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Old 07-16-2020, 04:05 PM   #1
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Question Are the Axle Shocks Necessary

I think I have convinced myself to replace my Henschen axles on my 2004 AS. I have found a reputable shop near Denver experienced with AS axles that I can order the Dexter axles from. He can also weld on the shock mounts. The question is, are the shocks really necessary?? I have had dual axle enclosed car trailers weighing 7,000 lbs loaded that did not have them and handled fine. It would also give me more leeway to increase the ride height without fussing around.

What do you guys think? With shocks or without shocks??

Thanks in advance for your inputs!
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Old 07-16-2020, 04:35 PM   #2
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I've never towed an AS that didn't have shocks.
45+ years in the Auto field tell me, much better with working shocks than without.👍
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Old 07-16-2020, 04:47 PM   #3
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Are the Axle Shocks Necessary

Just as another data point, my 2007 International CCD 22 footer has dual axles and NO shocks or mount points anywhere on the OEM axles. It seems to ride fine with no obvious popped rivets or other signs of stress. Weird, huh?

Course, if you know me at all, weird is par for the course...around here, “normal” is just a setting on the dryer.
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Old 07-16-2020, 04:54 PM   #4
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Everybody except Airstream and Andy Rog (who's opinion I always respected) thinks they are not needed. Dexter says not needed supposedly. I just replaced the axles on my 2003 25' and opted to go with shocks. You can have the shock mounts welded on my Dexter so the axles come ready. I went with the 32 down axles and an Airstream almost fits, almost. I think when I install the wheels and take it off the jack stands it will give me just enough to make the connection. If not I'll just forgo shocks and not feel like I'm making a mistake. Colin H, who I bought my axles through recommended a Monroe shock that just happens to have about 5/16" more open length. I opted to go with Airstream shocks thinking the difference wouldn't matter but with 32 down on a 25 Airstream apparently it does.
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Old 07-16-2020, 07:03 PM   #5
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Dexter rubber torsion "Torflex" axles already have built-in self damping action. Sufficient for just about every application.

Airstream builds upon that with an additional damper for even more ride and handling performance.

Ultimately depends on what your performance expectations are.

I do a lot of higher speed and mountain driving. I want a controlled and quiet handling trailer that can handle rough surfaces with limited bucking and oscillations. So I would prefer the addition.
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Old 07-16-2020, 08:30 PM   #6
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We had a Casita ‘13 that had a new Dexter axle without shocks .

Towing I didn’t notice much movement . I had a chance to follow it and was surprised at how much it bounced . It definitely needed shocks .

When I replaced the axles on on our Airstream I also had the shock brackets installed and replaced the shocks .

If you had a car without shocks you would get seasick, a trailer without shocks even with a Dexter axle would be hard on the axle and the trailer and it’s contents.

I recommend shocks for the long run .

Be sure to balance the tires also .
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Old 07-17-2020, 09:40 AM   #7
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That is a great question. Last year when I put new axles on my Argosy 26 I looked into it and came up with a bunch of opinions but no good evidence. In fact the axles came with a warning that welding a shock mount on would void the warranty. So I left them off with the thought that I would see how it does and if I didn't like how it handle I could always add them.

I would love to see some actual data to support weather or not it is worth having shocks.
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Old 07-17-2020, 10:20 AM   #8
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I had this conversation with Uwe Salwender of Area 63 Productions, a renown Airstream expert:

I enjoyed learning from you at the 2014 Vintage Trailer Academy and I wanted to confirm I heard one of your comments correctly. We are at the point of axle + brakes replacement for our 1967 AS Safari. The Dexter TorFlex axle with brakes has arrived but it has no bracket for shocks. Is it your judgment that shocks do not provide real benefit to cushion bumps with this type of axle?

Yes, Jim, that has been my experience. Many argue this point, but having towed many mikes with both scenarios, I say shocks are decorative, mostly. Dexter engineering agrees 100% Like I said, a topic often argued…. if asked, just tell them Uwe said so….blame it on me. On a steel sprung axle, on the other hand, shocks are a brilliant idea. The steel spring ( leaf spring) needs control, partially because of the huge amount of unsprung weight.

So our '67 Safari has no shocks and we have not experienced any problems.

Jim
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Old 07-17-2020, 01:52 PM   #9
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I have pulled my '67 Overlander with old useless shocks and axles and with new shocks and axles, same tires and pressures and I could not tell the difference towing. However, having ridden in the same car, similar road conditions etc with and without shocks, I know there is a difference. There is so little cost of adding shocks why not put them on.? If it makes only 1% difference you are still treating your old beautiful trailer better than not.
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Old 07-17-2020, 01:57 PM   #10
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Shocks are not necessary in a car either but sure rides better with them.
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Old 07-17-2020, 02:04 PM   #11
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Ditto That.
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Old 07-17-2020, 02:13 PM   #12
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If indeed Shocks are merely decorative and do not add any real value, one would think Airstream would seize the opportunity to de-content and eliminate them to increase their profit margin.
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Old 07-17-2020, 02:55 PM   #13
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All those nice interiors and it's contents (the ride is often referred to as an earthquake on wheels) benifit nicely from the smoother ride.
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Old 07-17-2020, 03:02 PM   #14
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A trailer and a passenger vehicle have totally different objectives
Rubber torsion springs and metal springs have totally different movements.
I would guess that a metal spring can move about twice the distance as a rubber torsion spring. It is just a guess.

Again guessing, I think Air Stream uses shocks in part for marketing

And I would never tow my Air Stream without shocks. My two cents.

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Old 07-17-2020, 04:20 PM   #15
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I replaced my 1973 axles, finally, with 4500 lb, 45 degree up, as I rough camp primarily and needed ground clearance and load potential. Left shocks off to preserve axle warranty and notice NO difference, except no more loose cabinets and rivets. I have worked on many trailers ,through the years, with Dexter-type axles, and very few have shocks. Oklahoma wind will alert you to any sway problems, and I have certainly 'well-tested' the new set-up, and am very pleased.
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Old 07-17-2020, 04:26 PM   #16
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I just had to replace my OEM shocks because some were worn out. They must be working some or they would be no wear to wear them out.
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Old 07-17-2020, 06:55 PM   #17
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Thanks for everyones answers. Please keep them coming. I will be doing some additional measurements this weekend and then making a decision.

Thanks, Dave
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Old 07-17-2020, 08:24 PM   #18
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We have a 1995 Airstream that sat for 13 years. The shocks were done. We purchase them through a company that sells vintage Airstream parts and had them installed at the local tire shop that was a certified mechanic. What a difference pulling the trailer; much smoother. Glad we did it.
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Old 07-18-2020, 04:36 AM   #19
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The purpose of the shocks are to keep the suspension under control and keeps the tires from cupping. When the tire bounce is controlled you also have better braking. Have you ever observed a passing vehicle suspension with a bad shock absorber, the tire bounces like a basketball. Shocks keep the tire planted solidly on the pavement. Not having shocks would also contribute to vibration and shaking of the trailer. I have replaced axles on 3 of my own trailers plus a set for a friend and put shocks on each. On each I welded brackets. The axle manufacturer doesn't want you to weld on the tube as that would ruin it the rubber suspension. All welding is done on the down arm which is thick and heavy steel. A little bit at a time so nothing gets overheated.
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Old 07-18-2020, 10:00 AM   #20
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I would add to the above that speed IS a factor. Dexter makes a lot or torsion axles. Many go on farm equipment. If the vehicle mostly travels under 25 MPH that application does not really need shocks because the vehicle is not used like a travel trailer. And 55 is no longer the limit n the interstate.

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