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Old 11-20-2005, 03:39 PM   #1
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Home Made Slide Out

Anybody out there ever modify their old coach to have a slide out? I realize this would be fairly major surgery, but I don't think it'd be that difficult if you were tearing the unit down to the frame anyway.

Just curious if anyone had done it and how it turned out.

Jim
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Old 11-20-2005, 04:18 PM   #2
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Not a good idea

In Airstreams, the body provides much of the stiffness of the trailer. The big hole required for the slideout destroys the strength of the monocoque body and requires massive reinforcement to make it strong enough again. The result is about 1000# added to the overall trailer weight.

Add all the sealing problems and design an operating mechanism and you have a task not well suited to an amateur. Even Airstream had major leakage problems with the early units.

Not to knock those folks with slideouts, but, IMHO, for the little space gained they are not well suited to the Airstream family.
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Old 11-20-2005, 09:38 PM   #3
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Well that would explain why Airstream waited so long to offer slides from the factory.

Still, I have to wonder why they never just beefed up the frame so that the strength of the monocoque wasn't really needed. That would then free the shell up so that they could offer slides. Granted, there are sealing problems and the like, but they do offer a lot of extra room.

My dad used to have a 26' Terry with a slide. It had more room in it than my 31' Airstream does. He's now got a 31' fifth wheel with either three or four slides (not sure if the bedroom has one or two) and it's got easily five times the room my trailer does.

So who actually gets credit for the design of the Airstream? Didn't Wally Byram hook up with Glenn Curtis on the original designs? If so, then isn't the Airstream basically a P-40 fuselage? So painting a shark's mouth on the front would be appropriate (half joking here...)
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Old 11-20-2005, 09:54 PM   #4
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Bowlus...

The original metal designs for Airstream were created by William Hawley Bowlus, who also designed gliders... Two of his record setting gliders are in the Smithsonian in Washington DC. He made several small aluminum trailer models, including Chief and Papoose, sold in mid 1930's... When Bowlus Trailer filed for bankruptcy in 1935, Wally happened to be his sales manager, though he was still building his wooden Airstreams at the time .. Interestingly, he began using acquired tooling soon after across Los Angeles to build Clipper model, which was expanded and upgraded from Bowlus Chief, though Bowlus creditors received little....

Wally worked for Curtis Aircraft during WW II, since aluminum only available as critical material for aircraft...after the war, he set up shop nearby in Van Nuys, and hired a number of aircraft assemblers in manufacturing...

John McG
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Old 11-20-2005, 10:01 PM   #5
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Not quite

Wally Byam bought out Bowlus when he went bankrupt. Bowlus was an aircraft designer who produced some of the early high performance (for that time) sailplanes. Some still exist. Glen Curtis had a different line of trailers with quite different construction.

Wally worked in the aircraft factories during WW II and the structure of the postwar Airstreams have a lot in common with planes of that period such as the B-25.

While Airstream has to bow to the current craze for slideouts, I prefer the simplicity and reduced weight of a straight forward trailer without them. I'm glad most Airstreams are designed in that manner.
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Old 11-20-2005, 11:35 PM   #6
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So I got this note That says I havent said anything for quite a while. I enjoy some of this Forum so I come here to read interesting things. I'm 68 going on 69 and live on a sail boat in the caribian 6 months out of the year. I'm leaving to go back there in about two weeks i have an old 26 ft Air Stream that I dream about more than work on, That what got me to come read this Forum. so Youall take care and I'll listen in again next year starting about June.. Mac
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Old 11-21-2005, 12:29 AM   #7
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Wow, mac! You take care too. What an interesting way to spend half your year. Those of us in northern climes are jealous! You can fill us in when you get back.

As for slideouts, I just laugh at the trailers that setup and then explode outward in a confusion of slideouts. I mean really, do you need that much extra room? It's a trailer, when you need room to swing the cat, take it outside
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Old 11-21-2005, 05:50 AM   #8
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Yes I have! .. thought of adding a slide to an Airstream. Guess I fall into that obscure group of folks that take pleasure in doing something that others say "can't be done", or "difficult to do".

In the end it would be a pile of work as outlined by the thoughts of others.
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Old 11-21-2005, 06:49 AM   #9
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A local SOB dealer here in SW Missouri bought the slide from a wrecked 34' Airstream at Colaw's RV Salvage. He intended to create a Frankenstream from it and two donor 30' wrecks he owned. Sanity finally prevailed and he gave up the project. The slide out was, and probably still is back over at Colaw's on consignment.

Mark
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