Aluminum Frame - Anyone have one? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-28-2010, 01:10 AM   #1
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Aluminum Frame - Anyone have one?

Hi All,

I am fairly new around here, as you can tell by the number of posts - and I have a question...

I can get an aluminum (alloy) frame built for my newly aquired 76 Boler, and just wondered if anyone has any experience with one. I have a friend in the trailer business and he knows his stuff - it will not be a home built frame. He builds for hauling cars and all kinds of stuff and I'll get a quote as soon as I get my egg off the frame, but in the mean time, just thought I'd ask.

Please, I am not so much interested in opinions (they vary greatly) but rather experience.

Here is a good read on comparisons. It is about hourse trailers but I think it can be applied in general. Not sure I can post links here, but it should follow this paragraph...

Steel Trailers Vs Aluminum Trailers - Which is Better?

Karl :v)
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Old 11-28-2010, 06:25 AM   #2
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This sounds like a thread for Gina D. Her first Burro had an aluminum frame. If I remember right, there were some issues with it, including some repair problems.

Ohhhh Gina!
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Old 11-28-2010, 01:32 PM   #3
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Don't do it. I had a 1980 Burro with an aluminum frame. They only made them that way for about 6 months. Heres why..

They are not real durable! Mine was cracked at the "A" where tongue meets main frame. Had it repaired, sistered in.. it broke again right before the first repair. Had it majorly beefed up by an aircraft certified welder.. did a great job and I had no issues with it, but I babied it. No offroading!

The guy that bought it from me was told about the framework, but he offroaded it anyway.. BOTH sides broke.

It is not worth the weight savings.

Get a steel one. My 17 footer had a box steel frame and I beat it to snot.. never had any issues.
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Old 11-28-2010, 02:36 PM   #4
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In general alum would have to be bigger tubed and walled if round pipe to do the same job and hover under the weight of steel...same goes for angle and square actually.
done properly I dont see a real issue with it other than you hafta either know how to or have someone who can....weld alum.
Look at the tube sizes on an alum bike and you'll get the idea.....Bruce
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Old 11-28-2010, 05:04 PM   #5
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Thanks All.

Gina, you know if it was pure aluminum or alloy? Alloy, which is what my friend uses is supposedly stronger than pure aluminum. We certainly won't be off-roading with it - well, at least not if I can help it!

I have a smaller tow vehicle, so I'm trying to cut every pound I can, but don't want to be foolish about it either. My existing frame may not be too bad - not sure tho.

Karl
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Old 11-28-2010, 05:42 PM   #6
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Didn't Oliver trailers come with an aluminum frame standard? They seemed to be aiming for a higher end product but I never heard of any problems with them.
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Old 11-28-2010, 07:17 PM   #7
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Didn't Oliver trailers come with an aluminum frame standard? They seemed to be aiming for a higher end product but I never heard of any problems with them.
I doubt that enough Olivers were produced to get a good statistical sampling. And they are pretty recent and haven't had much time to age. But you're right, I don't think we've heard of any problems with them.

Aside from any weight issues, I find the idea of aluminum frames appealing. Steel rusts out eventually so it seems like a well engineered aluminum frame (made to be of equal strength to its steel counterpart) should long outlast a steel one. I would think that a longer lasting frame would be a fitting companion to our durable FG bodies.
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Old 11-28-2010, 07:24 PM   #8
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Yeah Mike, with a weight reduction (tho likely minor) to boot.

I haven't got to getting enough info for an actual quote, so it would have to be cost effective somehow - and that might be hard to judge. Brian_bp, from the Bolerama forum, made several good points; that weight reduction is bound to be minor, and that the step-down door area (it cuts through the one main frame member on a Boler) may be condusive to a weakness using aluminum.

12bluelady, from the same forum, claims that Oliver quit making trailers with aluminum frames due to similar weight and weakness issues. Their last specs suggest they did start using steel. Not sure why - may have also been cost? The user didn't specify any source for that info.

Lotsa good info flowing here - Thanks all!
Karl
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Old 11-28-2010, 07:50 PM   #9
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Hi, Karl - I moved this to Problem Solving, where some of the more technical minded members hang out. Perhaps you will get more input here.
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Old 11-28-2010, 07:52 PM   #10
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Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mary F View Post
Hi, Karl - I moved this to Problem Solving, where some of the more technical minded members hang out. Perhaps you will get more input here.
Thanks Mary - I wasn't real sure if that was the right place for it in the beginning.
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Old 11-28-2010, 08:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by kgingeri View Post
12bluelady, from the same forum, claims that Oliver quit making trailers with aluminum frames due to similar weight and weakness issues. Their last specs suggest they did start using steel. Not sure why - may have also been cost? The user didn't specify any source for that info.

Lotsa good info flowing here - Thanks all!
Karl
I think all the Oliver (Legacy or Elite?) were made with aluminum frames, but before they closed production down, they were thinking about making a cheaper trailer, which would have had a steel frame... the Oliver Sport(?).

My question has to do with mixing dissimilar metals. Would there be a problem using steel bolts when bolting the steel axle to the aluminum frame? I don't think you can weld a steel axle to an aluminum frame....

Polish up the parts you can see... and it would shine like a brand new dime!
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Old 11-28-2010, 08:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
My question has to do with mixing dissimilar metals. Would there be a problem using steel bolts when bolting the steel axle to the aluminum frame? I don't think you can weld a steel axle to an aluminum frame....
I remember Navy Ships that had Steel Hulls and Aluminum Superstructures had rubber gaskets where the two were riveted together. I also remember that in many places the Aluminum had several patches welded in along this join there the first 6" to 1' failed. This might be a problem for those who tow in winter over salted roads... or who camp on the beach...
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Old 11-28-2010, 08:47 PM   #13
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Yes indeed - nare the twain shall meet

It is a problem. I would use an insulater (heavy rubber or plastic) on the axle bracket and likely expensive stainless steel bolts
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Old 11-28-2010, 08:52 PM   #14
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Having worked in aerospace 36 years, I saw a ton of welded aluminum structures. The key is the alloy. Only 6061-t6 is allowed by FAA and all welds have to be tested at 150% load. That specific alloy has to be special order. Most commonly available when one goes to a metal supplier is 2024-T351 which you can weld but is likely to crack under load.

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.
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