Opinions Please. Galvanised Frame....why the run around

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 20:39
ThreadID: 101339 Views:4621 Replies:9 FollowUps:13
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This is going to sound strange but hell I don't know what goes on in some people's heads.
We are getting a new van. The agent thought it was worth considering ordering a galvanised chassis, due to the fact we like to go off the beaten track. On their advice , we enquired about getting a galvanised chassis when we caught up with the manufacturers at the caravan show last week.
When we asked about having a galvanising, the GM said that it wasn't really worth doing and that it actually made the chassis weaker. I've checked with a mate in the steel and welding trade and he told me that if you can afford it, then it's definately worth getting done. He also said it doesn't make it weaker.
I have looked at some of the market leaders in off-road vans and they have galvanised chassis.
So I am just seeking your opinions on the galvanised chassis, and any ideas as to why the GM is trying to sway us from having one. It can't be a monitory motive as we are prepared to pay for it as an extra. To say I've been left perplexed would be putting it mildly.
Over to you..............
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Reply By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 20:50

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 20:50
If you don't get galvanising, be prepared to treat and paint all metal underpinnings for the rest of the time you own the van.

Ant camps near salt air, will accelerate the time gaps between painting.

You can keep ahead of any corrosion but it is a constant activity for you.

You can also have a go at the manufacturer if the gal coating wasn't done thick enough. As it is third party work and delivered to the van manufacturer, they have to handle any warranty problems.

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Reply By: Member Bushy 04(VIC) - Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 21:31

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 21:31
40 years in the metal trade as a fitter welder makes me wonder were some of these people get their info,
1. Galvanising does not make the frame weaker.
2. To galvanise a van chassis is a very good idea as it will save it from rusting easily, if done properly.
I would not bye a van from that sales rep.
Hope this helps,
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Follow Up By: Racey - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 08:53

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 08:53
Hi Bushy, Hot dip galvanising does weaken the structure. Do some research on Zinc embrittlement. One van manufacturer told me it weakens by about 10%. I still had mine galvanised for all the reasons mentioned.

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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 09:34

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 09:34
If Racey is correct then the GM's worry about the chassis being weakened is not a puzzle, but a worry in itself. It means the design margins are pretty small. I'd be worried about that, particularly if any dirt road work was planned. Maybe find a different brand to buy?


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Follow Up By: Racey - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 11:31

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 11:31
I believe all the chassis manufacturers are well aware of the issues and design accordingly. I had mine galvanised and don't consider it a major issue.

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Follow Up By: Member - Arsenal Phill - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 18:26

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 18:26
Invaluable thanks chaps. So there is some truth in what GM says. However I'd have to add, if it was a genuine concern about the strength, then they shouldn't be providing it as a service.
Hmmmmm............the waters are getting murkier!!!
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 18:51

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 18:51
You need to weigh up your odds......some gal jobys MAY weaken your chassis by 10% true, but what % does 5 years of rust in salty conditions do?
And yes....if 10% reduction in strength is a major concern......so is the design!

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Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 21:37

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 21:37
Listen to you mate......if you can afford the extra cost, go for it.

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Reply By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 22:09

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 22:09
Agree with all the above - get it galvanised if you can.

Perhaps the agent is confused by what he may have heard about restrictions on galvanising some critical components that flex, like springs. Galvanising and other plating those components CAN (but not necessarily do) introduce microscopic cracks in the plating which CAN migrate into the base material when the item is flexed and cause failure.

Not relevant to a van or trailer chassis, though.


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Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 22:27

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 22:27
Phill, if I read your post correctly, you spoke to the General Manager of the company that actually manufactures the van.

If that is correct, I think you should draw a big line through that manufacturer and look elsewhere.

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Follow Up By: Member - Arsenal Phill - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 18:34

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 18:34
Thanks GB.
Unfortunately we are tied in now. I have to say it sounds like good advice. A series of issues has left me with a strong sense of `distrust', with the gentleman I am dealing with. Its a regretable position to be in and no way to conduct business, however once the wheels are turning, there's no way to apply the brake.
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Reply By: graham B9 - Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 22:41

Wednesday, Mar 27, 2013 at 22:41
Hi Phil,

I assume you mean "Hot dip galvanising". I used to work for a caravan manufacturer and getting this type of galvanising done can be a real drama for them if they are not geared up for it.

Guarantee that this is the reason for the GM's BS. Get a hot dipped chassis and tell the GM and the caravan company to PO.
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Follow Up By: gbc - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 06:50

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 06:50
I also wouldn't be surprised if a couple of the conversations mentioned might have made different assumptions about whether ther OP was asking about Hot dipping or duragal chassis and hence the confusion?
A proper HDG chassis is unbeatable.
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Reply By: Member - Arsenal Phill - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 07:40

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 07:40
Thanks everyone. Sorry if my original post lacked information and detail. Thats why I love this site and you guys. I didn't know some of the finer details. LOL
Just to make my question clearer, yes, they hot dip and it is done by third party. The actual agent recommended the galvanising, it was the General Manager at the factory that is trying to discourage us from having it done.
From the posts and my mates advice, I really don't understand the GM's position. It sounds almost as if he wants us to have problems down the track. He knows that currently we fully intend to hang on to this van `long-term' so its not just one step on our way to an upgrade.

Thanks again all. As always appreciate the input.
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Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 15:13

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 15:13
hi Phill,

Don't know much about the technicalities of galvanizing but as far as I'm aware, most of the hardcore offroad vans have it and I have just picked up my first van (well, 5 weeks ago) with galvanized frame/chassis and there's no rust anywhere nearly 4 years old and all my previous vans would start rusting from new, very quickly.

I wonder if it's more about convenience and production flow? ......they might have some frames ready to go at the factory and galvanizing/waiting might be an inconvenience for them? They probably don't get a great deal of benefit from the treatment other than a bit of a mark-up for their trouble.

ohhhhhhh Robin Van Persie......
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Follow Up By: Member - Arsenal Phill - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 18:20

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 18:20
Hey Steve. How's it going mate? Glad to hear you've got yourself a van. You still doing your trip later this year?
I wonder if you have something with regard to inconvenience. It can be the only reason I can think of. Not much of a service if that is the reason. Maybe they are hoping that the van will fall to pieces in a few years if it's not galvanised, and we'd go back and get another??? LOL
Hopefully they will answer my direct email soon and give me an explaination.
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Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 18:40

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 18:40
yeah, good mate - got a mid-sized single axle van with control rider suspension so it should get us through most of the scary stuff ;)) - we'll be doing a trip but depends on business how much time we have, and will decide where, according to that.

Didn't see Bantam's post when I last posted but reckon he's nailed it. They'll often say what's convenient for themselves but you can't say they're entirely wrong. I reckon the galv is good but as Bantam said in his last sentence, you don't worry about it with your car where it's out of sight - although those rusty bits on the a-frame look a bit unsightly and it's an ongoing thing to keep it at bay.

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Reply By: The Bantam - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 09:55

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 09:55
The main reason you are being discouraged from having the chasis galvanised is because of the PITA it presents to the manufacturer.

they have to make the chaisis in a way that permits galvanising.....for example holes have to be drilled all over the place and or ends of sections have to be left open to allow the gal to get into the hollow sections.......this may account for some weakening.

Then instead of simply rolling the chasis to the next section in the factory, they have to take it out of the factory, put it on a truck over to the galvaniser....wait for the galvaniser to take their own sweet time to do the job, arrange another truck to bring it back...then that have to have it fitted back into the work flow.

When it gets back, even with the best galvanisers there will be lumps & bumps and shap dags all over the place, all the size critical holes that where drilled will have to be redrilled or filed out.

Then because hot dip gal is done ...um well HOT....if the chasis has not be designed well there is a real chance of distortion, particularly if there are any large flat plates involved.

OH yes I can certainly understand why manufacturers who do not galvanise all their chasis or at least do a lot of it would discourage the practice.

As for the need for it...well that is another story all together......there are plenty of non galvanised caravan chasis out there, many decades old and with decades left in them.....and unless you are driving one or two particular vehicles.....the tow vehicle chasis is not galvanised.

AnswerID: 507720

Follow Up By: Member - batsy - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 14:38

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 14:38
Another major reason the manufacturer may discourage customers from having the chassis hot dipped galvanised may be that ,if the chassis is already manufactured from DuraGal RHS ,the galvaniser will be hard to get along with as the galvanising process will entail removal of the DuraGal substrate prior to galvanising.A real & costly problem.
My suggestion would be if the chassis is already made from DuraGal RHS, ensure the weld/fabrication areas are "properly" repaired,the ends are adequately plugged,with removable plugs,and use it that way.Stone chips will take a very long time to destroy the DuraGal & it's external polymer coating.If the material is thick enough it will take decades to "rust' unless it is near the salt air for long periods.Removing the end plugs from time to time & flush out the chassis with a rust eater/inhibitor will see the chassis last a lifetime.
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Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 15:17

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013 at 15:17
yep, good point (last sentence) - out of sight, out of mind eh?
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Reply By: mike39 - Friday, Mar 29, 2013 at 08:52

Friday, Mar 29, 2013 at 08:52
Does it really matter?
After all the vehicle which tows the van won't have a HDGC, and it will be subject to the same environment as what you are trying to protect the vans chassis from.
Many van manufacturers don't fabricate their own chassis which to my thinking is the most important structural component of the van.
I would be checking the design integrity of the chassis, not worrying about unnecessary corrosion protection. A good hose down with fresh water (under the tow vehicle too) will take care of that.
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Follow Up By: Member - Arsenal Phill - Friday, Mar 29, 2013 at 18:30

Friday, Mar 29, 2013 at 18:30
Hi Mike. Thanks for the reply. I hear what you are saying.

In my case I do always give the under carriage of the cruiser a hose down when I've been in a muddy or salt water situation, as I'd expect to do with the van. I agree with what you are saying in principle, about the car isn't of same protection level as a galvanised chassis. I'd just add though, that I don't intend to keep the Cruiser for ten years plus, as we hope to do with the van. Plus the Cruiser already has a level of protection underneath that the van doesn't.

Not being full informed and knowledgeable about metal fatigue etc. I just want to cover all my bases. The way I look at it, it's just another kind of insurance. (that's if concensus of opinion considers it worth it). It must have a baring on the life and suitability of the van if all the top off-roaders have galvanised frames?

Anyway, I value your opinion and thank you for it. That is what is great about this forum. It always seems to have the ability to make us look at things from different angles, and therefore helps us make a more `informed' and possibly `better' decision.

Cheers Mate.
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