Can axles be swapped?

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I'd say that's a definite...maybe(?).

I do believe that the blade spacing on most modern forks are significantly wider than the vintage stuff, so the axles might come up short. Also...metric vs SAE? How 'vintage' are we talking?

When it comes to bearings, there are only five common sizes for the balls themselves, but many sizes and styles of cage. You might have to forego cages entirely and simply use loose bearings, but that is do-able provided they fit the cups & cones you've selected. That just presents another opportunity for a mismatch.

I know that's a nebulous answer, but it's kind of a case-by-case situation--sometimes, it just might work out. Take careful measurements before you commit.
 
I'd say that's a definite...maybe(?).

I do believe that the blade spacing on most modern forks are significantly wider than the vintage stuff, so the axles might come up short. Also...metric vs SAE? How 'vintage' are we talking?

When it comes to bearings, there are only five common sizes for the balls themselves, but many sizes and styles of cage. You might have to forego cages entirely and simply use loose bearings, but that is do-able provided they fit the cups & cones you've selected. That just presents another opportunity for a mismatch.

I know that's a nebulous answer, but it's kind of a case-by-case situation--sometimes, it just might work out. Take careful measurements before you commit.
Thanks! I realize now that my post was pretty vague.
I have a nice set us nexus 3 speed wheels I wanted to use on my build off bike which is a CWC frame and maybe a Roadmaster front fork?
long story short, the modern axles do not fit in the fork and I don’t really want to alter the fork slots. The vintage axle, cups and bearings proved not to be interchangeable so I’m rethinking my build and maybe leaning toward a compatible fork. Thanks again
 
I don't blame for wanting to keep the forks pristine. The generally accepted practice has been to file flats on the exposed portion of the modern axles--they're easily sourced and not nearly as valuable. I'm certain the procedure has been outlined in others' previous posts, if you're interested.
 
Here ya go—

https://www.porkchopbmx.com/front-bicycle-bmx-cr-mo-chromoly-hub-axle-3-8-x-26.html

I’ve used these on several bikes. Usually order a few to have on hand.

Also, what @RustySprockets said. You can pull the modern axle and file it flat on the sides to fit. Also mentioned, modern front axle spacing is 100mm, vintage is 90mm. But 10mm isn’t too big a deal. You can spread, or you could ditch the lock nut if wanted and savy on how to keep it all tightened.
Thanks! After reading the link that was posted I ended up using my sleuthing skills and found one. I wasn’t sure at first if porkchop or Dan’s comp were builders here on RRB.
I paid double what you posted but it had free shipping.

Other than welding, any tips for using a modern seat with 13/16 clamp on a 5/8 post?
i remember finding something for my Elgin build on here several years ago but no idea where and no luck searching so far.
 
this is my black phantom project, the wheel tlhat you see on the front id from a 1960's Raleigh I put on to see if it would roll, the pic of the wheel (axle) that is too big is a wheel I want to use, the pic of the one that fits, but is too small is the Raliegh one, so in my mind, I may be able to find bearings to use an axle of the actual right size, if I'm kinda lucky lol, right ? 🤔😏
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this is my black phantom project, the wheel tlhat you see on the front id from a 1960's Raleigh I put on to see if it would roll, the pic of the wheel (axle) that is too big is a wheel I want to use, the pic of the one that fits, but is too small is the Raliegh one, so in my mind, I may be able to find bearings to use an axle of the actual right size, if I'm kinda lucky lol, right ? 🤔😏
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I found a donor smaller diameter axle from another old bike that works with the bearings of the donor wheel 😎😏
 
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