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Old 05-24-2007, 05:14 AM   #15
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1974 31' Sovereign
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If you're not going boondocking, you can replace the group 27 battery with a group 24, saves about 15 pounds. Also, fewer windows, windows are heavy. A 1970's Argosy (with fewer windows) was almost 2000 pounds lighter than comparable Airstreams. If you have Vista View windows, you can remove them like zeppelenium did with his coach. You would have the advantage of reducing potential leak points as well. The small oval windows below the main windows can be removed as well.
You can remove the pocket doors, and replace them with curtains, and save another 20 or so pounds.

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Old 05-24-2007, 06:19 AM   #16
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If you built the trailer from the ground up for weight savings, using lighter materials and cutting out all of the "cool" features like the oval windows, you might save as much as 500 lbs. I doubt it would be much more than that tho. Water, at 8lb/gallon is the heaviest thing we carry. If your tanks (all together) hold 100 gallons (fresh, gray and black), that's potentially 800 lbs you can save just by dumping before hitting the road, and only leaving 5 gals or so in your fresh tank for on-the-road use. As was mentioned earlier, a single 20lb propane tanks weighs much less than two 40s. The new composite LP tanks weigh even less.

Good luck with your weight reduction program!


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Old 05-24-2007, 07:12 AM   #17
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Is the real issue weight?

Or is the real issue fuel usage? If it is the second, you can gain a tremendous amount of ground by going 55-60 mph instead of 70. If I recall my physics correctly (big if), the majority of energy use related to weight is expended in the process of getting all that weight in motion. Once in motion, the primary energy load is related to wind resistance. I think it is the case that the force needed to move down the road is 1/2 the mass X the square of the velocity. So you can see how small decreases in speed should result in relatively large decreases in fuel expenditure. If my understanding of this is wrong, or if weight really is your concern; just pretend I didnt say anything .

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Old 05-24-2007, 07:43 AM   #18
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weight reduction

Hi Jim,
I started that Green thread in hope of sharing ideas about ways to improve fuel savings and incorporate new materials in our trailers. I thought I did respond to your comment in the Green thread although probably as a general reply about cutting weight. This is what I did so far to reduce weight.

Replaced refrigerator, furnace and water heater with modern versions. all the originials were dead, but also extremely heavy. I have never moved a heavier refrigerator in my life. Also the water heater and furnace suprised me, not be their weight as much as how light the new ones are.
I replaced the steel fresh water tank with plastic and also copper lines for pex.
Aluminum LP tanks replaced old steel tanks.

That is about all I could do on the built in stuff. I did put down Armstrong tiles which, individually are light, but picking up the box makes you realize how small items add up. Frame and subfloor with finished floor are big items and where I thought a new "Green Airstream" could be a excellent way to start saving weight and therefore fuel. The Euro-Airstream is using a lighter and lower design I think fom Austria? That with the honeycomb floors would be a good start.
My safari has very light weight cabinets. I could never understand why some like the raised panel oak kountry kitchen look of some models. They look heavy and I am sure they are.
As Doorgunner mentioned look at what you bring along. The largest savings may include leaving your wife or girlfriend home including what they feel must come along for the trip. I can only speak for my significant other but marvel at the need for different table settings for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She also must pack enough food for two weeks on a weekend trip. But that's another battle.
On the Green's all about using better materials that are substainable, healthier, lighter and better for the environment.
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Old 05-24-2007, 11:01 AM   #19
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Good ideas!

Good replies everyone. Thanks.

Gary, sorry if I missed your reply.

DG, many good ideas!

Keith, I especially liked #9

I did have one neat idea for the floors: Corrugated plastic. I set up several warehouses with it for the storage shelves for cabinet parts. I put a cross piece every 16". The plastic was 13mm deep. I forget the weight per square foot, but it's not much. Far less than the MDF shelves we were using. It's very abrasion resistant, of course it's totally moisture proof. You run the flutes in the direction of bending, so in this case we'd run them front to back on the trailer. They don't handle point/crush loads real well, but for anything like a foot print, they were great. It may be simply glue a sheet of something light, stiff, and solid to the top of the 13mm corrugated plastic so that you cannot get a point load reacting directly onto it.

I don't want to get super nuts money wise. I was just thinking fairly easy things to do.

I will be doing a lot of boon docking so the tanks must stay. They will be larger than OEM actually. As such, the batteries must stay big too.

I will change out the univolt. I like the ideas of the solar cells.

I think my trailer's empty weight is stated at 5600lbs right now. I'd like to keep it to that or less, but with my enhancements. I will be changing out most of the appliances, if not all.

My wife just last night told me to "...sell that turd in the yard and get something we can use now!" It's an uphill battle for me....

- Jim
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Old 05-24-2007, 11:14 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by JimGolden

My wife just last night told me to "...sell that turd in the yard and get something we can use now!" It's an uphill battle for me....

All I could say to my wife would be, "Yes Dear."
Remember the 3 phrases to a happy marriage: 'yes dear,' 'no dear' and 'no excuse dear.'
Why not do what she wants, your life will be easier.
Remember, we are all in this together.

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Old 05-24-2007, 11:50 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by JimGolden

I will be doing a lot of boon docking so the tanks must stay. They will be larger than OEM actually. As such, the batteries must stay big too.

I will change out the univolt. I like the ideas of the solar cells.

I think my trailer's empty weight is stated at 5600lbs right now. I'd like to keep it to that or less, but with my enhancements. I will be changing out most of the appliances, if not all.


Reducing the weight is also a good goal.

But, unless you can appreciably reduce the weight, like 500 to 1000 pounds, you will not really gain anything.

Reduction of weight has a minimal effect on fuel mileage. A greater effect on fuel mileage is your driving habits, not the trailer weight.

Then we must consider the pay load effect. Leaving most of the things home that you usually carry will of course reduce the payload, but it will also decrease your fun factor.

Bottom line is that unless someone does extensive mountain climbing with their rig, small weight reductions have a "nil" effect.

Driving and/or towing habits, have a huge effect on mileage.

The costs to maximze weight reduction, could never be recouped by fuel savings.

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Old 05-24-2007, 01:11 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Gen Disarray
I think it is the case that the force needed to move down the road is 1/2 the mass X the square of the velocity.
Force= mass X accelleration ,and thus it has dimensions ML(T^-2)

1/2 mass X square of velocity = kinetic energy , and it thus has dimensions
Thus you can see that this cannot be a force.

This kinetic energy equals the amount of energy that must be dissipated by the braking system to bring the body to rest on a level plane.

The force needed to move down the road is equal to the air resistance of the body , plus the rolling resistance of the tires and transmission.

Force is that which causes a mass to accellerate.

Work done equals Force X (distance the point of application is moved by the force.)

Power is the rate of doing work.

Power required to overcome wind resistance is roughly proportional to the cube of the speed, rather than the square. That is, if you double the speed, there is 8 times the wind resistance. This takes 8 times the fuel consumption per unit of time. However, the body will only be travelling for half the time for a given journey, as it's speed is doubled, so it will only need 4 times the fuel.
One reference for this highly over-simplified analysis is at:
Drag (physics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

So you can see that Gen Dissary was correct.

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Old 05-24-2007, 01:33 PM   #23
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And let's not forget that it's not just mass that might be a problem, but where the mass is. If somebody came up with a miraculous new process that resulted in cheap carbon fiber sheeting for floors, and tubes for frames, I wouldn't recommend using them without thinking long and hard about center of gravity. As you take away weight that you're carrying low down, you move your CG higher. Eventually, you'd end up with a light Airstream that towed worse than an SOB. Not good.
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Old 05-24-2007, 01:33 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by JimGolden

...I will be doing a lot of boon docking so the tanks must stay...
I would recomend poly or pex plumbing if you don't have it already. I don't know what your unit came with but my 63 Overlander had copper. All the piping, fittings, and patches probably weighed a lot. Luckily the P O had already switched it over and I had to just make a few mods to get it like I wanted it. It is fairly easy to work with and fairly cheap. Keep the tanks, but switch to plastic and you'll lose some there too. Just keep them empty, if you can, while travelling.

Most important.....Drink Lite Beer while you work on it!! That may help.

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Old 05-24-2007, 01:33 PM   #25
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I think I'm in agreement with Roger and Andy on this one. With 70s era units, I think it is what you put in them, not what you remove which affects weight for the most part. There really isn't much room for appreciable weight savings when you get down to it. (Liquids and personal effects add up to much more than the the installed components.)

Have you considered how much weight you'll be adding by building a new beefier frame?

The original frame was designed to be lightweight and work in conjunction with the floor and shell. Assuming the integrity of all three components (and your axles/running gear are in good shape), the original frame should be more than sufficient to do the job and adds to the overall lightweight design of the trailer. Proper loading is obviously very important as well.

I gutted my '73 Sovereign and was very careful with what I put back in, but even completely empty (shell, floor, frame), I'll bet it weighed at least 4000 lbs. Maybe your TV can tell the difference between 4000 and 5000 lbs mine can't.

As for PEX vs copper, how much savings can that really amount to? If you're going to redo your plumbing anyway and you don't want to fool with sweating copper fittings, PEX may be the way to go, but I doubt you'll see much in the way of weight savings.
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Old 05-24-2007, 01:48 PM   #26
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My 56 caravanner was framed in 1x2 cedar and fronted with 1/8 inch walnut plywood. My coach weighs between 1500 and 1800 pounds and the cedar appears to have great strength holding up against weight.

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Old 05-24-2007, 05:01 PM   #27
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Don't get me wrong. My intent with the new frame was not to build some ten ton Titanic. Rather, the one I designed should add only about 180lbs to the coach's all up weight, yet be about four times stronger than the fishpole that's under it now.

Now let me throw this out there: When I sight down along the lower rub rail, aft of the back axles, I can see a definite downturn in the angle. It's not a lot; maybe a few degrees, but it's there. If I shine a laser down it, I can see the rub rail is lower at the back bumper than it is at the wheel well.

Is this normal?

I have been taking it all along that this means my frame has bent/sagged. Now if I'm wrong, I would just be happy as a clam! I'd really just love to be able to fix what I've got rather than go whole hog and redo everything.

I live in WV. There's not a stretch longer than two miles that is level here. A lot of where we'd like to go is mountainous. That being said, I'm pulling it with a 300+ hp truck that doesn't seem to mind the little Stream back there much at all. But just the same, I like efficiency. Weight is always the enemy.

And yes, sadly, I can see my wife's point. I'd lurked on this forum for only a short while 'til I bought mine. Had I known then what I know now....but the shell is still near perfect, the inside isn't bad, and I really like this model. I'd like to resurrect it.

PO let the pipes freeze and burst so all that would be redone. They are copper now; I was leaning toward PEX.

That being said, my grandpa sold his '67 Overlander to a guy that I was inquiring if he'd want to trade. The guy doesn't travel at all, just parked it by his workshop and hangs out in it. Something like that would be perfect for a 31 footer with sag and separation. But I don't know...I kinda like my '31.

Got my degree in aerospace engineering and am a big time EAA nut. Designing a bird right now in fact. I'm very familiar with monocoque construction. Again, I wasn't thinking a super gargantuan frame, just something a little deeper like they did later on. Well, actually a little deeper than that, but that doesn't cost you much weight.

I'm digressing here. I knew it wouldn't be easy to shed any pounds on this vintage. It's pretty light anyway. But maybe by new appliances I could at least offset the additional "dead weight" I'd be adding. Not to say I could get my wife to leave the kitchen sink behind
- Jim
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Old 05-24-2007, 06:09 PM   #28
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I have thought about moving the bathroom into my tow vehicle...mainly because it is sometimes running with a boat instead of the airstream and...well...ya know between my wife and I sometimes the rest rooms just are not close enough together! No, not gonna strip out the bath...but it is an interesting thought...
I am an old airfreighter thus balance is still on my mind

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