Been a while since I posted, but I figured this may be useful information for some. We still travel in our van, though with the two toddlers running about we rarely get the energy up to document our travels.
Had our most 'exciting' trip in our van last weekend when the rear axle broke while traveling down the freeway at about 75mph. Right rear wheel came loose, held to the van just by the stub of axle-shaft remaining and the brake caliper.
The wobbling broken wheel kept the brakes from doing much good, and steering was extremely erratic as the back end wanted to go all over the place. Luckily there was a break in traffic and we could get to the shoulder as we coasted to a stop.
Lots of foul smoke as the gear-oil dumped onto the (glowing) rotor and caliper that had luckily held the wheel with us.
We have the stock Ford Dana 60-1U semi-floating axle from the early/mid 00's. Prior to this trip I had replaced the outer axle bearings and seals as the bearing, on the side that failed, had started to break up. The axle-shafts *looked" fine, but I did not have them magnafluxed or anything as this seemed regular routine maintenance. I do not know if the degrading bearing damaged the shaft, or if some extra-ordinary flexing of the breaking shaft damaged the bearing, or if there was some other common cause.
We had been planning to upgrade to a full-floating axle as soon as time permitted, especially given the posting here: http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/vie...hp?f=39&t=5105
. Sportsmobile West did not offer (or at least we were never informed of it) the full-float Dynatrac rear axle when we purchased.
Unfortunately I put it off too long and now have a memorable experience instead.
I have picked up a full-floating Dana 60 rear from a 2000 E350 which I will move our ARB differential over into, get some 1.5" axle shafts (full-floater uses 32spline 1.37", semi-floater uses 35spline 1.5"), and get us rolling in a couple weeks as time permits.
I will try to document & photo the process for those interested.
Factors of note:
-Rear axle weight 5-6k lbs depending on how much gear (fuel, water, motorcycle on back). Max ever recorded was just under 6k at a truck scale, even between left and right.
-We are running the wheel spacers which push our tire center-line out about 1.5-2" and thus add some bending moment to the axle-shaft
-Moderate off-road usage, though I would expect slamming into pot-holes on the interstate is probably a lot harder on the axle than low speed rock-crawling.