Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Converting Cargo Trailers into TTTs

Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby Stealth TDI » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:28 pm

Hello,

Pmullen503 wrote:I like option #2. I think I would make it swing up, hinged at the floor. That way it could lay on the floor while traveling.


Since I load cargo, I want the floor available and I don't want to lay or roll cargo across the teardrop door (window). Swinging the wall up should still leave me with 43" of clearance for cargo. I'll find an effective way to secure the wall at the ceiling.

Pmullen503 wrote:But for option #1, I once built a new rear door for a friend's CT with a box on it for extra long stuff he wanted to carry. We copied the door so it would use the stock hinges and latch. Made from plywood and covered with PMF. You could do the same but with an RV door.


I considered that. With my VWs and their modifications, I tend to modify a replacement part and then put the original into storage. Doing this for the CT rear door is a great idea. :thumbsup: We'll see how the swing-down door goes first.

Scott
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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby Pmullen503 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:09 am

Stealth TDI wrote:
Since I load cargo, I want the floor available and I don't want to lay or roll cargo across the teardrop door (window). Swinging the wall up should still leave me with 43" of clearance for cargo. I'll find an effective way to secure the wall at the ceiling.

.................

Scott


Of course, I assumed the door would be completely removed when not camping.

A swing up wall would seem to be a perfect application for foam and canvas.
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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby Stealth TDI » Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:19 pm

Hello,

Pmullen503 wrote:Of course, I assumed the door would be completely removed when not camping.


Oops! I wasn't thinking about removable parts. Now I understand your intent.

I made some unexpected progress since the rain quit earlier than forecasted. Here are some daylight photos of the walls removed...

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I decided to remove the floor after all. There were only five sheet metal screws holding it in place. So why not? :FNP

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I started working on the electrical a little, mostly just tidying up this mess where Homesteader didn't route the lighting harness very smartly...

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I was able to add another foot of working harness to the back by untwisting it and routing it through the channels that I think are there specifically for harness routing...

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I'll add wiring retention clips later. Next, I sanded the surface rust from the structure and then painted. It's not pretty, but that area will be covered with insulation before too long anyway...

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I thought I was going to buy plywood for the floor tomorrow. But it dawned on me that working in the short trailer without a floor is very comfortable. Also, since I'm going to strip the roof to fix the leaks, install a roof vent, and then reseal the entire roof, leaving the interior out means there's nothing to get damaged if the roof project takes me a few days and catches some rain. :thumbsup:

I'm going to get some 1x2s and 2x2s to frame the roof vent and drop the ceiling a tad. My goal is to use the ceiling for wire routing so that I don't have to drill wiring holes through the structure (risk of wire chafing or weakening the structure?) or have the peek-a-boo wiring as done by Homesteader. I'll start on the electrical once the roof is done.

Scott
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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby Stealth TDI » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:26 pm

I worked on the roof today to address some leaks. My roof is flat with sealant around the edges and black spray paint overspray (my fault)...

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I got to work with a scraper...

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My plan was to strip this away and then replace it with Eternabond tape and Dicor Metal RV Roof Coating. But then I was surprised to run into these strangely kerfed edges from the roof trim...

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I was able to remove 99% of the old sealant, the tougher stuff coming up quickly with the aid of a heat gun...

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I'm second guessing my plan to use the Eternabond tape. I THOUGHT I would be able to remove the trim ring, use the Eternabond on the roof, wrapping around to the sides, and then put the trim ring back into place. However, I was surprised to learn that the trim ring is wrapped from the roof and down the sides, has screws in the top and sides, and is the piece that is kerfed. The kerfs go right the edge of the trim's lip. So getting the Eternabond tape into place with such small margins may be tough. This has me thinking about Dicor Lap sealant since it will seep into the kerfs and can be flowed right to the edge of the trim piece.

Thoughts?

Scott
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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby beachguy005 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:56 am

You'll find that the vast majority of CTCs do use Dicor Self-Leveling Lap Sealant for the roof trim, and all penetrations like screw heads and vent flashings.
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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby Stealth TDI » Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:02 am

Thanks!

Once the area is clean, I think the self-leveling Lap Sealant is the best bet for getting the inner nooks and crannies of the kerfed edges sealed. I'm wondering if capping it with 4-inch Eternabond tape would finish it off well. I'd start above the ridge depicted in this photo and then wrap up and over the edge of the roof, sealing it over the Lap Sealant. I'd have to kerf the tape along the front. It's overkill, but might seal this up for the life of the trailer.

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What do you think?
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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby Stealth TDI » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:32 pm

I finished stripping the roof tonight...

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These kerfs are 99% clean now. I will flatten them with a mallet after I clean under them...

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I no longer think my marker light is leaking. Each place where I spotted a tiny leak inside was close to one of these gaping holes...

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I still need to wipe down the roof with denatured alcohol and perhaps attempt to blast out the underside of the kerfs with brake cleaner. I suspect this is clean enough to receive Dicor Lap Seal and perhaps some EternaBond Tape. I need to await better weather before I can proceed.

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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby aggie79 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:25 am

Scott,

You're doing a fantastic job with rebuilding your cargo trailer. I know the time you spend up front to seal the trailer from moisture penetration will be rewarded down the road when you don't have any issues.

Most likely the Dicor lap sealant and/or Eternabond will be sufficient and work fine. That said, have you thought about trying to remove the roof to sidewall trim? If it is not too hard to remove, you could trim the kerfs so they don't overlap and then re-install the trim bedded and other roof penetrations (screws) in sealant. I think sealant underneath rather than along or on top of the trim may provide an extra measure of protection. After the sealant cured you could follow up with Dicor or Eternabond.

I used this approach in building my teardrop trailer, and bedded every sheeting seam and trim in 3m 4200. This marine sealant/adhesive is rated for use "below the water line". Admittedly, I was anal about preventing leakage is/was probably overkill, but I haven't had any leakage.

Take care,
Tom
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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby McDave » Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:16 pm

Wow! Nice job on getting that roof cleaned up. Tom's plan sounds pretty solid to me. It may be a lot of work but you have come a long way already. I am a bit surprised to see the method that was used to kerf the trim. All the overlapping seems like a likely place to cause leaks. If it was possible to remove the excess material and allow the kerffing to lay flat, that seems like a better chance to seal.

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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby Stealth TDI » Wed Feb 27, 2019 12:48 pm

Thanks for the input and supportive remarks!

I mismanaged the ordering of my supplies since I wasn't sure what approach I would take to seal the roof. Everything, and too much of it, is on its way to me and should arrive next week. I wanted to make a bit of progress over the weekend, but it may rain on and off. But you two have opened my eyes to a very obvious task that can be done while I await sealants and materials. There's probably about 80 screws around the trim ring and another twelve holding the roof sheet itself.

I don't think I need to remove the roof sheet, but I can probably close its random "Oops Holes" with JB Weld and replace each screw with a double-square head with a rubber gasket washer. With the trim ring removed, that would put me right where I thought I'd be before discovering the design of the trim ring... able to lay the EternaBond Tape (EBT) flat on the roof with it bending over to the sides. I'd have to kerf the front, but I think I'd do it properly. I would fix the kerfs on the trim ring with a set of tin snips, lay a bead of Lap Seal along its bottom edge, and reinstall it to the roof. I'd use new double-square screws with gasketed washers. The only foil to this plan I can think of is whether the thickness of the tape would prevent the trim ring from aligning with its old holes in the side of the trailer.

From there, the decision would be whether to put EBT as my top layer over the trim or more Lap Seal. I would not feel compelled to wrap-around the EBT. This last layer would be to ensure the new screws are sealed.

What a journey! I had no idea I'd be doing this much to the trailer. Thankfully, it's a small job on this one. HAHA!

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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby Stealth TDI » Thu Feb 11, 2021 9:51 pm

Hello,

It's been a very long time since I had anything to share here. This project sat for longer than it should have, partially due to health problems, partially due to weather and a lack of indoor workspace. When I last posted, I had just finished cleaning the roof, which was a discouraging project. My next goal was to remove the trim ring to fix the terrible kerfing job that was done by the manufacturer. That did not go well. I think about 1/4 of the 80+ screws either stripped or broke off. The trim ring was just about destroyed during removal. I would have preferred to find a good match, but no luck. I had to buy something else. Check out the high-quality roof construction with the trim ring removed... :?

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Again, discouraging! I continued by sealing the edges of the roof with Eternabond Tape while I awaited the new trim ring to arrive...

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Next, I installed a MaxxAir fan...

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With a fan installed, now I had some encouragement to rework the electrical so that I could get some airflow inside. The factory wiring was terrible! It looked like this on both sides of the back door...

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It was clear that Homesteader wired my trailer with whatever scrap they had laying around. They also didn't use the metal wiring brackets on the trailer and appeared to have intentionally twisted the harness MANY times during routing. I bought a new harness so that I could rewire with proper color observance. Given that the front edge of the floor was rotted and I wanted to be comfortable when working inside this tiny trailer, opted to remove the floor and would replace it when I was done working inside...

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I sanded and painted the interior structure, something that Homesteader apparently didn't do, as evidenced by the bare metal and rust. Then I installed the new wiring with better routing.

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That was all I accomplished in 2019 before the project stalled... AGAIN. Well, I also got a driveway poured, a shed installed, then did a bunch of soil grading and drainage projects.

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The trailer had to take a back seat to those projects. Then came COVID and the boredom that comes with staying home. Last year's shutdowns eliminated my commute and, believe it or not, the weather was nice on most days that I could recall. I decided it was time to make real progress on this conversion. I started with that dreaded roof trim ring...

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After that, I forged ahead with refinishing the exterior. I had sanded the original paint and had a plan to have it wrapped. COVID put that on hold. My goal was to paint it to match my GTI. So, I decided to try a matching spray paint. It did not work well at all...

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I took some advice from a FB group, sanded this down to act as a primer, then coated with a roll-on exterior paint...

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It looked good from a utilitarian view point and from a distance. But I was not pleased with the results. A prissy part of me wanted it to appear more "automotive" and to match my car. I kept it this way while I continued my work.

Before deciding to roll-on paint, I topped the trim ring with Eternabond Tape, then finished the roof with Dicor elastomeric sealant...

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It LOOKED really good, but didn't last long. I had made the mistake of not priming the roof. The elastomeric sealant did not stick to the tape or parts of the roof...

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Most of it peeled up easily enough. But enough of it stuck tightly enough that I needed power tools to remove it. Later, I opted to just refinish the roof with primer and white paint. I didn't want to deal with the elastomeric stuff again.

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Next, it was time to insulate. The green stuff was all I could find. So, I went with it...

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The ceiling was next. It's a piece of beadboard that was leftover from a shed project...

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I goofed-up at the front and didn't notice. That will come into play later in the project. I painted the ceiling in place with three coats of exterior latex. Then I cut and installed a new floor. It was a very tight fit. I had a hard time getting it through the door and into position. The original came OUT in one piece. So, I knew I'd eventually get this one IN. Laying on the ground and working from beneath the trailer did the trick...

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I was asked why I didn't coat the wood. It is pressure-treated and was still damp when I got it. I was making great strides and didn't want to wait for it to dry, coat the wood, then wait again, then deal with any warping. I wanted to get it installed and screwed down before it had a chance to warp. I may still coat the exposed sections of the underside.

Now for the walls! The originals were 3/8" construction grade plywood. I wanted a smoother finish. I couldn't find a smooth finish in 3/8". So, I "upgraded" to 1/2 sidewalls. In the front, I switched to 1/4" flexible plywood. It enabled me to cover much more of the front wall, which allowed me to use narrower trim strips to cover the gaps. Here's the factory wall vs. my new wall...

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As you can see (or assume?), I painted the walls before I installed them. All of these walls were a TIGHT fit. I'm not saying the larger trailer builders have it easy. After all, a big trailer with MY roof's problems would have been a nightmare! BUT, I have just a 38x42 inch door to squeeze those walls through. I needed every inch, plus the curved nose, to get each wall through in one piece. The front wall went in first. It was easy since it curls easily. The passenger side wall went in next since it only has one light on it.

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The driver's side wall is where my electrical madness resides...

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The wall evolved as I worked. At first, I was just going to power the interior from the lighting circuit. But what about when I'm parked? So, I added a battery to the mix, then a switching circuit for the fan and forward light, then other ideas. Last, I added a smart charger to the set-up. I'd write the details here, but I think it's easier to explain in a video. Check out my video at https://youtu.be/exT24lSic8w, if sharing it here is permissible.

I addressed the gaps in the corners with bendable 1/8" plywood...

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See how they look in the front corners below. They're much easier to remove and work with than the original metal flashing. This could be very helpful if I ever need to troubleshoot my lighting circuits. I added a faux wood foam padding inside. It looks okay and is easier on my knees than working on the wood floor...

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Next, it was time for touch-up paint and trim work along the top of the walls. I opted to use PVC lattice as my "crown molding." It is inexpensive and flexible enough to make the curve. Plus, it's already white. :lol:

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Remember when I said that I goofed-up the front edge of the ceiling? I misjudged how much my trim would cover, resulting in gaps at the front...

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I can fill it with white RTV and be happy enough. Instead, I'm going to make a small cabinet to cover the gap. When I say "small," I mean "miniature." It'll practically be a boutique item that's cosmetic only. I'm after a look more than function. Sure, it'll hold gloves or rags. But that's about it. Too large of a cabinet in this small space will result in plenty of head-knocking. :?

Unfortunately, my mother passed away as I was working on that. So, we wound up taking a road trip from VA to CA to retrieve her cats and some of her effects. The project stalled as we adjusted to our new normal. I'm ready to make more progress, but I cannot paint just yet. It's too cold. So, the interior sits here for the time being.It's functional, just not finished.

There IS one more thing to report, though. I need to go BACK to CA. This time, the cargo trailer is coming with me. That motivated me to get the exterior refinished. By now (2021), the vinyl wrapping place is open again and I decided I wanted to give him a shot. I stripped the exterior paint from the trailer (again). This time, took it down to bare metal to give him a super-clean surface to work with. I also painted the trim rings since we had an unusually warm day.

Here's the trailer on the morning I took it in, which was this past Tuesday...

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Once at his shop, I removed the fenders and rear door so that there would be fewer seams in the vinyl. He had the car for about four hours. It was still warm enough to cure paint, or caulk in this case. So, I caulked the edges of the trim rings and door hardware, then swapped to a set of black wheels to sort of match the car's. Here's how the trailer looks now...

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The wrap doesn't match the car as closely as the sample did. I suspect that's either because my car has faded a hair since first comparing the sample two years ago. Or perhaps the wrap itself is a hair darker when applied to the metal. Either way, I'm pleased with the outcome, even if it's not a perfect match. I'm hoping to see warmer weather so that I can finish that cabinet before I hit the road. My paint is standing by for the next dry day above 50 degrees. 8)

If you're wondering, I'm not planning to camp in the trailer during this trip. It's not leisure travel; plus, I'll have cargo on the return trip.

WHEW! Lots of typing for this one! Thanks for sticking around and for any encouragement that you have give me, either here or in Facebook. The video I linked above is part of a playlist that covers the different elements of converting this trailer. I'll update it with the wrap soon. Besides the front cabinet, I have also decided on a rear door solution: A slider. Stay tuned!

Take Care,

Scott
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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby hankaye » Fri Feb 12, 2021 10:27 am

Stealth TDI, Howdy;

Thanks for bringing us up to date.
Condolences about your Mom, Always sad when anyone loses a Loved one.

Looks, from what you've shown and written up, that you are zeroing in on the finish line.
Warm weather isn't that far away now.

hank
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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby Stealth TDI » Sun Feb 21, 2021 7:35 pm

A minor update:

The "cabinet" is done.

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This is VERY light duty, maybe gloves, caps, towels, etc. It's not fastened into anything structural. It's a cosmetic piece to cover up the gaps in my ceiling. I still need to paint over the exposed screws. I'll do that when the temps climb again.

The E-track is going to give me some versatility in how I carry cargo or pack for a trip.

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The end of this E-track is tied into a structural member that's behind this trim piece...
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And, of course, the bird deterrents to keep "turd-birds" from sitting on my fenders. My originals got bent and pulled away from the body when someone sat on them somewhere.
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Early evening photo...
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Next is the slide-out. The weather should improve in the coming weeks. I should be able to get it done quickly. I've considered a canvas coating for the wooden slide. But I think a simple paint job should suffice for the time-being since I don't expect to use it but a few times per year... unless I catch the camping bug!
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Re: Another Tiny Cargo Trailer Sleeper...

Postby Stealth TDI » Mon Feb 22, 2021 8:08 am

I took my tiny cargo trailer conversion to a scale this morning.

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What these weights show - The car with trailer coupled is 3760 lbs (1709 kg), the car and trailer combined is 4420 lbs (2009 kg), the car alone is 3660 lbs (1663 kg). Translation: The trailer weighs 760 lbs (345 kg), tongue weight is 100 lbs (45 kg), and the car would weigh around 3390 lbs (1540 kg) without me and the power tools that I have in the trunk. For those who don't know, I carry about 100 lbs of electronics in the trunk, 20 lbs of emergency supplies, and the hitch weighs another 40 lbs. So, removing that would put the car at around 3230 lbs (1467 kg), which is about where it's expected to be when new. Back to the trailer weight, it weighed 600 lbs (273 kg) when new. So, my conversion project added 160 lbs (73 kg), which includes the spare tire, a steel jack stand, galvanized steel E-tracks, and 15 lbs of E-track accessories. That's not bad at all!
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