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Old 09-11-2010, 10:58 AM   #1
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Has anybody had this aluminum chassis/sub floor installed?

VINSTREAM VINTAGE AIRSTREAM TRAILER CUSTOM DESIGN RESTORATION SALE

If so any feedback?

Thanks,

JDavid
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Old 09-11-2010, 12:13 PM   #2
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Many years ago, Airstream had Southwest Research, located in San Antonio, Texas, evaluate an aluminum chassis. I personally saw it under test.

It was a total and absolute failure.

The biggest killer was simple vibration.

That was intentionally done, so as to duplicate unbalanced running gear, as all to many owners ignore.

Aluminum, cannot handle vibrations nearly as well as steel, and even steel, ultimately fails, as some owners learn, the expensive hard way.

Save your money for something else.

Andy
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Old 09-11-2010, 03:34 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info Andy. But I wonder what the gang at Vinstream would have to say about your post. ;-)

I think the aluminum frame could be viable IF the correct design and structural members were used, joints were welded/riveted together in the strongest manner possible, and maybe the use of synthetic/polymer bushings were used for the axle to frame union and the body to frame mounting. I wish someone thats actually running a trailer with the Vinstream chassis would chime in with their experiences.
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Old 09-11-2010, 03:54 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info Andy. But I wonder what the gang at Vinstream would have to say about your post. ;-)

I think the aluminum frame could be viable IF the correct design and structural members were used, joints were welded/riveted together in the strongest manner possible, and maybe the use of synthetic/polymer bushings were used for the axle to frame union and the body to frame mounting. I wish someone thats actually running a trailer with the Vinstream chassis would chime in with their experiences.
I am not, in any way, challenging what Vintage is trying to do.

Reading their statement about the aluminum chassis says that it is not available, and that they will not sell the chassis only, once it is available, and that they are asking for approval of it from some national authority.

You are absolutely correct, with the "IF".

It's, I think, a great idea, but the costs will far exceed being even reasonably acceptable, and again "IF" it's ever approved.

In-field repair on an aluminum chassis, would be difficult to find.

Therefore, the practicality of a aluminum frame, becomes a serious question.

Someday perhaps, but I don't think before another couple of decades.

And probably by then, someone may have a "composite chassis".

Now, your talking future stuff, but at what kind of costs?

Airstream could greatly improve the trailers, in many ways, but at huge costs. Who would want to pay a couple of hundred thousands of dollars for an Airstream?

Therefore Airstream strives very hard, to provide a far better than average trailer, but at a reasonable cost.

Tomorrows technology, quite well, will be a surprise to many of us, in many positive ways.

Look back 20 to 30 years ago. What many of us enjoy today, was not even heard of back then.

Andy
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Old 09-11-2010, 04:06 PM   #5
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I have a quite different problem with the frame. Airstreams have insulated walls and floors, and the wood provides reasonable heat/cold, and good sound insulation. Aluminum would be an excellent conductor of heat/cold from the ribs and road, so would act like a large, high capacity heatsink, quickly transporting thermal energy back and forth. I anticipate cold winters and hot summers with that aluminum floor.
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Old 09-11-2010, 04:29 PM   #6
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I thought that there were some models of Argosy (was it the Minuet?) that has an aluminum floor.

Anyone know if this is like that at all?
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Old 09-11-2010, 05:15 PM   #7
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Andy,

Hopefully not starting a ruckus, BUT..... Vinstream's site states that they will not sell their aluminum chassis [/B][/U]all by itself[/B][/U]. They do not say that they don't sell it all. They say their reason for not selling the chassis by itself is DOT approval- which I am sure has a lot of truth to it, but I imagine that the tools and methods needed to mount an older skin on top of the new chassis are specialized and unfamiliar to the vast majority of do-it-yourselfers. So I don't think your statement that they don't sell it at all is accurate.

Not to mention the profit motive. The hours billed for the install would be quite substantial I would guess. I always account for the "money" factor when dealing with ANYBODY AND EVERYONE.

You said "but the costs will far exceed being even reasonably acceptable".

What is Vinstream charging for a typical aluminum chassis install if you can confidently make that statement?

And last but not least, my personal experiences with aluminum trailers-

I have an all aluminum 6X12 fuel/tool trailer I have used for the past 8 years. It was custom engineered and constructed very, very well. After 8 years of hard use in the great piney woods of the southeast it is still rolling right along with no issues.

Second example:

I have a mini pontoon boat (Pond King is the maker if any of the spectators want to take a look- they make a great little weather proof boat) that is constructed in an almost identical manner to the Vinstream, out of almost identical aluminum components (square aluminum frame with a deck of lightweight/interlocking aluminum strips- think tongue and groove), albeit they are of much smaller dimensions/weight than the Vinstream chassis.

I have beat the ever-loving crap out this frame and deck for the past 5 years down here on the back waters of the scenic Alabama river. Bouncing off/over submerged stumps, logs, and snags, running full speed up and down the river pounding over chop that rattles your teeth, with ZERO problems.

So you see, aluminum trailers can be designed and built to stand up to excessive vibration/abuse.

In summation, I want to voice my appreciation- you have talked me out of buying a new Airstream. I am going to buy a used one and have the Vinstream chassis installed. Thanks buddy!
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Old 09-11-2010, 05:24 PM   #8
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It sound cool if you can afford it. Not sure about not having DOT approval. Let us know how it works out and the cost differnce from new an this way you can have yours custom built! Very cool. Post pics when you decided to do it.
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Old 09-11-2010, 05:51 PM   #9
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"Custom built" is a BIG part of the reason for going with a used camper. I can install the exact floor plan I want, choose exactly the cabinets/countertops/appliances/lighting etc. that I want. AND I will have a one of a kind trailer. Pics will certainly be forthcoming.
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Old 09-11-2010, 05:56 PM   #10
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I'd do it if I had more $$. Timeless travel also in Denver does a great job and also uses new and old bodies When I'm old and retired I'm going to go the custom route. Of course it depends on how all the cheap stock I bought do. I can't wait to see what you end up with.
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Old 09-11-2010, 05:59 PM   #11
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Wow.....quite the diatribe from JDAVID; I wish him luck, but trust Andy.
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Old 09-11-2010, 06:05 PM   #12
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Andys a very good guy and I'd trust him. That's why id check out
Timeless Travel Trailers I don't know Vinstream but I do like the floor idea.
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Old 09-11-2010, 06:27 PM   #13
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I think there is a little difference between a 6 x 12 trailer, and a 8 1/2 x 34 foot trailer. The overhang alone is bigger than a 6 x 12.

I believe I stated that Vintage said that they would not sell the chassis by itself, meaning that they would only sell it as part of a project that "they" under took.

Since they designed the chassis, I think they and they alone should install the shell and the components, so that they control the entire project, as it should be, and therefore limit their liability.

For that, I admire and appreciate their judgement, and am 110 percent supportive.

That, is a good and proper way to run a business, at least in my personal opinion.

Andy
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Old 09-11-2010, 06:38 PM   #14
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The other side of it is that with that length of overhang behind the rearmost axle, they cannot tow or deliver this length of trailer without the strength and rigidity of a shell attached. They would need to make some fancy rigging to stop flexing getting out of hand and damaging the frame, or change the height of the members to increase the rigidity so either there's less ground clearance, or a much higher step up into your AS with raised center of gravity and all the risks that entails.

Also, how do you calculate the correct anti-sway and weight distribution for a frame that behaves like no other, on a trailer that has an unusually high CoG?
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Old 09-11-2010, 07:35 PM   #15
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I agree Andy when you said "and therefore limit their liability". In our sue happy society you have to be very careful- I won't get onto politics (If that is even allowed in these forums) but we need to change that if possible. Besides our over-litigation problem, we, as a society, have gotten away from our "pride in doing the best job possible" and the very sound business philosophy of "the customer comes first, make and KEEP them happy". We desperately need to get back to those two business principles.

On to the meat- I never meant to compare my aluminum trailer to the Vinstream chassis apples to apples, two totally different animals (size being only the most apparent). What I was making a comparison of was construction material and techniques using aluminum, and that in my own personal experience it has performed very well indeed, with the added benefit of no frame rust/wood sub-floor rot that would be a highly probable issue at some point in the trailers life.

You implied in your first post that aluminum did not and could not work, I have to respectfully disagree. I think it is very possible that with the right design and materials that an aluminum frame/sub floor could out perform the traditional steel/wood setup in multiple catagories.

Some confusion here, you said "Vintage" in your reply- I have been talking about "Vinstream" the whole time. I know nothing about Vintage or their methods. Did I miss something?
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Old 09-11-2010, 07:41 PM   #16
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2 the op...

why not call the vendor

and ask for contact info for a few customers that HAVE this frame?

or just hope the 5 people on this planet who have one will C this thread...



fer every1 else...

the fact that someone associated with a/s TRIED aluminum,

and reportedly failed 3-5 decades ago...

is irrelevant to CURRENT or FUTURE attempts and alternate frame materials.

history suggests ALL of the early attempt at automobiles n aeroplanes and rocket ships failed.
_________

there have been regular threads about this notion here for years...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...ase-26036.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f46/...ial-26534.html

there are also threads on stainless steel frames and other materials beyond the soft steel currently in use.
__________

the op might wanna share WHAT is hoped to be gained with aluminum alloy.

for example, less rust or less weight or MORE stiffness or something else?

the rust issue CAN be significantly altered with galvanized bits or por15 or other coatings...

it's unlikely aluminum would be LIGHTER,

or put another way how much lighter could STEEL framing be with better design?

stiffness could also be improved on steel framing, what matters more is capacity of the frame.

the point being select the material based on projected VALUE from the alt materials.

and NEW framing needs to mesh with whatever SHELL is 2 be attached 2 it.
_________

yes there were/are aluminum floored argosy streams and insulation is a NON issue.

stability during transport is also a NON issue...

frames are flatbed'd to the factory, not towed.

this chatter about an 'aluminium frame' is circularly vague...

which alloy, forged, extruded, welded, riveted, bolted and so on are essential elements...

that would suggest there isn't ONE example of an aluminum frame about which to op'ed...

clearly others DO (and historically have) use aluminum alloys and so could a/s...

with the one sure result being higher production costs and higher pricing 2 the customer...

again why not just contact the vendor for details and sources of owners...

or share what you HOPE to gain with this specific frame/material.

cheers
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Old 09-11-2010, 07:48 PM   #17
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Correction, please

I meant Vinstream, not vintage.

Costs and more costs, and lack of in field testing by ordinary people, at least in my personal opinion, would be the downfall of an aluminum chassis, at least for the near future of perhaps 10 to 20 years. I don't believe that an aluminum chassis would ever be as cheap to build as a steel chassis.

Also I think, in field repair of an aluminum chassis would be much more difficult than repairing a steel chassis.

Steel is much easier to weld, by far, than aluminum, generally speaking.

There are far more qualified steel welders than aluminum welders, at least to my knowledge.

Andy
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:30 PM   #18
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Knowledge

Many, many things we learned in the past are still used or improved upon.

To imply that things done decades ago, should be thrown away or discarded, I think, defeats the purpose of learning.

I firmly believe, this applies to many things in our daily lives, be it science, medicine, structures, health, economics and so on.

We all learn from our past exposures and experiences, and then forge on to the futures of our lives, and hopefully with enough of history stored in our brains, that we don't make the same errors.

That certainly applies to Airstreams and Airstreaming, the past, the present and the future.

Good luck to all of us.

Andy
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Old 09-12-2010, 07:41 AM   #19
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I own an aluminum-floor Argosy Minuet. The floor is a sandwich of aluminum sheet with a styrofoam board inbetween. The floor gets cold, especially now that it's covered with Marmoleum Click instead of ratty indoor-outdoor carpet, but it doesn't seem to be better or worse than the plywood-floored SOB I owned. My understanding is that the composite wood-free floors used in some modern SOBs are an entirely different material.

Seems to me that a shell-off restoration that involved coating the frame with POR15 and replacing the floor with marine plywood would likely, with normal shell leak-patrol maintenance, give you another happy 40 years.

Tom
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Old 09-24-2010, 12:40 AM   #20
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BLMitch, Thanks for the shout out.

We build new steel chassis for vintage Airstream and other brands of aluminum trailers. We design and engineer each chassis to the specific use and GVWR the trailer will require upon completion. We install the vintage body on the chassis to make certain the work is done to our standards and limit liability. On our Web site you will see a 5th wheel chassis we built for the conversion of a Spartan pull-behind. We have also built several high capacity chassis for relatively small Airstream trailers which have been converted to foodservice trailers. The standard factory chassis does not have the capacity for this kind of heavy duty service.

We are in the design stages of our own lightweight chassis. One of our concerns is the durability of the aluminum and the joining systems. As an engineering professor once told me, "With aluminum it is not a matter of IF it will fail but WHEN it will fail." This is one reason why pressurized aircraft have a specific number of flight cycles between inspections and rebuilds. There are many all-aluminum chassis trailers on the road from snowmobile trailers up to and including most semi trailers. The key element in these vehicles is that flexing of the chassis does not matter a great deal. In a travel trailer flexing of the chassis can cause significant damage to the interior finish and potentially the body. Torsion axles can add to this flexing as they depend on the rigidity of the frame to work against to absorb shocks from the road.
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