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Old 07-10-2019, 03:47 PM   #1
Rivet Master
Hermes's Avatar
2016 28' International
Trois-Rivieres , Quebec
Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 709
Floored and framed

Airstreams are built to last, well that is what is generally understood, but there are quite a few threads discussing how their frames/chassis rot with time. So I decided to have mine professionally rustproofed, as we have been doing for decades with all our vehicles in this part of the continent.

I was under my trailer, preparing it to be pressure sprayed with the oil/resin formula which penetrates all the nooks and crannies (such as between the belly pan aluminum sheeting and the steel frame, a source of corrosion) and then thickens to a tacky molasses consistency for durability. I happened to glance sideways over to the trailer (an SOB) parked next to mine in the RV storage compound; the axel/suspension seemed familiar. Curious, I crawled under to take a look, and sure enough it was our familiar Dexter system, pretty neat. But then my jaw dropped, the whole undercarriage of the trailer was solid aluminum (see photos), including the sub floor structure. This was a 2013, 23’ Camplite trailer and there wasn’t a speck of rust or corrosion anywhere to be found (except on the steel Dexter axel and suspension parts). I took a look on their website to see how they were built:

Is this manufacturer “out airstreaming” Airstream? Imagine a trailer where you don’t need to worry about corrosion forever! Sure they don’t have the iconic Airstream design (Avion tried that a few decades ago), but if one is intending to pass on their prized possession to their kids, or ensuring that it maintains its value, or looking at acquiring a more vintage model without having to remove the shell and repair or replace the whole frame as many have and are doing, such built-in quality is certainly a selling point.

Does anyone know if Airstream ever considered going all-in with aluminum for a truly long-lasting high-end travel trailer?
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2016 International Signature CCD, RBQ, Dual A/C, 28'
2018 GMC Sierra SLE 2500HD, 4x4, Crew Cab, Duramax Diesel, Leer cap
Lift kit, 16" wheels, Michelin Agilis CC LT
DIY Solar: 500W Renogy panels, AM Solar hdw, Blue Sky MPPT controller, 470ah Rolls battery bank, 2000W Renogy inverter.
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Old 07-10-2019, 10:59 PM   #2
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1972 31' Sovereign
1975 31' Excella 500
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Benton , Arkansas
Join Date: Mar 2013
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My Airstream is pushing 50 years old, and there are a lot of Airstreams that are as old or older than mine still in use.

My bet is that few if any box trailers will make 50, aluminum frame or not.
The fact that I am opinionated does not presuppose that I am wrong......

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Old 07-11-2019, 08:51 PM   #3
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1969 18' Caravel
Greenville , whereEverIroam
Join Date: Dec 2017
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IIRC Airstream experimented with an all AL floor in the Argosy for a while, but it wasn't very well engineered.

While at an unrelated activity, I ran into and spoke last weekend at length with some folks who work on the floor at JC, and we discussed some of the long standing, on-going issues with the trailers that AS has never bothered to really address, including the suicide door and plywood subfloor. The folks on the floor did not seem to hold their "engineering" department in high regard. They seemed to suspect such a "radical" change would be beyond the scope of work (or capability) of the engineers they routinely interacted with. It seems they think 1) AS is pretty set in its ways, and 2) any real engineering talent works elsewhere in the area where they pay more, and 3) the AS culture is not a nimble one where suggestions, change or improvements are easy or encouraged.

Thats one snapshot from one group of three or four who work there, under the air-conditioned offices of their overseers. Does it accurately reflect reality? Overall, they were happy to work there, but didn't seem to think that much of management or engineering.
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