13 Scamp Axle Replacement Story

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Greg A
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13 Scamp Axle Replacement Story

I wrote this experience up years ago and since it is such a relevant ongoing topic for older Scamps, I will post it here.  It is quite an adventure and I'll post it in installments as I did originally.  Hopefully, if you have to replace ur axle you will find it a bit easier than mine was!  

I would say looking back, the axle replacement was the single most difficult component of rehabbing our 1981 13 Scamp. It would have been the single most expensive component as well, if not for the wild and woolly story I am about to relay to you over the next few installments.

Let me give you the background in the first installment:
When we bought the trailer we knew we had a "low-rider" and it was the original 27-yr-old axle. We went ahead gutted and redid the trailer, and began to use it while gathering the information on how to go about replacing the axle. Reading about axle replacements here and there for about a year we decided the best option was a Dexter #9 Torflex.

I spoke with the Dexter dealer in Phoenix, but it would have been a 30 mile pull to get the trailer to them, which you have to do several times for measurements and then installation. Generally, consensus was that it takes 6-8 weeks or more after ordering your axle to actually be able to put your hands on it.

Now, we live in a somewhat rural area and nearby were two businesses that primarily service horse trailers, so off I go to see if they could handle the axle replacement on our lil people trailer. Yes, they can and it would be $595.00 installed. We were leaving in July for an entire month in the Scamp for WY, MT, UT, ID so they took the measurements first of May and ordered the axle which would be here in June and be installed before our trip. 

OK, now the fun begins:
May comes and goes - no axle.
June comes and goes - no axle - No problem says the shop it will be there on July 1st and we don't leave till the 2nd. 
July 1-2 comes and goes - you guessed it - no axle.

Now this isn't the shops fault.  It is getting them built and out of Dexter that is the issue at this point.

Daddy makes decision and we take off on our trip the morning of the 3rd for the first destination of Moab, UT for the 4th of July. Spectacular place to spend the 4th if you've never done it. Our second time. 

As we leave Arizona and enter into UT on the 3rd, the phone rings.
It's the trailer place and they are so excited - they have our axle!
I tell them---We'll see you in August, we're heading to Yellowstone.

Coming soon: Installment 2-We return from Montana to get our axle installed.

Greg A
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Installment #2 "Fire In The Hole-The Axle Saga Continues"

Last we left our happy foursome, we were leaving Kalispell, MT after 30 days touring through WY, UT, MT, and ID on a 27 year old Scamp axle that had seen better days. We have black marks at the top of each wheel well now, as fond remembrances of the many times we "bottomed out" over the 3600 miles of our trek. Meanwhile, back home at the horse trailer shop our brand new Dexter #9 axle awaited our return.

After close to 30 days on the road with two adults and two children in a 13 Scamp we were very ready to see home, so we decided to leave it on the hitch and spend two nights making a direct run for Phoenix. The trip home was very uneventful, with a stop in southern ID on the Snake River and another stop just south of Bryce Canyon on the AZ border.

As we trucked down I-17, we were in the last two miles of our trip as we approached our home. We went right by the horse trailer shop with our axle, that sits on the western side of the highway. I remarked "Hey Honey, there sits our axle over there." As my wife looked up it began to dawn on us that something wasn't looking so good. My wife responded, "Honey, I think it burned down while we were gone!"

Sure enough, it looked like a US made Bunker Bomb had hit the horse trailer shop that was waiting to replace our axle. All I could think of was the $200 deposit I had given them to order the axle and another 12 week wait to try and get another one after we locate someone else to do it. And what would become of our $200?  Was there enough insurance? 

I also began to recognize a pattern. If any of you recall, in the spring I had ordered the front and rear Plexi windows and trimlock from Scamp to replace the windows. Scamp sent it UPS who put it on a train that derailed in KS and all my windows burned to toast in the ensuing fire. Scamp had to wait on the insurance papers from UPS before they could reship my parts. I guess the moral of that story is, don't let me order any parts for your trailer.....  

Installment #3 - "Do Axles Burn - The Axle Saga Continues"

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Greg A
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Installment #3 - "Do Axles Burn - The Axle Saga Continues"

As we unpacked our lil Scamp that had taken such good care of us in July, I figured I would go up in a few days and see what I could find out at the torched out horse trailer shop. Sometimes, when things that weird happen, I find you just have to sit with it for a few days before beginning to deal with it.

A couple of days later I finally find I'm in the mood to go hear what became of our #9 Torflex and answer the burning question..  "Do Axles Burn?" When I arrived at the shop the gate was open and there was crime scene tape all around the building. I got out and began to poke around. Now I don't know if anyone has ever seen steel girders melt, but that is how hot this fire was. I began to lose any hope for the Dexter. Trailers that were in the bays were now just melted outlines on the concrete. (Good to know concrete doesn't appear to burn.)

Out comes the manager from the wreckage where he had been assessing things for the insurance claim and begins to tell me the story.
Two disgruntled employees, one current-one ex, had torched it. They even took 20lb propane bottles and put one in each room and opened the valves for a bit prior to lighting the place up to make sure nothing was left. They caught them the next day when the current one was the only employee that didn't show for work and they are both currently sitting in jail. 

The manager pointed to an outline of a huge trailer in bay 3 and said "Do you know what that was?" 
"A horse trailer, I replied."
"That was a $250,000 horse trailer that belonged to an Olympian which was totally loaded to go to an Olympic competition, and they dropped it in for service right before leaving."

Suddenly, he looked at me and said "Hey, you're the Scamp Guy."
(I don't know if any of you experience this, but I'm thinking of legally changing my first and middle name to Scamp Guy so it will just make it easier.)
"Yes, I am."
"Boy are you lucky, he said. Your axle was outside in the back of the yard and it's fine."
I now had my answer: "Axles Don't Burn" At least, if they're outside and away from the fire.

He relayed that they were going to set up a temporary shelter and would be able to install my axle the following week.

Now, I wish I could tell ya this was the end of the story and all is now well, but I can't.
Yes, there is more to the continuing axle saga and it will be forthcoming in:

Installment #4: "Don't Sell My Axle - The Axle Saga Continues"

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Greg A
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Installment #4: "Don't Sell My Axle - The Axle Saga Continues"

The next week comes and I go up the burned out shop to see when they can put the axle on. Only the office mgr and one younger employee remain and they tell me to check back the following week to see if they're ready. I return the following week and they've had to lay-off all the remaining employees except the office manager, but they tell me the shop manager will call me in a couple of days and come up and put the axle on. He is now employed at an RV dealer, but wants to make some money moonlighting. Another week goes by and no call.

I find myself driving by the shop one afternoon and something is telling me to pull in and see what is going on. I've learned over the years to follow those feelings so I exit and head for the shop. There is a fella there with the office manager and they are going around the yard looking at all the axles. Finally, the manager comes over and says that the fella wants to buy all the axles and isn't mine somewhere in the pile?? She tells me her salary has been cut in half and the owner didn't have enough insurance so he told her to sell everything to anyone and they would be through. All of their records were destroyed, but she knows I paid them something for the axle so just go ahead and take it before this fella loads them up. She tells me the shop manager never called me to put the axle on because he broke his ribs and is laid up.

Unfortunately, this isn't the end of the broken bones.

Not being one to argue, I find my axle quickly and load it in my Jeep and me and the Dexter #9 head south as quickly as we can. Phewwww, pays to listen to those feelings. Half an hour later and my axle would have been sold.   

So, one month after returning home from the "Fires of Yellowstone" to the "Inferno at the Horse Trailer Shop" the axle is the closest it has been to the Scamp. Only one problem: It is laying on the floor of the garage by the Scamp and not installed on it. Late at night when I'm working on the Scamp in the garage, I'd swear that axle is just grinnin at me - naw, can't be. 

We're back to the sometimes you have to sit with things for awhile before you get in the mood to deal with it again. We actually take a couple of trips on the old axle in Sept and Oct and each time we return home the new Dexter #9 is there to welcome us back.

Don't miss installment #5: "Don't Break Your Finger, Just Install My Axle - The Axle Saga Continues"

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Greg A
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Installment #5: "Don't Break Your Finger, Just Install My Axle -

In the last episode we rescued our axle right before it was sold to salvagers and it has been sitting on the garage floor for over a month. I finally decided to deal with it and started looking for options to have it installed. 

Suddenly, I remembered there were two horse trailer shops that I checked with intially that said they could do it. The other one, was right across the highway. Off I go to see if they are willing to install my axle for a reasonable price. 

This shop was smaller, which is why I had picked the other one, but they had a well equipped shop and an installer who seemed to have a lot of experience. Price was reasonable so I made an appointment. 

I brought the Scamp and Dexter up to the shop on the appointed day and the installer and I went through how I wanted to mount it. I was told it would be ready late afternoon or next day.

Two hours later I get a call from the shop that I needed to come up right away to discuss...  Now, in most cases, that wouldn't set off too many alarms, but this axle install was haunted so I began to think - WHAT NOW!

I go up to the shop and there's my lil Scamper up on jacks with his old feet cut off. The installer comes out and is lookin pretty whipped. He tells me that he got the old axle cut off, but it was a bearcat. His assistant had also dropped the trailer the last few inches on the jacks, and unfortunately his finger was still on the top of the jack and was now broken... Oh no, more broken bones!

Now he can't get the new one aligned properly. We went to take a look and he had it underneath as a trailing arm setup.

Ah, I said. You forgot I told you we needed to flip it. 

We went through a whole bunch of stuff with Dexter when we originally ordered the axle and they don't make a leading arm axle anymore, but the Dexter pros said that we could flip it and it would be fine.

He looked at me and said, "Oh, you mean spin it? I couldn't figure out what you meant by flip it." (Now I don't even resemble an axle expert, so I'm not sure why he thought I would know the axle installation jargon) He immediately "spins" the axle on the jack and we proceed to align it. One problem down.

Next he tells me that the way these trailers are built with the wood flooring and the location to where the axles have to be welded on that it would be very easy to catch them on fire when welding. Remembering Marjie S post on how she lost her Scamp, I relayed this to the fella. (Marjie S. had her Scamp 13 completely burned to toast by the welder welding on her new axle.) He said when he began welding they would proceed very cautiously and he'd have the assistant standing by to put anything out that started smoking.

I left the shop with "Marjie S" syndrome. Oh, to come all this way to have the lil Scamp smoked. How dreadful, can't even imagine what she went through. I tried to stay busy that afternoon so as not to think about it.

At noon the next day they called and told me she was ready to go! 
Off I went to pick her up. 

Everything looked great and it raised it about 1-2" which is what I was looking for. We have an HOA and I have to store in the garage, so I was wanting pretty much a stock install with a bit of height gain, but not much. The job came out perfect.
Install cost was $245 so the total for axle with 7"brakes installed was $445.

Now this journey began the first week of May 2008 when the axle was ordered. It has now officially ended six and one half trying months later.   
It was the last big item needed to restore the 81 Scamp and it is done.

My wish is that all of you won't encounter anything near what has transpired here in this axle tale when it is time to change out yours. Maybe, in the hearing of this tale you can avoid one or two of the issues that have plagued axle changes in the past. Marjie's tale made me have the fire discussion with the installer and perhaps allowed us to avoid a similar fate.

As one comment asked, does it help to write about it? Yes, it does.
It also helps that when I step into my Scamp it now springs back up instead of the way it used to sink down and stay there.   

God bless, and may the roads rise up to meet your wheels for many safe trips ahead.

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2015 19 Escape

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Flyboyscamp
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Your Experience!

After reading this story, I am so delighted to be ordering a brand new trailer! I doubt I have axle troubles anytime soon! Still, a good read!

<p>Doug Allen 2016 Ford F-150 2018 Lance 1575</p>

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Thanks, Greg, for a wonderful

Thanks, Greg, for a wonderful read!  I will add our axle replacement story (which, compared to yours, is quite dull). 

Ca. 20 years ago, while towing our 1974 Scamp, we came through Bemidji, MN to visit friends.  Studying the map, we saw that we could route our way through Backus on our way south.  We did, and stopped at the (old, pre-fire) Scamp factory.  It was quite a friendly visit:  We were given a brief tour of the factory, sat with the workers during their morning coffee break, and then proceeded outside to look at some of the new units in the yard.

While we being escorted around the grounds, I asked the salesman why they were building the new 13' Scamps higher off the ground. 

"Oh," he said, looking at our (at the time, 20-year old) Scamp, "The torsion suspension on your axle has worn and settled several inches.  But we can replace the running gear for you, with new." 

"Really?  When?" 

"How about tomorrow morning first thing (8 am)?" 

"Great, let's do it."  (Good decision.)  Do you know of a place nearby where we can camp overnight?" 

"Yes, there's a nice little public park in the next village south." 

"Thanks, we'll see you in the morning."

And so it was: The next morning we had new running gear installed on our old Scamp at the Scamp factory!  Ca. 20 years later, it is still holding up well...although it may have settled again, but only an inch.

Flyboyscamp
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Trailer Story

Great story friend. I have been told the folks up there are really great. We order our trailer next spring to the beginning of summer. We are getting a Deluxe model,bircht trim, potty and shower, and tons of options. Sure anxious to join in the Scamp group and join in on the fun.

<p>Doug Allen 2016 Ford F-150 2018 Lance 1575</p>

Maine Scamp
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Axle Questions

I am planning a trip to NC from Maine in a  month,and  am negotiating to buy a Scamp down there ,which my son {who lives in the area will be personally insecting for me } before I get there . While viewing the pics of the before & after photos ,I notice that it sits quite low around the wheel wells and not that far off the ground from what I can tell . The guy did some through rehabbing inside ,such  as rewiring the electric , wire brushing and spray painting the frame ,new bearing and grease ,etc.

I am wondering if the "low rider " status might mean a new axle is needed ??

How can we tell ?

Also ,do you have a "check off list " of things to inspect when someone  considering a used {1976 in this case} Scamp ?

Thanks for your help .

Paul

Flyboyscamp
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Yes, the axle and associated

Yes, the axle and associated suspension is shot. A post here was written about a couple traveling near the factory area had the axle replaced. Yes, it needs replacement. Winter storage means jacking up,the trailer, putting Jack stands under the axle to relieve the stress of the axle during winter storage, and extend the life of,the axle.

<p>Doug Allen 2016 Ford F-150 2018 Lance 1575</p>

dhelgeson
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axle for 13'

I am being told that I can no longer get and axle to fit my wheels on my 1981.  The place I spoke to said they quit making them in 1997.  My wheels have 4 bolts and he said they no longer make them and I would have to replace the wheels and tires to fit the new axle.  Does this sould correct?  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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