Steel vs Alumninium

J-No

New member
#1
Getting a couple estimate from local welders/trailer builders.

4x6 open utility. Box frame, 18” sides with tailgate. 2200# axle, i supply Jeep wheels. Sending them pics off here for ideas.

Steel bid from local welder is $500 less than Alu trailer company—they would be taking one of their stock plans and modifying.

I live in the snow belt—thinking alu would help with rust.

Pros/cons?
 
#2
If I knew the aluminum one was just as strong, but much lighter, I would go for that.

Ensure galvanic isolation where the aluminum joins to steel.
 
#3
I have Aluminess bumpers and an aluminum flatbed under my camper. I live in the snow and salted roads zone and with stainless hardware, zero corrosion issues. Plenty strong as well. Weight savings is a big plus over steel.
 
#4
I'd go aluminum all day for that...by the time you have the steel trailer painted/powdercoated it'll probably be more, not to mention the constant maintenance chasing rust eventually.
 
#5
For objects that are going to be shaken, bounced around and vibrated aluminum is very likely to crack at the welds. Either the weld or the aluminum but usually the weld. The proper way is to do a heat treatment of the object after welding but that is ungodly expensive. Do a web search on this before commiting to an aluminum trailer and if you commit make sure your builder is a very experienced in welding aluminum. I would also take this cracking into consideration in how the trailer is designed so as to minimize it.
 

J-No

New member
#6
Thanks all. This will see some gravel and minimal maintenance, but that's about it. Eventually want to make it black, but purely for aesthetic reasons. It is trailer manufacturer who does exclusively aluminum.
 
#7
Personally I would go with steel, boxed frame, powder coated (or just regular paint so you can do touch ups yourself), especially if I wanted to paint it black anyway. Ask each builder what they estimate the weight of each trailer once completed or ask them for a list of materials used and add it up yourself. You can find weight by foot of each material online. I can’t imagine a steel 4x6 open trailer weighing that much more than aluminum. at least not enough to justify the extra cost for me.

I guess you need to ask yourself how often you are gonna use it with snow/ice/salt on the ground and figure out if the price difference is worth it to you.
 
#8
For objects that are going to be shaken, bounced around and vibrated aluminum is very likely to crack at the welds. Either the weld or the aluminum but usually the weld. The proper way is to do a heat treatment of the object after welding but that is ungodly expensive. Do a web search on this before commiting to an aluminum trailer and if you commit make sure your builder is a very experienced in welding aluminum. I would also take this cracking into consideration in how the trailer is designed so as to minimize it.
You mean like airplanes?
 
#9
You mean like airplanes?

Probably all welded aluminum parts on airplanes go through more than one heat treat process after welding. Take a look at pretty much any 10 year old trailer made of aluminum. If you don't find any cracked welds you probably didn't look hard enough
 
#11
Bolted Aluminum > welded steel > welded aluminum

Properly designed, you can assume that an aluminum frame would be half the weight of a steel frame for equal strength, before you add in corrosion resistance for the steel. You lose a lot of that weight advantage, or strength parity, without paying a lot for welded aluminum to reverse the annealing in the joints, but the corrosion resistance might still make that trade worth the costs.
 
#13
I also live in Minnesota. I’ve had aluminum bumpers on trucks for a decade - never a failure, no corrosion.

As for airplanes, being over engineered - I’m not planning on flying my truck.
 
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