08-25-2011, 10:48 PM #1
Anyone build their own travel trailer?
I'm thinking of building my own trailer on the chassis from a junker pop-up tent trailer. Hopefully it has working appliances and I can keep them to install in my new project. My car is under-powered (2.7L V6) and I'm looking for something small, simple, aerodynamic and LIGHT.
I can't seem to find a lot of detail on the interwebz except for this very informative description on how to make a teardrop trailer...
I like his idea on the approach and I wonder if something similar would work on a more full-height trailer, but is this still going to be structurally sound? Hoping for winter use so a simple tear-drop (with outdoor mess area) simply isn't going to cut it.
I'm no tradesman so I don't really know anything, but I like to tinker and think this could be a fun project.Goal: 80 days
08-25-2011, 11:19 PM #2
Yes. Just did it last winter. I was pretty surprised by how simple they are built. Excuse the crappy cell phone pictures, but they should give you an idea.
Started with a 1971 Aladdin Car Pet.
Found a lot of rot.
So I took some measurements and drew it up in CAD. I originally planned to re-use the siding.
Then I tore it down to the frame.
And built it back up.
I'm hoping to build another one this fall, but I need to put some finishing touches on this one first. Learned a ton on the first build. I'd really like to build a hard walled pop-up. Much like one of those HI-LO trailers, but smaller and with much better insulation. Specifically for winter recreation.
Send me a PM and I'll give you a link to the rest of the photos. If anybody is interested, I'll post details up here to help out.
08-26-2011, 12:11 AM #3
Thanks for the great pics!
It's very useful to know that the inside of a production trailer is simple wood framing... it lends confidence to the possibility of me pulling something like this off.
I was thinking of a variation on a hard-walled pop-up myself... something that's only slightly taller than the top of my car but with a crank system (maybe I can harvest this from the scrapped trailer as well), that raises the roof up 1-2 feet when you're parked. Low profile for better towing, higher profile with more headroom and the benefits of hard-walled construction for winter when you're parked.
Edit: Just found this...
This is like what I had in mind, but I would likely make it a bit taller and longer with an seating area with table.
Last edited by Shorty_J; 08-26-2011 at 12:43 AM.Goal: 80 days
08-26-2011, 08:01 AM #4
If you are going to take an existing traditional pop-up trailer and build either a full height or solid wood pop-up instead of the canvas- take into consideration the added weight and what the axle and frame is rated for. An empty trailer is only part of the max weight- you then fill it with additional gear etc. and you need to make sure it will be able to handle the new shell weight as well as all the equipment and gear.
08-26-2011, 08:21 AM #5
I'd be really tempted to go stitch-n-glue, w/fiberglassed plywood over a few bulkheads, like they do with Wharram catamarans, instead of a frame.Something about the wrinkle in your forehead tells me there's a fit about to get thrown
And I never hear a single word you say when you tell me not to have my fun
It's the same old shit that I ain't gonna take off anyone.
and I never had a shortage of people tryin' to warn me about the dangers I pose to myself.
Patterson Hood of the DBT's
08-26-2011, 09:24 AM #6
^^^ Do you think that would hold up to highway speeds and added winds? I guess I'm a figerglass JONG... I really don't know what to expect in terms of strengths.
Last edited by Shorty_J; 08-26-2011 at 11:01 AM.Goal: 80 days
08-26-2011, 04:41 PM #7
Why not just pick up a used egg and save yourself a lot of headaches?
08-26-2011, 04:42 PM #8
If I built a pop-up, I would have the top come down over the bottom. Like a shoe box. I think that will minimize leaking issues. I think a 4' bottom with a 2' top would work good. I would keep the length to less than 12'. I just don't need more than that. I'd like to keep it simple, light, and low profile (out of the wind). I might even put the door in the back and have it hinge so the front would drop down and create a dart into the wind. Probably not as aerodynamic as having the whole top drop, but better than a full size sail.
On my current build, it really is super simple. 1x2's butt jointed together and fastened with a roofing stapler. The frame is then fastened to 1/4 luan plywood with construction adhesive and staples. This creates a good shear wall as long as you don't cut corners on the construction adhesive. Cut in rigid polystyrene insulation and you've got a pretty solid wall.
In the order of assembly, you build the floor first and fasten it to the frame. The sides all fasten to the side of the floor. Put up the rear and two sides first. Then the roof. Then your interior cabinetry, tables, and bunks. Put the front wall on last.
I didn't put any plumbing or electrical in. I don't want to worry about a frozen pipe on a ski trip. It's comfortable enough to ride out a short storm, but I'm gone skiing most of the time this thing is parked. Just enough room to cook a good meal and get some sleep.
Next trick is to get a wood stove in there. I love nice dry heat in the winter. Don't want to burn this thing down, or suffocate. I know it can be done. Just need to be smart about it.
Here is a photo looking into the trailer from the front so you can get an idea of the layout. Super simple.
Here is another shot from the bunk after the flooring went it in and paint had dried.
I originally planned to have a clear finish on the inside. I was careful to book match all of the interior plywood. It came out looking great, but it was too dark and it felt like you were sitting inside a tree. You couldn't tell which way was up. So I painted the walls white to help the light bounce around inside.
This is good for me to write this junk down so I can sort out plans for the next trailer. I'll share photos and CAD drawings with anybody that is interested.
08-26-2011, 07:30 PM #9
08-26-2011, 08:22 PM #10Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2008
- northern BC
08-26-2011, 08:25 PM #11
Agreed. Results were even better than I had hoped for.
Regarding the egg... I'd love to buy one but they're pretty expensive around here even for old beaters that would still need a lot of work... and because I think it would be a cool project to build my own from (pretty much) the ground up.
I like the 2' over 4' idea... much simpler than what I had in mind. Any idea how I could rig that to raise and lower easily?
XXX-er... I do like the no-rot factor on fiberglass, and I was thinking about going very thin on the plywood and doing a surface coat of fiberglass on top for rigidity and resiliency. It would also help strengthen the corner joints from the outside.Goal: 80 days
08-26-2011, 09:31 PM #12Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2008
- northern BC
All those FG trailers were built like septic tanks ...they don't leak
The GF has a 13' trillium <1500lbs tows real easy behind my small PU, 37 yrs ago a Boler was 1695$ now they average 5000-6000$ for a half decent one ... SO they hold their value
BUT if you want to make something go for it I suppose
08-26-2011, 10:00 PM #13
Trillium = Badass. And XXX-er right, they don't leak, in fact drop one in a river and I bet it'd float. There are stories about people leaving roof vents open in the fall and then opening the door to a tidal wave in the spring. My parents bought a used one ('04 I think) and at the factory in Calgary they get treated like they just ordered a gold plated VIP model.
As for the the build your own trailer idea... haven't done it, but seeing as the Toyota has a flatbed I've been tossing around ideas of a foam core fibreglass popup similar to the XP Camper (but for like....100Gs less). There are a couple of builds on the Exped forums about foamcore campers.Life is simple. Go Explore.
08-27-2011, 12:56 AM #14
08-27-2011, 01:52 AM #15Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2008
- northern BC
5000-6000 $ is for a 37 yr old ... the new ones are 17K
08-27-2011, 02:22 AM #16
^^^ Yup.Goal: 80 days
08-28-2011, 11:58 AM #17
If you build your own trailer, look into the registration requirements. I could be mistaken, but my understanding is that if you do not put in a permanent sink or bathroom, you don't have to register the trailer. In Oregon, the DMV considers it a cargo/utility trailer. Not a whole lot of savings, but avoiding a trip to the DMV is priceless.
Here is a reference. http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/vehic..._trailer.shtml
"Note: You do not have to register a light trailer (which includes a utility, boat, or horse trailer) or obtain a trip permit to operate it on the road if the trailer, plus the heaviest load carried, weighs 1,800 pounds or less. However, you may wish to obtain a title for your trailer because most law enforcement agencies and insurance companies want to see proof of ownership if it is ever stolen. All trailers used on the road must be equipped to meet safety standards; see ODOT's Vehicle Equipment and Safety page for more information."
08-28-2011, 08:09 PM #18
I'll look into that w.r.t. Alberta... thanks. I would like to install a propane furnace, though, so that might affect things.
I've started to think that the only reasonable way to achieve a lifting roof is to use the parts from a pop-up tent trailer and assist them with gas struts. Might have to get rid of the flat bed and gut a tent trailer with this intact... unless someone has another idea on how to achieve the roof lift?Goal: 80 days
08-28-2011, 08:33 PM #19
08-28-2011, 10:58 PM #20
^^^ sweet... need to pick up those skis anyway.
I'll be in touch.Goal: 80 days
08-29-2011, 03:59 PM #21
Great work 10% !
was out this weekend with some friends who have a Scamp
it got me thinking....trailers are pretty sweet
08-30-2011, 08:20 AM #22
$1400 for a starting point (and might not need much anyways?)
08-11-2016, 04:51 PM #23Registered User
- Join Date
- Mar 2014
Old thread but relevant to me. Anyone retrofitted an insulated utility trailer as a winter capable RV? Just spent the weekend with two folks who retrofitted their own Sprinters but we are partial to trailer/4wd tow vehicle. Currently have an Escape 17b but water systems not winter worthy. $30,000 for a Lance, $50,000 for an Oliver and they both have issues. Wondering if I take the project to my RV mechanic (looking for work in the winter) we might be able to come up with something in the $30,000 range?
08-11-2016, 10:16 PM #24