The Axle Replacement Saga - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-18-2008, 02:34 PM   #1
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If you're facing an axle replacement, now that ours is complete I will share with you the experience. I would say looking back, the axle replacement was the single most difficult component of rehabbing our 1981 13 Scamp. It would have been the single most expensive component as well, if not for the wild and woolly story I am about to relay to you over the next few installments.

Let me give you the background in the first installment:
When we bought the trailer we knew we had a "low-rider" and it was the original 27 yo axle. We went ahead gutted and redid the trailer, and began to use it while gathering the information on how to go about replacing the axle. Reading about axle replacements here and there for about a year we decided the best option was a Dexter #9 Torflex.

I spoke with the Dexter dealer here in Phoenix, but it would have been a 30 mile pull to get the trailer to them, which you have to do several times for measurements and then installation. Generally, consensus was that it takes 6-8 weeks or more after ordering your axle to actually be able to put your hands on it.

Now, we live in a somewhat rural area and nearby were two businesses that primarily service horse trailers, so off I go to see if they could handle the axle replacement on our lil people trailer. Yes, they can and it would be $595.00 installed. We were leaving in July for an entire month in the Scamp for WY, MT, UT, ID so they took the measurements first of May and ordered the axle which would be here in June and be installed before our trip.

OK, now the fun begins:
May comes and goes - no axle.
June comes and goes - no axle - No problem says the shop it will be there on July 1st and we don't leave till the 2nd.
July 1-2 comes and goes - you guessed it - no axle.

Now this isn't the shops fault, it is getting them built and out of Dexter that is the issue at this point.

Daddy, makes decision and we take off on our trip the morning of the 3rd for the first destination of Moab, UT for the 4th of July. Spectacular place to spend the 4th if you've never done it. Our second time.

As we leave Arizona and enter into UT on the 3rd the phone rings.
It's the trailer place and they are so excited - they have our axle!
I tell them---We'll see you in August, we're heading to Yellowstone.

Coming soon: Installment 2-We return from Montana to get our axle installed.
(how am I doin so far, Peterh?)
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Old 11-18-2008, 04:17 PM   #2
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I'm on tenterhooks here. Are you going to make it back on the original axle? Since you called it a "saga" I'm sure something else is going to happen. Please post Part II soon!
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Old 11-18-2008, 07:06 PM   #3
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OH YES! I know wher you're comming from. I delivered my trailer to Paul and the axle was measured and a new one ordered from Dexter. When it arrived it wst way too long.
Dexter said that if a new one was ordered we would be stick with it if it didn't turn out to be correct. We had the rep come and measure the axle himself. Two weeks .... no axle
Three weeks ....no axle. Called Dexter and were told that we hadn't ordered one. What?you we're in the shop and measured it yourself... OhYea! well it/\'ll take two weeks to go through the line.
Two weeks later ... TOO SHORT.
Old axle back under trailer in time for the Emily gathering.
Third axle arrived and i am NOW the proud owner of a level trailer.
Quite an experience.
All this time, Roy in TO had an axle and couldn't get it put on cause the guy was too busy and I had a guy but no axle.
Welcome to the fun and games department.
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Old 11-18-2008, 07:32 PM   #4
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Oh, just wait until I get the energy and time to write the next installment guys. It gets much more exciting. Of course, I guess that depends on your perspective.

Glad you now possess a Boler with a new axle James!
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Old 11-18-2008, 10:02 PM   #5
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. . . (how am I doin so far, Peterh?)
Hmmm. I see I've changed the way we talk about vacations and repair projects here. I suppose this saga concludes with an upbeat story that finds you at sunset on your last day at Yellowstone collecting the remains of a dead animal?

Naw. No one would end a happy vacation story like that.

Good start . . .
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:02 AM   #6
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Is there any truth to this rumor that the Saga got even worse because by the time they got home their names on their mail had been changed to Axle and Dexter?
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Old 11-19-2008, 01:42 PM   #7
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One more reason why I prefer to do things myself.
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Old 11-19-2008, 02:38 PM   #8
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Installment #2 "Fire In The Hole-The Axle Saga Continues"

Last we left our happy foursome, we were leaving Kalispell, MT after 30 days touring through WY, UT, MT, and ID on a 27 year old Scamp axle that had seen better days. We have black marks at the top of each wheel well now, as fond remembrances of the many times we "bottomed out" over the 3600 miles of our trek. Meanwhile, back home at the horse trailer shop our brand new Dexter #9 axle awaited our return.

After close to 30 days on the road with two adults and two children in a 13 Scamp we were very ready to see home, so we decided to leave it on the hitch and spend two nights making a direct run for Phoenix. The trip home was very uneventful, with a stop in southern ID on the Snake River and another stop just south of Bryce Canyon on the AZ border.

As we trucked down I-17, we were in the last two miles of our trip as we approached our home on the northern edge of Phoenix. We went right by the horse trailer shop with our axle, that sits on the western side of the highway. I remarked "Hey Honey, there sits our axle over there." As my wife looked up it began to dawn on us that something wasn't looking so good. My wife responded, "Honey, I think it burned down while we were gone!"

Sure enough, it looked like a US made Bunker Bomb had hit the horse trailer shop that was waiting to replace our axle. All I could think of was the $200 deposit I had given them to order the axle and another 12 week wait to try and get another one after we locate someone else to do it. And what would become of our $200-was there enough insurance?

I also began to recognize a pattern. If any of you recall, in the spring I had ordered the front and rear Plexi windows and trimlock from Scamp to replace the windows. Scamp sent it UPS who put it on a train that derailed in KS and all my windows burned to toast in the ensuing fire. Scamp had to wait on the insurance papers from UPS before they could reship my parts. I guess the moral of that story is, don't let me order any parts for your trailer.....

Installment #3 - "Do Axles Burn - The Axle Saga Continues"

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Old 11-19-2008, 02:52 PM   #9
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And i thought I had problems
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Old 11-19-2008, 10:24 PM   #10
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I also began to recognize a pattern.
Did you buy your trailer from Joe Btfsplk?
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Old 11-20-2008, 01:23 AM   #11
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Hi: Greg... Axles don't burn customers do!!! A slow roast.
Alf S. North shore of Lake Erie
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Old 11-20-2008, 02:01 AM   #12
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phew.... glad to hear its not only me that goes thru this shiat.

Im sure you had your moments when your spirit was not like your writing now. Gawddddd dammnent its frustrating.

Does writing about it now help make you see the humor and feel the pride of overcoming it all?
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Old 11-20-2008, 11:01 AM   #13
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Wow, it's amazing what life can throw at you!! We have yet to do any major repairs with our 83' Scamp, but I have the feeling we will eventually be replacing the axle if we keep this one around long enough, as low as it rides now, and hopefully it will not be quite the same experience that I have been reading about here. I am on the edge of my seat for the next part of the Saga!
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Old 11-20-2008, 01:10 PM   #14
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Installment #3 - "Do Axles Burn - The Axle Saga Continues"

As we unpacked our lil Scamp that had taken such good care of us in July, I figured I would go up in a few days and see what I could find out at the torched out horse trailer shop. Sometimes, when things that weird happen, I find you just have to sit with it for a few days before beginning to deal with it.

A couple of days later I finally find I'm in the mood to go hear what became of our #9 Torflex and answer the burning question.. "Do Axles Burn?" When I arrived at the shop the gate was open and there was crime scene tape all around the building. I got out and began to poke around. Now I don't know if anyone has ever seen steel girders melt, but that is how hot this fire was. I began to lose any hope for the Dexter. Trailers that were in the bays were now just melted outlines on the concrete. (Good to know concrete doesn't appear to burn.)

Out comes the manager from the wreckage where he had been assessing things for the insurance claim and begins to tell me the story.
Two disgruntled employees-one current-one ex had torched it. They even took 20lb propane bottles and put one in each room and opened the valves for a bit prior to lighting the place up to make sure nothing was left. They caught them the next day when the current one was the only employee that didn't show for work and they are both currently sitting in jail.

The manager pointed to an outline of a huge trailer in bay 3 and said "Do you know what that was?"
"A horse trailer, I replied."
"That was a $250,000 horse trailer that belonged to an Olympian which was totally loaded to go to an Olympic competition, and they dropped it in for service right before leaving."

Suddenly, he looked at me and said "Hey, you're the Scamp Guy."
(I don't know if any of you experience this, but I'm thinking of legally changing my first and middle name to Scamp Guy so it will just make it easier.)
"Yes, I am."
"Boy are you lucky, he said. Your axle was outside in the back of the yard and it's fine."
I now had my answer: "Axles Don't Burn" At least, if they're outside and away from the fire.

He relayed that they were going to set up a temporary shelter and would be able to install my axle the following week.

Now, I wish I could tell ya this was the end of the story and all is now well, but I can't.
Yes, there is more to the continuing axle saga and it will be forthcoming in:

Installment #4: "Don't Sell My Axle - The Axle Saga Continues"
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