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Aluminum trailer - but too much flex

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  • #31
    Originally posted by ryanjones2150 View Post
    Holy smokes...there's some serious smart-guy stuff going on in here. It's fun to watch. I wonder how much you'd have to pay to have a set of drawings done up by some engineer types for this sort of thing?
    I'll tell you one thing. It's the last time I build a trailer out of aluminum, maybe a trailer period haha. Oh wait the old man wants a little trailer... I'll tell him to go buy it!

    Franz, I have a spool gun and actually a push pull coming in about a week. No 3/16 plate just a bit of 1/4" tread plate kicking around. Easy enough to pick some up though. There's 9 inches that overhangs the frame rails. I've been going around and welding angle clips to the cross members. I also turned one of the cross members into a truss and I was thinking that may help a lot if I did them all like that? Another thing I was thinking is I should just pick up some 2x3 tubing and put that onto the frame rails and weld it all down to the rails and to the cross members. Click image for larger version

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    • #32
      I have no earthly idea what you could charge for correctin them there engineered plans. No clue at all. But surely there is some preengineered design tables or books a guy can get? For example, I used to help a guy on the side who installed sun rooms and patio covers, that sort of thing. He sent me to a class in Florida for some engineering program he bought. You plug your numbers in (Length, width, etc....a little more to it than that, but you get the idea) and bing bang boom, it pooped out the design and build specs per the engineering requirements. So, with that said, I'd love to get my hands on something like that, if it were affordable or course, for builds like what Will has going on here.

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      • #33
        Noel, now that is a trailer! Pretty sure I looked at that a while back.
        Ryan, there was a program I used before I think it was called StruCalc but its mainly how house type stuff. You could size steel beams with it though. When I played with it before for my shop it had a free demo. Now it seems they charge a monthly fee. Unless its a different program. Theres also this page which is good for steel beams: https://webstructural.com/beam-designer.html
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        • #34
          I just found this article and it has some excellent points that I can probably put to use. https://mechanicalelements.com/stren...trailer-frame/
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          • #35
            So this is my plan. Its gonna take a bit more tubing but it should help stiffen it up a ton. Im gonna get some 2x3 channel or tubing (chanel would be cheaper) to go on top of the frame rails and cut it to fit between the cross members. Then I'll cut some braces out of tubing to weld between the new rail sections and the cross members. Thoughts?
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            • #36
              The angles are in good location, but I'd look at getting them covering more of the face of the X member. Pull a couple planks and bring on the CobraMatic.

              I'd hold off on trussing the X member till you see what the angles do for you.

              The in house EXPERT is looking into it and crunching numbers
              He has a slight problem trying to load soapstoneCAD onto the computer though.

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              • #37
                I had some ideas at first, but as I read on I see you have already taken a few measures to prevent.
                First off though I'll add a couple of thoughts.
                A flat frame is about as weak as you can get. Even steel pontoon trailers have a TON of flex. The boat, when properly strapped down, becomes part of the structure essentially.
                A sub-assembly with your tandem axles would eliminate a great deal of flex using angle with the leg turned up so you can adjust it fore and aft. This could have been done nicely using Tor-Flex axles.
                Also having the tongue run the entire length uninterrupted would be good also and more thickness would help here also. It wouldn't have hit the axles.
                The crossmembers made into a second frame would have been an idea also as opposed to being individual. Sorta like a frame laying on a frame.
                Old cars went through this very problem. look at the difference between a 33 and a 34 Chevy frame.
                Pre stressing could be cool but you never see that on a boat trailer. You would need to bend it in the opposite direction of a semi trailer though to work.
                By having the dual frames they could be pre stressed in opposite directions from each other.
                It takes so much more material to make aluminum work well that the weight saving is minimal. OOPs I'm on the clock....gotta go
                Just remember when you work with building with aluminum...…."Aluminum is CRAP!!!" .......and then go from there

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by FusionKing View Post
                  A flat frame is about as weak as you can get. Even steel pontoon trailers have a TON of flex. The boat, when properly strapped down, becomes part of the structure essentially.
                  That makes sense what you say about the pontoon trailers having a ton of flex. I can see how strapping it down would stiffen them up. I can see now some serious design flaws in this trailer. First was looking at pontoon / boat trailers and thinking well look how light weight they are built, If that's the heaviest thing I will put on it then I'll be fine to build a similarly lightweight trailer. Second was being cheap and thinking by putting the cross members on top that when the deck went on I'd already be above the wheels. Had I put them between the rails and welded them in it would probably be a lot stiffer already.


                  Originally posted by FusionKing View Post
                  It takes so much more material to make aluminum work well that the weight saving is minimal. OOPs I'm on the clock....gotta go
                  Just remember when you work with building with aluminum...…."Aluminum is CRAP!!!" .......and then go from there
                  1/3rd the weight of steel but only 2/3 the strength therefore you need to build it half the weight to get the same strength of steel... Isn't that the general rule they say for boats? While that may be true I don't think that takes into fact that even if its as strong at half the weight it still would have more flex then it's steel counterweight. And all that stress takes its toll on the frame over time causing fatigue cracks and what not I imagine. I like your idea about the steel sub frame underneath. In the future I think I will add a 2nd axle onto a steel sub frame. That too would probably stiffen it up some.

                  As it stands I think the best bet is to put some 2x3 tubing on top the frame rails. Then weld it all down to the cross members and to the rails underneath. Some tubing to tie that into the cross member at an angle is probably a good idea as well. I think that will result in it being stiff enough for what I want to use it for right now. Later in the future when I want to add a 2nd axle and especially as I start to get more scrap in the shop I'll maybe box the channel in and then add a few more tubes going across. That push pull gun is in the mail about a week away but it can't come soon enough lol.

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                  • #39
                    I thought it appropriate to post some pictures of a trailer repair I did for a guy a few weeks back. I think it was about 32' long. He crashed it while out snowmobiling here. I had to go out and put a temporary patch on, then brought it back to the shop for a proper repair. That thing had a 2x6 Sort of I beam that they then boxed in for the frame.

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                    • #40
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                      • #41
                        I don't and haven't worked much with Aluminum other then repair. Those that do, design different so I'm told. The mistake is design transferred from one material to another. That it seems is the issue?
                        I'm no engineer either. I'm a copy guy. I see something I like and ask why? What's pleasing, what isn't, what seems to work, what doesn't and why?

                        Being a visual learner, I look, see, think and do. In about that order. I see things? Call it visions in my head but I see stress, strain compression, maybe not all together clearly, or with learning or explanation, but enough to know when the spider sense tingles.

                        I like books because books have pictures. Just because I bought the book doesn't mean I understand or have read it either? But I get the pictures some what? Did you know, 65% of the population are visual learners? There in lies the failing of text books, not enough pictures, and explanation why You Tube is so popular.

                        Getting back to the trailer, hind sight is 20/20. Thinking out loud, could the error in judgment be not seeing the frame separate from the deck in designing the trailer?

                        On that note, what would the results be if you screwed the fir planks to every cross member and then tied them together across with more wood rather then all that addition welding your doing?
                        Lol...am I thinking to little, to much or just enough? I think the answer is too much?


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                        • #42
                          Noel I dont think doing anything with the wood will help. Before I added the deck on there was flex, maybe a bit much still but maybe liveable. After I added the deck is when there got to be way more flex. I was thinking the deck would reduce it. I took the outer 3 boards off each this morning that again took a fair bit of flex out. These boards are **** heavy, there still wet and I think each one must weight 100 lbs. Like Franz said the frame is lighter then the deck lol.

                          Just got back from picking up 4 more pieces of 2x3 x 3/16 tubing. If that dont stiffen it up I'll roll it off a cliff. Gotta find the way up to the one in my back yard. Theres roads up to it I believe, I havent tried yet
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                          • #43
                            Btw that looks like a good book. Might have to pick that one up
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                            • #44
                              As Suzi used to say when she answered her hotline; "Unscrew Services- what'd ya mess up and how fast you need us there?"

                              Really, the situation ain't all that bad, there is no blood on the deck, Everybody is breathing and nobody is burned! Lets sit comfortable and have some coffee while the bean counters throw up in their trash cans. I been to these jobs more times than I can count, and 99% can be salvaged easily when you do a little thinking.

                              The statement about boat and pontoon becoming the structure when properly tied down is absolutely true. Ol Jim Lincoln's book is one of the best written, he had a talent for explaining.
                              The most difficult thing when it comes to writing instructions is to keep in mind you won't be on the job and able to yell STOP, yer doin it wrong.

                              Now, if you'll bear with me a bit I'll stuff a roll of Kodak film in my magic box and shoot some pictures of a very similar 8 x 10 deck trailer I built in 1996 that does NOT wiggle, wow, twist or come apart. As memory serves me it weighs 978 pounds empty and has carried at least 1 grinder the book said weighed 2300 pounds.
                              Only mistook I made building that one was not making it so the axle slides.

                              I'll sure tell you that one scared me with deck wiggle & wow until I had it all tied together.
                              I even had people coming in the shop assuring me I don't know spit about building trailers.

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                              • #45
                                I ain't no fun unless someone bleeds.

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