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Old 12-29-2008, 09:45 PM   #1
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1976 31' Sovereign
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How much does an Airstream shell weigh?

My wife and I are considering buying an Airstream in the 20-something foot range.

We were thinking of gutting it and trying to refurbish it to make it as lightweight as possible, but only if we can get it to a particular total weight when we're done.

Would anyone have any specs on what a shell in that footage might weigh on it's own?
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Old 12-29-2008, 09:59 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clicknathan View Post
My wife and I are considering buying an Airstream in the 20-something foot range.

We were thinking of gutting it and trying to refurbish it to make it as lightweight as possible, but only if we can get it to a particular total weight when we're done.

Would anyone have any specs on what a shell in that footage might weigh on it's own?
Welcome to the Forums.
I'm not sure anyone can give you that figure exactly. There are so many variations that would change the weight of your trailer.
You are asking for the "Shell Weight" are you asking the weight of the trailer with a stripped interior or are you actually wanting the weight of the shell?
The "Shell" on a Airstream does not include the frame or any attachments to the shell.
Generally your interior cabinetry, appliances and upholstery will weight between 700 and 1500lbs.
Take a look at this attachment and it should give you a general idea.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Airstream weights and measures.pdf (100.7 KB, 1620 views)
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Old 12-29-2008, 10:35 PM   #3
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Well there's the semi famous photos of the guys at the Airstream plant in the '50's and two men are holding up the shell of what looks to be about a 25 footer or so. So just the shell probably weighs about 300lbs or so.

I'd like to build a super lightweight one just to do it. I'd probably get a 31 footer and fabricate a completely new frame for it. I'd use aluminum and rivet the whole thing. I bet you could make the whole thing come in under 4000lbs if you were careful. It'd be a cool project. If you do try an aluminum frame, use a generous safety factor. Aluminum fatigues a lot worse than steel, so you have to allow for that. But it's 1/3 the weight of steel, so you could be generous. I'd recommend a 6000 series aluminum for that.

BoatDoc on here made a stainless steel frame for his. He has lots of pictures. It's really cool.

But anyway, you should be able to get a 31 footer in under 5000lbs empty without too much trouble. I bet 4500lbs is doable. To get below 4000, I think you're going to have to start replacing steel with aluminum.

Best of luck,

Jim
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Old 12-29-2008, 11:46 PM   #4
I Bought it I Broke it...
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Janet's Husband View Post
You are asking for the "Shell Weight" are you asking the weight of the trailer with a stripped interior or are you actually wanting the weight of the shell?
Thanks for the clarification. I'm actually asking for the approximate weight of the trailer with a stripped interior.

So from that PDF you linked to, it looks like it may be possible (with a little luck) to find something in the 20-something foot range that's also between 2500 & 3000 lbs.

Thanks for the replies!
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Old 12-30-2008, 04:25 AM   #5
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I have found that a gutted out vintage trailer (1958 to 1963) is 25% of the total weight of the trailer. I would bet, on what I know, that number would go higher by about 5% at each body style change. The newer the trailer the heavier the entire trailer is, but also the interior parts become heavier!

Side note: Being the only builder of a an all aluminum frame (that I know of) the number of being 1/3 the weight is not true! Inface you only save about 20% in weight, if built right! But the all aluminum system we use at Vinstream you solve the rust and rot problems!

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Old 01-07-2009, 07:58 PM   #6
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Vinstream,

I posted on here a couple years ago about building an aluminum frame for my Excella and I was told it would fatigue crack in half. I didn't believe it then, and I still don't.

That being said, how did you build your's? What series aluminum did you use? What thickness? What section (I-beam, channel, box, what?)?

I don't see how you could come up with only a 20% weight savings unless you really beefed it up. But there again, the OEM frame is just bent sheet metal and it's not that heavy. So if you used decent thickness extrusions, it may come out only 20% lighter but be WAY stronger. Is this what you did?

I am really interested in what you've done. Due to a lack of time, I sold my Excella which had both sag and separation and bought an Avion, which has a very stout frame under it. But, had I kept it, I was looking at doing a steel frame of deeper section that was much stiffer, and about 200lbs heavier. I am very interested to learn how you did your aluminum one. That is a very cool project.

Thanks,

Jim
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Old 06-04-2015, 12:33 PM   #7
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Smile Weight estimate on gutted out 1977 27' Argosy

Hi, I'm kinda new to all of this so I hope someone would be so kind to help me out. My jeep has a 3500 towing capacity. Would I be able to pull this? I appreciate any input y'all have. thanks
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Old 06-04-2015, 01:26 PM   #8
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Welcome to the Forums!

This is an old thread, but nonetheless, the best thing you can do, since you apparently have the gutted trailer in hand, would be to pull it to a set of commercial truck scales and actually weigh it, getting a total weight and a tongue weight.

There are several threads on these forums regarding using jeeps with their 3500 lb towing limit as TVs, most I have read are not very encouraging.

good luck
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