Saturday, 8 December 2012

Light and Strong

Light enough to be towed by a bicycle

      Airstream manufacturing borrowed much of its processes from aircraft design which gave the trailers a very high strength weight ratio.  The interior rib is built out of aluminum as a support frame for the exterior skin, a technique still used today.  

 Airstream's framing system

      The trailers also use monocoque construction, where the shell of the vehicle carries most of the weight and stress.  From Greek mono for one and French coque meaning shell, monocoque construction is one in that the structural load of the object is supported by the external material rather than the internal frame. For example, a typical automobile is not a perfect monocoque construction and uses a series of tubes and bulkheads to provide support while the external body adds little strength or support. In monocoque construction, the body and chassis form a single unit.

Airstream's exterior aluminium shell

Strong but load bearing

      The ridgid yet light weight aluminum skin is then riveted onto the interior frame to create the shell of the Airstream trailer.  The details and number of panels has changed over the years but the basic design has not changed much from the original 1936 Airstream Clipper.

"Airstream Style Through the Years." Boston Globe. Boston Globe, n.d. Web. 14 Nov 2012. <

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