Today the trailer gets a new heavier duty axle kit and 35 inch tires to match the Jeep. Here is what we are working with.
My off road trailer started life as one of those mobile electronic highway signs. The last owner demoed the electronics and converted it to a flatbed.
In its original light duty design, it came with what I believe is a 1200 pound axle. That will never do for offroading, so one of my tasks in my trailer build was to upgrade to a 3500 pound unit.
I chose this one from TK axle. This axle has a number of benefits over the light duty stocker.
- Much stronger.
The 3500 pound axle is stronger in pretty much every way. It should hold up great to off road use. (check out the comparison below)
- 5 on 5 bolt pattern.
The bolt pattern matches my Jeep, allowing me to tun the same wheel and tire combination. That effectively gives me three trail spares. The axle comes in a number of other bolt patterns or you could always use spacers to adapt it to your pattern.
- No camber.
Most axles come with a bend that straightens out with weight so that they hold the right camber for good handling and tire wear. At 3500 pounds, a cambered axle would never get enough weight on it to straighten out rand ride correctly.
- EZ lube bearings
No need to remove the bearings to repack the grease. Should the axle get submerged, it will be easier to re-grease.
Offroad Axle Installation
The axle from TK axle had a 46 inch mount spacing just like the stocker, so it was an easy swap. I of course did have to replace the U bolts because of the much larger axle diameter.
The only problem that I ran into is with the clearance between the tire and the side of the trailer. Because of my 35’s I was only left with just under an inch of clearance. Most trailer shops recommend 1.5 to 2.5 inches of clearance so I had to invest in some spacers.
Spacers On An Axle
The addition of spacers was an easy fix, making sure to use Locktite red to secure them. I used a 1.5 inch spacer which gave me a full 2.5 inches of side clearance. I probably would have preferred a simple 1 inch spacer but that would have involved cutting the lugs.
If you have to go the spacer route on a trailer, here is a word of advice. Make sure that they are not hub centric. A hub centric spacer will have a center bore that is the same size as the vehicle hub. By mistake, I bought a set of used Rough Country spacers and they would not fit over the Hub of the trailer axle.
If you use spacers on a trailer, check the bore size of the spacer and make sure that it will clear your axle.
Also, keep the hub centric thing in mind if you plan to use stock wheels on a trailer. Jeep wheels, for example, are also hub centric, so check the bore size. I am running aftermarket black steelies so no issue for me.