Stainless Steel axles

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Sep 25, 2004
Hi, I have inadvertently purchased a new stainless steel front axle; it sure looks pretty! I've read of rear axle failures in an earlier post and wonder if there is any concern about using this axle. Obviously somebodies using them, but if it's a poor choice of axle I don't want it on my bike. Any opinions? Thanks, Rob
Stainless axle


I don't know the material strength of stainless steel axles, but I've had them on my disc brake type front wheel and drum brake rear for the last 8 years and over 13,000 miles with no sign of stress or wear. They look so much better than oxidized originals.
I read something about this a while back but don't remember the details now. I'd like to get stainless axles on my bike if they're safe. The old ones have lost their plating and look awful.

Bruce, are you out there? What are your thoughts about this?


Most of the bright, shiny stainless steel that you see at the hardware store has a minimum yield strength of about 30,000 psi. In contrast, mild steel bar stock, which is quite common, has a yield strength of 36,000 psi.

So, chances are that the stainless axle will not be as strong as the original one. However, it's impossible to confirm without knowing the mechanical properties of the original carbon steel axle and the proposed stainless axle.

Also, an axle with a yield strength of 30,000 psi may be perfectly acceptable from a design standpoint. For the most part, the Norton axle is subjected to shear stresses when loaded and these stresses are probably quite low. This would be easy to calculate if the dimenson of the axle and its supports are known.

The only stainless axle failure I am aware of was on a vintage racer. He attributed the failure as much to the way the threads were cut into the axle as the metal fatigue. This was a rear axle. I have never heard an instance of a front axle failure.

That said, I have had a stainless rear axle on my cafe racer (with a fairly potent powerplant) for over ten years. I personally don't believe a street machine will be a problem. YMMV.
stainless axles

Hi Deb:
I have had stainless axles on my commando for 10 years now. I used 303 grade which is the same as 18-8. It is used for nuts,bolts.propeler shafts ,etc. and has good strength qualities.There are many levels of the grade but it starts at 32,000 tensile strength and works up to 125,000 if cold worked at different temperatures in manufacturing. It is free machining unlike 316 grade ,because of a small amount of sulphur added.
I recently made up some as well as stainless swing arm pins. They are on my website.
I like to visit Jerry's site to gain knowledge and share anything if I can help. It's a great site and great forum and Jerry should be very proud of what he has put together. I don't use this forum to advertise and hope I have not affended anyone.
Thanks for the info/education. I also think it's a great privilege to have a resource like this forum. Thanks Jerry!-Rob
A norton friend of mine, Don, has made me "lookalike" stainless axles.

The ends of the shaft has been threaded & he made stainless "ends" which are loctited & screwed onto the axle.

To look at them now, they look like they could be completely stainless.

The other end just has stainless nuts that he also made for me.

This bloke is building four featherbed norton atlas's atm & has made all of the nuts & bolts himself out of stainless. Lotta work but he just loves doing it.

He is a fitter & turner by trade and can't see a problem with using the "lookalike" axles.

norbsa4853 has told me that Honda rear axles from a 250 or 350 are 17mm & are long enough to make the norton rear axle "one piece", if you care to drill out your stub axle etc. Don't know if you can get them in stainless or not though.
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