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Old 02-05-2023, 09:11 AM   #1
Tom
 
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1955 26' Cruiser/Overlander
Long Beach , California
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Posts: 21
Love vintage, but huh?

My bride and I have an all-original 55 stored indoors most of its life and we want to keep it original where possible and reasonable.

I was under it yesterday and found only 2” of travel clearance between the axle and the frame!
Is that normal?

The springs are stacked 10 thick and 36” long.
It’s a 26’ single axle trailer weighing 3,280 dry.

Seems to me this would be one stiff ride, but when traveling the trailer seems to take bumps well.

Another question:
If I switch the axle to ride below the springs instead of on top, would there be any issues?
Anyone done this and can advise?
Would it raise my body height 4” since I have 3” of leaf springs and a 2” axle (1” to center)?
Is that correct math?
Our Airstream rides only a foot off the ground, so driveways are a challenge.
It might be good to get more clearance.

Any help with your experience would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 02-05-2023, 10:30 AM   #2
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1966 26' Overlander
Phoenix , Arizona
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 55CalCruiser View Post
My bride and I have an all-original 55 stored indoors most of its life and we want to keep it original where possible and reasonable.

I was under it yesterday and found only 2” of travel clearance between the axle and the frame!
Is that normal?

The springs are stacked 10 thick and 36” long.
It’s a 26’ single axle trailer weighing 3,280 dry.

Seems to me this would be one stiff ride, but when traveling the trailer seems to take bumps well.

Another question:
If I switch the axle to ride below the springs instead of on top, would there be any issues?
Anyone done this and can advise?
Would it raise my body height 4” since I have 3” of leaf springs and a 2” axle (1” to center)?
Is that correct math?
Our Airstream rides only a foot off the ground, so driveways are a challenge.
It might be good to get more clearance.

Any help with your experience would be greatly appreciated!

You want to keep it original and yet you want to modify the axle mounting. Hmmm

The trailer sits low. Likely because the springs are .... well .... sprung.
Metal springs do not last forever. (just like other spring types)
As the metal springs age they will sag and the trailer will lose ride height.
Moving the axle does not change the fact that the metal spring is old and no longer has the same kind of spring that it once did. Your will gain height by replacing the springs.

To remount the axle, you will gain height. Maybe not exactly how you calculated and should be pretty close. However, what you may risk is adverse handling. Not sure how precise AS suspension designs were in the 1950s. (my guess is they were not) The design may have been copied or was a vendor thing with no specific trailer in mind. Off the shelf if you will. Doing this will change the center of gravity. And you might be changing it to what it was designed for, just not sure. The correct repair would be to replace the springs.

I would recommend spring replacement. It may be more of a difficult thing to do. Part of that has to do with what kind of spring mounting is between the spring and axle. May be nothing.
The spring pack or leaves all has to do with towed load. Before you replace springs, you would want to know the max towed load.

Action
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Old 02-05-2023, 10:34 AM   #3
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Judging by the witness marks on the belly pan your axle is hitting the belly pan, it appears that your springs need to be re-arced. Check around for a spring shop near you. Once the springs are rebuilt that gap should increase and give you more ground clearance. You should also replace all of your spring bushings too. After your springs are rebuilt all of your problems should be solved.

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Old 02-05-2023, 10:39 AM   #4
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As a post script, I have done a number of leaf spring replacements. However, all of them were on cars or light trucks.

I say this as those spring packs were all ordered off various websites and delivered to my home where I did the work.

Knowing towed weight or load, spring length, spring mountings is needed.

Action
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Old 02-05-2023, 11:31 AM   #5
Tom
 
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1955 26' Cruiser/Overlander
Long Beach , California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Action View Post
As a post script, I have done a number of leaf spring replacements. However, all of them were on cars or light trucks.

I say this as those spring packs were all ordered off various websites and delivered to my home where I did the work.

Knowing towed weight or load, spring length, spring mountings is needed.

Action
Thanks for your knowledge.
I will look into new springs around here.
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Old 02-05-2023, 11:33 AM   #6
Tom
 
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1955 26' Cruiser/Overlander
Long Beach , California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerowood View Post
Judging by the witness marks on the belly pan your axle is hitting the belly pan, it appears that your springs need to be re-arced. Check around for a spring shop near you. Once the springs are rebuilt that gap should increase and give you more ground clearance. You should also replace all of your spring bushings too. After your springs are rebuilt all of your problems should be solved.

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Thanks for the help.
I will check into it.
Going to Wyoming for the International rally in June and want things good to go!
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Old 02-05-2023, 11:34 AM   #7
Tom
 
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1955 26' Cruiser/Overlander
Long Beach , California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerowood View Post
Judging by the witness marks on the belly pan your axle is hitting the belly pan, it appears that your springs need to be re-arced. Check around for a spring shop near you. Once the springs are rebuilt that gap should increase and give you more ground clearance. You should also replace all of your spring bushings too. After your springs are rebuilt all of your problems should be solved.

Sent from my Lenovo YT3-X90F using Airstream Forums mobile app
I’ll check out those “witness marks” as well.
Great term for it!
Thanks again!
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Old 02-05-2023, 01:30 PM   #8
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Owning a 1956, I would suggest the following:

1. New springs if possible, with new shackles and bushings, can re-arch if needed
2. Have a "blow-out" protector added to axle, a good spring shop can make one
3. Install 7.00x15 bias-ply tires to get additional height 29.75 inches vs. radials

Enjoy,
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Old 02-05-2023, 02:42 PM   #9
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I don't recall ever hearing of a 10 pack spring on a single axle AS.

I would consult a repair shop in your area and have new packs installed.

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Old 02-05-2023, 03:48 PM   #10
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1966 26' Overlander
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Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
I don't recall ever hearing of a 10 pack spring on a single axle AS.


Bob
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May be stock or leaves may have been added (with longer U bolts) to compensate for sag or leaf springs that have lost their capacity. It is a single axle on a 26' trailer.

Action
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Old 02-05-2023, 03:59 PM   #11
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
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Our Hadco off our renovated 55 Flying Cloud is identical to Tom’s with the 10 count leaf springs.
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Old 02-05-2023, 04:20 PM   #12
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55CC, judging from your picture the springs look pretty straight to me. To keep your TT original and if the leaves haven't lost their temper, there are several shops near Long Beach that may be able to re-arch your springs. Heavy truck shops do it all the time.
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Old 02-05-2023, 04:44 PM   #13
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55CalCruiser, let us know what you find and what you decide.

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Old 02-06-2023, 10:41 AM   #14
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1959 24' Tradewind
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I had the same springs and axle on my '59 Tradewind. The springs were in great shape, so I reused them on a new 5000lb axle and put 16" wheels on it. I did put the springs on top which added plenty of clearance for the backcountry of Idaho.
We've had no issue with the trailer and the added height, it tracks great. I've towed it about 7000 miles since we restored it. It raised the trailer about 5".
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Old 02-06-2023, 01:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
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I would recommend spring replacement. It may be more of a difficult thing to do. Part of that has to do with what kind of spring mounting is between the spring and axle. May be nothing.
The spring pack or leaves all has to do with towed load. Before you replace springs, you would want to know the max towed load. Action

You may not have to replace the springs, The leaves can be re-rolled. They did that on my Dakota and added helpers to raise the rear and ease the amount of torsion bar take up. Most of the short leaves are usually flat and only come into play in larger vertical axle movement. Go to a Spring shop.

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Old 02-06-2023, 02:50 PM   #16
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1960 26' Overlander
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I had the axle on my 1960 single axle Overlander "flipped" about 20 years ago after hearing that several people did it on the overseas caravans in the 50's and early 60's. I totally get wanting the extra clearance. These trailers were purposly low to the ground...which makes sense as most were pulled by the family car. However I got tired of dragging the trailer in so many places, especially at gas station driveways. It never drags anymore! If anything the 4 inches or so extra lift is a little more than needed. You will probably need new bushings in the leaf spring eyelets. If the same as on my trailer you will want RB1 bushings. (Rubber Bushing number 1). The original spring pack on my trailer has 7 layers providing about 4 or 5 inches of "lift" from the center to the ends of the springs. There are no "witness" marks. I have no regrets having flipped the axle, but if I were to do it again I would probably get a straight axle as middle ground compromise for the lift.
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Old 02-06-2023, 02:57 PM   #17
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1960 26' Overlander
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BTW one member suggested adding blow out protectors. I run without them and have experienced a catastrophic blowout on the interstate. The trailer behaved very well, so much so that the only differences I noted were that the trailer was leaning to one side and the transmission on my tow vehicle downshifted as the cruise was trying to keep it up to speed! There were absolutely no handling issues. My 1970's steel rim was undamaged. I don't see a reason for a blow out protector, but to each his own!
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Old 02-06-2023, 05:28 PM   #18
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1955 26' Cruiser/Overlander
Long Beach , California
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I have everything but the weight loaded.
I guess I should find a scale around here to weigh it loaded up.
Thanks
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Old 02-06-2023, 05:38 PM   #19
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1955 26' Cruiser/Overlander
Long Beach , California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rideair View Post
Owning a 1956, I would suggest the following:

1. New springs if possible, with new shackles and bushings, can re-arch if needed
2. Have a "blow-out" protector added to axle, a good spring shop can make one
3. Install 7.00x15 bias-ply tires to get additional height 29.75 inches vs. radials

Enjoy,
I have seen one of those “Blow out protectors” before
Like a skid plate bolted with the U bolts thru the bottom plate to hang just below the hub, right?

An ounce of protection…
Thanks
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Old 02-06-2023, 05:47 PM   #20
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1966 26' Overlander
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Originally Posted by 55CalCruiser View Post

Like a skid plate bolted with the U bolts thru the bottom plate to hang just below the hub, right?

An ounce of protection…
Thanks
Yes. Used on single axle trailers so the full weight of the trailer is not pressing down on the rim after a loss of all the air in a tire.

Action
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