Most Robust Popup camper frames?

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Most Robust Popup camper frames?

Postby ktm_2000 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:06 pm

Hi All,

I am interested in a somewhat offroad capable trailer frame to build a nida-core and fiberglassed camper on. I'd like to put timbren axle-less suspension underneath along with full size pickup truck tires on it.

I do not currently know how to weld and am contemplating taking a welding class over the winter so as or right now I am not interested in making my own frame so I am looking for existing frames which could be had inexpensively.

What popup manufacturers made the best quality / strongest frames?

I put this question on the general section but no responses on which frames would be best to attempt to re-use.
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Re: Most Robust Popup camper frames?

Postby rjgimp » Fri Sep 13, 2019 8:12 pm

I don't have any firsthand knowledge as to whether any particular manufacturer produces a more substantial product than any other. What I offer is mere speculation. I tend to think that older frames (mainly from the 60s) were more heavily built than those from the last 30 years or so, mainly because there wasn't such a concern over weight and fuel efficiency. I have a Steury from 1969 that I plan to strip down for a build. They made fiberglass boats in the 40s and 50s and dabbled in popup campers for about 15 years from about 63 to 79 or so. The one I have is 7' by 14' with surge brakes and feels really quite substantial. Just like a 1986 Taurus is smaller and has a much lighter frame than the equivalent Ford family sedan from 1961 I suspect popup campers in general would be much the same.
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Re: Most Robust Popup camper frames?

Postby Squigie » Sat Sep 14, 2019 11:37 am

I agree.
Older "standard" frames are generally much more over-built than more recent production.
But even some older frames were fairly light weight if the original intent was a 'light weight' model.

Two quick examples:
My brother owns a mid-'60s, 8-foot tent trailer from a major manufacturer (I don't remember which). The frame is made of 1/4" steel C-channel and angle, and has three times as many cross-members as necessary. He has never weighed the trailer, but I wouldn't be surprised if the frame alone was over 1,000 lbs.

My other brother owns a 13-foot travel trailer that has been in our family since it was purchased new in 1956. It weighs just shy of 7,000 lbs! -And the majority of that weight is in the floor and frame. That frame is also 1/4" steel C-channel, but spaced about 4" apart and oriented longitudinally, with three inches of plywood layered on top. Strip the body off that frame, and it could be a car hauler.

One for contrast:
I had an early '70s, 8-foot tent trailer (pretty sure it was a Coleman...?) with "lite" in the model name. The frame was a very minimalistic approach, with 1/8" (and thinner) rectangular steel tube and a few bits of angle. Empty, that entire trailer weighed less than 800 lbs. However, putting more than about 50 lbs of pressure on more than two of the stabilizing jacks would bend the frame and bow the entire trailer badly enough to jam the door and bend the corner posts. It was certainly light. But I think the wood floor and aluminum skin had better structure than the steel frame.
(I sold that trailer because it had too many issues beyond my desire for repair. But I sure do miss it. So light. And the floor plan made so much better use of the space than any other tent trailer I've had since then.)
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Re: Most Robust Popup camper frames?

Postby ktm_2000 » Sun Sep 15, 2019 6:00 pm

I did a standie off a 1981 starcraft pop-up before, the frame seemed pretty good.

Seems that that too old would be overkill to new, I might not meet what I am looking for. I guess I'm going to have to look at a few until I find the one I want. I checked out one the other day and it was rusted out bad, the guy had it out in his field said it had been used lately but only had a registration which was 7 years old.
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Re: Most Robust Popup camper frames?

Postby rmclarke » Sun Sep 15, 2019 7:33 pm

This is a 1984 Starcraft; approx. 6' x 12'....it's built like a tank. I plan on removing 2 of the internal frame crossmembers which will probably save me about 20 lbs.
Image
Some stuff was removed from the original frame (back 'bumper', stabilizers). Pic was taken when I was 'corrosealing' the frame. The axle and wheels are now back on and I estimate the rolling chassis to be in the 500 lb "neighborhood". I plan on weighing it once the lights are rewired.
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Re: Most Robust Popup camper frames?

Postby ktm_2000 » Sun Sep 15, 2019 9:08 pm

your frame looks pretty good. so mid 80s starcraft popups are on my shopping list.

funny thing your frame is significantly different from the one I had
https://photos.app.goo.gl/XUapvqnFGNe4JuK99
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Re: Most Robust Popup camper frames?

Postby rmclarke » Mon Sep 16, 2019 1:17 pm

ktm, that's a nice looking frame....my frame has a torsion axle and electric brakes...I'll have to try hard to keep the weight down
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