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Old 01-13-2014, 09:56 PM   #1
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Extend the frame and the skin

Was talking with a co-worker about a friend of his that did some work to an older AS, basically making a calm shell or gull-wing in the back to put a toy.

So my question is: In theory could you take an AS and chop it and extend it like they did limos back in the day?

I'm assuming you'd have a couple options:

1. Buy one similar to what you have and use one for parts i.e. frame, skins, axle, etc.
2. Chop it and fab new ribs, frame parts, and build new skins for the outside.

I'd also assume that on something like my 31' LY you'd need to add a 3rd axle.

I don't see why in theory this wouldn't be possible as we do this with truck frames now. I can't find that anyone has done it or even asked the question, I could be wrong though.

Thoughts?
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:02 PM   #2
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:30 PM   #3
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Buy the T-Shirt and the already done toy hauler!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kellybush View Post
Was talking with a co-worker about a friend of his that did some work to an older AS, basically making a calm shell or gull-wing in the back to put a toy.

So my question is: In theory could you take an AS and chop it and extend it like they did limos back in the day?

I'm assuming you'd have a couple options:

1. Buy one similar to what you have and use one for parts i.e. frame, skins, axle, etc.
2. Chop it and fab new ribs, frame parts, and build new skins for the outside.

I'd also assume that on something like my 31' LY you'd need to add a 3rd axle.

I don't see why in theory this wouldn't be possible as we do this with truck frames now. I can't find that anyone has done it or even asked the question, I could be wrong though.

Thoughts?
Airstream has already been there and done that. And you can find them used!

Look at the 25 or 27 ft Eddie Bauer - DONE DEAL (got mine gently used!)

Also see if you can find a used PanAmerica - a 34ft toy hauler - DONE DEAL. They only made these for a couple of years but they were born to be toy haulers.

And for your perusal... Check New Airstreams for Sale, Used Airstream Trailers for Sale, Airstream Mercedes Sprinter Interstate for Sale, Flying Cloud, Bambi, Classic, Sport under USED Airstreams.... they've had a custom PanAmerica 34 sitting on the lot for a long time - it's a Victrionix. Was a special build for a mobile showroom. Don't think it has a bathroom. Colonial doesn't like to hold on to inventory, so call and play "lets make a deal."

OH, and if you think you can build it cheaper yourself read virtually ANY thread about a major remodel or "full monte." With luck you'll be on the road in 2 years after spending $60K and then there's one little catch.... Can you get the thing legally titled? (Sure but it won't be cheap. You'll probably want advice from someone who does custom autos for a living.)

Anyway, find an already built one and be on the road in a week. Happy hunting.

Paula
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:51 AM   #4
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You'll find some threads where people have shortened trailers to get a more desirable shortie trailer which in my mind is much the same in principle. However there are '60's units that came from the factory at 40', 35' and 33' and there's no real difference just a modified frame. None of the above were for toys though. I've been kidding suggesting I could mod my 33' and pop my Lotus in the back but I'll leave that project alone I think.
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Old 01-14-2014, 11:09 AM   #5
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Wow. Take a few deep breaths, and then politely thank the other forum members for offering to try and help you.

Now to give you my opinion on your question: Yes, extending a trailer and making it into a toy-hauler could be done. For the shell, like you suggested, you would basically cut it axially and scab in a sheet to extend it however long you want to go. Buying a junk trailer to get the additional ribs might be the easiest option if you don't have the machinery to fab ribs from scratch. The aluminum skin could be recreated with additional new sheets, or could be taken from the donor trailer piece-wise.

The frame would likely have to be completely built from scratch, and redesigned to accommodate the weight you intend to carry. A typical Airstream frame is rather flimsy and not designed to support the weight of an ATV, Motorcycle, etc.. In fact, the frames require the support of the shell to create the "semi-monocoque" that the trailers are famous for. The trailers built since the 70's are notorious for "rear-end separation," which may be caused by rotting wood in the rear of the trailer, but seems to be aggravated by having the weight of tanks and bathrooms in the rear of the trailers. There are many expert opinions on the forums cautioning against doing something as seemingly benign as installing a large bike rack or "trailer trunk" on the rear bumper of a trailer.

Do a search for "headroom epiphany" on the Forums. It is a thread started by a user (Darkspeed), who decided to not extend a trailer, but to add a foot or so in height to the body. You can see the lengths to which he went to modify the trailer.

There are several videos on Youtube showing peoples' efforts to convert Airstream trailers to car haulers if you search for "Airstream car hauler," you should be able to see at least three. Again, I don't think any of these folks extended the entire trailer.
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Old 01-14-2014, 11:20 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kellybush View Post
Was talking with a co-worker about a friend of his that did some work to an older AS, basically making a calm shell or gull-wing in the back to put a toy.

So my question is: In theory could you take an AS and chop it and extend it like they did limos back in the day?

I'm assuming you'd have a couple options:

1. Buy one similar to what you have and use one for parts i.e. frame, skins, axle, etc.
2. Chop it and fab new ribs, frame parts, and build new skins for the outside.

I'd also assume that on something like my 31' LY you'd need to add a 3rd axle.

I don't see why in theory this wouldn't be possible as we do this with truck frames now. I can't find that anyone has done it or even asked the question, I could be wrong though.

Thoughts?
Extending the rear of "ANY" Airstream ever built would require a redesign of the frame as well as the axle / axles location.

Depending on the use, additional hold downs would also be required so that the shell can support the added weight.

Keep in mind, the shell supports the frame, because of the type of construction, which is called "monocoque".

Andy
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Old 01-14-2014, 12:39 PM   #7
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Local car dealer has an Airstream nicely mofified to carry a Porsche to shows. Not sure if it is one of the newer wide bodies or not. the car sits on ramps above the wheel wells. It is a really nice looking rig. Have seen on this site pictures of people building new frames to drop a Airstream body on.
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Old 01-14-2014, 09:14 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post

Do a search for "headroom epiphany" on the Forums. It is a thread started by a user (Darkspeed), who decided to not extend a trailer, but to add a foot or so in height to the body. You can see the lengths to which he went to modify the trailer.
Great thread there with a lot of great stuff! I hadn't found that one yet so I've got it marked to go back and give it a full read when I have time. Thanks!
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Old 01-14-2014, 09:16 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
Extending the rear of "ANY" Airstream ever built would require a redesign of the frame as well as the axle / axles location.

Depending on the use, additional hold downs would also be required so that the shell can support the added weight.

Keep in mind, the shell supports the frame, because of the type of construction, which is called "monocoque".

Andy
Agreed Andy and I think if I were to ever do this I'd have a complete new frame built. This whole thing was purely just a thought and not even a major thought till after I read Darkspeed's thread.
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Old 01-14-2014, 09:18 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bill M. View Post
Local car dealer has an Airstream nicely mofified to carry a Porsche to shows. Not sure if it is one of the newer wide bodies or not. the car sits on ramps above the wheel wells. It is a really nice looking rig. Have seen on this site pictures of people building new frames to drop a Airstream body on.

I did see one that was built for a VW I think, kinda cool.
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