Need a new axle, '89 Casita 16' - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-23-2012, 07:40 AM   #1
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Name: Jonathan
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Connecticut
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Need a new axle, '89 Casita 16'

I still have the original axle, brakes and tires. Its time. The existing is a leading arm torsion that is welded to the frame. I have never used the brakes as I tow with a Roadmaster wagon and forget its back there. I want to replace the axle and brakes (hydraulic) and welcome as much experienced advise that I can read from the members here. I remember someone had a a great piece on how they raised their Casita and installed bolt on brackets for their new axle. Also I assume that when attaching the new axle I just need to assure the same distance from the axle attachment point back to the ball hitch for correct alignment. I also assume that trailing suspension arms are more efficient.

Thanks!
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Old 01-23-2012, 08:19 AM   #2
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Hi Jonathan, welcome to FiberglassRV. Just remember, if you're changing the axle from leading arm to trailing arm, you'll need to move the axle forward in order for the wheel to center within the wheel well. The wheel is not at the end of the axle, but at the end of the arm.

I'm not sure trailing arm suspensions are more "efficient" but they glide into and out of potholes etc, instead of being jammed into them... which makes for a smoother ride.
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Old 01-23-2012, 08:24 AM   #3
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Thanks, I have clear frame rail area so I can mount the new axle closer to the tongue.
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Old 01-23-2012, 09:43 AM   #4
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I'm not sure trailing arm suspensions are more "efficient" but they glide into and out of potholes etc, instead of being jammed into them... which makes for a smoother ride.
Donna, I think you have to take the angle of the arm into account in deciding this. The gut feel about 'gliding' versus 'being jammed' is rather misleading.

Leading arm axles make some sense when using 'up' axle start angles that give the lowest trailer ride height - which is what older FG trailers seem to have. If a trailing arm is used with an 'up' start angle, it tends to run out of compliance at full load if the load has some rearward component to it - like when running over a solid object like a rock or a kerb.

In the diagram below the red arrows show the direction the wheel spindle moves in for a trailing arm axle with an 'up' start angle - at full load the wheel has to move forwards as much as it moves upwards, and that it does not usually want to do.

Flexiride axle data sheets actually have a warning on them about 'reduced compliance' at the maximum 'up' start angle they allow.

So trailing arm axles are good for 'down' or zero start angles and leading arm axles are good for 'up' start angles. I've added a second graphic to show more clearly what 'down' and 'up' start angles mean.
Attached Thumbnails
start-angle-1.JPG   start-angle-3.JPG  

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Old 01-23-2012, 02:58 PM   #5
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You're right Andrew, my bad. Leading arm up... jam.
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Old 01-23-2012, 04:07 PM   #6
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I am presently leading down. I want to trail down with a high lift. Now its Dexter or AL-KO and what weight range. I have installed the Tie Down hydraulic discs on the boat and thats #3700. Love that its always there regardless of whats pulling..........
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Old 01-24-2012, 03:03 PM   #7
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Can anyone recommend the axle manufacturer? Also tires, mine are the old bias ply.
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Old 01-24-2012, 07:46 PM   #8
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Jonathan, I replaced the original Al-Ko with a Dexter... because I could get it locally. Tires are a discussion of which everyone has an opinion... I have 15" Goodyear Marathons and have been perfectly happy with them... price and wear both. I always prefer to purchase items locally and support businesses in my area.

YMMV
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Old 01-24-2012, 08:46 PM   #9
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…………………. I want to replace the axle and brakes (hydraulic) and welcome as much experienced advise that I can read from the members here. Thanks!
Why have you decided on hydraulic brakes and are you planning to use surge brakes?
George.
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Old 01-24-2012, 10:32 PM   #10
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Name: Darrell
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Leading arm braking dynamics?

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Originally Posted by Andrew Gibbens View Post
Donna, I think you have to take the angle of the arm into account in deciding this. The gut feel about 'gliding' versus 'being jammed' is rather misleading.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Gibbens View Post

Leading arm axles make some sense when using 'up' axle start angles that give the lowest trailer ride height - which is what older FG trailers seem to have. If a trailing arm is used with an 'up' start angle, it tends to run out of compliance at full load if the load has some rearward component to it - like when running over a solid object like a rock or a kerb.

In the diagram below the red arrows show the direction the wheel spindle moves in for a trailing arm axle with an 'up' start angle - at full load the wheel has to move forwards as much as it moves upwards, and that it does not usually want to do.

Flexiride axle data sheets actually have a warning on them about 'reduced compliance' at the maximum 'up' start angle they allow.

So trailing arm axles are good for 'down' or zero start angles and leading arm axles are good for 'up' start angles. I've added a second graphic to show more clearly what 'down' and 'up' start angles mean.
Wouldn't a leading arm axle, with brakes, cause the trailer to rise when the brakes are applied and the suspension top-out (as opposed to bottom-out)?

Another thing I'm pondering is unloaded start angles: are they typically built in 22.5 degree increments? I expect I have to replace my Ventura's axle someday soon - just by eyeballing it appears to be 30-35 degrees loaded. My guess is that it was originally built to start at 22.5 degrees unloaded. Is that a good bet?

Thanks in advance for any and all FG wisdom out there.
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:07 PM   #11
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I installed the Tie Down hydraulic disc kit on my boat trailer and it was one less thing to think about, the harder you pressed on the brakes in the tow car the harder the trailer brakes worked. Also I didn't have to install an electronic controller in different tow vehicles. This camper has outlasted a few vehicles.....
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Old 01-25-2012, 04:41 PM   #12
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Brake's hydraulic vs electric
BUT YOU GOTTA STOP!
Trailer Brakes: Electric vs. Hydraulic Surge

John Tiger, Jr.
Speedway Illustrated Magazine
September 2003

Trailer brakes are a necessary evil; when they work properly, they're an essential part of the installed towing equipment needed to make a trip safe; when they need work, they're a real pain in the %&^* to service correctly. Most states have towing laws that stipulate that trailer brakes (separate from tow vehicle brakes) are mandatory when the trailer exceeds a certain weight limit; most times, that limit is around 3000 pounds (although in some states it's 1500 pounds, and in others it's 4500 pounds). Your state's information can usually be found at government Web sites such as the Department of Transportation (DOT; Home | U.S. Department of Transportation) or the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA; Home | National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)). Additionally, towing-related publications such as Trailer Boats magazine (TrailerBoats.com - Online Articles for the Boating and Watersports Enthusiast) or Trailer Life magazine (Travel Trailers, Trailer Camping and Trailer how Tos) regularly print very helpful state-by-state towing laws summary each fall, as well as a Tow Ratings guide for the new vehicle model year. Many new vehicle owners' manuals require trailer brakes when towing in order to keep the warranty valid. If your vehicle is new or under warranty, check the manual before you tow.

ELECTRIC OR HYDRAULIC?

Trailer brakes fall into two categories; electric (controlled by a brake control in the tow vehicle) and hydraulic surge (actuated by a special trailer coupler with no control from the tow car). Typically, hydraulic surge brakes are fitted to boat trailers and rental utility trailers.

In the past, boat trailers relied heavily on surge brakes setups because it was thought that the electric brake components mounted in the wheel (the shoes, arms, magnet and related springs and parts) would rust quickly because they are constantly dipped in water when the boat is launched. Today, however, more marine trailer builders are installing electric brake systems because brake manufacturers have started offering corrosion-resistant brake components such as galvanized or stainless steel metal parts coupled with rare-earth magnets.

Rental trailers, like those from U-Haul, rely on surge brakes because they don't require a brake control and related wiring from the tow vehicle. This makes renting and hooking up the trailer easier and cheaper.

SURGE BRAKES

However, there have always been questions about the actual legality of surge brake systems. DOT regulations specify that trailers with brakes must be fitted with an actuator that allows the tow vehicle driver to operate the trailer brakes independent of the tow vehicle brakes. In other words, he must be able to actuate the trailer's brakes without stepping on the tow vehicle brake pedal. Surge brakes do not offer this feature. They work using the deceleration force present as the tow vehicle stops. When the driver applies the tow vehicle brakes, the surge brake coupler's internal master cylinder compresses against the coupler body, forcing brake fluid through the brake lines to the wheel cylinders which forces the brake shoes against the drum (or pads against the rotor, if equipped with the newer disc brakes). If this sounds like a description of how the tow vehicle's brakes work, that's because surge brake systems work very much like car and truck brake systems. Unfortunately, there's no way for the driver to independently apply the trailer brakes in case of emergency. Are surge brakes legal? Technically, no — but that's a "technicality" that's been overlooked for decades.Surge brakes are still very popular on marine and rental trailers, and probably will continue to be for years into the future.

Surge brake maintenance can be time-consuming and troublesome. Just like the tow vehicle's brakes, the trailer's brakes must be maintained and serviced regularly to ensure that they'll work properly when they're needed most. With surge brakes, this involves changing the brake fluid, checking and/or replacing the lines and fittings carefully when corroded or leaking, and replacing the brake shoes and related parts. In addition, just like when servicing tow vehicle brakes, surge brakes must be bled in order to work properly. It's no wonder most surge brake systems go unserviced for many years, sometimes for the entire life of the trailer if it's used infrequently.

ELECTRIC BRAKES

Electric trailer brakes work without hydraulic fluid, master cylinders, or brake lines. An electric brake controller is mounted in the tow vehicle (usually under the dashboard, within easy reach of the driver). This controller is a simple device that takes 12 volts DC from the tow vehicle's electrical system and sends it back to the trailer brakes through a simple wiring system. The brake controller is always powered (always "on") as it is tied directly into the tow vehicle's wiring. However, it is "triggered" (energized) and begins to send power back to the trailer brakes only when activated. It can be activated two ways. Since it is wired directly into the tow vehicle's brake light switch, when the driver steps on the tow vehicle brake pedal he also activates the brake control. In addition, all brake controls have a manual actuation lever or button that allows the driver to send power back to the trailer brakes without stepping on the tow vehicle brake pedal.

Most brake controls employ some type of internal electronic control whereby the 12-volt input from the tow vehicle's electrical system is modulated as it's sent back to the trailer brakes. There are two types of brake controls: inertia-activated and time activated. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but they perform essentially the same function: they allow voltage to be applied to the trailer brake system wiring, energizing the trailer brakes so that the trailer helps the tow vehicle slow or stop.

Electric trailer brakes employ a magnet mounted inside the wheel hub assembly that when energized by the brake control, causes the brake shoes to move outward towards the drum and push against it. In contrast to surge brakes, servicing electric brakes is relatively easy; the magnet, wires, brake shoes and return springs are the only parts to service or replace, and there's no hydraulic fluid to replace and bleed. There's no master cylinder or lines to leak either.

CHOOSE YOUR SYSTEM

For most Speedway Illustrated readers, the choice will be easy; if you're fitting out a new trailer or rebuilding an older one, go with electric brakes. Surge brakes work well, but they're harder and more complex to maintain and repair. Electric brakes are easier to install and maintain, and the only extra initial expense is the brake control. There's good news for those in need of one, though; prices have come down over the past half-dozen years due to more competition in this market. Good brake controls that will stop trailers with up to four brakes can be purchased for less than $75, and on most new trucks and SUVs they simply plug into an existing harness under the dash using an inexpensive (less than $20) harness adapter. Remember that a surge brake system uses a special trailer coupler with a master cylinder included, which can cost well over $100 when buying new or replacing an older unit. As mentioned, maintenance and upkeep are much simpler than with surge brakes, and you'll have the added safety and peace of mind that a cockpit-mounted brake control provides.

.... sums up my thoughts on brakes..........
Tom
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