Aluminum Frame - Anyone have one? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-28-2010, 08:58 PM   #15
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All of the Oliver Legacy Elites were manufactured with heavy duty aluminum frames. The Oliver Sport model, introduced just before production was suspended, was to be manufactured with a steel frame as a cost saving measure. I don't know if any of the Sport models were ever sold, but I don't think so.
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Old 11-28-2010, 08:59 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Dave Bese View Post
Having worked in aerospace 36 years, I saw a ton of welded aluminum structures. The key is the alloy...
...
6061 must be welded with TIG and if your welder is 'aero certified' will know this. BTW, many times I saw dollies carry parts with damaged wheels; stress that we will likely never exert.

The right material and quality welding is the key.
Wow, now that's useful info Dave.! I'd have to ask what rating/type alloy then! I'm quite sure they have very decent welding equipment. They make special trailers for antique cars and ship these around the continent, so they have a good name for themselves. However, I don't know if they use TIG or MIG - I can certainly ask!

I'm getting a good education here - Thanks!
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Old 11-28-2010, 09:56 PM   #17
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Sounds great to cut weigh; will be interesting to see results. Cupboard materials are a great way to put the trailer on a diet.
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Old 11-28-2010, 11:06 PM   #18
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Karl, I don't know if it was alloy or not. I can tell you my aircraft welder guy was not very impressed with the materials or construction. He did such a super job that other welders praised his work. Usually.. every welder I know slams everyone elses work.

The guy that bought it from me scrapped the whole frame and had a new steel one made. As far as I know, it still lives.
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Old 11-28-2010, 11:13 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Borden View Post
... Cupboard materials are a great way to put the trailer on a diet.
Yeah Borden - I'm changing all cabinetry, counters and tables. But it will be a challenge to get significantly lighter then thin re-enforced fiberglass. Course what you put in those cupboards can have profound effect on weight We aren't running any LP or LP appliances. We only camp in sites that have electricity (unless I don't want my wife to come ...nah ) - so electric fridge, microwave and small ceramic heater comes with us.

Anyway, I was hoping to gain a good loss (100-200 lbs at least) in frame weight, but not so sure now. Safety does come first in our household.
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Old 11-28-2010, 11:15 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Gina D. View Post
Karl, I don't know if it was alloy or not. I can tell you my aircraft welder guy was not very impressed with the materials or construction. He did such a super job that other welders praised his work. Usually.. every welder I know slams everyone elses work.

The guy that bought it from me scrapped the whole frame and had a new steel one made. As far as I know, it still lives.
OK, Thanks Gina! Ha ha, welders can be a 'critical' breed - in more ways then one, of course.
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Old 11-29-2010, 08:54 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by kgingeri View Post
Anyway, I was hoping to gain a good loss (100-200 lbs at least) in frame weight, but not so sure now.
I don't think you would experience that much of a loss in weight. You've got roughly 30' of metal for the main frame. Then there are the cross frames and sheet metal that forms the sides of the drop floor. All pretty tricky stuff for aluminium that will have to be heat treated following fabrication.

The axle is still steel and there would have to be some fairly well crafted brackets made to allow an insulated bolt on scenario.

Keep us posted on how it works out.
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Old 11-29-2010, 09:05 PM   #22
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Two things that will really cut the weight, never tow with water in any of the tanks and leave all the cast iron dutch oven stuff at home.
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:12 PM   #23
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Well I found out today that my friend uses 6063 alloy for all their trailers. It sounds like he thinks it is worth while AND he'll do it (with my help) for cost of materials!!!

Man, that's hard to pass up!


Maybe I'll have to be a guinea pig - and hopefully not be back here in a while to say "don't do it"! However, if it works out well, there'd be nothing stopping any body else here from getting him do another one

I'll certainly keep you all posted. If I go for it, (man I keep waffeling back and forth ) I'll ask him what it would cost someone else to have one made.

I'll post pictures of progress here as I go, and I'm thinking I will - at least right now
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:26 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Roy in TO View Post
I don't think you would experience that much of a loss in weight. You've got roughly 30' of metal for the main frame. Then there are the cross frames and sheet metal that forms the sides of the drop floor. All pretty tricky stuff for aluminium that will have to be heat treated following fabrication.

The axle is still steel and there would have to be some fairly well crafted brackets made to allow an insulated bolt on scenario.

Keep us posted on how it works out.
Good points too Roy. He does do this all the time. He uses Dexter axles all the time, so I won't be worried about mounting. I'd be taking the original frame up to him to copy, plus doing technical drawings ahead of time.

Steel and aluminum don't do well together, I know. I didn't ask him what he does in that regard, but for as many trailers as he's done and the reputation he has, I'm sure he's got it covered.

See my previous post about his offer to do it materials only - I thinking that is just to hard to pass up! I can't get a steel one done for that!!
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:43 AM   #25
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I doubt very much if anyone has ever made anything structural from pure aluminium - well at least for the last 50 years.

The fundamental problem with all (or is it just virtually all?) aluminium alloys is that they don't have a 'fatigue limit' like steel does. If you keep the stresses in a structure below the fatigue limit, you can load it as often as want and it won't start cracking. This is important if for example you want to drive over washboard roads. But you can only have X number of stresses above the fatigue limit before you start to get fatigue cracks and then eventualy failure.

This seems a particular problem for eggs like Gina's Burro since they have turned out to have a life expectancy of maybe ten times any other type of trailer. So the aluminium frames may have been a perfectly sound design for a stickie, just not for a long-lived egg.

I see similar discussion over on the teardrop forum about using aluminium frames for weight saving and I have a hard time being convinced it's worth it. If I was an aluminium frame builder with, by now, decades of experience of what worked and what didn't, it would be easy, but without that experience it's hard to make a reliable frame - unless you overbuild enough to cancel out any weight saving.

All aluminium frames will crack one day, it's just a question of how long it takes - but if the life expectancy is over 100 years, that doesn't matter. This is why you don't see any medium-old aircraft flying - they have reached to point where cracking has become a problem. And for DC3 and other old-old aircraft enthusiasts, you do see those flying because they were built before modern age-hardening alloys were invented and so they do have something like a 100 year life expectancy.
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:18 AM   #26
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A friend of mine who is an avid saltwater fisherman told me that some of the high-end boat trailers are made of aluminium. He said it was because of their resistance to corrosion, not for weight savings. (?)
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:24 AM   #27
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Many semi flatbed trailers have aluminum frames and floors for weight savings and a higher payload. I have many times put 50,000 +/- lbs on that trailer and never seen a crack so it must have something to do with the type of aluminum for which i am not familiar with.
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Old 11-30-2010, 11:23 AM   #28
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Thanks for your input Andrew.

Yeah I agree, NOTHING is forever. My understanding is that aluminum will respond to non breaking stress and go back to original shape better then steel - while steel will bend and stay mostly that way. Properties are definitely as you say. If your gonna do any off-road or rough trails (as Gina implied?) then aluminum is NOT a good choice. Agreed.

There are always rough spots in any trip, but care needs to be taken either way, and inspection done regularly.
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