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Old 04-22-2004, 08:34 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by argosy20
All-aluminum frame and spars. Anything that is now steel, can be made out of aluminum. Anyone care to guess how much weight this would save? Any weight saved at 10 feet in the air would help any tracking and swaying problems also. I think even the axles could be made mostly of aluminum, I know the outer tube could be.
Terry
I don't understand the "10 feet in the air" reference. The only steel in an Airstream to speak of is below the floor. ???

I can make a very good guess as to the weight saved: none. Steel and aluminum have very similar strength on a pound for pound basis. The advantages would be at the point of corosion resistence. The disadvantages of an aluminum frame would be its poor fatigue life and the necessity to make very large tubes to gain adequate stiffness.

Mark
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Old 04-22-2004, 08:43 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by j54mark
I don't understand the "10 feet in the air" reference. The only steel in an Airstream to speak of is below the floor. ???

I can make a very good guess as to the weight saved: none. Steel and aluminum have very similar strength on a pound for pound basis. The advantages would be at the point of corosion resistence. The disadvantages of an aluminum frame would be its poor fatigue life and the necessity to make very large tubes to gain adequate stiffness.

Mark
Mark, my trailer stands 9'10" tall, not counting the A/C unit. There are frame spars that go under the aluminum skin all the way across the roof, made of steel, hence the "10 feet in the air" thing. If you think aluminum and steel weigh the same, on a strength for strength basis, pick up a piece of 2" channel aluminum, and a 2" piece of channel steel. The steel will weigh about 20% more. If steel and aluminum weigh the same per strength, why aren't modern airplanes made from steel? It is certainly cheaper than aluminum, and easier to work with.
Terry
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Old 04-22-2004, 08:49 AM   #17
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I'd suggest a rear mounted back-up camera, or at least prewire for it to be installed later. I like that idea of ducted wire runs.
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Old 04-22-2004, 08:51 AM   #18
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It would not be a weight saving, but would slow or prevent the rust if a Stainless steel frame was used in lieu of painted cold rolled steel. MY 89 RR had that and the frame showed no rust even with WI winters.

I would think that the cost differential on this would be lower than an Aluminum frame IMO.
Brett, is stainless as strong as cold-rolled in the same weight? I'm being a little dense today. What is an '89 RR? (Rolls Royce? )

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Old 04-22-2004, 08:58 AM   #19
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Although I have no particular insight into Airstream Inc other than what I have read, I imagine it works just like any other established, comparably sized company. Engineering is constantly evaluating new materials, designs, fabrication techniques, etc. to make a product as cheaply as possible while marketing is working to get the highest price possible.

I have read with interest the “Gauge the quality of the ‘04s” thread. Seems to me Airstream should spend more time on quality control. It may be they need to design the piece parts of an Airstream to be easier to install. Sadly though it is probably more like they need to pay more money to establish a crew of people who take more pride their work.

Successful companies usually have a design life for their products. They do not want a product to last forever. If it did, why would you buy another? From what I have read, I would estimate the design life of the earlier Airstreams to be around 25 years. After that, major components start going out, and a new, better Airstream starts looking like a better option.

Computer aided design, now used by just about everyone, has just about done away with things that last a lifetime. In the old days, many things were over-designed (way to strong) because it was not feasible to optimize the design using a slide rule. Nowadays, everything is designed to be only as strong as it needs to be under a predefined set of conditions. Airstream has probably statistically figured out things like how many times a year people camp, and how often they hit bumpy roads. Then they load all that data into a program that determines the design life. There is little margin for super-campers or miles of unpaved roads.

Engineering probably has six different designs of any given feature, but usually the one that is cheapest to make, and least labor intensive to install is the one that wins. Then they take that option, and try and make it even cheaper & less labor intensive to install.

Then there comes the time when the final product is just too dated, i.e. it is a wonderful solution, but it has been used for too long. Marketing, who is ever vigilant of the company’s image, feels a change is in order. The best choice has already been used, so engineering is forced to take a step backwards. I looked at an ’04 Classic at an RV show earlier this year. The first thing I noticed was the fabric/foam covered walls. If the original & replacement headliners in my Suburban are any indicator, those walls are not going to last very long. The vinyl coated walls in my ’67 Overlander cleaned up great. I assume that Airstream just wanted a “fresh” look, and decided to take the hit in durability.

Airstreams are still the best product on the road, but to stay in business, they have to produce new products. Although I am sure they are also striving for better products, the underlying processes will occasionally let a bad decision hit the showroom floor.

Tom
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Old 04-22-2004, 09:00 AM   #20
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And while I am thinking, how about moving the fresh water tank to under the floor, between the frame rails inside the belly pan,near the axle, or just in front of the axle on multi-axle units, and the A/C unit to the front of the trailer, behind the LP tanks, with ducts for the cold air? It would again help with the center of gravity, and aerodynamics, not having that unit sticking up in the air. Also, with ducted A/C, the larger coaches would then be able to get some cool air to the rear bedroom without freezing the guests in the front.
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Old 04-22-2004, 09:14 AM   #21
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Airstream (or Thor) should bring back the Argosy line as the test bed for new and upgraded technologies.
in addition to the upgrades for frame & rot-proof floors, I'd love to see an airstream made of Carbon Fiber. No more Dents, easily painted, strong and light weight.
I'm also at a loss why the industry doesn't allow access hatches to the holding tanks. You should be able to remove a section of floor and unscrew a leak-proof access hatch to facilitate cleaning of the holding tanks and fresh water tank.
Another innovation would be installed macerator pumps and modern drain hoses. (no more stinky-slinky).
Lastly, why not use radient heat in stead of a forced air furnace. The heater could be electric or propane.

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Old 04-22-2004, 09:19 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by argosy20
Mark, my trailer stands 9'10" tall, not counting the A/C unit. There are frame spars that go under the aluminum skin all the way across the roof, made of steel,
.

I thought those were alluminum. the only steel is in the chassis frame.

Quote:
Originally Posted by argosy20
If steel and aluminum weigh the same per strength, why aren't modern airplanes made from steel? It is certainly cheaper than aluminum, and easier to work with.
Terry
I'm not an engineer, but I believe this is correct. There are other reasons to use alluminum than weight. corrosion is one.


thoughts on other issues: just how long are these things supposed to last? 30, 40, 50 years isn't enough? even with the old designs, if a trailer was well maintained, it has no set life-span. Same goes with other well-built machines. If you take care of it, it'll last forever. the difference between Airstream's and SOBs is that with the SOB's (allegedly), even if you DO take care of them, they won't last. But it seems to me that the restoration projects that we all read about here are the result of some PO that didn't tend to maintenance.

weight: "wood cabinets lend to higher weights". 60's trailers had all wood cabinets. why were they so light?
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Old 04-22-2004, 09:19 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by argosy20
There are frame spars that go under the aluminum skin all the way across the roof, made of steel, hence the "10 feet in the air" thing. If you think aluminum and steel weigh the same, on a strength for strength basis, pick up a piece of 2" channel aluminum, and a 2" piece of channel steel. The steel will weigh about 20% more. If steel and aluminum weigh the same per strength, why aren't modern airplanes made from steel? It is certainly cheaper than aluminum, and easier to work with.
Terry
I have not seen, nor run across steel framing anywhere above the floor. Interesting. Very interesting. Do you happen to know if this is an Argosy thing or if Airstreams have the same framing?

The strength is about the same on a pound for pound basis. The challenge you make is on a size for size basis. Your hypothetical 2" aluminum channel will be lighter, but not as stong in torsion as 2" steel channel if wall thickness is constant. It is worth noting in connection with frame construction that that same 2" steel channel will have a fatigue life exponentially greater. Where fatigue is an issue, engineers have to size up aluminum significantly.

Steel is not easier to work with in complex shapes such as may be needed in aircraft - aluminum is much more maleable. Aluminum also has one other advantage on a weight for weight, strength for strenth basis: the walls of an aluminum tube the same strength (and weight) of a steel tube will have thicker walls. You can make super light steel tubing, but the walls get too thin to weld, braze, or rivet. That is why you see butted tubing (thicker at the ends) on high end bicycles.

Mark
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Old 04-22-2004, 09:24 AM   #24
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Roger,

My 89 RR was a Range Rover, I cannot afford, nor would I want to own a Rolls Royce

I still miss that SUV , except at the pump. It got MPG's that are only a bit better than my MH
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Old 04-22-2004, 09:27 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by j54mark
I have not seen, nor run across steel framing anywhere above the floor. Interesting. Very interesting. Do you happen to know if this is an Argosy thing or if Airstreams have the same framing?

Mark
Mark, it may just be an Argosy thing, the ones I have messed with have been steel, in my Argosy. And they may have been replacements.
And I will only touch upon one other thing about steel vs aluminum, and then I will leave it alone. Why did they put single piece end caps on Argosy's, instead of the multiple piece caps on Airstreams, but the steel was easier to work with, and cheaper, but heavier?
Terry
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Old 04-22-2004, 09:31 AM   #26
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Why did they put single piece end caps on Argosy's, instead of the multiple piece caps on Airstreams...Terry
Which raises another interesting question: Why don't we ever hear about steel/aluminum corrosion from electrolysis on Argosy end caps?

Mark
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Old 04-22-2004, 09:37 AM   #27
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Which raises another interesting question: Why don't we ever hear about steel/aluminum corrosion from electrolysis on Argosy end caps?

Mark
Could be the galvanizing on the steel? I know there is a little on mine, but not enough to be a major problem, and that only after decades of being out in the weather. And it seems to be limited to the steel, but if the end caps blow off while driving down the road, I will know the problem was worse than it looked
Terry
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Old 04-22-2004, 09:45 AM   #28
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weight: "wood cabinets lend to higher weights". 60's trailers had all wood cabinets. why were they so light?
I have noticed on my unit that it has particle board counters and shelving. Particle board is MUCH heavier than wood, even plywood, of the same thickness, but has the virtue of being much cheaper than real wood. If most of our trailers now have that, it would follw that it would weigh more.
Terry
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