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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Phoenix
    Posts
    7

    Default Bonding alum panels to a steel trailer

    I am building a custom enclosed trailer for my race car. Everything above the 3x3 main channel is steel spaceframe construction of 3/4 and 5/8 tubing, all triangulated - the welder got a real workout with about 500 welds.

    It's time to panel the whole thing in aluminum. I want a smooth look, no screws or rivets to mess up the paint job its going to get. I am thinking about structural adhesive to bond the alum to the steel. I've read about the two-part super adhesives like Lord Fusor, but the price is prohibitive for the many hundreds of feet I have to bond. Anyone have experience with something a little less spendy? The marine industry loves 3M 5200 for bonding and sealing. I'm wondering if that might be strong enough to withstand the sheer and peel the panel will be subject to at 75 MPH, and the temps we get in Phoenix (110+). Or any other ideas for bonding?


    Also, I am trying to decide on panel thickness. Local suppliers have alum 3003 in .032, and 5052 in .025 & .032. I'm familiar with 5052 but not 3003. Any recommendations here?

    Thanks

    Bill

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    541

    Default

    3003 is really pliable, bends easy, great for forming . But would dent really easy.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Belle Plaine Iowa
    Posts
    270

    Default

    I would bet good money that youll have lots of buckling just from sitting in the sun. Id rather have the screws.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Phoenix
    Posts
    7

    Default

    The adhesive on 100% of the steel structure makes the alum a stressed member. Screws only make a connection where ever they are placed, essentially giving about 5% contact. The glued panels should buckle less than screwed panels - in theory.

    My current PACE trailer is screwed and it buckles all over the place. Anyway, it's an experiment on my part. If I wasn't trying to build a super-light trailer I'd probably go with some kind of thicker fiberglass panel and glue that.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Guam
    Posts
    177

    Default Good stuff

    I'd go for the 5200, about a year ago a 80' racing sailboat came thru here, the owner said theres like 17 bolts in the whole boat. All most every thing is stuck together with 5200 even the chain plates.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Western, NY
    Posts
    27

    Default

    The adhesive used on windshields is also used for structural panels in some app;ications. Just make sure they are properly positioned when applied.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    TEXAS
    Posts
    92

    Default

    3m vhb

    i used it for the panel on some hay racks i made for the top of horse trailers and one of them has been in use for 8 years and looks like new still. the horse trailer i have has all the paneling bonded with it too
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Kodiak, Alaska
    Posts
    15

    Default Don't use 5200 for trailer

    I use 5200 all the time for marine applications. It works great in a wet environment because it takes years to cure. It will skin over in about a day but will take over a week to be able to hold anything. I recently took apart a sign I built 10 years ago and used 5200 on some parts. The 5200 was still very sticky after you puncture the skin. On boats it works great because it remains flexible as the boat flexes in the water. Thats just my 2 cents.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Lake of the Ozarks MO
    Posts
    3,510

    Default

    IMO 5200 is for sealing and not bonding.
    The Lords glue is truely awsum and requires less prep and equipment than competitors products.
    I'm trying to imagine your project...what shape is the tubing? square?
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Phoenix
    Posts
    7

    Default

    It's square tubing. Imagine a plane fuselage. Gives lots of strength in a light package.

    All my car chassis are built that way, but the panels are screwed and sealed (but not bonded) since they have to be able to be removed at times for crash repair. I'm thinking the trailer won't need to be repaired, much, so a permanent bond should work well and allow the uses of lighter alum. I should have mentioned up front the goal is light weight. I am replacing my existing dual axle, full height 7,000 lb trailer. The new one is a single axle, low profile 3,500 lb, with a bit of aero taper up front for less wind resistance.

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