Weight and Balance

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Re: Weight and Balance

Postby linuxmanxxx » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:09 pm

I built a little 4x8 with commercial door rear entrance. Interior 1/8 paneling outer Luan with aluminum contact cement glued. Square box on tractor supply no floor trailer and it was 480 finished out. Walls were stick framed 1x2 3/4" foam from home Depot using 3m water based contact cement. That light I could stand on it at 200 pounds with just walls at 1"thick total and that light of a weight. I read this forum a year before building and had no prior experience. I'll answer any questions you have.

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Re: Weight and Balance

Postby Tom&Shelly » Fri Mar 30, 2018 9:26 am

linuxmanxxx wrote:I built a little 4x8 with commercial door rear entrance. Interior 1/8 paneling outer Luan with aluminum contact cement glued. Square box on tractor supply no floor trailer and it was 480 finished out. Walls were stick framed 1x2 3/4" foam from home Depot using 3m water based contact cement. That light I could stand on it at 200 pounds with just walls at 1"thick total and that light of a weight. I read this forum a year before building and had no prior experience. I'll answer any questions you have.

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Thank you for the offer Steve! If I were still a bachelor, that's the sort of camper I'd be looking at for sure!

With Shelly, though, and the variety of different camping experiences we're looking at, going with the heavier duty teardrop with a little more room, and biting the bullet and buying the larger tow vehicle, seems to be the way we have to go. (One hard rule she gave me was that we have to go larger than 4 feet wide.) :)

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Re: Weight and Balance

Postby PanelDeland » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:23 pm

One thing you mentioned was doing some offroading. If you're talking taking a trailer on a trail, you're probably building "enough" trailer. If you're talking taking it off road to a campsite in a National Forest, the roads are usually good enough to be considered more of a rural road. Depending on which, you might save some weight with angle crossmembers etc. Getting a Larger TV may be a good idea and even in your "life Plan" but keep in mind that a longer heavier TV will probably limit areas like turn radius, etc. That may reduce the ability to drive some trails. Face it, your Jeep can go places an F350 can't even turn into. The short jeep with a fairly long trailer may do the same. Lightening the trailer walls/construction may make it a bit more involved to build but will probably be worth it if you can stay with the style of TV you have and like (even if you want a new one) while improving towability and safety. There are a lot of trade offs but these are some things I would keep in mind while designing and building. :? :o :?
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Re: Weight and Balance

Postby Tom&Shelly » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:51 pm

PanelDeland wrote:One thing you mentioned was doing some offroading. If you're talking taking a trailer on a trail, you're probably building "enough" trailer. If you're talking taking it off road to a campsite in a National Forest, the roads are usually good enough to be considered more of a rural road. Depending on which, you might save some weight with angle crossmembers etc. Getting a Larger TV may be a good idea and even in your "life Plan" but keep in mind that a longer heavier TV will probably limit areas like turn radius, etc. That may reduce the ability to drive some trails. Face it, your Jeep can go places an F350 can't even turn into. The short jeep with a fairly long trailer may do the same. Lightening the trailer walls/construction may make it a bit more involved to build but will probably be worth it if you can stay with the style of TV you have and like (even if you want a new one) while improving towability and safety. There are a lot of trade offs but these are some things I would keep in mind while designing and building. :? :o :?


Thank you for the insights. We'll definitely lose something not having a Wrangler with us when we tow the trailer. It's all a compromise. But, we will still have one Wrangler and our tent for 4wd camp outs. Now, we'll also have a rather plush tear drop and truck to pull it for months long sight seeing excursions. It's all good! :D

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Re: Weight and Balance

Postby noseoil » Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:55 am

On the weight thing in general, it sounds like you'll be about where we ended up on our build. The frame I found was too heavy (500#+ as used, 4" C channel) but it's the starting point in the build & the foundation, so the initial weight is good in the long run & on rougher surfaces. You don't want a frame failure if you're out in the boonies! A frame weighing closer to 350# would be fine for your build.

A single battery should be fine (group 24 or 27 is ample) for your needs, as a fan doesn't draw much at all & lights being mostly LED's now are negligible loads. We run a 100 watt solar panel & group 27 battery & never run out of power. A smaller battery & panel would have been fine to run all the crap we do at times (TV, Bluray, soundbar, stereo, phone charging ports). We've charged stuff for other people as well, with power to spare, oink, oink on weight & power both. Less weight is better!

Our rolling weight ended up at 1660#, but that was my fault for getting a bit carried away with the build over the course of 2 years. I ended up putting in a 3500# axle with 10" brakes recently, but towed for 12,000 miles without brakes or a weight on the scales. It wasn't until we actually weighed this thing that I got a bit squeamish about stops. We tow with a 2007 Nissan Frontier with the 4 cylinder engine (1/2 ton) & it's fine, except on big hills & mountains. We could use a bit more torque. With the 2000# idler axle, there was beginning to be a small amount of inner tread wear due to the weight (measured at 0.06" between the inner & outer tread) with that many miles of towing, so not really too terrible at all. The tire wear led to a trip to the scales, a look at rolling weight led to a different axle with brakes. If you go with a 3500# axle & brakes, you won't ever have to worry about stopping, mountains, potholes or in-town stops in traffic.

Just saying that you can safely build lighter than 500# for a frame, shed a few pounds in how it's fitted out & made & still have a strong build which is durable. If it comes in at less than 1400# then it will be easier to tow, pull, run down rough roads & still get the job done. It will be easier on the tow vehicle transmission temps in summer, brakes, etc. as well. A skeleton frame & thin skins for surface tension are all you really need & a torsion box has its own strength which will transfer loads throughout the build once it's rolling.

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Re: Weight and Balance

Postby Tom&Shelly » Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:31 pm

noseoil wrote:On the weight thing in general, it sounds like you'll be about where we ended up on our build. The frame I found was too heavy (500#+ as used, 4" C channel) but it's the starting point in the build & the foundation, so the initial weight is good in the long run & on rougher surfaces. You don't want a frame failure if you're out in the boonies! A frame weighing closer to 350# would be fine for your build.


Thank you for your comments Noseoil. Yes, I'd noticed you mentioned your weight in some of your other posts and I think ours will be similar. We already had a custom frame built, and I estimate that at 500 lbs. The builder talked us into an A frame tongue, instead of a composite, which saves a little weight (he claims it's also stronger, in contradiction to Andrew Gibbens' notes). He did talk me into 2 by 3 inch tubular steel for the frame instead of 2 by 2. He says he understands the camper is part of the structure, but said he's seen some 2 by 2 trailers warp. He talked me out of tubular steel for the crossbars and used 2 by 2 angle iron. Anyway, I hope we never see a frame failure.

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This past weekend, we bought a 2018 Tacoma for a TV, so now we won't have quite the pressure to reduce weight we would have had planning to tow with a Wrangler.

I like the idea of "building like an airplane, not a tank", in theory, but I'm inexperienced enough I want to stay with tried methods I understand. Several generations of old fighter pilots praised the P-47 and F-105 for their ability to take punishment. They claimed those (heavy) aircraft weren't built at a factory, but rather at Republic's "foundry". Hope at least along with the weight of our teardrop, we'll have a similar advantage in ruggedness.

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