Ship Steel for Caravan and Trailer Axles?
What is the difference between Australian, Chinese or Indian Axle Steel?
Chinese steel like Indian begins life as Australian Iron-ore from West Australia and Coal from Queensland.
The steel milling process occurs in Australia, or China or India. Little steel comes to Australia from other sources like the USA.
The later takes away Australian jobs and is a lower cost product and possibly lower quality.
Carbon and other additives occur in iron ore smelting giving various grades of steel.
Many industry professionals are convinced that the quality of Chinese steel is different from Australian steel.
Australian Steel is made to a standard whereas the price of Chinese steel varies according to the price paid. Sure, we can get a lower price for the steel we pay and become more competitive. However, this steel is the grade of steel we require for Axle Builds.
Axle Steel from BlueScope has proven consistent over time whereas Chinese suppliers are unreliable in supplying good quality steel 100% of the time.
To cut the price of steel, it is standard practice for Indian and Chinese Steel manufacturers to add ship steel to virgin steel during axle making. You have no doubt seen ships driven up onto the beach then the steel is cut up and taken to the foundry?
We often get asked to cut an axle and make a shorter axle. You would think this request was reasonable.
Well, we put these axles into our CNC and found either end of the axle we different sizes. We found sizes hard to maintain.
There are two factors we consider in the production of axles
- Australian jobs! For no other reason is it appropriate to argue the point of Australian or Chinese steel. If you would like to support Australian jobs, then Australian milled steel is the option for you.
- Australian axles get the tick for tight bearing journals and a quality product.
We have seen on occasions where Australian produce products that are inferior to Chinese produced products. In these cases, we do not support or buy inferior manufactured goods.
Example, axle washers. To add a further dimension to the debate of steel type, enter Indian Steel.
We have purchased Indian and Chinese axle steel in the past, and our experience has shown that the steel is of lower quality, this steel seems to rust quicker than Chinese and Australian steel and has a high amount of scale on the milled surface.
Indian axle is made from scrap or recycled steel, perhaps even ship steel-cut from a recycled ship and reprocessed. It is hard in places and soft in places on the same axle.
Can you pick the recycled a customer brought into our workshop to be re-cut?
Undersized Axles cause vibration fatigue.
Question: How can I tell a good axle?
Answer: Run your thumbnail over the bearing profile on one end.
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.
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 on and stands behind it products you can’t go wrong.
Better still, purchase Couplemate Axles as we stand by our product with warranty.
I do not like the look of them and nor do you in all probability. The best way to buy a good axle is to buy from a top class manufacturer.
I would be comfortable knowing I am spending money on Aussie jobs.
Remember, run your thumbnail over the machine surface.
For the record, Couplemate Trailer Parts buys steel in Australia from BlueScope
™ Steel, an Australian owned Company.
Finally, if you found this above information informative, please leave a review below. Thank you.
© Steve Wotherspoon 17th August 2014