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Unread 06-17-2008, 05:53 PM   #1
Jeff65SS
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New project: Camping/Offroad Trailer

Just picked up this trailer from my dad for free. I plan to turn it into an offroad camping trailer. This will be my first project that I will be welding. We'll see how it goes. Any suggestions or pointers will be appreciated.




It has a 2000# load capacity, but I plan on doing a little more structural support and fitting it with 33's. I need to do a little more research into axles to see what I need.

Hoping to end up with something like this:



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Unread 06-17-2008, 06:40 PM   #2
jgorm
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Cool project! I would use flipped 4" dropped axles for extra clearance. If you search trailer axle you will find 100s of options for axles, but you may be able to use the current axle and save $$.
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Unread 06-17-2008, 06:44 PM   #3
snowrydr01
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good luck. Are you making it to haul gear or to convert into a sleeper when you get there?
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Unread 06-17-2008, 06:57 PM   #4
Jeff65SS
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I'm mainly using it to haul gear, but I was thinking of putting a roof top tent on it as well. I guess the options are endless as I haven't really drawn out the design yet.
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Unread 06-17-2008, 07:00 PM   #5
Jeff65SS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgorm View Post
Cool project! I would use flipped 4" dropped axles for extra clearance. If you search trailer axle you will find 100s of options for axles, but you may be able to use the current axle and save $$.
I would love to use the axle that it has on it, but you can see that it is pretty narrow. It would be hard to fit large tires on it, unless I get some rediculous backspacing on the wheels. I will have to do a little more research and see what is most economical.
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Unread 06-18-2008, 09:32 AM   #6
pendleton
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff65SS View Post
I would love to use the axle that it has on it, but you can see that it is pretty narrow. It would be hard to fit large tires on it, unless I get some rediculous backspacing on the wheels. I will have to do a little more research and see what is most economical.
I have a similar HF trailer. Your wheel hubs appear to be 5 lug, and they are most likely 4.5" on 5, just like the wranglers and cherokees. You can probably get a set of used wheels and tires for cheap. Also, if you are handy enough, you can just cut and extend the existing axle to whatever length you need. It is a bit of work, but it is doable.
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Unread 06-18-2008, 11:25 AM   #7
Bigbob
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Is that the 4, X 6, trailer? Pretty sure the bolt pattern on the wheels are same as the Jeep. But the axle may be too narrow to install a big wheel and tire as the tire may hit the frame. I kinda/sorta looked at doing the same as you with one of these, but I figure I can build something from scratch cheaper. Being you have a freebie you have a good start.

You can build or purchase a heavier axle with 3,500 lb spindles and hubs for not much $$$$. I would suggest that if you plan on hitting many trails you go to 1,750 spindels. (3500 lb axle) The 1,000 lb spindles (2,000 lb axle) this trailer has may fail on you, especially with big tires and wheels on it. The springs should be O-K. You will want to move the axle, if you go new or keep what you have, to the other side of the spring. SOA (spring over axle) is the easy way to get a little more ground clearence. Those fenders will not work with 33" tires of course. And the expanded metal floor will allow a lot of dirt to come up through it. To keep it low cost you could just lay 3/8" plywood over the expanded metal. Diamond plate aluminum is nice as well, but being it's a trailer floor the aluminum will get beat to snot. The diamond plate on the sides would work very well. When I was thinking about doing this one of the items I was going to change was to raise the sides to about 24"-30" high. Pretty simple to do. For camping, I planned on building a 1" rect tube/plywood lid for the trailer the same size as my Queen size air mattress. It would be hinged to access the inside of the trailer and removable so I could use the trailer for other things. The lid would have a rail on 3 sides that sticks up 6" above the inflated mattress so we don't flop out at night! This lid would also serve well as addtional storage as it would be similar to a roof rack.

Have fun with this. Keep us informed. Bob


Oh, BTW, if you modify or build a new axle, have the wheel/tire track the same as your Jeep. That way the trailer just follows along in the Jeep tracks.
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Unread 06-18-2008, 11:30 AM   #8
TXST8tj
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i don't want to be mr. negative here, but i have seen a lot of people lately trying to turn utility trailers into offroad trailers. i admire people for wanting to make something cool and useful out of something that may not be as useful, but it just seems like it's almost a waste of time.

i guess by the time you take a perfectly good utility trailer, replace the axle, replace the wheels and tires, replace the leaf springs, replace the tongue, rebuild the sides, reinforce or rebuild the basic frame, etc., etc., etc.......you've basically made a brand new trailer from scratch and torn apart a perfectly good utility trailer.
like i said, i admire the effort, but it just doesn't seem to make sense. some of these homemade offroad trailers we see online are awesome, but they are all something 50x bigger and better than a 200lb capacity gardening trailer.

my thought is, keep the utility trailer for its desgined purpose, and using your welding abilities, make an offroad trailer from the ground-up. look to the utility trailer for basic design cues and construction....just using stronger materials. looking at the trailer you were given, it looks like the basic frame is made from angle steel, which isn't going to cut it. the sides are too low, which will need to be cut off and rebuilt, but the frame will need to be remade before you make and add the sides. when you remake the frame, you will need to attach new suspension mounts. you will need to run new wiring in the new frame. you will need to add a new tongue to the frame. and once again, etc., etc., etc.

not to be the downer, i would just do something else. this is not just directed to you because this is about the 3rd or 4th thread in the last week about turning a light weight utility trailer into an offroad trailer.

i hope to be able to make something like this one day, but looking around at utility trailers, i just can't see starting with one to end up with something like this:



unless i find a utility trailer made from 2" square tube, steel panels, and a heavy duty wide axle to start with...i know i will start from scratch and save a lot of money.
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Unread 06-18-2008, 03:58 PM   #9
raskull
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Yeah it would be fairly easy to make a trailer from scratch..

One thing I would make sure I use is a pintle hook instead of a standard ball hitch.

Here's a good reason why:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=7Pwa7WcYT-k
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Unread 06-18-2008, 04:34 PM   #10
Jeff65SS
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Thanks for the suggestions BigBob. My ideas are quite similar to yours. I definitely plan on doing the SOA and purchase a beefier axle than the 2000# one that is on it now. I will look into the 1750s.

As for what you are saying TXST8, I understand what you are saying about having to redo so much of the trailer. As it sits I really have no use for it. And considering I am not planning on loading that much weight into it, I don't see why I would have to rebuild the frame, add new suspension mounts, etc. The trailer is suprisingly sturdy, and with a little more stiffening, I think it will easily handle 500lbs. of gear on the trails. The whole point of this project is to practice my welding, have something fun to do, and see how it turns out. If something breaks on it, Oh well. I'll just fix it. I would love to build one from scratch, but it is hard and expensive to come across metal around here. And I would just as soon work with what I have.
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Unread 06-18-2008, 05:18 PM   #11
Bigbob
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXST8tj View Post
i don't want to be mr. negative here, but it just seems like it's almost a waste of time.

it looks like the basic frame is made from angle steel, which isn't going to cut it. the sides are too low, which will need to be cut off and rebuilt, but the frame will need to be remade before you make and add the sides. when you remake the frame, you will need to attach new suspension mounts. you will need to run new wiring in the new frame. you will need to add a new tongue to the frame. and once again, etc., etc., etc.

unless i find a utility trailer made from 2" square tube, steel panels, and a heavy duty wide axle to start with...i know i will start from scratch and save a lot of money.
Agreed about the 2" square tube frame, but his key word here is free.

I have seen these cheapo utility trailers off road and with the stock axle and tires under them they do pretty well, but they drag terra firma like crazy. I have seen them modified with larger tires and they were great off road trailers. You ain't gonna haul a pallet of brick over the Rubicon Trail, but he never made mention of trying that. The angle iron frames flex like crazy, which IMHO is a good thing off road. The light weight of these would be a huge plus as well. Just have to keep an eye on the welds and such for fatigue. The springs are O-K as he has no intention of going over the weight rating of the trailer. No need to re-do the frame, but inspections are a good thing. Like I said, I have watched these trailers on moderate trails and they do flex and tow great.
To raise the sides all he needs to do is cut the angle iron and stick in a piece to make it taller. Total cost would be $10.00 or so if you didn't figure welding rod and paint. He could have a very usable dual purpose trailer that gives him great simple practice with his welding for a low price in add-ons. The key words here are "free trailer", "500 lbs", "pratice Project", "Camping Trailer". He never said he wanted a bulletproof tank that he could take into hell and back.



Quote:
Originally Posted by raskull View Post
One thing I would make sure I use is a pintle hook instead of a standard ball hitch.

Here's a good reason why:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=7Pwa7WcYT-k
Nice video, but what did it have to do with a Pintle Hitch? I agree they are the only way to go, but towing the trailer across that creek did not require the flex a Pintle can offer. Now if we were talking Snorkles, he needed one to do that.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff65SS View Post
Thanks for the suggestions BigBob. My ideas are quite similar to yours. I definitely plan on doing the SOA and purchase a beefier axle than the 2000# one that is on it now. I will look into the 1750s.

As for what you are saying TXST8, I understand what you are saying about having to redo so much of the trailer. As it sits I really have no use for it. And considering I am not planning on loading that much weight into it, I don't see why I would have to rebuild the frame, add new suspension mounts, etc. The trailer is suprisingly sturdy, and with a little more stiffening, I think it will easily handle 500lbs. of gear on the trails. The whole point of this project is to practice my welding, have something fun to do, and see how it turns out. If something breaks on it, Oh well. I'll just fix it. I would love to build one from scratch, but it is hard and expensive to come across metal around here. And I would just as soon work with what I have.
Ditto, you will have a heck of a lightweight trailer for cheap. Only expenisive items will be tires and wheels.

What stopped me from buying one of these and modifing it was the cost. Lowes sells them for $500.00 which is a fair price for the little trailer. I figured to do all the modifcations on it I wanted was gonna run another $500.00. For $1,000.00 I can build a heck of a trailer from ground up so I did not buy the Lowes trailer. Of course I still have not started to build one yet!

Last fall I followed a guy on a trail with a old Honda 200 3 wheeler tied on one of the trailers like yours. Other than bigger tires and wheels it appeared he had no other modifications. The trailer still had the low sides and expanded metal floor. I don't know if he changed the axle or not. He also had sleeping bags, a lot of camping gear, gas cans, ice chests and other junk loaded on it. Trailer did fine. All the junk he had must have weighted close to 500 lbs, possibly more. He told me had it for a couple years with no issues at all, but he was not dragging it over class 4 trails either. Camping trails a plenty though.
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Mods done: Hurst tee handle, cheap hand throttle, Rokmen Merc front bumper, Warn 9.5 TI winch with 3/8" X 100 worth of Viking yellow rope, DPG OME Ultimate with JKS ACOS up front, Kilby Gas Tank Skid, Kilby Steering Box Skid, Jeep Medic Belly Up, Skidrow Engine Skid, Rockcrusher Diff Skid in the rear, Warn Diff cover in front, , AR Outlaw II's and MTR 12:50/15's, Homemade rear Bumper, Cheap Cobra CB, Puma OBA, Sirius Radio, Locker Defeat, Rockhard cage, Rockmen short corners, homemade tire swing/tailgate hinge affair, Airlift air bags on the rear- - - - - - and more to come!
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Unread 06-18-2008, 05:24 PM   #12
Bigbob
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Jeff, one more thing about off road camping trailers. Don't get real anal about trying to make it dirt/dust tight as you will never win. My old trailer, a 750 lb monster, was made to be fairly water/dirt and dust tight. It leaked like crazy. Heavy Duty Glad bags are your friend. Put all your stuff in trash bags to keep stuff dry and clean. A lot easier than being anal.
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2006 Solar Yellow Rubicon Unlimited
Jeep Club Member #1340
6 Speed, Hardtop
Mods done: Hurst tee handle, cheap hand throttle, Rokmen Merc front bumper, Warn 9.5 TI winch with 3/8" X 100 worth of Viking yellow rope, DPG OME Ultimate with JKS ACOS up front, Kilby Gas Tank Skid, Kilby Steering Box Skid, Jeep Medic Belly Up, Skidrow Engine Skid, Rockcrusher Diff Skid in the rear, Warn Diff cover in front, , AR Outlaw II's and MTR 12:50/15's, Homemade rear Bumper, Cheap Cobra CB, Puma OBA, Sirius Radio, Locker Defeat, Rockhard cage, Rockmen short corners, homemade tire swing/tailgate hinge affair, Airlift air bags on the rear- - - - - - and more to come!
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Unread 06-18-2008, 05:34 PM   #13
Jeff65SS
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigbob View Post
Jeff, one more thing about off road camping trailers. Don't get real anal about trying to make it dirt/dust tight as you will never win. My old trailer, a 750 lb monster, was made to be fairly water/dirt and dust tight. It leaked like crazy. Heavy Duty Glad bags are your friend. Put all your stuff in trash bags to keep stuff dry and clean. A lot easier than being anal.
Thanks for the tip
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Unread 06-19-2008, 09:32 AM   #14
TXST8tj
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i totally understand what you and others are trying to do, and i fully respect the 'free' aspect, i was just trying to express that this starting out as 'free', will probably go far from it by the time you are done, and you probably won't have much left of the original trailer to warrant even messing with it. by saying that, i was going off of you mentioning that you might like to put a rooftop tent on it. if it's just for camping gear, not including a rooftop tent, then yeah, that would probably work out pretty well. however, if you plan to add the weight of camping gear, a rooftop tent, and people in that tent, that is not the trailer to build on...it won't cut it.
as an offroad utility trailer, only for carrying gear, with a little beefing up, it would probably be perfect. i think i get ahead of myself sometimes.
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Unread 06-19-2008, 11:40 AM   #15
JPFREEK
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I have to agree with TXST8, with some patience you should be able to find a decent M416 or M101 military trailer as a starting point. After a year of searching, I found my m416 local for $345. All I need to do is some fairly minor rust repair, repaint and a new set of springs and I have something I can tow just about anywhere.



Save the utility trailer for trips to Home Depot and picking up large Jeep parts.
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