Alpenlite Axle Replacement
I received some questions about replacing railer axles. It sounds like a major job, but it is not bad at all. I have replaced the axles on three trailers and have not had a bit of trouble with any of them.
Why replace an axle? My first replacement was on my Apache hard sided folding trailer. The old axle did not have brake flanges on it and I wanted trailer brakes, so I had to put a new axle on. The second was my 1968 Aljo 17' trailer. An outer bearing race spun in the drum, and replacement drums were not available, so I was stuck. My latest replacement was on my 1984 Alpenlite. It had a 4" drop axle and I needed to raise the trailer 4 inches, and this was the simplest way to do it. The cost is not bad - a bare axle is often under $100.
If you are replacing an axle I would go all the way and replace the whole works - drums, bearings, I-bolts shackles, etc. It doesn't cost all that much, and a fresh start is always nice. It also makes things a lot easier when you are working with clean parts. You will also need a pair of "spring perches". Spring perches are what the leaf springs sit on. They have to be welded to the axle.
Here is what you need to know.
1) Pull the old axle and pull one set of bearings to get the stock number.
2) If you have a local supplier, take the whole works down to their shop and they will measure the axle and set up with a proper replacement. If you have to order it, provide the vendor with the bearing numbers, the weight of the trailer and the end-to-end distance on the axle. You will also need to know the drum lug nut hole pattern and spacing.
3) Lay the axles out side by side on sawhorses. You will note that they have a curve to them. Put the curve up on both axles and center the axles on the sawhorses. Put the sawhorses close enough to the center so the weight of the axle will cause the curve to be up -this is important for step 5.
4) Lay the spring perches on the axle so they are the same distance apart as on the old axle. Double check all measurements.
5) Put a small spirit level on one perch and adjust it until it is level and then weld it to the axle. It is best to tack weld it down, check the level, and then finish the job. Repeat this with the second perch. These photos show the spring perch welded to the axle on my Alpenlite
This is an easy welding job. The U-bolts hold it all together anyway, so an ugly weld is perfectly acceptable. If you have a friend that welds try to talk them into doing the job. If not, get on Craigslist and buy a used AC buzz-box for about what the job would cost at a welding shop and have at it - you need to learn sometime.
That is all there is to it. The important thing is to make sure that the spring perches are properly placed, and that the flat surface on the spring perches is straight up.
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