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Old 06-29-2002, 03:45 PM   #1
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Who made my axle?

I'm curious.

The paperwork with my trailer lists the axle manufacturer as "Henschen", but there was an envelope taped one of the axles that contained a bill of lading from "Dexter Axle" and describing the size, rating, etc. of the axle.

Are they one and the same company?
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Old 06-30-2002, 10:43 AM   #2
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Re: Who made my axle?

Quote:
Originally posted by Pahaska
I'm curious.

The paperwork with my trailer lists the axle manufacturer as "Henschen", but there was an envelope taped one of the axles that contained a bill of lading from "Dexter Axle" and describing the size, rating, etc. of the axle.

Are they one and the same company?
Is there an ID plate on the axle? The Henschen axles have these welded on with load rating, serial number, etc.
Henschen is the OEM maker and still makes axles for vintage Airstreams as well. Could you axles have been routed though a Dexter dealer??

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Old 06-30-2002, 12:31 PM   #3
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Hardly ...

Henschen is 2 blocks from the Airstream factory and my trailer is brand new. There would be no reason to get Dexter involved in any way unless Dexter is making the axles under cointract to Henschen or maybe Dexter puts on the wheels, brakes, etc., or maybe Henschen makes all of the Dexter Dura-Torque axles. There are a lot of possibilities.

The Dexter bill-of-lading had all the specs for the axle on it, size, weight rating, etc. and looked just like the paperwork I received when I replaced an axle on my Scamp many years ago,

Yet, the "Certified Performance Checkout" sheet given me by the dealer says clearly "axle - Henschen - serial # 764...922 - model 2500#.

This arouses my curiosity.
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Old 06-30-2002, 12:41 PM   #4
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In these days of "Outsourcing", nothing would surprise me. I must have spent an least 3 hours last night following the "Paper Trail" of Thor, Dexter, QCB Products, Tomkins, Philips, the AL-KO Group...and I can't remember who else. All of these companies build Torsion-type Axles. And all of these companies have a Fab shop in Elkhart, Indiana.

After 1998, there was a flurry of sell-off and buy-offs of all these companies, all of which build axles and brakes.

I would guess that Hencshen outsourced at least the Axle portion to Dexter.

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Old 07-01-2002, 11:49 PM   #5
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The new Henschen axles I just put under my 73 Ambassador have Dexter brake backing plates. I ordered these direct from the maker.

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Old 10-13-2006, 07:01 PM   #6
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axles

I cant beleive airstream would use anything other than dexter for the simple reason you can buy Dexter parts everywhere NAPA<autozone
If you break down on the road you want that availability. Dexter is a good axle. Never heard of Henschen for a MFG. or maybe dexter parts are interchangable for this reason and they give you both packets if info
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Old 10-23-2006, 11:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mustang
I cant beleive airstream would use anything other than dexter for the simple reason you can buy Dexter parts everywhere NAPA<autozone
If you break down on the road you want that availability. Dexter is a good axle. Never heard of Henschen for a MFG. or maybe dexter parts are interchangable for this reason and they give you both packets if info
Airstream has used Henschen axles since 1961.

Andy
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Old 10-23-2006, 01:19 PM   #8
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Airstream switched to a compatable Dexter axle for a while several years ago when Henschen shipped them a bunch with underlubricated bearings and cause Airstream a major recall and expense.
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Old 10-23-2006, 01:40 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwightdi
Airstream switched to a compatable Dexter axle for a while several years ago when Henschen shipped them a bunch with underlubricated bearings and cause Airstream a major recall and expense.
I think it was just last year, wasn't it?

Airstream didn't have much of a choice about axles until four or five years ago, as Henschen was owned by Thor/Airstream.

Henschen was purchased earlier this year by GKN Off Highway, a European congloperation. It's previous owner was Lakin General, a tire recycler.
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Old 10-23-2006, 01:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwightdi
Airstream switched to a compatable Dexter axle for a while several years ago when Henschen shipped them a bunch with underlubricated bearings and cause Airstream a major recall and expense.
Airstream has used Dexter axles. Additionally confusing - is that - a Henschen axle uses a lot of Dexter parts. Check the serial number tag on the axle to be 100% sure of the manufacturer.

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Old 10-23-2006, 04:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdoane
I think it was just last year, wasn't it?
Don -- It's in the Forum archives somewhere but I'd hate to have to find it. I think it was Spring '05 that they switched to Dexters. My '06 Safari (build date: approx August 8, 2005) has Dexters. Just guessing but I believe they switched back to Henschens in February of this year.
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Old 10-23-2006, 05:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canoe stream
Don -- It's in the Forum archives somewhere but I'd hate to have to find it. I think it was Spring '05 that they switched to Dexters. My '06 Safari (build date: approx August 8, 2005) has Dexters. Just guessing but I believe they switched back to Henschens in February of this year.
This is something we will need to track carefully, as sometime in the future it could become a headache for an owner of a vintage 2005 coach that needs axles. Of course, by then I will be more worried about the axles on my wheelchair...
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Old 10-23-2006, 07:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canoe stream
..Just guessing but I believe they switched back to Henschens in February of this year.
I kind of thought Airstream might go back to their neighbor, but it would be really nice to have someone "in the biz" confirm that.

The funny thing is while that it probably does not matter in the grand scheme of things, I have come to associate "Henschen" with "Airstream" no matter who owns either company.

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Old 10-24-2006, 01:39 AM   #14
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Axle bearings and the seals can be had at many Rv stores and other outlets.
Dexter does not make their own bearings or the seals ,additionally Ive just
serviced 6 cargo trailers with dexter axles and all had been over greased
and had the grease completely all over the shoes ,magnets,drums etc .
These trailers are all tandems ,with the 10 and 12 " brakes ,never been
serviced since new ,so watch out for that as the greasing thru the spindle
forces grease out of the seal into the drum ,the seals were double lip as well
what a mess ,don't rely on the grease thru the spindle ,and you don't know
how much grease is being forced in anyway ,lastly it enters in the inner bearing surface part of the spindle only ,not the outer.the trailers are all
2005 and newer.Dexter may have been trying to ensure no under greasing
but they got too much for sure .

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Old 10-24-2006, 04:48 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottanlily
Axle bearings and the seals can be had at many Rv stores and other outlets.
Dexter does not make their own bearings or the seals ,additionally Ive just
serviced 6 cargo trailers with dexter axles and all had been over greased
and had the grease completely all over the shoes ,magnets,drums etc .
These trailers are all tandems ,with the 10 and 12 " brakes ,never been
serviced since new ,so watch out for that as the greasing thru the spindle
forces grease out of the seal into the drum ,the seals were double lip as well
what a mess ,don't rely on the grease thru the spindle ,and you don't know
how much grease is being forced in anyway ,lastly it enters in the inner bearing surface part of the spindle only ,not the outer.the trailers are all
2005 and newer.Dexter may have been trying to ensure no under greasing
but they got too much for sure .

Scott of scottanlily
I believe my 2004 has Henschen axles, and it came straight from the factory with UNDER LUBED bearings. Fortunately, I caught it and had them properly greased before I had much bigger problems, unlike several other new Airsteam owners who incurred big time problems.

Here's my question (and I hope I'm not getting too far off course from the original thread):

Dexter now has what they call Neverlube sealed cartridge bearings, that have a 100,000 mile warranty, eliminating the need for annual maintenance. These bearings are being used now by some other travel trailer manufacturers, perhaps with Dexter axles.

Does anyone know whether these bearings are compatible with my Henschen axles? I'm thinking it would be nice to have bearings that didn't need to be repacked every year or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first.

John
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Old 10-24-2006, 09:22 AM   #16
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How about those sealed bearings?

I was wondering to myself as I read this thread "Why don't they use sealed bearings like the automakers do?" Who needs the grief of ripping them apart every year and regreasing. We haven't had to do that with cars since,what, the early 70's?

Sealed bearings seem like a good idea to me. The loads an Airstream axle sees are no higher than those on a 3/4 ton pickup, so if you can get a one ton truck that you don't have to grease the hubs every year, you should be able to get a trailer axle that's the same way. At least in my humble opinion
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Old 10-24-2006, 09:41 AM   #17
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Sealed!

These Dexter sealed bearings are a good idea, in concept at least. However they are not a replacement for current bearings. Dexter spent a lot of time in development of a product line that would support the use of them. Dozens of RV manufacturers are using them locally, as supplied by Dexter. My guess is they will NOT fit a Henschen without a spindle change minimum. These new bearings are large to say the least.

Additionally, there is a cost increase to get this new technology. Most manufacturers of RV's purchase axles heavily based on price - thus - several will only go to them if the competition forces it.

Just two cents from a retired axleman,
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Old 10-24-2006, 10:29 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axleman
Most manufacturers of RV's purchase axles heavily based on price - thus - several will only go to them if the competition forces it.

Just two cents from a retired axleman,
Henry
Considering that there are so many RV manufactures using axles with those sealed bearings - I visited 2 very respected ones in your area just 3 weeks ago - I can't believe that they're paying so much more for them, as you say, without having pretty good reasons to do so.
The companies I visited even included this prominently in their sales literature, so they must feel this is a major selling point.

I wonder why Airstream isn't on board with the program?

John
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Old 10-24-2006, 10:41 AM   #19
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More thoughts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyfisher
I wonder why Airstream isn't on board with the program?

John
John,

You're correct - many RV manufacturers are switching to them. More every week it seems.

As for Airstream not being on board, I can't say. I do not know if Henschen rejected them for some reason or not. Perhaps Henschens small size and capacity with limited R&D/Engineering budgets play into this. The change to using this bearing would be costly for an axle manufacturer - especially a small one.

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Old 10-24-2006, 10:48 AM   #20
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Bearings

Repacking bearings once a year or every 10,000 miles is a routinr PM.

In my 40 plus years specifically with the Airstream products, seldom will you find a bearing problem or a leaky grease seal. But it should be done to maximize safety.

However, all to many times, when repacking bearings, we find a problem of one sort or another with the braking system.

Things such as excessively worn magnets and/or brake shoes, broken springs, drums that need turning, a magnet that has an open circuit therefore is inoperative, ANDall to many times grease on the shoes.

It is our thought that having sealed bearings will only add to those problems, since most owners would neglet to ever check the condition of their brakes.

Brake components do have a limited mileage life.

Andy
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