Why aluminum?

In the world of trailers, aluminum has long been neglected because of its bad reputation for being more fragile and expensive than steel. Yet when comparing the properties of the two materials it becomes clear that aluminum deserves its place in the industry and have advantages over steel that are undeniable.

 

In summary, the advantages of an aluminum structure against a steel structure are as follows:

 

  • A weight 2 to 3 times lower for the same resistance 
    • Increased loading capacity
    • Saving gas
  • No possibility of rust
    • Increase the life of the trailer
    • No maintenance needed
    • New appearance throughout his life
    • Very low depreciation over time

 

Comparative table between A36 or A500 steel grade structure and aluminum

 

 

On left: Aluminum sheet
On right : New galvanized sheet

 

After the previous table, it is possible to see that the aluminum alloy used in the design of Savage trailers has strength values similar to steel. In addition, aluminum has a density close to 3X lower, which implies that a piece of aluminum with a strength similar to a piece of steel will be 3X lighter than the latter.

So why is aluminum not used more often? The factor that can gives steel assemblies an advantage is its stiffness modulus, which is higher than that of aluminum. However in Savage trailers, the design of the trailers has been adapted to its manufacturing material to give Savage trailer rigidity similar to that of its competitors. Despite this adaptation, an aluminum Savage trailer structure will weigh about 2X less than steel. This advantage is not negligible in the field and here is why.

Weight avantages

The weight that can be put inside a trailer (loading capacity) is given by its GVWR (Gross vehicule weight rating) minus the weight of the trailer. So the weight saved by the use of an aluminum structure is added weight that can be put in the trailer. This even allows for some to purchase a lower and therefore less expensive PNVB trailer model or even save the annual inspection by having a trailer under 9920 lb (4500 kg) of GVWR.

Another benefit is fuel economy. Indeed, you will be surprised how much there is a difference between riding with a steel trailer and an aluminum trailer. The vehicle has less difficulty to accelerate and it transpires when refueling. With the price of gasoline increasing, this difference that may seem trivial everyday ends up on the life of the trailer to give a very great cost savings.

Durability

Rust does not only have a detrimental effect on the appearance of the trailer, it also degrades their resistance. When this degradation is too advanced, the repairs are multiplied and the risk of breakage on the trailer increases. It can be dangerous to put on the road a trailer whose structure is attacked by rust, because it is impossible to know its resistance and the load it is able to withstand.

Another huge advantage for aluminum is its resistance to rust. In fact, the aluminum in contact with the air oxidizes and forms on its surface a layer of alumina. This layer of alumina makes the aluminum completely impervious to corrosion. It is this thin layer of alumina that gives aluminum a duller color over time. However, a simple polishing restores the brilliant appearance to it. If in any way this layer of alumina is removed or scratched, the oxidation process resumes and recreates a new layer of alumina. Thus aluminum retains its properties throughout its life, no matter what you do to your trailer and the conditions in which it rolls.

The steel rust very quickly and the trailers that are attacked quickly lose their capacity. This is why manufacturers of steel trailers will use several different processes to limit this problem. Some put a layer of protective paint, but it needs a lot of maintenance and a simple scratch on the paint is enough for rust to settle. The other option is to hot dip galvanize steel, a more expensive process, but one that extends the life of the steel. Galvanizing is similar to painting except that instead of being applied paint, it is a layer of zinc. The zinc layer is however more tenacious and a simple scratch will not be enough to start the rusting process of the steel. However, unlike aluminum, maintenance is necessary to keep this protective layer on the trailers, as the surface zinc eventually degrades to no longer provide rust protection. In addition, this degradation is accelerated by salt on the roads, by scratches, moisture and water.

Due to the durability of aluminum, the depreciation with the years of a Savage trailer is much lower. Indeed, the resale value of a Savage trailer remains high because its structure remains like new throughout its life. It only takes a simple polishing on the aluminum parts to make them look new again. When compared to a steel trailer, the latter requires careful care to maintain a clean appearance. Painted models must be repainted frequently and once rust has started it may become difficult to give the trailer a good appearance. For galvanized trailers, these will whiten and get a dirtier look and mast quickly. It is impossible to polish them as this will remove the galvanizing layer and the trailer will rust quickly.

With all its information it becomes obvious why aluminum is worth the investment !!