Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

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Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby lacofdfireman » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:08 pm

Well the build has begun. My 17 year old Son and I have begun to build an Off Road Expedition style hard sided trailer. (Notice I don't say teardrop). We will also include my 12 year old son when possible to make this a family build. This should be a fun project for my boys and I do together. Hoping to have It done before a trip to Moab we have planned towards the end of May. I commute to work from Utah to Los Angeles so I'm limited on time so on my days off I'll have to put in some long days. The plan is to build a trailer that we can pull behind our 03 Jeep Cherokee that we are also building at the same time as this that will sleep at least 3. Our plan is for 2 to sleep inside and we also have plans for an RTT on top. It will be a little bigger than most hard side trailers you see but I'm doing this for my comforts. Me being 6'5 and my 17 year old son 6'3 I didn't want to be crawling in a tiny cramped up trailer that feels like I am in a sleeping bag. The side profile will be 5' tall x 10' long and about 78" wide at the outer side of the wheels. We plan on a very basic rear kitchen with a sink and a 15 gallon Harbor Freight water tank. We will also have a portable cooktop. Propane shower is also in the plans. On the inside I plan on using carpet on floor, walls and ceiling. This will help with sound proofing and extra insulation.

Construction wise we are building the trailer from 2x2 .120 wall for the frame and 2.5 1/4"square for the front tongue and rear tongue. Sides will be 3/4" Baltic Birch plywood and the floor will be out of the same. I plan on doing the top out of 1/4" Baltic Birch and the interior out of 1/8." Also i am planning to frame this out of 2x3's with insulation between the 3/4" outer and 1/8" inner walls. The 2x3's are total overkill but I want it to be strong for supporting the RTT. One thing I can guarantee is this will be way overbuilt. Hoping to come in at under 1500lbs all said and done.

Got off to a slow start today. Must have made 3 different trips to lowes for misc stuff which slows us down alot. My son is a Senior this year and is in his second year of welding at school. So I'm leaving the frame welding to him. I'll cut the pieces and he can weld away. Today we basically got a majority of the frame built and the floor cut out. I go back to work tomorrow night for 5 days so it's gonna be slow going for these first 2 weeks. One of my hold ups is gonna be Windows. I looked around town today and couldn't find anything for a camper like this. So most likely I will have to order off the internet. Problem is I don't know where or what sizes. I'm planning on a window across the front and 2 side windows. I'd also like a window in the door. If anyone has any ideas for that I'm all ears.

Here's a couple of pics of the start of the frame.

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Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby lacofdfireman » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:15 pm

As you can see in one of the photo's we cut and the axle because I ordered it to short for what I wanted to do. We sleeved the axle but I didn't like how it turned out so we are ordering a new one. Oh well.. So we have been trying to work on the sides and getting the windows right. I found a place in Corona, Ca that is a 3 Acre RV salvage yard and picked up some windows. They must have 4-500 windows to choose from. Some new ones but mostly used ones. Here is a photo of some of the windows. And this isn't all of them..

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Some windows there have trim kits and some don't. It's a place that has about anything you could ever need for an RV. Hard to find parts etc. The inventory is overwhelming. They charge $1 per inch for windows. So if your window you choose is a 18x48 the window costs $48. If the window is new the cost is $2 per inch. I bought all 4 of my windows along with all the sealant and 2 new battery boxes for $175. If you come in with cash they won't charge tax either which is sweet...
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Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby lacofdfireman » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:27 pm

Got the rear Hatch door done today. I'm a little worried about my tolerances for windows and doors. I'm worried they are to tight at the moment and I haven't started the Epoxy Resin on the Exterior of the wood yet. I'm afraid that when I do the Epoxy Resin will make my doors unable to shut and my windows not fit in since they are all tight fitting right now as it is.. Plus I plan on adding probably another 4-5 coats of Latex paint on top of the Epoxy Resin as a finish.. Here is the rear hatch in the up position. I'd say its about 6'6" at the end where I can walk under the hatch. Not alot of head room for me at 6'5 and thinking it may not even work as I'm planning on when I get my new axle to put the springs under the axle instead of over the axle. That's going to make me lose about 4" of height. But as it sits right now it's just to tall with the 5' walls..

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Oh ya and my 2" spacers showed up yesterday so I got my Jeep wheels put on.

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Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby lacofdfireman » Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:46 pm

One of my biggest concerns about this build and one of the reasons I have overbuilt it was I wanted it to be super insulated. I know I way over did it and I'll most likely regret it but live and learn. And on my next one I will have learned a few things so I can make the next one lighter and hopefully just as strong. But living in the High Desert where temps will often times see 110 in the summers and in the 90's for a good portion of the year I wanted to put in an A/C. While I had pretty much talked myself out of it and just planned on going with the Fantastic Fan as I was walking through Lowes picking up parts which seems to happen 2-3 times per day I came across a relatively Fridgidaire 6000btu small window A/C. For $189 and an extended 2 year warranty I figured I couldn't go wrong. Also wondering through CalRanch to pick me up a Camp Chef Oven Cooktop combo that they were selling for $169 I saw a Champion 2k portable Generator/Inverter that was listed at $699 and they had them for $399 so I bought one of those. Thinking I may go buy another one tomorrow. I quickly read the reviews online on Amazon on them and they got stellar reviews. Got it home and hooked it up the the A/C and it blew super cold with the generator having no issues at all running it. I ran it outside today in the 90 degree heat for 4hrs without issue and the generator didn't take hardly any fuel to do it.. The Honda 1k generator wouldn't run it without shutting down and they are a grand. So this little generator was money well spent..
Trying to decide how I'm actually going to mount this permanently so I can still take the off road trails I am planning on doing. My plan is to either make a metal frame for it to sit on and have my son weld me something straight off the frame or just mount it inside a wood box without the metal supports. Not sure if the Metal supports are overkill once again. It sits and balances pretty good as it. Either way I plan on making a wooden box to go around it with a back that will swing down when using the A/C so that you can keep the hot air moving out of the back of the unit. That is a must. Then when not using the A/C I can swing the back of the box back up and keep alot of dirt etc from getting in. I'll also make some sort of bag to go over the fins etc to keep from getting all dirty also. Anyone have any thoughts on making the mount for this? Here is a photo of it mounted in the Hole I made for it..

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Re: Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby Birdman » Thu Apr 07, 2016 6:21 am

:thumbsup: looks great, keep it up.

wish i was getting your weather though :cry:
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Re: Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby PKCSPT » Thu Apr 07, 2016 7:40 pm

no ideas here, never built one. I am enjoying watching yours, what lucky sons, I am envious of the memories you are creating.
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Re: Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby scubadrf » Thu Apr 07, 2016 10:25 pm

lacofdfireman wrote:As you can see in one of the photo's we cut and the axle because I ordered it to short for what I wanted to do. We sleeved the axle but I didn't like how it turned out so we are ordering a new one. Oh well.. So we have been trying to work on the sides and getting the windows right. I found a place in Corona, Ca that is a 3 Acre RV salvage yard and picked up some windows. They must have 4-500 windows to choose from. Some new ones but mostly used ones. Here is a photo of some of the windows. And this isn't all of them..

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Some windows there have trim kits and some don't. It's a place that has about anything you could ever need for an RV. Hard to find parts etc. The inventory is overwhelming. They charge $1 per inch for windows. So if your window you choose is a 18x48 the window costs $48. If the window is new the cost is $2 per inch. I bought all 4 of my windows along with all the sealant and 2 new battery boxes for $175. If you come in with cash they won't charge tax either which is sweet...

I'm also in the infancy of a build and would live the NAME of the RV salvage yard in corona. I live in SoCal, so Corona won't be as long a drive as going to the salvage yard I found online in Phoenix AZ!
Thanks,
David

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Re: Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby yrock87 » Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:29 pm

Looking great! You are making great progress. I "started" at Christmas and have a frame and supplies to show for it. Keep the updates coming!
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Re: Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby SilverJKU » Fri Apr 08, 2016 6:46 am

Looks like you're off to a great start!

Don't stress about the thickness of the epoxy and latex - it is literally only going to be around 1/32"of an inch thick if that.

That frame size and design looks suspiciously familiar. 8) Your boy already has some pretty impressive welding skills too.

Keep up the good work!
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Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby lacofdfireman » Fri Apr 08, 2016 11:36 pm

Well I sort of hit a snag today. The 21 gallon water tank came in and since the last few days I have decided to add a Generator and an Air Conditioner I think my tongue weight of my trailer is going to be way off. I can tell you right now with nothing in front of the axle I'm probably at about 30-40lbs of tongue weight. I know my galley will be fairly heavy but the bad part is I am planning on putting the Water tank (21 Gallons)just forward of the center of the axle. You can see in the pic here.

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Also in the Tongue Box I plan to build it will house the Batteries, Generator etc. I also have the A/C hanging out the front and the spare tire on the side of the trailer just back of the front about 6 inches. I'm afraid I'm going to be way tongue heavy. Like probably 2-300lbs of tongue weight when loaded. I know the Jeep Grand Cherokee has a Tongue Capacity of 750lbs but I'm thinking for off roading I need to be lighter than that up front. I'm am thinking my trailer is going to be somewhere in the range of 2000lb loaded. That's just my thinking. Hoping it lighter but i've way over built it. Oh ya and I do plan on putting a RTT on top. I was thinking I may be able to finagle the CG with the RTT a little by moving it more rearward than planned? So right now I'm kinda stumped of what to do and where to go from here.

Also here are a few photo's of the tank installed in the floor. Originally I was going to put in on the floor and make a raised floor and have some under storage b but then decided last second I didn't want to lose my headroom. Especially since the A/C is going to stick out in the bed area some. I have the option to mount it under the floor totally and make a hatch out of the piece I cut out or I can recess it half way above the floor and half below. I do play on laying down a 1.5" sheets of Foam insulation on the floor so this would make the half in and half out a possibility. But I'd need to figure out how to seal around the tank to prevent moisture and dirt from coming up through the floor... Thoughts, ideas... Thanks for your help everyone..

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Re: Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby KCStudly » Sat Apr 09, 2016 5:39 pm

Whatever you decide on mounting, I would not just attempt to seal around the tank to the floor. Dissimilar materials, dissimilar rates of expansion, and flexibility of the tank would all make a good long lasting seal seem dubious.

Plus, you will want to be able to service the tank if need be, which means being able remove it. So even if you want to mount it thru the floor I would still box it either in or out. Keeping it inside means it will be insulated from freezing, at least as much as you yourself will be, if you plan on any winter or high elevation camping.

200-300 lbs tongue weight sounds about right for a 2000 lb trailer (10 to 15/ct), but I agree; it would have been nicer for you if both were lower.
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Re: Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby lacofdfireman » Wed Apr 13, 2016 12:27 am

Thanks for the info KC. Yes I plan on sealing around the water tank and most likely insulating also. Figure I'll need to do that for sure. Also I do want to make it accessible for servicing. I'm hoping the RTT will help me with my tongue weight also. I should be able to move that forward or backwards which will most likely help me a bunch.


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Re: Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby lacofdfireman » Fri Apr 29, 2016 1:50 pm

Well been spending more time building again. It getting closer every day. Problem is I can't seem to get any time off work. We have 240 fireman vacancies right now so time off is not easy.

Worked on all the wiring the other day. Have everything wired up. Trailer lights, clearance lights and all of my 110 outlets at 12v appliances are up and running.

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Also finished the basics of the galley. It's going to be super basic. My plans are for a lot of counter space and a sink. The counters will be hinged so you can store stuff underneath. The. 1 shelf above that will hold bins. Then I'll have a bungee net across to hold them all in. No doors just real basic.

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Also starting to get some paint on it. My plan is a two tone grey and black. The bottom 1/3 will be truck bed liner like Hercules or something like that.

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You can see my 30amp service line sticking out the hole. I won't hook that up until paint is done. Also input my side markers up higher so you can see them better. I didn't want to put them on the sides of the trailer for fear of them busting off when off roading. Also I ran all my trailer wires inside along the bottom wall. Hope I don't regret that down the road. I just dust have holes drilled out of my frame to run them through and didn't want it going under the frame where you have the potential of dragging your frame off road and smashing the wires.


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Re: Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby lacofdfireman » Sat May 07, 2016 1:05 am

Well the end is near. It's been 6 weeks since I started my build. Today was day 13 that I worked on the trailer. It's taken so long because I commute to LA for work and days off have been hard to come by. I'd say one more good day and it will be all done. I'm to the point now I could camp in it. I just need some fenders and hook up the sink and make some brackets to install the RTT on and it will be done. This has been a fun build but also very frustrating at the same time. I really wanted to just paint the interior walls of my trailer but due to a few cutting errors I had a few to many gaps that were bigger than I wanted so I opted for carpet. I've never installed carpet before but in 95 degree heat let me tell you that contact cement dries super fast. I really didn't want to have to use staples but I couldn't get the carpe to stay up without it. Maybe in the future I'll redo the interior but to be honest I was starting to get burned out. Not because I was not having fun but mostly because I was pressed for time. Wanted it done for our Moab trip so I was among some dumb errors on cutting etc to get a tight fit. It's really not top quality like I wanted but when I consider its intended purpose it's on a be fine.

We got in our new axle that I ordered and it was about an inch longer than I wanted. So now I hang out over the sides about 7" per side. Not happy about that but it is what it is. Also we decided to put the axle under the spring instead of over to drop the overall height a little but now when I build fenders they will cover the lower part of the Windows. Didn't plan that to well. I'll most likely flip the axle back to how we originally had it and just deal with the extra 6" height.

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You can see in this photo the lower height. Also my son up top installing the vent fan. Didn't realize the fan I bought was exhaust only. Another screw up there.

Got the wheel spacers on so the Jeep wheels will fit.

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Put all my windows in and when I installed the front window I didn't take into consideration that it's probably not a good place for a slider on an angle like it is because water, rain etc can pool on the window. Should have done just a non slider there. Oh well. We'll see how it works. If I have issues it will get swapped out.

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Picked up a Tuff Stuff RTT that had some minor damage for a huge discount. Hoping to get that on next week. I'm stuck at work until Wednesday next week. Hopefully I'll have it out on Friday and Saturday for a Maiden before the Overland convention the next weekend.

Also I had no idea what a PITA the Max coupler hitch was going to be hooking up. It's a two man job and if you can't maneuver your trailer by hand it's about impossible to hookup. If you were ever by yourself and needed to hook up solo you'd be screwed. It's nice but I'd just go pintle hook next time and deal with the noise. And they aren't cheap either.

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Re: Father and Son's Expo Trailer Build

Postby artquixotic » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:20 pm

Nice build. Thanks for sharing. And please share anything you learned on the Moab trip!
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