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Trailer Talk
Straightening a bent axle
 MrTruck, txdad, windy Last Activity 2014-08-21 2:05 PM
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Painted Horse

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Subject : Straightening a bent axle
Posted : 2010-11-11 9:25 AM
Post #126936

Anybody had any experience with axle straightening?

In Sept and Oct I dragged my trailer down a lot of Forest Service gravel roads.  One such road apparently vibrated off my spare tire, which dropped and slid under the trailer. As it hit my axles it bent them.

I had several tires blow which caused to me search for the cause. I discovered my axles were bent. As I looked for a solution, the first few trailer repair shops I went into all suggested replacing the axles. Which would run into a $1000+ worth of expense. They said don't bother with trying to restraighten the axles.

Not wanting to replace the wrong axle or only replace one if both ere bent, I sought out an alignment shop set up to work on trailers. I found TDS in Ogden and Salt Lake, They had me bring in the trailer, They checked the alignment and cold bent the axles to bring them back into aliagnment for $80.  Quite a difference in cost.

In our discussion the tech said he can only do this process a couple of times to Torsion axles because it crushes the tube in the process. I was surprised and asked, How often people returned to have it done a 2nd or 3rd time.  He said quite often.  I wonder if the cold bending and "dimpling" of the axle by the hydraulic press weaken the axle, and that's why folks need to have the process repeated.

Has anybody else had this done? What has been your life expectancy for the repaired axles? How suspectable were the to rebending. I just wonder if I should start planning on replacing the axles in the near future or if this repair will be a once in 10 year repair.



[Edited by Painted Horse on 2010-11-11 9:27 AM]

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gard

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Subject : RE: Straightening a bent axle
Posted : 2010-11-11 10:01 AM
Post #126939 - In reply to #126936

I don't have a lot of experience with bent torsion bar axles, but quite a bit with boat trailer axles. I don't know why the shop had to dimple the tube during the cold bending process. That will definately spot weaken the axle, and be a point of possible future problems.

The shop where we took most of our customers' axles, had a set of dies, much like those used in a muffler tubing bender. The correct diameter die was placed against the axle tube, and then the hydraulic ram placed against it. When bent straight again, the tube would exhibit little deformity.

Normally I would say the repaired axle should be almost as good as the original. However, with a dimple now in its weakest spot, I would hold it suspect. With BLM roads being your main travels, I would expect a higher than normal failure rate. If your travels consisted of mainly hyway usage, you may never have a future problem. It appears your riding areas are often on poorly maintained roads. I would expect you might be a second or thrice visitor to the repair shop.


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Zoe

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Subject : RE: Straightening a bent axle
Posted : 2010-11-11 11:02 AM
Post #126942 - In reply to #126936

We live in PA which is noted for its "pot holes".  At the time our 3 horse bumper pull was our main trailer.  It had 3,500 lb leaf spring axles.  Tires were wearing uneven & found we had a bent axle & paid abt $140 to have it straighted & replaced the tires only to find about a year later tires were again wearing uneven.  Went back to the same place that had straightened them & they said it is very difficult to straigten an axle once it has been bent (weakens it)and usually doesn't last (Would have been nice if they told us that 1st time) After alot of research, we finally wound up going to 5,200 lb torsion axles which came with the break assembly.  When comparing cost, the difference in cost to go from 3,500 to 5,200 lb axles which have larger breaks was not that much and we hoped to avoid having any more bent axles. My husband is a machinist & was actually able to switch the  axles himself so no labor cost involved.   That was 10+ years ago & we haven't had a problem since. Spent $140 to straighten + 4 tires by the time it bent the 2nd time!  We now have a gooseneck w/LQ but have kept this as our day trailer.  Just sharing our experience, however, I'm sure the experts on this site can give you better "professional" advice.


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whitewood

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Subject : RE: Straightening a bent axle
Posted : 2010-11-11 11:12 AM
Post #126943 - In reply to #126936

they are easy to fix at any good alignment shop. we've had dozens done. Nothing has to be taken off the trailer, just take it in.


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Painted Horse

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Subject : RE: Straightening a bent axle
Posted : 2010-11-11 5:27 PM
Post #126955 - In reply to #126936

I did have it done. And the dimple is not that big, But you can see where the pressure point was.

I've got the 5200lb axles and just looking for an excuse to replace them with 7000lbs axle. New axles were only $400 each plus the time to pull and replace them. So it's definately something I'll do before I straighten them a 2nd time. It's just with todays ecconomy, I thought I'd better try and live with what I have rather than spend extra money today. Besides, I needed the alignment shop to tell me what was bent before I went and threw money at new axles.

And yes my concern is the type of roads I frequent. I don't hang out at fair grounds or riding arenas. It's frequent for me to drive down a BLM or Forest Service washboard dirt road.

 


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PaulChristenson

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Subject : RE: Straightening a bent axle
Posted : 2010-11-11 6:51 PM
Post #126958 - In reply to #126936

If you figure out the cost of the SECOND SET of replacement tires when trying to re-straighten an axle...and it isn't quite right......the cost of NEW comes down appreciably, plus you have the peace of mind that you KNOW you are running on NICE STRAIGHT AXLES...at least until you find those "axle killing holes"...AGAIN...
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Zoe

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Subject : RE: Straightening a bent axle
Posted : 2010-11-11 7:55 PM
Post #126962 - In reply to #126936

Totally agree!  We had never inquired what it would cost to replace the axles and had we known, probably would have gone to the heavier axle right away & by that time, all the trailers were being built with torsion axles.  Chalk it up to one of life's learning experiences.
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Painted Horse

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Subject : RE: Straightening a bent axle
Posted : 2010-11-12 8:54 AM
Post #126981 - In reply to #126958

Paul, That's the real kicker.  

Two new tires at $150 bucks or more each, and $300 for new fender if the blow out ruins it. and you've almost paid for the new axles.

But if I go to the 7000lbs axles, I'm not only buying new axles, but I'd change out the "E" rated to "G" rate tires, which also means new rims.


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gard

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Subject : RE: Straightening a bent axle
Posted : 2010-11-12 10:06 AM
Post #126986 - In reply to #126936

When you purchase a new trailer, most of the time you can, for a reasonable fee, upgrade your tires and axles. We did this with a stock/combo BP years ago and never regretted doing so. This Spring when we were shopping for a new trailer, again I could have upgraded from 3500# axles to 5200#. In addition, the 15" wheels would have been replaced with 16" and I could have specified "E" range tires over the stock "C". All of this would have cost ~$400-$500 extra. If you add up the costs of the individual components, you can see what a savings this option affords. There are similar options available for the higher rated axles.

For someone who expects some severe duty from his new trailer, this option may be one to tick off on the order sheet. With so many manufacturers building trailers with "just enough" suspensions, having the extra reserve capacity, will ensure the longevity of your trailer.


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whitewood

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Subject : RE: Straightening a bent axle
Posted : 2010-11-12 12:08 PM
Post #126993 - In reply to #126936

the biggest reason not to over axel is because you will beat your horses to death. Maybe that's not a  concern if you are a trail rider. A lot of people in this area have 10 to 40 miles of rock road and never bend an axel. I can't imagine what kind of a ride your horses must be having if the road is that bad. The most common reason to bend an axel on a late model trailer is a 180 turn in the walmart parking lot with a loaded trailer on hot asphalt. That will do it about every time. Buy the best tires you can find
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