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VAL Digest V1 #137

VAL Digest         Saturday, January 24 2004         Volume 01 : Number 137

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Topics in Today's Digest:

Re: [VAL] Axle replacement
Re: [VAL] RE: Two Questions
[VAL] Parking Brake Security Lock
Re: [VAL] Parking Brake Security Lock
[VAL] Removing batteries
Re: [VAL] Parking Brake Security Lock


Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2004 10:45:25 -0500
From: "Mr. Joy H. Hansen" <>
Subject: Re: [VAL] Axle replacement

Hi Forrest,

If all measures as I envisioned it, the bracket welded to the axle will
position against the bottom of the frame and bolt to the plate welded to the
outside of the frame.  The axle can't be positioned higher against the
frame.  Dexter give choices of down angle at 22.5, 32, and 45.  I originally
choose 22.5 as that's the angle that I believe Henchen used for the original
axle.  Just before making a final decision, I moved it to 45, then thought
more about the parking brake and changed the down angle to 32 degrees.  The
45 degree down angle won't allow the parking brake to function due to
mechanical interference.

Had to consider lots of issues.  Is it a good idea to increase the bearing
weight of the axle?  Is it necessary to install shock absorbers?  Will
changing the down angle change the ride characteristics of the finished
restoration?  It went without question that the larger drums and oval pads
were essential changes.  I think Andy at Inland provided answers to some of
these questions.  Other's I got from the Owner's and Service Manual.
Finally, lots of input from joining in the Valist over the years.

Dexter has many options for fabrication of the bracket to hold the axle.
I'm sure I made the right choice.  The shock mount only comes in one
configuration, take it or leave it, it's positioned "down" rather than "up"
as with the Henchen.  There will be a modification the Airstream shock
mount.  Possibly a benefit as it's a tight pinch to remove/replace the OEM
shock.  The other issues of camber and toe-in I left to Dexter and the
designer's of the axle.

The change in the height of the trailer due to the axle might change the
towing angle.  I think I can accommodate this change with a change in the
drawbar drop if necessary.  Most likely, the increased height won't change
the inherent stability on the road.

Thanks for adding your  experiences to axle replacement.  Each bit of
information will help overcome problems encountered with a change like this.

Sure would like to hear from other restorers that have changed their axles
and or are considering making the change.  The pre '70 Henchen torsion bar
rubbers is subject to deterioration; whereas, those post '69 last for ever
if not abused?  Torsion arms always bouncing on the upper stop must damage
the structure, loosening rivets, damaging appliances, etc.  Seems to me that
there is justification for replacement with many of the classics.  My '74
Argosy has torsion arms that ride about 5 degrees up angle and the unit has
considerable rivet stress throughout the trailer.

                                                       Regards, '69 Safari,

- ----- Original Message ----- 
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, January 23, 2004 12:40 AM
Subject: [VAL] Axle replacement

> For all of you replacing or thinking of replacing your axle (s) keep in
> that an increased angle for the purpose of gaining more ground clearance
> might be more than you want. When I replaced the axle on my '66 Globe
> Trotter I gained an inch more than anticipated because the new axle's
> mounting is somewhat different from the old design. So, not only is there
> gain in ground clearance because it is a fresh axle, but additional
> clearance is gained in the mounting itself unless you grind out a deeper
> slot in the mounting plate. I replaced my axle with a new Henchen -- 
> with a Dexter might be different.
> Forrest
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
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Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2004 10:51:30 -0500
From: Daisy Welch <>
Subject: Re: [VAL] RE: Two Questions

It is rather palatial.  I went right from a veteran tent camper and boat 
cook to 29' of spaciousness. Nobody told me I was supposed to buy 
little one and work my way up. Maybe because I've hauled a lot of horse 
trailers and driven farm trucks I wasn't afraid of going mega.

Don't be green, get one !



Joann Wheatley wrote:
> Um, that would be "your" place. jw
> On 22, Jan 2004, at 8:43 PM, wrote:
>> But Daisy - you're place is huge! I am green with envy or maybe the 
>> chile relleno burrito got me.
>> Jo Ann
>> On 22, Jan 2004, at 1:55 PM, Daisy Welch wrote:
>>> Go to My website, the link is on the cork page.
>>> And you're welcome. You're gonna love it!
>>> Daisy
>> -- 
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
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Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2004 11:09:47 -0500
From: Rick Langer <>
Subject: [VAL] Parking Brake Security Lock

The recent thread on the Dexter axle with parking brake got me thinking that
such a brake would be a great security device, if it were lockable or even
if it's controls were hidden somewhere.  From where do you control the
brake?   I wonder if I could rig a parking  break on my '66 GT?  My
experience with parking brakes on cars with drum brakes is that the shoes
are expanded via a cable and lever that exits the assembly through the
backing plate. Could something be rigged mechanically  or maybe
electrically? Do electric brakes need continuous current to stay engaged?
Rick Langer
#3847, VAC, TCT


Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2004 13:42:17 -0500
From: Matt Worner <>
Subject: Re: [VAL] Parking Brake Security Lock

Rick Langer wrote:
<snip> Could something be rigged mechanically
Probably, but as dexter already has maybe loaded backing plates can be 
fitted?  I have seen smaller cargo trailers (military 1/4 and 1-1/4) 
with parking brake levers, so the technology is out there.

or maybe
> electrically?  Do electric brakes need continuous current to stay engaged?
No and yes.  Electric brakes are actually mechanical brakes with the 
lever being pulled by an electromagnetic "puck" on the inner face of the 
drum.  Sort of a "half disk" arrangement.  Not only do they require 
current to work, but constant current will burn out the puck windings. 
The classic "lose/lose" situation.



Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2004 18:28:45 -0500
From: Terry Tyler <>
Subject: [VAL] Removing batteries

on 01/17/04 12:39 PM, wrote:

> 2) I'd also like to learn how to remove the batteries from the battery box on
> the trailer.  The opening is so small that I have to use my finger tips to
> pick the battery up and over the lip.  If there is an easier way I'd enjoy
> learning about it.
> Tom May
Hi Tom,

I use a simple web belt with a slide buckle. I wrap the belt around the
battery horizontally, cinch it tight and that's it. When I access either
battery, I pull on its belt and simultaneously use my finger tips to lift
the battery up so it'll slip over the lip.

This is a simple solution. The belt costs about $1 at any Salvation Army or
Army Navy Store (or free if it's still in your seabag).

Sorry about the delay in replying. I haven't picked up email in a week. We
left New Orleans on January 16th with overnights at NPS CG in Ocean Springs,
Mississippi, the Elks Lodge CG in Tallahassee, FL and Walt's RV in Ocala,
FL.  Walt's RV is always a fun stop with competent service. When we left his
place, he was putting in a concrete pad next to his shop.  Smart move.

Yesterday (01/21/04), we were at Phipps County Park in Stuart, Florida when
thirty five Airstreams (Florida Caravan) rolled in for two nights (no
hookups but water and dump station available).  Everyone we spoke to was
enthusiastic about the caravan and their recent cruise experience.

This afternoon, we found another Mom & Pop Mobile Home Park in the Stuart
area. Lo and behold, they had an empty lot with full hookups. A little chit
chat with the owners and voila` we're settled in for awhile. I love it when
we stumble onto a new place that's not in any directory, especially after
being repeatedly told "you'll never find a place to park your Airstream in
South Florida without a reservation this time of year."

Serendipity is alive and well,



Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2004 22:51:55 -0600
From: "Dr. Gerald N. Johnson, electrical engineer" <>
Subject: Re: [VAL] Parking Brake Security Lock

I suppose some sort of a cam or cable could be arranged to pull on the
electric brake operating arm. The biggest problem would be a nice access
hold for the cable through the backing plate. Rear brakes on cars and
trucks tend to have the backing plate formed so the cable comes straight
through. It would be difficult to add that without warping the plate. 

Perhaps a little pulley could be set into a hole in the place so the
cable outside the brake pulled mostly towards the middle of the trailer
and the pulley turned the corner to make it pull on the brake arm.

In any case there'd need to be a sleeve that the cable went through with
a clamp beyond the sleeve so the electric brake actuator could move the
arm without needing to move the cable. And probably a retracting spring
so the weight of the cable didn't make the brakes drag.

Often car and truck rear brakes have a separate actuator arm for the
parking brake, though that varies from brand to brand.

- -- 
Entire content copyright Dr. Gerald N. Johnson, electrical engineer.
Reproduction by permission only.


End of VAL Digest V1 #137

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