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Old 11-17-2003, 08:41 PM   #1
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Frame off or not off...

Is there a lot of this kind of work going on.

I have a chance to pick up a couple of A/S for next to nothing. One has major rear sag and the other one may have one more tow in it before the frame needs to be replace.

I have access to welding and metal shops.
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Old 11-17-2003, 10:00 PM   #2
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Yeah there is a couple of us doing frame off. One is haveing to make a new frame. two of us got lucky and just ha some repairs. Here is a post we have going. There is a floor repair forum under interior restoration.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...&threadid=6554
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Old 11-17-2003, 10:37 PM   #3
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Frame off?

A well equiped metal shop is nice. . . .
. . . . but a full checkbook is also important!
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Old 11-18-2003, 02:34 PM   #4
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Toaster,

Man that was some great reading!!!!
That is what I had in mind to do, but with some modifications (sp?) along the way.

From what I read, the shell is part of the "Strength" of the Airstream design. If I made an opening at the back [where the rear bath is] say about 4 feet wide for a fold down ramp/door, would that realy compermise the integrity of the trailer??
I love the A/S look and style, but want to be able to bring my other hobby (Garden tractors) with me and the family too.

Looks like I will be reading here for a couple of years to learn all the ins and outs of the "Silver fuselage" as my neighbor calls his. He is the one draging me in to this.

BTW, I need to update my profile, my name is Tedd
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Old 11-18-2003, 03:08 PM   #5
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Frame off

Great idea! I don't think you will compromise the structural integrity if you cut an opening in the back. The monocoque stucture is primarily the lateral ribs and skin along the sides. In the front and back I think if you doubled the ribs on either side of the opening and gussetted along the top of the opening (which would probably be the top of the rear window), I think you would be fine.
I wouldn't travel with the tractor in the back however. Way to much weight, My little John Deere weights over 400#.
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Old 11-18-2003, 03:27 PM   #6
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That leads me to the next question. My Cub Cadets weigh in at close to 1000 LBS each when set up for plowing. How much weight can a A/S frame take. I guessed that I would have to re-enforce the frame at the rear for tie down points anyway. But am I going way over the design limits?
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Old 11-18-2003, 04:01 PM   #7
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Ted,
I hate to be the bearer of bad new... but the rear frame of the AS especially the 70's and 80's is weak to begin with. The rear bath models in particular are subject to sag, as well as frame cracks, caused in part by the weight cantilevered behind the axle. Do a search on "rear end sag" and "seperation" you will be in for a lot more reading What you might consider if you have two of them to swap parts amongst, and I would have an engineer check out the calculations, would be to move the axle back some to change the center of gravity to allow for the tractors. We have a couple of antique tractors too, 49 Farmall "H" and a 51 Farmall Super A. "Grass is Green...Tractors is RED! One on the "problems" with modifying an Air Stream is that they were so beautifully engineered to begin with, that when you start messing with things problems crop up, like the rear end separation and sag.

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Old 11-18-2003, 05:01 PM   #8
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When considering large loads in an Airstream it is important to realize a key point:

The frame does not hold up an Airstream. The body holds up the frame. This is the essence of monocoque construction.

If you remove the body, the frame will sag slightly at the ends (actually visably noticable on the 30'+ models). We have an RV salvage a few miles away, and farmers like to buy the bare frames and running gear for hay trailers. Except Airstream frames. They require rather a lot of supplimental steel to make them rigid enough to carry a load.

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Old 11-18-2003, 05:57 PM   #9
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OK maybe I need to figure out which A/S I'm looking at.

It has the 5 section ends, two rectangle windows on the left front side, what is left of a A/C unit just aft of the axles. There are two axles with kewl baby moon type hub caps. I think there is the work "International" on the side. The word "Airstream" is individual letters on the back. It is in sad, sad shape. From what I can see, it seems shorter than my neighbors 31 foot Sovereign so I'm guessing that it is some where around 25 foot, give or take. It has a rear bath, hence the sag. Going on the idea that the body is the frame, I should be able to strengthen it to handle intermintant loads of 2000 pounds. The only frame removal would be around the rear window and roof.

Has anyone kicked around the idea of using honeycomb sandwiched aluminum as a flooring material?? That maybe stronger and lighter than plywood.
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Old 11-18-2003, 06:01 PM   #10
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Funny you should mention the "honey comb floor sandwich construction" Air Stream apparently expiremented with it in the Argosy trailer line for at least part of a model year. But apparently it was unsucessful seeing how it never made it into production.

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Old 11-18-2003, 06:09 PM   #11
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Airstream has tried the honeycomb between Aluminum back in the 70's in the argosy line. Why it never made it to the Airstreams has been lost.

IMHO.....................

Based on what you are wanting to do I would say it can be done. BUT you will need to plan the layout carefully AND you need to beef up the frame to handle the point load of the weight. The flooring and frame was not designed for 250-300 PSI riding in 4 spots bouncing down the road. Even with that the Axles may not be up to the task and need to be replaced. The only way I see to use an old Airstream as a toy hauler is to replace 60% or more of the frame from the back forward so the shell is not as much a part of the structure. Then you can do almost anything you wish as long as you keep it balanced, and within the axle ratings. Thsi frame would allow for the additional weight and would allow the stesses of the load to be properly spread to avoid leaving the tractor in the middle of a bumpy road.

So to answer you question at the begining of the thread, Yes I think you would need to do a frame off.
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Old 11-18-2003, 07:17 PM   #12
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pickup truck

till/tedd

why not just put the tractor in the back of a pick up truck and enjoy the airstream as is?

that's how i bring my '55 harley with me. the weight is about the same!

john
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Old 11-18-2003, 08:01 PM   #13
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John,

Not an option...
Wife wants a Van, not a Pick up.

Got to love that women.

Under edit,
Maybe I should just restore the old gal and let this dream go for now. Lets hope the deal goes through.....
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Old 11-18-2003, 11:39 PM   #14
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"Going on the idea that the body is the frame..."

We are just full of good news here. The body is NOT on the frame! It is attached to the floor. The floor is then attached to the frame.

I have heard of Airstream toy haulers, but I personally believe it is probably the least suitable travel trailer for that purpose built these last 50 years.

Mark
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