Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Converting Cargo Trailers into TTTs

Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby jmanscotch » Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:09 pm

Hey TNTTT folks!

Found this forum during some research and have already learned a plethora of tips, tricks and ideas from yall. I'm hoping to continue that trend and document my journey along the way, and maybe contribute back and help those entertaining the idea of making a CTC.

Last year I built a steel 4x6 camping trailer that we adorned with our roof top tent. We really enjoyed that setup, but after only a few uses, I decided it was time to sell it to fund adult life (aka a ring for the lady) and ultimately we've decided we want to build another now and do it a little different this time. We're in Colorado and the high elevations we tend to camp at can make the tent weather season short, so we're going the way of enclosed camping. Idea's here and on some other overlanding forums have really inspired us to go this route.

How we camped before the trailer life started, RTT on a bed rack.

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Here's the trailer I built last year, there's a build thread on expeditionportal if anyone's interested in the details.

Essentially what I started with, but this is after a strip down:

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Metal finished:

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Finished finished:

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A quick shot of the typical trails we'd plan to encounter:

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So our use is primarily going to be 2 day 1 night weekend warrior trips into the Rocky Mountains. We do have some ideas for more long distance trips, but those would be primarily pavement to a destination then off the beaten path. We don't intentionally get into hard trails, rock crawling, miles of washboards at speed, water crossings or anything drastic but we do enjoy getting back far enough to enjoy great views and privacy which tends to put us traversing some rutted roads, tight "jeep" trails and switchbacks.

The idea is to build up a 5x8 to be slightly more robust to both handle the extra off road forces as well as handle all the gear we'll be hauling with it. Insulate for cold Spring/Fall camping, install a basic storage bias type galley, add windows, vents, tongue storage, and a few other tweaks.

To begin, we shopped trailers, new and used, and ultimately settled on a 2018 Carry On 5x8 with side swing single rear door and curb side door as well. Out the door it was a touch over $2,000. I researched cargo trailer brands and found some opinions on each, hearing good general info on the difference in say a Carry On and a higher priced/quality Interstate/Wells Cargo/PACE/Etc, with a common theme that one should avoid Georgia's mecca of cheap trailers. I decided to go with this unit as it seemed to have the same notable draw backs as most cargo trailers in it's price range yet had some pros I appreciated. The main pros being the side door (saving us on a pricey RV Door), a nice Dexter 3,500 lbs axle already equipped and a main base frame made from 2x4 boxed steel. Some of the notable cons that we're wiling to work around are: poor workmanship on assembly (we'll circle back to this), really cheap wiring and install techniques, Z style vertical wall supports (but 1" square tube roof bows), two-piece curved roof, multiple piece aluminum siding and some general cost savings materials.

Here's the trailer we brought home:

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We're still very much in the planning stage, but that's part of why I'm here now, to suck up some more of yalls wisdom and guidance as we move forward.

Here's what we've done so far:

- wheel adapters to match lug pattern to tow vehicle, Tacoma with 6x5.5
- New wheels and tires to match tow rig 265/75 16" on 16x8 wheels
- New longer and softer riding and de-rated leaf springs (will be adding shocks eventually)
- Lock-N-Roll limited articulation hitch

We started with wheels/tires and suspension to help dial in final height so we could determine a few other things of priority. Here's a few pictures of the setup:

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One thing that might be a little different than many builds I've seen here; we are going to CHOP the top on the CT about 8 inches to lower the overall profile of the trailer. We intend to use it more like a TD and not a RV so head room isn't a priority and managing the excess height wins.

We plan to reinforce the main box frame with a few more cross supports, some smaller metal vertical wall supports and ultimately extend the tongue with 2.5" receiver tube to offer some more truck/CT clearance for turning as well as make room for tongue cargo solutions.
Last edited by jmanscotch on Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:20 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby jmanscotch » Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:27 pm

We plan to run basic electrical functions and will be doing everything 12V, no 120. Maybe pre-wire for solar so down the road we can go that route, but for now we'll charge while at home (and a little while towing with the 7-pin) as that'll typically last us the one night we'll be out camping.

There's also plans for front tongue box, small landing to catch some misc, rock rails surrounding trailer base to keep any basic obstacles from contacting aluminum siding so easily, a rear bumper, custom fenders and side landings behind the fenders, roof rack and some misc storage on the sides (propane tank, water, fuel, jack, etc).

Moving on, I wanted to see what we were working with so I removed the inside paneling and inspected build materials, quality, etc. Here's what I found.

- basic interior setup - 24" on center supports, Z channel supports, aluminum skin, 1" square tube ceiling supports and some cheap board

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- Crap wiring techniques and installation (and I've read of them having bad quality wire overall) as evident by these crimp on connectors that surely don't last in bouncy environments.

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- No protection on wiring going through metal hole (but it is a ground wire atleast, not a hot lead! Second pic is the completely loose ground attachment

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No real surprises, except one weld that was horribly burnt through (between the pathetically flimsy horizontal fender support between two vertical supports).

More to come soon...

Jake
Last edited by jmanscotch on Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby EnduroFit » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:13 pm

jmanscotch wrote:We plan to run basic electrically functions and will be doing everything in 12V, no 120. Maybe wire for solar in the future, but for now we'll charge while at home (and a little while towing with the 7-pin) as that'll typically last us the one night we'll be out camping.

There's also plans for front tongue box, small landing to catch some misc, rock rails surrounding trailer base to keep any basic obstacles from contacting aluminum siding so easily, a rear bumper, custom fenders and side landings behind the fenders, roof rack and some misc storage on the sides (propane tank, water, fuel, jack, etc).

Moving on, I wanted to see what we were working with so I removed the inside paneling and inspected build materials, quality, etc. Here's what I found.

- basic interior setup - 24" on center supports, Z channel supports, aluminum skin, 1" square tube ceiling supports and some cheap board

Image

- Crap wiring techniques and installation (and I've read of them having back quality wire overall) as evident by these crimp on connectors that surely don't last in bouncy environments.

Image

- No protection on wiring going through metal hole (but it is a ground wire atleast, not a hot lead! Second pic is the completely loose ground attachment

Image
Image

No real surprises, except one weld that was horribly burnt through (between the pathetically flimsy horizontal fender support between two vertical supports).

More to come soon...

Jake
Great tent trailer and incredible idea moving forward. I've never built one but love seeing everyone's build logs. Maybe one day. Can't wait to see more.

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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby pchast » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:49 pm

With your added lug adapters bearing maintenance will be
very important. That looks like it will be a nice unit after
rewiring.
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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby jmanscotch » Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:10 pm

Yeah, I was disappointed in two things in that regard:

5x4.5 to 6x5.5 adapters are a minimum of 2” wide due to the wheel studs overlapping and existing in the same space. I was really hoping to keep them under 1.25”.

Also, we were looking at a silver trailer (the one we ended up with is “charcoal”). The silver trailer had a real nice Dexter axle WITH EZ Lube hubs, which I ran on my last trailer, making maintenance a little easier. When we opted for the darker color, I failed to verify the hubs and we ended up with your standard hubs that will need broke down to clean and grease. Add to that chore, removing two piece wheel adapters (that I’ve blue locktited on) so I can remove the dust cap and access the spindle nut...it becomes quite a chore for something that’ll be routine. :thumbdown:

Thanks, we’ll see how it progresses in time.

Jake
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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby Charly » Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:50 am

cant get 6 x 5.5 hubs for that?
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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby hankaye » Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:56 am

jmanscotch, Howdy;

Have you looked into dealing directly with Dexter?
They have a catalogue just for the weight class of your trailer. Scroll down a few pages and you'll
see the Hubs section ...
http://www.dexteraxle.com/docs/default- ... f?sfvrsn=0

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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby jmanscotch » Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:21 am

You can get 6x5.5 hubs for the axle (I had contacted Dexter and got all the specs so sourcing hubs/bearings would be easy) but the main deterrent I had was the spindles aren't drilled for EZ Lube hubs, which is a notable want of mine. A second consideration I had was that replacing the hubs alone would give me some clearance issues based on the backspacing of MOST of the available cheap wheels with that bolt pattern. Running the spacers/adapters gave me appropriate clearance on an affordable wheel option (by roughly half price), which more than covered the adapters cost.

The idea is I'll run this setup for a while and see how I care for it. If I feel the need to replace the axle down the road, I can upgrade to EZ Lube hubs/spindles on an axle that is wider than the factory optioned axle and thus gain the proper wheel clearance, 6x5.5 hubs and ditch the adapters in the process.

I looked at ordering a trailer from the dealer with a 6x5.5 setup, but it would've essentially cost me $600 more than I paid for this one (I talked them down $300, or 15%, from their list price on it and was quoted an additional $300 for the hub change). With that price, even if I replace the axle and hubs myself, I still would save $400, so I went with it and figured I'd see how it goes before replacing the axle with something more ideal.

Thanks for the thoughts so far gents. I've got a few more things to finish planning, then I'll follow up here and share those plans and look for feedback.

Jake
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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby McDave » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:03 am

Bearing buddys wont do the trick? :thinking:
That factory wiring looks just exactly like every other trailer I have seen. You must inspect and correct or flat out replace it all.
Already looks like a badass trailer. Keep up the good work.

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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby jmanscotch » Thu Feb 22, 2018 11:33 am

McDave wrote:Bearing buddys wont do the trick? :thinking:
That factory wiring looks just exactly like every other trailer I have seen. You must inspect and correct or flat out replace it all.
Already looks like a badass trailer. Keep up the good work.

McDave


I can't support this with any real science or reasoning, but I don't much like the idea of bearing buddies. I know they've long been used and most approve of them, but I just don't think they answer my concerns as well as the EZ Lube setup, even when considering the cost savings. The EZ Lube setup is just ideal to me. Less moving parts (although admittedly a slightly weaker spindle as it has grease passages drilled into it) plus the sheer ease of lubrication maintenance means they'll get serviced by lazy owners (like me) much more often since it's *Remove dust cap *attach grease gun *grease until old grease is pushed out *wipe excess old grease off * install dust cover. Bearing buddies still require you to break down the hub to truly remove old grease and repack with new, so the benefits of being able to just ADD grease easier isn't a big win for me. I realize on boat trailers or trailers where the hubs will contact water more often, there is other benefits, but those don't apply much to my use.

I appreciate the idea though!
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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby McDave » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:28 pm

Well I just lernt something. I went to Bearing Buddies site and I can see your point.
https://www.bearingbuddy.com/
While the buddies do keep bearings lubed and water/dirt free, they don't allow you to change the grease or to push out the old stuff.
Point well taken Sir.

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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby jmanscotch » Fri Feb 23, 2018 5:03 pm

McDave wrote:Well I just lernt something. I went to Bearing Buddies site and I can see your point.
https://www.bearingbuddy.com/
While the buddies do keep bearings lubed and water/dirt free, they don't allow you to change the grease or to push out the old stuff.
Point well taken Sir.

McDave


Yep, I researched that myself recently because I wasn't sure what the jazz was about them and hoped they might be an affordable fix / alternative to the EZ Lube setup and was disappointed to find out how they functioned. Still a great product for people, as long as they serve their intended purpose.

Jake
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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby jmanscotch » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:13 pm

I received some goodies and thought I'd share, since I have no real update to offer yet.

I purchased my first welder ever! After some research, I settled on a Hobart 140 MIG unit. I only have access to 120VAC and I've read pretty good reviews, for the price point and as a hobby welder/mild work horse. As a 120 volt unit, it does have it's expedted limitations, but it should serve me well and perform with what I ask of it. Typical 20% duty cycle, 1/2" max metal thickness (at 120 amps if I recall). Seen on amazon here: http://a.co/ewbUTJj

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Also received my roof rack towers and Lock-N-Roll limited coupler from Scott, a great guy. I highly recommend his website. He doesn't have everything, a good bit of what he sells is tuned for his Dinoot trailer designs, but he has some nick-nack parts at a good price is a reliable guy to deal with. I used him for my last build and found a few more helpful items through him again this round.

Lock-N-Roll here (actually ends up being a better deal than ordering via LNR themselves): https://compact-camping-concepts-2.mysh ... d-couplers

His "No weld" Rack towers here (though I do plan to weld them, I just liked his design so I grabbed them): https://compact-camping-concepts-2.mysh ... ack-towers

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The oddball piece in that picture is a 2" receiver adapter for fitting a 2" receiver (2.5" OD) to a 50 degree A-Frame tongue. It's laser cut 1/4" plate and is a much nicer piece then I could fabricate (and has their engineers stamp of approval, aka he designed it). I purchased it from AT, or Adventure Trailers, also great folks. They don't list it on their website, but if you're interested in a precision piece like this, just contact them and they'll help you out. http://adventuretrailers.com/

Picture provided by AdventureTrailers (if you mind, let me know and I'll delete it).

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Even though Mario at AT assured me it didn't need modified, as it was engineered to be more than adequate for the forces it'd see, even offroad, I'm going to cut an additional 2.5" hole in the back of the reinforcement and extend the receiver tube back several more feet, tying into a cross brace. This isn't a trust issue with the piece, it's a structural issue with my trailers factory A-Frame and how it's supported/welded to the main frame.

Here's my issue. The factory bracing/welding where the A-frame tongue ties into the side frame rails simply looks like a potential fatigue/failure point, in my opinion. I wanted to scratch your collective brains on the strongest and simplest way to reinforce this connection.

Here's a picture of what I'm talking about. Front of the trailer, you can see the area in context. The second picture will be closer up.

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It's only welded on 3, three inch long seams...and it seems too weak. I was thinking of triangulating between the tongue and frame rail with some more 2x3" tube, brace the underneath of the joint with some 1/4" and then run the 2" receiver tube (the new tongue) from hitch all the way back to one more cross brace behind where the A-frame tongue terminates now. I don't want to add bracing to the top of the joint as it'll force me to rework the floor of the trailer to compensate. Thoughts?
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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby McDave » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:53 am

That's kind of tough one. I really don't like the way the A frame is mated to the side rail either, but it probably is strong enough for the loads of a 5 x 8. As far as the stress of off road, hard to know. So as long as you have it all opened up and want to burn some wire with that new mig, I'd be tempted to just fab some gussets of all the various obtuse, scalene, and acute triangles out of .125 plate and weld across bottom. I'm thinking keep them fairly small and try to orient so the open side would be toward the aft when possible. Might help to keep from collecting mud etc.. You may be able to hit the underside (inside ) of the c channel on there and it would still be lower than floor. Or tack in just shy of flush. Gussets may help with the strange twisting and bouncing off road.
I wouldn't get too carried away. And just try to provide for drainage.
What do ya got a fat bob dyna setting in the shop? Its hard to tell for sure but looks like a 103?

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Re: Off-Road Worthy 5x8 Conversion

Postby jmanscotch » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:36 am

McDave wrote:That's kind of tough one. I really don't like the way the A frame is mated to the side rail either, but it probably is strong enough for the loads of a 5 x 8. As far as the stress of off road, hard to know. So as long as you have it all opened up and want to burn some wire with that new mig, I'd be tempted to just fab some gussets of all the various obtuse, scalene, and acute triangles out of .125 plate and weld across bottom. I'm thinking keep them fairly small and try to orient so the open side would be toward the aft when possible. Might help to keep from collecting mud etc.. You may be able to hit the underside (inside ) of the c channel on there and it would still be lower than floor. Or tack in just shy of flush. Gussets may help with the strange twisting and bouncing off road.
I wouldn't get too carried away. And just try to provide for drainage.
What do ya got a fat bob dyna setting in the shop? Its hard to tell for sure but looks like a 103?

McDave


Good call on the orientation. I'll have to mull over it a bit and see what I come up with. All of the cross bracing for the trailer is weaker C channel, so I knew I wanted to replace those with actual boxed rails to strengthen the trailers resistance to twist anyhow, so I should be able to incorporate the gussets and cross bars in a way that'll achieve what I need without making it a pig.

It's a 2012 Street Bob, Vance and Hines exhaust with a Dynojet power commander. Fun bike, not mine, not really my style. I store it during winter months for a friend. By winter months I mean he forgot I had it all of last year, so I put 3K miles on it for him...you know, to keep the cobwebs away. I've owned a few BMWs, a R1100RT, R1100S and a Buell ST3, which would be the closest to a Harley as I'd buy. After going over the bars while panic stopping to avoid a car that pulled out in front of me, the girlfriend kindly asked that I sell it. :NC

The BMWs (great fun!) and a better pic of the Street Bob

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The Buell when I got it vs when I fixed it after crashing it:

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