250 Miles down, 7 to go but.........

Discussion in 'Tires / Brakes / Bearings / Axles' started by Adrian Thompson, May 15, 2017.

  1. Adrian Thompson

    Adrian Thompson New Member

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    Jul 7, 2015
    OK, our 2003 Starcraft 2047 is now named Lucy, because, well it had a loose wheel obviously. We didn't make the last 7 miles.

    Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. We bought our 03 Starcraft used two years ago. When we got the trailer it had plenty of tread on the tires, but they were old and I was concerned about UV rot, especially given how we drive....Not so slow shall we say. While the tires had plenty of tread, one had an uneven wear pattern almost as if something had worn away the outer tread on one edge. I didn't think anything much of it at the time, but now I wonder. Anyway, I put on two new of Amazon's best Chinese trailer wheels and tires and repacked the wheel bearings. I seem to recall there was a very small amount of pitting on one of the outer races but I texted you photos to friends and they all said I was being paranoid and it was fine so I repacked it and put it all back together. We have used it many times times inc. a big trip to Colorado plus several up North (we are in SE Michigan) Easily 4K miles.

    Last fall in the last trip of the year we had a blow out on the right hand side. At the time I just put it down as bad luck and/or a shitty Chinese tire and planned on replacing both wheels and tires before our next big trip. Inevitably I didn't and just grabbed on of the old wheels/tires as a spare. LAst week I topped up the tires that had lost a bit of pressure over the winter to 50psi and thought I was good to go. I now think there was nothing wrong with the wheels and tires anyway.

    So we head up North, it pulls fine at 75-80 with our new Flex, although we really miss the Ecoboost in our previous Explorer Sport and found the Flex seriously lacking, especially on the hills. No problem on the way their. On the way home we stop after maybe an hour and a half at a rest stop and as soon as I get out I smell something hot. I check all around and find that the right trailer wheel is rubbing on the edge of the wheel arch, just the plastic trim cover. I grab my pocket knife and carefully trim back the plastic. At the time I just assumed that I had loaded it differently for the return trip and had more weight on that side. That now seems like illogical thinking, but I had no reason to think anything else. There was now clearance to the metal chassis, but I could see a big bump it would touch. Off we went again at a (slightly) reduced pace.

    Next stop all seems basically well. I can see it must have touched a couple of times, but no issues and other than being shiny where it had occasionally kissed the smooth metal edge of the frame the tire was fine, no evidence of galling or being ground away so again I thought all was well.

    Later we got a noise, a rumbling that I thought was the wheel bearing. A-ha, I think, that's whats going on the wheel bearing is failing. I stop and check everything. It still all looks good. A while later the noise gets suddenly and dramatically worse. I get out and check it again. Nothing seems obviously worse and there is still nothing but some shinny marks on the tire. Carry on at a reduced pace. Later still the noise is much worse. Check again and I can see one of the lug nuts is loose. Hmm, weird, they were all fine before leaving to head up there. I think maybe the wheel bearing is moving around making them back off a bit. I go and tighten them all up. A couple were fine, one needed maybe a 1/16th of a turn and was tight. One was snug and needed maybe 3/8 of a turn to snug and the one I has seen needed maybe 2 1/2 turns. This is still all on the right hand side. The left hasn't given a peep and seems fine. Nothing hot, nothing making a noise, no apparant issues at all so I didn't (now foolishly with hindsight) check the lug nuts on that side. Carry on at only 45mph now with the hazard flashers going, but we only have about 10 miles left on on the freeway and 7 miles on surface streets after that.

    Finally get to the exit which is where we had met up with our eldest daughter, boyfriend and grandson at an MDOT car pool lot. Just as we are coming off, on the exit loop at maybe 35mph bang, lurch, sparks and I watch the RIGHT HAND!!!! wheel bounce off and across the grass. Bugger. Pull over and walk back. I find the left front corner jack got ripped off as the corner when down and I can see where the wheel bounced in the freshly turned soil (no grass they are doing work) but it appears to have skipped/rolled several hundred yards down a dip, up a much higher bank on the other side and over the on ramp never to be seen again. Thank your deity of choice that it didn't hit any ones car, or more importantly a person. We limped on one wheel to the car pool lot (1/4 mile) and after loosing my temper and considering driving it home like that we left and headed home.

    So what gives? Every issue I had and everything I found wrong was on the right had side, but I lost the left hand wheel. All five wheel studs have sheared off the left had side leaving the remains flush with drum/hub assembly so I can't bolt anything on even temporarily until i get it home. I never felt, saw, noticed, heard any issues with that side, but I'm now kicking myself for not torquing that side up when I found one loose on the right, but then again I had no reason to suspect anything was wrong. Have they all been over torqued in the past yielding them? Did an issue on the right lead to an issue on the left? I really don't know.

    When I researched the Starcraft 2407 before we bought it all seemed good, but this morning when I googled 'Starcraft 2407 axle' I get lots of threads commenting on how the axle is marginal for this trailer weight. One of the selling features of this trailer (for us) was no bathroom, hot water or AC. I didn't want those due to weight, complexity of things to go wrong and the fact that every trailer I looked at with hot water or bathroom had visible water damage to the sub floor. The apparent downside is they put a marginal axle (2800#) on a 1950# dry unit. The brakes never worked so right now I'm considering just replacing the whole thing axle, suspension, brakes etc. Depends on what I find when I pull it off.

    Any known issues or advice before I go and start pulling it appart? I'm heading to a friends house this evening to get his car hauler. It's 6'10" wide while the camper is 7'1", but one wheel is missing and both are in-board by about an inch so It should >>just<< squeeze on.
     
  2. Adrian Thompson

    Adrian Thompson New Member

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    Jul 7, 2015
    Trying to post a crappy pic, but no luck
    [​IMG]
     
  3. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

    1,164
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    Nov 7, 2013
    Sounds like the lug nuts were loose.
     
    jackquontee likes this.
  4. Adrian Thompson

    Adrian Thompson New Member

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    Jul 7, 2015
    So, I'm not convinced the lugs were loose on the left as the studs broke off underflush as if they had been over torqued many times. Note. The previous owners had all work done by a local place. I've seen too many times where shops just run the lug nuts on with an air wrench THEN check the torque although they have already done it up way way way over torque. If the lugs were loose it tends to snap off with several threads still showing above the surface and what is there is very chewed up. That is not the case here.

    No matter, we're onto fixing it now.

    So, here are some pics of the axle, I need to figure out exactly what to chance, then off to eTrailer to get the parts. What I want to know is if I can raise the trailer and/or get wheels with lower offset so they are marginally further in board. It looks as if even when everything is prefect the right hand tires is really really close to part of the frame and will certainly touch in jounce (compression) when going down the road. The left hand side doesn't have that issue as with the slide out there is no frame rail there.

    Is there a way to raise these axles with a different rubber ?

    Pics of the identifying lables on the axle. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  5. mstrbill

    mstrbill Member

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    Mar 17, 2013
    Austin , Texas
    Dexter makes a underslung to overslung conversion kit. It's bolt-on and then you can take the trailer to get have the bracket welded on. Should raise the trailer by about 4 1/2 inches.

    Since you will replaces the drums/brakes, you might want to check if a new axle would be cheaper.
     
  6. Arruba

    Arruba Member

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    Nov 28, 2014
    Central Oregon
    As mentioned, it may be cheaper to acquire a new 3 or 3500lb axle. Years ago I had an axle tube/alignment issue with my utility trailer. I purchased a new axle for less than the shop quotes to replace the tube/repair, even with me doing the removal and re-installation. I would really cost compare if you want to consider going from an under axle to over axle spring mount to gain clearance. Of course I'm assuming you have leaf spring suspension.

    Good luck with whatever you choose to do....
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2017

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