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Old 06-20-2012, 03:49 PM   #1
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1973 25' Tradewind
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Difference or changes in the '60s to the '70s frame?

Hello all. I was hoping someone could answer a couple of frame question. The main one, could you tell me the changes or difference in the frames between 1960’s and 1970’s trailers?

Did they actually get lighter constructed in the Beatrice years? The reason I ask does the 70’s frame have to be reinforced when I install a gray tank, or a paired 16 gal tank, in my 1973 Tradewind along with, possibly, larger black tank? No sag or rear end seperation.


Also when I see all these rusty and sometimes rusted out frames in the shell off restorations pictures, Is that basically what one can expect to find when they take off the belly pan or are these more the scary exceptions?

Thanks for your help in advance. I am trying to evaluate and commit to my next moves with the trailer.

Tony

Rogue River, Oregon
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Old 06-20-2012, 10:28 PM   #2
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70's trailers are generally heavier than 60's. One of the biggest reasons that 70's trailers suffer from rear end separation (even the short ones), is that the "new" body style of the '70's tends to channel water right into the seam between shell and frame at the rear, which results in rotten plywood, which is where the relative motion begins.

I'm installing two vts grey tanks in the two bays immediately behind the axle on my 21' GT. I'm not adding any frame reinforcement beyond some angle iron that will support wooden panels in a manner similar to how the fresh tank is supported. I haven't heard of anyone else reinforcing the frame for the sake of supporting tanks either.

Good luck
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Old 06-20-2012, 10:39 PM   #3
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Forgot to comment on the rusted frame. Answer usually depends on how the trailer was stored, and I'm what part of the country. Some of the rusty frame pics you have seen may have been my trailer. It came from the Florida panhandle, and must have sat belly pan deep in wet grass for years. The pan is so corroded that I am replacing the whole thing. I also cut out and replaced the last three feet of frame and the front two corners as they were so eaten up. The last two cross members were goners, and practically every outrigger needed some patching. One had to be completely replaced.

There are lots of amusing anecdotes about the things folks find when dropping the pan. Are you considering a shell-off?
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Old 06-20-2012, 11:11 PM   #4
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The 73 Tradewinds frame was not designed to support a gray as well as a black tank. Before I would put additional weight on the unit, I would look at the state of the frame and likely add some strengthening elements to the frame around where the wheels are mounted.
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:40 AM   #5
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Toney,
I am no expert but I am in the middle of building a new frame. All the outriggers were rusted out, last 4-5 feet of frame was rusted into, frame had cracked right behind the rear axle, welded, long factory frame doublers were bolted on, front half of main frame had holes 2"-3" in dia. rusted thru. This trailer has a faint club sticker etched into the rear window from West Texas and sat as a park model in New Mexico for the last 20 years.
On first inspection of this trailer I thought a few square feet of plywood repair the holding tank support and odds and end clean up fix up.
Now I know you really don't know what condition your trailer is in until you drop the belly pan and Inspect the frame. A lot of owners would be in shock if they saw the rusted out frame they are pulling down the road.
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Old 06-21-2012, 02:51 AM   #6
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I am trying not to do a shell off, but I have a building to do it in if I have to. In the next week or so a concrete pad will replace the current gravel.

I am taking the trailer a couple of times then the belly pan will be dropped to expose my situation, at least part of the way. Then I will be better able to address the trailer's needs.

When I see pizzashop’s and Colin’s and all the others work and what they do and what it takes, it gives me great pause. I don’t have the full range of skills, currently. I have lined up some people for help if and when I go down the road. I have taken on whole house remodels and additions and shops so I can get a project done

I am at the point where I start down the road or not. Once the die is cast the money will need to roll along with tons of work.

My trailer started in New Jersey but spent at least half its life in Oregon. I store it inside but it hasn’t been the case with, at least, the previous owner.

Tony

Rogue River, Oregon
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Old 06-21-2012, 08:10 AM   #7
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It is a slippery slope. When you see the works of fine art that some of the members of the forums are able to churn out, it is easy to feel like this is beyond the scope of what you signed up for. It sounds like you have most, if not all the skills required to do a lot of work on your trailer, you just need to build some confidence.

There are certainly folks out there that blithely risk their own safety and the safety of their fellow travelers towing a 50 yr old trailer down the road in as-found condition, and there are others who would rather spend their time rennovating than camping. You have to decide where you want to fit in that spectrum. The middle ground is quite broad.

I spent two years looking for just the right trailer, with the ignorant expectation that I would be able to do a superficial fix-up job and be camping in a couple of months. I just hit the 1 year anniversary of my purchase, and might be putting the shell back on the frame in the next couple of weeks. I'm no perfectionist, but it is easy to say "as long as I have the shell off, I might as well do it right..."

I am interested in seeing if anyone else has comments on reinforcing the frame for the grey tanks. I did a lot of research before planning mine, and saw no indication that this is required. If you haven't been exposed to the "Vintage Airstream Podcast," (The VAP), there are 5+ yrs of old episodes out there that treat the whole spectrum of rennovation projects (though they are not very easy to search).

good luck!
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Old 06-21-2012, 09:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
I am interested in seeing if anyone else has comments on reinforcing the frame for the grey tanks. I did a lot of research before planning mine, and saw no indication that this is required. If you haven't been exposed to the "Vintage Airstream Podcast," (The VAP), there are 5+ yrs of old episodes out there that treat the whole spectrum of rennovation projects (though they are not very easy to search).

good luck!

I'm with you.No it doesn't. A gallon of water weighs just over 8lbs.

I put in a 35 gallon grey tank behind my rear axels. Thats 280 lbs. Not that much weight for the frame to take over a distributed area. I used 3 straps through the frame cross members, which are screwed to the floor and welded to the frame. It was there for 3 years with no problem.

With my shell off and the frame out, I welded angle iron to the cross members and frame straight down. I will then run another piece of angle iron across the bottom between the straight down angle iron on two sides to hold up the tank.

I am putting another grey tank in between the axels and a fresh tank in front of the axels, along with the one behind the axels. The new grey is a 30 gal. so I will have a total of 65 gallons of grey water, plus the 12-15 gallon black tank in the very back. and the fresh is a 26 gal. along with a 40 gal up front, under the couch.

Now, I don't plan on driving with the grey tanks full, as you can dump before you leave. So there isn't any real extra stress on the frame anyway. But it wouldn't worry me to drive with it either.

I did reinforce my frame but not because of the grey tanks. I had a 3-4 in sag in the frame from behind the axels to the rear. Due to rear end separation. (note it was there before I put in the grey tank.) We had to bend the frame the other way to get it level again. So I welding in some metal in the frame to help support it when done. I also want to put a bike rack on the back so I thought this wouldn't hurt.

If you feel you need to add support in the frame go ahead, but to believe the frame can't take a few extra hundred pounds? well, then you should be worried about walking around in it, and putting stuff in it too.

Just my two cents.
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Old 06-21-2012, 11:11 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies. If I find myself in a shell off situation I would have some frame reinforcement done, as advised. I will say it again when I see the pics and read what is being done it is amazing, awe inspiring, and scary. All the little details are registering as well as the sore hands and time lapsed.


The best I can tell when comparing the 70s and 60’s trailer weight. 60’s are lighter because they are a foot shorter (for the given name) and most of the smaller ones are single axel, and maybe windows are lighter and no air conditioner? On the other hand I would imagine the wood interiors weigh more than the plastic laminate and all the other plastics? I guess in all this I am also wonder how the problems particular to the 70’s (Beatrice years} rear end separation and sag came about when it wasn’t in the 60’s trailers. Was it a lighting of the frame to save costs and or other factors?

I am trying to not be casual about such an under taken. I have bookmarks in folders such as “airstream my repairs” and “Airstream Total Renovations” The “my repairs” include what products used and where to get from the tanks to converter replacement as well as the whys and hows.

In the idea department, I have gone as far as create a file of pics with sailboat interiors for inspiration and ideas for the interior.

I have a couple of friends who weld, another guy I now is a diesel mechanic with good automotive electrical skills he is after a bedroom set. So a trade maybe in his future. A pair of nightstands or a bed. A friend of mine dealt with the plumbing on ships in the navy and he has agreed to help me as needed. He is helping me for some very nice Butternut Slabs at a very good trade rate to him. So with these guys help and all the knowledge on this site coupled with my own talents and abilities I should get the job done as needed and or wanted. I just need to find out what that is.

During my search for my Airstream I built entertainment cabinet. I do believe subconsciously I was influenced by my search. Below is a link to some of my furniture being built or just completed, as well as, other stuff on my website. That maybe interesting or provide a little reintroduction bio type stuff


Bungalow Furniture

Again Thanks,

Tony

Rogue River, Oregon
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:02 PM   #10
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Here are some pictures of what I did. The long ones are for the grey tank. I will run angle iron along the long sides that will hold up the tank. I will put them on with bolts once I have the tanks. Still waiting... They are welded to the frame and cross members.

The small one that sticks out is for the fresh tank. They are welded to the cross members and will also have angle iron going long ways to hold up the tank.

I'm an ok welder and the cross member will bend before they come off. As the crossmember is also screwed to the floor, I don't worry about it bending.

Cool furniture. I have a small wood shop to in my barn 14'x30'.. My farther restored and made reproductions of Antiques. So I grew up around it, you do some nice work. Can't wait to see the inside of your trailer when your done.
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Old 06-21-2012, 12:13 PM   #11
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It has always looked to me like the early to mid 60's trailer were made with a real channel iron frame. Later they were stamped out of thinner materials.
The Beatrice foods years had some pretty poor frames that would bend if you traveled abumpy road. The factory offered reinforcing plates to help fix this problem.

There is no doubt the frames are more substantial on my 60's trailers than on the 69 and 70 I own. The 69 was only 3 years old when i bought it and had frame problems where it bent in the area of the wheels. The 70 is a short trailer so it fared better but now rust is a problem where water drains
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Old 06-21-2012, 04:28 PM   #12
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Tony,

One thing you should very much consider is your axles. If you still have your original axles, you should evaluate whether they need to be replaced (it is very likely they need it). Second, since you are adding grey tanks, and a larger black tank, you should consider upgrading the weight rating of your axles.
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Old 06-21-2012, 05:20 PM   #13
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Thanks Yes the axles, shocks and brakes have been done by PO and he went we the next ones up as you suggested and as Andy did at Inland.


Since I bought the trailer I have been putting money away every two weeks in a “trailer repair account” So I can get down the road of repairs a ways. Still need contribute more. I remember the words of wisdom "what you pay initially is only a down payment". But I will say the reality of that is more real than the words when only heard.

One thing that I think about is we are advised to buy the best trailer we can afford. It will be cheaper in the end. That is probably true but in the end a gutted trailer is a gutted trailer. A floor replacement or framework is framework. I am not complaining I have used it and got experience towing right from the start but to tear out a very serviceable interior (that I paid for in the price” to “do my thing” with wood takes a little getting over. I love, love, love the 60’s interiors. I like the windows of my vintage with the strong rivet pattern and actually the body style. My plan in my dreamy state is to meld the earlier interiors in my body style with a few modern things as well a some nautical touches. Now, that is on the one hand. On the other hand is quite serviceable and nice as an original interior. The changes I make, to suit my situation and style of camping, can work with the current original interior and integrate some Aluminum and laminates etc. Tastefully. The trouble is I am a wood guy and a beautiful wood interior either classic birch or my favorite 1965 ribbon mahogany, that may really be a Sapale, which I have set aside) itches my pride bone. You can see some examples of Sapale wood used at the link in an earlier post above. Anyway, first it is going to be wipe away the starry eyes and remove the belly pan and see what I find. It looks pretty good from the outside but what evil lurks within?


After nine months of looking I came up with my Safari. I had a list of questions that I gathered from advice on this site. I crawled around poked around with screwdriver and awl. I didn’t really know what I was doing I stuck my head in wardrobes in the sink areas Saw the new axels, good body, good interior, 4 new tires. I was told honest answers to questions, if I asked them ( if I didn't oh well, shame on someone I guess). But the casual the water heater doesn’t work, or there is a leak near top of fresh water tank, didn’t phase me. I did take my aluminitis pills on the 250 mile drive up to it. I took strategy notes with my wife. So with all that I shall see what I came up with.

I love the trailer size, looks, so no regrets. I just know if I go in now for a penny more I will be in for a pound and a whole lot of work, perhaps.

Thanks

Tony

Rogue River, Oregon
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Old 06-21-2012, 08:07 PM   #14
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Tony,
I understand your concerns but: Mere mortals did not put aluminum,plywood and C channel into a shop and one night the AIRSTREAM FAIRY came in waived her magic wand and your airstream was assembled ready for sale.
These trailer were made by average people with average skill sets.(In the case of my trailer I believe they were below average skill level). Welding is a skill easily learned, learning to buck rivets is easy to learn most of the other skills you have.
The reason I am in the process of shell off new frame, I was concerned 1000 miles from home I would hit a bump and the frame would break dragging the tanks and creased shell down the interstate.
I personally think the frames are marginal at best. I've read how the frame is held up by the shell, after all there built like an airplane.
Well their not "built like an airplane" the only common thread is the 2024 t3 aluminum and rivets.
If I were to install additional tanks I would consider reinforce the frame.
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