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Old 06-08-2021, 12:52 PM   #1
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2019 30' Classic
Belen , New Mexico
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 360
Rear Bike Carrier on Classic 30

Just finished up a vacation which tops off the last year with version 0.2 of the rear bike carrier. Unlike version 0.1 where I had to constantly tinker with it, this version has been solid all year long. Approximately 15,000 miles on it, some of it was freeway, some local highway and some of it was pretty rugged roads.

some of the roads were so bad we popped rivets inside and cabinets were opened/scattered. Through it all, the bike rack performed nicely. Very solid and much heavier duty than the fiamma bike rack. This one will hold two e-bikes, each one tipping the scales at a hair over 60 lbs.

Even with 120+ lbs on the rack, this thing has been rock solid.

I spoke with Vinnie about it when he did some repairs and ceramic coated the trailer and he thought it was a much better solution that the fiamma, which he considered too lightweight.

I'm about to incorporate some of the things I've learned while traveling with it. - such as the bottom brace needs to be moved up about 2" so you can slide the giant anaconda power cord under it while placing it into the rear compartment rather than wrestling it from the side. Also, version 0.1 used 1.25 x .125 aluminum tubing which was undersize for the Key fittings. Version 0.2 used Schedule 80 1" aluminum pipe which fit the fittings better but was overkill for the Frame. The final version will use Schedule 40 1" pipe, I'm also moving away from the custom frame mounts as they were too expensive to have manufactured if you can't do it yourself. I've found a bolt on replacement that we are going to try next.

If that works, the average person will be able to build this with easy and the only specialty tool needed is a pipe bender. (about $100 at Harbor Freight Tools, or free if you have friends with tools).

By the way, the yellow cable is a cable lock that connects to the Dewalt Mobilelock hidden in the Airstream. If someone cuts the cable or pops/removes the lock, it alarms with siren, txts, and phone calls to as many numbers as you want. You can have it monitored as well, though I don't know how that would work long term since this is a mobile vehicle.
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Old 06-08-2021, 12:59 PM   #2
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2019 30' Classic
Belen , New Mexico
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I should also note that the only time we struggled with it was when we camped at Bryce Canyon in Utah. The sites were really small and we had to back the 30' all the way back so that the wheels bumped up against the parking block to get it to fit (even with the TV unhitched). Couldn't use the rear stabilizers because the campsite dropped off rapidly behind the parking block. It put the bottom of the bike rack at just about head height and we had to pull the picnic table over and stand on it to get the bikes off.

The joys of a 30' in campsites designed for trailers half that size.

When we checked in the campsite host looked at the trailer, then back at me and said he could fit us in a different campground if we couldn't fit. But the wife is good. she did her research and it fit just fine.
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Old 06-08-2021, 05:03 PM   #3
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Wasilla , Alaska
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very interesting

It looks like you reused the stock Fiamma frame attachments, if not, how did you form the two pieces? I like the pivot fittings - where are those sourced? I recognize the rest from McMaster-Carr or an equivalent source. Thanks for the pics and progress story!
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Old 06-08-2021, 05:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjshier View Post
It looks like you reused the stock Fiamma frame attachments, if not, how did you form the two pieces? I like the pivot fittings - where are those sourced? I recognize the rest from McMaster-Carr or an equivalent source. Thanks for the pics and progress story!
I sourced the pipe from Online Metals. Not the best prices outright, but if you get on their mailing list, they regularly send out discounts as high as 30%.

The fittings are sourced from Simplified Building. Again, not the best price, but they ship quick and it's not too bad.

the tire clamps and bike frame clamps are just Thule spare parts ordered off of their support website. Some modifications required. That may be the most expensive single part too.

I hand made the frame fittings by tig welding a short piece of tubing to a flat 1/4 plate. That is what I'm going to change. This is the piece that takes the brunt of the force and I'm not convinced that the fiamma are near strong enough. They are adequate for lightweight bikes, but nothing like the weight of e-bikes. Not being sure, I overbuilt these. Somewhere in-between is the sweet spot, but sourcing small quantities is difficult to do, especially if you are scrap hunting. Instead, I'm going to try this Kee-Clamp fitting. I made my frame fittings out of aluminum and I won't do that again. When putting it together, the raw aluminum galls and you can't get it back apart which is the whole point of this type of fitting. You should be able to put it on and take it off without much hassle.

Word to the wise - Don't try to build this to save money. You won't. What you will have is a heavy duty bike rack that can carry two e-bikes without falling apart. You'll spend the same money and put a whole lot more labor into it. I may be jaded in that aspect because I've built two and am about to embark on a third, though I've re-used fittings between the versions. I also have a whole pile of fittings that I bought based on pencil design work that just didn't. What you see in those pictures is what I finally decided on. the next rev will have more changes too.

Once I'm satisfied with the final build, I'm going to put together some instructions and perhaps sell the bent sections of pipe so people can build their own.
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Old 06-08-2021, 08:25 PM   #5
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Thanks for the links

I've been on the fence between a Torqlift AS-specific receiver approach or simply beefing up the Fiamma as some others have done. We would be at about 30% over the design limit of the Fiamma with our two Townie Go bikes less batteries. The receiver has other benefits, but other risks as well.

I ordered parts to add support to the tire rack support assembly and it seems like it will do a more than adequate job of transferring some of the weight to the rear bumper. One thought I had was adding a second set of stand-offs to connect between the AS shell and the Fiamma vertical tubing as a belt-and-suspenders approach, in order to relieve some added stress on the existing standoffs from added weight.

If I were more skilled and had the tools, I confess I would explore the kind of added gross weight approach common in monocoque aluminum aircraft in which a specifically shaped small sheet of aluminum is added to the aluminum skin as a doubler, considering the expected route of added stresses transmitted through the existing aluminum skin and adjacent seams. Something like two triangles of aluminum attached along the C-channel at the bottom, along the vertical seams in the middle - replacing the existing rivets in the process - and new rivets along the edges of the triangle leading from the base to the apex. Cessna float kits follow this principle and overcome terrific added weight and stress.
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Old 06-08-2021, 09:43 PM   #6
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I've paid particular attention to the horizontal braces next to the lights. There is substantial strength right there (which is why the Fiamma ties into it at that point), but the strength is on a very narrow portion. I haven't seen the actual brace, but I can't imagine it's more than 1.5 inches wide. I used #12 sheet metal screws with predrilled holes and it was very tough to cut the thread as I drove them in. The third screw just drives into the sheet metal and there is next to no strength there. That screw would easily rip out if the other two weren't in place.

I'm not concerned about that attachment area any longer. It has proven that it is tough enough to handle the load placed on it. I did make sure that both sides of that brace could pivot though so that you can position it correctly when you install it.

All in all, the attachment points to the trailer are fine for the amount of weight I'm carrying. I wouldn't want to put much more weight hanging out that far behind the trailer anyways. the rack probably weighs around 15 lbs total. With the bikes, that brings the total weight to somewhere south of 150lbs. I weigh 250 and the rack easily holds my weight (though you won't catch me tooling down the road hanging on to the rack )

My fears caused be to overbuild it which is why the next version will be made from Sched 40 rather than Schedule 80 pipe. The thing truly is rock solid.

If you look closely at the pictures, you'll see that even though Building Systems promised that their set screw would hold the weight under dynamic load, I didn't trust it and drove in self tapping screws on the opposite side of the set screw to lock it in place. I've been somewhat paranoid of trusting the set screws. the only ones that I found loose are ones that I don't have a clear memory of torquing so I may have not actually done that at the install. all of the set screws that I know I torqued properly have stayed that way.

On this rev, I was concerned about the horizontal platform pivot. there is a piece of tubing that connects the upper pivot to the 45 degree connector where the connection is totally under tension. If this connection fails, you drag the bikes because they would be hanging from the bike frame locks. It turns out that the set screws bite into the aluminum tubing sufficiently and there have been no issues.
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Old 06-09-2021, 10:06 AM   #7
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Looking at your photo, I'd be concerned about your turn/brake signal visibility.
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Old 06-09-2021, 10:34 AM   #8
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Virginia Beach , Virginia
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I had the same question as Overlander. Your brake lights are completely obscured by the bikes and you can't see your license plate. Are you considering adding lights to the rack?
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Old 06-09-2021, 11:04 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by JTChapmon View Post
I had the same question as Overlander. Your brake lights are completely obscured by the bikes and you can't see your license plate. Are you considering adding lights to the rack?
Yes. I had it on v0.1 but never got around to putting it on v0.2. You can't see the license plate at all, though you can see the lights when they turn on. However, that's the next problem I have to solve. The shelf folds up when no bikes are on it, so if I mount the lights/plate on the shelf, I'm going to have to figure out how to pivot them so you can see them whether they are up or down.

I've also considered just moving the lights/plate to the bumper as well.

Currently, I don't put a cover on the bikes when traveling because then everything would be completely obscured, but that does mean I have to constantly clean the bikes. I really need to cover them.

I had my wife follow me with the bikes mounted and she could always see the bumper (from her SUV - I don't know how that would affect truckers). That may be what I do next. I suspect that I will put a second set of lights on the bumper permanently and then have a plate carrier where I can move the plate to the bumper when necessary. We don't always travel with the bikes.

I was concerned several times on this last trip because I had cops behind me several times on the road. They always seemed to have more important things to do than write me up as they could have.
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Old 06-09-2021, 12:19 PM   #10
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Looks very nice. Job well done. I put mine on my bed cover but if I wanted one in the back, that is the one I would want for sure.
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Old 06-09-2021, 12:51 PM   #11
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i have the FIAMMA AS rack.

YES, i did beef up the parts by inserting -1 size pipes into the weak pipew.
got a SS bracket for the AS rear wall mount
added support on the bumper to minimize movement

so far no issues with 75 of term s10 ebikes
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Old 06-09-2021, 08:10 PM   #12
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Sykesville , Maryland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Overlander_7 View Post
Looking at your photo, I'd be concerned about your turn/brake signal visibility.
I would be more concerned about 120lbs on the back end of a 30’ trailer. I like the front hitch on my tow vehicle. If my bikes get smashed it’s my fault.
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Old 06-21-2021, 08:55 PM   #13
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Supports added to Fiamma

I decided to take a swing at beefing-up the Fiamma for the ebikes. Based on some approaches here, I decided to add two supports from the rear bumper to the bottom main rail of the Fiamma. In the process, I learned that the bottom tube is doubled with a sleeve inside.

The parts are from McMaster Carr, including the threaded rod mount clamping hangers and the unthreaded spacers for angles. I had rubber grommets and washers already. The fastening hardware was all local. Had to split a couple of grommets to obtain the desired thickness.

The trick is tightening the clamp first, then the two nuts that secure the rod to the bumper such that you are not either pulling the bottom tube closer or pushing it away from the rear of the coach. Measure lots. There is still some movement at the top of the tube frame as there was before the operation.
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