The old Lunar Schooner was long overdue for axles, wheels and tires. Being a compulsive optimizer, I set about researching all my options. Thanks to this (and other) forums, there was plenty of good reading.
If I lived near Inland RV, I would have probably let Andy take care of this project for me. I'm a busy guy, and I feel sure they know more about this procedure than I do. Unfortunately, I'm about 2400 miles away. I don't know of a dealer within a few hours drive with any real experience doing this type of work. So, I felt like it would be best if I did it myself.
So, let's start with the axles. After doing a lot of research, I will have to agree with Andy that price comparisons between a #10 Dexter and a heavier-duty alternative is not exactly fair. The #10s appear to have smaller bearings, and definitely have smaller brakes. You can order a modified (derated) #11. It will have bigger bearings, spindles, brakes, and a bigger tube than the #10. Why, it will just be...bigger. It will also cost more. I don't know the exact numbers. But, let's just say that the difference will be less than between the Henschen and #10 Dexter. If you're a firm believer that bigger is better (and it usually is), you might want to get Henschens or a #11.
However, I had some really good discussions with a very nice gentleman in the Dexter Engineering department. While he was more than happy to try to accommodate requests from Airstreamers, and he had no arguments against the "bigger is better" contingent, it became apparent to me that the #10s weren't exactly underdesigned. In the end, I decided I was OK with the #10s.
Another factor that tipped me toward the #10s was that the #11s might be overbuilt for what I wanted. For starters, I didn't want to push up my weight ratings, and there's a limit to how low they can go with a #11. I want a smoother/softer ride. I have weighed my camper. It does not have anywhere close to 6000 pounds on the wheels. Even the GVW isn't close to 6000 lbs--even when my wife packs
. I decided to order 2800 pound axles. But, based on a recommended load of ~80% of the axle's rating, an argument could be made for going lighter than that. I am convinced that the bearings (which are not the NeverLube type) and spindles will last plenty long enough for my purposes. Having lighter parts will also reduce unsprung weight in the suspension.
As for brakes...well, let's just say that my main complaint in the past has been that they locked up too easily. Maybe I'll change my tune after road testing the new/smaller brakes with those nice, wide LT225 75R16 tires.
Another significant factor for me was freight. Remember the 2400 miles? It added up to a lot of freight. Dexter is much closer to me. Freight for a pair of #10s, shipped to my driveway, was only ~$130.
I ordered my axles less than two weeks before Christmas, and they arrived exactly two weeks later. Everything looked fine, and the nice Fedex man rolled them right over to my camper.
The only complaint I have so far is that the brackets were made 1/8" closer together than what I ordered. However, after reflecting on this, I realized that this may be a result of how they must tolerance the dimensions. If the actual (maximum) space is 57-7/8", anything over that is BIG trouble. If their tolerance is +/- 1/8", the nominal would have to be 57-3/4" in order to allow for the tolerance. I don't know their tolerances, and one might feel that 1/8" is too much. But, in any case, better to be too narrow than too wide. I picked up a piece of 16 gage sheet steel for shimming the brackets.
Anyhow, the wife is getting impatient, and I have to go for now (I did spend most of the day grubbing around in the driveway after all). When time allows, I will add info on the wheels and tires.