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Axles that shift to one side?


OH_Whoknew
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Also posted this on the Technical Tips & Tricks theme...............

Is it very common that an axle in a tandem axle set-up will shift to one side?   If so, what causes that?

Wife and I were wandering about the local consignment lot yesterday to see what was available and noticed a number of used fifth wheel units where it appeared that one of the axles had moved horizontally and was not in rolling alignment with the other.   I didn't crawl under them to diagnose or anything but pretty clear to the naked eye that one tire was sticking out further than its front/paired tire in a tandem axle set-up.   Once noticed, I walked to the other side to confirm the same axle was offset in the same direction.   We had to have noticed this on at least 10 trailers.  And the offset was as much as 2" on one trailer.  We didn't pay attention to whether it was one specific brand or big trailers or small.

As part of our research on used trailers, I've been reading about frame construction, tires, pressures and all things durability but had not come across this.  And I've pulled a lot of boats, moving, and utility trailers and had not seen this before.

Also saw a number of wheels canted out at the bottom.  Bent or had been overloaded I suppose.   Easy to see in contrast with the other tire on the tandem axle.   I would expect a fair amount of advice about having a thorough and qualified inspection done before buying anything used, but am more interested in the experience others have had with this offset axle observation.  

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Welcome to the forum.

I've never seen that before, but then we didn't really focus much on 5'ers. Were all of those from the same manufacturer? Or were they all from the same frame manufacturer? Someone who has a 5'er can tell you how the axles are mounted to the frames, and whether it is possible for an axle to slide easily. I would imagine that the repair would be fairly simple - take the tires off, loosen whatever is holding the axle in place, and slide it to the proper position, then tighten the holding device.

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      How fast can you run. . . not walk from this dealer.  It is not uncommon for trailers/5th wheels to have axles canted off parallel.  On less expensive rigs the axles are attached with U-bolts and are easily pushed out of alignment by hitting curbs or other obstacles. Still . . . no excuse. 

Edited by Orvil Hazelton
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As Orvil said "run".  The axles are typically held in place with U bolts but there are centering pins to hold the placement.   Something is out of alignment and likely bent or built improperly.   Either way there may be multiple problems not easily identified.  Spring shackles can wear out and cause some problems but your description seems to indicate a more serious problem. In any case I would keep looking.

Edited by Randyretired
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We're not shopping yet, much more of in the education mode.   This forum and others have so much information about RV's so I was on a "sight seeing" trip if you will to see what I've been reading about.   This particular consignment dealer has lots of brands, types and ages of RV's.   MH's, 5th Wheels, TT, etc.   One is free to wander about the lot and look at whatever you want, as long as you want, without a sales person in tow.   And they're not too far from the house. 

So this particular trip was to look at frames, tires, windows, roofs, spotting water damage (which was abundant) and so on.

To kb0zke's question, we didn't really look to see if it was on a particular brand, or frame type.   Again I didn't crawl under them to see if they were U-bolt attached or whether they were loose, bent, damaged or other.

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17 minutes ago, Sparky242 said:

When backing into a tight camp site I can see my rims bending, 

"Rims" bending? I can see the tire sidewalls flexing but not the rims. Tire sidewalls flexing is normal and more noticeable on hard surfaces, and yes, does look really bad under certain circumstances. Not to get into the whole ST vs. LT conversation but that is one thing that an ST rated tire has - a stiffer sidewall specifically because trailers will do that when turning.

Having the actual rim bend would scare the living daylights out of me. I think I would be moving fast somewhere else if I saw my aluminum rims bending when the are holding a tire with 110 PSI in place. Be a very dangerous bomb if it let go. 

 

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11 hours ago, Darryl&Rita said:

Backing in tight, like with a fork-lift, will also cause this. More than 1 unit at a dealer, with similar symptoms, sounds more like spring bind.

With so many it makes me wonder if this isn't the case but it can't be good for the trailer's suspension to sit for a long period that way and it doesn't say much for the dealer to be displaying them in such condition. I'd doubt that there would be so many with the same problem if it were not something that happens there. I suggest to look for the same sort of thing on other lots to compare them. 

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12 hours ago, OH_Whoknew said:

Also posted this on the Technical Tips & Tricks theme...............

Just so that you know,  admin asks that you not make the same post on multiple forums since they are read by the same people.  Removal of duplicate posts is one of the jobs of volunteer moderators.  No big deal, but just wanted you to know. 

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This is normal and the stress is removed by pulling forward slightly and then backing up un a straight line, as others have stated. Not a reason to run. It is a reason to crawl under the rv and look at the spring hangers, shackles and the spring packs themselves. One member on here had 2 different springs break at different times. I replaced one set and had him purchase the parts for the second axle. When it happened again, a Good Samaritan replaced that set for him. Just look very well. The hangers can start pulling from the frame. The frame can actually start cracking in the middle from the stress. 

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  • 3 years later...

I have an appalachaim trailer 3500 lb tandem axels.

 

Told one bent paid to replace.  After observing closely reapur work noticed the new axle wheel tire on passenger side protrudes about 3/4 " beyond fender....all other three wheels tires are "flush" w the fender...I thinkniy is odd one wheel on new axle...protrudes 3/4" beyond fender .

 

Also...

My slider inside 2500 2016 ram truck isn't working....when I push the plus symbol to incrementally increase the load up to 10....the wheels of trailer do not lock...???

 

When driving sloder doesn't seem to work ...when applying plus symbol....not noticing more and more trailer braking w increase of load setting...???

 

Which causes me to wo der are brakes working or if working how much...is trailer safe to load??

 

Appreciate responses...as have taken trailer to now 5 different y trailer repair businesses...none have apparently fixed properly....live in w pa...?  So does anyone know who to recommend...in w pa.?

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On 1/16/2018 at 9:42 PM, Darryl&Rita said:

Backing in tight, like with a fork-lift, will also cause this. More than 1 unit at a dealer, with similar symptoms, sounds more like spring bind.

Exactly! This also indicates how much side-stress is on the suspension and tires during sharp/spot turns.

Most experienced at towing trailers will back in then pull forward a few feet to get straight, then back up straight to the desired location to relieve this suspension stress..

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14 hours ago, regis said:

I have an appalachaim trailer 3500 lb tandem axels.

 

Told one bent paid to replace.  After observing closely reapur work noticed the new axle wheel tire on passenger side protrudes about 3/4 " beyond fender....all other three wheels tires are "flush" w the fender...I thinkniy is odd one wheel on new axle...protrudes 3/4" beyond fender .

 

Also...

My slider inside 2500 2016 ram truck isn't working....when I push the plus symbol to incrementally increase the load up to 10....the wheels of trailer do not lock...???

 

When driving sloder doesn't seem to work ...when applying plus symbol....not noticing more and more trailer braking w increase of load setting...???

 

Which causes me to wo der are brakes working or if working how much...is trailer safe to load??

 

Appreciate responses...as have taken trailer to now 5 different y trailer repair businesses...none have apparently fixed properly....live in w pa...?  So does anyone know who to recommend...in w pa.?

I suggest you ask a moderator to move your post/questions to begin a new thread. Yours will get lost in the middle of this thread.

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27 minutes ago, Ray,IN said:

Exactly! This also indicates how much side-stress is on the suspension and tires during sharp/spot turns.

Most experienced at towing trailers will back in then pull forward a few feet to get straight, then back up straight to the desired location to relieve this suspension stress..

You do understand this thread is 3 years old!!!  😇

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On 7/26/2021 at 11:03 PM, regis said:

Which causes me to wonder are brakes working or if working how much...is trailer safe to load??

It is a good idea to check the operation of the brakes every time you roll out.  I have it on my roll out checklist.

On my 5er checking the brake operation simply requires squeezing/sliding the brake controller to maximum while sitting still and then gently applying pressure to the accelerator.  The brakes should hold the rig in place.  This may differ for a smaller trailer but you need to know the brakes are working.

People with drum brakes need to check the setting of the brakes periodically.  I will let someone else explain that because I have electric over hydraulic disc brakes that don't require this, so I don't do it.

Wayne & Jinx
2017 F-350 diesel, dually
2006 Carriage Carri-Lite 36KSQ

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Wayne, I've always thought the mfgr. was the best source of information for How to manually adjust electric trailer brakes.

 For normal use, I check trailer brake performance on a gravel road/ parking lot and a paved surface. They should not lock up on gravel, but should be felt on paved surface when using the tow vehicles brake pedal.

Edited by Ray,IN
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