At our shop in Bend, Oregon we replace trailer axles on a regular basis. Getting the right axle for your trailer requires understanding how to correctly determine the following details:
- Suspension Type: Axles either use springs or torsion arms to provide a smooth ride for your trailer. Torsion axles use solid rubber bars that are compressed, cryogenically frozen and inserted around an arm that has the spindle welded to it. Spring axles use springs, spring hangers and, if tandem or more, equalizers to provide the suspension of the trailer.
- Measuring for Torsion Axles
- Torsion Brackets: Torsion axles are either square or 'eye' shaped and generally bolt to the trailer via brackets. The torsion bracket measurement is from the outside of one bracket to the outside of the other bracket. Most likely you are mounting the torsion axle to C-Channel or Tube that is used to build the frame structure of your trailer. Place your tape on one side of the frame and measure to the outside of the other.
- Torsion Angle: The arm of the torsion axle can be mounted in a number of angles ranging from 22.5 degrees up to 45 degrees down. To determine the correct angle you will need to remove any load from the axle. Jack up the trailer to remove the load prior to measuring the angle.
Axle Length or "Hub Face" is the measurement from the base of the wheel stud on face of one hub to the base of the wheel stud on face of the other hub. This is the same for Torsion and Spring Axles. The distance between the Spring Centers or Torsion Brackets to the Hub Face will vary depending on the wheels and tires that you intend to use.
Spring Centers: When hanging the axle on the spring, the spring brackets have a hole in them that will fit over the bolt that holds the springs together. Spring Centers are the CL (center-line) measurement of the spring mounting pads on the axle. The spring center, if it is mounted to the frame of the trailer built from 2" channel or tube, can be measured from outside of the frame on one side to the inside of the frame on the other (assuming that your spring mounting pads are welded to the center of the frame structure).
Spindle Type: If building a trailer with a low deck height is the goal then a drop spindle is the way to go. Motorcycle trailers and car haulers often use these spindles to keep the ramp approach angle at a minimum.
Hub Pattern: When measuring your hub pattern you need to measure the diameter of the circle of the bolt pattern. On a 5 bolt trailer this is located between the two bolts opposite of the first bolt from which you are starting. If there is a specific tire and wheel combination that you would like to use, select it from the available options.
Hub Stud Size: 8 bolt hubs and larger have various different stud sizes depending on the capacity. Smaller hubs use 1/2".
Idler or Brake: Idler means no brakes. The most common brake on 3.5k trailers is Electric Manual Adjust.
Tube Options: 3.5K and 7K trailers usually 2-3/8" round tube painted steel axles, however boat trailers often use square tube galvanized or rust resistant axles.
Grease Packed is the standard on many axles and the default when ordering. These are maintained by disassembling the hub and hand packing the cleaned bearings with grease.
E-Z-Lube is common on many Dexter axles, if, after you remove the grease cap, you still have a grease zert that screws directly into the spindle you have an E-Z-Lube axle. (Accu-Lube is a similar and used by Al-Ko/Hayes Axles).
Nev-R-Lube greaseless bearing cartridge.