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Old 10-08-2014, 01:31 PM   #1
1961 Bambi
 
1961 16' Bambi
Federal Way , Washington
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Seeking recommendation for axle work.

I, too, want a new axles and all the attached components put on my '61 Bambi. (Long story of how messed up it is and requires the whole thing to be done) After a month, the local airstream retailer/service shop has made me lose all patience so I'm taking her out of his shop tomorrow. I can't do the work myself. Does anyone have recommendations for a reasonable (not cheap!) and honest and knowledgeable shop to do this work in the greater Seattle area? Thank you.
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Old 10-08-2014, 03:11 PM   #2
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I, too, want a new axles and all the attached components put on my '61 Bambi. (Long story of how messed up it is and requires the whole thing to be done) After a month, the local airstream retailer/service shop has made me lose all patience so I'm taking her out of his shop tomorrow. I can't do the work myself. Does anyone have recommendations for a reasonable (not cheap!) and honest and knowledgeable shop to do this work in the greater Seattle area? Thank you.
Due east of you, and not very far, is an outstanding Airstream dealer, in Covington.

Airstream Adventures Northwest has installed many axles on older Airstreams.

Their number is 253-6394884

Ask for Patty or Larry.

Andy
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Old 10-09-2014, 10:04 AM   #3
1961 Bambi
 
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They are one possibility and I've spoken with them. Does anyone else have any recommendations?
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Old 10-16-2014, 04:35 PM   #4
1961 Bambi
 
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C'mon folks...there must be other vintage renovation companies in Seattle metro? I need to start with the axle and running gear. Then I need other work done. Thank you!
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Old 10-16-2014, 04:40 PM   #5
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I would go where Andy says to go. Not only does he know best, but you have his influence on your side if things happen to not go right.
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Old 10-16-2014, 04:51 PM   #6
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C'mon folks...there must be other vintage renovation companies in Seattle metro? I need to start with the axle and running gear. Then I need other work done. Thank you!
There are a number of places you can take your trailer to, but they for most part, do not understand Airstream construction, but they do, for sure, understand you pocket book.

The dealers that really know what they are doing with an Airstream, are few at best.

Then, will they know who to contact if necessary, since your Airstream is over 50 years old??

Also, will they know where to purchase the correct parts for your Airstream, since most all the available parts for your trailer are not from Airstream, but from a very few Airstream dealers??

Shop around if you wish, bur don't assume that just because they work on RV's, that they know very much about what you have.

Many people on this Forums, will tell you then same thing.

Andy
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:11 AM   #7
1961 Bambi
 
1961 16' Bambi
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Thank you, Andy. I understand. However, my bambi was in Covington shop for over a month. Nothing was accomplished. They primarily work on new airstreams. I really don't want to go into detail. Has anyone worked with Silver Bullet in Portland? Or Vintage Trailer in SLC? Thank you.
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Old 10-17-2014, 08:43 AM   #8
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You asked for a some company that has experience in Vintage Airstreams. There are only 2 dealers in Washington State. Dealer, Airstream Dealer Locator, Travel Trailers | Airstream And like you mentioned the one you have been at has more experience in newer units. YOu may find that to be true around the US. RVs in general and Airstream in particular are not high volume vehicles. Find some one that does vintage Airstream restoration is usually a company that does sheet metal because that is very unique.

Axle work, while the torsion axle is NOT common in the industry and has it's quirks. It isn't all that complex. For a production shop to stop and study what to do isn't what they are about. Most axle installations for Airstreams over 25 year of age are done by the owner. If you are unable to do this my suggestion would be to find an independnt RV shop, haul it across the country to a different Airstream shop, or join an Airstream club and find some one that has done it before and enroll them to install your axles. You are asking for a specific skill set that is very limited in a limited area. Some shop is going to have to learn while they work on your unit OR a private party that has done one before will need t9 do this which there are a lot of that. Because older trailers tend to be worked on by the owner and not a shop. It isn't cost effective.

I realize you are doing on this site, however Seattle is far away from most people on this forum for an over 50 year old trailer. And I don't believe an Airstream trailer is common there. I lived in Redmond/Bellview for 7 year and I don't recall ever seeing an Airstream trailer. (I wasn't looking eiher)

Boat trailers on the other hand are all over the place.You might find some shop with a basic skill set that is willing to take on your job or if you want to step up to higher priced labor a Dexter Dealer shop. Dexter Axle - Trailer Axles and Running Gear Components - Washington

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Old 10-17-2014, 09:32 AM   #9
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Thank you, Andy. I understand. However, my bambi was in Covington shop for over a month. Nothing was accomplished. They primarily work on new airstreams. I really don't want to go into detail. Has anyone worked with Silver Bullet in Portland? Or Vintage Trailer in SLC? Thank you.
Thank you for sharing.

Sorry that your experience was less than satisfactory.

Again, be very cautious about your choice of a dealer.

All to many of them are only interested in your pocket book instead of making you a happy camper.

Most dealers that say they can help you with a torsion axle, have zero knowledge as to how you check one out.

For your benefit, torsion axles are a specialty if you wish.

Knowing the rating of your old axle and how to upgrade it safely, to current standards, is not a mystery, but is also not very well known, since the dealer "MUST" have a knowledge of what they can and cannot do with your model.

You would be far better off by purchasing a new axle, and then finding someone to install it, as many owners do. That is much easier to do.

Andy
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Old 10-17-2014, 11:25 AM   #10
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There is no strong reason that requires you to deal with Airstream for your axles. I would suggest you look for a truck axle shop. This is a straight forward bolt on job. Even if you have frame issuses that type of shop will be able to deal with them.
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Old 10-17-2014, 12:14 PM   #11
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I believe that 1961 was a transition year from leaf spring axles to torsion axles and the early torsion installations were welded on and not bolted. Not sure of the OP's situation.

Welded axles would certainly make the installation of new axles more challenging.

Bill

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There is no strong reason that requires you to deal with Airstream for your axles. I would suggest you look for a truck axle shop. This is a straight forward bolt on job. Even if you have frame issuses that type of shop will be able to deal with them.
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Old 10-17-2014, 01:24 PM   #12
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There is no strong reason that requires you to deal with Airstream for your axles. I would suggest you look for a truck axle shop. This is a straight forward bolt on job. Even if you have frame issuses that type of shop will be able to deal with them.
Howie.

The 1961 and first half of 1962 Airstreams had the torsion axles "welded" on.

Yes, it's not a big deal to align them correctly, but all to many dealers love to have perfect alignment to an owners pocket book. When you ask the typical dealer how you go about installing a torsion axle when the original was welded on, the gobble goop answers you typically get are hilarious.

When you ask them about the rating you get a big DUH!!

When you ask them about a starting angle, they ask "what's that"?

When you ask them about changing the weight rating, they ask "why".

Etc, etc.

We always suggest going to someone that deals with torsion axles routinely or a well know axle shop. But, be very careful of what they may order for their trailer.

Or, purchase the axle/axles themselves and have someone install them. That also usually saves them money as well.

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Old 10-17-2014, 01:54 PM   #13
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That should not diswade the decision. The point was to take he trailer to a shop that has knowledge in the field in question not someone who might do such a job once and a while.
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Old 10-18-2014, 09:04 AM   #14
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Hi Ladyfern19;

I might suggest dividing your project into two phases. Phase 1 is acquiring the new and correct axle for your Bambi. Inland RV is on the west coast and can certainly specify and ship the correct new axle to your installer.

Phase 2 is selecting the installer. You don't need an Airstream shop to do this mechanical work. Many vintage owners do it themselves demonstrating how straight forward it is. You need someone with a plasma cutter, welder, and standard mechanical tools. A good trailer service shop would understand the task at hand. Just be sure to tell them they are working on a $50,000 antique, fragile Airstream and you expect NO damage to it.

So, take a photo of the axle where it attaches to the frame behind the wheel. Get that photo and your trailer's serial number to Inland and they will go to work and get you the right axle.

Then find yourself a good trailer running gear service shop and see if they can handle it. Figure maybe a day to get the old one off and the new one on and aligned and figure $100 an hour to do the work.

David
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Old 10-18-2014, 10:27 AM   #15
1961 Bambi
 
1961 16' Bambi
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Thank you all! Today's mission is to go to several local RV repair places and shops to see who I feel I can trust and has the equipment/awareness described by dbj216. (Yes, it's a welding job with the 1961 bambi) I spoke with Andy and will be ordering what I need on Monday, then he'll have the address to ship it to. At last I feel like something positive is happening. First the running gear, then onto the other little things. Thank you again! (And if you see 4758 going down the road, you'll know we made it.)
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Old 10-18-2014, 11:37 AM   #16
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I chuckle when you say "...then on to other little things." I guess a hundred little things ends up being a BIG thing. The vintage Airstream hobby keeps us real busy and the wallet empty. Work on it two days so we can travel in it one day, that's about the ratio I have found.

But axle replacement is a BIG thing and adds equivalent value to your Airstream. Keep your receipts so you can show your insurance person, and a prospective buyer some day.

Now on to that hole in the subfloor, or that leaky window, or that worn door hinge, or that fridge that won't work, etc, etc.

David
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Old 10-18-2014, 11:52 PM   #17
1961 Bambi
 
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dbj216...have you been peeking in the window? Actually, I don't have those issues (except the refrig), but do have about a dozen not-so-little things. When a person coined the phrase "labor of love" they were obviously referring to owning a vintage airstream! But thanks for the tip about saving receipts. I do have a book I keep, but receipts is a great idea. Can I write it off as an "investment?" no... Yes, get the wheels off the list, then it's only another couple of college ruled pages. sigh...
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Old 10-20-2014, 12:35 PM   #18
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Lady fern, I am in Seattle. This is my second trailer. Option one. There is Ryan's RV in Everett that many of my friends have taken their vintage trailers to for repair. I am considering them for work on my airstream. By the way I just got my airstream. Option two. This summer I met a man named Larry that has done several trailers. He did some work on my 62 Aloha. $60 and hours. He told me is should not be more than two to three hours to pop a new axle on my 65 globetrotter. His shop is in Renton. Option three is Evergreen RV in shoreline. They have my airstream right now for a new jack, coupled, wheel bearings and getting my lights functioning. PM me if you like to chat.


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Old 10-20-2014, 12:37 PM   #19
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Forgot to add, I am ordering the axle from Andy! What a nice man and I so appreciate his guidance. Inland RV. I'm probably going to do a frame up restore as step one.


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Old 10-21-2014, 06:08 PM   #20
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Thank you, thumbelinadj for the suggestions. I'll be calling. I, too, think Andy is great!
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