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 > Aluminum Frame vs Wood Frame for washboard roads.

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silverbullet555

Boise

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Posted: 10/20/20 07:45am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We are wrapping up our first year with our old truck camper. It's been nice having it. It is a 1995 Northland.

Of course, looking for a great deal on a camper that might work a little better. Primarily looking for a more insulated camper that might make fall and winter camping more comfortable as ski season approaches.

Also, many of the camper miles have been on washboard roads, not overly bumpy side to side, but lots of vibration. Thinking that I might want to explore aluminum framed construction like a fleetwood elkhorn or if wood is going to be better.

Speaking in terms of 2005 or older.

1.) What are the benefits/drawbacks of looking for aluminum frame construction vs wood? Does aluminum handle the vibration better than wood?


James
2007 Chevy Silverado 2500HD Classic Crew Cab 4wd 6.5' bed
1995 Northland Grizzly 860 camper
2002 Cobalt 226

Kayteg1

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Posted: 10/20/20 07:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When aluminum frame is definitely much better not only strength-wise but also for water resistance, I found that my Fleetwood was build by "minimum wage welder".
Not only the welds were very poor quality, but not much of them and they kept on breaking, so I had to add steel reinforcement on joints.
Bottom line, it all comes to person who does final assemble and quality control.
To answer technical dilemma - aircrafts are generally exposed to high vibrations and guess what most of them are build with.
Few accidents in last decades show that it is steel in turbines who gets fatigued faster, than aluminum airplane body.





silverbullet555

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Posted: 10/20/20 08:23am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Kayteg1 wrote:

When aluminum frame is definitely much better not only strength-wise but also for water resistance, I found that my Fleetwood was build by "minimum wage welder".
Not only the welds were very poor quality, but not much of them and they kept on breaking, so I had to add steel reinforcement on joints.
Bottom line, it all comes to person who does final assemble and quality control.
To answer technical dilemma - aircrafts are generally exposed to high vibrations and guess what most of them are build with.
Few accidents in last decades show that it is steel in turbines who gets fatigued faster, than aluminum airplane body.


Good points. The most important might be on how good was the person building it which one will never know until it falls apart.

jaycocreek

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Posted: 10/20/20 08:24am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Rugged Mountain truck campers are built in Idaho and are basically the Old Northland truck camper with the majority of the crew working there...

When asked about wood vs aluminum in there TC's,this was the reply..

TCM: Why not frame with aluminum?

Jesse: Before we started Rugged Mountain production, I built camper walls with aluminum framing. What I found is that the metal on luan separated the adhesive in cold and hot weather. The lamination adhesives holding the fiberglass skin to the quarter-inch luan backing were letting loose on the aluminum side.

I could not find an adhesive that didn’t suffer this problem. Here in Idaho, we have cold winters and hot summers. I do not want a de-lamination problem, so we decided to stay with wood framed campers.



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Kayteg1

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Posted: 10/20/20 08:40am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There are several techniques to build.
My 2002 Fleetwood, even it has "aluminum frame" painted on it, it has basically aluminum skeleton, where wood members are screw to skeleton for gluing sidings to them.
I bought it with patched roof from the state with lot of rain, so water penetration made for lot of headaches, but the delamination happen between the inner wood skin and outer fiberglass, when inner skin would still hold to the frame.
My conclusion is that without aluminum skeleton, the camper would collapse with rotten wood years ago.

billtex

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Posted: 10/20/20 08:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have owned both. Assuming both are quality construction-there will be no difference to the end user. I would not let alum vs wood be a deciding factor.


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ppine

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Posted: 10/20/20 09:52am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Welded aluminum is lighter and stronger.

jimh425

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Posted: 10/20/20 10:19am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There’s plenty of both aluminum and wood frames that break or have broken. I don’t think that’s a good part of the decision either.

I think it’s likely a clamshell design would hold up better which is fine as long you don’t want a slide. On the plus side, they are usually really well insulated.

Other than that, slow down and have good shocks and good suspension. My 14 year old camper is still going strong even with slides. There are many on here that have older models of other brands that have done well also.


'10 Ford F-450, 6.4, 4.30, 4x4, 14,500 GVWR, '06 Host Rainer 950 Dbl Slide, Torklift Talon tiedowns, Glow Steps, and Fastguns. Bilstein 4600s, Firestone Air Bags, Hankook DH-01 225/19.5 Fs, Curt front hitch, Energy Suspension bump stops.


kohldad

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Posted: 10/20/20 11:32am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

One big advantage to wood with aluminum skin, the average handyman can take the skin off, repair the wood to as good as new and then replace the skin. Even if you can get to the aluminum, it takes special skills and tools to do a repair.


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Kayteg1

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Posted: 10/20/20 12:46pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

kohldad wrote:

One big advantage to wood with aluminum skin, the average handyman can take the skin off, repair the wood to as good as new and then replace the skin. Even if you can get to the aluminum, it takes special skills and tools to do a repair.


Not to my experience.
I am wood worker and welder as well, although did not learn aluminum welding .
Main issue with rotten, or split wood is that you have to replace whole member, meaning going to the end of the wall, or do long sister board.
With metal bend or broken, you just weld it in damaged spot.
When weld broke on aluminum frame joint, I removed 6x6" piece of siding and attach Simpson tie with Sheetmetal screws to it. Caulk the siding back and call it a day.
Wood joints on Lance have couple of big staples on frame members and then about A5 size of aluminum thick foil with 100's of small staples holding it over the joint. Once that thing fails, you have huge hole of splinters.

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