Do I Need a New Axle? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-28-2016, 12:02 AM   #1
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Name: Lise
Trailer: Boler
Washington
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Do I Need a New Axle?

I am starting with safety issues in my "new" 1977 17' Boler and would appreciate input on the state of my axle. My daughter can't wait to start designing interior updates, but I want to get it road ready first. (Although we do spend most evenings looking at Pinterest!)

The frame is in okay shape, rusted but solid. Not sure if it is original as there are notches in the front and back of the fiberglass shell to accommodate the frame and that doesn't look like a factory job.

The axle bends horizontally in the middle, but no vertical bend.

The ride is smooth, the wheels don't bend in or out, and the bearings stayed cool to the touch at every stop on my 150 mile ride home.

I ran the tests Ian Giles has in the Boler Buyer Guide, but not sure they apply to a leaf spring axle. Test #1: the wheels do not move down at all when the axle is jacked up. Test #2: (tire radius) - (frame to ground) = -3.5. (tire radius is 12.5" and frame to ground is 16".)

I had new tires put on and while it was lifted had a better chance to get photos of the belly of the beast. Please have a look at them below.

Other axle related questions I have:

1. If I take the brake cover off, will that give me any indication as to the manufacturer or age of the axle?

2. If I have a welding place (Mann's Welding in Seattle) install the axle, will they deal with lifting the egg off the frame or do I need to take care of that?

3. Does the 17' have the issue of leading/trailing axle? I think not as the wheels appear to be in line with the axle....

4. Any chance anyone can tell if I have stabilizer jacks? (I have more photos of the underside if that would help.) I don't know what/where to look.

The next order of business are the brakes/bearings, but I am holding on that in case I need to get a new axle. Then plumbing, then electrical.

Thanks in advance for any input,
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IMG_7312.jpg   IMG_7373.JPG  

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Old 07-28-2016, 01:45 AM   #2
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Name: Jack L
Trailer: Bigfoot B-17 CB
Washington
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The bend in the axle tube is exactly the way it should be. The test you referred to is for torsion axles, not axles with leaf springs. The photos of the springs do not show any broken leaf's . The springs are probably OK. The axle would only need replacing if you have an issue with damage to a spindle from a bearing/hub issue. Brakes, bearings and tires would be my priority. What is the ground clearance like ? I can't be sure from the photos, but it looks like you have drop axle that has been underslung and changing to a straight axle and mounting it over the springs would give more ground clearance but trailer height would not change.
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Old 07-28-2016, 02:08 AM   #3
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Name: Jack L
Trailer: Bigfoot B-17 CB
Washington
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To answer your questions, in all 4 the answer is no.

Mfr. identification might be on a tag welded to the axle tube but
age is not important.

If you ever do need an axle it is bolted to the leaf springs and comes
off easily

Your axle does not have trailing or leading arms. Only torsion axles
have these.

No stabilizers seen in the photos but they would be in the back near the rear bumper. If you do have stabilizers, do not attempt to use them to lift the trailer. They are not designed for lifting, just stabilizing. Welding stabilizers into a trailer does not require removing the body from the frame. Installing stabilizers is fairly simple, but there are some other options for stabilizers that are not permanently attached.
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Old 07-29-2016, 01:44 PM   #4
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Name: Lise
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Thanks Jack!

Many thanks Jack for sharing your knowledge.

I had new tires put on, and am planning to check the brakes and bearings today or tomorrow. I have watched a number of videos about inspecting and packing wheel bearings. The brake wires have been cut, so I will need to see if those have power going to them to check the condition. I think they are original so maybe replacing is in order!

The clearance in the rear frame to ground is 13" so it seems pretty good to me. It's actually higher than our towing vehicle hitch clearance!

I priced out buying and installing stabilizer jacks--from Amazon are some that stabilize 1000 lbs for $30 a pair. Mann's welding said 1-2 hours to install at $90/hr. I could also bolt them on, but would have to drill into the frame. I could also get that removable stabilizer by Valterra for about $65 but it sure looks flimsy. The reviews are good though.

Decisions, decisions!
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Old 07-29-2016, 01:52 PM   #5
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Name: Jack L
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Your ground clearance is the distance from the ground to the lowest point on the trailer. The lowest point is the bottom of the axle tube. Look under the trailer the try to visualize the axle mounted above the springs and without the 4 inch drop your current axle has.
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Old 07-29-2016, 03:03 PM   #6
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Looks like someone has installed the axle under the springs. Which most likely was for more ground clearance.
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Old 07-29-2016, 03:27 PM   #7
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Name: Jack L
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mszabo View Post
Looks like someone has installed the axle under the springs. Which most likely was for more ground clearance.
Taking a drop axle and mounting it under the springs does raise the frame and body by about 4 inches, but the ground clearance ( ground to bottom edge of axle tube) stays the same.
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Old 07-29-2016, 04:04 PM   #8
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1980 18' Sunrader Motorhome and 1971 Trails West CampMite Campster
Washington
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It certainly does look to be in good condition on the framing. Buti if you are going to take it somewhere for an inspection it makes sense to take it to a company that knows what is what as far as travel trailers go and can get any parts needed.

Evergreen RV on Aurora in North Seattle has a very good repair department with hourly rates comparale to welding shops. They are qualified to do a hands on safety and structural inspection and all repairs including the welding. They do lots of welding there. They also work on suspension. If needed they can lift the shell off for you. You do want a company that is very comprehensive of the risks related to welding anything that is directly adjacent to fiberglass. Evergreen RV is not an RV sales lot. All they do is repair RVs and sell parts for them. They never treat anyone like a dummy, very patient and friendly staff.

Call and make an appointment for a safety and structural inspection of the frame and axle and see what they have to say. At least then you will be able to develop a plan of action if one is needed including of course the choice to take it to other places for repairs. It might also turn out to be OK and not need repairs.

If the trailer is new to you they could also do an overall safety inspection of wiring, propane etc. Then you will at least have a to do list that is nicely prioritized for critical items that should be done first. Absolutely involve your daughter in doing those tasks so she can start accumulating those kinds of skills that serve as a foundation for other skills she might need later on.
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Old 07-29-2016, 10:45 PM   #9
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Name: John
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One tip, make sure you have the wheel bearings checked out by someone who knows how to do it properly or a professional technician. I thought I had a bad/worn out rubber torsion axle on my 13' Boler, turns out the PO had improperly tightened the castle nut on the hub when he repacked them right before the sale to us. It allowed enough play in the bearings for the wheels to tilt slightly inward causing the inside shoulders of our new tires to wear quickly...
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