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Old 06-08-2021, 08:24 AM   #1
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1962 22' Safari
Kingman , Arizona
Join Date: Jul 2020
Posts: 17
Why replace the axle?

Been following the form about a year now and am amazed at how many people recommended replacing axles and the number of people who do replace axles WHY? I currently am in the process of updateing restoring a 1962 Safari which has a torque axle.
I talked to a guy at the local trailer repair shop and and asked his opinion. He asked the size and weight of the trailer and if I had pulled it at all? I said I pulled it home 800 miles on I 25 and I 40 without a stabilizer and it pulled great no sway no bounce no tire ware on new tires and best of all no popped rivets. He stated in 30 years he had never replaced a “Worn Out” torque axle. As you may know the 62 only had a hydraulic breakaway brake. I am hoping I can fit new back plates that would allow me to install electric brakes. Hopefully avoid the cutting and welding required to replace the axle.
All comments welcomed..
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Old 06-08-2021, 12:32 PM   #2
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The axles don't really "wear out," they deteriorate (lose elasticity) with age.

The rubber rods in the axle that provide the "spring" in your torsion axle will eventually harden up and take a set. If you have ever pulled a rubber band out of the junk drawer and had it crumble because it is hard and dry, then imagine the same thing happening inside your axle.

Even an old axle will usually have some "spring" left in it, and tire wear is generally more of an alignment issue--so it might be hard to notice a hardening axle. If the roads you tow on are smooth (like an interstate), you might not notice any short term damage from towing on an old stiff axle.

Your axles may have been welded in place because it was early days of torsion axles, and they were expected to last for "the life of the trailer." In 1962, they probably never imagined someone would still be towing that trailer around in 2021. These days (and even as early as the 70's), torsion axles are bolted on, I assume so that they are easy to replace.

One way of evaluating the flexy-ness of an axle is to watch the wheel as you jack up the trailer. A good axle will let the wheel travel 2-3 inches before it comes off the ground. An old, set axle will only let the wheel move an inch or less before coming off the ground.

Rule of thumb is that an axle will last about 25 years. I can well imagine there are variables like the environment and how the trailer is stored, etc.

All those rubber bushings that are built into your vehicle's suspension won't last forever either. If you got 25 years out of those, it would be more than twice what you actually get (for best performance).

Another thought comes to mind: I have a buddy with a boat on a trailer. He takes it out a few times a year at most, and as a result, the tires look like they have a lot of life left on them even though they are 6 or 7 years old. One day he headed toward Key West with said boat, and 2 of the 4 tires blew out on the way. He parked the trailer, ran to the nearest town to get 2 new tires (only had 1 spare), came back and installed the wheels, drove a few more miles, and the other two original tires blew out. So, at the risk of mixing metaphors, just because a tire has tread and holds air doesn't mean it is a good tire.

Seriously though, a single axle will run you about $650. That is less than most of the appliances you will have to buy during the average refurb. The cost of axles in the big scheme of a full renovation is pretty minimal.
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Old 06-08-2021, 04:28 PM   #3
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1962 28' Ambassador
1961 19' Globetrotter
1962 26' Overlander
Mesa , Arizona
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Some trailer repair guys primarily work on boat, landscaping or utility type trailers so they will frequently see no need to change an axle out. Our trailer guy also said the axle looked good until he educated himself on Airstreams, axles and the torsion rods inside.

Although they are trailers they are little houses we're pulling behind us. They contain many possessions and have walls and furnishings in them.

Today's roadways, byways and highways are in ill repair and the Airstream going down the road needs all the help it can get. Think earthquake on wheels as you ramble across the country. That's a lot of beating up your precious trailer unnecessarily.

There is also no need for shocks on a car but we put them on for the comfort of the cargo inside.
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Old 06-08-2021, 05:00 PM   #4
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Two good tests to determine if you should replace the axles. 1 - Jack the trailer at the mounting plate and measure how high you need to jack before the tire lifts off the ground. 3" is a good number and anything less indicates that the rubber inside of the axle has hardened. 2 - Have the shirt and pants hangers in the closet jumped off the rod when traveling? That is a good sign that the rubber had hardened and not absorbing the shock of the road.

Once the rubber hardens, the frame and the rest of the trailer take a beating.
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Old 06-09-2021, 07:29 PM   #5
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Just replaced the two stock 3,000 pound rated axles with 10" drum brakes on our 2015 23D International Serenity that scales 6,069 pounds. It was built in September of 2014.

The replacement Dexter 3,800 pound rated axles have 12" Dexter dual caliper disc brakes and a 3" lift is built into the axle support brackets. We have the Dexter hydraulic brake fluid pump mounted in the front battery box. We had to go from five to six lug SenDel wheels due to brake size increase. We installed new 15" Michelin LTX ℗ 235/75R15 XL Defender series tires the same size as we have used for years.

A Lithionics 315 amp hour lithium battery was installed (smaller and lighter than the prior 300 amp hour lithium battery) with a Xantrex 3012 converter charger (replacing a Magnum MSH3012), and Victron solar charger and smart battery isolator to allow tow vehicle charging of the lithium battery. We retained the existing five 100 watt solar panels on the roof.

We installed a new 5G capable cell antenna on the roof with a Peplink four ethernet port modem with WiFi.

The Dometic Air conditioner received a MicroAir Easy Start and a new MicroAir thermostat on the wall. The television was upsized as well.

The funky cushion on the dinette seat by the door (same funky pillow on most FB and RB 25/26/27 models) is being replaced by a hickory cabinet to at least make use of this wasted space.

The eight year old Hensley Arrow was replaced with the new Propride PPP hitch with the V2 jacks. We got a second stinger which will be configured for the 2021 Land Cruiser to be able to tow the 23D after the in-coil Firestone air bags for the rear springs and a 12.5 gallon auxiliary gasoline tank from Australia are installed.

We fixed the Rigid Industries rear LED lights circuitry so they again come on whenever the tow vehicle is placed into reverse or a manual switch by the door is energized.

This has been a very busy week at A&P Vintage Trailer Works in Paradise, TX. I drive the nearly 1,000 miles to get this type of work done as it will done correctly the first time and they have stood behind their work since 2014 for me.

The 23D is having a third visit and the Classic has been here five times. We expect to renew the Classic axles and go to Dexter Disc brakes with a three inch lift built in the support frames of the axles. We will go to 5,200 pound stock load axles up for the factory 5,200 rated axles. The Victron Orion Smart charger will also be installed on the Classic then as it was not available when we did the upgrade to the same equipment brands a year ago in the Classic.

The big deal to me is that the battery related gear has a simple wall display but the details show up on my iPhone and iPad over Bluetooth. There is a conventional data display for both Xantrex 3012 units.
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Old 06-09-2021, 07:40 PM   #6
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Axles on Airstreams have a finite service life. The four rubber strands get stiff and the spring action quits resulting in damage to the Aluminum shell as if riding on steel wheels.

We are upgrading our 2015 23D International Serenity (built in SEP 2014) this week from 3,000 pound stock axles with ten inch brake drums to Dexter 3,800 pound axles with twelve inch dual caliper Dexter disc brakes and a three inch lift built into the axle support brackets. The Dexter brake pump is located in the battery box. There were other major items addressed at this time.

We plan a similar upgrade for our 2014 Classic (built January 2014) perhaps later this year to go from the stock 5,000 pound axles modified with 12" Kodiak disc brakes to 5,200 pound Dexter axles with 12" Dexter dual caliper disc brakes with a Dexter brake fluid pump replacing another brand in the battery box.

We change oil to keep the engine properly lubricated and if we don't there can be serious issues. Axles require attention as well.
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Old 06-09-2021, 09:14 PM   #7
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Price a new axle with brakes and then price all the brake components individually. You might find that the increase for the whole shebang is not that much when you consider the time and effort it will take you to retrofit brakes onto your existing axle.
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Old 05-18-2024, 10:33 AM   #8
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Mine is getting older and with all this axle talk I wondered what I had. I crawled up under and found a tag Dura-Flex/Cap 3300 or 3800 (cannot tell which one but think it is 3800)/Ser 3041909/ Model CAN 1970 Henschen.
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Old 05-18-2024, 11:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodsterinfl View Post
Mine is getting older and with all this axle talk I wondered what I had. I crawled up under and found a tag Dura-Flex/Cap 3300 or 3800 (cannot tell which one but think it is 3800)/Ser 3041909/ Model CAN 1970 Henschen.
Are you thinking about changing, just because they are aged? I suspect thousands of axles have been uneccesarily changed.

I remember some advice from Airstream Andy (I miss his posts) and many others. Flexibility of the rubber is key!

When jacking up the trailer by the frame, the tire/wheel should move downward as load is removed, a minimum of 3"minimum. This 3" movement indicates that the rubber is still flexible. Any less than 3" and it is time to replace.
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Old 05-23-2024, 05:17 PM   #10
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Axle replacement?

Our 1999 Excella has been wonderful until recently. We opened the door to a real disaster. We are full-timers. We were told we needed new axles. Maybe they get stiff and lose their cushion. It is a very rough ride for the trailer. We replaced the shocks a year and a half ago.

Axles? We can pay for it done if it is the axles and where would you suggest?

Thanks, Kat
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