Axle Condition?? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-07-2005, 08:32 AM   #1
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Trailer: 2007 17 ft Casita Spirit Deluxe
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How do we know if our old axles are in good condition? Many of these date back 25 years or more. Does a tech have to take it apart and inspect it? My axel (on a 1982 Burro) was replaced at some point but when I looked up the brand there is no information on the company. They may be out of business now. So, I wonder if the rubber parts are universal? Mine has electronic brakes.

I noticed my axle had a sticker on it with the name;

Northland Engineering Corporation
White Pigeon, Michigan
N.E.C. RUB-R-RIDE

The hubs say Dexter. They are four lug yet 14" wheels which are no longer made and/or available in 14".
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Old 12-07-2005, 09:20 AM   #2
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Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
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I replaced the axle on my Scamp two summers ago. It pulled fine...no excessive wobble, jerking or bouncing...but, it did sit extemely low. I was having trouble pulling into service stations, driveways, etc. In fact to pull into it's regular storage spot at home, I had to go so slow...I was almost stopped. I was concerned about tearing out the plumbing for the tanks and even the gray water tank itself...as it's at the back of the trailer and upon inspection noticed some scrape marks on the bottom. I balanced the cost to replace a tank and plumbing if it was damaged to the cost of replacing the axle. The first one may need to be done more than once if I wasn't very careful, but replacing the axle was a once in 20+ year fix. The axle won. I purchased a heavier Dexter axle with E-Z lubs, electric brakes and a 45 degree down angle. In the end I was able to fit the trailer with 15" tires (Marathons) which pleases me to no end. The trailer now tows like a dream, I can get into any parking lot or parking space I please. Besides it allowed me to purchase wheels for the trailer that now match my tug....how cool is that? Cool wheels are a must for someone who's very visual
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Old 12-07-2005, 05:22 PM   #3
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Trailer: Y2K6 Born Free 32RQ on the Kodiak chassis, 1995 Coachmen 19' B-van and 1996 Precision 21' Sailboat
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How do we know if our old axles are in good condition? Many of these date back 25 years or more.
Gary, the easiest test is to have someone of some "mass" stand inside the trailer and jump up and down while you "eyeball" the tire position in the wheelwell. If your axle is worn out, all you'll likely see is tire sidewall flex. The wheelwell/tire distance won't change.

If you still have axle suspension, you will see the top of the wheelwell move down closer to the tire. There should be a minimum of about 3" of "bump" room between the top of the tire in the wheelwell and the top of the wheelwell itself.

The mid to late '80s Burros generally had Dexter axles. Earlier ones like yours have been reported to have Henschen axles under them (at least Pete's. I don't remember what Gina D's has although I'm sure she's told us a dozen times. I'm not familiar with the brand you apparently have now, but there are dozens of manufacturers out there.

There's really nothing else that can be determined by "examining" an axle. Likely all of the parts are Dexter, but the only replaceable parts are the wheelbearings and brake system parts. Anything else that fails requires the axle to be replaced. If your axle is, in fact, over twenty years old you probably ought to plan to replace it. There are axles that have gone much longer than that, but their design life is really only about 15 years. Getting twenty years out of one is excellent. Longer than that is really living on borrowed time!

Roger
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Old 12-07-2005, 05:46 PM   #4
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Trailer: 17 ft 1986 Burro
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My 81' Burro has a Henschen axle. Not sure yet but it looks like the brake parts are Dexter At least they look like Dexter parts..
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Old 12-07-2005, 06:12 PM   #5
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My Fiber Stream has leaf spring suspension, Not torque tube. The springs appear to be in relatively good shape, yet I believe I would get a smoother ride from a pair of replacement torsion axles. However, 2 axle replacements could get expensive. I'll have to live with my existing setup for a while longer.
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Old 12-07-2005, 07:58 PM   #6
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I'll give it the 'jump' test tomorrow and see if there is still movement in the torsion portion of the axle. I was afraid the rubber could fail and cause damage but it seems it just does not work if the rubber is worn. So as long as the spindle and bearings are in good condition all I would have to be concerned about is the ride of the trailer. Thank you for the information.
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Old 12-07-2005, 08:22 PM   #7
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That's pretty much it, Gary. Just recognize that if your axle is shot, your trailer will rise and bang down on the axle on every bump. Eventually you will experience cracks in your frame and/or trailer body. You'll also notice that things inside will fly around inside the trailer. You should be able to put your 'stuff' on the bed, and it should mostly stay where you leave it from destination to destination. If it's flying around uncontrollably, that's another indicator that something may not be right with your axle.

Roger
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Old 12-09-2005, 03:30 PM   #8
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Put the wheels back on the Burro today and gave the axle the 'jump test'. Much to my relief, the axle still has a lot of cushioning available. The body went up and down with plenty of clearance between the tire and wheel well. This sure makes me happy as now I can put more energy into the other issues to make the Burro buffed. Thank you for the information.
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Old 12-10-2005, 11:44 PM   #9
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I haven't a clue what mnfg my axle is

It passed the bounce test when I looked at it to buy, and I have not experienced any problems with it, or the wheels and bits, so I haven't felt real compelled to check.

This is something I know is WAY beyond my fixing abilities, so if I need work down on it.. the shop can worry about it.

I still have a 4 bolt pattern, don't know if this is the original axle wheels etc or if these were replaced at an earlier time.
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Old 12-11-2005, 07:55 AM   #10
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I'd guess they're probably stock wheels. My '87 Burro 17' even came stock with four-bolt wheels.

Roger
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Old 12-11-2005, 08:11 AM   #11
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Trailer: 2007 17 ft Casita Spirit Deluxe
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Four bolt wheels are still available for 13" tires and smaller. But I found no one makes a four bolt pattern any longer for 14" and larger. I had to have the existing wheels sandblasted and powder coated to keep them going. An owner does better replacing the whole axle than just the brake drums. Especially if your axle is old. Until my suspension gets too stiff, I'll use what I have, 14" wheels with a four bolt pattern. I had to have a machine shop enlarge the center hole of a 13" wheel to use as a spare. I also had it sandblasted and powder coated, then I had the largest tire made for a 13" wheel mounted to match the height of the 14" tires I have on which are wide and tall. At least I have a new spare which is essential. I see Casita has got the idea on their 13' trailers. They have 14" wheels with brakes which really should be the standard even for a 13' trailer in 2006 in my opinion anyway.
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