axle is an automotive axle on my casita - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-27-2007, 01:02 PM   #1
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I took my newly used '93 casita in to a longstanding trailer shop here to add brakes. They have it there now.

the guy said someone put an automotive axle on it with discs and there is no way he can add trailer brakes.... that the 2 are not compatible. My husband confirmed there were disc's in there with vents for cooling (?). Maybe someone had a bent axle and did a cheap replacement?

anyway, Casita says I need their axle, the guy locally will have one fabricated custom where he has them made. It will be a 3,500 # axle and the trailer place assured me it would be the same height, because someone added shims to raise it 4" on the frame. Maybe that part was done at the factory for a high lift axle?

So, do I drive 250+ miles to rice, tx for a new axle at $200. more than the local guy, + gas, motels, etc, AND driving that distance with no brakes and an auto axle on there, or is it ok for the local guy to do what needs to be done?

he has been in business for 40 yrs and it's a no-brainer for him to do the new axle assembled with brakes, hubs, and all the new stuff. Casita made it sound like a science specific to casitas.

I don't want to throw off the handling of the trailer as designed and towability.

Casita new axle parts/labor =$700.
Local " " " =$500. and way less hassle.

if someone could answer pretty quick - the local guy is measuring for the axle now and we're waiting for a ride to go pick it up. It will take 2 weeks to get the new axle locally.

appreciate it!
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Old 07-27-2007, 01:16 PM   #2
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I don't own a Casita, but I my experience so far is that some dealers will say anything to get you to buy from them. Does the axle guy offer some sort of warranty and is he willing to make some adjustments if needed, after you've had a chance to drive it? From reading this forum, it sounds as though some of the do-it yourselfers here have made their own frames, axles and other parts, so it doesn't seem implausible at all that your local guy knows how to build one for less that will work just fine.

I hope you hear from some of the Casita experts on this forum in time to feel reassured about your decision--you might try PM'ing them.

Good luck!
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Old 07-27-2007, 01:28 PM   #3
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Umm, at 20 mpg, 400 miles is 20 gallons, times $3 per gallon, so your cost will be more like $260 more. And, in the unlikely event that something needs to be redone, you will find yourself back at the local guy anyway, presuming Casita warrants the job.

It is a tough call with Casita relatively close, but I would be likely to go with the local guy, in part because Casita may have a lot of knowledge about standard repairs to their trailers, the local guy is likely more used to winging it and your trailer is now non-standard.

BTW, Dexter makes a bracket for their TorFlex axles that can be welded to the trailer frame (or the spacer block, I presume) to which the axle can then be bolted. Costs a little more up front, but allows a future bolt-on axle replacement if you have a spindle/bearing problem or something like that.

I don't know the specifics for the #10 axle you will have, but here's the info from the Redneck catalog for the smaller #8 axle:

AP165 046910 WELD ON MOUNTING KIT FOR #8 TORFLEX AXLES
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Old 07-27-2007, 02:07 PM   #4
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thx pete and val!! I'm going to go with the local guy. He seemed very confident and I will check on the warranty. The bad this is I will be taking it on a 3 state trip labor day w/e, so other than checking handling around town, I won't know what the longer ride will be like.

I will say that car axle rode nice! we drove it 250 miles home from TX where we bought it and barely knew it was behind our 4runner. Perfect height match for my toyota too. The trailer guy said whoever put the axle on did a very good job....just can't add brakes to it.

I prefer to mod it aftermarket and make it my 'own' trailer. It only cost me $3k cash, so I have lots of wiggle room to work on it.

thx again - I feel ALOT better.
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Old 07-27-2007, 02:39 PM   #5
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one more thing. the axle on there now has leafs like my utility trailer? Do I need a torflex axle or were leaf spring axles standard in '03?

the trailer guy is checking the price for a torflex axle also.

appreciate your input before he orders the axle.
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Old 07-27-2007, 02:42 PM   #6
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I can't imagine why a Casita would specifically need a Casita axle... particularly since Casita just buys them from an outside supplier such as Dexter (as Pete suggested), like every other trailer manufacturer. It's not as if the chassis design of these trailers is optimized for some specific suspension configuration; there really isn't much "design" involved.

The car axle is an interesting choice, if only because it's bizarre that anyone found an axle with enough track width to suit the Casita in anything like a suitable configuration. It's also strange that the installer kept the disk brakes on, and didn't use them. Also, Casita and most "egg" makers normally use a trailing-arm independent rubber sprung "torsion" axle (Dexter Torflex or equivalent), and no automotive axle will be quite that configuration; I'm guessing it's a leaf-spring setup... but a photo before it gets torn off would be interesting to see.

It would be possible to use the auto axle and its existing brakes, but they use hydraulically-operated calipers. There are, as far as I know, no electrically operated disk brake calipers available, using the hydraulic ones would require a relatively expensive electric-over-hydraulic controller, and trailer-style hubs and brakes won't fit the auto axle, so I understand the proposal to completely replace the axle.
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Old 07-27-2007, 02:42 PM   #7
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Excellent score, Tracy, on the trailer. Sounds like it will work just fine going with the local fellow--enjoy your trip!
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Old 07-27-2007, 02:52 PM   #8
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Excellent score, Tracy, on the trailer. Sounds like it will work just fine going with the local fellow--enjoy your trip!
I'll definitely take pictures for you guys, tonight or tommorow.

so leaf spring axle is out and I need a torflex axle (dexter or equiv) ?

the guy that drove my runner and trailer home for me (nice ppl!) said he thinks the torflex axle alone is $300. + the brakes and stuff that doesn't come with it. He's going to check though when he gets back to the shop.

appreciate your input.
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Old 07-27-2007, 03:27 PM   #9
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Hi Tracy,

I agree with what Pete and Brian said. I used to have a Casita 17 and I was thinking the Dexter Torflex #10 (rated at 3500#) is what Casita now puts on the 16 footer, just like the 17. Do you have 14" wheels now? The 16 used to come with a 2200# and 13" wheels, I think. I don't know which year they changed. The most economical way to buy is to get the axle complete with 10 X 2-1/4 electric brakes. The price sounds reasonable and I would go with the local guy. Make sure to get the height you want and make sure he aligns the axle--the distance from the coupler to each spindle should be the same. Hope everything turns out OK!
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Old 07-27-2007, 03:28 PM   #10
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Tracey, absolutely the least expensive way to get brake hardware for an axle is to get the axle already equipped with the hardware -- Please have the guy look into that.

At one time, I checked the prices from Dexter (when they sold direct to the public) and ignoring the shipping cost it was actually cheaper to order an axle with brakes, take off the brake stuf and discard the axle than it was to just order the brake parts alone!!!!

Also, the best prices on axles seem to be at Redneck Trailer Supply so tell your guy about that and see if there's one in your area (they aren't everywhere).

Regarding torsion vs leaf, lots of folks are busy changing out their torsions for leaf because they like them better, or they understand them, or they can work on them without welding, or they can just change a few parts and not the whole axle, etc. However, a lot of that changes if you use the Dexter weld-on/bolt-on bracket.

Here's an Al-Ko pdf on leaf vs torsion, although a lot of Scamp 5Ws have added shocks to their torsion axles:

http://www.americanarv.com/PDFs/Axles.pdf

And here's some UK/Al-Ko info on shocks:

http://www.al-ko.co.uk/axletech-shocks.htm
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Old 07-27-2007, 04:33 PM   #11
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thx pete, bob, brian, val. I'll read the pdfs and educate myself Just got home with my dog who jumped out the window at 5-10mph when we were pulling out with the trailer that day picking it up. She's fine - just bruised. She's so crazy it took me this long to know for sure she had a problem.

the guy that dropped it off said the axle they'll put on there will allow the independent movement of the wheels. I'll have to call them tommorow or monday and see if it's a 'torsion' axle.

when i told the guy at casita that the local place was going to get one custom made for it, they said, 'oh that will be alot more expensive'. I told him, no actually it's $200. cheaper installed.

you guys have really put my mind at ease and I really appreciate it so much.

Quote:
Tracey, absolutely the least expensive way to get brake hardware for an axle is to get the axle already equipped with the hardware -- Please have the guy look into that.

At one time, I checked the prices from Dexter (when they sold direct to the public) and ignoring the shipping cost it was actually cheaper to order an axle with brakes, take off the brake stuf and discard the axle than it was to just order the brake parts alone!!!!

Also, the best prices on axles seem to be at Redneck Trailer Supply so tell your guy about that and see if there's one in your area (they aren't everywhere).

Regarding torsion vs leaf, lots of folks are busy changing out their torsions for leaf because they like them better, or they understand them, or they can work on them without welding, or they can just change a few parts and not the whole axle, etc. However, a lot of that changes if you use the Dexter weld-on/bolt-on bracket.

Here's an Al-Ko pdf on leaf vs torsion, although a lot of Scamp 5Ws have added shocks to their torsion axles:

http://www.americanarv.com/PDFs/Axles.pdf

And here's some UK/Al-Ko info on shocks:

http://www.al-ko.co.uk/axletech-shocks.htm
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Old 07-27-2007, 04:48 PM   #12
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Hi Tracy,

The 16 used to come with a 2200# and 13" wheels, I think. I don't know which year they changed.

I just checked the tire are Carlise 14ST tires with decent tread. I have a purchase receipt from '05 with the paperwork. My son said the rims are off a Ford Ranger.

i just took pics and will upload them in a few when I resize them.
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Old 07-27-2007, 05:16 PM   #13
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i decided not to resize the pics so you can zoom if you need to. let me know if you need other shots. i have no idea what i'm looking at or what to look for. once i read the pdfs I'll know better

posting the links to be kind to dialup users

http://i196.photobucket.com/albums/aa34/my...ta/Img_3619.jpg

http://i196.photobucket.com/albums/aa34/my...ta/Img_3618.jpg

http://i196.photobucket.com/albums/aa34/my...ta/Img_3617.jpg

http://i196.photobucket.com/albums/aa34/my...ta/Img_3616.jpg

http://i196.photobucket.com/albums/aa34/my...ta/Img_3615.jpg

http://i196.photobucket.com/albums/aa34/my...ta/Img_3614.jpg

http://i196.photobucket.com/albums/aa34/my...ta/Img_3613.jpg
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Old 07-27-2007, 05:24 PM   #14
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here's a more closeup of the wheel


Click image for larger version

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Old 07-27-2007, 08:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
I just checked the tire are Carlise 14ST tires with decent tread. I have a purchase receipt from '05 with the paperwork. My son said the rims are off a Ford Ranger.

i just took pics and will upload them in a few when I resize them.
I would advise that you NOT use the Ranger wheels, or any other automotive wheels, unless you can be certain that they are lug-centered, not hub-centered, wheels. The axle hubs will be lug-centered and automotive wheels are usually hub-centered. Just because the bolt spacing is the same as Dexter/Al-Ko/Henschen or whatever, doesn't mean the wheel and the hub are good mates.

You may be able to still use the 14" tires with the spacer installed and that will give good ground clearance and lessen the underside 'air dam' effect.

Looking at your pictures, I have two comments.

1. The cut wires are likely from the electric brakes from the original axle.

2. I see that Casita has used C-channel on your trailer, but I can't make out exactly what the axle-modifier did to connect the auto axle. Normally, Dexter recommends that their axle be BOLTED to C-channel, using tapered washers to keep it all vertical, instead of welding, and I have heard (but don't really know) that Casita is indeed now bolting. I don't know what Casita does when they install their HiLift -- Do they weld on another piece of C and bolt the axle to it or weld both? Maybe someone knows? or a call to Casita?

One reason it's important is that the extra existing welding may have to come off to get the right horizontal spacing for the new axle brackets, so you may need to reproduce the HiLift to keep the 14" tires...

I'm getting out of my depth here because my knowledge of Casita undersides and practices is only half-vast, not vast...
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Old 07-27-2007, 08:54 PM   #16
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thx for the info on the wheels Pete. I'll definitely change them out if they are indeed ranger wheels that are hub centered.

as far as the welding part with the previous mods, the trailer place should be able to square all that away. He's looked it over and given me his quote. He's very reasonable, so whatever he needs to do within reason, I'll do it. Want to be safe on the road and not worry about it. He may even sell wheels there.

thx for looking at the pics. I haven't a clue what the one of the previous owners was thinking when they modded it. Luckily these trailers are so simple that they can be modded back
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Old 07-27-2007, 09:02 PM   #17
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One reason it's important is that the extra existing welding may have to come off to get the right horizontal spacing for the new axle brackets, so you may need to reproduce the HiLift to keep the 14" tires...
Casita uses a greater down angle axle to gain the extra 1 7/8.
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Old 07-27-2007, 09:56 PM   #18
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I would advise that you NOT use the Ranger wheels, or any other automotive wheels, unless you can be certain that they are lug-centered, not hub-centered, wheels. The axle hubs will be lug-centered and automotive wheels are usually hub-centered. Just because the bolt spacing is the same as Dexter/Al-Ko/Henschen or whatever, doesn't mean the wheel and the hub are good mates.

You may be able to still use the 14" tires with the spacer installed and that will give good ground clearance and lessen the underside 'air dam' effect.

Looking at your pictures, I have two comments.

1. The cut wires are likely from the electric brakes from the original axle.

2. I see that Casita has used C-channel on your trailer, but I can't make out exactly what the axle-modifier did to connect the auto axle. Normally, Dexter recommends that their axle be BOLTED to C-channel, using tapered washers to keep it all vertical, instead of welding, and I have heard (but don't really know) that Casita is indeed now bolting. I don't know what Casita does when they install their HiLift -- Do they weld on another piece of C and bolt the axle to it or weld both? Maybe someone knows? or a call to Casita?

One reason it's important is that the extra existing welding may have to come off to get the right horizontal spacing for the new axle brackets, so you may need to reproduce the HiLift to keep the 14" tires...

I'm getting out of my depth here because my knowledge of Casita undersides and practices is only half-vast, not vast...
Washburns Dexter axle Install Box the c channel fwd & aft of hub center line Than Weld a length Box tubing under that than a l channel fit up to the dexter plates Center it all up in well equedestance from center line fwd& aft. Your local guy will under stand this i would hope. Iam just a marine fab welder. But have seen casita thats is how they did it on my 17 sd. Ask dexter how they would do it They more than likely have a plan u could use. Its a no brainer. lee
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Old 07-27-2007, 10:47 PM   #19
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WASHBURNS DEXTER AXEL INSTALL BOX THE C CHANNEL FWD& AFT OF HUB CENTER LINE THAN WELD A LENGTH BOX TUBING UNDER THAT THAN A L CHANNEL FIT UP TO THE DEXTER PLATES CENTER IT ALL UP IN WELL EQUEDESTANCE FROM CENTER LINE FWD& AFT. YOUR LOCAL GUY WILL UNDER STAND THIS i WOULD HOPE. IAM JUST A MARINE FAB WELDER. BUT HAVE SEEN CASITA THATS IS HOW THEY DID IT ON MY 17 SD. ASK DEXTER HOW THEY WOULD DO IT THEY MORE THAN LIKELY HAVE A PLAN U COULD USE. ITS A NO BRAINER . lee

thx Lee. Yeah I think it is a no-brainer to the trailer guy. He did assure me it will be the same height and i will love it. He's been in business for 40 yrs and it's a father/son operation with many employees.

I think I'll let him do what he needs to do and trust him, b/c if I keep telling him how to do it I'll just tick him off. You know how these southern guys are with women (especially a yankee woman lol) asking alot of questions that they don't really understand to begin with.
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Old 07-28-2007, 05:36 PM   #20
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Lee, thanks for pointing out the welded brace across the C-channel beam; I had forgotten that part. Here's a copy of one page of the Dexter Application Guide PDF (Said it before and I'll say it again, there is a cornucopia of axle and related information at the Dexter and Al-Ko sites!!!) showing the installation.
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