$2000-2500 Axle Replacement? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-27-2006, 12:53 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1977 Scamp 13 ft
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Our 1977 Scamp 13 that we are restoring needs a new axle. The suspension is shot and I'd like to add brakes.

So I took it to our local RV/Drexel axle dealer. When they get it they put it up on the lift and...

...the axle has been welded in more than just the usual places (including some places it probably shouldn't be.) The previous owner has run the propane and water systems around the axle such that they'll have to be removed, rerouted and reconnected.

The shop, B&L RV in Sacramento, realizes this is very expensive and suggests "looking at the rubber in the axle and seeing what we can do about the suspension" and asks if we really needed brakes that badly.

My options as I see them include:
Just do it. (ouch!)
Don't worry about brakes and just see what he can do about the suspension. (we're taking a long trip this summer and pulling with a smallish Honda Element so I really wanted to get brakes)
Try someone else. (suggestions anyone? Camping World?)
Reroute the water and gas myself before we take it in to redo the axle.
???

Also, I asked about welding in brackets so the replacement axle could be bolted on and he felt he'd be better off welding it. He admitted he doesn't normally work on scamps.

Any Advice is appreciated and timeliness would be helpful as I it'll take 3-4 weeks to get the axle in if we decide to do it.

Thanks,

Chris and Linda
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Old 03-27-2006, 12:59 PM   #2
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Name: Darwin
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Our Scamp is welded also and I'm having the welds cut off and a special bracket put on so we can bolt on the axel as it should be. I think you just need to take the hit if it is impossible to insert new rubber.

Our axel is al-ko kober.

Please let us know if new rubber can be installed. My thought is that only the manfacture can do that.
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Old 03-27-2006, 01:56 PM   #3
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I replaced mine on the Miti-Lite with unit from southwestwheel.com . 2000lb Flexiride axle, brakes, and shipping from Texas about $350. Had to cut the old bracket off and weld new bracket on. Took about 4 hours start to finish. Nice thing about the flexiride is that it is adjustable. Has splines on torsion arm so you can change ride height if needed. Mike B
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Old 03-27-2006, 02:07 PM   #4
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Torsion axles can't be "re-rubbered". If yours is welded in places it looks like it shouldn't be, the rubber is probably melted.

A Dexter #9 axle rubbered for the appropriate weight with brakes should only run you around $250 tops FOB your axle store. It shouldn't run any more than that to have the old one cut off and the new brackets welded on. You can bolt the axle to the brackets.

Any competent welding shop can handle the job for you, you don't need an RV shop to do it. Their shop rates can run upwards of $200/hour depending on the location.

I'd go ahead and remove the lines before you take it in, and just re-run them afterward. There's nothing difficult or expensive in removing and re-running the lines. It'll take a little time, but there's very little expense involved in parts and frankly probably not THAT much time!

It sounds like your dealer doesn't have a really good handle on what you need, and/or they're willing to make you pay dearly for something they either don't know how to or don't want to do.

Roger
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Old 03-27-2006, 03:10 PM   #5
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if there is a trailer manufacturing shop aroud, one that builds toy or car haulers, or box or flatbeds, they should be able to help you out as well.
IMHO, most rv places charge through the roof for trailer repairs if they weren't originally bought from them
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Old 03-27-2006, 03:18 PM   #6
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I would grind the old axle off myself, send it to your local RV center to get an EXACT measurement. Ask for brakes on the new axle and if you would like a little more clearance on the bottom, go with a different angle.

I had a Henschen (sp?) torsion axle with 4 on 4.5 hubs. Bought a #10 Dexter with 22.5 degree down, electric brakes, 5 lug on 4.5 hubs. This added a few inches to bottom clearance and I also added 14" wheels which added a little more clearance. Our axle was bolted on. We just ground off the old bolts, removed the axle, ordered one with our new specs, and Dexter had made our new torsion axle with exact fit. We picked the axle(s) up (new and old) in our pickup truck and I put the axle on myself with new bolts.

Extreme care must be taken when welding a torsion axle. If the rubber is heated to a melting point, it is ruined...no more bounce.

My axle with brakes & hubs cost $400. Dexter lost my axle for awhile and offered me a discount for the trouble so I ended up paying $350. I LOVE my new axle.
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Old 03-27-2006, 03:27 PM   #7
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A Dexter #9 axle rubbered for the appropriate weight with brakes should only run you around $250 tops FOB your axle store. It shouldn't run any more than that to have the old one cut off and the new brackets welded on. You can bolt the axle to the brackets.
Roger
I'm in So Cal and I just ordered the above axle (plus EZlubes) from Red Neck Trailer Supply the cost was $363.00. That was the best price we could get when talking to people who actually had a clue about ordering "special order" axles.

We are DIYing the axle switch. Our original axless id bolted on. Even if it wasn't we would have done the work ourselves, ginding welds is dirty work but not rocket science. If you don't want to do it yourself I agree with checking out welding and trailer building businesses.
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Old 03-27-2006, 04:07 PM   #8
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Chris, drive around in some of the older areas outside of town. See if you can find a welder that is up for the challenge. I did a lot of phone calling and had prices all over the board. Many didn't want to touch it because of the fiberglass underneath. One guy told me "no problem" but he must have changed his mind when he saw it. He said he would order the axle and call me when it came in. I called him back a couple of times and finally got the hint. He just didn't want to do it.

I found a welder that has a shop outside his home. Neat, clean place and the guy was really nice. I ordered and took him the axle and he did a terrific job. I don't recall what the final cost was because I decided later to take it back and have him raise it some more. ( I know, I should've had it done the first time). He also reinforce the step up in the rear in order to give it better support. Even with the two trips and all the work, it was still way less than half of what they are quoting you.

This guy also made trailers (as well as other things) so he understood alignment, etc.

Just keep looking. You'll find the right person.
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Old 03-27-2006, 05:21 PM   #9
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Flexiride rubber cartridges, in addition to allowing angle adjustment, can also be replaced without replacing the rest of the axle assembly. Very nice, although that doesn't help with the Dexter Chris currently has, except to suggest a possible choice for the replacement.

Al-Ko in the U.K. offers factory rebuilds (rubber replacement) in their axles, but I don't think that's available on this side of the Atlantic. Even if it were, the original axle is apparently a Dexter, and even if it were an Al-Ko it would need to come off. So I vote for keeping axle assemblies removable by bolting them to brackets as Darwin is doing, and I think Chris has to bite the bullet and get the current one off of the Scamp. But I have a leaf spring axle (bolts on at the leaf spring eyes), so what do I know?

If it were mine, I would go with Roger's suggestion and do the stuff myself which I can, rather than paying shop rates for it. Routing wiring and propane lines isn't that tough, and this is an opportunity to improve the installation.

Quote:
The shop, B&L RV in Sacramento, realizes this is very expensive and suggests "looking at the rubber in the axle and seeing what we can do about the suspension" and asks if we really needed brakes that badly.
I'm not sure what these guys are getting at. If the axle is replaced, it might as well have brakes, for a relatively small incremental cost - that's the perfect time to add them. If they mean that the springing can be fixed without an axle replacement (nice if it means not having to remove the welded stuff), that would make sense, except that we know it's not likely possible.
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Old 03-27-2006, 08:16 PM   #10
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FWIW, http://www.northerntool.com/ lists a variety of Reliable brand 2000# torsion trailer axles, with differing widths and down angles, with prices ranging from $179 to $189. No brakes, though, for the 2000# axles except for 4on 4 bolt pattern. Hubs, bearings, and seals are not included.

A set of 5 on 4-1/2 hubs with bearings and seals is about $45.

Might be an option for someone not needing brakes? I've never used these axles, so I can't vouch for the suitability for a FGRV.
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Old 03-27-2006, 08:16 PM   #11
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Don't bother with brakes for a 13 footer. The best is an axle from Scamp. Have it welded in with a 1" rise an don't store it for long periods w/o taking some of the weight off the rubber.
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Old 03-27-2006, 09:09 PM   #12
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Shirely, This person is towing this thing with a Honda Element and definitly needs brakes, for the price difference why not. that 13' er can add up to 1800 lbs to the running gear of the Element which is just way too much for those brakes to handle in a bad situation. The price they got is way too high and I agree with all the suggestions about a local welding shop or getting a mechanical minded friend in on the deal
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Old 03-27-2006, 09:24 PM   #13
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I agree with Bill, especially about the brakes. Even a sparsely equipped 13' trailer is a huge fraction of the Element's weight, and should be doing its share of the stopping. My trailer is twice as heavy, but my van is much heavier as well, and I insist on having properly functional brakes. We've had significant discussions of this before, so I'll stop there...
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Old 03-28-2006, 08:15 AM   #14
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I would definitely get brakes, although trailer to Element weight ratio of 50% doesn't seem "huge".

I've seen a lot of discussion about axle replacements over the past several years and it was always "a few hundred dollars", and never a "few thousand"! You need to seek a more reasonable repair location.
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