Aluminum 45ft semi trailer
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  1. #1
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    Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    I just got in a 45 foot aluminum flatbed trailer to do some repairs on. The customer has a small fleet of a flatbed trailers and I really want to make him happy so he brings more to me. I would like any advice from anyone who has had experience working on these. It is mostly cracks in the floor from the flexing that the trailer goes through. I just want to make sure my welds don't crack like the last guys.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Show a pic of the cracked welds might help

  3. #3
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    In my experience with boats once AL has flexed enough to start cracking you will spend the rest of its days chasing them.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Quote Originally Posted by turk View Post
    In my experience with boats once AL has flexed enough to start cracking you will spend the rest of its days chasing them.
    This. EVERY single aluminum semi trailer has cracks, and even when you weld them back up, new ones with start in other places, and then back where you welded. It's truly the nature of the beast.

    I've seen the corners of trailers that get abused welded up over and over again, and the stresses and strains just crack them right away.

  5. #5
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Drill out the ends of the cracks, and also grind out past the ends of the cracks. wire brush with a ss brush before welding between passes and when your done. Compressed air is your friend. Use what ever is a compatible filler metal, most likely 5356. If I get a dirty joint a trick is to pull your first pass, it wont boil and blow out so bad and it allows you to get some filler in. grind out that pass and wire brush it and push the rest. Most importantly, protect them airlines!
    Nothing Ever Got Done By Quitting, Never Give Up.

  6. #6
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Is it cracked welds or cracked planks ? If its cracked planks I would check the crossmembers for cracks or broken welds. Also check for corrosion on the bottom side by the crossmember. Pictures of the cracked areas would help a lot. Simply welding over the crack in a plank is a waste of time unless it was damage caused by loading.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    You're going to start fighting a loosing battle over and over again. Once they start to crack you just chase the cracks around. Its usually reached its fatigue life
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  8. #8
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Yep what Dualie said. That guy with the trailers won't here of it though. He's gonna drag that trailer till it's undraggable. Just explain it to him a bit and he should be happy. Weld it and it'll crack somewhere else. Always do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dualie View Post
    You're going to start fighting a loosing battle over and over again. Once they start to crack you just chase the cracks around. Its usually reached its fatigue life
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  9. #9
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Never, AND I MEAN NEVER, have I seen an aluminum trailer that will go the distance that a steel one will.

    I've often wondered if the additional payload pays for the trailer during the service life of the trailer as compared to a good old steel one

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  10. #10
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    I am working on the 3rd trailer from the same guy. He knows the first one needs to be replaced. Most of the cracks are from loading damage but the first trailer is loose everywhere & that is its biggest problem. The dock where they deliver is too low & has steel bumpers so almost every trailer looks the same on the rear. If he keeps paying I'll keep fixing. I have thought about putting steel x bracing between the frame of the one that is real loose.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Well I have one of this guys trailers back in the shop this one almost lost a complete suspension and axle. It was totally broke off on the driver side and only about 50 percent of the welds on the passenger side have not broken. I really like people who abuse there junk then bring it to me. At least this time he has a spare trailer and I'm able to spend the time in order to fix this one correctly.
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  12. #12
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Not trying to be the welding police but we perform annual dot inspections where I work and if this thing is that bad I would wash my hands of it. If he gets into an accident and dot checks that thing out. They might be knocking at your door. There's a professional trailer shop that we send all the big jobs to and they even get to the point where the say no more. There a utility and trail king dealer Just remember to cya

  13. #13
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    This one is mostly in good shape. These were not very good factory welds. I ground all the welds i could get to. The ones that I couldn't grind well I used 6011 rods. Some after welding with 6011s I plated over with gmaw.
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  14. #14
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    What am I missing here? 6011?
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  15. #15
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Quote Originally Posted by shovelon View Post
    What am I missing here? 6011?
    The main frame beams are steel. The same trailer is back in the shop again. The customer said after I fix it this time he is going to sell it. The problem it has now is all the beams & channels above the 5th wheel plate rusted through & the plate pushed up between the frame.
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  16. #16
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

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  17. #17
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Osweld - you don't need the work that badly. The customer now says that he is going to sell it when he gets it back. If he does (usually these guys don't, they continue to run it ) the work trail will lead back to you and your insurance company. Once you work on something like this it becomes your liability. Don't let yours and your family's future earnings be controlled by someone who care less about proper maintenance. Think long and hard on patching his beaters without him letting you fix them properly.
    Charlie

  18. #18
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    If this is how he operates I don't think I would touch anything of his again.
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  19. #19
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Quote Originally Posted by osweld View Post
    The main frame beams are steel. The same trailer is back in the shop again. The customer said after I fix it this time he is going to sell it. The problem it has now is all the beams & channels above the 5th wheel plate rusted through & the plate pushed up between the frame.
    I wonder how many times I have heard that one, just fix it good enough to get rid of then a few years latter brought back by same owner for another repair of some kind.

  20. #20
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    At least with major repairs like this one he gives me the time & money to fix it right. I won't touch a project if I can't do what really needs to be done especially if it is a safety concern.
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  21. #21
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    I have fixed a few of those , a ton of work . I would cut the aluminum planks back far enough, stagerring the joints on 2 or 3 crossmembers. A wood deck would be easier . Get a new kingpin which you have to size for the thickness off the plate. I would use 3-8 plate for the coupler plate. Cut all the garbage out and start over. I would check over the rest of the trailer for rusted out spots before attempting this. Many times the rest of the trailer is in good shape and the coupler is rotted because crap gets in and cant get out . If you don't have a good 60 amp plasma you will want one , since that crap wont cut very well with a torch. Also you will want to raise the front up since a lot of the work will be done on a creeper seat. Good Luck.
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  22. #22
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    I have fixed a few of those , a ton of work . I would cut the aluminum planks back far enough, stagerring the joints on 2 or 3 crossmembers. A wood deck would be easier . Get a new kingpin which you have to size for the thickness off the plate. I would use 3-8 plate for the coupler plate. Cut all the garbage out and start over. I would check over the rest of the trailer for rusted out spots before attempting this. Many times the rest of the trailer is in good shape and the coupler is rotted because crap gets in and cant get out . If you don't have a good 60 amp plasma you will want one , since that crap wont cut very well with a torch. Also you will want to raise the front up since a lot of the work will be done on a creeper seat. Good Luck.
    I cut 2 of the planks I could cut more but I don't want to splice the wires. My 40 amp plasma did pretty good at blowing through the rust. I am putting heavier beams across but going back with the same 1/4" plate. I am going to plate over the main frame because it is very pitted around where the beams are welded.
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  23. #23
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Make sure to put extra support in line with the 2 sides of the fifth wheel. Also bending the leading edge of the plate upwards helps if the trailer was dropped low. A needle scaler works better than anything for cleaning the rust and scale off the frame.
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  24. #24
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    Make sure to put extra support in line with the 2 sides of the fifth wheel. Also bending the leading edge of the plate upwards helps if the trailer was dropped low. A needle scaler works better than anything for cleaning the rust and scale off the frame.

    The original inline supports were only 3/16. I am replacing with 1/4. The cross beams were only 6" 9lb wide flange. I am replacing with 12lb. I have another shop bending a plate just like the original. I realize now why people call these Transcrap trailers they are not built heavy enough in some places.
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  25. #25
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    Re: Aluminum 45ft semi trailer

    Our trailer are all alu ,( reitnouer , mack , alutreck ) and the only one we have to stop work on it is the fountain half steel alf alu , we have done so far only rub rail repair to the other , no integrity
    Keep the picture coming please
    I will try my best to be understood

    MY DREAM GARAGE


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