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Thread: Axle choice questions for diy. Grand Caravan/Town & Country vs Toyota Sienna

  1. #1
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    Oct 2011
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    Missouri
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    Question Axle choice questions for diy. Grand Caravan/Town & Country vs Toyota Sienna

    Been lurking for over a year and I must say that I absolutely love this website. Seriously.

    Down to business. We are finally at a place ($$$ - kids = -$) where I am looking to start piecing together a trailer build. I have a 1998 Grand Cherokee (ZJ) with 2" lift (soon to be installed) that has an axle width of 60". The bolt pattern is 5x4.5 and I plan on using this pattern on the trailer so that I can have matching wheels. In my MANY searches on the interweb I was able to determine that the Dodge Grand Caravan (as well as the Chrysler Town and Country) and a Toyota Sienna have matching bolt patterns on their rear axles. However, the Chrysler products are leaf sprung and are 70" wide. The toyota axle is coil sprung and almost right on the money at about 60" wide.

    There have been some documented builds on the chrysler axle shortened 10" and flipped for about 15" clearance. I have not found anything about using a toyota axle for a trailer, nor do I know the load bearing capacity, clearance, etc.

    My first thought is less work with the toyota since the width is the same. Plus I've been finding in my research that coil sprung would be smoother, especially with the stock shock mounts, but have less clearance. It seems that the caravan gives more clearance and would sit level with the ZJ...vs the sienna...?

    Anybody have any good thoughts reference these two choices? Anyone used either of these for a build?

    Here are a couple of pics that may or may not be viewable.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    Wow! 119 views so far and no comments!

    Going to the jy tomorrow to see some axles in person.

  3. #3
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    I don't know anything about using these as axle trailers, but I thought I would at least give you a post to read.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Phoenix, AZ
    Posts
    2

    Default Why not the tried and true?

    I too have been lurking for some time, and decided to chime in on your question. What is wrong with a traditional trailer drop axle? You can pick up a 4" drop axle with 10" electric brakes complete with 3500# springs (though you probably want to pull some leafs to reduce that) for about $300 new, even less if you don't want brakes. I'm sure your local craigslist.org might have them for less...but it will take a lot of searching. I think your going to spend dollars to save dimes unless you can do your own shortening of the Mopar axle or are confident you can figure out the geometry on the Sienna axle. Though the Sienna axle looks interesting...it looks like you could cut out the center part and use the ends for a trailing arm setup. But either way, it's going to take quite a bit of fabricating to make work. Just my .02.

    -Thanatoz

  5. #5
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    Go with the Dodge axle, Too easy not to use.

  6. #6
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    Missouri
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    Quote Originally Posted by fowldarr View Post
    I don't know anything about using these as axle trailers, but I thought I would at least give you a post to read.
    Psalms 24:1 The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

    1998 ZJ Jeep Grand Cherokee, 5.2 L, np242, 2" hybrid lift, skids, recovery points, homebrew tire carrier, 245/75R16 Toyo Open Country AT II. Fuelly MPG stats.

  7. #7
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    Missouri
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    Default Junk Yard Revelations

    Thanks for the responses.

    I spent a bit more time at the jy than I intended looking at axles, among other things. I really should spend more time there just looking at vehicles.

    I agree with Mark, the Dodge axle is by far the simplest. After looking at the toyota sienna and ford aerostar I have determined that the advantage of clearance goes to dodge despite the wide axle. The ability to flip the dodge and turn the springs upside down (right side up?) is very simple. The sienna and aerostar are both coil sprung and are actually fairly low to the ground, a bit more than I expected actually. I'm glad I checked them out in person. One thing I did notice is that some of the dodge (and chrysler, and plymouth) is that some of the suspension is a lot beefier than others. Some have tiny shocks and a single or double leaf suspension, and some have thick shocks and multi leaf suspensions. I am not sure which models and years have what. Even though there were about 10 vehicles available, I wasn't able to determine why from my initial inspections.

    If I decide to go that route, I luckily have a resource for cutting the dodge axle. My father has been a machinist and welder longer than I have been alive. His shop should make short work of it.... pun intended.

    I have been looking at trailer axles as well. Since this will not be a designated off road/expedition trailer I may be willing to part with some of that a fore mentioned clearance if I can buy exactly what I want. At this point I am going to be weighing my dollars and dimes, quality and appearance. If I am only saving a small bit by going to a long and possibly laborious route of the dodge, I will probably opt for a drop in.

    Of course, that all depends on the jy pricing and possible gems on craigslist versus possible online deals for trailer axles... This is not going to be starting till early spring so I have time to shop around. I'll update once I have anything to update about. Till then I will continue my designing...er drawing on napkins...
    Psalms 24:1 The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

    1998 ZJ Jeep Grand Cherokee, 5.2 L, np242, 2" hybrid lift, skids, recovery points, homebrew tire carrier, 245/75R16 Toyo Open Country AT II. Fuelly MPG stats.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Pick the best Dodge axle at the JY and get them to torch it off of the frame.
    Bring it home, measure it up, section the center, sleeve the tube and weld it back together.
    Good luck and post your results.

  9. #9
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    Oct 2011
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    Missouri
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    Update. Local pick and pull wanted waaaaay too much for an axle and springs, and hubs, and anything else they could charge...

    Started looking online and local stores for kits. E trailer has a #3500 axle kit that includes everything but a frame for about $250. For an extra $16 they will match my track width. I think this will be my plan. I will hit up a few small time jy and check craigslist for a couple weeks, but unless i can get the used axle with springs for $100 or less, this option is out. Bummer....?

    Google sketch up is looking pretty good for a first timer. Frame only.

    Got the first parts to the build though, two lightly used wheels that match my Jeeps.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Gray Maine
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    106
    Just a suggestion but Im wondering what your looking to put in this thing and if your tow vehicle will have a struggle with keeping things moving at a decent rate.

    I have built a dinoot trailer and with the trailer fully stack (food, wood, gas, water, fluids, tent,) I have yet to touch the 2K limit of my axle. I completely understand that usually more is better, but with axles the stiffer spring rate is never usually a good idea and will create a bouncing mess on anything but a smooth piece of road way. I concur that an axle out of a vehicle would likely be best but for under $100 your gonna have to get lucky.

    My 2K lb axle cost me $125 from Tractor supply and has worked well. If I feel the need to upgrade to a 3500lb, it will be no problem as the axle perches are the same. just a thought on whether or not you may need so much. Start small and build to what you can get, not what you think you need right now. Rome wasnt built in a day...and Im sure there were a few upgrades that were made along the way.

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