Need info re: original angle of torsion arms Henschen Duraflex - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-31-2012, 07:04 PM   #1
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Need info re: original angle of torsion arms Henschen Duraflex

Anyone know the original angle of torsion arms on Henschen "Dura-Flex" axle installed on Escondido Burro trailers (1998-2002)? I'm guessing that it was 22.5 down angle. Mine is trailing arm but more like 10 degrees up angle. Henschen has been out of business since 2009 which means that replacement and specs for replacement are not to be had at a quick gOOgle. It's possible they may also have produced a 10 degrees up angle but more likely mine is pretty near the limit travel-wise.

jack
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Old 08-31-2012, 07:17 PM   #2
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Jack,
Your torsion arm is typically welded onto a square rod. Take one corner of the square to the other and scribe a line. Scribe a line along the center of the torsion arm. The difference between the two is your start angle.

If I recall Henschen is still in business.
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Old 08-31-2012, 07:51 PM   #3
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Thanks Roy. Henschen announced that they would cease business in 2009. Ownership was in Great Britain at that time. May be that a Dexter #10 Torflex may be the way to go. I'll get it hitched on the tug, jacked up, and pull a wheel to see what I've got. I've got 14" rims and 205/70R14s on there now and there's excellent clearance to top of wheelwell; bit tight laterally to the curbside wheelwell but doesn't rub. 13" was original.

This all got started because I wanted to get the numbers off my wheel bearings. So I scrubbed over the nameplate in the middle of the axle with sandpaper and then took a flash picture under there with a short telephoto. Couldn't see the view finder so I had to hipshoot til I got it centered. Blew up fine and I got every alpha and every numeric only to discover that I couldn't get spindle diameters off the (defunct) Henschen website. Yeh they're still there just like Escondido Burro but out of biz.

Probably the bearings are just 1 or 1 1/16" bore but I thought this would save me the old "tear it down and then ride the bike to get parts" routine that I got into with cars when I was younger (the slope of our driveway compels me to anchor the old girl with the tug prior to any jacking). I remember your temporary "lift" fix on your Boler and the subsequent axle replacement. Lot of rigmarole goes into axle geometry!

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Old 08-31-2012, 08:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbit View Post
Lot of rigmarole goes into axle geometry!
Oh, its not that bad, rather simple when you get the hang of it.
  • mounting brackets are the same width as your frame
  • which way do you want the brackets to face, in or out?
  • how high do you want them?
  • bolt on or weld on?
  • What load are you towing
  • brakes or not (what type)
  • how high or low do you want the center of your wheel from the frame.
  • what lube system
When you start tinkering with changing axles from leading to trailing adding brakes, centering the trailer over the axle and working with the existing body/frame shape is when things start to get a little tricky.

Measure twice, order once.
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Old 09-01-2012, 02:35 AM   #5
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Jack do you need the bearing part numbers? I have them written down somewhere, I repacked my bearings and wound out replacing one of the outer bearings. As I recall they're nothing unusual, the basic 3500lb axle bearings. I can look for the part numbers tomorrow, I bought the bearings off etrailer.

My axle arms are also angled up, maybe 10 degrees. The top of my tires are slightly below the top of the wheel well opening, which looks about right, so maybe the axles were originally angled up.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:43 AM   #6
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Thanks for the reply, Thomas. No need to look up the bearing nos. as I pushed the mouse around and found them. As you say, nothing unusual and tied to the axle wgt. rating. Appears they are 1-3/8" inboard and 1 -1/16" outbd. (L68149 and L44649). The only experience I have with trailer axles is not liking the price when I got the bearings repacked about a year ago and the increasing suspicion that I might need a new axle.

It may well be that the original angle was 10 up. I think my torsion arms are more than 10 degrees off horizontal but I assume part of that is deflection by static wgt. even when new. Tops of my tires are even with the lip of the wheelwell; I have 14 rims. I don't know if you did that swap altho I know you talked about doing so. Would only amount to a 1/2" difference in diameter if you still have the 13" rims so perhaps there's some life left in both yours and mine. I don't have the experience to judge the results of the "jump up and down" test; don't see much movement (less than 1"). Have never had trouble with doors opening or contents of trailer jumping around.

I hate to tear down one hub to find out what's in there and then have to put it back together, put the wheel on, set it down and unhitch to get a vehicle to go to the store. I'm going to Easter Marine later today and get the bearing kits on above numbers. If I don't have to replace, I'll have them when I do.

jack
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Old 09-01-2012, 10:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
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I don't have the experience to judge the results of the "jump up and down" test; don't see much movement (less than 1").
You pretty much can measure it. Load up one side with people or whatever. Measure from the end of the torsion arm to a point on the body. Jack up so wheel is off ground. Measure two points again.
The difference should give you an idea of range of motion without maximum "shock" value.

The less than 1" might be partly due to your tire.
Post results.
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Old 09-01-2012, 12:22 PM   #8
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Don't you guys in the US have 'bearing factors', or dealers that specialise in bearings?

Over here they are all run by older men with a grumpy attitude but who can measure bearing diameters by eye from ten paces away. Sure, you have to endure a constant stream of complaint about how they don't even make bearings like they used to, as you politely stand there waiting for the bearing guy to quote the 16-digit bearing number from memory and then reach behind himself, without looking, to pull exactly the bearing you need from a rack of maybe 200 identical boxes.

As a customer, I feel proud to take this sort of abuse in order to be allowed to see someone so utterly brilliant at their job. It's a bit like getting served by a waiter in a Paris restaurant - I don't mind in the least them looking down their nose at me as long as I get to see a real master at work......
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Old 09-01-2012, 12:59 PM   #9
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Nothing quite that Dickensian in parts depts. here altho yrs. ago you could find some pretty greasy wood counters in the office where they kept the "phonebooks." Grumpy countermen are just grumpy men behind a counter and not that hard to find. Worst I ever saw was the owner of an outfit called Pleasant Distributers, a jobber in sheet plastic laminate. I don't know what it would be called "over here" as that could be Honolulu or Hamburg and everywhere in between, but anyway, you had to get angry and trade insults with the old bastard before he'd sell you anything. Eastern Marine will have a bearing bible and the axle will probably still be listed but the bearings and stuff are in bins and self-serve so won't be able to bathe in the ambience of the Last Chance Garage.

As to waiters, yrs. ago wife and I had a waiter at Old Original Bookbinder's in Philadelphia PA who used the Royal "We" as a form of address in place of Sir or Madam or the ubiquitous and intimately egalitarian "youse guys" which you get these days. "And do We desire a glass of water?" does not mean the same as "Do youse guys want water?"

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Old 09-01-2012, 01:42 PM   #10
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Don't you guys in the US have 'bearing factors', or dealers that specialise in bearings?
......
Nope, we shipped them off to China with all the manufacturing jobs. Searching for everything is supposed to keep our mind off of the economy and unemployment.
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Old 09-01-2012, 05:05 PM   #11
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I'm still running with the stock 13" wheels and 185/80/13 tires. I'll probably go up one size to the 205/75/14 wheels and tires when my current set wears out.
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Old 09-01-2012, 06:30 PM   #12
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The following may or may not be a bit of support for the argument that our torsion axles are still performing a suspension function, Thomas.

www.burrotrailers.com/burro_17.htm

That's right, it's the Burro "mausoleum" on the web. You can look at it 20 times and not go away with much. Well, check down in the list of bullet points under the major dimensions. Lists 14" as ground clearance out the door with the 13" wheels and tires.

I just returned from measuring bottom box frame to ground at the center of wheel (axle location). Measures 13.5". Subtracting the half inch gained in hgt. over original by the changeout to 14" wheels and tires to get the relation to the spec'd hgt., I'd say the trailer now sits 1" lower than it did in 1998. To be honest, I don't know if that's good or bad as I don't know the total possible vertical travel at the spindle end of the arm. If your trailer measures up as maintaining the 14" ground clearance WITH the original wheel and tire diameter, I'd say your axle is doing fine. A possible complication is curb wgt. vs. dry wgt. Of course the actual clearance doesn't matter; it's more like the load waterline on a boat--empty boat rides higher. I've looked at a lot of shots of older Scamps and Bolers in which the lip of the wheelwell is dropping down on the hub center like a drooping eyebrow. Most commentators confidantly suggest an axle replacement on that basis alone. This, as you know is not quite the way either one of our trailers "looks" at the wheelwell but I have no idea where they are on the timeline to axle replacement.

jack

PS: Added this photo for those who know how to estimate torsion axle life from photos:
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Old 09-01-2012, 07:49 PM   #13
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Added this photo for those who know how to estimate torsion axle life from photos
That is simple, look at the original brochures. Compare where the center of the wheel is to a point or line on the body then compare that to the trailer in the photo. The center will be the center, no matter which tire size one is using.
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Old 09-01-2012, 09:21 PM   #14
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www.burrotrailers.com/images/models/both%20models.JPG

Couple factory pix; 14WB 17WB
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