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Old 09-13-2006, 04:14 PM   #15
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Aluminum

I too work with aluminum, as I,m An A&P with many years experience repairing airframes. I looked into making an all alum. floor for my globetrotter. I was going to use 6061-T6 because it has better corrosion properties then 2024-T3. After looking at the prices of .063 sheet and the amount of .625 high hat section to stiffen it all up and the amount of work to complete the project the floor was going to be worth more then the trailer, so I shelved the idea.
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Old 09-13-2006, 04:44 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by SkipS
Compared to building an airplane, I think a trailer frame would be easy. Skip Simpson
It may be easier than any airplane, and even 1/2 as EZ as building an airplane would be beyond most people. Not to mention the cost.

My favorite combo is cheap and EZ. This project would be neither.

I wish you great luck. As you will need it.

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Old 09-13-2006, 05:23 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by SkipS
Hello, II have a source for delivered aluminum at commercial "by the pound" rates.

I would like to simply make a nice aluminum frame from scratch.

Or is there a fundamental problem with using aluminum?

Most of my friends this is a crazy idea, just not as crazy as building my own airplane.

Thank you. Skip Simpson Daytona Beach Florida

Over 35 years ago, Southwest Research in San Antionio, Texas, tested an aluminum frame.

The frame was mounted on wheels and tested a considerable number of miles.

Bottom line, it failed miserably, in spite of considerable engineering input to the tested frame design.

Our advise, unless you have unlimited financial resources, is to maybe attempt to reinvent the "wheel" and forget about an "aluminum chassis", for an Airstream trailer.

Andy
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Old 09-13-2006, 06:08 PM   #18
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Andy,

Do you recall what failed on their frame? I'd be curious to know. Is there a report out there somewhere? I'd really like to read it if there is. I'd like to know what happened in great detail. What exactly broke, how it broke, how long it took it to break, etc. It'd be a good learning tool.

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Jim
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Old 09-13-2006, 07:23 PM   #19
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Andy,

Do you recall what failed on their frame? I'd be curious to know. Is there a report out there somewhere? I'd really like to read it if there is. I'd like to know what happened in great detail. What exactly broke, how it broke, how long it took it to break, etc. It'd be a good learning tool.

Thanks,

Jim
Everything failed, in spite of having minimal weight on the chassis. The steel coupler mounted to the aluminum A-frame came loose. The out riggers had fatigue cracks, as well as the frame. The axle to axle mounting plate attachments failed.

All the data was destroyed many years ago.

An aluminum chassis for a travel trailer, in short terms, "will not work".

Andy
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Old 09-13-2006, 08:46 PM   #20
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Aluminum Frame

I have been in the trucking industry for 28 years. I have owned 2 aluminum framed tanker trailers. These were built by the Walker Tank Trailer mfg co. Both of my trailer frames aquired structural cracks and required more inspections and trips to the repair facility than the steel framed units I was using. I sold my aluminum framed tankers and will not go back to that type again.
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Old 09-14-2006, 09:16 AM   #21
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You guys have really got me thinking on this now. I'm going to research this deeper. Not just this specific trailer, but aluminum framed trailers in general. I see them all over the place and assumed they must be OK as they're so common. Heck, Mack Truck used to offer aluminum frame rails on their rigs. I don't know if they do now or not. I would have thought airplanes take more beating than trailers, but I could be wrong on that.

I'm going to dig into this. Report back when I have something.

Thank you for the info.
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Old 09-14-2006, 10:43 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by JimGolden
You guys have really got me thinking on this now. I'm going to research this deeper. Not just this specific trailer, but aluminum framed trailers in general. I see them all over the place and assumed they must be OK as they're so common. Heck, Mack Truck used to offer aluminum frame rails on their rigs. I don't know if they do now or not. I would have thought airplanes take more beating than trailers, but I could be wrong on that.

I'm going to dig into this. Report back when I have something.

Thank you for the info.

Airstream construction methods are similiar to aircraft, but not the same.

Aircraft methods of construction methods are called "monocoque".

Airstream methods of construction is called "semi-monocoque".

"Monocoque" is defined as a "load bearing shell".

Aircraft do not have a frame, Airstream does.

Airstream has an incomplete shell, since it has a frame. The overall performance of the shell is therefore somewhat compromised, as opposed to an aircraft.

Accordingly, a semi-monocoque method of construction, since it's partially dependent on a frame, can punish that frame as the shell twists when in motion.

Aircraft twist in motion, but since they do not have a frame, there is no deleterious shell behavior, at least within the confines of the designed "G- force" limits.

The bottom line is very simple.

An aluminum framed travel trailer, "WON'T WORK," without sustaining severe structural failures.

Andy
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Old 09-14-2006, 12:05 PM   #23
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Jim,

I don't know if this information is correct, but it could help in your research. I was told that General Motors also put aluminum frames under their busses. Somewhere between 1948 - 1956(?) or even up to 1962 on the 4102 - 4106 models.

Sorry that is sketchy second-hand info, but it is something to look at to possibly see what their experiences were.

Brent
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Old 09-14-2006, 05:05 PM   #24
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it would cost a lot more, but what about stainless? at least the tongue and rear section? she'd bling like a new quarter!



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Old 09-14-2006, 05:16 PM   #25
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I believe there would be a way of building a stronger enough AL frame. Just not in the same thickness as steel not in the same manner as steel. There are small (up to 25') power boats out there that work. And huge yachts that are made of that light stuff. The issue usually is cost for a production unit. Huge yachts are custom and one off so price while is some what of an issue it's not usually the only one. And this has to be considered after the thing is engineered. Or in this case since Skip doesn't have a lab to work in, I would suggest it needs to be over-engineered to survive.

And why do it?
To prove it can be done? OK knock your socks off.
To do a replacement on a unit that wasn't maintained and it rusted through? Just weld in a steel patch and move on. 'Cause if you don't, your off time may be spent entirely making something untried work. And camping is so much more fun than that.

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Old 09-14-2006, 08:35 PM   #26
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Carbon Fiber, anyone?........Hey, I'm not joking!
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Old 09-14-2006, 09:00 PM   #27
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Now you're talking! We could do a new shell out of it too, and pressurize it. No more uncomfortable camping high up in the Rockies

Composites don't fatigue, have triple the strength of steel, don't corrode, are light and extremely stiff. Oh yeah, it just costs twenty times as much as aluminum...I knew there had to be a downside in there somewhere

Man it'd be cool though!
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Old 09-14-2006, 09:11 PM   #28
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Now I would pay to see a carbon fiber shell Airstream on a Stainless steel frame with gold plated rims. But all the name plates will have to be aluminum.
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