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a recent observation about trailers

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  • #21
    Our first trailer was from Valley in OH. It was a 4H, steel, bumper pull, stock trailer. A very nicely made unit. I kept it for almost four years before I swapped it for a 6H, AL, gooseneck Featherlight. I was always happy with the swap!

    There's no such thing as an "all AL trailer." Frame and running gear will be steel. So will hinges, some hardware, some attachment points, etc. Whenever you have dis-similar metals in contact the correct procedure is to put a "barrier" between them to prevent galvanic corrosion. It's been a while since I was involved in this so I don't know what the current "state of the art" is regarding construction techniques. I vote with my dollars, however, and I'm on Featherlight Number Three.

    The OP in OH. Their corrosion risk is mostly in the winter from salt on the roads. Folks on the coast might have that (if they are up north) but WILL have the risk of salt water corrosion for several miles inland. Steel is susceptible to this risk; AL is not.

    Our trailer is painted and the paint is in good shape. I've never "acid washed" it, just used some detergent and a pressure washer a couple of times a year. It's a 2003 model; I don't see any repainting needed for a long time into the future (assuming no dings, bumps, crashes, etc. ).

    A trailer kept under cover will be vastly easier to maintain than one kept out in the open. This is especially true for steel. Even electrical systems seem to benefit from a covered arrangement, but I'm not sure why.

    The AL trailer is probably the optimal choice for the vast majority of trailer users. That's they they predominate in the market in spite of higher costs to manufacture and buy. From some of the posts here it's clear that some folks need the "heft" of an all steel trailer for what they do. There are still manufacturers that will service their needs.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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    • #22
      What about CM or Calico? I think you can customize both to suit your needs, and I even think you can order either in galvaneal panels instead of "plain" steel if you want.
      DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/

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      • #23
        So who prefers steel over anything else? Why? It's a lot heavier to pull, more cumbersome, and rusts/breaks easier - so why wouldn't you just get aluminum?
        Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons: A Practical Training Manual for Instructors

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        • #24
          Originally posted by equinekingdom View Post
          So who prefers steel over anything else? Why? It's a lot heavier to pull, more cumbersome, and rusts/breaks easier - so why wouldn't you just get aluminum?
          I think you really need to learn about metal properties before saying such things.

          Steel is stronger in absolute strength than Al, however on a specific strength scale, Al come close. However, to account for the decreased yield strength of Al and its inability to withstand fatigue (no endurance) Al parts have to be thicker, thus eliminating most weight benefits. My last steel frame 3 horse was 300 pounds lighter than my current Al frame 3 horse trailer.

          Al also rusts just as easily as iron, actually more so. The only difference is the oxide density. Al will undergo pitting corrosion more readily than steel (surface corrosion) which can be even more dangerous due to that one can not see the pits necessarily even if the corrosion is completely through the part.

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          • #25
            Steel trailers aren't always heavier. Aluminum trailers often have steel frames and the aluminum is much thicker. Also, steel bends on impact (think kick) while aluminum will crack. Much easier to repair steel.

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            • Original Poster

              #26
              I'm glad there are people out there that still like steel trailers. This is exactly what I'm looking for: 2-3 horse (has to be slant load- TB's ) with living quarters. price range is under $5000. Personal preference, I hate those stock trailers, no way to keep the air off your horse and they look tacky. I saw a few that I wanted in Colorado over the past couple of months but I no sooner turned around and they were gone!

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              • #27
                Originally posted by Tiffani B View Post
                Steel trailers aren't always heavier. Aluminum trailers often have steel frames and the aluminum is much thicker. Also, steel bends on impact (think kick) while aluminum will crack. Much easier to repair steel.
                Have you ever seen a wrecked airplane? They are made of aluminum. The one i saw had run off the runway in to some trees. It was military....and looked like a soda can someone twisted. I really prefer a steel trailer and not only are they easier to repair, etc...but they tend to be less expensive.

                If you have to paint it once, you probably still saved money over aluminum. I live about 30 miles from the ocean in a very wet humid region and my galvaneal trailer looks almost new after 6 years of sitting out all the time. As a large LQ trailer it cost me about half what a good brand aluminum in the same living quarters would cost and only weighs slightly more.

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                • #28
                  I agree on the steel qualities...that's why I have one. Until a stronger solution than aluminum comes along, I'll be one of those looking for steel trailers. I hope trailer manufacturers will continue to offer them for a long time. You read Neva Scheve's book about trailers, the stories and facts in there will wake you up..Now, I know that most show people anymore use the aluminum trailers. The place I got my 7' steel trailer from (it was seriously the red-headed stepchild there LOL) had 4 other trailers, all aluminum. One was an 8' tall 6 horse LQ monster! A beauty, but had the big 5500 like truck to pull it. I still say if a tractor trailer had at that trailer, those expensive horses would be an insurance check in the hand....unless you were at fault, of course How tall are/were the horse vans? I've been in side them long ago, but never thought about height. Seems like they were pretty tall, though?
                  "As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James
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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by Daydream Believer View Post
                    Have you ever seen a wrecked airplane? They are made of aluminum. The one i saw had run off the runway in to some trees. It was military....and looked like a soda can someone twisted. I really prefer a steel trailer and not only are they easier to repair, etc...but they tend to be less expensive.

                    If you have to paint it once, you probably still saved money over aluminum. I live about 30 miles from the ocean in a very wet humid region and my galvaneal trailer looks almost new after 6 years of sitting out all the time. As a large LQ trailer it cost me about half what a good brand aluminum in the same living quarters would cost and only weighs slightly more.
                    I'm a retired Naval Aviator and a grad. of the Naval Aviation Safety School. Trust me when I say that aircraft and trailers, even if both are made of AL, are constructed rather differently!

                    The British did learn some lessons on the wisdom of AL superstructures on warships during the Falkland Islands War. But, again, a destroyer is not a horse trailer.

                    I am interested in Mr. Ayers note on surface pitting on AL. He said, " Al will undergo pitting corrosion more readily than steel (surface corrosion) which can be even more dangerous due to that one can not see the pits necessarily even if the corrosion is completely through the part."

                    Long ago I attended the Corrosion Control School put on at the Naval Air Rework Facility at NAS Quonset Point, RI. In discussing the susceptibility of different metals to corrosion we were taught that "rust" on iron or steel "ate" into the metal and, over time, would consume it entirely. With AL the "rust" would form an AL oxide coating a few atoms deep and stop. This would give the metal a "dull" finish. Removing the "dull" finish to make the metal look good was a Bad Idea because when you did you actually made it thinner (even if by just a few atoms) and, necessarily, weaker. So our practice was to clean it, anodize it, and paint it. Keep in mind that an airplane on a carrier is in about the worst corrosion environment you can imagine.

                    The best way to fight corrosion was to keep the metal clean. Fresh water washing is the best way to do that (also difficult on a carrier where fresh water is limited).

                    What I did not learn was that pitting could pass all the way through a part. I understand that a pit will weaken the structure and, perhaps, lead to a crack. But if the oxide formation process I was taught is correct why would the pitting process continue after an oxide coating had developed at the margins of the pit? What would drive the corrosion process to continue?

                    Thank you, by the way, for taking time to educate us!

                    G.
                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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                    • #30
                      Ah, Reed beat me, good! I do NOT want an aluminum trailer and will always buy steel for the material properties mentioned. If an aluminum trailer is SUPER light, that is just a giant warning to me that it probably lack structural strength and I am not putting my horses in there. If correctly built, it will weigh the same or even more than its steel equivalent.

                      Rust is REALLY not that big a deal (well, I do live in the south, but still) and is easily taken care of with some quick sanding and coating. Aluminum corrodes and pits, but is harder to see, so no material is without degradation.

                      So, to each their own, and buy what works for you, but I will stick my steel, thank you!
                      Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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                      • #31
                        Originally posted by equinekingdom View Post
                        So who prefers steel over anything else? Why? It's a lot heavier to pull, more cumbersome, and rusts/breaks easier - so why wouldn't you just get aluminum?
                        I'll say it again, my husband works in steel fab, he's worked on small aircraft construction, sheet metal, aluminum and is currently building bridges out of 3" plate steel. He will ONLY have a steel trailer. We use our trailers hard, on everything from cows to hay to nine horses at a time. We drive literally hundreds of miles on washerboard gravel roads after driving hundreds of miles on the interstate with other people driving 100 mph on solid ice. Steel holds up better here, it's stronger. Like he just said, if you're only going down the highway aluminum is ok. If you're hauling cows, you need to have steel.

                        And says who steel breaks easier?? LOL holy moses, you haven't seen how some people can use a trailer. And says who it's more cumbersome? He's better at putting that trailer in a tight spot than most people are at driving their car through traffic.

                        What irks me is people that are trying to apply an entirely different world to my world. Different planets, people, yours isn't the only one that exists!
                        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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                        • #32
                          Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                          I'm a retired Naval Aviator and a grad. of the Naval Aviation Safety School. Trust me when I say that aircraft and trailers, even if both are made of AL, are constructed rather differently!

                          The British did learn some lessons on the wisdom of AL superstructures on warships during the Falkland Islands War. But, again, a destroyer is not a horse trailer.

                          I am interested in Mr. Ayers note on surface pitting on AL. He said, " Al will undergo pitting corrosion more readily than steel (surface corrosion) which can be even more dangerous due to that one can not see the pits necessarily even if the corrosion is completely through the part."

                          Long ago I attended the Corrosion Control School put on at the Naval Air Rework Facility at NAS Quonset Point, RI. In discussing the susceptibility of different metals to corrosion we were taught that "rust" on iron or steel "ate" into the metal and, over time, would consume it entirely. With AL the "rust" would form an AL oxide coating a few atoms deep and stop. This would give the metal a "dull" finish. Removing the "dull" finish to make the metal look good was a Bad Idea because when you did you actually made it thinner (even if by just a few atoms) and, necessarily, weaker. So our practice was to clean it, anodize it, and paint it. Keep in mind that an airplane on a carrier is in about the worst corrosion environment you can imagine.

                          The best way to fight corrosion was to keep the metal clean. Fresh water washing is the best way to do that (also difficult on a carrier where fresh water is limited).

                          What I did not learn was that pitting could pass all the way through a part. I understand that a pit will weaken the structure and, perhaps, lead to a crack. But if the oxide formation process I was taught is correct why would the pitting process continue after an oxide coating had developed at the margins of the pit? What would drive the corrosion process to continue?

                          Thank you, by the way, for taking time to educate us!

                          G.
                          Pitting is the most insidious method of corrosion and can remain undetected even in the lab.

                          Passivated metals, such as Al, can still easily pit via localized disruptions of the oxide layer (e.g. a scratch or simply flexing the part.). At the same time, the oxide layer of Al is actually porous at the molecular level, enabling a continued exchange of metal ions with the outside world. The dense oxide you refer to is only 1-5 nano meters thick and can easily be broken via flexing the part.

                          Once the pit forms, a high pH forms at the "bottom" of the pit, further enhancing the corrosion even if an oxide layer reforms (hence its insidious nature).

                          This is why only eddy current testing is the accepted method to find corrosion in airplanes. Visual inspection is useless in this case.

                          Actually, medical implants are in an even worse corrosion environment than an airplane at sea. Yes, keeping the metal parts clean reduces the chances of pitting. I coated my Al floors with a polymer after making sure there was a good oxide present. This further reduces the metal ion exchange and protects the oxide - similar to your painting the part.

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