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Old 04-20-2015, 07:31 AM   #1
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1974 27' Overlander
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Need a new frame in VA

Hey if you saw my post, my frame was totally shot and has since been pulled out and cut up for scrap. I need to have a new one fabricated, I'm in Eastern VA. I know a few welders but was just thinking if anyone knows of someone within a few hundred miles that has some experience with Airstream frames it might be worth a shot. Thanks! Tom
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Old 04-20-2015, 07:37 AM   #2
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If I was making a new frame I would have it made from aluminum and add a composite floor while I was at it.
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Old 04-20-2015, 08:01 AM   #3
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Aluminum frames have their own issues - cracking and bending. Only an Aluminum expert -probably with airframes- should even attempt one. Several years ago Uwe (OO-VAY) of Area 63 Productions made a stainless steel frame for his Argosy, so perhaps you can find the thread for that.

If you can get the service manual .pdfs for a frame any competent welder should be able to make one - also if you did have the original one, someone could easily copy it. There's no reason you couldn't beef up the frame though - going with boxed channels instead of "C" and using something stiffer than mild steel. There is a company on Cleveland street called Coe (Superior Trailer) that does that kind of work. Some people swear by them, others at them.

You really don't need an Airstream specialist to do this work. There are a slew of trailer companies out on S. Military Highway too. Shop around - we've got a lot of local options - but get the .pdf's first.

I too would go with a floor material other than plywood - something made for the yachting industry. Again this area has a lot of good outlets.

Good luck fixing it up.

Paula
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Old 04-20-2015, 08:11 AM   #4
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Now is the time to build a proper frame, do your homework.
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Old 04-20-2015, 09:34 AM   #5
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Paula, I've bought a couple trailers from Superior so I'll start by calling them. We also have Portsmouth Trailer Supply over here so I might call them too they do a lot of repair work. Thanks for the advice. Tom
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Old 04-20-2015, 10:52 AM   #6
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within your few hundred mile scope, you'll find Frank Yensan in Baltimore, MD.

much further up the road you'll find Colin Hyde in Plattsburgh, NY.

each are quite capable. I'd try Frank, first.
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Old 04-20-2015, 11:45 AM   #7
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You can also try Hibbards iron works Address: 514 Aberdeen Rd, Hampton, VA 23661
Phone757) 826-5611
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Old 04-20-2015, 12:14 PM   #8
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within your few hundred mile scope, you'll find Frank Yensan in Baltimore, MD.

much further up the road you'll find Colin Hyde in Plattsburgh, NY.

each are quite capable. I'd try Frank, first.
Well DUH - Didn't think about Frank - which is stupid since I'll be pulling my new to me Avion onto his lot next Monday or Tuesday. He's well respected, but we also have many fine welders around here.

I'm sure Frank could get you new axles loaded with brakes and install them, then you could tow it home as long as you had good temporary running lights (and perhaps a bumper of some sort.) I would NOT relish towing it down I-95, but you can always take 301. Only the horrible high bridge gives you a "nearer to thee my God moment or two"

Portsmouth Trailer is good too.

You know we have more Tidewater members than I realized - we should have a non-rally rally some day.

Paula
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:05 PM   #9
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within your few hundred mile scope, you'll find Frank Yensan in Baltimore, MD.

much further up the road you'll find Colin Hyde in Plattsburgh, NY.

each are quite capable. I'd try Frank, first.
Do you know how I can get in touch with Frank? Thanks!
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:36 PM   #10
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i'd check with Frank Yensan at Franks Trailer Works in Baltimore. He could at least give you some good advice.
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:15 PM   #11
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Aluminum alloys have come a long way. Many other mainstream travel trailer and large boat trailers are made from aluminum. Can't say I have ever heard of any recent failures due to the aluminum construction. Worth looking at in my opinion.
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:21 PM   #12
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If I was making a new frame I would have it made from aluminum and add a composite floor while I was at it.
Tell me more about this composite floor material....links? Sorry to hijack your thread, Tom!
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Old 04-20-2015, 05:03 PM   #13
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Tell me more about this composite floor material....links? Sorry to hijack your thread, Tom!
Google is your friend. I could not even scratch the surface on the available information.
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Old 04-20-2015, 05:12 PM   #14
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Build a Better One

I agree with R Carl. I would not duplicate the original frame. I would build a better one. I designed one for a 31 footer a few years ago that I could probably find and send to you if you want.

In your case, I'd consider a 6" deep frame made from a decent I-beam section. Use 50ksi steel. I was going to use an 8" section on my 31. The extra depth makes a huge difference in strength. No more sag, and no more separation.

You could also change the design (like I did) to where the shell does not sit on the floor. I had a 1/8" thick by 6" wide plate that went all around the perimeter. The U-channel bolted to that and the shell to the channel. My new floor sat completely inside the shell.

In the end, my new frame that was eight times stronger than the original added less than 200lbs overall to the weight of the trailer. Less than corian countertops....

As for aluminum, it has a much lower fatigue life than steel. Stress reversal cycles get it, but it depends on the percentage of yield stress you go to before reversing. So in English, an aluminum frame can work just fine, you just need to make it beefy enough that it never sees a high percentage of it's maximum strength used when you hit a bump. Being that it weighs 1/3 what steel does, you could make it twice as thick and still be lighter. If you made it 1:1 the same as steel, it'd fall apart on you pretty quickly. But if you built it right, it'd work fine. That being said, I'd stick to regular carbon steel. Get it all welded up and get the whole thing powder coated or hot dip galvanized. It'll last longer than you with a little care.

Best of luck with your project. You really do have the opportunity to build a better mousetrap.
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