Increasing the carrying capacity of a Trillium - Page 3 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-16-2011, 07:42 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by David Tilston View Post
I am a CAD geek, (6 years professional experience, 9 years ago). I will go home tonight and start a 3d AutoCAD drawing of the frame in its "as found" condition. Hopefully I will have it done tonight. The hitch and wheels may not be to scale, but close. I will post the results tomorrow.
Odds are that this will lead to an obsession to CAD the entire trailer to an unreasonable level of detail. Just who I am.
The Trillium 4500 original frame was barely sufficient to be on the safe side, mainly because the square tubing has very thin walls. Rust will make it thinner and likely fail wherever there is possible metal fatigue, weak solder or improper design or assembly. Known weak points are at the axle level and at the junction of the under frame curving up to the hitch level. It is made to be light but not overloaded.

Adding a load of 1000 lbs in your RV, would reduce the rear axle load by about 750-800 lbs. Is it enough ? If your axle is original, it is likely unable to meet the full load specs anymore, because rubber components have degraded over time. It is certainly possible to get a slightly stiffer axle and upgrade the overall frame capacity to cargo capacity of 1000 lbs instead of 500. Welding rusty metal leads to premature failure and more rust. Unless you only find superficial rust, start new. It is hard to tell how much remains inside a square tube.
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:46 PM   #30
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It seems there are regulations, no surprise there, covering modifying the carrying capacity of a vehicle:

Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations

Another factor is the strength of the frame, etc. These trailers are designed to be light and thereby are made of lightweight components. The trailer I had for my 1700# boat, which I figured weighed 300# in reality weighed 800#. Fiberglass trailers, especially the 13' ones, are designed to come in under 2000# so they can be towed by 2000# capacity vehicles, like mine. If you want to carry heavier weights, buy a cargo trailer that can handle the weight, and add the living accroutements.

As an aside, in my working days, I worked with a CAD program named CATIA. I probably wouldn't be able to use a current version of it after nearly 10 years.
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Old 11-17-2011, 02:27 AM   #31
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The Drawings

I have finnished the drawings.

I had to borrow calipers from my neighbor to measure the wall thickness. 1/8" as suspected.
I had the trailer up on the rear jacks that the PO installed and the tounge jack. I asked him to come over for a look. Since I was concerned. He is as close to a trailer expert as I have ever met. He crawled under and took a look. His words were "Its practically brand new, just surface rust and not much." And I was worried, what do I know.
As has been previously discussed the claimed weight on this generation of trailers seems to be a work of fiction, the work of marketing. If many of the trailers on the road are over loaded when empty, (air conditioning, batteries, inverters, propane,....), and real people still put in luggage, food,.... Then there must be lots of these trailers traveling over loaded.
Why are they not crashing?
Is it possible that it is safe to opperate these trailers a bit over loaded on smooth pavement? Oh, I realize the response from many will be a big negative. It is in this thread. Why would any Joe user think that he knows more then the engineers that designed it? Or is possible that the engineers were designing for a level of abuse that the average egg owner does not subject their unit to? Since I don't plan to bounce down a rough logging road, in the mud, maybe I can carry the food after all?
Just thinking out loud.
Attached Thumbnails
Trillium 4500 Frame - Top View.jpg   Trillium 4500 Frame - Side View.jpg  

Trillium 4500 Frame - Perspective 1.jpg   Trillium 4500 Frame - Perspective 2.jpg  

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Old 11-17-2011, 02:36 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Roger C H View Post
As an aside, in my working days, I worked with a CAD program named CATIA. I probably wouldn't be able to use a current version of it after nearly 10 years.
I wish! I had dreams of working with Solid Works, but alas AutoCAD is the industry standard around here.

Did you work for NASA?
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Old 11-17-2011, 05:42 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger C H View Post
It seems there are regulations, no surprise there, covering modifying the carrying capacity of a vehicle:

Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations

Another factor is the strength of the frame, etc. These trailers are designed to be light and thereby are made of lightweight components. The trailer I had for my 1700# boat, which I figured weighed 300# in reality weighed 800#. Fiberglass trailers, especially the 13' ones, are designed to come in under 2000# so they can be towed by 2000# capacity vehicles, like mine. If you want to carry heavier weights, buy a cargo trailer that can handle the weight, and add the living accroutements.

As an aside, in my working days, I worked with a CAD program named CATIA. I probably wouldn't be able to use a current version of it after nearly 10 years.
That means, there is a provision in the law to INCREASE the capacity of an RV, but an ADDITIONAL label must be placed next to the manufacturer's label:

(i) the words “THIS VEHICLE WAS ALTERED BY / CE VÉHICULE A ÉTÉ MODIFIÉ PAR” followed by the name of the company that altered the vehicle,


That means the company that performs the modification can be held accountable if an accident is caused by the modification. and that any insurance company or new owner will be notified.

Thanks for finding out this reference. This is what I suspected when we first talked about a new frame.

It would be interesting to see how expensive it will be to find a company that will accept to make such label.
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Old 11-17-2011, 10:00 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by DavidSo View Post
David,
Can you tell me what the tubing size is on the trailer now, including the wall thickness? I need accurate numbers. Also need the length of the frame (approximate), and the length from the hitch to the axle.

David
I posted the drawings, but I actually did not answer your question. The sides of the frame are 1/8" 2"x3" square tube. The tubing has reinforcment at the point where the tubes bend inward. I have not put it on the drawing yet, but there appears to be gussets on either side of the tubes where the tubes bend toward the middle of the trailer and end just as they bend up. They are 1/8" thick and 24" long in total along the center of the gusset and 16" along the top and bottom. All other dimensions you requested should be on the drawings.
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:19 PM   #35
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Proposed Mods to Frame

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidSo View Post
David,
Can you tell me what the tubing size is on the trailer now, including the wall thickness? I need accurate numbers. Also need the length of the frame (approximate), and the length from the hitch to the axle.

David
Since I can't PM a drawing. Please take a look David.
Attached Thumbnails
Trillium 4500 Frame - Perspective 3.jpg  
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Old 11-21-2011, 06:17 PM   #36
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Thought I would share an email Tom Young sent me the next day after I asked for a quote. I am a bit curious about him saying not to use a weight distribution hitch. Good price for a factory part:

Hi David:



The Trillium frames in production today are the same as in 'vintage' Trilliums.
You may consider replacing just the axle to 2500 lbs.
Things to inspect to evaluate the upgrade possibility:
Re-enforcement plates on the sides of the frame where it forms the upward bend at the front of the trailer body.
If you have the 1 7/8" coupler - that needs to be changed to 2"
Upgrade safety chains
Upgrade tires to 1360 lb. capacity
We are using Carlisle 'Sure Trail' ST 175/80 D 13
Check wheel capacity, but they should be OK
Have an experienced metal shop check for any problems, rust in the frame.


Complete frame, with 2500 lb. axle, brakes, 2" coupler, safety chains, propane tray, weld bracket for swing jack: $1750


Note: Be sure to keep a minimum of 10% load on the car. (Tongue weight)
Do not use a weight distributing hitch on new or old frames. - Sway control is OK.


Tom Young
Trillium RV
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Old 11-21-2011, 06:51 PM   #37
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This is great news. Unless there is too much rust on your frame, you should be OK.

I did a similar upgrade on my boat trailer. It was equipped with 2000 lbs capacity leaf springs, but sailboat equipment, gear and fuel load increased over time. The rusty 30 year old original leaf springs were weakened and no longer sufficient. I did replaced them with 2500 lbs capacity springs axle and new wheels, tires and hydraulic drum brakes and it now behaves like a new trailer. My square steel frame has no rust. In my case, the upgrade only required simple hand tools. In your case, you likely need to separate the fiberglass shell from the frame install the upgraded parts, and have a rust inhibitor treatment before you have it reinstalled.

Personnaly, I like to have a set of jacks installed at each corner of the trailer instead of using just the swing jack on the front, precisely because the flexible frame swings too much when it is only held by the swing jack. I welded upside down two automotive jacks I found at a scrap yard. I picked two that use the same hexagonal head (and the same manual crank) than the OEM jacks located under the rear bumper. It also makes leveling for the fridge much easier on uneven ground.

This is a bad idea if you want to keep minimal weight, but a good one if you like quick setup, convenience and comfort.
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Old 11-21-2011, 07:32 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Tilston View Post
Thought I would share an email Tom Young sent me the next day after I asked for a quote. I am a bit curious about him saying not to use a weight distribution hitch. Good price for a factory part:

Hi David:



The Trillium frames in production today are the same as in 'vintage' Trilliums.
You may consider replacing just the axle to 2500 lbs.
Things to inspect to evaluate the upgrade possibility:
Re-enforcement plates on the sides of the frame where it forms the upward bend at the front of the trailer body.
If you have the 1 7/8" coupler - that needs to be changed to 2"
Upgrade safety chains
Upgrade tires to 1360 lb. capacity
We are using Carlisle 'Sure Trail' ST 175/80 D 13
Check wheel capacity, but they should be OK
Have an experienced metal shop check for any problems, rust in the frame.


Complete frame, with 2500 lb. axle, brakes, 2" coupler, safety chains, propane tray, weld bracket for swing jack: $1750


Note: Be sure to keep a minimum of 10% load on the car. (Tongue weight)
Do not use a weight distributing hitch on new or old frames. - Sway control is OK.


Tom Young
Trillium RV
Weight distribution hitches put a lot of strain not only on the trailer, but the hitch,receiver as well as the tow vehicle. That is why you normally only see them on heavy trailers with bigger frames and bigger tow vehicles. Picture you taking a 15' long iron bar, placing it 4' under your tow vehicle, have 4 strong persons lift up on the bar to raise the rear of the tow vehicle and then follow along the road keeping the upward pressure on the vehicle. That is what the w/d is supposed to do.
Here, the bar is your trailer exerting that lift/strain on your vehicle. So you can see why it is not recommended for a small trailer. Your frame would crack.
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Old 11-21-2011, 07:39 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Tilston View Post
Thought I would share an email Tom Young sent me the next day after I asked for a quote. I am a bit curious about him saying not to use a weight distribution hitch. Good price for a factory part:

Hi David:



The Trillium frames in production today are the same as in 'vintage' Trilliums.
You may consider replacing just the axle to 2500 lbs.
Things to inspect to evaluate the upgrade possibility:
Re-enforcement plates on the sides of the frame where it forms the upward bend at the front of the trailer body.
If you have the 1 7/8" coupler - that needs to be changed to 2"
Upgrade safety chains
Upgrade tires to 1360 lb. capacity
We are using Carlisle 'Sure Trail' ST 175/80 D 13
Check wheel capacity, but they should be OK
Have an experienced metal shop check for any problems, rust in the frame.


Complete frame, with 2500 lb. axle, brakes, 2" coupler, safety chains, propane tray, weld bracket for swing jack: $1750


Note: Be sure to keep a minimum of 10% load on the car. (Tongue weight)
Do not use a weight distributing hitch on new or old frames. - Sway control is OK.


Tom Young
Trillium RV
Good news David! Are you going to keep your frame then or buy the complete rolling chassis? I agree that is a very reasonable price for a specific replacement frame.

The equalizing hitch puts more stress on both the trailer frame and the truck frame. On such a light trailer I would not use one. I doubt you could even find the correct spring bars for such a light application.

David
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Old 11-21-2011, 11:35 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidSo View Post
Good news David! Are you going to keep your frame then or buy the complete rolling chassis? I agree that is a very reasonable price for a specific replacement frame.

The equalizing hitch puts more stress on both the trailer frame and the truck frame. On such a light trailer I would not use one. I doubt you could even find the correct spring bars for such a light application.

David
Well... I hate to have put Tom Young to the effort and not come through with a PO. It bugs me when that happens to me. But... as stated in a previous post, my frame is in good shape. The thickness of the open end of the tubes near the axle are, other then a thin layer of surface rust, 0.125" thick. The person I had look at it couldn't figure out what I was worried about. I may worry a bit too much.
Toms suggestions for increasing the strength of the frame are interesting to me!
"
Re-enforcement plates on the sides of the frame where it forms the upward bend at the front of the trailer body."
My drawing before was a bit incomplete. The attached drawings show the plates that are welded to the frame, I assume this was stock.

I would really like to express my appreciation to Tom Young from Trillium RV for providing a quick and economical solution for a difficult problem that, it turns out,.... I don't have.

As far as I can tell, the frame has the suggested mods already. I will not go much over the 2000lb limit and I will drive modestly.

I do plan to change some things on the frame. I will replace the 1-7/8" coupler with a 2" coupler/chains, get 14" weight rated tires/rims, and then sand the rust off and Tremclad black. The whole trailer, other then the frame, is getting painted white with silver decals to match the tow vehicle.
The tow vehicle is a 1996 GMC Savana 1500 van with a 5.7L Vortec. Based on the receipts, it has seen a lot of suspension service in its 260 000km life. I plan to add air bags to the rear suspension. To support the overloading that a slightly over 2000lb trillium, and my family of seven will cause. I wish that they had used a 2500 van.

No weight distributing hitch.

Changing the axle may be necessary in time. I will perform some weight tests on the axle to judge its condition.

Has anyone here changed an axle on a Trillium 4500? How hard is it? Got any pictures?


Attached Thumbnails
Trillium 4500 Frame - Iso.jpg   Trillium 4500 gusset - detail.jpg  

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Old 11-24-2011, 12:06 PM   #41
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If your axle is 33 years old, it needs replaced. I switched to a Dexter 3500# axle with an additional 1.5" of lift, to fit the new 14" rims and tires. 14" wheels would not have fit otherwise.Click image for larger version

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If your axle is stock, then it's welded in place and needs to be cut off. This led me to having mine done professionally.
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Old 11-24-2011, 04:07 PM   #42
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What if I rebuild almost exactly the same frame, (the existing one is a bit rusty) except use slightly thicker square tubing, extra reinforcements around the bends under the front...etc.
Better still, as thicker tubing isn't very weight efficient, would be to make the same frame as now but with 25-50% deeper tubing. That would increase its carrying capacity substantially without a big weight increase.

Those building new frames often cannot resist making the A-frame longer to carry more stuff, but that makes the frame weaker, so try to resist that temptation.
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