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Old 09-28-2019, 11:05 AM   #1
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Can aircraft insulation be used on Airstreams?

During my flight to Hawaii yesterday, it occurred to me as I sat next to the window, that I was only a few inches away from a temperature of -50 degrees, and a very loud jet engine, and yet, thanks to some pretty good insulation, I was fairly comfortable in my seat on the aircraft. Why isn’t insulation like this used on Airstreams instead of the ecobatt fiberglass insulation? Has anyone on this forum looked into it?
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Old 09-28-2019, 11:49 AM   #2
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yes.. but the $$$ is out of reach.. some folks have sprayed foam on inside of exterior skin.. jury still out on that.. (imagine trying to repair, vibration, flex, etc..) But, doesn't mean it can't be done, right?
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Old 09-28-2019, 11:59 AM   #3
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Can aircraft insulation be used on Airstreams?

On Boeing, and probably others, they use “insulation blankets” custom made to fit an area. Usually a fire-retardant fabric over very fluffy fiberglass insulation. Not cheap to make as each is custom made.

They are also a bunch thicker than what’s in Airstream walls.
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Old 09-28-2019, 12:50 PM   #4
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I encourage you to search this forum for insulation, and you will find a wealth of opinions and advice and numerous threads where folks have put in a wide variety of different types of insulation - fiberglass batts, rock wool, reflectix, spray foam styrofoam, foam boards, etc.

Now, spoiler alert, the bottom line is that 1) there is only so much you can do in the 1.5 inches of space, and more to the point 2) even if you have the perfect insulator (aerogel?) installed, there is still the substantial thermal bridging from the outer skin through the ribs to the inner skin.
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Old 09-29-2019, 01:08 PM   #5
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Contact Yeti and see how tier coolers are insulated. They may send you a sample. I have never seen such an efficient and effective insulated cooler as the Yeti and they are pretty thin walled.
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Old 09-29-2019, 01:43 PM   #6
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You could use Aircraft insulation but you Airstream will never hold up at that altitude or speed.

Really the commercial aircraft have thicker bulkheads almost 4 time that of and Airstream so they can add quite a bit of insulation to reduce noise.
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Old 09-29-2019, 02:38 PM   #7
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During my flight to Hawaii yesterday, it occurred to me as I sat next to the window, that I was only a few inches away from a temperature of -50 degrees, and a very loud jet engine, and yet, thanks to some pretty good insulation, I was fairly comfortable in my seat on the aircraft. Why isn’t insulation like this used on Airstreams instead of the ecobatt fiberglass insulation? Has anyone on this forum looked into it?
As a retired aircraft inspector, the insulation blankets use in aircraft are only 3/16 inch thick. They have to keep the weight down. Aircraft have a very good heating system plus all the bodies inside keep it warm. Park it on the ramp shut off the heat in winter, you can hang beef in it.
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Old 09-29-2019, 04:01 PM   #8
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The OP's question is interesting and there are probably improved insulating techniques available but material cost and installation cost may be prohibitive. More research is in order from the OP and others to know which materials and methods might work.

A previous post brought up a very good point - thermal bridging. Aluminum is one of the highest thermal conductors of commonly available commercial materials. So we have an outside skin with high thermal conductivity, ribs placed every one to two feet made of the same high conduction material a bonded to an interior with the same high thermal conductivity. That's an insulating challenge at best. A kind of "never ending battle."

So Airstream (the company) and us (the owners and restorers) try to combat the high thermal conductivity of all that aluminum with something that has relatively low thermal conductivity, a product commonly known by one of its trade names - Reflectix.

However, reflective bubble insulation requires very specific installation parameters to make it effective. The method I've seen used - simply placing the sheets of bubbles in the wall - is not the proper installation from what I can tell. The reflective bubble insulation must be installed with uniform air gaps on each side of the material. Just laying it in the wall does very little to add an insulating layer.

In some ways, adding fiberglass batting may be better than reflective bubbles. Properly installed fiberglass (or other foam) would at least minimize air movement between in the outer and inner wall.

In the end, Airstreams are three-season trailers: spring and autumn are okay in most latitudes. Summer in the north or Winter in the south round out the third season. I guess if you're mobile enough you can travel and catch all four seasons.
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Old 09-29-2019, 04:19 PM   #9
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Hi

The reflective part of reflective bubble insulation is .... errrr .... ummm.... aluminum. Your AS already has two big thick layers of aluminum in it's walls.

Why do you need aluminum in bubble insulation? It's transparent to IR radiation. One way you loose heat from a surface is radiation. They can put a thin film of aluminum on the stuff and take care of that problem. That's fine if you are insulating a window. It's excess baggage if you are insulating the wall in an AS trailer.

Indeed, as mentioned above, aircraft stay comfortable because of their HVAC systems not because of their insulation. Sit out on a hot runway for a few hours and the limits of that system will become painfully apparent.

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Old 09-29-2019, 06:52 PM   #10
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Found some very interesting information. This guy may not have covered all the aspects of insulation but he certainly hits many of the significant points. As others have said on this thread and others... reflective bubble insulation is not what many think it is.

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Old 10-01-2019, 12:52 AM   #11
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The OP's question is interesting and there are probably improved insulating techniques available but material cost and installation cost may be prohibitive. More research is in order from the OP and others to know which materials and methods might work.

I did a little more research on aircraft insulation and learned about a new material that is sometimes used—melamine foam. Melamine foam is what they make those “Mr. Clean Magic Erasers” out of.
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Old 10-01-2019, 05:51 AM   #12
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I came across Solimide as a brand name for a flexible foam sheet used in aircraft.
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Old 10-01-2019, 06:54 PM   #13
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Yeti’s are great. I have several. But the method they use is too heavy for an Airstream. I suggest looking for a light weight, flexible, space age material to use as a furring strip and create the thermal “break” needed to achieve your goal. Which should be to eliminate the interior skin directly contacting the structural ribs which are directly in contact with your exterior skin.
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Old 10-01-2019, 11:48 PM   #14
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Airstream now advertises that during manufacturing they create a thermal break between the ribs and the skin. Does anyone here know what year Airstream began putting in the thermal breaks?
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Old 10-02-2019, 03:48 PM   #15
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Ask Airstream. The thermal break was when they started to use seal tape between the ribs and under the skin and AdSeal on the roof.
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Old 10-03-2019, 09:24 AM   #16
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Airstream now advertises that during manufacturing they create a thermal break between the ribs and the skin. Does anyone here know what year Airstream began putting in the thermal breaks?
Hi

Head up to JC and take the factory tour. If they are putting anything more than tape on, it's certainly not very obvious watching them do it.

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Old 10-03-2019, 08:10 PM   #17
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From what I could tell, the "thermal break" appears to be that black double-sided foam tape that's maybe about 1/8" thick or so. I don't doubt it's an improvement and surely better than nothing, though how much, I can't say. Do they also put it on the inside of the ribs?
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Old 10-04-2019, 12:22 AM   #18
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The tape separates the two metals, skin on ribs, thus providing a thermal break so that conductive heat transfer of metal to metal is eliminated. SilverStreak and Streamline used that for years. I had both and they were quite comfortable. They also used fiberglass bats. Avion on the other had used spray foam, but we know that has draw backs.
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Old 10-04-2019, 05:32 AM   #19
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yes.. but the $$$ is out of reach.. some folks have sprayed foam on inside of exterior skin.. jury still out on that.. (imagine trying to repair, vibration, flex, etc..) But, doesn't mean it can't be done, right?
AVION DID IT for years without remarkable troubles.... of course the big windows are heat and cold sinks.
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