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Old 01-11-2014, 07:13 PM   #1
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Brand New Frame

I'm pretty certain that I'll want a new frame on my '60 Sovereign and I'm struggling to find much to read on the matter. I know Boatdoc made his Argosy frame from stainless and there's been a couple of liner stye pipe frames but I'm not feeling super confident in a home brew mega frame being my first project although to be fair I do have some welding resources to call on if I get going down that road. I even thought about looking into a new rolling frame for a 34' from Airstream but suspect it would require mega modification anyway.

I flip flop around keeping the original frame but as it's a double stacked 4" C channel with reinforcement it looks sketchy and doesn't seem up to job for a rehab'd 33 footer in 2014. I figure something with a much deeper section will give me much better tank options and a fresh start for the A frame which took quite a beating and for the axles which I'll upgrade from leaf to probably torsion although I am liking air as an option.

As I'll be replacing pretty much if not all the sheet metal with the exception of the compound curved sections I can accommodate the thicker frame no problem and will most likely go 040" with a modified rivet pitch on the exterior skin. I'd like to keep some give in the frame but am not concerned at all about the overall effect of increased stiffness to the frame.

But back to the point of the thread. I want to start scoping out resources that have the experience building up a frame like this and I'm keen to check with Timeless as TTT fabricated a deep frame for the 40' Pacific monster but I wanted to see if the forum had any thoughts about shops.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:24 PM   #2
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Im considering a scratch build on a vintage shell, I will probably do a 6x2" tube frame.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:27 PM   #3
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Cool so I'm not the only one
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:38 PM   #4
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Our frame was so far gone that it was replaced at Colin Hyde Trailer Restorations in New York. He used the old frame as a template for a new one and kept the 4" depth. Frame wall thickness is now .125 versus the .90 (I think) originally used, so it is very solid.

See post 178 in this thread for pics.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:53 PM   #5
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Now that does look nice. It would be a bit of a drive out there but Colin's going on the list.
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Old 01-15-2014, 03:49 PM   #6
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Todays update. Timeless Travel Trailers are unfortunately out of the running, they have liability issues. I got to speak with Colin (of Colin Hyde Trailer Restorations) last night; it was a little surreal and I feel like I had an episode of the VAP dedicated to my own project The depth of Colin's knowledge is very reassuring and I'm going to complete the inspection of the current frame so I can answer all the new questions that came up. I'm still not super keen on explaining why I want to drive a total of 13,000 km to drop off then pick up a trailer I can't even spend the night in to my patient wife but she did witness my "enthusiasm" wane occasionally on the Overlander project so we'll see…..

Pics of the weird stacked frame with gusset like stiffeners around the axles and one illustrating the shear size of the beast. Did I mention that it only has surge brakes!
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Old 01-15-2014, 04:39 PM   #7
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Palm trees in Saskatoon?
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Old 01-15-2014, 05:20 PM   #8
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ahem, I did have to scoot down to Wickenburg, AZ to pick her up and she decided it was time for brakes of some sort and a new coupler after an unfortunate "incident".
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:14 PM   #9
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There is no such thing as a frame that is too stiff. The structure does not need to flex. Airstreams have the potential to be very strong but the weakness is that the shell and frame are not attached to each other very well and that relationship gets weaker over time. If I were building one from scratch, I would make a perimeter frame where the outriggers were connected together with a beam or angle whatever. Cross members would actually take the place of weak outriggers. I would also increase the number of cross members that go from one side of the trailer to the other. I would then connect the shell to the perimeter every few inches. I would connect the frame directly to the shell and not put the floor between the two. An aluminum frame is best because you don't have two different metals there.

Ok what the heck is a double stack frame? Do you mean a 4 inch channel on top of another one? If they are welded together that is ok.

Perry

Quote:
Originally Posted by truckasaurus View Post
I'm pretty certain that I'll want a new frame on my '60 Sovereign and I'm struggling to find much to read on the matter. I know Boatdoc made his Argosy frame from stainless and there's been a couple of liner stye pipe frames but I'm not feeling super confident in a home brew mega frame being my first project although to be fair I do have some welding resources to call on if I get going down that road. I even thought about looking into a new rolling frame for a 34' from Airstream but suspect it would require mega modification anyway.

I flip flop around keeping the original frame but as it's a double stacked 4" C channel with reinforcement it looks sketchy and doesn't seem up to job for a rehab'd 33 footer in 2014. I figure something with a much deeper section will give me much better tank options and a fresh start for the A frame which took quite a beating and for the axles which I'll upgrade from leaf to probably torsion although I am liking air as an option.

As I'll be replacing pretty much if not all the sheet metal with the exception of the compound curved sections I can accommodate the thicker frame no problem and will most likely go 040" with a modified rivet pitch on the exterior skin. I'd like to keep some give in the frame but am not concerned at all about the overall effect of increased stiffness to the frame.

But back to the point of the thread. I want to start scoping out resources that have the experience building up a frame like this and I'm keen to check with Timeless as TTT fabricated a deep frame for the 40' Pacific monster but I wanted to see if the forum had any thoughts about shops.
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Old 01-16-2014, 09:22 AM   #10
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Yup by double stacked I'm saying it's double the material ("C" channel) stacked one above the other or in the case of the fore section stacked across and I assume only welded together as they intersect. From the pictures you can see as much as I know so far.

I had considered an aluminum frame but have ruled it out for a few reasons mainly the difficulty of repair and the cost of engineering involved when balanced against any perceived benefit. (It was still need to be isolated from the body as it would have to be a different alloy). Similarly I liked the perimeter frame idea but am getting a bit confused with the crossmember description. Do you have a layout tool that you use for your designs that shows the concept better?

I still struggle with tank layout thoughts, on this project I don't want anything visibly hanging down from the belly pan at all and going with the 3.75" deep tanks is going to take several (6?) to get up to a decent volume with just 4" of channel to play with. (On the Overlander I think I have 47 Gal of fresh and the same of grey and would't want any less).

Looking at the bumper it's not even as tall as the channel and looks poor so I'll need to address that too.
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Old 01-16-2014, 06:50 PM   #11
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...

Looking at the bumper it's not even as tall as the channel and looks poor so I'll need to address that too.
Taper upward the last 4-6" of the bottom of the frame and tuck it inside the bumper. I just did one like that and it worked out great.
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Old 01-16-2014, 08:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
There is no such thing as a frame that is too stiff. The structure does not need to flex. Airstreams have the potential to be very strong but the weakness is that the shell and frame are not attached to each other very well and that relationship gets weaker over time. If I were building one from scratch, I would make a perimeter frame where the outriggers were connected together with a beam or angle whatever. Cross members would actually take the place of weak outriggers. I would also increase the number of cross members that go from one side of the trailer to the other. I would then connect the shell to the perimeter every few inches. I would connect the frame directly to the shell and not put the floor between the two. An aluminum frame is best because you don't have two different metals there.

Ok what the heck is a double stack frame? Do you mean a 4 inch channel on top of another one? If they are welded together that is ok.

Perry
I do not agree with what he said at all. This is not the first time either. Airstreams are engineered to flex and twist. They are not engineered to be rigid frames. I also believe your frame has already been altered by someone besides Airstream. I am not going to get into an argument over this because Perry is indeed an engineer and I am just a guy restoring them to original condition every single day.
An aluminum frame is also not the best because it will break where steel will not. Once again, the wheel is being reinvented for no good reason. If you want a trailer with a rigid frame, buy a Silver Streak or Streamline.
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Old 01-16-2014, 08:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
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...Airstreams are engineered to flex and twist...
Actually, they are built so if they flex, they won't break. That's like a sky scraper, the wind makes it flex and if they built the frame with the same design and non flexible materials, the frame would snap.
It's well understood that they CAN be built to NOT flex but they get pretty big because of the required structure. It's just cheaper to let them flex

Likewise, a completely non flexible frame in an airstream would mean the shell no longer see's any requirement as part of the structure. As long as the frame does not fail, no problem. Modern steel does allow for such a frame design.

An example would be to use a slab of granite as the floor/frame. The shell would never see any stress from flex. Of course Wally would roll over in his grave because he wanted light weight, even though modern trailers seem to have forgotten that.
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Old 01-16-2014, 08:50 PM   #14
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Hey Frank, have you seen anything this size and vintage in your shop? I'm thinking you might have. From chatting with Colin I'm giving a lot more thought to keeping or getting the frame close to original if I can swing it tank and durability wise.

I looked back on your blog and I'm thinking of the Budha trailer.
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