Pro's and con's of changing axle height - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-27-2009, 12:25 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1972 Compact Jr
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I am researching my options for adding brakes to our 1972 compact Junior.
I will need to replace my axle. Presently there is a drop axle that is attached to the underside of leaf springs. There are 175/80 13 inch tires, 4 bolt. The cut outs for wheelwells are about 4 inches above the tires and on one side there is evidence of significant wheel rub some time previous.

As I look at this, it seems counter -intuitive, that if I raise the height of the axle I lower the height of the trailer. Do I understand it correctly? What would the pro's and con's be of changing the height of the axle?

I assume that changing the height of the axle has a bearing on the height of the hitch if it is presently level? any good reason to do this? We are use to the present height, need a step stool to get in which is okay. Larry has gone to a straight axle on the top side of the leaf springs and would that have much bearing on the height of the hitch?

I prefer to spend and do it right , than go cheap and be frustrated with compromises.
I welcome any comments , to be informed and know what to ask for at the RV shop.
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Old 11-27-2009, 02:30 PM   #2
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Name: Eddie
Trailer: 2014 Escape 21
Virginia
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Kent
Dexter makes a 2K drop axel and they are pretty inexpensive except for shipping. They have options for brakes, e-z lube hubs and 4X4 or 5X4 1/2 bolt patterns. The only special requirement is the standard spring mounts for the Dexter drop axels are for top of spring mounting and the Compact Jr. uses an under spring mounting. This should not be a problem to specify when ordering the new axel. The Dexter axel should almost be an exact replacement for your current axel. Go to http://www.dexteraxle.com/ and you can do your research.
The tire rub is most likely caused by a weak leaf spring. The springs on the Compact Jr. are a common size and they are also readily available. Just measure eye to eye on the spring, eye diameter and width for ordering. I found replacement springs at a local farm supply store but the springs can also be bought from Dexter. Remember to replace your bolts and hangers when replacing springs.

The only issue with a top mounted straight axel is the axel could possibly contact the frame if the spring bottoms out. Hunters and 4 wheelers like the Compacts because they are easy to raise up for off road camping by the ease of changing springs and axels. But when you raise them up you also raise the CG.
A good utility/enclosed trailer repair shop will most likely be less expensive than a RV dealer. Really what you need to do requires no welding and is really a DIY project but I can understand if you don't want to deal with it.
Eddie
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Old 11-28-2009, 05:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
1. Presently there is a drop axle [b]that is attached to the underside of leaf springs.
2. The cut outs for wheelwells are about 4 inches above the tires and on one side there is evidence of significant wheel rub some time previous.

3. As I look at this, it seems counter -intuitive, that if I raise the height of the axle I lower the height of the trailer. Do I understand it correctly?
4. What would the pro's and con's be of changing the height of the axle?

5. I assume that changing the height of the axle has a bearing on the height of the hitch if it is presently level? any good reason to do this?
We are use to the present height, need a step stool to get in which is okay.
6. Larry has gone to a straight axle on the top side of the leaf springs and would that have much bearing on the height of the hitch?
I had a 1971 Compact Jr. that I modified the axle mount on. I hope I can clear up some of your confusion... Here goes, I will answer out of sequence:
[b]3. I want to say first off that YES you do understand that part correctly.
1. & 2. The original configuration of the Compact Jr. (or ANY leaf spring suspension) is to attach the axle to the TOP of the leaf springs. Your axle has already been changed once. I'll bet that the rub evidence is from the original configuration, and was not removed or cleaned up after the spring mount was changed.
4. The PRO of "flipping" the axle from spring under mount (Original Stance) to spring over mount (What You Have Now) is to gain more BODY height. The axle itself is NOT FLIPPED. The drop axle remains at the same height in relation to the road. The wheel wells move higher, away from the tires. The frame (and the [b]#5 hitch) moves higher along with the body. This reduces dragging either the hitch or the trailer's bumper when driving through a dip in the road. The CON of "flipping" the axle is that the trailer may no longer be low enough to fit under a standard 7' tall garage door.
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Old 11-28-2009, 11:57 PM   #4
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Name: Dana
Trailer: 1973 Compact Jr
California
Posts: 540
Like you, I also want to change the axle on my Compact Jr (CJ) to add brakes. And like you, I looked at fitting larger wheels and tires.

My wife and I currently have two Camrys, a 1993 with 14" wheels and a 2003 with 15" wheels. I thought it would be great to set up the CJ's new axle to accept these wheels and tires because that would mean I could have two spares (one in the car and another on the trailer) that could be used in either place. I measured carefully and found the Camry tires would fit without rubbing, even with the spring bottomed.

HOWEVER, when I actually tried slipping the Camry wheel and tire into the CJ's wheelwell I discovered a few things!

1. The Camry wheel and tire weighs 50 lbs compared to the 26 lb weight of the CJ's current 13" steel wheel with tire. That adds to the wrestle factor as well as adds yet another 72 lbs to the overall weight of the trailer. Yes, the trailer doesn't have to "carry" 48 lbs of that 72, but it does raise the unsprung to sprung weight ratio, which is not a good thing. And it adds to the load the car has to haul up grades.

2. The Camry wheel and tire fit in the wheelwell, but I have to jack the CJ up higher in order to slip the top of the tire over the hub and under the lip of the outer skirt of the wheelwell. This also adds to the wrestle factor.

Overall, I have decided I would like to go to a 14" wheel, but not as large a tire as used on the Camry -- it is just too much work snaking it in and out between the hub and the outer skirt of the wheelwell.

Here are some pictures showing the differences:

Camry wheel & tire weight

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Current CJ wheel & tire weight

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Size comparison

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Old 11-29-2009, 12:02 AM   #5
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Name: Dana
Trailer: 1973 Compact Jr
California
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Here's one more picture that shows the 15" Camry wheel and tire in place on the CJ.

Note that the CJ is actually on jacks because I do not yet have the proper hub to accept the Camry's wheel.

The purpose of the test and picture was to determine whether the Camry tire would physically fit in the CJ's wheelwell. The answer is YES, but the wrestle factor is quite significant.


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