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Old 09-30-2002, 09:04 AM   #1
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Replacing Pipe Frames

I have a 1948 Trailwind in need of a chasis upgrade. I have heard a collector, Bud Cooper, has blue printed plans for a new frame. Does anyone know how I would get access to the plans? Has anyone else done the changeover? Any advice on the subject would be appreciated. Gene
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Old 09-30-2002, 10:38 AM   #2
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You could contact Bud Cooper through the VAC

VAC Contacts & Officers
Quote:
Region 9: OK-TX (except MT zone)

Bud Cooper #26019

RUC00p@aol.com
1401 S. Cage Blvd. #600
Pharr,TX 78577
Good Luck!

Shari
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Old 09-30-2002, 01:16 PM   #3
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Shari: Many thanks for the contact. I'm just starting the restoration. Why do I have a funny
feeling I'll be back on the forum with other questions? Gene Dallago
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Old 03-07-2005, 12:16 AM   #4
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Pipe frame question

I have just purchsed a 49 18' Trailwind. It is wise to just get a new frame? What is the problem with the pipe frames? The e-mail for Bud is not working.
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Old 03-07-2005, 08:55 AM   #5
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Replacing Pipe Frames

Greetings Erica!

Quote:
Originally Posted by www.airstreams.net
I have just purchsed a 49 18' Trailwind. It is wise to just get a new frame? What is the problem with the pipe frames? The e-mail for Bud is not working.
It isn't so much that the pipe frames weren't strong enough, rather its an issue with how they react to the rigors of age and use. The pipe frames were very light weight, and now that they are 50 or more years old age/use problems are the issues. The center pipe can either be the subject of rust through (most critically near axle or where it is hidden between the axle and front edge of coach) - - or the welds that hold the cross supports to the central pipe can fail permitting the central pipe to be pulled out of the frame. Another reason some have replaced their pipe frames was to increase the carrying capacity to allow for the addition of "modern conveniences" that weren't included in the 1940s and early 1950s.

Good luck with your coach!

Kevin
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Old 03-07-2005, 09:24 AM   #6
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Bud Cooper's frame

I had the privelege of sitting across from Bud at a rally dinner. His tales of rebuilding his trailer were interesting to say the least.

The neat thing about Bud Cooper's frame is that it retains the appearance of the pipe frame. He has a short section of non-structural pipe poking out the rear of the trailer.

Bud also added a rear bumper of aluminum channel to his trailer. He gave the first channel he bought to a metal shop to bend. Guess what? They bent it in the wrong direction and he had to buy another piece of channel.
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Old 03-07-2005, 10:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by www.airstreams.net
I have just purchsed a 49 18' Trailwind. It is wise to just get a new frame? What is the problem with the pipe frames? The e-mail for Bud is not working.
Hi Erica:

The early pipe frame Liners had a centered 4" diameter seamless pipe that ran the length of the trailer, which was its "backbone". Thin aluminum "C" channel floor supports ran out perpendicular and attached to this center pole pipe frame, often by rivets. There were also two steel "C" channel side rails that were parallel to the pipe frame and went from the front spring hanger to the rear spring hanger on each side. They were just a tad longer than the wheel well opening, and attached to the center pole via thicker floor supports.

Early in the 1949 model year, the factory strengthened the pipe frame chassis by (1) lengthening the outside spring hanger frame rails so they extended forward on both sides to about the front of the door (this stiffened up the floor a bit, reduced floor tortional flexing around the centerpole, and allowed a bit more weight to be carried along the walls); and (2) added an exterior doubler to the front 3 feet of the pipe frame to reduce flexing of the pipe in this area. To see if your trailer has the first upgrade, remove the small angled piece of aluminum where the door threshold meets the belly skin and look inside to see if you see the extended side frame rails.

As Kevin mentions, the longer term weakness in the pipe frame trailers is the attachment of the centerpole to the perpendicular floor supports. If that connection degrades, it is possible to pull the centerpole out from the trailer. If the pole can be rotated, you are in immediate trouble! A second problem is rust inside the centerpole, which reduces its wall thickness and may lead to it snapping or tearing apart from metal fatigue due to repeated flexing.

The centerpole worked OK for the very light 1940's trailers with few appliances. But as customers demanded more and heavier appliances and amenities, the centerpole pole frame reached its limits. Airstream changed over to "A" frames in the 1950 model year, which was a stronger design. Silver Streak Trailer Co. continued to use centerpole frames on their Clipper trailers well into the 1950s, but I'm not familiar with SS construction details.

Whether you need to replace the pipe frame in your '49 Trailwind depends on its current condition and your intended use of the trailer.
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Old 03-07-2005, 01:49 PM   #8
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Gene Dallago.

The front part of the pipe frame should be replaced with a standard "A" frame.

The main reason is that you cannot easily hook up a weight equalizing hitch to the pipe, let alone a sway control. Plus the coupler you have is straight from Disney.

The rest of the pipe frame can be reinforced sideways with steel cross members instead of the aluminum cross members. You can also add aregular
steel frame similiar to later models.

That would insure stability and adequate frame strength.

We have made that change for several owners.

Andy
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Old 03-07-2005, 02:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by www.airstreams.net
I have just purchsed a 49 18' Trailwind. It is wise to just get a new frame? What is the problem with the pipe frames? The e-mail for Bud is not working.
Inspect it carefully. If you can document the coach was in a mild climate in reguards to Salt on the roads or hight rain fall then it might be fine. If in doubt then thats when you need to concider it. If you are not trying to do a concourse retoration and making it ready for frequent use then replacing it might not be a bad idea.

Making a frame is not really difficult. I have built a couple utility trailers and done repairs on our Airstream. Its really a matter of the right tools for the job.

Steel prices are up and while not really difficult for a welding shop it is time consuming to make a one off frame to match and existing shell. Just don't let a fabricator try to over build it. They need to understand that the body work is part of the frame. 4 inch BENT not iron C channel or 4x2 Box would be the best choices. Personnaly I like the 4x2 box with around 1/8 inch wall thickness. 24 inches on center for the crossmembers ( here the Bent C would be the better choice). Plan any upgrades of storage tanks before you start the work.
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Old 03-09-2005, 07:49 PM   #10
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Replacing Pipe Frames

Thank you all for your help. While some of the information was greek to me, most was very helpful. My uncle is a welder and would gladly help me, I just need to know what to do. I understand you all have done it, and that is great. But how did you do it? Will I have to take the body off the frame? The first upgrade will be the frame, I'm not clear on all of your answers what the answer is. Thank you.
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Old 03-09-2005, 08:04 PM   #11
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Erica.

It would be best if you took the shell and floor off.
More than likely part of the floor will need to be changed as well.

Additionally, when you have the floor off, you can alter the frame so that you can install a Henschen axle, even with disc brakes, if you wished.

We can help you with the axle installation info, should you decide to take that approach.

Andy
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Old 03-11-2005, 11:12 PM   #12
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cost??

What does something like this cost? Approx...I understand you don't know until you see it, but worse case scenario.
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Old 03-12-2005, 10:27 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by www.airstreams.net
What does something like this cost? Approx...I understand you don't know until you see it, but worse case scenario.
Well steel prices are up. I do my own fabrication on such things so I couldnt tell you the labor end.
Last time I bought Box Tubing retail It was about 1.80 a foot. So two main rails. I am guessing in the raw steel your probably looking at about $350-400 on the low end but with current prices probably a little more. Labor I don't know
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Old 03-13-2005, 09:59 AM   #14
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replacing pipe frames

Fred,
I removed the threshold piece and I see a piece of aluminum extending out all the way to the edge of the trailer where the belly pan meets the body. I have the upgrade, right? There isn't much but surface rust on the centerpole and it has been parked for a really long time in a good climate. I don't really feel I need a weight distribution hitch, it doesn't weigh anything at all and I have a 3/4 ton diesel. Would I still need to put an A frame at the front?
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