Aluminium Camper trailers..

Submitted: Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 17:01
ThreadID: 80599 Views:6709 Replies:7 FollowUps:11
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Hi all!
I am looking at buying a custom camper trailer. A local manufacturer makes these with 6mm structural grade aluminium and he assures me that he uses the same to make boat trailers for boats up to 3 tonnes. The aluminium trailer is supposed to weigh in 200 odd kilos lighter.
What I would like to know from you good people is does anyone have any experience with aluminium trailers and if so what are the drawbacks?
Every manufacturer I see makes them from steel and apart from the price it makes me wonder why you dont see them for sale new.
I appreciate any feedback :-)
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Reply By: Alloy c/t - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 17:24

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 17:24
The one and only major drawback is that the manufacturer is telling porkies , Every trailer maker raves on about the strength and weight of their product ,
200kg lighter than the equivalent steel ? put both on a weighbridge and you will be supprised , ours was supposed to only weigh 400kg empty , LOL , was 610kg before water/batts /gas bottles and camp gear ,,, when they say empty they realy mean TOTALLY BARE ,IE. no canvas / spare tire etc.
AnswerID: 426631

Follow Up By: Whittsatwoopi (NSW) - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 17:27

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 17:27
Thanks very much for that, I really appreciate it!
I am really unsure whether to go gal or aluminium, friends have questioned its strength and off road capabilities. Have you taken yours for some serious off-road/corrugated road work?
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Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 18:14

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 18:14
Whittsatwoopi , had ours custom built by Pacific trailers , was designed for our sojourns to Moreton island and trips out west [ Birdsville]. Maters not steel or ally , susspension setup for the ALL UP weight is the main criteria.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 17:33

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 17:33
An aluminium structure should be about 30% lighter than a steel one of the same strength. Aluminium is 1/3rd the weight of steel, but you need it twice as thick.
If strength can also be reduced, then it will be lighter again.
Wheels, for example.
Have not seen aluminium axles yet, or aluminium springs (carbon ones exist though).
The downside of aluminium is that if the design is poor, it will fatigue crack at high stress points. If it cracks, there are relatively fewer people in the bush who can weld it up for you.
When I tow an aluminium tinny to the Kimberley, I also take a DC Mig welder that can weld aluminium, but most people won't have one of them.

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 Motorhome.
AnswerID: 426632

Follow Up By: Member - bungarra (WA) - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 19:55

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 19:55
Interested in your comment re DC MIG welder for Aluminium.

I also carry one of those but I was under the impression you needed gas for alminium. I was not aware of a shield core wire....is there?

Thanks
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Follow Up By: Whittsatwoopi (NSW) - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 20:21

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 20:21
Thanks for that guys - it is beyond my skills to repair which has been a concern for me.
Thanks for your time and advice :-)
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 21:42

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 21:42
Yes you need gas for aluminium, but can get it in tiny disposable hobby bottles.
Works very will with the Readywelder II.
All fits into the original case.

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 Motorhome
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 17:39

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 17:39
You want strong AND light?
Check this out.
Fibreglass sandwich panel camper trailer.

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 Motorhome
AnswerID: 426634

Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 23:28

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 23:28
I am not a fan of sandwich panel.

Yes it is strong and light but have you seen this stuff burn? It scares the socks off me and I would never sleep in anything made of this product.

Just a personal thing

Duncs
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Follow Up By: Camoco - Monday, Aug 09, 2010 at 19:20

Monday, Aug 09, 2010 at 19:20
It probably depends on the type of sandwich panel.
The one we are using does not support combustion and readily takes heat as part of the forming process (ie: forming by us to bend it and reweld it).

I would prefer to have this protecting me from heat than just canvas.
I am sure there are plenty of different types and some that burn like stink but the type we are using is not one of them.

Cam
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Reply By: Camoco - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 18:15

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 18:15
We are currently making a tandem axle camper that has a steel chassis with aluminium framing and Monopan panels. The Monopan is a fibrecomposite panel 30mm thick that acts as insulation, strength and finish.

The parts that remain heavy, are the axles, chassis (although lighter due to low tare weight), outriggers, tent and fitted items like fridge etc.

Because we are using composite panels as bed base, hard floor and camper sides, we can reduce the framework significantly even though it is aluminium.

Without the added extras like fridge, water tanks etc we expect the running trailer to be around 750kg. Remember that is a tandem with a bed base of 2200x3000. It also has a fridge compartment, slide out stainless kitchen, roll out draws, drawbar toolbox, and a hard floor when folded out (or top when closed).

Whilst we will be light for a camper, but not by much, we are very light for a tandem, but this is not designed as a rough and tough off roader. It has plenty of clearance and is solid but not hard core.

Folded out the hard area is 6m x 2.4m with a soft floor annex of the same size and option for the same on the other side.

If ever we finish the prototype we may market these as there is nothing to match them currently that we have found. We know we have a reduced target market being a tandem, but that is our choice.

We have chosen the materials carefully to utilise their strengths. There is no reason not to have a steel chassis as any weight savings are offset by cost and size. The panels are expensive but strong and thermally efficient and already painted. The aluminium frame and internal sheets are great for weight saving and weather prooofing.

We have conducted much research into this and for us this is the best choice, but realise it may not be for all.

Once we finally get it ready,we'll let you all know how it goes and whether it was worth the effort.

Cheers Cam
AnswerID: 426638

Follow Up By: Keith Berg - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 20:14

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 20:14
Cam,
I am just starting a similar project, but with a single axle. Just starting on the suspension. I would love to see your project when you have some photos.
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Follow Up By: Whittsatwoopi (NSW) - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 20:22

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 20:22
Thanks very much, will have a look now!
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FollowupID: 697229

Follow Up By: Camoco - Monday, Aug 09, 2010 at 19:17

Monday, Aug 09, 2010 at 19:17
Hi Keith,
I should post some of the stage built photos.
I will do that when the canvas gets off the mule and onto the frame.

Cheers Cam.
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FollowupID: 697384

Reply By: carlsp - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 19:59

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 19:59
If you look long term I would be sticking with the "hot dip gal steel."

A number of reasons:

Every major high quality manufacturer uses it. Check Kimberley or Aussie offroad in campers or Bushtracker and Kedron in caravans

If you are on the beach, salty sand gets everywhere and almost impossible to totally remove. This willmake it corrode quicker.

Off road in the outback, stones will sand blast everything elso off the metal

Getting repairs done in the outback will be much harder and more expensive.
AnswerID: 426660

Follow Up By: Whittsatwoopi (NSW) - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 20:20

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 20:20
Thanks for that, that about sums up my thoughts against it. I have noticed that hot dipped gal is the common feature in the majority of off road so I think I am going to give the alum a miss. Thanks for your time and advice :-)
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FollowupID: 697226

Reply By: Member - Duncs - Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 23:31

Sunday, Aug 08, 2010 at 23:31
My Trak Shak is just 660kg empty. That is trailer and camper with wheels and tyres fitted and mattresses in place.

Duncs
AnswerID: 426703

Reply By: wafarmer - Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010 at 03:01

Tuesday, Aug 10, 2010 at 03:01
Nothing wrong with ally and as Alloy ct says if they are well designed and biult they will be light and strong and don't need galvanizing.

I also have a Pacific camper trailer (an offroad Vision) and although I had some issues with it none related to the integrity of the structure.

It is very light at 750kg for a hard top camper with 2x 120 amp AGM batts, 2 x 120 watt solar panels, 14 litre gas electric Truma hot water, inverter, 40 amp charger, large air compressor and tank for air operated rear door, air suspension, electric brakes, 2x 100litre water tanks empty, all canvas and frames for shower and dressing room and 3 x 3.5 metre kitchen dining room and rear door room all with zip in floors.

It has done some tough work with no problems although I must agree that it would be far harder to find someone to repair ally in some places I have done all my own mods and have mig and tig so am not concerned on that front.

It is a delight to tow and helps keep fuel consumption in check.

All those boat builders cant be wrong can they

cheers

wafarmer
AnswerID: 426808

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