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Old 07-31-2016, 04:14 PM   #1
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1976 Argosy 26
Henderson , Kentucky
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How do I tell if axles need replacing?

Hey great info, but how did you know your trailer needs axles?

I have 76 Argosy 26 rolls true, no uneven wear on tires or finding strange issues I can detect so what do you look for? I searched for answers but could no find a clear opinion, maybe expert dimensions checked but if trouble shooting what can I feel, see or check or look for or what does newbie measure? Thanks. Don't need overly technical explanation, but 23 pages of axle issues got me thinking, uh, what about mine.
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Old 07-31-2016, 06:09 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Ky76Argosy View Post
Hey great info, but how did you know your trailer needs axles?

I have 76 Argosy 26 rolls true, no uneven wear on tires or finding strange issues I can detect so what do you look for? I searched for answers but could no find a clear opinion, maybe expert dimensions checked but if trouble shooting what can I feel, see or check or look for or what does newbie measure? Thanks. Don't need overly technical explanation, but 23 pages of axle issues got me thinking, uh, what about mine.
I'm a newbie that replaced his axles. I had similar questions. I came to the conclusion after reading many posts. Time and lack of use plays a major role on how long they last. Mine are 40 years old and the last 10 it did not move.

When I lifted the front axles by driving on ramps, the rear did not even droop. I continued to pull forward and the fronts where about the same. I pulled the axles out I discovered the shocks were rusted/seized in place. So, that may have contributed to the axles not moving but later with some force, I was able to get the shocks moving.

If they are originals then time is against you.
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Old 08-02-2016, 10:27 AM   #3
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The axle is likley good. It is the rubber torsion spring inside the axle that is likley no longer any good.

Lift trailer and measure the axle drop or wheel drop. If it drops 3" you are good to go. Less than that there are issues to needing replacement.

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Old 08-02-2016, 10:45 AM   #4
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1967 17' Caravel
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You know you need new axles when the stovetop grilles end up on the floor after towing a short distance. Visual and physical test: is the axle arm pointed at a down angle: Yes=good, no=bad. Jump up and down on the rear bumper. Do the wheels move up and down in the wheel wells? Yes=good, no=bad. Neither is probably definitive, but will give you a good starting point.

I have a new 3500 axle sitting on the driveway next to my '67 Caravel waiting to be installed. Simply too hot in Austin, TX right now to work on the outside of the trailer much. I ordered a bolt and shock kit with the OEM axle from Inland RV. Good thing I know how to weld and have the equipment as you have to weld the shock brackets to the axle arm.
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Old 08-02-2016, 02:40 PM   #5
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1965 24' Tradewind
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Axles

With the trailer sitting level(take a carpenters level and set it on the floor lengthways to check this)get underneath the trailer just to the rear of the axles. Look for the steel flat pieces that are on the ends of the main part of the square axle that bolts to the frame. These are about 3 in x 10 in. The Wheelend which is where the axle stub, hub, bearings and brakes are located are on the other end of those flat pieces. Now, these need to be at a positive angle. Which is when as they come from square tube they need to be angled down. If they they are angled down even 10 degrees or so you are good to go. If they are angled upward the axles need to be replaced. There is no fixing them!
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Old 08-02-2016, 04:37 PM   #6
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1967 26' Overlander
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ky76Argosy View Post
Hey great info, but how did you know your trailer needs axles?

I have 76 Argosy 26 rolls true, no uneven wear on tires or finding strange issues I can detect so what do you look for? I searched for answers but could no find a clear opinion, maybe expert dimensions checked but if trouble shooting what can I feel, see or check or look for or what does newbie measure? Thanks. Don't need overly technical explanation, but 23 pages of axle issues got me thinking, uh, what about mine.
I changed axles on my '67 last December. The old axles never sagged and always had a slight down angle when normally loaded but the down angle did not change much when unloaded. Things inside the rear of the trailer were obviously bouncing around even though I was running only 43psi tire pressure. I decided I did not want the hassle of having to change a failed axle somewhere besides home. Now forgive me for giving a word of advice. If you decide to change, make sure you know what you are getting. I went with Dexter 3,500lb axles instead of 2,800lbs as was original to keep the same size brakes. For some reason all the manufacturers had gone from 12 to 10 inch brakes on the replacement axles for my trailer. I spoke with a number of very experienced vintage owners and restorers who had done it both ways and all agreed that the 10 inch brakes would have 10 to 20% less braking power than the 12 inch. Having experienced two TV brake failures, one in mountainous terrain, and safely stopping with mostly trailer brakes I needed to not mess with that. I want all the brakes I can get.
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Old 08-03-2016, 08:30 AM   #7
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1967 17' Caravel
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Yep, 10" brakes are original. I was asked if I want to upgrade to 12" brakes when I purchased the axle. I declined and purchased a bare axle. 10" brakes are adequate for my 2500 lb Caravel.
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Old 08-08-2016, 09:25 AM   #8
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1967 26' Overlander
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Yep, 10" brakes are original. I was asked if I want to upgrade to 12" brakes when I purchased the axle. I declined and purchased a bare axle. 10" brakes are adequate for my 2500 lb Caravel.
The original brakes on my '67 Overlander were 12" on 2,800 lb Henschen axles. When buying new axles last year, I did not want to drop down to 10" brakes which is apparently now standard on axles less than 3,500 lbs at least for Dexter and the brand Colin Hyde sells so I went with the heavier Dexter axles. If you work at it a little bit you can purchase Dexter Axles directly from one of their distributors but be prepared for a delay as they work through the production schedule. I bought mine thru Inland RV as the delivery time was shorter.

BTW, if anyone needs a good trailer repair/rebuild shop to install new axles under an Airstream or any other trailer, I can put you in touch with one right here in upstate SC. These guys do all kinds of trailer/truck body/frame repairs and modifications.
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Old 12-03-2016, 07:15 PM   #9
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guess i might need to replace the axles on my 2005 classic 30 ft. When i was under there this afternoon to jack up and put on my jack stands for the winter i took a picture of axle with load and no load.

seem they are level no load and angled some what up when sitting on the tires loaded.

the chain is for security. lock lug nut on as well. better safe than sorry. it wraps around axle and through both wheels on one side a big long thing for sure.
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Old 12-03-2016, 07:27 PM   #10
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If these are dura torque axles, lift frame by placing jack below the vertical plates visible in your photos. As you lift the torsion arm should angle down as you lift, if there is no movement and your axle stays in one position, that means that rubber pieces inside axle tubes have hardened and no longer provide bounce


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Old 12-03-2016, 08:04 PM   #11
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Usually when the arms are pointing upwards the axles are done. That means the spindle that holes the wheel is higher than the pivot point which would be the end of the square tube. The wheels should drop some when you jack up the trailer. If the trailer is not sitting so low you are constantly dragging something, and if stuff is not flying all over your trailer when you tow then you are probably good. If you have lots of loose rivets and things coming loose from vibration then you are probably ok. Out of balance tires can cause problems as well. My 81 axles seem to still be working but I am sure they are not like new.

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Old 12-04-2016, 07:19 AM   #12
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so if there is little or no bounce, what happens? Things bounce around? Sometimes this is true, sometimes not. What actually fails when the axle "fails"...if the rubber is hardened after years, the axle will stop the wheels from turning? I have original axles on my trailer ,, and its an expense I would only undertake if I was going on a coast to coast trip. For our use, and we do use it, the trailer rides fine as long -- as the WHEEL BEARINGS are lubed-- I see no problem.
Axles= big expense not always justified.

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Old 12-04-2016, 08:02 AM   #13
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I am running 235/75-XL15 car tires and they ride much better than trailer tires and don't seem to have the low speed rating and blow out issues that trailer tires have. These tire might be the reason my old axles are not causing issues. Most of the time there are still small objects on the kitchen counter after a trip so I am not real worried about shaking the trailer apart.

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Old 12-04-2016, 10:46 AM   #14
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I have a few things that sit out on our drives, and none have ever hit the floor.
I am careful to set our microwave from the counter onto the bedroom floor though. I also check the lube on the bearings twice a year.
I am surprised at all the people that replace their axles as soon as they get their trailer.
I believe there are more important steps to take to make the trailer useful.
But if you are an axle update person, call Colin Hyde and jump in there.
My above type was Can of Worms..open for discussion...
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Old 12-04-2016, 01:15 PM   #15
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If it helps this is the test we use.

We make 2 stacks of 2 pieces of 2x8 so 3" thick.

Then we back the rear tires onto them if the front tires still touch the ground then the axles are acceptable. This test we do with radial tires, if you happen to have bias ply tires then the tire will be off the ground.

The version of Hension axle used from 1982 through 2008 had more travel and smoother ride than the new Dexter's do so I think often people are trading axles and actually getting something worse than they had.

A few years ago we traveling in a group in PEI and the road was reasonably rough with lots of frost heaves. I was towing a new at the time 2007 34' my friend was towing a 1987 34 with original axles both had 235 Michelins. When we arrived at the campground Heather informed me that there was not a single thing still hanging in the closet. I went over and checked the closet in the 1987 and in it not a single item had fallen.

We have a good test road near us that it a rough secondary road that they were good enough to paint a stripe along the edge of. So we can drive along it with the tires on the stripe knowing we are running in the same track. I often ride in a trailer (not something I recommend) along there just to see what the ride difference is with a change we have made. By far the biggest ride improvement comes with selecting a smooth riding tire.

I hope this helps.

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Old 12-04-2016, 01:52 PM   #16
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I have 16" LT Michelins and Centramatics that I moved from our Safari 25 to our Classic 30. We get a lot more vibration with the Classic as evidenced by bottles of oil and seasonings in the cabinet over the sink turning over. We have even had Mason jar lids unscrew. Several drawers have popped open spilling their contents on the floor. One of these was the nightstand in the center aisle of the twin bedroom. As best I can tell, my axle spindle arms remain slightly below level when loaded and do drop when lifted, but maybe not enough. I found it hard to get accurate measurements, but I wasn't smart enough to measure from the wheel well edge to the rim or something like that. I was trying to measure the end of the arm where the spindle is. The measurements were nominally two inches, but one or two were less than 2". I'm going to make an external measurement the next time I have the trailer out.

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Old 12-04-2016, 06:10 PM   #17
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Another issue is folks are over rating the new axles assuming the originals failed because they were sprung too weak. Best to weigh a trailer fully loaded with weight distribution before sizing a new axle. Weight distribution can actually put more weight on the trailer tires as it lifts the rear of the tow vehicle. Not all the weight the bars displace goes on the front end of the tow vehicle.

The folks that run 80psi in tires that are no where near their load capacity are beating their trailers to death.


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Old 12-05-2016, 03:54 AM   #18
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If you have a newer Airstream and the axle doesn't move when you jack it up, take a hard look at your shocks before deciding you need new axles. A rusted shock or one with a blown seal might be the culprit. Also some people try to replace shocks with non-Airstream ones. The proper shocks work horizontally.
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Old 12-05-2016, 05:11 AM   #19
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so if there is little or no bounce, what happens? Things bounce around? Sometimes this is true, sometimes not. What actually fails when the axle "fails"...if the rubber is hardened after years, the axle will stop the wheels from turning? I have original axles on my trailer ,, and its an expense I would only undertake if I was going on a coast to coast trip. For our use, and we do use it, the trailer rides fine as long -- as the WHEEL BEARINGS are lubed-- I see no problem.
Axles= big expense not always justified.

OK Can of works is no open for discussion.
I Agee, an unnecessary expense for many.
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Old 12-05-2016, 05:12 AM   #20
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If you have a newer Airstream and the axle doesn't move when you jack it up, take a hard look at your shocks before deciding you need new axles. A rusted shock or one with a blown seal might be the culprit. Also some people try to replace shocks with non-Airstream ones. The proper shocks work horizontally.
Another appropriate comment, thanks.
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