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1998 Haulmark 24 Snowmobile trailer - Tires and Axles

Question:

I have some general questions on an old trailer I bought and wondering if you can assist. Let me give you what I know. It is a 1998 Haulmark enclosed trailer, no other model designation and the information plate is gone. It is deckover, and set up for snow/atv with full rear ramp door opening and front drivers side ramp door, in addition to a man door and two fuel doors. It is about a 24foot 20foot box, 4foot V enclosed length. The axles are Dexter but other than that, the id tags are unreadable. They are a tandem setup, torsion suspension, and 10inch hubs with electric brakes. I am guessing, based on other trailers of this size, they are 3500lb axles. I would guess that the trailer is about 3500 lb, leaving me about 3500 lb. of payload capacity for about 7000lb GVWR. The tires are 205/75R14 on 5x4.5 bolt pattern. Other observations...it looks like the trailer tires have rubbed the bottom of the deck in the past, and currently there is about 2inch of clearance from top of tire to bottom of deck. This was my first indication that something may be off, as I believe the recommendation is 3inch of clearance for torsion axles. I measured the current torsion arm angle on each hub and they are all between 21-23 degrees of down angle, with the trailer sitting on a flat surface and unloaded. When I jack up an individual axle side the arm s to about 28-30 degrees. This subsequently allows about 3inch of clearance from top of tire to bottom of deck. While I am sure the axles are stock, and thus about 23 yrs old, I am unsure if they are worn or need to be replaced. I am also unsure if the 205/75R14 and 14inch wheels that are on there are the stock sizes or not. So with that limited info, my questions are: Based on those torsion arm angles sitting on its own trailer weight but unloaded, and when lifted off the ground, are the axles worn? If so, can old 1998 dexter torsion axles be rebuilt or do I need to replace? If those axle angles are within spec, and in order to gain tire to deck clearance, should I look at 185/80R13 tires on 13inch wheels? this would almost give me another inch of clearance, but looks like I would sacrifice to 1700lb per tire Instead of 2000lb per tire for the current ones. Thanks for your help. I know its a lot of info, and I know you cant give me a firmfoot answer. But any guidance is appreciated. Thank you!

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Expert Reply:

You can confirm your axle capacity by pulling one of your hubs and looking at the reference numbers on the side of the bearing cages. A 3500 lb axle typically has an L68149 inner/L44649 outer bearing.

Torsion axles do indeed wear over time which is almost certainly what's happened in your case. As you mentioned 3-4 inches is what you typically want to see as far as fender/ wheel well clearance goes. At this juncture changing the tire size to a 185/80-13 will only provide you a bit above a 1/2 inch of extra clearance which isn't enough to get you where you want to be.

Once the rubber in the torsion axle deteriorates, it isn't repairable. You'll need to replace the axle. If your axles are indeed 3.5K, then you very likely have Dexter #10 Torflex axles. We don't carry beam torsion axles, but we do offer a few solutions for you.

Timbren offers the Axle-Less suspension which could replace your current axles without needing an axle beam. Part # ASR35HDS02 offers a 3.5K capacity that would place the spindle center about 7-1/2 inches below the bottom of the frame member. The rubber spring offers up to 1-3/4 inches of deflection when the trailer is under load which would place the spindle center about 5-3/4 inches below the underside of the frame member. Part # TASR35HDS07 would place the spindle center about 5-3/8 inches below the frame member. With 2-5/8 inches of maximum deflection under load, the spindle center would sit about 2 inches below the frame member.

A less-expensive option would be to install a lift kit like # K71-707-02 which would provide an additional 2-5/8 inches of lift between the centerline of the axle and the frame. This kit is compatible with a Torflex # 10 axle, unless it has the 3 inch high-profile brackets. This is probably the route I'd consider taking, but keep in mind that eventually the axles you currently have will continue to deteriorate to the point that they stop providing any dampening for you, so this would be a stopgap for you. I've provided a photo showing what the high-rise brackets look like.



Visual Comparison of Regular and High-Profile Mounting Bracket for Dexter # 10 Torflex Torsion Axle
Visual Comparison of Regular and High-Profile Mounting Bracket for Dexter # 10 Torflex Torsion Axle
(click to enlarge)
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Mike L

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