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Old 01-19-2015, 07:33 PM   #1
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When to replace axles?

How long do the Torsilastic axles last on an Airstream? I've heard that 20-25 years is a good expectation. True?

Other than one breaking, what symptoms/signs should I look for to know that axle replacement is near?
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Old 01-19-2015, 07:39 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by kb0zke View Post
How long do the Torsilastic axles last on an Airstream? I've heard that 20-25 years is a good expectation. True?

Other than one breaking, what symptoms/signs should I look for to know that axle replacement is near?
Depends on the year of the trailer too. The 70's vintage apparently had a poor rubber compound and they wore out pretty quickly. The best way to check is jack the trailer up and see how much down angle there is on the arm. IIRC it should be around 22° on most trailers, some model years had slightly different angles. How long it sat vs how much it was used will have a bearing on it too. A trailer that was used regularly the axle will typically be in better shape than one that spent a lot of time parked.

IMHO 20 years is probably about the maximum life span of a Torflex axle.

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Old 01-19-2015, 08:22 PM   #3
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Go to the Inland RV website and read Andy's article on axles. I was a non believer until last year when I had one wheel snap off just as we pulled into Aberdeen SD. I replaced all 3 axles, and couldn't believe the difference in ride. Nothing in the trailer moved, no drawers open, on the way home it was like pulling a different trailer!!! If you need axles replaced and are resonably close, I highly recomend Specialty Manufacturing in Bath SD. Great people to work with and resonably priced.
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Old 01-19-2015, 09:53 PM   #4
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Just an additional thought-when checking your axles, and you don't get a lot of movement, your shocks may be rusted solid as mine were. No sag, but no movement either. I replaced the shocks and axles both.


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Old 01-19-2015, 11:05 PM   #5
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If you can't see the top of your tires, it may be time. If you see a lot of the top of your tires, you probably have a while to figure out the angle of the dangle formula of the hypotnuse wrapped around the tongue in the up positioni at 22 degrees on the soltice meridian. or is it 35 degrees for the 5th trailer made on the firth of fifth Saturday of the Saturni when you've properly jacked your trailer, not improperly jacked your trailer mind you, or you'll do permanent damage to said Axles and the Box Tube frame also for having done the improperly jacking of same said Trailer.
got that? Repeat after a few more Jack
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Old 01-20-2015, 12:37 PM   #6
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the original axles under our 49 year old AS are functioning flawlessly :-)
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Old 01-20-2015, 01:07 PM   #7
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I am seriously considering changing mine out. They look and perform great, but they are 37 years old.... I would rather replace them in my driveway rather than somewhere in the great unknown
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Old 01-20-2015, 04:38 PM   #8
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"I would rather replace them in my driveway rather than somewhere in the great unknow[n.]" So, is this a do-it-yourself project for a full-timer with no home base, or would I be better off having it done, perhaps as part of the sales deal? We're considering 30-34' WB coaches that are about 20 years old.
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Old 01-20-2015, 05:07 PM   #9
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Replacing them yourself depends upon your ability and equipment. It is one of the things that I would not try myself. My father used this wisdom for years " There are things that you do yourself, and things that you get others to do for you. The wise man knows the difference." I will tackle a lot of things, but axle replacement in not one of them. Just my thoughts. Chris
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Old 01-20-2015, 06:57 PM   #10
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I was 65 years old when I replaced both axles on the '74 Argosy. I worked alone.
Rolled one axle up on blocks. Removed the tires from the opposite axle. Removed the shock nuts. Removed the 4 bolts holding the axle to the frame. The axle was resting on a cradle I had fabricated for my floor jack. Lowered the axle.
Reversed the procedure to install the new axle and shocks.
I did soak the nuts with penetrating oil a day in advance.
It took about 5 hours on the first axle and just over 2 on the second.
I could have done both in 4 hours or so 30 years ago. But I am older and slower now!



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Old 01-20-2015, 07:34 PM   #11
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Thanks. I don't have a floor jack (don't have a floor, either), but I do have three bottle jacks, each of which could lift an Airstream. Sounds like I could make up some sort of cradle to do an axle at a time if I had to.
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Old 01-20-2015, 11:40 PM   #12
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Thanks. I don't have a floor jack (don't have a floor, either), but I do have three bottle jacks, each of which could lift an Airstream. Sounds like I could make up some sort of cradle to do an axle at a time if I had to.

Andy Thomson says a tridem is least likely to need new axles; rare enough to be memorable (paraphrased). His opinion and that of Inland Andy are worth your while.

I've read around on the tridem 34 for years as that will be my go to should something happen to my vintage kin. The low TW, low wheel load and outstanding road performance advocate for it.

That said, I am in favor of doing something like axle replacement with antilock disc brake upgrade ASAP.
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Old 01-21-2015, 12:46 AM   #13
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First thing I did was replace the axles,bearings,brakes,shocks,wheels & tires after dragging our 'new' '69 Tradewind home.

Andy at Inland RV shipped them and a bunch of other parts on a large pallet to my door via truck company.

I jacked up the AS and supported it on 4 jack stands and the tongue jack.

Removed the tires, used my transmission jack to lower the axle and slid it out from under the AS, then repeated for the second axle.

Then I cleaned and undercoated the wheel houses.

I used my engine hoist to load the new axle with new shocks attached onto my car dollies and Trans Jack then rolled it under the AS and lifted into place , bolted it in and hooked up the shocks . Then repeated for the second axle.

Next I installed the brakes & bearings hooked up the brake wires and mounted the wheels and tires and dropped the AS back down on the ground.

It took the better part of the first day to get the axles out and the wheel wells done and part of the next day to finish the install.
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Old 01-21-2015, 08:34 AM   #14
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axle swap

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"So, is this a do-it-yourself project for a full-timer with no home base, or would I be better off having it done, perhaps as part of the sales deal? We're considering 30-34' WB coaches that are about 20 years old.
Larry,
It's not hard to do. It involves a little heavy lifting, wrestling, and some serious grunting. Just some wholesome, healthy fun guy (or gal) stuff.
I built my 20' utility trailer from the ground up using 12K Dexter axles.
I have also assisted my friend that has a fleet of 15 or so trailers on general maintenance and axle swaps. a typical axle change out takes about 3 hours or so.
If you have access to a concrete surface, a transmission jack, some good jack stands , pneumatic tools, and a couple of young farmhands its really a straight forward operation.
As I age, I like the idea of being the Safety Supervisor / Foreman.
I don't know what the going rate is for the work, but I would charge 300 - 350 to do it (2 axles).
Let us know what you did and how it went.
Clayton
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Old 01-21-2015, 08:53 AM   #15
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Based on my conversations with vintage Airstream people I have concluded that axles should be replaced every twenty years or so unless there is an obvious failure which would necessitate an earlier replacement. There will of course be one or two owners out there who swear that their axles date back to the Civil War and work just fine.
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Old 01-22-2015, 09:15 AM   #16
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I took a look at the dexter torflex axle page and they recommended changing if:
When jacking the axle, if it the wheel DOES NOT drop 3 inches, the elastomer is weak and the axle should be changed.
Learned something new today.
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Old 01-22-2015, 02:41 PM   #17
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Very useful non-destructive way to verify condition. Thanks!


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Old 01-23-2015, 07:15 AM   #18
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What do you do with the old axles and shocks?
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Old 01-23-2015, 07:28 AM   #19
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What do you do with the old axles and shocks?
Take them to a scrap metal recycler. They are worth $0.075/lb.
You can also sell them on CL to someone that is looking for axles for his shop built utility trailer or BBQ.
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Old 02-04-2015, 10:54 PM   #20
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Thanks for the inspiration! Glenritas,I feel that I can confidentially replace my axles myself now that I have seen all your photos and descriptions.

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