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Old 05-12-2004, 01:42 PM   #1
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Cool WEIGHT New vs old

Please forgive my ignorance, but I am new to all of this. I keep hearing that the new airstreams weigh considerably more than the old models. Why? What has changed? Are the new ones being built better and are therefore heavier, or are new new one being built of cheaper materials that weigh more? For instance maybe more aluminum in the older models and more steel in the newer models.

Sorry but I kept running into this and decided I should know what everyone was talking about.

richard
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Old 05-12-2004, 02:05 PM   #2
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...According to the tour guide at the factory tour...

They use thicker AL skin and few rivets -- I think he said they went from .032 to .040. (probably makes the shell weigh 20% more than it did)

They use a different structural rib that allows the shell to be assembeld on jigs in several pieces, that are then married together.

Tour guide said that the roofs are stronger -- said a big guy like me can crawl around up their on the rivet lines just fine -- verified that with my 2004 while trying to repair something...(I am 6'5" and weight about 240)

The torsion axles are less likely to taking a 'set' while sitting.

The floor is made out of structural plywood instead of plywood.

The frame is supposedly beefier, and is steel, like the vintage airstreams.

If you look at a vintage Ambassador and compare it to our 28 foot Safari, the weight gain could be explained probably by the beefier shell and frame, and the extra things it has (black tank rinse system, steel propane tanks, dvd, TV with subwoofer, spare tire, heavier matresses, more wiring, and probably a handful of other major things that do not come to mind. Heat pump might add some weight...

I would not know how the windows compare...

-R
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Old 05-12-2004, 02:11 PM   #3
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I don't understand it, either. I mean, sure, it makes some sense that newer one's would be somewhat heavier...they've added tanks where none used to be...made others larger...but the difference in weight between say, a 13 gallon plastic black tank, and a 20 gallon one can't be all that much (when they're both empty...and we're talking "empty weight"). perhaps they made the frames heavier, too. I don't know. I do know that the interior furnishings on newer units are much heavier, (thicker, heavier plywood) but I don't know why they made them this way. seems like a waste. maybe because "everyone else is doing it that way..."? I've seen people mention "corian counters", too...but come on, how much difference can there be between 3' of corian, and 3' of heavy laminate covered particle board? that stuff ain't exactly "light weight", either...and there's so little of it, as well.

In my 70's trailer, the cabinetry is all made of alluminum extrusions, and thin laminate. ok, not as "nice" as wood...but trailers that are not much older than mine had all plywood interiors. it was very thin plywood, but it looked really nice, and on well-kept examples, still looks beautiful today.

and we're talking 1300lb difference between a current model 23' trailer, and my '73. That seems like alot!
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Old 05-12-2004, 02:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hohne
Tour guide said that the roofs are stronger -- said a big guy like me can crawl around up their on the rivet lines just fine -- verified that with my 2004 while trying to repair something...(I am 6'5" and weight about 240)
hmmm....I don't weight a whole lot less than that, and I've crawled on the roof of mine, (on the rivet lines) without any problem. should I not have done that?

but anyway, that all makes sense, and it isn't obvious, just by looking at it. (shell + frame). all I can "see" that's really really different is the cabinetry.
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Old 05-12-2004, 02:50 PM   #5
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I saw somewhere on the Airstream site they were doing a survey asking people if they were to do a retro Airstream what year range would people want to see. The CCDs have been an effort to not only reach a younger crowd but also to cater to all the people that have SUVs that don't have the capacity to tow the heavier Classic models. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they come out with a version that is very much similar in weight to the older models as that seems to be the trend.

Hohne when you say "structural plywood" what do you mean? Is that fiberboard or OSB? Mine appears to have something like that in it. It's definitely not plywood. Is that heavier than plywood? I would think it'd be lighter.

I had a 1966 26' Overlander years back and I now have a 34' Classic. My impression is that todays model are loaded down inside with much more "stuff" for lack of a technical term. Especially my Limited edition has all the solid wood cabinetry in it that really has to add some serious weight to it. At the same time some of those older appliances had to weight quite a bit.
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Old 05-12-2004, 04:03 PM   #6
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A couple other considerations...one although this one may seem minor, is vinyl or "carpet" on the interior walls instead of Zolatone or paint. May not seem like much, but over all the walls...it adds up. Another, shower doors versus shower curtains...or sliding mirror doors at closets.

Still, the cabinetry is the "biggie" in my mind. 3/16-1/4" plywood is much lighter than the "home style" cabinets & wardrobes seen in the Classics today. Also, the number of drawers...drawers weigh alot more than cabinet or flipper doors....in our '64 we have one drawer for the silverware, everything else is a cabinet. Also, OSB or particle board is much heavier than the light weight plywood used in our "oldie", primarily because of the density & all the glue.

One more thing...no built-in microwave or convection ovens in the vintage units. (oh darn!)

None of these things sound like much on their own, but it all adds up, 50 lbs here, 50 lbs there....

Shari
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Old 05-12-2004, 04:17 PM   #7
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Define Zolotone?
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Old 05-12-2004, 04:25 PM   #8
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Also to add weight in the new units, all units have 2 lead acid batteries except for the 22' units.

Shari brings up a number of good points as well. All these start to add. For example, the leather couch on the 2004 Safari adds 74lbs of weight compared to the standard cloth couch. The Safari upgrade package which includes several options adds another 115 lbs.

Fridges also are larger than in the 50s and 60s. Much larger BTU airconditioners, if there were even factory A/C units in 1950 and early 1960 adding more weight. I would also assume that having an A/C unit would require some structural upgrades (which in turn add weight). Dual 30 or 40 gal LP gas tanks whereas a bunch of the vintage units I've seen from the mid 50s have one tank.

All small by themselves, however, together, you can easily see how a few hundred lbs can start to a get to a thousand lbs fairly quickly.
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Old 05-12-2004, 04:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Define Zolotone?
Zolatone is the speckled two part paint used in the mid-60's trailers & older. The product is still around today, you most likely have seen it inside car trunks, or boats, or used as a decorative interior finish.

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Old 05-12-2004, 04:32 PM   #10
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Zolatone is a brand http://www.zolatone.com of "paint"
The thin "plywood" of the ?68 and earlier AS is a high quality furniture grade product. Makes very strong light cabinets. There is a term for it but I cann't recall what it is. It's still available at larger plywood supplied. Requires more workmanship than other material. The vintage are shorter and narrower. Making a coach 6 inches wider increase the weight alot because the 6 inches is the length of the coach, same with height. Due both and it also adds up. I am very pleased that my "new" 59 26 foot overlander will be under 5000lb on the road. It's on the road weight the counts. Don't need a new truck to pull it. Of course some years had aluminum wiring, an example of a good thing taken way too far.
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Old 05-12-2004, 04:54 PM   #11
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Thanks for the zolotone link, and as a cabinetmaker I'm going to have to explore what this light weight plywood is all about. If anyone knows the actual name or details of the ply, please jump in.
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Old 05-12-2004, 05:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psychpw
The vintage are shorter and narrower. Making a coach 6 inches wider increase the weight alot because the 6 inches is the length of the coach, same with height.
...and floor & frame too, more metal, more wood.

Shari
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Old 05-12-2004, 06:07 PM   #13
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Thanks for the zolotone link, and as a cabinetmaker I'm going to have to explore what this light weight plywood is all about. If anyone knows the actual name or details of the ply, please jump in.
We always just called it veneer core plywood, typically 5,7 or 9 plies. Veneer core plywood is made from large sheets of veneer not a bunch of chips with voids and extra glue(weight) in it. It can be machined almost like a solid piece of wood. It is getting hard to find for a reasonable price in this country...what isn't

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Old 05-12-2004, 06:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc
We always just called it veneer core plywood, typically 5,7 or 9 plies. Veneer core plywood is made from large sheets of veneer not a bunch of chips with voids and extra glue(weight) in it. It can be machined almost like a solid piece of wood. It is getting hard to find for a reasonable price in this country...what isn't

Aaron
I thought the light weight came from the fact that it is 3/16 inch thick instead of the readily available 1/4 inch stuff.
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