Dexter axle - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-19-2005, 11:33 PM   #1
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Trailer: Casita 16 ft Freedom Deluxe
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I have a 2004 Casita 16' that has had very little use. I took it out for an extended trip recently and the axle broke. It is a Torflex axle made by Dexter. The failure was quite serious and I am told by Casita that this is a very rare occurrence. Has anyone else experienced a problem similar to this. Don
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Old 11-19-2005, 11:42 PM   #2
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WOW! Was your axle still under warrenty?

How are they having you get it repaired?
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Old 11-20-2005, 01:14 AM   #3
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Sorry (and surprised) to hear about the failures.

First, Dexter warrants their TorFlex axles for five years (and the leaf spring axles for only one year) -- Experience of one Yahoo Scamper in Alaska was positive -- I would personally recommend that if at all convenient, you should have the axle replaced by Casita because they know the axle and trailer best and are less likely to make "learning curve" mistakes in the process.

Second, I know that I (and likely a few others of technical inclination) would be interested in any and all details (both technical and administrative) regarding the both the failure and the subsequent replacement.

Third, in my experiences on this and other Egg groups, I would certainly agree with Casita that early failure of the Dexter, Al-Ko, Henschen, and other brands of rubber torsion axles does indeed appear to be very uncommon.

We eagerly await all the gruesome details....

BTW, in keeping with Making Lemonade out of Lemons Philosophy, now is a good time to consider possible changes to your axle arrangement, esp since you are in a good position to dicker with Dexter and Casita:

A. Installation of a weld-on bracket so subsequent axles can be bolted on without more welding should the need arise for yourself or a future owner down the line -- This may not be necessary if Casita is already using bolt-on methods (I am not up to date on their installation processes).

B. Installation of Casita's Hi-Lift option to get more ground clearance.

C. Possible installation of the next size axle up, rubbered to ruffly the same as your existing axle, with a view to installing the larger wheels/hubs to use the NevRLube cartridge bearings that don't require periodic disassembly, cleaning and regreasing (similiar to what is now used in many automotive bearings).

Note that B and/or C above will raise your Casita somewhat, making it slightly more prone to side-to-side rocking and potentially causing a garage storage problem, but if the raise puts the bottom of your truck and trailer on the same level, your towing resistance will be decreased (despite the slightly higher profile).
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Old 11-20-2005, 11:10 AM   #4
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I'm with Pete. I'd also like to hear the details. "Axle failure" could comprise lots of things from a weld failing to wheel bearing failure, to the torsion arms coming off. What happened, exactly?

There are hundreds of thousands of this type axle in use, and I have yet to hear of a catestrophic failure of the axle tube, or of the torsion arms. Generally, the rubber just gives up after twenty years, or the bearings seize because of lack of maintenance. There has been an occasional report of losing an axle shaft because of bad metallurgy, but that's very rare as well and usually only occurs on old axles as the steel becomes brittle.

Please let us know how it failed!

Roger
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Old 11-22-2005, 06:04 PM   #5
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Thanks for the helpful suggestions. My trailer is a 2004 16' Freedom Deluxe with only about 4000 total miles on it. I left Port St. Lucie, FL intending to spend at least two weeks on the road mostly touring the Guld Coast of Florida. My trailer has never been on any rough roads and the trailer has never been overloaded. I had gone about 450 miles on the first day and was in the panhandle of Northern Florida on I-10 when without any warning the right side of the trailer collapsed causing the wheel to bang up against the wheel well and burning up the tire and the side of the trailer. Fiberglass on fire does not smell good. I was able to keep control and finally got to the side of the road. I was able to find a flat bed trailer to tow me to Crestview, FL to a large body shop. I called Casita and they have shipped out a replacement axle to the body shop. These axles are not repairable and they are not welded but only bolted because welding will destroy the integrity of the internal rubber parts. It should be pretty easy to take off and put the new one on but, obviously, my vacation was kaput. I have since spoken to Dexter and they want me to send them the old axle.

So, right now I am in Texas and I am hopeful that the trailer will have its new axle sometime after Thansgiving and I will pick it up on my way back to Florida. My expenses so far are:

$700.00 for axle and shipping; $113.00 for new tire. I still will have to pay for the tow, body shop expense for taking off the old and putting on the new axle; shipping of the old axle to Dexter; and the extensive repairs needed to the wheel well of the Casita. Casita seems to deny any responsibility whatsoever saying that it is the responsibility of Dexter. I am very dissapointed in Casita and will think quite a bit before I ever deal with them again. They would not even think about shipping out the new axle until I had prepaid everything. Dexter seems to be willing to take some responsibilty but I have yet to see any positive action. I will wait until I get back to Florida before pursuing Dexter and my private insurance to see what will be covered, but believe me I would have paid for it all without argument if I could have had it repaired immediately and was able to continue on my trip as planned. Don
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Old 11-22-2005, 06:34 PM   #6
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Don, so what failed? Was it the mounting bracket? The axle shaft? The weld on the torsion arm? Did the axle break in half? What happened?

Don't blame Casita. If the axle failed, it is warranted by Dexter. There isn't really much that Casita could do for you other than commisserate unless the axle was improperly installed; then, of course, it's Casita's deal, but if the axle itself failed, then it's up to Dexter to make it right.

Roger
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Old 11-22-2005, 10:59 PM   #7
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Roger: The torsion bar that is attached to the end of the axle and holds the wheel in place broke. From what I am told that is a very rare occurence. Also from what I am told there are four rubber bands that are inside the axle that hold the tors.ion bar in place and they are usually very reliable. And yes, you are correct, Dexter does warrant the axle but I was so aggravated over the incident that I expected Casita to take more of an active role. It is not like the AC or refrigerator broke and those items are warranted by their own manufacurer. The axle is an integral part of the trailer and it is not a trailer witout an axle and I expected Casita to do more other then say we will send you out a new axle but pay us first. After all the trailer is barely a year old. Don
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Old 11-23-2005, 06:00 AM   #8
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Don, in defense of Casita (and I'm a Scamp owner), the axle is just another part, like the tongue jack or refrigerator or windows that they order off the shelf from a supplier and they expect the supplier to make a failure good. I know Scamp, for example, orders their axles by the rail car load and then assembles them to the frames (dunno whether they make their own frames or order them).

OTOH, had the fiberglass failed or the trailer frame, I would consider that to be a different story.

I do fault both manufacturers for not providing more info from the outside manf'd goods, like the fact that Dexter warrants their Tor-Flex axles for five years, or providing user's manuals for cooktops, a/c, reefers, etc. They could both be a bit more interested in following up on failures, like when the Carlisle tires were giving so much trouble.

BTW, experiences that some Scampers have had with in-warranty Dexter axles indicate that you will eventually be satisfied by them -- Be sure to follow up, because $700 is a top-end price for a new axle, esp considering that the brake hubs and equipment were likely not damaged -- That price is like the result of the markups at both the wholesaler and the shop that did the work.

That is absolutely the first time I have ever heard of a torsion axle by any manf failing in that manner and I am not at all surprised that they want the damaged one back so they can figure out what went wrong.
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Old 11-23-2005, 06:34 AM   #9
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Frankly, Don... I'm pretty shocked to hear that as well! I'd never heard of the rubber bands that hold the whole thing together breaking befor either!

Seriously, that's a very rare occurance. I've never heard of the welds failing on a torsion bar either, and I know that they've been in use since at least 1961. As I said in an earlier post, the only catastrophic failures that I've heard of are an occasional axle spindle breaking or a welded wheel bearing. Take heart by knowing that you are one in a zillion. Have you bought your Super Lotto ticket this week?

If you have damage to the trailer (frame, fiberglass, wheelwell etc) as a result of the failure, I would certainly go back to Casita under your warranty and ask that they repair it. Although it's damage incidental to the actual axle failure, and Dexter will probably end up reimbursing Casita, that incidental damage should be their responsiblilty to repair and bill Dexter. Actually your allusion to the refrigerator and AC is very accurate in the case of the axles. Casita buys stock items off the shelf for all of the systems in the trailer BUT the shell and frame, and merely assembles the rest from other manufacturers' goods, including the Dexter axles.

Recently a good friend of mine from Chicago had a wheel and tire come off of his Airstream 31' Excella FK while he was in Idaho or Washington and caused him significant grief. His came off, however, because he didn't regularly torque the lug nuts on his alloy wheels; a must-do maintenance item. You can take satisfaction, at least, in knowing that there was nothing preventative that you could have done on yours.

Good luck, and keep us posted on your travails.

Roger
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Old 11-23-2005, 06:07 PM   #10
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Just as an update, the axle was shipped on Friday and was supposed to arrive in Crestview, Fl within three to four days. Today is the 6th day and it has not arrived. When I called Casita they told me there was a "paper work" problem and it would not get there until Thursday of next week. That would be 15 days in transit. So Much for prompt shipping. I was very upset with Casita and they have taken a "who cares" attitude. It is not like I am at home and can afford to wait on this. It looks like I will have to just leave the trailer and come back for it when I am able. That is more time and money. Casita has been responsive to items like rivets, AC questions, etc. but when it came down to a real problem they stuck their corporate heads in the sand and have shown they could care less about the problem and its customers. I own a Sea Ray boat and had a problem while cruising. Sea Ray sent the parts I needed by air express knowing that I needed them to get going again. Casita on the other hand has taken no real interest in my problems not even to the extent of seeing that the axle is shipped in a prompt manner. Right now I am just anxious to get home and will do so after Thanksgiving even if I have to leave the trailer...Don
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Old 11-23-2005, 08:21 PM   #11
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Don, I'm sorry to hear that Casita isn't being more responsive. Even though Dexter has to deal with the axle, I'd expect them to at least try to be as helpful as possible under the circumstances! My folks just toured the Casita factory a couple of weeks ago on my recommendation. I have heard other rumblings that the factory doesn't do much in the way of after-sale follow-up as well. I'm really on the fence about whether to suggest that they look elsewhere when they buy... time will tell.

Roger
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Old 11-25-2005, 03:07 PM   #12
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Hmmmmmmmm, I was literally just about to place my order with Casita. Now I don't know......
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Old 11-25-2005, 04:27 PM   #13
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Don
I have a Scamp that when I bought it the seller told me he just changed the tires, I took a 5000 mile trip (ND to FL and back) about 3 short trips and the axle broke because NO grease(just gouged off. I had it towed to a shop (266 miles from home told them call Scamp they did and had it fixed in less than 10 days with 2 new tires for $880 Which now hearing yours I guess was cheap, they also put grease fittings on it. Scamp shipped the axle out the same day as I called them to check. The more I read in these forums the Happier I am that I chose Scamp. Good luck with your new axle

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Old 11-26-2005, 05:40 AM   #14
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Here's a link to the same discussion on the Casita Club Forum
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