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Old 09-25-2010, 12:35 PM   #29
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1967 17' Caravel
1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
Wheat Ridge , Colorado
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Most of the corrosion issues we have seen are related to moisture infiltration through the belly pan acting as a water scoop, leaking windows (particularly in the '66 - '68 model years), and leaking plumbing (espically in above deck water and waste tanks and bath/shower drains. Once the moisture is into the fiberglass insulation it take a very long time to dry out especially in humid climates. The units which were insulated at the factory of by an owner with spray foam are particular nightmares for holding water against the steel chassis.

When we upfit a chassis for heavier GVWR applications such as a kitchen or even a heavier camping buildout (i.e. additional water capacity or more features) we design in a certain amount of allowable flex. It is more a factor of keeping the weight down through the use of lighter, thinner wall material than being concerned with flex. Vintage chassis were built with lighter gauge materails than the current models and were much more of a monoquot design than current builds from the factory. Modern Dexter chassis are quite stiff even without the body on them.

Brett Hall
Wheat Ridge (Denver) Colorado
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Old 09-28-2010, 09:25 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Dave Park View Post
I have solved all of these problems with my design for a carbon composite frame, which incorporates the floor and frame in a single piece. Unfortunately, this puddle of perfection costs $200,000, but hey!

Joking aside, steel frames work well, and have known flaws that we are able to cheaply and easily address with ready available equipment and labor. Aluminum frames solve those problems entirely, but introduce new and possibly unknown problems just because of our lack of experience with the specific design involved.

Ideally, they could put two or three frames out there in the hands of people who will give them a LOT of road-time, and facing regular inspections. Once we see these frames with maybe a combined million miles of travel, we'll have some real world data.

That's the advantage of the current steel frames - hundreds of millions of miles of experience with them, so they have been down-engineered just enough to know where the limits are, and avoid them.

Why stop with a composite frame and floor? What about a carbon composite frame, floor, and exterior panels- heck, you can even do carbon wheels, cabinets, shower/toilet. Kevlar could also be added to the mix for repelling small arms fire.

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Old 09-29-2010, 07:50 AM   #31
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I believe that if the insulation is attached to the floor and is ~ 1/2 inch above the belly pan AND the potential of water entering the bellypan......with a properly painted frame rust should be kept to a minimum. I think the fiberglass insulation is like a sponge & hold the water and if against the frame = R U S T....A/S hopefully has corrected a error that has been used ( 1973 ) where the belly pan is on top of the side skin and any water can run down the trailer side and possibly enter under the belly skin, get the insulation wet and again R U S T. And water can for sure enter from other openings under the trailer. Keep the insulation hi & dri may let the water escape and cause no harm...Enjoy JC
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Old 10-01-2010, 01:48 AM   #32
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1967 17' Caravel
1979 28' Airstream Excella 28
Wheat Ridge , Colorado
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We had a trailer with an aluminum chassis come into the Timeless shop today. Upon inspection we found this failed weld. The vehicle showed no signs of overloading. This appears to be a failure related to normal torquing and/or vibration. The trailer is equipped with a steel tongue as can be partially seen in the photo. There is a C-clamp installed to stablize the chassis to allow us to move it with out risking further damage.

The thickness of this material will require a heavy capacity TIG machine and a very experienced welding operator to correctly repair. The balance of the welds in the trailer will be inspected. Where we find one failure we have to assume all of the welds were made in the same manner by the same operator until proven sound.

Brett Hall
Wheat Ridge (Denver) Colorado
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Old 10-01-2010, 06:40 AM   #33
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Destrehan , Louisiana
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I've had a lot of experience with both steel and aluminum frame structures. Steel is the best material in this aplication.
It would be posible to build an aluminum frame for a trailer but you would have to rivet the thing togther to allow for flex. This would call for a lot of custom machined parts and many man hours of labour. It would just not be cost effective. Then you would still have issues with galvanic corrosion everywhere steel would touch aluminum.
Trailer manufacturers have delt with this by using light weight steel frames, plywood decks and light weight flexable bodies. This gives the best balance of strength, flex, cost and durability.
If cost was no object, then a carbon fiber trailer body with a steel tongue and steel wheel carriage bonded to the body would be the best. You just could not afford it.

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