Take Off Shell for Axle Replace't ? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 02-28-2007, 08:59 PM   #1
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Name: Joe
Trailer: 1989 17 ft Bigfoot Deluxe / 2004 Ford Ranger
Ontario
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Our '73 Trillium is up for an axle replacement this Spring. Apparently, the axle was welded to the frame at the factory.Is it common practice to remove the shell from the frame, to prevent damaging it from cutting off/welding- back -on operations?
I'm looking at a #9 Torflex axle from Dexter, with NO Brakes, but with flanges installed, for potential future brake installation.
Does a new Torflex axle give adequate damping of bouncing, without shocks?

Joe/Peterborough/Ontario
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Old 02-28-2007, 09:12 PM   #2
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Joe, the axles can be welded onto the frame without removing the body, although the axle shop that did mine wanted access to the inside so they could check it just in case -- The frame should dissipate the welding heat enough.

Dexter makes a bracket that can be welded to the frame, to which the axle brackets can then be bolted if you want to be able to do that yourself at a later date -- Redneck Trailer Supply carries the bracket (and is an excellent place $$ to buy an axle if there is one near you).

I suggest you look at the price of an axle equipped with brakes versus the cost of a brakeless axle plus the separate brake hardware at a later date -- Least expensive way to add brakes is to buy an equipped axle!
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Old 02-28-2007, 10:40 PM   #3
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Hey Joe,
I'm pulling my body off the frame, it would be near impossible to cut off the old axle and reattach the new with the body in place. My OEM axle on my Trillium is a Henschen, not a Dexter. The mounting brackets are different on the 2 axles. My new Henschen brackets are identical to the old mounts making fitting much easier. I'm on board with Pete, brakes are cheap on a new axle. Good luck, Dave
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Old 03-01-2007, 02:02 AM   #4
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Hey Joe, I'm with Pete also....getting an axle with breakes at the same time would make more sense...however...why do you need brakes on this trailer and why would you ever not need them???

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Old 03-01-2007, 06:49 AM   #5
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Even if you don't think you need brakes on the new axle, remember...brakes on the trailer will help reduce the need to replace the brakes on the tug as frequently.
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Old 03-01-2007, 07:58 AM   #6
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When I ordered my Dexter axle for the Love Bug it would have only been about $70 more to order it with the brakes vs without brakes. To add them later would cost well over twice that much. I was told by the shop that all Dexter axles come with the flanges attached.

I could not have removed the old axle from the frame with the shell attached. I needed to grind off the old axle and would not have had enough room to get at some of the welds. I made my own mounting brackets whcih are welded to the frame and bolted to the axle so next time it will be much easier.
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Old 03-01-2007, 10:13 AM   #7
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I was told by the shop that all Dexter axles come with the flanges attached.
Just FYI - I thought that was true, but it's not. I got a new Dexter axle last summer and when they asked "brakes or freehub," I said freehub, thinking it would come with the flanges and I could add brakes later if I wanted to. But it showed up bare.

Not a big deal, but ask for the flanges if you think you might want brakes later. I don't think they cost much if anything extra, and even if it's cheaper to order brakes with the axle, it's still cheaper to add them later than to get a whole 'nother axle.
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Old 03-01-2007, 02:18 PM   #8
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Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Alberta
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Does a new Torflex axle give adequate damping of bouncing, without shocks?
Airsteam says no - they all come with shocks.
Many Europeans say no - shocks are an available option on this type of suspension when sold in Europe.
Personally, I doubt it - I added shocks to my leaf-spring axle.

On the other hand, the vast majority of trailers do not have shocks, and the U.S. makers of rubber torsion axles do not generally offer shocks even as an option.

So what does "adequate" mean to you ?
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Old 03-01-2007, 06:46 PM   #9
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"I was told by the shop that all Dexter axles come with the flanges attached. "

Quote:
Just FYI - I thought that was true, but it's not. I got a new Dexter axle last summer and when they asked "brakes or freehub," I said freehub, thinking it would come with the flanges and I could add brakes later if I wanted to. But it showed up bare.

Not a big deal, but ask for the flanges if you think you might want brakes later. I don't think they cost much if anything extra, and even if it's cheaper to order brakes with the axle, it's still cheaper to add them later than to get a whole 'nother axle.
The brake flanges are about a $3 option, but aren't required in tandem axle arrangements where only one axle may be braked, hence the choice between 'braked' or 'idler' axle. AFAIK, most if not all FGRV manfs supply the flanges, likely to make subsequent upgrades possible and also to standardize.

BTW, that's the problem sometimes with shops; perhaps they have never had occasion to see an axle without flanges -- I know I had an axle replaced and they screwed up a number of things, including not ordering the brake flanges... I finally had them replace the replacement.
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Old 03-01-2007, 07:17 PM   #10
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The brake flanges are about a $3 option, but aren't required in tandem axle arrangements where only one axle may be braked...
I wouldn't count on that one. In British Columbia, according to Division 5 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations, brakes are required on both axles of a tandem-axled trailer, if the trailer is heavy enough to require brakes. I have heard of people here in Alberta being warned that if they planned to tow into B.C, they should get brakes on both axles, so apparently it has been enforced.

But yes, the same regulation allows one non-braking axle on "house trailers" with more than two axles, and with various other exceptions it's not surprising that "idler" axles are offered. So when someone builds a triple-axle egg, they can save a couple bucks for brake hardware on that third axle... which would presumably have 10-inch wheels.
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Old 03-01-2007, 08:49 PM   #11
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Name: Joe
Trailer: 1989 17 ft Bigfoot Deluxe / 2004 Ford Ranger
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All:
Thanx for all the input and ideas...that HENSCHEN website was interesting...I'm going to compare prices between them and DEXTER, however, there is a DEXTER supplier right here in Ontario, whereas HENSCHEN is located in Ohio; but then,perhaps they too, have a supplier here. Will have to check into that. Shipping costs could be a factor, when prices are compared.
I guess going with brakes on the new axle seems to be the wiser choice, if for no other reason than the cost factor, ie. now vs later.
Opinion still seems divided on shell removal...final decision may be left up to the shop that will be doing the installation, I guess.
As for shocks,I noted even Henschen's website stated somewhere,that torsion axles have a natural damping quality, suggesting that shocks were not necessary. Oh well, one less expense !

Joe
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Old 03-02-2007, 12:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
In British Columbia, according to Division 5 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations, brakes are required on both axles of a tandem-axled trailer, if the trailer is heavy enough to require brakes. I have heard of people here in Alberta being warned that if they planned to tow into B.C, they should get brakes on both axles, so apparently it has been enforced.
That could keep me out of Brittish Columbia. Fiber Stream only put brakes on the leading axle. The trailing axle is brakeless. Would there be an exception for older units?
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Old 03-02-2007, 12:53 PM   #13
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That could keep me out of British Columbia. Fiber Stream only put brakes on the leading axle. The trailing axle is brakeless. Would there be an exception for older units?
Oh, come up here anyway, Frederick, and don't pass up seeing BC! I am not aware of any reason why older units would be exempted, but my guess is that the concern is about heavier trailers, anyway.

Quote:
Originally posted by BC MVA Regs
[b]A trailer shall be equipped with brakes at each end of each axle, but brakes are not required
( a ) on one axle of a house trailer that is equipped with more than 2 axles,
( b ) on any axle of a trailer other than a towing dolly if the licensed vehicle weight of the trailer
(i) is 1 400 kg or less, and
(ii) is less than 50% of the licensed vehicle weight of the vehicle by which it is being towed,
If the Fiber Stream is under 1400 kg (I think it is...) and the GVWR (which is what I think "licensed vehicle weight" means) of the Odyssey is more than twice the Fiber Stream weight (must be close), then it seems you'd be legal without brakes at all. I'm not suggesting that the Fiber Stream is not a reasonable setup (although I would certainly prefer brakes on both axles), just that the practice they followed (brakes only on leading axle) is not universally acceptable. Just another reason to always include the brakes on a replacement axle.
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Old 03-02-2007, 01:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
As for shocks,I noted even Henschen's website stated somewhere,that torsion axles have a natural damping quality, suggesting that shocks were not necessary. Oh well, one less expense !
Yes, rubber has a characteristic called hysteresis, which means that it absorbs energy and is thus self-damping. Multi-leaf springs have friction between the leaves, which also provides damping... but you'll notice that every car and pickup truck with leaf springs still has shocks.

The damping provided by the rubber, or by interleaf friction, is not good enough for cars and trucks (or Airstreams, or many other travel trailer); however, it is generally considered to be adequate for trailers. Again, is it good enough for you?
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Old 03-02-2007, 03:56 PM   #15
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Name: Joe
Trailer: 1989 17 ft Bigfoot Deluxe / 2004 Ford Ranger
Ontario
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Brian, right now any improvement would be good enough...with the suspension "frozen" on the road side of the Trillium,it was always a contest when we first opened the door at the campsite after a long drive, to see whch item had "travelled" the farthest, from where it was stowed on board when leaving home !!!

Joe
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Old 03-02-2007, 08:05 PM   #16
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Quote:
Our '73 Trillium is up for an axle replacement this Spring. Apparently, the axle was welded to the frame at the factory.Is it common practice to remove the shell from the frame, to prevent damaging it from cutting off/welding- back -on operations?
I'm looking at a #9 Torflex axle from Dexter, with NO Brakes, but with flanges installed, for potential future brake installation.
Does a new Torflex axle give adequate damping of bouncing, without shocks?

Joe/Peterborough/Ontario
I had two 75 13' Trilliums last summer, one with and one without brakes. The one that had brakes had a furnace wich may have made the total weight high enough to require brakes. When I sold the one with brakes a guy drove 3 hours to buy mine(he could've bought one with no brakes 5 minutes from home). He wanted reserve braking for a trip through the Rockies. I made one panic stop while towing the one with brakes and that was enough to convince me they were a great investment. I was surprised no one mentioned brake size to you. You will likely find you have a choice between 7'" and 10". I strongly suggest you choose 10", because I've found the 7" aren't very effective.
Bill
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Old 03-02-2007, 08:45 PM   #17
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Name: Joe
Trailer: 1989 17 ft Bigfoot Deluxe / 2004 Ford Ranger
Ontario
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You're right, Bill, the one time you make that panic stop...you are greatfull for having installed brakes on the trailer.
...also, good advice on going to the 10" brakes, over 7 inchers. I had not heard that the 7" brakes are not very effective.
Thanx,
Joe
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Old 03-03-2007, 12:39 PM   #18
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I have my brake controller adjusted so the trailer brakes in proper proportion to the tug, so they normally work well and are valuable in any stop. At the hard-braking extreme, I know they just won't apply enough force, because during brake setup I tried applying full power to them and they didn't lock the tires (on dry pavement). Since the tires are far from racing specials, I'm sure it's not a matter of too much traction... it's too little brake (drums, shoes, or magnet mechanism).

My Boler has the 10"x2.25" drums typical of 3500 lb axles (it's twice the weight of a typical 13' egg), so the upgrade would be to 12" drums... but I think it's essentially the same situation as having the 7" drums on a 1500 lb trailer and wanting the 10" drums.

For perspective, a car with a rear axle carrying 1500 lb would not have anything as small as 7" drums. I assume that current trailer brake sizing is just the sizing of the 1960's, when performance standards were lower and brake controllers were crude (so lock-up was a potential problem).
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Old 03-03-2007, 04:50 PM   #19
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Name: Joe
Trailer: 1989 17 ft Bigfoot Deluxe / 2004 Ford Ranger
Ontario
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Brian:
What do you mean by"proper proportion to tug" when adjusting the trailer braking ?
We've towed the Trillium with both our Silverado pickup, as well as our Subaru Forester; the latter has no brake controller, the pickup does, for when we tow our 22'Terry Resort fifth wheel. If I understand you correctly, and presuming I install brakes on the Trill, then the same controller setting I have just used for the Fiver,coming off a trip, will not be correct for the Trill, if I hooked up to it, right after having unhooked from the Fiver?

Question:While towing your Boler, do you notice any significant brake drag from the trailer brakes if you manually apply them with the lever on the controller?

Joe
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Old 03-04-2007, 12:07 PM   #20
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Joseph You don't need to remove the shell to install a new axel. I removed the axel from my 19 ft fifth wheel, added 2 inches to the frame, and reinstalled the axel, without even unloading the trailer. I did this so I could pull it with a bigger, taller truck, got the idea form Scamp.

I put a cut off wheel in a disc grinder and cut out the welds, very simple. The tricky part is the vertical and over head welds. I found 6011 rods work best for these applications. I am a amature at this and it worked great, a comercial weld shop would be no problem at all. The hard part is making sure your axel is square to your frame so it doesn't dog track.

As for the torsion axel, it is the easiest way to go. The ride (bounce) isn't quite as smooth, but longevity is better and is much easier to install. I believe all the new Scamps come with these axels.

Mr. Renee
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