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Old 12-22-2010, 08:52 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by DanielB View Post
This is so confusing. The numbers didn't come from the axles, they came from the plate riveted to the front of the shell.

id number on the plate: E31A4S1941 - 31' 1974 Excella center bath twin?
On same plate: GAWR Left 3200
GAWR Right 3200
GVWR 7100

Does this sound right?

3500 or 4000 lb axles are surely the way to go, like you are saying. I am curious though if I have some sort of weird trailer..
Daniel I have the same plate on mine with the same ratings
GAWR Front 3200lbs
GAWR Rear 3200lbs
GVWR 7100lbs
I got axles from Andy 4000 lbs plus new shocks and you will need 4 shock mount bolts to attach shocks to the new axle plate. IMO it's worth getting originals as they bolt right in and behave just like originals.
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Old 12-22-2010, 09:02 PM   #22
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Thanks Chris. I'll call him tomorrow.
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Old 12-22-2010, 11:26 PM   #23
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DanielB, sounds like from your original post you have gutted the interior and it will be lighter than original and the frame will be heavier and stiffer than original.

The original design is for a 7100# rating I would weigh the finished trailer before replacing axles to get a loaded weight (With liquids and gas) of the unit. Then figure 300 to 600 pounds of "stuff" that could be carried when traveling. Use that number + a cushion of 5 to 10 percent to spec your axle ratings. Also know that RVs of any type are like humans. They get heavier with age. You no longer have a stock unit and stock axles may not be the best fit. If the total new load is significantly less than the original load you may be setting yourself up for too stiff a ride. The reverse is true as well. Know that if the total number gets much more than 7100 #'s you may have issues with other components of the trailer that have not been replaced that were designed for a total load of 7100#s.

You are re-engineering the unit because of the major changes that it sounds like you have or will do from your first post. Don't go into the axle replacement blinded by stock specs.

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Old 12-23-2010, 05:46 AM   #24
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I think that I just might take your advice on this. The trailer weight may be significantly different when the redo is done.
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Old 12-23-2010, 06:20 AM   #25
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Daniel Sorry a little boo boo I got 4500lb axles from Andy. If you plan to rebuild the interior all new with new bulkhead walls and cabinets etc. The trailer will be heavier than original. The original cabinets and furniture were all aluminium framed and used light weight panels if you use wood for framing and panels you will add much more weight than the original. New appliances are heavier as well and any additions will again add more weight. Installing the axles now will be much easier than once the shell is back on. Your choice though.
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Old 12-23-2010, 06:32 AM   #26
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4500. So you pretty much have it covered with those.
This is a tough one.
The new chassis is heaver than the old one was, but I'm want to leave out as much as I can from the interior. I had a motor home before and really want to minimize the "cramp" factor, so it may be lighter.

4500 would cover just about anything.. but maybe too much if it is significantly lighter? Darn this is tough. Maybe the safest bet is to wait until the weight can be determined.

Thanks
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Old 12-23-2010, 06:50 AM   #27
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Just to add another wrinkle to this discussion. I find that the Dexter axles degrade much faster than Hension axles do and that the initial ride is nowhere nearly as smooth as a new Hension. What you might wind up doing is changing the axles and after 5,000 miles have no smoother suspension than you had with the axles you are removing.

My quick axle test on a tandem is to put two 2x8 blocks of wood under one tire if the other tire still sits on the ground you have as much travel as you will get with the Dexter and there is no real benefit to changing the axle.

What I have found is that if you want to preserve an older Airstream the best way is to install a softer riding tire.

To give an example, three of us were traveling to a Rally in PEI a couple of years ago. We had three 34's, a 1987 with at least 50,000 miles on it, a 1999 with about the same, both had the original Hension axles. I had a new one with Dexter axles with about 4,000 miles on it. The back roads in PEI have a lot of pot holes and frost heaves, they really challenge the suspension on the trailer. We drove one behind the other down the same road at the same speed. In our Airsteam there was not a single thing left hanging in the closet some of the hangers had actually straightened out. In the 87 and the 99 everything was still hanging up when we arrived.

My rather primative ride measurement device is a gell battery sitting on a old mechanical bathroom scale over the axles. With a new dexter the weight fluctuates twice as far as a new Hension on the same road.

I just wish we could still get Hensions.

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Old 12-23-2010, 08:03 AM   #28
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GKN/Henschen Axles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew T View Post

I just wish we could still get Hensions.

Andrew T
I believe that they are still available from Inland RV. Not sure how many and what sizes are in stock. It was reported that GKN/Henschen was closing its doors and reorganizing. See this thread:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f437...ing-59074.html

The GKN web site does not list Henschen axles anywhere that I could find.

Axis axles can be installed.
Axles

Colin Hyde is a distributor for Axis. There are probably others as well.
https://sites.google.com/a/colinhyde....com/home/Home

All the Horse trailer places here in Texas that I have talked to (5/5) recommend Dexter. There are a lot of distributors of Dexter axles.
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Old 12-23-2010, 09:06 AM   #29
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Hi Lance

i just got off the phone with Axis and it turns out they purchased most of the equipment from GKN. As well they hired Jim Kitsmiller who has been at Hension forever. I don't know yet how much of the Hension design they have incorporated into their axles. I would think they would make it a separate product line as they are more expensive to produce. I'll speak with Jim in the new year and see what I can find out.

Thanks for the information.

Andrew T
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Old 12-23-2010, 09:47 AM   #30
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Appreciating Andy

When you read this thread (and many others) it is clear why Andy (Inland RV) is one of the best commercial contributors in these forums.

His posts are factual, he doesn't "push" his own products but provides solid useful information from Airstream files and nary a sales quip anywhere.

I wish the world were full of Andy's. Life would be better for all Airstreamers.
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Old 12-23-2010, 09:52 AM   #31
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Hi Lance

i just got off the phone with Axis and it turns out they purchased most of the equipment from GKN. As well they hired Jim Kitsmiller who has been at Hension forever. I don't know yet how much of the Hension design they have incorporated into their axles. I would think they would make it a separate product line as they are more expensive to produce. I'll speak with Jim in the new year and see what I can find out.

Thanks for the information.

Andrew T
Andrew

The original Henschen axles, are being manufactured by Axis, since Jim Kitzmiller has joined them.

However, there are basically 2 versions of the torsion axles at present, and will probably continue that way.

Considerable modifications have been made to the original Axis design, which incorporates Henschens designs, that creates the other version.

That permits direct fitting replacements, without modifications. However, it does cost more.

Additionally, the Axis version axles, does not and will not duplicate the Henschen ratings, or starting angles.

We, at this point, have many Axis axles in stock, that replace the original Henschens, EXACTLY, as they are still ordered by the original Henschen part numbers.

Discussions are underway, regarding a permanent representative for the Henschen version, for the Airstream product line.

At present, Axis will accept a direct order for axles, but ONLY for their original design.

If someone calls Axis to order axles for an Airstream product, they will be redirected to the temporary representative, until the details of the distributorship can be finalized.

Shannon, at Axis, is well aware of the representative issue.

Andy
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Old 12-23-2010, 10:34 AM   #32
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Hi Andy

The next time I am in Indiana maybe I will stop in and see them. I am pretty familure with the Hension process as I was in that plant many times over the years.

If they are achieving the same ride charactaristics the next challenge will be to get Airstream to start using them again, to me the Dexters just are not cutting it. I have seen plenty of fairly new SOB's that have settled and the tires are 3/4" from the wheel well and yet they never touch. You know there is not much travel left at that point.

Thanks for the update.

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Old 12-23-2010, 10:45 AM   #33
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Hi Andy

The next time I am in Indiana maybe I will stop in and see them. I am pretty familure with the Hension process as I was in that plant many times over the years.

If they are achieving the same ride charactaristics the next challenge will be to get Airstream to start using them again, to me the Dexters just are not cutting it. I have seen plenty of fairly new SOB's that have settled and the tires are 3/4" from the wheel well and yet they never touch. You know there is not much travel left at that point.

Thanks for the update.

Andrew T
Andrew,

What are you seeing on these units, relative to angle of the "trailing arm" in this squatted position? How much are they dropping while suspended?

Do the same general diagnostics apply to Dexters as Henschens?
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Old 12-23-2010, 11:54 AM   #34
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Andrew,

What are you seeing on these units, relative to angle of the "trailing arm" in this squatted position? How much are they dropping while suspended?

Do the same general diagnostics apply to Dexters as Henschens?
The torsion axle trailing arm, is what you want to look at.

The tests for torsion axles, is the same, regardless if it's Henschen, Dexter or Axis.

There should be several degrees travel from no load to bottoming out.

Airstream axles made by Henschen or Dexter, have a no load starting angle of 22 1/2 degrees.

When that angle decreases to zero, then the trouble begins. When hitting bumps, the axle will typically bottom out, causing many different, not so welcome, problems to the trailer, as many have reported.

We created with Airstream and Henschens approval, a starting angle of 35 degrees. That elevates the trailer so that it's much easier to couple it to a high profile tow vehicle. However, the maximum travel is the same, regardless of the starting angle.

We have already replaced or provided new axles to replace the Dexters used on the late model Airstreams, that have failed rubber rods.

Andrew T has experienced the same failures on the new Dexters as we have.

Why the Dexter rubber rods are failing, is a good question. We don't really know, but we feel rather strongly that either the rubber rods are made with a wrong composition of rubber, or that the axle weight ratings are in excess of what they should be. Be that as it may, the failures have continued, even to trailers that have been frequently used, as we all know, that the rubber rods must be exercised to stay alive.

Perhaps the future may have different results.

Andy
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:47 PM   #35
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You guys are a wealth of info. I'm sure that all that read this thread would agree. Thanks for all your efforts. I'm sure glad I got my Henschen last winter.
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Old 12-23-2010, 01:57 PM   #36
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Not sure where Dexter gets their hub/drum and brakes but was told Axis uses China as their supplier.
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Old 12-23-2010, 02:58 PM   #37
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Not sure where Dexter gets their hub/drum and brakes but was told Axis uses China as their supplier.
And Dexter uses Chinese bearings.

That's a fact, nut a rumor.

It's seems that no matter where we turn, as Americans, China will be someplace in our lives, besides the cabinet where we keep dishes.

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Old 12-23-2010, 03:08 PM   #38
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Made in China

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Not sure where Dexter gets their hub/drum and brakes but was told Axis uses China as their supplier.
Dexter backing plates are made in China as well. I've looked at all three brands sub components and they all have some foreign content. Maybe if you spec disc brakes you could get some Italian Brembo brakes! Now that is foreign quality.
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Old 12-23-2010, 03:28 PM   #39
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Dexter backing plates are made in China as well. I've looked at all three brands sub components and they all have some foreign content. Maybe if you spec disc brakes you could get some Italian Brembo brakes! Now that is foreign quality.
I wasn't knocking them, just had learned (from a reliable source) that they were from China and figured that there was probably Chinese content in Dexters as well. Like your idea about Brembo brakes. My wife's manufactured in Japan car came with Brembo manufactured brakes, that's a fact, not rumor. Probably fodder for another thread: Because it's made in China is it low quality?
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Old 12-23-2010, 08:37 PM   #40
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If Italians made the brakes on one brand of axle, would that be the one you would choose?
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