Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

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Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby Ryodan » Mon Mar 11, 2019 6:55 pm

Hello everyone, new here but this seems like a great place for info on how/what to do for my upcoming trailer build. One thing I didn't see much of here was people using old truck bed trailers as a starting point. What are your guys thoughts on those? I have one lined up for $200 titled and ready to go (they usually run $400 plus around here and are usually pretty beat up) I've always liked the truck bed trailer look and the practicality of reusing things.

Anyway back to your guys thoughts on starting a build on one. I'm not looking to do a tear drop, don't care about a galley (although I probably wont actually add one a sink would be nice) Trailer needs to be metal and able to be bumped into things offroad so I thought it was a good start. One thing I am concerned about are the dimensions. It is an old Datsun so it's 72/5" long by 56.5" wide internally. Enough room to sleep with storage under a platform but not enough for much else. My thought is to use a foxwing awning on one side and a table on that side of the bed for a cook area, I don't mind getting things out and setting up but my camping gear doesn't fit in my FJ cruiser with all my recovery gear and kids so a trailer is needed, might as well sleep in it.

Anyway what are your guys thoughts on this approach? Would love more input before I pull the trigger on the trailer. Pic of trailer below, wish it was a Toyota but around here there's not much to choose from.

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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby S. Heisley » Mon Mar 11, 2019 7:34 pm

It depends on what the truck bed trailer's beginning weight is and if it has brakes and how heavily you build your cabin on it. Many states do not allow camping trailers to weigh over 1500 lbs if they don't have brakes. New York state doesn't allow more than 1000 lbs if the trailer doesn't have brakes. Also, please consider your tow vehicle. The problem areas for tow vehicles are both pulling and stopping weight. Many vehicles are not designed to stop as much as they can pull. Plus, pulling too much weight can destroy a transmission.
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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby Atomic77 » Mon Mar 11, 2019 7:38 pm

I just can't stop looking at that scary hole that looks like it might go to China

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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby tony.latham » Mon Mar 11, 2019 7:46 pm

I'm with Atomic... the hole?

Anyway what are your guys thoughts on this approach? Would love more input before I pull the trigger on the trailer.


I think you would be starting off with a piece of junk... even if the hubs, bearings, axle stubs and rims are okay.

:frightened:

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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby Sparksalot » Mon Mar 11, 2019 7:49 pm

Looks like the start of an adventure trailer. I've thought about the same thing myself.

Go for it, and be sure to post lots of pictures along the way.
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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby Atomic77 » Mon Mar 11, 2019 7:52 pm

Here's my gut feelings on this. If you want to throw a topper on it and a mattress, go for it. But honestly you could spend a lot of money just making it safe as Tony suggested. Find a junk pop up and strip it to the frame. Then you'll have a good starting point. That's how the Astroliner started and for only $100.

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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby Ryodan » Tue Mar 12, 2019 1:48 am

Odd, I posted a reply and when I hit submit it went to the log in screen.... go figure.

I saw the hole and thought about cropping it out but had such a hard time getting the image to link from my google photos I figured meh no one will notice it's only a giant hole.

Anyway back on topic.

I'm not worried about towing, I will tow with an FJ cruiser it's rated at like 4500 lbs or something well above what this will weigh. I have plenty of experience with a trailer and fully intend to add trailer brakes, not so much for on road but because I'll need them offroad.

So long story as short as possible:
I drive an FJ cruiser, the cargo area is almost entirely full without camping gear (recovery gear and emergency gear) I can squeeze an ice chest in and not a big one. When I go camping I fill the roof rack with my stuff. So I stared looking into trailer options, just something to haul my camping gear. Overlanding trailers are a perfect fit but not for the ridiculous prices they go for, $7000 for a small box with a tailgate, lid, and the mounts for a roof top tent? no way! So that's out but wouldn't be hard to build. Next up adding a roof top tent to the FJ, nope won't work as then I'd have no where for the rest of my camping gear and with my suspension set up the handling would be atrocious. Ok, what else is there? new vehicle? not happening.

Then I was thinking how I miss my old '83 Toyota pick up, I used to just sleep in the bed on one of those carpet kits under a camper shell, granted that was pre-kids but hey it was great! I stumbled onto the fact a coworker had the above trailer and said he'd let it go for $200. Now if I just throw a new axle with trailer brakes under it (under the leaf springs so it rides higher) I have a trailer to haul my gear for probably around $600, still would like the tires to be bigger, I have some old wheels that fit my FJ laying around so I can use those and grab some used offroad tires my size and the spares will be interchangeable. OK that sounds good. Maybe in $1000 while leaving room for a few other bits and pieces. That is if I find used tires, I have an odd size so it'll take time but close is good enough so that's an option too, my spare isn't even the same size it's close though. Would also need a pintle hitch but I think I can score one for free or a case of beer... working on that. Then it still needs a better bumper set up so I can drag the rear end without ripping off the lights or damaging the bed because that is going to happen.

Now, if I'm using a trailer this size to haul my camping gear, might as well sleep in it too right? So I started looking for a camper shell and I shouldn't be surprised but there are not many out there this size. Common bed size in the 80s on all the Japanese imports but only was used on one tacoma post '93, the late 90s early 00s model with one cab type and that wasn't even exactly the same... haven't found one for sale anyway. All the ones I find that'll fit are cab height, so it won't be tall enough for me to raise the sleeping platform above the wheel wells and still sit up. This is what brought me to find this forum, I need to build something to suite my few needs.

I grew up trailer camping, first in a pop-up then in a hard side with a flushing toilet. I'm really not into it, I like cooking outside, sitting under a tarp or awning in the rain, you know, all the things you don't have to do with a nice trailer. Not knocking your guys trailer, that Astroliner is a work of art, I could live in that thing.

Anyway for the shell my goals are pretty minimal. Enough height to sit up on the bed which will also be set about 12" (platform height) up from the bottom of the bed, ability to mount an awning on the side, ideally I'd like to throw some stuff on top occasionally or at least have that option as I have a canoe and intent to add a kayak to the fleet in a year or two. I'm totally calling it a fleet once I have 2. I do not need running water, a toilet, or anything fancy, Although I would like to add power so I can have a fan for ventilation and a few lights, maybe 2 inside and two outside. Pretty basic. I'm still really early into thinking this out, only been on the topic for a week.

anyhow I am falling asleep again and off to bed
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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby rjgimp » Tue Mar 12, 2019 2:59 am

:scratchthinking:

So, you would buy this trailer then replace the axle, bumper, and wheels? I don't get it. Why bother with this trailer if you are going to replace everything but the box? Seems to me there are far better options out there to start with for what it sounds like you want to accomplish. I'd start with an old popup frame or a boat trailer. If you think you need a metal skin that's easy enough to do. I'd also wonder how you would make that trailer weather tight. I sure wouldn't want to wake up floating on an inch of water.

Atomic77 wrote:I just can't stop looking at that scary hole that looks like it might go to China


Preach it, man! That is one WILD looking hole.
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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby greygoos » Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:37 am

How about one of these? Storage underneath. About 600 pounds
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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby Ryodan » Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:19 pm

the bed should for the most part be weather tight, should be able to use a rubber seal between it and the shell just like you would with a manufactured camper shell. my two biggest attractions to the bed are that it is already made and cheaper than the materials to build one, and the sides should be more resistant to scraping rocks or other trail hazards than a frame with aluminum skin. I need to try and minimize the metal work, I'll be learning to weld and would like to avoid structural welding and have my friend do it or help but if it is an entire trailer to be welded up that becomes harder.

I though about something simple like that rooftop tent on a small trailer, which I know could be easy to build. It's still on the table as an option but would need to be high enough to accommodate an awning and long enough to accommodate the awning I have potentially lined up. I was just thinking the truck bed would end up easier to do. (time wise)
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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby Treeview » Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:58 pm

Why nut use a surge brake hitch be used instead of replacing the axle and wheels?

https://www.etrailer.com/dept-pg-Brake_Actuator-sf-Surge_Brake_Actuator.aspx#/

Be sure to have a line on a topper before buying the trailer. If you find one that is a bit larger its super simple to add a 'wall' up from the rim of the trailer to the foot of the topper.

Go for it!
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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby Ryodan » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:50 am

I wanted to go with a pintle hitch for offroad, the max couplers are too pricey and a pintle is all I need. I've popped too many trailers off using the standard style hitch to be comfortable with them, too easy to loose em at extreme angles. Then, I've rolled a trailer with a pintle hitch and it was still hitched.
Hoping to go actually look at this bed in person this weekend if I get my FJ back together.
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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby working on it » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:13 am

It's possible, if you don't mind building your own "topper", since there probably aren't any original camper shells still out there for this old model. Of course, the inside sleeping quarters will be cramped lengthwise, but wider than compared to my 4x8 TTT's interior (48" high x x 46.5" wide x 75" long). You could squeeze a fullsize foam mattress in there! Here's a simple drawing (modified to your scale) of something I thought would work on an old '75 Chevy pickup, before I found a good, complete camper shell for $10, fifteen years ago.
re-use pickup bed as trailer.JPG
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Last edited by working on it on Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts on starting with a truck bed trailer?

Postby Treeview » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:18 am

Ryoden,,,check your PM..I wrote to you
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