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How to make Axles for Caravan and Trailer

by | Aug 17, 2014 | Axles | 0 comments

How to make Axles for Caravan and Trailer

Couplemate Trailer Parts manufactures caravan and trailer axles in our Brisbane-based workshop. We custom manufacture all axles to suit specific customer requirements.

There are three processes demonstrated in the video below:

  • The rough removing tool removes the bulk of material to form the axle profile.
  • The fine finishing tool provides a super smooth bearing journal.
  • The threading tool forms a perfectly shaped thread.

There are seven factors we consider in the production of axles

  1. Does the steel come from Australia? If not, you may be getting a composite mixture of steel containing a recycled product. Keep reading below about the issues posed by non-virgin steel.
  2. Non-virgin steel is difficult to machine due to variances in steel hardness on the cutting tip of the CNC Lathe tool. Variances in steel composition can cause variations in bearing sizes by up to 0.05mm. This variation can cause bearing failure within a few thousand kilometres.
  3. The extra cost of an Australian turned axle is returned through less maintenance and breakdown costs.
  4. Couplemate also does not re-machine axles for this purchase.
  5. Australian jobs are supported by our local production of axles. If you would like to support Australian jobs, then Australian milled steel is the option for you.
  6. Australian axles get the tick for tight bearing journals and a quality product.
  7. Finally, you might find cheap prices for similar axles and braked setups however, are you receiving a quality product and the warranty you expect?

The axle in the video above is a 3t Axle turned on our CNC lathe for an electric braked trailer. We also machine 3t unbraked setups used in agriculture.

Caravan and Trailer axle Maximum Load Capacity

How to measure wheel offset for the correct axle length

When measuring axles, there are two important measurements and should not be confused:

  • Tip of thread to tip of the thread. We use this measurement for natural bare axles.
  • Face to Face. We use this method for unbraked and braked axles. The face of the hub is where the wheel bolts onto the hub.

Any other measures bring inaccuracies due to the large variety of hubs, drums and disc rotors on the market.

If you are having trouble or are concerned with taking the correct measurements for your axle send us a photo of your setup and we will help you through it. We also have a useful video below which demonstrates how to measure tyre backspace.

Australian Steel

Many industry professionals are convinced that the quality of imported steel is different from Australian steel.

axle steel

Australian Steel is made to a standard, whereas the price of imported steel varies according to the price paid. Sure, we can get a lower price for the steel we pay and become more competitive. However, there is no guarantee of this steel’s quality which is not something Couplemate is willing to risk for axle builds.

To cut the steel price, it is standard practice for overseas steel manufacturers to add ship steel to virgin steel during axle production.

We often get asked to cut an axle and make a shorter axle. You would think this request was reasonable. However, we have found when putting these axles into our CNC machine that the end of the axle was different sizes. Because reliable sizes are hard to maintain with this practice we opt not to reduce the size of existing axles.

Virgin Axle Steel vs Recycled Axle Steel

  1. The top axle in the image below is recycled steel sold as virgin steel from an importer. The steel had not formed correctly because the composition did not mix or adhere correctly. We are seeing only the outside of the profile. Internally, we have experienced variations in hardness and adhesion failures. Finally, note the trademark of imported steel – square corners.
  2. The bottom axle is virgin Australian steel. Note the rounded corners identify Australian made steel. The corner radius is usually 10mm.

Axle steel

Axle Fatigue

How undersized axles can cause fatigue in axles and suspension systems.

Undersized Axles cause vibration fatigue.

Question: How can I tell a good axle?

Answer: Run your thumbnail over the bearing profile on one end.

Video: Vibration Fatigue in Caravans and Boat Trailers

Question: How can I tell a good axle?

Answer: Run your thumbnail over the bearing profile on one end.

axle steel

If the bearing profile feels lumpy, then the axle has something similar to a sine wave when viewed close up. This axle has lumps and troughs; your trailer bearings do not seat properly in the troughs.

Less than 25% of your bearing is sitting on your axle profile, where 75% of the inner bearing surface is not touching the axle. These axles have been machined too quickly with too much surface speed on the cutting tool. On many occasions, a finer finishing tool is not used.

A perfectly finished axle will feel relatively smooth under your thumbnail.

Good quality Japanese bearings play a vital role in trouble-free holidays.

Trailer Bearings

Customers frequently come to us with bearing problems. On many occasions, these rough caravan axles destroy bearings.

Whatever decision you choose to go with, if you purchase your materials from a reputable business that offers a warranty and stands behind its products, you can’t go wrong.

Better still, purchase Couplemate axles as we stand by our product with a warranty.

Finally, if you found the above information informative, Buy Australian and please leave a review below. Thank you.

© Steve Wotherspoon 17th August 2014

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