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Unread 05-31-2008, 03:03 AM   #1
waterboarder
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Building an off-road trailer from scratch

I wanted a trailer for off-road use and something to give my stuff security when I went camping with a soft top jeep. I did a lot of looking around - anything I was interested in was really expensive. This includes the Chaser, Horizon, Tentrax, E1, etc. Way, way too much money as far as I was concerned. Then I started looking at these old WW2 trailers people are talking about. Between the restoration and modifications to get it to where I wanted it to be, I decided that for the same or less amount of work, I might as well build something from scratch and make more or less exactly what I wanted.

Originally, I wanted to build something for $2K or less - but that was a fantasy. It's now looking like a $4000 project, but I think that's the upper limit. A lot of that cost is the tool boxes and the upgrade to electric brakes. A fair portion of it will be in painting/powder-coating too - that's the cost I'm really trying to get down in some way. Note: I've got some significant help from a buddy of mine in building this.

Design Goals:
Create an off-road trailer, suitable for camping with a soft-top Jeep, that makes the process of going camping and returning from camping as painless as possible. This will encourage us to actually GO camping. Having a trailer on the ready, pre-packed with everything necessary except food and water will allow us to get out of the house and out of town much faster Friday after work, and also minimize the "put away time" when we return from a trip.

Design Requirements:
1). Heavy duty, for off-road use and abuse.
2). Small-ish, for trail use. No wider than Jeep, should track Jeep perfectly.
3). Jack-knifeable when backing up (I stuck driving a trailer)
4). Security boxes for camping with soft top Jeep (this is a big point of building something)
5). Enough capacity to go camping for 2 for a week, with all food, gas, water, equipment and supplies.
6). Adjustable axle - so I can put my scooter on a hitch rack and still have proper center of mass
7). Flat top, suitable for sleeping if necessary, carrying 4 wheeler, or other additional cargo
8). Low profile - should not block up the rear window - I want to see out the back of the Jeep

Design Specifications:
Trailer bed is 6.5' x 4' (2" square steel tubing)
Axle and Hubs is rated for 3500 pounds, and has electric brakes
Has 3 48"x18"x18" Buyer's steel toolboxes, all lockable ($1000, right there)
Has new 31" tires (3, 2+spare) - which I got in trade for the 5 take-off tires from my Sahara
16" white wagon-wheel rims ($150 or so - not precisely what I wanted, but this will do for now)
Rear bumper with 4.5" LED tail lights (4) and 4.5" backup lights (2)
Rear receiver hitch for cargo rack or other utility uses
Various compartments for stuff, accessible via multiple doors
Aluminum sheeting skin and floor. No wood in this trailer.
Trying to keep the trailer weight under 1000 pounds - don't know if that will happen (the tool boxes are 320 pounds total).

I think you get the idea. One of the toolboxes will be used as a galley. Will have a cook stove in there, hooked up to a propane bottle, plates, forks, cups, spices, various cooking utensils, etc. A second toolbox will be used for storing expensive camping gear (tents, sleeping bags, flashlights and electronics, etc. etc.). The third toolbox will be used for storing expensive tools (guns, axes, jacks, and whatever else. Also can be used to store soft top windows. It will have a couple of storage cubbies up front, which are accessible from other side of the trailer, and one large central space, accessible from the back, for coolers, folding chairs, folding tables, etc. It will also have a cubbie for holding at least 6 5 gallon jugs of gas or water (the mix depending on the trip).

To some degree, this will look a lot like a horizon - except it will not have a tent or lift-top, it will have three toolboxes (one facing front) and will have more capacity and a higher weight limit. It will also have all the little tie-down points and other small features that make it just perfect for what I want. I'm also going to try to make it so the rear bumper is bolt on and JK compatible. That way, if I want to at some point in the future, I can put a JK bumper on it (either new, or get a new bumper for my JK and put the bumper I have on there now on the trailer).

Trailer is now under construction in garage. Today's pictures are attached (:

Cheers!
td

30_may_2008_1.jpg   30_may_2008_2.jpg   30_may_2008_3.jpg   30_may_2008_5.jpg   attachment.jpg  

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Unread 05-31-2008, 10:19 AM   #2
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That looks like a sweet project. I built something similar although not near as fancy. I just used stuff I had laying around or aquired. I've been wanting to build another one and I might steel some of you ideas.
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Unread 05-31-2008, 11:09 AM   #3
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I suggest that you also address the trailer hitch. Military trailers use pintel type hitches that are very forgiving on rough terrain. Remember that when your Jeep starts uphill in an off road situation, the trailer is still on flat ground. First, the ball mount points down and then when the rear wheels start uphill the angle of the ball and hitch is way out of safe parameters.

The longer the tongue, the bigger the potential problem.

Just my $02.
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Unread 05-31-2008, 01:35 PM   #4
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Yeah, if you're gonna pull it offroad research hitches some. There are a few different designs that allow alot of flexability. Mine just has a regular ball hitch. I don't pull it on trails though.
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Unread 05-31-2008, 04:24 PM   #5
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Here is a trailer I looked at on a jeep a few months back. Actually kinda cool. Specs on the hitch in link:

http://www.tentrax.com/specs.html
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Unread 05-31-2008, 06:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustywrangler View Post
Here is a trailer I looked at on a jeep a few months back. Actually kinda cool.
Yeah, I looked at those too. By the time you build one up to the point where it's worth having, it's pretty damned expensive - plus it is really too small to meet my needs anyway. But if you had the money and needed something really lightweight, I guess it's not a bad way to go. Still - price is high. The "sample invoice" for an off-road version comes in at basically $8000. I'm aiming for half that with my trailer (:

In other news - I decided my trailer sits too high for my purpose. By changing from a spring over axle to a spring under axle configuration, I lose about 5" in height - so that's what I am going to do (it's still a little higher than I would like, but oh well). However, I will weld two sets of axle brackets on, so that I can configure the springs in either location, for maximum flexibility (so to speak).

Today's pictures attached (:
31_may_2008_1.jpg   31_may_2008_2.jpg   31_may_2008_3.jpg  
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Unread 05-31-2008, 06:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustywrangler View Post
Here is a trailer I looked at on a jeep a few months back. Actually kinda cool. Specs on the hitch in link:

http://www.tentrax.com/specs.html
That is pretty cool. Also, that pintel accessory is slick.
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Unread 05-31-2008, 08:43 PM   #8
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It's looking good. It might settle down some after you break in the springs and add all the weight of the tool boxes. I tried a few different configurations with mine. I originally had a drop axle under it and flipped it over. It was incredibly tall but it made it easy to work on. I didn't have to lean over too far. I have a straight axle in a spring over config right now and it sits perfect behind my jeep. I have 35's both on the jeep and the trailer.

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Unread 05-31-2008, 08:59 PM   #9
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Hey, that's pretty nice looking. Good job!

Yeah - I figure it will settle some once it gets fully built that's why I'm putting the spring brackets on the axles both ways - so I can configure it for spring over or under axle as needed. Between that and the adjustable axle, I should have a lot of flexibility for various things.
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Unread 06-08-2008, 10:13 PM   #10
waterboarder
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6 June 2008 Updates...

Not much to say - but you can look at a picture.
6_june_2008.jpg  
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Unread 06-08-2008, 11:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texasdog View Post
Not much to say - but you can look at a picture.
Looks nice. my trailer still needs a crap load of work. (paint,make the sides and tailgate, wire up the lights, repack the hub bearings. i't just keeps going)
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Unread 06-09-2008, 11:25 AM   #12
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Inspiring, Tdog.
I'm leaning toward home-built now too.
Keep it coming.
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Unread 06-14-2008, 09:02 PM   #13
waterboarder
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Thanks all (:

Today's pictures are attached. Had to undo the side box welding from the previous picture and take a slightly different approach to accommodate some previous errors. You can compare with previous pict if you want to see what's different (:
14_june_2008_1_web.jpg   14_june_2008_2_web.jpg  
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Unread 06-16-2008, 11:23 AM   #14
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it's good to see that I'm not the only one to use those alabama jack stands aka eight inch block
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Unread 06-16-2008, 05:19 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wirenut View Post
it's good to see that I'm not the only one to use those alabama jack stands aka eight inch block
Yeah, I put those on there to ensure it is actually level for purposes of welding stuff on there and making things level (:

In other news - today's pictures are attached. You can see that all three toolbox frames have been welded on (tack welded for the moment) and the front electrical & accessories box has been framed in. I've also added some notes about what is coming up next.
16_june_2008_1_web.jpg   16_june_2008_2_web.jpg  
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