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Old 07-17-2015, 05:40 PM   #1
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Newbie questions about a custom replica build

Greeting from the UK.

I'm shortly about to start a build of my own custom airstream trailer, based around the appearance of the 50's models.

It will be a short 16'-18' model but a little shallower and a little wider than normal to suit my own specific application.

I am technically skilled as an engineer, but don;t have the panel beating skills to form the compound radius curves for the upper nose and tail and I notice that some of the earlier trailer has a 13 piece design which seems to remove the need for these compound curves - although I notice they still curve to follow the contour of the roof, but I guess this slight curve only begins when the panel has finished making it;s way round to the side/top?

Are there any specific hints or tips to take into consideration when making a 13 piece nose/tail piece I should be looking out for?

There'll be lots of other questions, but getting the nose and tail upper curves looking 'factory' is my biggest concern so far.

Thanks.
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Old 07-17-2015, 05:57 PM   #2
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Very ambitious project which I think would be fun, I've often thought of doing this too. The ends are just a basic sheet metal layout with a smaller radius to a larger radius using tapered sheets. Figure what the radius of your curve is going to be with either a Cad program or just use a tape measure. The radius is approx 2 feet. Do you want radiused side panels or straight, angled front and back or straight? The sky is the limit. I would definitely do the frame different from the stock unit. The shell would attach to the frame without the plywood floor sandwiched be the two.

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Old 07-18-2015, 01:10 PM   #3
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Very ambitious project which I think would be fun, I've often thought of doing this too. The ends are just a basic sheet metal layout with a smaller radius to a larger radius using tapered sheets. Figure what the radius of your curve is going to be with either a Cad program or just use a tape measure. The radius is approx 2 feet. Do you want radiused side panels or straight, angled front and back or straight? The sky is the limit. I would definitely do the frame different from the stock unit. The shell would attach to the frame without the plywood floor sandwiched be the two.

Welcome to the forums
Thanks for the welcome.

To keep things simple, I'd make the sides flat and vertical.

After more research, the design and shape that most appeals to me is this sort of thing... especially the 13 section nose, window shape and general proportions.










Do those styles / designs have a name or an era of reference as I'm really clueless about these things at the moment.

In the UK we have pretty strict rules about home made trailers and by far the easiest way to go about this is to use an existing random trailer/caravan and remove the body as it's the chassis and it's identity that the feds get all precious over. I'd then weld the correct shaped perimeter frame to the chassis to give me something to then attach the body frame to and put the floor in after that, within the walls rather than underneath them.
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Old 07-18-2015, 02:41 PM   #4
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You are looking at late 40s to mid fifties
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Old 07-18-2015, 03:18 PM   #5
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The type I think you are interested in would be the late 40s Airstreams, Curtis Wrights and Silver Streaks
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Old 07-18-2015, 06:28 PM   #6
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The type I think you are interested in would be the late 40s Airstreams, Curtis Wrights and Silver Streaks
Excellent - thank you.

I can now research the areas I most closely want to replicated, whilst adapting for my own specific needs.

Cheers.
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Old 07-18-2015, 07:38 PM   #7
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. . . Do those styles / designs have a name or an era of reference as I'm really clueless about these things at the moment.
The Airstream in the bottom 2 photos is a 16' Wee Wind, built from 1948 to the end of 1949. Any leftovers on dealer lots sold in 1950 might have been titled as a 1950 trailer. It is 16' long overall, with a 14' body on a 16' pipe frame (a 4" diameter steel pipe lengthwise down the center with outriggers coming off each side, sorta like a fish).

The trailer in the top photo might be longer, maybe 22'. It is of a style built from 1947 to 1950 and trailers with two identical semi-circular round ends are called "Liners". Build a ladder frame to support the body and avoid a pipe frame as it had original, a weak design for today's much faster road speeds. Good Luck and Have Fun!
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Old 07-19-2015, 03:51 AM   #8
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This is great info everyone - thanks for the contributions so far.

16' overall with a 14' body would be perfect.

What is the maximum external width of these models as a point of reference?

I've been looking at more images and I'm especially drawn to this window design....



Are those earlier or later than the single curved window?

I have much to learn.
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Old 07-19-2015, 12:25 PM   #9
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I've been busy today and it looks like a 16' Wee Wind is the ideal candidate to copy.
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Old 07-19-2015, 03:15 PM   #10
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Replica Build

I also have been contemplating a replica build with some major improvements to a factory design. Factory mass production leaves little creativity and sometimes to manufacture sacrifice product quality over costs to construct.

I have priced out the cost to construct the shell and frame for a 33' replica style Airstream. For materials alone this is going to cost 11K. I personally like the 13 panel version the best.
One main item I am going to construct differently is NOT use Dexter Torsion axles. Yes this worked for Airstream in the past, though their is far superior axle products out there now.

After many drawling plans I believe I have settled on a 27' model. Following with Airstream measurements this is 27' from bumper to hitch.

Frame construction 6" I Beam main carriers, 6" Channel cross members, 5" X 2" X 3/16" Tongue. 245/75LT16 Tires on 6 or 8 bolt rims.

Cost is a lot cheaper than purchasing a new one and even renovating a used one was going to cost me more than new construction. Plus have a better built trailer.

My only thing I will miss is unable to join WBCCI events.

Does anyone know if anyone has a completed replica trailer?
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Old 07-19-2015, 04:18 PM   #11
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Yes I believe Vinstream has built one but I'm not entirely certain.

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Old 07-19-2015, 04:38 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by KEIZER View Post
I also have been contemplating a replica build with some major improvements to a factory design. Factory mass production leaves little creativity and sometimes to manufacture sacrifice product quality over costs to construct.

I have priced out the cost to construct the shell and frame for a 33' replica style Airstream. For materials alone this is going to cost 11K. I personally like the 13 panel version the best.
One main item I am going to construct differently is NOT use Dexter Torsion axles. Yes this worked for Airstream in the past, though their is far superior axle products out there now.

After many drawling plans I believe I have settled on a 27' model. Following with Airstream measurements this is 27' from bumper to hitch.

Frame construction 6" I Beam main carriers, 6" Channel cross members, 5" X 2" X 3/16" Tongue. 245/75LT16 Tires on 6 or 8 bolt rims.

Cost is a lot cheaper than purchasing a new one and even renovating a used one was going to cost me more than new construction. Plus have a better built trailer.

My only thing I will miss is unable to join WBCCI events.

Does anyone know if anyone has a completed replica trailer?
Good luck with the project.

I'll be starting with an existing trailer chassis for all sorts of regulation and type approval politics here in the UK - something like this...



To which I'd add my own cross members and perimeter frame.


I'd like to learn more about how the body was constructed, mainly the frame the panels are riveted to - was it box section, C section, angle? What dimensions and wall thickness was it and how was it assembled - just the riveted panels holding it all together? Welded? Bolted?
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Old 07-19-2015, 11:43 PM   #13
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Check out the link to my thread below, it should answer many of your questions
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Old 07-20-2015, 12:27 AM   #14
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Learn how to build the beautiful "whale tail" design for the rear end. It was used in the '54 to '56 California built Airstreams. I really wish I had never sold the one I owned, as it was so damn pretty. And a lot of flat metal in it also.
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