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Old 04-20-2017, 08:19 PM   #1
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axle and brake upgrade????

Help me think this through. I am not happy with the brakes and axles on out 2006 T-1950.Here are my issues.

I dislike the drop axles because they make brake adjusting a pain. Not a horrible thing, but something to mention.


I dislike the drop axles because they reduce ground clearance between the axles. This is not a huge issue, but it would be nice to have better clearance.We have had a few issues where we got nervous with ruts and were worried about hanging up and had to go back, rather than through.Also rocks and stumps are sometimes an issue in campsites.

One of the spindles is out of alignment – enough to be easily seen and it eats tires.


I have trouble with the inner seals holding grease and the grease gets on the brake components. I use the right seals and the surfaces where the seals ride look good, but I always get leakage on a couple sinner seals.


I dislike adjusting drum brakes – it just seems so subjective.

We have the upgraded suspension components with the heavy duty shackles, wet bolts, flex equalizer. Our trips are typically longer, we put 10K on the trailer this year in one trip and our next trip is back to AK.

I’m thinking replace axles with straight - this fixes the spindle and ground clearance issues. Put auto adjusting brakes on it – no brake adjustment.This would be fairly expensive, but I’m seeing a lot of benefits (I’ll probably do brakes anyway and brakes and drums leaves just axles).I haven’t seen kits (which would be nice and probably cost less) - just individual assemblies: axles, brake assemblies and drums/bearings separate.I would go with Dexter unless there was another suggestion.Axles are flipped, but with a straight axle, I’d go back with the added height gained.
Thoughts?
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Old 04-20-2017, 10:57 PM   #2
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Hi Tod,

A few thoughts to think through.

I'm not sure what drop your under-slung axles are. Dexter makes the D35 in 4" and 6" drop which the D35 "I think" is what you may have.

This is a pic of my Dexter 3,500 # axle on our prior 2004 T2499. They are 10 x 2 1/4" brakes.




Based on the 10" brakes, I'm guesstimating they are 4" drop axles. Meaning going straight axle you will be gaining 4" of right height with and under-slung spring (axle seat on the bottom of the tube)

This "might" mean you need a new hitch shank to level out the camper when towing. It's is about a $100 to $150 problem.

Will that 4" lift create a step problem you need to work through? Since you already did an axle flip, you may have a solution for this.

The grease leak, something is obviously not right there. Do you have EZ lube axles with the grease fitting and do you lube by that fitting? Need to know that before I type a bunch.

The bent spindle and eating of tires. I'm just asking as there are many ways to eat tires from out of alignment of suspension components, how do you know the spindle is bent? I'm just trying to make sure that is the root cause of the tire wear and not other suspension issues that will follow through to a straight axle.

The pain of adjusting drop axles. Yes, I hear you and agree. I made a tool to help the issue, this may help you. See here




Start with 1/4" OD rod. Swedge the end. (aka pound with hammer against an anvil of something to make shape), bend to desired angle.

Self adjusting brakes. I have them and once I was past the out of round drum issues, they work well. I am still running the same set I put on during this post. Dexter Self Adusting Brakes (long w/lots of pics and detail) Also consider upgrading the brake wiring. I have more on this is you are interested. You will get the best the drum brake can do with self adjusting and a brake wire upgrade.

I expect in the next 1 to 2 years I may need new shoes. Since they are always in proper adjustment, the shoes wear faster because they are working all the time at full efficiency. But that is better then them not working well all the time like manual adjust.

At first look, your conversion thought is doable. Check the 4" of lift and make sure you are OK with this. There will be a lot of daylight under the fenders. It will work, just it will look like a lot. You may be pre tamed by this with the axle flip.

Cost: You may be able to buy the entire axle tube, brake plates, drums and maybe new springs cheaper if wanted then one thinks. It will be cheaper then doing this in sub parts.

I have used these folks before with good success on Dexter Parts, just never a full assembly. They may offer full assemblies if you call
3500 lb. Round Tube Trailer Axles at Trailer Parts Superstore

DEXTER Trailer Brake Drums at Trailer Parts Superstore

DEXTER Trailer Brake Assemblies at Trailer Parts Superstore

If you call them or a Dexter dealer, ask for a complete axle assembly, with or without the springs is up to you. When I bought my axle tubes to fix my tire alignment issues, they kept telling me they could do a real good deal on axle assemblies. (I bought Alko from Axles Inc) Back then they where only Alko. Now they sell Dexter too. May be worth a call. Axle Inc. - trailer axles, axles and service, brakes and drums. I fully agree, get the Dexter axles period.

Note: On the Eastern Marine axles, they state you have to weld on the axle seat. Need to confirm that is the case. When I bought my axle tubes from Axles Inc, the tubes came with the seat welded on.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 04-21-2017, 10:43 AM   #3
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Thanks John, I have to smile at the laser sharp responses. Thank you.

Camper height with straight axles… We are fine with the slight height increase going to straight if we put the axles back on top of the springs (we are on the younger side of the camper crowd and have the camper in rougher conditions than most, where lift is beneficial). We have enough ability to adjust for that height increase with the hitch (good catch, something I did not consider, but checked this morning – hitch is at the top of the shank’s adjustment with the “leg” pointing down, so we can flip it up and get quite a bit of height.).

On the grease leak from the inner seals… We have EZ lube axles and I do lube then via the zerks. I hand pack the bearings and gently push grease through the hub while spinning the bearings until it comes out the front (with warm grease and warm bearings). I used to use a marine grease (one grease for all my trailers), but I found it too thin as a multipurpose and went to “Red and Tacky”. I wasn’t happy with the thinness of the marine grease (it wanted to leak from the front too). I have tried a thin and a thicker grease – both leak. One spindle is bad and I have a second that leaks too – both look good to the eye and the seals look good when I replace them. I’m be open to hear what you have to say on these.

The bent spindle is visible on the rear position on the driver side. In many parking positions I can clearly see that the camber angle is off, but I have not measured it in any way, it could also be more than just camber angle too. I know that it eats the tires and we aggressively rotate through the 5 tires to spread it out. It isn’t horrible, we have between 40,000 and 50,000 miles on the set and they are still good, but there would be nearly like new if it wasn’t for that one (Yoko LTs).

In adjusting the brakes on drop axles, I have a tool that is very similar (not homemade/custom though). I just don’t like adjusting brakes and that makes it worse. L.

I read your self adjusting brake post. I don’t like what I read. I think I’d rather have poorly performing and annoying to adjust brakes than deal with what you did, but I’ll think about it and call Dexter. For our rig, Tundra with T-1950, you don’t need that much brake in the trailer and I don’t set the brakes aggressively – I have had good truck brake life and good control of the trailer.

Rewiring brakes sounds good. I have a lot of the trailer rewired because of the solar install last year and I have some wiring, I’d still like to do (larger wire from converter) and clean up the factory mess in general.

I will for sure look into getting the axles as kits. I have seen the Dexter axles with seats on (in the past) and without the seats welded. We needed to weld new seats when we did the flip and just put it together and drove it to our mechanic for welding – worked well.

I wish I had thought this through before the axle flip – that would have saved some money and time. I am not going to do anything until the Fall or Spring.
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Old 04-21-2017, 06:21 PM   #4
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The camper brakes really should not need adjusting on a regular basis they really don't do a whole lot hence the very thin new lining. Since I replaced all of the magnets and adjusted the brakes 3 years ago I have not had to adjust mine since. I can use the controller to easily lock them up and can feel them on a normal stop. The camper is a 1990 and the brake linings are original.
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Old 04-22-2017, 09:45 PM   #5
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Hi Tod,

I’ll comment on each area here

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tod Osier View Post
Thanks John, I have to smile at the laser sharp responses. Thank you.
Now that’s funny! I have been accused of that before….

Quote:
Camper height with straight axles… We are fine with the slight height increase going to straight if we put the axles back on top of the springs

We have enough ability to adjust for that height increase with the hitch
Good on the height, and yes…you showed us some of your travels, more height is a good thing! Good on the shank flip. Watch the tail gate when flipped, does it miss when the gate is down?

Quote:
On the grease leak from the inner seals… We have EZ lube axles and I do lube then via the zerks. I hand pack the bearings and gently push grease through the hub while spinning the bearings until it comes out the front (with warm grease and warm bearings). I used to use a marine grease (one grease for all my trailers), but I found it too thin as a multipurpose and went to “Red and Tacky”. I wasn’t happy with the thinness of the marine grease (it wanted to leak from the front too). I have tried a thin and a thicker grease – both leak. One spindle is bad and I have a second that leaks too – both look good to the eye and the seals look good when I replace them. I’m be open to hear what you have to say on these.
Your method of spinning the wheel while gently pumping grease is the right one, if you are using the EZ lube. To the seals, they make a lot of different types of seals. Do the ones you use have a garter spring (a 360 degree small extension spring) on the inside? They do make them that will fit your drums/axle with no spring inside and you really do not want that type. Just checking yours has the internal spring to help energize the seal lip to the shaft. Brand name, which are you using? Quality of the seal can be different pending the brand.

You said you manually pack the bearings. Good! Question, if you are manually packing, why are you pumping the EZ lube? Are you topping them off out west during a trip? What intervals (time and miles) do you do the repack on? I know you do a lot of miles, more than the ordinary weekend warrior camper.

I actually have the EZ lube drilled axles but I do not use it. I hand pack myself verses hiring it out so I know what I have. In my case I go 3 years between a repack and feel good about it. This can be about 15,000 miles. And when I pulled them for a repack, the grease is still very good and really did not have to have it done but I really do not trust the brakes inside any longer without looking at them. So while I have it off for the brakes, I just clean house and repack.

The EZ lube was originally made for the boat industry to keep the cavity packed when submersing. Dexter has had a lot of axle bearing failures due to lack of lubrication. People just do not repack them when they need it and the axle would die to lack of lube. In an attempt to try and get some level of lube to the bearings, they started to introduce the EZ lube outside the boat industry. And now, the RV industry is pushing it as a sales feature. From what I have heard it has helped but may not have solved the issue as those who do not think about hand packing do not always think about the grease gun either.

There are industrial seals that can withstand the grease pressure but the cost is mega times over the bottom line basic ones we use on trailer axles. The seals we use are so basic they just do not hold up well to long term use. The seal wiper wears and that aggravates the problem of blow by. Even if it did not leak when you were pumping it, there is heat expansion, thinning of the grease and centrifugal slinging going on. A worn wiper can allow a leak. Since you tow a good number of miles every year, yours will wear faster in time just due to the mileage. How many annual miles is this? For the normal person putting on 2,000 miles a year and doing short trips, their seal wiper could last a good long time compared to even one of your towing years with longer towing runs.

I really do not think you can totally get out of the issue with high towing miles per year. The seals are just not made good enough. This is why I myself do not use the EZ lube. My repack intervals are frequent enough I have no lube issues and I need to get into the brakes awayway for a check by the time the interval comes up.

Here is a thread on RV.net on one member did a 5 year test to see if his EZ lube would hold up. The seals leaked. https://forums.goodsamclub.com/index...pging/1/page/1

Quote:
The bent spindle is visible on the rear position on the driver side. In many parking positions I can clearly see that the camber angle is off, but I have not measured it in any way, it could also be more than just camber angle too. I know that it eats the tires and we aggressively rotate through the 5 tires to spread it out. It isn’t horrible, we have between 40,000 and 50,000 miles on the set and they are still good, but there would be nearly like new if it wasn’t for that one (Yoko LTs).
I lost track you upgraded to LT’s as odds are not high an ST tire will not get 40,000 miles out of it. My LT’s are doing really good. I for sure will never wear them out before I age them out. Actually in the somewhat near future I hope to get cross county camping in and then the miles will go up.

You said camber angle, and if you can see it by eye, in comparison to the others, well something must be up. Here are a few ways to measure the camber to see how good or bad you are.

The level and angle finder. You can compare all 4 wheels. Make sure the camper is level and the suspension is relaxed and not just stopped after backing from a turn.


Using the angle finder directly on the brake drum


And to see if your axle tube has lost its preset camber. Using a 4 foot level OR a 4 foot straight edge, find the center of the axle tube and mark it. Then go out 2 feet left and right of center and put the ends of the 4 foot straight edge at them and look for an upward arch in the center. (don’t mind the worn work boots, LOL)

You can use a 3 foot straight edge too, just split it equal about center.


And if you have a caliper you can accurately measure the arch at the center.


If you do not have a way to measure to 3 decimal places, do the best you can with a scale or tape measure. If the axle has no arch, that is 0 camber and worse, if the arch goes down and was assembled right (arch up) then that is really not good. You should have some arch up when fully loaded with gear. See if this exists. I can look in my pile of stuff for what that gap should be on a 3,500# axle tube if we need to.

If your axle tube is good (has an upward arch) but has a bent stub end, it is possible a mega pot hole or bad curb hit could bend it. Is it a front wheel or the rear wheel?

Quote:
In adjusting the brakes on drop axles, I have a tool that is very similar (not homemade/custom though). I just don’t like adjusting brakes and that makes it worse.

I read your self adjusting brake post. I don’t like what I read. I think I’d rather have poorly performing and annoying to adjust brakes than deal with what you did, but I’ll think about it and call Dexter. For our rig, Tundra with T-1950, you don’t need that much brake in the trailer and I don’t set the brakes aggressively – I have had good truck brake life and good control of the trailer.
Don’t let my situation prevent you from getting self adjusters. I had a bad Alko drum (0.020” TIR) from 2003 and when I bought the new Dexters in 2009 and one was just out (0.016” TIR). This was when self-adjusting brakes first came out. On non self adjusting, an out of round drum goes un-noticed, it just does not work well but it does not cause a brake too tight. There are a lot of self adjusters out today. Dexter would be flooded with calls if they had not cleaned up their act being tighter in spec. I would not expect any issues if you get new drums too. If you reuse the old ones, you can check the run out to make sure it is less than 0.015” out of round. I have have no issues since they out of round drum issue was fixed.

Quote:
Rewiring brakes sounds good. I have a lot of the trailer rewired because of the solar install last year and I have some wiring, I’d still like to do (larger wire from converter) and clean up the factory mess in general.
Don’t know if you saw this post a while ago, Independent Brake Wire Feed Upgrade

I have learned some more since then and would do a new one a little different. I have since also run a no. 10 ground from the brakes all the way to the 7 wire truck cable ground area. Do not rely on a frame ground. The frame ground can corrode and then you still loose the effectiveness.

I would also run a 2 wire cable down each side of the camper and then jump to the wheels verses running to a junction box in the back. My son thought this one up. Both methods work as effective, just the double run can be a little cleaner and cheaper.

The cable, look for “tinned marine cable” this stuff https://tinnedmarinewire.com/wire/in...edd46e3181d354

Here is one place. https://www.amazon.com/Duplex-Tinned...ed+marine+wire

My son just bought 200 feet of it, we have 3 trailers to redo and a possibly more in the future.

Quote:
I will for sure look into getting the axles as kits. I have seen the Dexter axles with seats on (in the past) and without the seats welded. We needed to weld new seats when we did the flip and just put it together and drove it to our mechanic for welding – worked well.

I wish I had thought this through before the axle flip – that would have saved some money and time. I am not going to do anything until the Fall or Spring
Good on using Dexter. They have great tech service and the quality is higher than others out there.

Yes, thinking of this before the axle flip would have made it cheaper, but you learned from that and the bent axle may have been on the new straight one. Since you were able to do that, this straight axle conversion will be some more work, but you have a good start at having been through this.

When the time comes to put the new axle in, lets talk before you take the old ones off so you can measure the alignment of where they are at today. And there are things you can do to help align the news axles. If you did not realize how much play there is in the axle seats, you can use that play to help adjust the axles to be better in alignment verses being out of alignment.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 04-22-2017, 10:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mainah View Post
The camper brakes really should not need adjusting on a regular basis they really don't do a whole lot hence the very thin new lining. Since I replaced all of the magnets and adjusted the brakes 3 years ago I have not had to adjust mine since. I can use the controller to easily lock them up and can feel them on a normal stop. The camper is a 1990 and the brake linings are original.
Hi Mainah,

As a blanket statement, I do not know we can say the brakes do not need adjusting. It "depends" on when adjusting helps by camper weight, size of the brakes and how many annual miles each of us tows. When the 3,000 mile mark comes up however long it took to get there, that is when enough wear can have happened to be beneficial to do an adjustment to manual adjusting brakes. They still work at that 3,000 mile mark, but they will work better when tweaked back up to being tighter pending the sizing setup.

They do help stop better when they are in the correct adjustment and when the wiring is good. And mechanically they slowly degrade over time from correct adjustment to the point of being less effective. It is the nature of that style brake.

Weight of the camper also makes a difference. Since they only make brake sizes in certain jumps of diameter, the smaller/lighter camper with a larger brake then needed will wear less then a camper that is larger/heavier and just at the capacity of the brake. In this case, the 3,000 miles on the small camper with a larger brake may be able to go longer but no so on the camper which is at capacity of the brake size. It depends.

My camper weighs just under 10,000 #. Being that heavy you can more easily feel the difference in stopping power between being in ideal brake adjustment verses at the end of adjustment. And I cannot lock up my brakes at this weight either pending the speed of the truck. Dexter claims they will not always lock up, they are sized to a load and a stopping distance. If I am under the weight rating by a large percentage or going real slow, they will lock up as there is excess braking power. Being at capacity and a medium level of speed, odds are high they will not lock as they are not sized to lock, they are sized at a load capacity to a stopping distance.

I totally agree with you about the thin linings. These are not like we use to have in automotive. The trailer brakes are made to a price point, cheap! Since I have upgraded to forward self adjusting brakes and my brakes are always tweaked up to snuff, they wear faster since they are stopping better. The older manual adjust not tweaked up, can do like you say, they do not do so much in stopping so they do not wear that much. That and when some campers have wiring issues with not getting all the current they should to the coils, makes it even worse.

When I upgraded my wiring on the brakes, I could tell a jump in performance from just the wiring. I can see it in the lack of brake dust on the rear wheels of my truck. Before the wire upgrade, the truck was doing more stopping then it should and the brake dust showed it. Now the dusting is considerably less.

Since I have a Ford integrated brake controller, it compensates to not allow the trailer to lead the truck in braking. It works really well. I cannot even force it to do that. It is one smooth motion, truck and trailer are as one in stopping. I can however tell by the brake dust when the truck is doing more of the work when something goes a muck on the trailer brakes.

Thanks

John
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