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Old 03-22-2010, 10:06 AM   #1
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New Dexter Axle Problem, Any Hope?

I thought I should start a new thread about a problem I encountered swapping out my axles this weekend, in the hopes that I could get some feedback from people with some actual experience at this.

The long and the short is that due primarily to the differences in how the original versus Dexter axles are constructed, the shock mounts on the arms are not in-line with the mounts on the frame. I havenít done an exact measurement yet, but I would say that it is roughly an inch. See pic:
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Of obvious note is that the shocks are not AS ďapprovedĒ. If I wind up having to ditch the shocks altogether, I will be glad I didnít spring for new ones. What I will say is that the rubber bushings on said non-approved shocks are very thick, and easily taking up the slack resulting from the misalignment.

So, how bad is this?

Short of eliminating the shocks altogether or moving the brackets on the axles (I donít weld, or have any friends who do), what are my options? Or, do I even have any.

Many thanks in advance.

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Old 03-22-2010, 10:41 AM   #2
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Caveat: I'm no suspension expert.

1. The shocks are on, which is good. However, their being stressed with a little twist may wear them out sooner.

2. I have no shocks on my Overlander and it didn't seem to make any difference on my recent 3,000+ mile trip.

3. Many members have commented that shocks aren't necessary on torsion axles. Luc offered to add shock mounts to my Dexters (I ordered on a short fuse and they came without mounts), but as a pro Airstream mechanic, he didn't think it was necessary, or even helpful.

4. If you're worried about the angle, remove them.
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Old 03-22-2010, 10:49 AM   #3
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I don't see the shock as your main problem. It looks like the wheel and tire will not fit under the skirt of the trailer body. Those axles appear to be too long for that trailer. If they where the right length the shock would have lined up correctly.

Before you go further I would verify the wheel clearance as to if it is a problem.

Please advise us on how the axles were specked that would result in this situation.
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Old 03-22-2010, 10:59 AM   #4
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The picture is a little misleading. Hub face to hub face and inner bracket to inner bracket are identical to original. The difference in axle construction is the bulk of the problem. It is further enhanced by bracket placement on the arm. I will take some pictures of the original axles tonight so you all can see the difference, and what is really causing the misalignment.

Best,
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Old 03-22-2010, 11:11 AM   #5
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I do now see that there is a tire mounted on the second axle. I missed that in the small picture.

Consider taking a torch and bending the 2 shock pins to an angle that will releave the stress in the shock tubes. This does not have to be that exact. That bend want to be as close to the mounting plate as possible to allow the metal bushing inside the rubber grommet to slide on the pin enough to get the nut on. You may have to grind a relief in one end of the angle on the bushing to get it to slid on enough but the face of the bushing looking at the shock will still have full contact and that is where the load is.
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Old 03-22-2010, 11:19 AM   #6
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Will your tire even clear the shock as it is sitting,you need to delete the shocks or get a mobile welder. Dave
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Old 03-22-2010, 12:24 PM   #7
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Putting a slight bend at the base of the shock mounts will make them face each other. However, as they move away from or toward each other, they will no longer face each other. I weld, so would change the placement of the mounts on the trailing arms.

If I was going to change the angle of the mounting pins, I would make them in proper alignment when the trailing arm is in the position it will be in with the trailer on the ground and loaded, as though going down the highway. I doubt a shock will go to either extreme unless that wheel is off the ground. The further the shock extends, the smaller the angle of difference becomes. A little angle is OK. That's one reason they are mounted with cone-shaped rubber mounts.

Looks to me like tire clearance is not an issue. Looks like the front tire clears the shock just fine.
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Old 03-22-2010, 12:25 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Dumpster View Post
The picture is a little misleading. Hub face to hub face and inner bracket to inner bracket are identical to original. The difference in axle construction is the bulk of the problem. It is further enhanced by bracket placement on the arm. I will take some pictures of the original axles tonight so you all can see the difference, and what is really causing the misalignment.

Best,
Dumpster
Airstream shocks, are a special "horizontal" shock.

What you have installed is totally useless.

There is "no" substitute for the OEM shocks.

You can have the shock bracket cut off, and rewelded.

What size brakes did you get?

Andy
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Old 03-22-2010, 12:32 PM   #9
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What size brakes did you get?

Andy
You can find the answer here. http://www.airforums.com/forums/f305...tml#post770965
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Old 03-22-2010, 02:56 PM   #10
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Fishing With the Wrong Bait

I am not going to bite. I started this thread to find a solution to a potential problem (and possibly help others avoid a similar situation), not enter into a pissing match about fluid dynamics or the affects drum square area has on stopping power; neither of which I know anything about.

As to an earlier question, everything is mounted, working, and sitting on the ground. No clearance issues were noted. I think side-by-side photos of the old versus new might shed some light. I will try and pull that off.

Thanks to all for the observations and contructive feedback. It is truly appreciated. Being called stupid? Well, not so much.
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Old 03-22-2010, 03:49 PM   #11
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Hey, the axles look great! If you're set on using the shocks (and I really wouldn't worry about it.. think how effective your old shocks were.. and remember the current AS that are 25' or less don't use them), I'd just bend the shock mount on the frame and the one on the axle towards each other so the shock doesn't bind.
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Old 03-22-2010, 04:51 PM   #12
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At this point, I'd suggest simply bending the brackets to where the shock lines up pretty close. It's what the people that sell the OEM brand of axle and shock recommend when you change shocks, so bending the new bracket shouldn't be any problem.
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Old 03-22-2010, 08:47 PM   #13
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I had the same problem

Dumpster,

I had the same issue with the Dexter axles I installed on my '75 TradeWind last fall. My first thought was probably similar to yours..."WTF?" this isn't right. I was pretty irritated, but after I thought more about it, I didn't get too excited. I figured that if the shocks didn't hold up as long, no big deal I'm only out the cost of the shocks (which I bought new from Inland RV). I figure the rubber bushing will take the brunt of the misalignment. Once I had the wheels/tires mounted and the weight of the trailer on them the mis-alignment/stress concerns didn't seem as bad. So far during a few short trips everything seems to be holding up and functioning fine, not that I'm qualified, just my opinion. I put a lot of weight in the fact that Dexter (who I've heard is the largest torsion axle manufacturer in country) doesn't feel that shocks are necessary. I think the shocks are a good idea, and are an original part, but I don't view them as a critically essential part.

I would not recommend adjusting them too much (heating/welding). Dexter told me that if any welding was done to the axles all warranties were void...just as a FYI

-Eric
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Old 03-22-2010, 09:59 PM   #14
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Dexter told me that if any welding was done to the axles all warranties were void...just as a FYI

-Eric
Eric.

I am at home and cannot get a photo to take.

But for your reference, Henschen welds the shock brackets on "after" the axle shaft and frozen rubber rods are inserted into the axle tube, and then allowed to return to ambient temperature.

There is photo that shows that in the assembly process.

Maybe tomorrow I can post it from my office.

I don't see any reason why you cannot weld the brackets on after the fact.

Andy
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:04 AM   #15
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I thought I was nuts

Thanks, Eric,

I was starting to think I was nuts, or was sold the wrong axle.

Although the perspective is different (and one is pink, sorry, camera on the fritz), the two photos below seem to represent the situation pretty well. The biggest issue is the difference in how the axles are constructed. The Hen's arm is about double the width, and there is more room between the arm and the hub. Also, look at the amount of axle tube between the mounting bracket and the arm on both. These are very significant differences. According to my measurements, moving the shock bracket on the arm from the most outside to the most inside wouldn't even allow for proper alignment.

The consensus seems to be that I can bend brackets or remove the shocks altogether. Since my cutting torch is sitting right next to my MIG welder at the Miller dealer, I think I might have to opt for removal. Or, just see what happens. I think a shock would get trashed long before anything else down there.

Maybe the answer is stepping up to a #11 axle, or going with Axis. Either way, hopefully this will prove helpful to the next person in line to do the swap.

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Old 03-23-2010, 09:31 AM   #16
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Maybe the answer is stepping up to a #11 axle, or going with Axis. Either way, hopefully this will prove helpful to the next person in line to do the swap.
That won't help either.

Andy
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Old 03-23-2010, 09:39 AM   #17
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Thanks, Eric,

I was starting to think I was nuts, or was sold the wrong axle.

Although the perspective is different (and one is pink, sorry, camera on the fritz), the two photos below seem to represent the situation pretty well. The biggest issue is the difference in how the axles are constructed. The Hen's arm is about double the width, and there is more room between the arm and the hub. Also, look at the amount of axle tube between the mounting bracket and the arm on both. These are very significant differences. According to my measurements, moving the shock bracket on the arm from the most outside to the most inside wouldn't even allow for proper alignment.

The consensus seems to be that I can bend brackets or remove the shocks altogether. Since my cutting torch is sitting right next to my MIG welder at the Miller dealer, I think I might have to opt for removal. Or, just see what happens. I think a shock would get trashed long before anything else down there.

Maybe the answer is stepping up to a #11 axle, or going with Axis. Either way, hopefully this will prove helpful to the next person in line to do the swap.
Dexter doesn't think shocks are even needed with a torsion axle, and Airstreams are about the only trailer that has them. A forums member did a test a couple of years ago, with and without shocks. There was a measurable difference, but it was something like a 5% difference, which is pretty insignificant.
So, if the shocks go *pffft* on your trailer, you can simply remove them, and the bracket, if needed.
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Old 03-23-2010, 09:48 AM   #18
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Torsion axles, when hitting a bump, tend to "chatter", sort of like a bouncing ball, because of the rubber rods.

Rubber bounces, we all know that.

The shocks, curtail {limit} that bouncing, since they are motion restricters.

Dexter can say whatever they wish, but they cannot over rule physics, or the behavior of rubber.

Andy
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Old 03-23-2010, 10:42 AM   #19
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Torsion axles, when hitting a bump, tend to "chatter", sort of like a bouncing ball, because of the rubber rods.

Rubber bounces, we all know that.

The shocks, curtail {limit} that bouncing, since they are motion restricters.

Dexter can say whatever they wish, but they cannot over rule physics, or the behavior of rubber.

Andy
All three major manufacturers of torsion axles contradict what you are trying to say, and what they say is torsion axles are self-dampening. If what you say is true, why does even Airstream not bother putting shocks on some of their torsion axle equipped (brand-new, latest research and technology) trailers?
Or maybe Airstream got the laws of physics suspended for these trailers?
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Old 03-23-2010, 11:02 AM   #20
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If what you say is true, why does even Airstream not bother putting shocks on some of their torsion axle equipped (brand-new, latest research and technology) trailers?
So some people can argue.

Andy
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