Getting this Foamie off the ground

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Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby tem3000 » Sat Nov 16, 2019 11:51 am

Longtime fan and lurker, here, and I've already learned so much from this generous community. I've started a foamie project and I'm really excited, but I lack the experience I probably ought to have, so I'm hoping for your help.

My project is a foamie travel trailer. I bought a 1998 Aerolite and am in the process of demoing it. The chassis is 7 feet wide (bought it because I could afford it), but my aim is for an 8'6” wide travel trailer. Would building 9” beyond the trailer on each side be among the most dangerous things you've every heard of? If so, is there anything that would me it safer?

My initial solution might be even more dangerous. In addition to the 7' wide tandem axle to the front of the trailer, I was considering adding an 8'6” wide single axle in the rear of the trailer. Is having axles of different widths possible? Would it address the problem? Or introduce new ones? Would it make turning impossible?

These questions show how little I know what I'm doing, I know, but you're the only folks I know what can help me get the project off the ground in the best way possible.

Thank you and cheers,
Terry
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby John61CT » Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:04 pm

Most people prefer to design their trailer to leave the ground as little as possible.
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby tony.latham » Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:27 pm

I was considering adding an 8'6” wide single axle in the rear of the trailer.


Isn't that the same width as a semi-trailer? (I think 8' 7" and you need a pilot car and an over-size load permit.) :oops:

Why the extra axle --especially under a foamie?

There is a reason that double axle systems are set as close together as possible and even with those, they need trailer tires because of the side forces while turning. I would think a third axle that is several feet away from the others wouldn't track worth a hoot in a tight turn.

:frightened:

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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby Squigie » Sat Nov 16, 2019 12:38 pm

The current frame design and how you intend to build out the additional 9" would be important factors in whether or not it was a good idea.
Keep in mind, while thinking about your plans, that the maximum load width of 8.5 feet is not enforced equally in all US states. In some states, there is no exception for safety equipment (lights, hand holds, fender rock guards, awnings, etc.) and includes ALL parts of the trailer and cargo. Your ID lights, trim, door latches, door holds, window frames, etc. all have to be inside of that 8'6" limit. If you plan to travel, you're better off legally and for ease of towing, building the walls a couple inches narrower.
Personally, I wouldn't go wider than 8'. Additional width is a pain in the butt in some places.


As for axles...
Multiple axles is not a problem.
Staggered axles - one axle riding partially inboard of another - is okay, but not a good solution for anything but heavy transport. Think about an inboard flat tire. You have to jack the outboard axle and remove the wheel, find a way to block and support that axle, then jack the inboard axle and change the tire.
More distance between the axles is not a good idea, either. The further apart the axles are, the harder it will be to turn, and the faster your tires will be scrubbed away ... unless it's a wagon style setup, with a steer axle at the front (but that introduces a plethora of other undesirable towing characteristics). That's not even taking into account that the frame may be designed for cantilevered weight and may not do well with the axles being moved to the front and rear.
It's already a tandem axle trailer. Why do you think you need more axles?
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby RJ Howell » Sat Nov 16, 2019 4:19 pm

Well, this sounds like fun! I had to look it up.. Originally a 25ft trailer? Oh my! Weighing in at 3K on dual axles.. Hmm.. Brings the first curiosity.. Can you see the axle rating stamp? Would like to know what you're actually working with there.

My next area of curiously goes towards the frame. Not only condition, yet size. Height x width x thickness. Is it truly sized to handle the axle weight? Far too many commercial trailers are built to handle only the dry weight and the those folks gamble you go beyond warranty before know something bad happened. With a Frame-up build, you can compensate and make it really good! Worth looking into.

Once you go foam build, shell and interior, I doubt very much you need anything else to support the rig. Of course depending on above mentioned and what you do.

There are so many great designs out there that fit within a 8ft or less width. I'm currently designing within a 6'-5" width. Yet my needs are different than yours. 8ft width would be an amazing luxury!

Do a design of what's in your mind and share.
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby tem3000 » Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:33 pm

I knew you guys would help clarify. Thank you. My confidence that I'm going about this the right way is sufficiently low that I suspect I haven't thought it through well enough (sketching it out is long overdue, I'll give it a stab) and therefore didn't explain it well enough. My apologies for that.

I appreciate people's points about the benefits of designing a narrower foamie and may end up going that route, for necessity's sake, if nothing else. For the moment however, my question was at first about the hypothetical 8' wide version trailer on top of a 7' wide trailer, and what safety or other concerns I should be worried about. Stability was foremost in my mind. The idea of an 8'/8.5' axle toward the rear - wider that the 7' tandem axle toward the front - came from the desire to help counter any stability problems that might come up from having a camper atop a narrower trailer. Almost tricycle-like in theory, maybe? That's where it came from, at least You all give me a much better understanding as to why that wouldn't be a good idea.

I didn't want to clutter up my first post with design stuff, but maybe it will help. The Big Plan is to braze a somewhat minimalist frame of aluminum tubing, glue 1" thick foam boards to each other on either side, then do pmf on the resulting 2" thick walls and floor. What I'm going for seems sufficiently longer than most of the teardrops I've seen here to warrant some kind of framing, even if it's relatively light. As a side bennie, I think it will help with access, like putting in chases.

I'm flying without a net here, with little experience and even less advice, and I understand how that will yield things that sound loony or laughable. I've had that from most people I've talked to about this, even on the basic points. Like building something called a foamie. That's why I've come here, and I'm really grateful to you for teaching what you have already.

I'll take some time to sketch things up a bit. Maybe my questions will be a little more informed that way!
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby GPW » Sun Nov 17, 2019 5:39 am

QUOTE: “ I didn't want to clutter up my first post with design stuff, but maybe it will help. “ Yes you do … design of a Foamie is EVERYTHING !!! ;)

I believe max width in our state is 96“ for trailers with special exterior lighting needed for over 80”. Check your state laws First …
There’s no place like Foam !
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby Tyrtill » Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:39 am

The overhang isn't much of a problem off the edges if your using a 2x4 floor. My recommendation is to go as narrow as you can for sideways sleeping but that's just an aerodynamic suggestion. Unless you need to put a lot of stuff (or people) in the camper I think 7' wide allows for a taller person to sleep cross-ways and that will free up a lot of room without making it hard to navigate the trailer down narrow roads.
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby John61CT » Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:11 am

Factor in insulation thickness if building for active HVAC and extreme climates
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby RJ Howell » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:00 pm

tem3000 wrote:I appreciate people's points about the benefits of designing a narrower foamie and may end up going that route, for necessity's sake, if nothing else. For the moment however, my question was at first about the hypothetical 8' wide version trailer on top of a 7' wide trailer, and what safety or other concerns I should be worried about. Stability was foremost in my mind.

Personally, I think you'd have to really make this trailer top heavy for a 6" outboard wall to send it rolling from a curve in the road or a wind blast (that your TV can handle).

I didn't want to clutter up my first post with design stuff, but maybe it will help. The Big Plan is to braze a somewhat minimalist frame of aluminum tubing, glue 1" thick foam boards to each other on either side, then do pmf on the resulting 2" thick walls and floor. What I'm going for seems sufficiently longer than most of the teardrops I've seen here to warrant some kind of framing, even if it's relatively light. As a side bennie, I think it will help with access, like putting in chases.

My next build will be 12'-6" long and will incorporate some framing. So, ya, think you'll want some as well. I'm looking at steel studs like we used for interior commercial framing. I'm thinking framing the narrow way (1.5" thick), infilling foam, then a layer from on a side and 1/4" plywood on the other.

I'm flying without a net here, with little experience and even less advice, and I understand how that will yield things that sound loony or laughable. I've had that from most people I've talked to about this, even on the basic points. Like building something called a foamie. That's why I've come here, and I'm really grateful to you for teaching what you have already.

Hear ya on that one! Once I mention foam.. an eyebrow raises! :shock:

I'll take some time to sketch things up a bit. Maybe my questions will be a little more informed that way!


Getting design going really helps! Sketchup is pretty cool to design in. Each part you make, group it, so you can move it around. Can't tell ya how many times I've moved the beds, Frig, stove, sink, etc... Then there's moving the axle, changing the tongue... Well, I think I made my point on this.

Kept us updated!
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby tony.latham » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:00 am

John61CT wrote:Factor in insulation thickness if building for active HVAC and extreme climates


John:

Foamies don’t have an insulation problem.

T
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby John61CT » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:04 am

Of course, but in some contexts 3-4" are appropriate.

Just saying if you're tall and wanting to bunk sideways, take that issue into account.
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby Postal_Dave » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:57 pm

Just my two cents. Feel free to ignore me.

I don't know your experience level of driving with a trailer behind you, however, unless you're a professional truck driver, I would advise that you don't widen your trailer at all.

Several years ago, I bought a boat with an 8 foot wide beam. Trailering it to the lake, over an hour each way, was miserable. The boat was too tall to use my rear view mirror. I had to Constantly check my side mirrors to make sure my tires were between the lines. Keeping something that wide between the lines takes constant focus. Changing lanes and passing people on the highway was almost terrifying. It made going to the lake too much of a chore, so I quit going and I sold the boat.

Personally, I wouldn't want to build a camper that made me work that hard when I took it out.
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby tem3000 » Wed Nov 27, 2019 7:07 am

Thank you again, everyone, for the suggestions. The pros and cons for width in terms of aerodynamics and terror of driving while not being able to see well enough was eye opening.

Postal_Dave, I'm definitely nowhere near a professional driver of any sort so your story was helpful. I hadn't thought of that aspect. I'm curious, did you ever try one of those rear cameras on top of your truck, or at the end of the boat trailer? If so, did it help at all? If not, do you think it would have?

I'm going gangbusters on planning now. I found that sketchup had just a little too much of a learning curve for me so I started using something called Floorplanner, at floorplanner.com. It's been reeeally helpful, showing where I had less room than I thought in some spaces, and more in others. On the surface, Floorplanner really is just like sketching out a floorplan, but much more detailed. There are a gazillion pieces of furniture, wall fixtures, showers, lighting, all you can think of to add to help you (me) visualize better and realize possibilities and where you were just fantasizing. The coolest thing is that you can specify the height, width, and depth of all walls, interior and exterior, specify all window dimensions including height off the floor, type and angles of the ceiling, etc. You don't have to use these extra details, but if you do, it gives you the ability (theoretically; I haven't tried it yet) to export to a program that can render it 3D like... sketchup. I'm sure you can do all this and more in sketchup, but the mental entry point for Floorplanner was better for me.

I have a funny story that illustrate the plight of the foamie builder. Yesterday, three junk hauler guys came over to finally haul away the enormous pile o' debris resulting from my demo of the original trailer. (I'm almost finished but I had to have the junk removed before it snows here.) Two guys arrive first, and they essentially tell me that I'm nuts, that I should scrap the whole thing, these trailers aren't worth nothin'. Even after I 'splained what I was doing, I just got bewildered and/or knowing-better looks. Once again, all those thoughts and self-doubts crept in like, what the heck am I doing? Everyone tells me this is crazy. It's going to be a giant flop, and everyone will have a good laugh and an "I told you so." How do I think I can do this?

But then, the third guy arrives. He essentially knew what I was doing before I even told him, and he was a giddy as a school girl. He wanted to know all the details. He'd started a tiny house of his own, realized how insanely heavy they are, then built an amazing truck camper he proudly showed me on his phone. He'd never heard of a foamie but when I likened it to SIPs, he got it and was excited. Any time I started to make jokes about how little I knew what I was doing and how nuts everyone thought I was, he laughed, said people said and thought the same thing about him, but don't stop, keep learning from the million mistakes you're going to make, have fun, and gloat when it's successful. It was about the only real, sincere encouragement I've had since starting this project back when I was just by talking about it, and it was a real shot of motivation. And of course it showed how doing something like this is going to be met with head shakes and open challenging a lot of the time. And for me at least, it shows that doing something like this requires a tenacity that's stronger than your confidence in your own skills sometimes.

As always, apologies for the book length post, and thank you all for being so generous.
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Re: Getting this Foamie off the ground

Postby Postal_Dave » Thu Nov 28, 2019 12:47 am

A camera would have helped when passing, but just going straight down the road with that 8 foot wide boat was horrible. I was hauling it with a Jeep Cherokee and the Jeep had 2 feet of clearance on each side to stay between the lines, but the boat had only inches on some roads. The closer I got to the lake, the smaller the roads got and the curvier. It really took total concentration to drive that down the road.

Just to be clear, I'm not try to discourage you from building a camper, I'm just saying, size matters. In this case, it's better to be small. :lol:
That's why this site is called Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers. The smaller it is, the easier it is to haul. If your trailer is already 7 feet wide, that's huge compared to what most of us have built. You can do a lot with what you already have.

I'm sure the floor plan calculator will help you a lot. Most of the fun, and challenge is in the designing and experimenting.
Have Fun.
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