Axles Installed!

It’s been a long time in the works. But the leaf spring to torsion axle conversion is finsihed. Talk about a stressful job.

A lot of unknown’s here. We had to measure for the axles, widen the hubface (wheel mount to wheel mount measurement), and of course the new aluminum wheels from Trailer Tire and Wheel Supermarket, a VAP Contributor. Wheels have different measurements and offsets, things I had no idea about and had to learn.

Going from a leaf sping axle to a torsion is no small task. It requires custom fabrication and lots of patience.

The axles are Dexter TorFlex with disc brakes. Dexter contributed them to the project. After a lot of talks with their engineering department, Colin of GSM Vehicles, and my buddy Uwe who put Dexter axles on his trailer, I was able to get some specs that I was comfortable with. Comfortable, but not exactly 100%.

I had them shipped directly to my welder who agreed to do the job. And a job it was. First the trailer had to be supported by the frame. No small task on an Airstream. The old axles and springs removed and hauled off. Airstream frames of this time, 1960, are very thin walled, less than 1/8″. Add the unknown of rusting from the inside out and you have a difficult situation. How do you weld two new axles on this very old frame rail.

After much discussion with Colin, RJ, and Uwe, and my welder, we opted to weld a 1/4″ three foot long angle iron to go across the bottom of the frame rail and up the outside. It was thought that this will help distribute the load along a greater distance and give a good welding surface for the axle mounting brackets.

Here is shot from the streetside looking back. You can see the angle iron welded to the frame.

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Next is a shot of the welding of the axle mounting bracket that comes with the axles.

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Here is another shot from the streetside front looking at the curbside.

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Here is a shot of the wheel well on the streetside. Note the new aluminum wheels.

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I did gain a lot of height like I wanted to. It must be about 3-4 inches higher now. I was nearly rubbing the driveway and curb with the plumbing and such backing in. Also my drop hitch had to be so low that it would drag as well. So I purposely ordered the axles with an increased down angle of 32 degrees. Of course I did not count for the included 1/4″ mounting bracket or the added angle iron 1/4″, so that added another 1/2″. It looks good.

In the photos I put the wheels on some boards to gain more room as I’ll spend the next few weeks under the belly replacing belly pan, running hydrolic brake lines and propane lines.

No, I did not install shocks. Airstream includes shocks on their trailers even with torsion axles. They are a desired feature. After much thought and discussion, I opted not to. Most of the axle industry using torsion axles do not put on shocks as the rubber in the axles absorbs the road shock. There will forever be much debate about this. Changing over from leafspings was enough trouble for me w/o worring about shock mounts. You’re mileage may very.

I’ll post my exact ordered axle specifications on the next post and try to explain some of them for those brave souls who venture into this themselves.

One last item. My welder was able to fabricate some bunk bed brackets I needed off a diagram provided to me from a good internet buddy Jim. Thanks Jim!

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I really have my work cut out for me. Down to the wire with only a month of no school time to use the trailer… nothing like pressure…

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