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Old 05-31-2013, 05:33 AM   #1
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Beefier frame at front for 3-4 batteries?

Have shell off '56 Overlander and frame looks very puny to support multiple batteries. There is only one short 1.5 " angle iron there. My plan is to build 3/4" ply box w/ventilation and epoxied inside for batteries. I would think the box itself would add a lot of rigidity to the front end. Need opinions on whether the frame needs to be beefed up, and if so how to go about that.

Thanks in advance for your efforts,
Tom
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Old 06-01-2013, 09:59 AM   #2
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I would be very cautious with the Airstream frames that I have seen. I'm not an Airstream expert, but I have built a lot of equipment trailers since the mid 1970s. In my opinion, most AS trailer frames are way underbuilt for what they are used for. It isn't simple to add strength to a frame when the main members aren't strong enough to begin with. If it was an Avion, I would say just put the batteries in with proper cross members for support. With an AS, I don't think there is an easy fix. If the main members aren't strong enough (Note: I don't know what your particular model has) there is no option but to replace them if they aren't strong enough. Once you go that far, it is easier and cheaper to build a new frame.
Airstreams philosophy is to use the shell as part of the structure, but adding weight without a stronger frame is just putting more stress on the shell and a weak frame to start with.
What size is your frame main members? Is it the thin wall "C" Channel? What is the condition of the original frame?
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Old 06-01-2013, 10:20 AM   #3
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Have shell off '56 Overlander and frame looks very puny to support multiple batteries. There is only one short 1.5 " angle iron there. My plan is to build 3/4" ply box w/ventilation and epoxied inside for batteries. I would think the box itself would add a lot of rigidity to the front end. Need opinions on whether the frame needs to be beefed up, and if so how to go about that.

Thanks in advance for your efforts,
Tom
Don't do it, unless you want to have the A-frame fall off.

The chassis won't handle it either.

Andy
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Old 06-01-2013, 10:25 AM   #4
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Main frame rails are 2" x 4" tubing. Definitely not over built, but I think the 3/4" ply box will add a lot to the rigidity or lack of rigidity of the frame. At least I am trying to convince myself that's the case. The frame is in pretty good shape for one that old, so I think a rebuild is out. I do agree that Airstream made a mistake with their flimsy frames, but I don't really want to put out the money to correct it. Other than heavier gauge angle iron can anyone come up with an alternative?
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Old 06-01-2013, 10:28 AM   #5
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Main frame rails are 2" x 4" tubing. Definitely not over built, but I think the 3/4" ply box will add a lot to the rigidity or lack of rigidity of the frame. At least I am trying to convince myself that's the case. The frame is in pretty good shape for one that old, so I think a rebuild is out. I do agree that Airstream made a mistake with their flimsy frames, but I don't really want to put out the money to correct it. Other than heavier gauge angle iron can anyone come up with an alternative?
Install the batteries inside the trailer, near the axles.

Andy
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Old 06-01-2013, 02:09 PM   #6
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I forgot to mention that the battery box would be inside the trailer within the credenza that was under the front window, and would be vented to the outside. Also forgot to mention that the PO had welded casters on the frame at the rear of the trailer because of it's tendency for the front to come off the ground. Seems to need a little weight around the front end. Three batteries would add about 300 lbs. I believe that is close to the listed tongue weight.
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Old 06-01-2013, 04:09 PM   #7
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I forgot to mention that the battery box would be inside the trailer within the credenza that was under the front window, and would be vented to the outside. Also forgot to mention that the PO had welded casters on the frame at the rear of the trailer because of it's tendency for the front to come off the ground. Seems to need a little weight around the front end. Three batteries would add about 300 lbs. I believe that is close to the listed tongue weight.
The rear casters have a great habit of causing rear end separation, AND damage to the rear quarter panels.

Andy
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Old 06-01-2013, 06:07 PM   #8
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Main frame rails are 2" x 4" tubing. Definitely not over built, but I think the 3/4" ply box will add a lot to the rigidity or lack of rigidity of the frame. At least I am trying to convince myself that's the case. The frame is in pretty good shape for one that old, so I think a rebuild is out. I do agree that Airstream made a mistake with their flimsy frames, but I don't really want to put out the money to correct it. Other than heavier gauge angle iron can anyone come up with an alternative?
What is the length of the trailer and what is the wall thickness of the tubing? I'm guessing that the tubing is .125 wall. To get more strength, you need a taller tubing such as 2" x 6". The frame could be reinforced by running another 2" x 4" tube under the original, down the entire length of the trailer. It would add weight, but it would make it a lot stronger. The axles would also need to be remounted on the lower tube. The trailer would also set 4" higher. My guess is that it wouldn't be worth the effort. If I was going through all that trouble, I would put on heavier axles to accomodate the significant increase in load capacity. The problem is back to the same issue in that it is easier to build a new frame.
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Old 06-01-2013, 09:10 PM   #9
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Beefier frame at front for 3-4 batteries?

Greetings Tom!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wooden Rivet View Post
Have shell off '56 Overlander and frame looks very puny to support multiple batteries. There is only one short 1.5 " angle iron there. My plan is to build 3/4" ply box w/ventilation and epoxied inside for batteries. I would think the box itself would add a lot of rigidity to the front end. Need opinions on whether the frame needs to be beefed up, and if so how to go about that.

Thanks in advance for your efforts,
Tom
Another consideration when approaching your proposed project is whether your '56 Overlander has the single axle as some did through 1960. I would be very hesitant to add that much weight to a single axle Overlander.

Good luck with your investigation.

Kevin
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Old 06-09-2013, 10:21 AM   #10
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The rear casters have a great habit of causing rear end separation, AND damage to the rear quarter panels.

Andy
Hi Andy, Are these the type of casters you are talking about?
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Old 06-10-2013, 05:16 AM   #11
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Thanks all. Casters are coming off of course.
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