Steel Siding Installation
I have reached the point of installing the smooth siding and have decided to use 18 Ga steel. After considering the advantages and disadvantages of steel and aluminum, steel won.
Steel skin was installed for the following reasons.
Steel costs less than aluminum, aluminum coil is extremely hard to find at a reasonable cost. Steel can be easily welded at the seams to produce a continuos panel using sheets.
18 Ga steel is stronger than aluminum and can be welded directly to the frame providing a shell stronger than riveted construction.
Corrosion resistance, in almost every place I found corroded steel on my Eagle I found corroded aluminum. By using coated steel sheets gluded to the frame with Sikaflex, then sealed all edges with PL polyurethane adhesive sealant, corrosion of the steel siding will not be an issue.
Weight, it's not an airplane it's a bus and using 18 Ga steel will only add 300 lbs over .090 aluminum siding. I plan to utilize strong but light weight materials for the interior construction. Putting the added weight and strength in the shell should better protect the occupants inside, using light weight materials inside should reduce the possibility of injury from heavy cabinets or other structures tearing loose in a crash.
Am I over doing it by using steel and then covering it with fiberglass. NO, About an hours drive from my location rests a crashed Eagle conversion, the driver was fatally injured, the bus tore in half just aft of the front suspension. You can't over do the strength of the shell.
The original aluminum skin on my Eagle oil caned so severely that it looked like it might fall off when the sun would shine on the side at 80 deg. F. This was caused by loosening of the aluminum rivets and poor installation of the siding.
I found that I could use a coated 18 Ga steel skin and then apply an additional fiberglass skin to provide a very smooth sided, corrosion resistant, strong shell for less money than aluminum skin.
.090 Aluminum sheet will be used for the bay, engine doors and wheel well areas.
You can decide for yourself what is best for your project.