New 17' Bigfoot - Questions on axle - Page 3 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-14-2016, 10:15 AM   #29
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Ok, thanks. So I would likely be able to upgrade to a 15" wheel with just the axle flip, then?
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Old 02-14-2016, 10:34 AM   #30
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Best 14" tire choices, IMHO, are as follows; Kumho 857, Maxxis UE 168, Hankook RA 08. None of these are ST tires. I have had Kumho on my 1980 for 5 years with zero problems.
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Old 02-14-2016, 10:36 AM   #31
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15 inch wheels will fit with either change. When I changed my axle I went t a large Dexter distributor that sells to smaller dealers and repair shops. They had lots of axles in stock (hundreds) and 2 years ago, I paid less than $100 for the axle and about $50 for new u bolts and spring plates. I think the slight additional cost was well worth the money. This is something you only want to do one time. To mount your existing axle under the springs you would need to buy new perches and have them welded on and new mounting hardware would be a good idea also. The cost savings is small. You can get an EZ lube axle upgrade with a new axle. Most, if not all new Dexter axles are only available with the EZ lube feature.
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Old 02-14-2016, 10:58 AM   #32
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Doesn't Dexter make a kit that doesn't require welding?

I sent an email to Dexter, and I'm going to call the closest Dexter dealer on Tuesday. I guess there's no point in thinking too much harder on this until I have some price figures. I would prefer a new axle and brakes and bearings along with my lift, obviously. Just some peace of mind. But if the cost is too high, I'll just get my current brakes and bearings checked out, and if everything looks good there, I'll go with the spring-over.

Thanks.
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Old 02-14-2016, 11:07 AM   #33
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15 inch wheels will fit with either change. When I changed my axle I went t a large Dexter distributor that sells to smaller dealers and repair shops. They had lots of axles in stock (hundreds) and 2 years ago, I paid less than $100 for the axle and about $50 for new u bolts and spring plates. I think the slight additional cost was well worth the money. This is something you only want to do one time. To mount your existing axle under the springs you would need to buy new perches and have them welded on and new mounting hardware would be a good idea also. The cost savings is small. You can get an EZ lube axle upgrade with a new axle. Most, if not all new Dexter axles are only available with the EZ lube feature.
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Doesn't Dexter make a kit that doesn't require welding?

I sent an email to Dexter, and I'm going to call the closest Dexter dealer on Tuesday. I guess there's no point in thinking too much harder on this until I have some price figures. I would prefer a new axle and brakes and bearings along with my lift, obviously. Just some peace of mind. But if the cost is too high, I'll just get my current brakes and bearings checked out, and if everything looks good there, I'll go with the spring-over.

Thanks.
A Dexter rubber torsion axle with brakes will run you about $1,000 installed, roughly. And yes and no to your question. they have a no-weld axle, but that's only after you have the brackets welded onto the frame... so your next Dexter axle replacement (in 15 years +/-) can be a no-weld axle.

Of course, that will require the removal of your current axle, springs and shackles, and may require the removal of the shackle mounts from the frame, depending. And you might want to do that anyway for the cosmetics of not having spring shackle mounts hanging under the frame, if you go with a torsion axle.

You need to decide how much lift you want on the body, and how much ground clearance you want UNDER the axle. THEN you can start doing the math on the axle you want to install.

There's nothing inherently wrong with 14" tires/wheels. 15s work fine too... they're typically just more expensive to replace, and the common rule of thumb is to replace your trailer tires every five years regardless of how they look or how many miles you have on them. That said, I sold my '06 Bigfoot 25 with the OE Goodyears on it last summer. But it was stored inside seven months out of each year too, so the tires didn't get the UV/ozone exposure that most do sitting outside year-round.
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Old 02-14-2016, 12:43 PM   #34
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I don't really know what the torsion axles are but I was only looking at straight axles that are otherwise just like mine: leaf spring axles.

The "no weld" thing I was asking about is just for the spring-over kit for my current axle, not for a new axle.

To be honest, I don't want much lift. I'm even considering just longer shackles to get maybe a 1" lift. More ground clearance is of course not a bad thing, but I like how it sits now. It just clearly needs more clearance over the tires.

But all I've done is drive it home on highways. So I have no clue how the current height will work once I take it camping. It seems to sit higher than the RV I was driving before.

I can probably do the installation, so what I need to get is a price for a Dexter leaf spring axle (why go "rubber torsion"? Is there a reason to go with that instead of sticking with leaf springs? I know nothing about them) with brakes. Then I can figure out what's necessary to install it, if the sticker shock isn't too bad...
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Old 02-14-2016, 12:53 PM   #35
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Just out of curiosity Roger, since you agree with Jack's post, help me understand how he got an axle and hardware for $150-ish, and thinks the savings of doing the spring-over are minimal compared to just upgrading the axle, but you say a new axle will run $1,000, installed. Unless I'm misunderstanding what he or you are actually saying. I'm clearly still pretty uneducated on this stuff.

Are the brakes just that much additional cost? Or is all that extra cost because of the installation?

I'm open to other ideas, but the three things I'm tossing around, for best results (with no specific set lift amount in mind, just wanting to clear the tires, and if I get some extra clearance along with that, cool, but maybe not necessary) and wanting to compare cost, are:

1. Just longer shackles
2. A spring-over kit. Probably the Dexter "no-weld" kit, but having a friend put a tack weld in there for extra strength
3. A straight, leaf spring axle from Dexter with brakes.

There's a possibility I'll get my brakes and bearings checked out and learn they're totally fine, which would save me money, but I'm assuming that not much has been done to this axle for the last who-knows-how-many-years, so to buy it, then start fresh with a new axle, springs, brakes and bearings sure sounds nice. But probably not if it's $1,000.

Thanks!
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Old 02-14-2016, 01:30 PM   #36
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The $1000 figure is for a torsion axle which does not use springs. I don't think you'd be interested in that. When I replaced my 4" down axle with a straight version the price was around $200, which agrees well with Jack's quote. As I said somewhere above I later added the shock absorber kit which I think was around $ 60.

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Old 02-14-2016, 01:40 PM   #37
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Ok, thanks Walt, that makes sense.
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Old 02-14-2016, 01:42 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by ZachO View Post
Just out of curiosity Roger, since you agree with Jack's post, help me understand how he got an axle and hardware for $150-ish, and thinks the savings of doing the spring-over are minimal compared to just upgrading the axle, but you say a new axle will run $1,000, installed. Unless I'm misunderstanding what he or you are actually saying. I'm clearly still pretty uneducated on this stuff.

Are the brakes just that much additional cost? Or is all that extra cost because of the installation?

I'm open to other ideas, but the three things I'm tossing around, for best results (with no specific set lift amount in mind, just wanting to clear the tires, and if I get some extra clearance along with that, cool, but maybe not necessary) and wanting to compare cost, are:

1. Just longer shackles
2. A spring-over kit. Probably the Dexter "no-weld" kit, but having a friend put a tack weld in there for extra strength
3. A straight, leaf spring axle from Dexter with brakes.

There's a possibility I'll get my brakes and bearings checked out and learn they're totally fine, which would save me money, but I'm assuming that not much has been done to this axle for the last who-knows-how-many-years, so to buy it, then start fresh with a new axle, springs, brakes and bearings sure sounds nice. But probably not if it's $1,000.

Thanks!
Sorry, Zach, my bad there... when you said "Dexter," i'd (wrongly) presumed that you were talking about switching over to a Torflex axle.

Walt and Jack are correct for a standard axle setup.
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Old 02-14-2016, 03:16 PM   #39
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Great! Thanks Roger. Yeah I figured either we weren't talking about the same thing, or I just read Jack's post wrong.

I can spend that much. And since part of buying this camper is to live cheaply and not spend money on rent...since right now I'm still in "money spending mode" after buying it and have a little cash laying around, I'd like to just get it all done now.

I know unexpected things will come up, but I think getting the camper set up with a fresh axle, brakes, bearings and tires will hopefully allow a few years of very little $ input into it, until I decide I want a more steady job and have more security.
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Old 02-14-2016, 05:04 PM   #40
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Zacho, I recently purchased 1990 Bigfoot Gaucho and had to go through the same process that you are now going through. Before I purchased my Bigfoot I knew my first priority would be to replace the 26 year old original leaf springs before even looking at the trailer for purchase. I even knew in back of my mind I will most likely replace the axle and other components associated with the axle assembly ( brakes, drums & shackles etc). When I final got to inspect the trailer for purchase the trailer had sagging on the driver side of the trailer due to a failing 26 year old leaf spring. The PO flipped the dropped axle to raise the trailer about 4" but in doing so lowered the actual axle 4" closer to the ground. The lower axle height was not going to work for me since I will be towing the Bigfoot through fire roads to access my property in the Back Country of San Diego. After determining the cost of replacing just the worn component it was not worth my time and effort replacing just one thing and waiting for the other component to fail due to age. Personally my time is important to me because time is money. If you have the means I recommend doing it right the first time which will save you time and money in the long run. Forum member "trainjunkie" has a few treads posted about his axle upgrades that I used as reference. I ended up purchasing a compete Dexter EZ Lube 3" straight axle assembly with perches welded and electric brakes, hubs, leaf springs installed. I picked it up and it was bolt on ready. The installation process took about 2 hrs from removal to installing the new axle assembly and new wet shackles. Below is what it cost me to do the upgrade in Southern California. I ordered and purchased the 3" straight axle from Redneck trailer parts. It was a special order due to the size. It took 2 week.

1 Dexter 3500# EZ lube 3" axle assembly with electric brakes. $399.00
Part# 35ah54e-st-EZ 85x66
2 1750# double eye leaf springs with u-bolt kit. $79.00
1 dexler wet shackle kit. $54.00
Part# K71-358-00
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Old 02-14-2016, 05:16 PM   #41
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Thank you Ray! That gives me a very realistic idea of what this will entail.

So are you saying that your actual trailer didn't require any new perches or anything welded on? All the welding/modifications to make the Dexter axle fit your trailer could be done on the new axle, then it just bolted on?

That would be nice...

Thanks again.
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Old 02-16-2016, 12:52 PM   #42
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Well looks like things are a bit more expensive around here, but still within what I'm willing to pay. Since no matter what, there will be welding, I'm having a shop do it. If it was just a matter of tack-welding a spring flip kit, that would be one thing, but I think for spring perches to the frame, I'd rather have a shop do it than a friend who has done a little welding, but knows nothing about trailers and wheel alignment.

Quote I got for the complete axle - springs, perches, brakes and hubs - is about $540. But the local shop I called is quoting me about $170 for labor, so that's not nearly as painful as I was thinking, and that includes assembling the entire axle/brake components and bearings, so I won't complain about that.

I'll let you know how it goes, though I wish I could come back and post step by step and photos of me installing it...
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