1973 Amerigo axle questions - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-01-2015, 11:43 AM   #1
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Unhappy 1973 Amerigo axle questions

OK. The brown 1973 amerigo has axle issues. Apparently.

After further reading it would explain why drawers and cabinets and lights kind of "disintegrated" on the long tow home. It shook itself apart. Funny how smoothly it seemed to tow from our inside the tow vehicle perspective.

Paul swears it's not a torsion axle. So what is it? It has hubs (?) that hold the darndest weird tire rims I've ever seen. Closest I've seen online is "bombardier" -- the hole pattern is like a 4-pointed star, the central area is a lobed opening far too big in my opinion, but apparently meant to be that way. The Dexstar site didn't show anything like it; e-Bay had some vaguely similar, but none spot on. 4 over 6 1/2, 4 over 9 1/2, is what Paul called the pattern. The spare is different from (newer than?) the other two tires/rims.

How do we tell if this type of axle is worn out?

Is it best to assume it's worn and break out another thousand?
(WHY am I asking this--we know the answer.)


KiS
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Old 11-01-2015, 12:11 PM   #2
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Kai,
While the original sales brochure I have from Amerigo states a torsion axle on the FG-16, mine and other FG's I've seen in pictures all have the typical leaf spring suspension. I prefer leaf springs myself, very low maintenance & easy to spot any problems on them. As far as going bad you may have issues with the spindle surface where the bearing sits if a bearing has ever gone bad or the axle tube may get bent from overloading or accidents, other than that (or rust) they pretty much don't have problems

Here's a picture of the "Dexstar" wheels on mine, a pretty common trailer wheel from the 70's-80's era. While not as stylish or mainstream as many of the polished aluminum wheels out there now they still do their job. My hubs & rims where all in good condition so I chose to run with them for now.

The rims are 14" and are still available new on ebay for around $85.

IMHO the axle & wheels are something easily changed out at any time. I chose to spend my $$$ on other items that needed attention first on the camper for now.
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Old 11-01-2015, 12:22 PM   #3
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.....and as far as the shaking, having a good set of tires that are spin balanced will help. I think it's just inherent to these small campers that things are going to move & bounce around in them. I bet if you rode around inside one for a few miles it would be a scary trip!

We bought ours in Bristol, IN & even with new tires & the bearings repacked I still had some things like the stove top move around on the 850 mile trip home. I found 3 screws missing from the stove top that I have since replaced.......hopefully it's dancing days are now over!
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Old 11-01-2015, 01:32 PM   #4
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This came up last July: It could be a Dexter DexStar or a Fayette. The pics in the sales brochure look like the Fayette. Both can be found on on eBay.
axle on amerigo
NOTE: If the Fayette axle was cheaper than the Dexter axle when it was built, that's what you will have.
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Old 11-01-2015, 02:35 PM   #5
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Aha, thanks for the links. Now we see that our spare is a Fayette.
Both kinds can be found on e-Bay we've learned today, for roughly the same price. The lug patterns are the same. Paul said all three rims look good; he'll have Machinists, Inc. check them, too, along with the frame and leaf spring axle, which Paul thinks has already been inverted for a little more height.
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Old 11-01-2015, 04:49 PM   #6
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Hmmmm again. If you look at the pics in the link I posted (scroll down) you will see that the Amerigo originally did not have a leaf spring axle, but some sort of rubber torsion tube axle, called out in the literature as being "With no bulky leaf or coil springs" and also called "Axle: Single with torsion bar suspension". Suggesting that if yours has leaf springs that some one has been, to use the engineering term, "Screwing" with the axle. But there are other suggestions that leaf springs were used on some, so why the more expensive DexStar wheels...??? Only Stewart Gardner knows the answer to that and many other questions he left us with when he when to that great RV park in the sky years ago.
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Old 11-02-2015, 04:23 PM   #7
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Paul had a good day up at Machinists, Inc. today going over the frame and axle with the metal fab guys, the welder, the sandblast crew, etc. So far, not as bad as feared, leaf spring axle hasn't been inverted so more height IS possible, though we're not so sure it's a good idea...six of one, half-dozen of the other. Leaf-spring axle must be a later replacement for the original torsion axle or for a replacement for that. Who knows how many axles it's had? The rims are new enough that someone added them much later, possibly last time the rubber was changed, 5-7 years ago.


Thanks, all. The job glides on.
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Old 11-02-2015, 05:54 PM   #8
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Kai,
I think the torsion axle idea was dropped from the FG-16's after the sales brochure was printed up & Amerigo went with the leaf spring suspension. I see nothing to indicate the leaf spring axle was ever changed on mine and is the original one.

Keep in mind for additional lift you won't flip the axle but you will remount it to the bottom of the leaf springs instead of the top side. When you do this you'll need to have new perches welded to the axle tube for proper location of the axle. When I do mine I'll post up some pics.

How does your frame look, was it mainly surface rusted? As thick as the front frame rails are on the FG's I'd be surprised if it has rust holes in it.
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Old 11-02-2015, 06:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveV View Post
Kai,
I think the torsion axle idea was dropped from the FG-16's after the sales brochure was printed up & Amerigo went with the leaf spring suspension. I see nothing to indicate the leaf spring axle was ever changed on mine.

Keep in mind for additional lift you won't flip the axle but you will remount it to the bottom of the leaf springs instead of the top side. When you do this you'll need to have new perches welded to the axle tube for proper location of the axle. When I do mine I'll post up some pics.

How does your frame look, was it mainly surface rusted? As thick as the front frame rails are on the FG's I'd be surprised if it has rust holes in it.
Just to mention WHY...
Most trailer axles have "Camber" built in, meaning that the axle has a curve in it to give some camber to the wheels (The top will tilt in slightly) to improve tracking when towing. If you just rotate the axle housing 180 degrees the axle will curve in the opposite direction, leading to both tracking as well as tire wear issues.
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Old 11-02-2015, 06:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
Just to mention WHY...
Most trailer axles have "Camber" built in, meaning that the axle has a curve in it to give some camber to the wheels (The top will tilt in slightly) to improve tracking when towing. If you just rotate the axle housing 180 degrees the axle will curve in the opposite direction, leading to both tracking as well as tire wear issues.

I think every leaf sprung trailer I've owned has had + camber meaning the top of the wheel will tilt out, not in. Normally 1 to 1.5 degrees.
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Old 11-02-2015, 08:05 PM   #11
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Ooops, my bad... as Steve corrected, the top of the wheel will tip out with positive camber.
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Old 11-03-2015, 11:31 AM   #12
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Paul's back at Machinists, Inc. today to see how the investigation and fix-up are going. Will let him know the consensus here on camber. Thanks.
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