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Old 05-27-2014, 11:52 AM   #1
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Question Triple Axle trailers with retractable axle

If someone has not yet invented a way to retract one of the three axles during low speed tight maneuvers, I just may have to answer the call..
I've been looking high and low and all I get is blank stares or surprised looks!

I am in the market (soon) for a 5er toy hauler with at least a 10' separated garage, preferably 12' and double or triple slides. I know about the heavier axles in the tandems and thats fine, but most of those trailers seem a good 5-6" taller off the ground as well for the taller tires. Simple math says, add an axle, shorter tires..
BUT
I used to travel the professional racing circuits in my younger days and have seen far too many shredded tires on those triple axle haulers.. I've watched a couple peeled right off the rims and they had over 90 PSI in them...

What have you guys seen out there? Is there an aftermarket kit to do what I want done or do I have to make it myself?

Thanks!

BTW - Fabrication is one of my hobbies, so I would not need to farm much work out to anyone..
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Old 05-27-2014, 04:37 PM   #2
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The weight that is currently spread over 3 axles and 6 tires, would then thrust upon 2 axles and only 4 tires, I think that would be more stressful and destructive to those tires.

How about adding swivel tires like what they have on the platforms added to the back of trailers? You could use smaller tires and wheels, and devise a retractable application that would LESSEN the weight on the rear of the trailer, NOT lift it, and that may help with tight turns. If mounted at rear of trailer, the setup could be made to keep the rear bumper from bottoming out on steep driveways to parking lots and other places.
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Old 05-27-2014, 09:46 PM   #3
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Were those shredded tires from just old tires and too much air or speed maybe?

That'd be interesting, but you'd definitely overload the two axles left when retracted.
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Old 05-28-2014, 05:56 PM   #4
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You know, I really don't understand your problem. The triple axle is a much better pulling trailer than a double axle, tire wear isn't an issue unless you pull around town all day long. I would much rather have a triple axle trailer than a double axle, pulled one for 10 years plus and wish my new one had the additional axle. Not only rode better, pulled better, but the ties are cheaper too which gave you more choices when buying tires.
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Old 05-29-2014, 07:32 AM   #5
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Thanks for the messages guys.. NFL, that's food for thought. I have put large casters on the tail of a trailer before to keep that back end from getting torn up. Of course caster maintenance and replacement was easier that trailer / motorhome repair.

Re: tires and condition. The teams I worked with were multimillion dollar funded teams and the tires were replaced periodically (obviously when damaged) and rotated. They were good tires spec'd out by the trailer manufacturer. Haulmark made us one of their first 40' stacker trailers and the tires were a constant problem. We weren't alone in the paddock with these problems.. As a matter of fact, bit the Goodyear and Goodrich tire trucks at the race tracks carried replacement tires for our trailers and a few for the trucks, although they were not as problematic..

VetteRacer - I don't disagree at all that three axles with six tires would carry the load and tow better than a tandem axle with four tires. That's the point of the thread. If you do some searching even within these forums here as well as others on the web, you will find that the problem of tire scuffing in low speed manuevers is a real and clearly defined hazard of triple axle trailers. The same holds tru for any multiple axle trailer, but the effect is diminished to a degree.
When crabbing a trailer, there will be one axle that the trailer will pivot on depending on the current loading of the trailer. That pivot axle will change depending on the current CG as well as terrain/traction. There are a lot of shredded tires out there that aren't lieing about how they failed. They were pushed to failure by design and the duty (right or wrong) that they were performing.

I do agree that the four tires would be carrying possibly more than their rated load if an axle were lifted. At low speed (i'm talking like walking speed) and for short distances (100' or less) that should not present too large of a problem and probably a lot less strain on the tire carcasses overall..

One thing I have not read much about is tire rotation on trailers. This is something I have done a couple times a year on my own trailers (every few thousand miles)..
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:16 AM   #6
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I worked for an OTR flatbed company that had the spread axles on the trailers, that is the trailer axles are ten feet apart from each other. You can imagine the scrubbing that occurred in tight turns. Their solution is that the rear axle had a dump valve in the driver compartment and on tight turns a flip of the switch dumped the air from the rear axle and the pivot point became the front axle. Backing into tight spots was much easier. An alert would sound when this was done and as soon as the turn was completed we would flip the switch and continue on our way. Something similar could be produced for a triple axle trailer. The wheels don't need to come off the ground but just having the weight reduced for turns would benefit you greatly.
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Old 06-03-2014, 05:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
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I worked for an OTR flatbed company that had the spread axles on the trailers, that is the trailer axles are ten feet apart from each other. You can imagine the scrubbing that occurred in tight turns. Their solution is that the rear axle had a dump valve in the driver compartment and on tight turns a flip of the switch dumped the air from the rear axle and the pivot point became the front axle. Backing into tight spots was much easier. An alert would sound when this was done and as soon as the turn was completed we would flip the switch and continue on our way. Something similar could be produced for a triple axle trailer. The wheels don't need to come off the ground but just having the weight reduced for turns would benefit you greatly.
YES

Exactly what I am talking about!!!

Do you have any pictures or references on how that works?

There has got to be a way to retrofit something like this on a triple-axle trailer that was designed to have all wheels carrying their share of the load at all times..

I've even thought of a way to lower the hitch in the truck which would then remove some of the loading from the rear axle to accomplish the same thing. But, the hitch is so important to the equation, I gave that up. Possibly lower the rear suspension of the truck via air bags? I can't see that buying us more than a few inches..
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Old 06-04-2014, 07:09 AM   #8
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No pics or anything on dumping the air. The trailers used air bag suspension and they all dump the air when the truck is shut down so it must be an extra valve they use for the rear axle. I drove flat beds for TMC, the black and chrome trucks that are seen all over the mid west and much of the rest of the country. Maybe you can find one at a truck stop to look at. They have terminals in Des Moines and Indianapolis.
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Old 06-04-2014, 07:31 AM   #9
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Why don't you go the other direction? Perhaps a set of airbags and a small compressor to lift two of the axles, thereby unloading the third? They would only be inflated when you wanted to unload the third axle, so you could probably use the cheaper "load assist" type air bags.
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Old 06-04-2014, 01:33 PM   #10
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Bass Cat Boats of Mt. Home Arkansas makes what they call a "Pop" axle for their two axle trailers, to make moving them in a garage easier, you may want to contact them for some info, not sure if that is what you are looking to do.
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
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No pics or anything on dumping the air. The trailers used air bag suspension and they all dump the air when the truck is shut down so it must be an extra valve they use for the rear axle. I drove flat beds for TMC, the black and chrome trucks that are seen all over the mid west and much of the rest of the country. Maybe you can find one at a truck stop to look at. They have terminals in Des Moines and Indianapolis.
Great info I live in MN and we have a couple of yards not that far from here.. I'll see if I can snoop around a little.. Thanks!
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:34 AM   #12
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Bass Cat Boats of Mt. Home Arkansas makes what they call a "Pop" axle for their two axle trailers, to make moving them in a garage easier, you may want to contact them for some info, not sure if that is what you are looking to do.
I was not able to find the info on their website but will keep looking... Thank you!
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:36 AM   #13
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Why don't you go the other direction? Perhaps a set of airbags and a small compressor to lift two of the axles, thereby unloading the third? They would only be inflated when you wanted to unload the third axle, so you could probably use the cheaper "load assist" type air bags.
THIS IS ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!!!!!

Why didn't I think of that???

I don't think it would work with a torsion axle, but if they were either coil or leaf spring suspended, I would sure think it woul work!

Thank you!!!
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:48 AM   #14
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Thanks Randy. Here's thought for your torsion axles. If you put the 2 axle mounts on a cradle that used longitudinal arms to locate that cradle, then you could push down on the axle, raising the body away from it. You'd probably need a panhard rod to keep it located from side to side, or some vertical pins, just so it doesn't move sideways when you have it raised. Not quite as easy as with a sprung axle.
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