PDA

View Full Version : Aluminum or Steel?


Rezarf
12-02-2007, 08:41 PM
Howdy folks.

SOme of you know I am building a trailer for camping/exploring, and I am at a crossroads...

I am at the point of adding sheet metal to the frame I built up and I am trying to decide between steel and aluminum. Here are my thoughts on each. Care to chime in? I hope so :thumb:

Aluminum:
First, I like the idea of no rust on the aluminum panels, that and the fact that it wouldn't require a paint finish for protection is a huge plus, and offsets its initial higher purchase cost. The weight makes good sense too. My only concern is fastening the aluminum to the steel frame. I have been researching a combo of marine grade adhesive & rivets... there is also a product for the semi trailer industry that is a sealing "tape" that replaces mechanical fasteners... it is wild stuff for sure. 3M amazes me! :eek::D

I may still make the lid out of 18ga. steel to "hide" the rivets.

Steel:
If I were to go steel the costs are much cheaper and I can always come back and weld things to it and modify it easier... that might be nice. The idea of rust on a trailer and my 40 isn't appealing ;) However, steel can take a beating and keep going strong as well. Painting/undercoating will keep the rust at bay but in all reality it might be an uphill battle.

Let me know what you thinks! :hill:

Beater
12-02-2007, 09:04 PM
well - I went down this road with the floor to my rack in my rover. it was a full length rack, and I wanted it to be as light as poss, so I went aluminium (brit spelling for brit truck). I used stainless "tek" screws to attach. With the bracing of the 12" spaces of the rack frame, it actually made the rack stronger, as I was able to go with .0125 diamond plate, and it still weighed way less than wood or 20ga steel.

If you go aluminum, I would use stainless rivets or aluminum rivets and call it a day. Stainless would be preferred, as they are a hair stronger, but you will need a power rivet gun to pop them.

If you need aluminum, call Al-Reco in henderson. (just north of commerce city on the frontage road)

You can make your cardboard cut outs and bring them here to cut with plasma if you need.

Turtle60
12-03-2007, 08:44 AM
Is there any special prep necessary between aluminum and steel? I seem to remember there being a corrosion issue when steel and aluminum are in constant contact.

AxleIke
12-03-2007, 09:34 AM
I believe Drew will be putting strips of 3M panel adhesive between the steel and aluminum if he goes that route, to give it strength, and avoid the corrosion issues. Then rivet on top of that.

You know my vote: I hate rust. It will be worth the money for the aluminum.

leiniesred
12-03-2007, 09:39 AM
yeah, add water between steel and aluminum and you get electrolosis, ion exchange, and corrosion.

Another British reference....our 1963 Austin Healey sports an aluminum body with steel fenders...yeah, it really does "rust." the aluminum oxidizes into white powder.

wesintl
12-03-2007, 09:55 AM
Steel, It's not like it's going to rust out next year. This is still colorado where it's still pretty dry. Electrolosis sucks. It may not be bad out here but I've seen defenders with more oxidation and rust issues that look like crap than my 70 which 10 years older.

RockRunner
12-03-2007, 10:16 AM
Have you checked to see what your weight savings would be between the two? Then the price difference, don't forget the extra cost you will incur if you go the aluminum route.

Even with the extra cost I would go aluminum, Diamond if it was up to me. Are you looking for flat or Diamond?

If you do go steel I don't think the rust factor would be an issue for a while.

Rezarf
12-03-2007, 10:49 AM
Have you checked to see what your weight savings would be between the two? Then the price difference, don't forget the extra cost you will incur if you go the aluminum route.

Even with the extra cost I would go aluminum, Diamond if it was up to me. Are you looking for flat or Diamond?

If you do go steel I don't think the rust factor would be an issue for a while.

The cost to coat both sides of the steel with quality paint, verses just one side of the aluminum sides/top (the rest can be left raw) the cost is pretty much a wash. Weight is substantial, probably 150-200lbs overall.

Rezarf
12-03-2007, 10:52 AM
I believe Drew will be putting strips of 3M panel adhesive between the steel and aluminum if he goes that route, to give it strength, and avoid the corrosion issues. Then rivet on top of that.

You know my vote: I hate rust. It will be worth the money for the aluminum.

That 3M stuff is cool, but I don't know if I will try it or not. The stuff is like 100 bucks a roll... and if it doesn't work, then :eek: :rant:

We'll see.

Drew

Uncle Ben
12-03-2007, 10:52 AM
The cost to coat both sides of the steel with quality paint, verses just one side of the aluminum sides/top (the rest can be left raw) the cost is pretty much a wash. Weight is substantial, probably 150-200lbs overall.

What about a call to your friends in the hi-tech sheet metal biz! Stainless would be perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rezarf
12-03-2007, 11:02 AM
What about a call to your friends in the hi-tech sheet metal biz! Stainless would be perfect!!!!!!!!!!!!

Working with them already! :D

Just wanting opinions from the peanut gallery. :D :thumb:

wesintl
12-03-2007, 11:04 AM
Just wanting opinions from the peanut gallery. :D :thumb:
Sweet! I was definatly qualified then. :lmao:

IanB
12-03-2007, 11:12 AM
Are you sure the weight savings is that high?

The risk of electrolysis offsets the corrosion resistance of aluminum, so I see no net gain there. To the cost of the aluminum you must also add the costs of the fastening system and the sealing system. These costs will be exacerbated over time as you modify and accessorize the trailer and have to deal with this every time.

If you base coat steel with Zero Rust or POR I am not sure rust would ever become an issue on an expedition trailer that will see what... a few k miles a year mostly in good weather? Besides its not going to do you much good to have panels that dont rust if your frame is steel and it does.

Due to cost, ease of installation, ease of modification, and strength I vote steel.

subzali
12-03-2007, 11:46 AM
Are you sure the weight savings is that high?

For a 40 already on 35s, every little bit helps! :lmao:

Rezarf
12-03-2007, 12:46 PM
Are you sure the weight savings is that high?

The risk of electrolysis offsets the corrosion resistance of aluminum, so I see no net gain there. To the cost of the aluminum you must also add the costs of the fastening system and the sealing system. These costs will be exacerbated over time as you modify and accessorize the trailer and have to deal with this every time.

If you base coat steel with Zero Rust or POR I am not sure rust would ever become an issue on an expedition trailer that will see what... a few k miles a year mostly in good weather? Besides its not going to do you much good to have panels that dont rust if your frame is steel and it does.

Due to cost, ease of installation, ease of modification, and strength I vote steel.

Good points Ian...

The tape stuff is pretty cool! It would also isolate the panels from one another, seals the seams, and acts as a mechanical fastener.

The other points are good too, I don't think it will rust out immediately, but I am trying to do this once... and have it last a lifetime! we'll see :D

MDH33
12-03-2007, 01:32 PM
Good points Ian...

The tape stuff is pretty cool! It would also isolate the panels from one another, seals the seams, and acts as a mechanical fastener.

The other points are good too, I don't think it will rust out immediately, but I am trying to do this once... and have it last a lifetime! we'll see :D

But now that you have Mad welding skills, rust should never be a concern because you can always cut it out and weld in new steel. :thumb:

RockRunner
12-03-2007, 01:51 PM
The other points are good too, I don't think it will rust out immediately, but I am trying to do this once... and have it last a lifetime! we'll see :D

A lifetime or until it rolls :o JK you have the right idea, do it right the first time as you won't have time to do it again..............or the money.

IanB
12-04-2007, 11:13 AM
The tape stuff is pretty cool! It would also isolate the panels from one another, seals the seams, and acts as a mechanical fastener.


So no rivets then?

Rezarf
12-04-2007, 11:48 AM
Yup, no seam sealer either... The would essentially be isolated from one another!

Rezarf
12-04-2007, 09:04 PM
Mr. Miller recommends steel... :bowdown:

Good enough for me. :D

Drew