

They assure that it would cause a problem. Since they are the engineers, not me, I must respect their opinions.

Andy
see link below

http://www.airforums.com/forum...89-post26.html
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Old 06-02-2006, 06:10 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by AirstrmGypsy
Thanks for you input Andy, but I am a bit confused by these two positions....

So let's just say there is no margin for the small trailers?




see link below

http://www.airforums.com/forum...89-post26.html

Two entirely different years and lengths of Airstreams.

Andy
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Old 06-02-2006, 06:25 PM   #10
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My Head Hurts...

This always seems to happen when we start talking replacement axles.

Andy, just give a 40% discount to members of Airstream Forums, and that will solve everything.
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Old 06-02-2006, 06:44 PM   #11
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This always seems to happen when we start talking replacement axles.

Andy, just give a 40% discount to members of Airstream Forums, and that will solve everything.

Great idea.

Unfortunately, to stay in business today, especially California, there is that old saying that "you must make a porfit" or you will be like the old movie, "Gone with the wind".

We still are proud that we sell the Henschen products for considerably less than the Airstream factory.

Costs went up almost 20 percent, and we have still "held the line".

Maybe if we could get the feds to give us a subsidy. Yeah, right!!!

Maybe if we could reduce our overhead to zero? Never know.

Andy
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Old 06-02-2006, 07:33 PM   #12
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What is the date for the 40% off sale ????
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Old 06-02-2006, 07:35 PM   #13
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Great idea.

Unfortunately, to stay in business today, especially California, there is that old saying that "you must make a porfit" or you will be like the old movie, "Gone with the wind".

We still are proud that we sell the Henschen products for considerably less than the Airstream factory.

Costs went up almost 20 percent, and we have still "held the line".

Maybe if we could get the feds to give us a subsidy. Yeah, right!!!

Maybe if we could reduce our overhead to zero? Never know.

Andy
Andy, I hope you know that I'm only jerking your chain, and when the time comes I will order my axles from you. I need a straight forward, remove and replace, guaranteed right the first time installation. So, I'll pay the price. Just let me get my damn building built.
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Old 06-02-2006, 07:35 PM   #14
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What is the date for the 40% off sale ????

Septober 2006

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Old 06-02-2006, 07:49 PM   #15
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But, as always, to each his own. With the popularity of E-bay, all of can get rid of any nightmare that we may have created, on purpose, or otherwise.

It happens every day.

Unfortunately, current laws can't do much about fraud.

Andy

Andy, I will take responsibility for the changes I have made to my own trailer, and I certainly do not intend to ever pass it off on eBay. I certainly hope you are not implying that I would do such a thing.

I still cannot imagine what exactly the extra #500 capacity of my new axel is supposed to do to the trailer. Considering I have had it open to the frame and had all the front joints re-welded (since the original joints had failed over the years) I don't know what can possibly go wrong. I have a good axel mounted on a strong frame with a solid wood floor. I suppose if the harsh ride were to shake apart the trailer in the section that hasn't been rewelded, I would just open it up and do the same thing again. Or beef up the frame for more strength and ridgidity. But I do not consider the ride to be harsh, and I have stated repeatedly that I am very happy with it.

I do not believe that I am causing irreperable harm to my trailer in any way. I have never told people outright to go do what I did, but I will gladly tell them what I did, and how it is working for me.
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Old 06-03-2006, 02:31 AM   #16
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Hello axle folks,

the extra 500# rating means that the axle can support more ,as you all know
To do that the axle must use stiffer rods or higher durometer reading rods rather to hold up another 500# of weight.So that would make it ride harsher and that is what airstreams don't like.But if it was going to be heavier loaded
with more modern floors or countertops or cargo then that higher weight would help the trailer ride smoother.A truck rides smoother with a load on it than it does unloaded ,as an example.Stephs trailer sounds well constucted
and strong ,but would ride stiffer empty ,no doubt ,but Its had upgrades done to it also which makes it harder to compare trailer to trailer.The people who have installed heavier rated axles as posted on the forums pretty much have all said there airstream would be heavier with the upgrades they have done
So that should be noted,but an airstream that is not expecting heavier upgrades or beefier frames etc.,should get the correct rated axle .you don't want to downgrade for sure, nor increase ridigity with too high a rating .

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Old 06-03-2006, 12:49 PM   #17
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Andy, I will take responsibility for the changes I have made to my own trailer, and I certainly do not intend to ever pass it off on eBay. I certainly hope you are not implying that I would do such a thing.

I still cannot imagine what exactly the extra #500 capacity of my new axel is supposed to do to the trailer. Considering I have had it open to the frame and had all the front joints re-welded (since the original joints had failed over the years) I don't know what can possibly go wrong. I have a good axel mounted on a strong frame with a solid wood floor. I suppose if the harsh ride were to shake apart the trailer in the section that hasn't been rewelded, I would just open it up and do the same thing again. Or beef up the frame for more strength and ridgidity. But I do not consider the ride to be harsh, and I have stated repeatedly that I am very happy with it.

I do not believe that I am causing irreperable harm to my trailer in any way. I have never told people outright to go do what I did, but I will gladly tell them what I did, and how it is working for me.
Stephanie

My comments were not directed at anyone. They were general in nature.

There are those that well think out just about everything they do, such as you have done with your Airstream.

I was refering to those that just "do it" and if it doesn't work out, they pawn it off on someone else.

It is absolutely amazing as to the trashed Airstreams we get in our service department, that were purchased on E-bay, and was told that the trailer was in good shape.

Andy
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Old 06-05-2006, 06:20 AM   #18
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Not quite sure!

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You will "ONLY" have two problems.

One, the brackets won't fit.

Two, you will shortly damage the axle, since 2300 pound rating is "grossly" under rated, plus, if it has a small spindle, you will shear one off, because of the under rating.


Andy
Andy
Andy,

I disagree!

One - if the axle is welded on - Dexter's A/P kit will work great once the OEM axle is removed.

Two - you cannot assume that the Dexter spindle will be like that of the OEM's that as you put it "snapped at a rate of one a week"

Just two cents from a retired axle manufacturer!

Best Regars,
Henry
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Old 06-05-2006, 10:35 PM   #19
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I would say that if the spindle is of a small size as the original one is or smaller since the axle is 700# less than originally installed than there is a weakness right there ,breakage or not. The axle rating is incorrect ,problem also.Dexters are fine ,but all spindles are not created equal .these things need to be checked out and correct decisions made as the axle should meet or exceed the original unit in strength and reliability period.

Scott
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Old 06-12-2006, 08:38 PM   #20
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For what it is worth!

Spindles typically live in groups:

2000# spindle (1" diameter)

2200# - 2750# (1 1/16" diameter)

2800# - 3750# (1 3/8" diameter)

3800# - 7000# (1 3/4" diameter)

Since you upgraded to the 3000# Dexter axle you likely got the same spindle as a 3500# axle (1 3/8") thus, strength should not be an issue! Even the 1 1/16" spindle has a very low failure rate. Engineering is the key and Dexter has a great engineering team. Axles are a large liability as you can imagine.

Additionally, Dexter will build an axle to any weight rating that you provide. It may be helpful to talk to Engineering and not just sales - when contacting Dexter! By adjusting rubber cord length inside the axle a bit - many ratings are possible. You see the axles too - live in groups!

Regards,
Henry

PS: How are you progressing?
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