Getting ready to convert.

Converting Cargo Trailers into TTTs

Getting ready to convert.

Postby Modstock » Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:58 am

I thought maybe we could use a thread (possibly a sticky) about getting ready to convert a cargo trailer.
Things that need to be done such as...

1.) Removing walls and sealing seams.
What works best ?

2.) Side wall vents. Do we need them ? vs roof vents.

3.) Insulation.
What works and what to avoid ?

4.) Picking out the right cargo.
Things to look out for ?
Bracing widths, trim, axles, wheel tire combos, doors (ramp, single, barn doors).

5.) Any places you recommend to get a trailer ?
(Brands and dealers)

These are some of the questions I'll soon be looking at when I make the cargo conversion.


Sent from my H1611 using Tapatalk
Modstock
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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby Grummy » Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:21 am

Just getting ready to head out for a week with my 6x12, but figured I'd contribute to this "opinions" post.... I'm full of opinions !

1.) Removing walls and sealing seams. What works best ?


A. I'd never buy a cargo trailer with intent to convert without fully removing the interior walls AND floor. You never know exactly what is there, and when you do get there, you can address the many "build quality" gaps you WILL find. You will also be able to triple check the frame weld quality, realize that you probably want to swap out the childish and poorly executed trailer wiring, and with equal importance, check for galvanic barrier between any aluminum frame and whatever they cobbled together to attach a steel suspension system. From the top down, you can let some Fluid-Film soak in between those joints to avoid premature corrosion that will render your trailer useless in a shorter time than it should if you do not do it. This works well regardless of whether they actually put a protective barrier in between or not.

B. "Sealing" properly requires any absolute seal to be done from the OUTSIDE first. You do not want water trapped in any cavity or seam. I had water leak into those "screwless" wall seams from the open seam side... as if they did not get a full strip of adhesive in them. This was only noticeable when the tongue was left purposely low for water to run off the front instead of pool on the roof. In normal/level position, one would only find this with a driving rain going the right direction or driving in reverse in the rain. One should however consider caulking the interior of each VERTICAL stud/tube/beam as well as the bottom gap between the outer wall so that any leaks from the outside will not allow water to run down and get trapped between the frame rails and the side wall aluminum.

The goal here is to always leave a safe path for water to drain somewhere, where it will not lay and corrode, rust or stain.

C. While you will find opinion after opinion on what is the "best" caulks for any situation, I opted for one I trust that has an affordable cost. I used OSI QUAD. I clean the surface with alcohol, tape each side of the joint with painters tape and get a perfect bead. I watched two guys vinyl side my house in the middle of winter with this stuff in great disbelief that it would do the job..... now 7 years later, I am still impressed with how incredibly it sticks.

2.) Side wall vents. Do we need them ? vs roof vents.


A. Whatever "Vents" they sell to you with the trailer are likely going to be plain garbage. If you remove them from whatever they are mounted to, it will be immediately obvious. They NEED what they are screwed to to even hold shape.

To levels unimaginable just a few short years ago, design and engineering departments have been ordered to make things as thin as possible, with the least amount of material as possible with only the goal that it "retains shape" to the visible eye. It seems just fine if it wobbles and flexes when put to use. Plan on them being garbage. The parts added to every single high volume trailer, be it cargo or camping are as cheap as they can possibly be made.

B. With that said, plan on adding aftermarket vents that fit your personal needs and hopefully only after you see good recommendations on them. We are all familiar with the main brand of roof vent(s) that DO work well. Knowing your brands history also means an easier time finding a replacement cover for example when the sun finally does take its toll.

Do not forget the potential for FLOOR vents to allow cooler air from under the rig to move upwards and out. No one actually makes such a purposeful thing, but if your handy and innovative, you can configure some decent round floor vents from various plastic or stainless drain parts such that you can recess them flush into the floor and screen them....even close them if only by simple screw in plug.

I opted to NOT have those silly sidewall "crossvent" plastic thingies cut into my sides... IF your are just hauling gas powered toys in a stock trailer, they are somewhat important, but for conversion frankly, I WILL cut holes worth cutting into my trailer where I WANT them and in the shape I need them. SImple. Nothing worse than finding a solution to fit in an existing botched up hole where you probably did not want one anyway.

3.) Insulation. What works and what to avoid ?


A. Tough one... and controversial. Much of this comes down to the end use of the trailer. If your spending your winter nights on the Canadian border, ONE INCH insulated walls are not going to accomplish much. But for most users... those building a weekend summer get away rig, we just live with the ONE INCH of insulation in order to control condensation and provide some comfort.

B. Poly-ISO is the most common I guess, but when you consider the use of a get away rig, ANY rigid foam will probably get you by. Will it really matter if you have an R3 or an R6 when you only have one inch of space and your only real goal should be condensation management ? It wont.

C. If you are doing it, DO THE FLOOR too. It is silly to "insulate" the walls and ceiling but not the floor, especially when there are some perfectly sized cavities underneath that accept rigid foam very well. Just do not "Seal" things up such that moisture can get trapped.

D. If possible, do not just use the rigid foam by itself. The WIDTH of your trailer and the finished width desired has everything to do with this... If you can steal the space to get an inch and a half or even two inches of insulation, DO IT! It will not cost much more, and really be desirable in the end. BUT, this is a problem when your talking only a 6 foot wide common trailer.

I have a 6 wide by choice. Sure, I wanted lots of insulation, but it is not practical, nor necessary for what I do with it. Still, I did and am doing more than just the one inch. First, I did not want the rigid foam to rub directly on the exterior aluminum walls. So, I bought "pool liner" foam. Look it up. It is the same type of closed cell foam used to wrap packages for shipments, but at an affordable cost... thicker too. I put 1/8" pool liner foam up against the aluminum walls, letting it also come out towards the inside of the trailer on each wall stud. I cut the rigid foam 1/4" narrower and shorter than the cavity and pressed it into the pool liner lined opening. The pool liner SEALS the edges all the way around the rigid, so you do not need to bother with spray foam to fill any gaps.

I only have 1" vertical studs, so I double stick TAPED 1/8" strips of paneling material to the verticals to add the space I needed for flush walls. So, I have one and an eighth inch of insulation, then 1/4" LUAN ply walls. OVER THAT will be 3/8" or 1/2" OPEN cell foam and upholstery material. Unlike painted walls or god forbid, freezing cold aluminum lined walls, the upholstered walls are NOT COLD feeling and they also add some insulative value without stealing too much dimension.

E. FINALLY, if you have the room to use a combination of insulation materials do so. I once had a box truck. I used good old Pink Fiberglass. It was SUPER QUIET inside. I sold (rotated) that truck and bought another, exactly the same... brand, size, dimension..... and used nothing but rigid foam in the same cavities. It was NOT super quiet inside. Rigid foam is a BOARD. Knock on it with your fist. You HEAR that ????? Now knock on Fiberglass.... yes. Quieter !!!!

Where possible, I would use rigid foam to be my outer layer, and at least 1" of fiberglass as an inner layer under a 1/4" luan ply. It will be warmer and quieter than just a rigid installation BY FAR. Again though.... not everyone is going to have the space to do this, and not everyone needs it either.

[quote4.) Picking out the right cargo. Things to look out for ? Bracing widths, trim, axles, wheel tire combos, doors (ramp, single, barn doors).][/quote]

A. "RIGHT" trailer is very personal. There are no wrongs between Barn or Ramp, Door placement, Door types, Axle Configs.... those all fall into personal desires. But lets look at some of the rest...

FRAME construction is very important. First, whether Steel or Aluminum, the build quality must be there. And there is some really poor workmanship out there. (just search the web for "Trailer Fails" and you will likely see some welding not worthy of a bird feeder).

Tongue Construction is equally or perhaps more important, perhaps ESPECIALLY on aluminum trailers. I will say I have seen many, many a manufacturer INCREASE rigidity on their tongues in subsequent designs and that is a good thing.

Ride height.... What is your DESIRE here ? Keep in mid the OTHER related issues though..... Approach angles..... Integrated Tongue..... Can you get the trailer in and out of your yard or practically any city driveway approaches ? I know I could NOT do an "under frame" tongue without routinely dragging in and out of my yard (that ruled out Legend which was my first choice). And, having had numerous trailers and various lowered trucks over the years, the LAST THING I wanted is to fiddle with blocking or any other related garbage trying to simply drive in and out of my driveway. SO, draw up your worst case scenario in CAD, then go trailer hunting !

B. ROOF Construction. Personally, I am not a fan of the mixed materials... like fiberglass end caps and sheet roof.... It's just more joints to leak. I'm also not a fan of SPLICED roof sheets when one piece width and length materials are available. When they do such it is only to cut costs. I am not a fan of "galvalume".... something named to sound like it lasts forever when it doesn't.

I DO like the concept of a one piece Aluminum Sheet roof, though even there you will likely have to suck it up and compromise. It is the ONE shortcoming to the trailer I ended up with (Amerilite/Forest River ATTX). Other than that, I really like my trailer. You would think a company could unroll a sheet of flat, straight aluminum, and successfully fasten it down on top of a welded square box without too much trouble, but I guess not. My roof looks like the interior pressure at some point may have stretched the roof all to hell. The PRICE was awesome... the LOOK was there.... The FRAME and TONGUE fit my approval.... but the roofs were wobbly on every one of them. SO I compromised.

And, the worst part is, I have no idea if they actually folded the wall down over the side walls before they screwed on their trim mouldings and gooped it full of sealant. Oh well, not everything can be perfect. One day down the road, I just might need to re-roof this thing and I will do perhaps better than they did, but in the meantime, if it does not leak... I'm good.

It was so "baggy" up there... when I insulated, I pushed the middle up with foam fillers above the roof rafters. So, now it does have a bit of a curve up there, but water gets trapped by their goop and trim anyhow.

Yes, ROOF !!!! Learn what you can about the ROOF you choose or end up with. Which ever you choose, just realize YOU will be the one dealing with whatever evil you decided at some point. For me, it was easier to deal with all FLAT and not have to also deal with sun smoked, "already too thin" when made new fiberglass end caps.

Finally, Think logically about the things you just might have to mount up there, and HOW you intend to do it. I am not afraid of having holes in the roof with todays modenr sealing products, but I sure am going to LIMIT how many holes it will get. I'm not a fan of cobble jobs.. for example, something along the likes of dangling wires unecessarily down the sides for Solar inbound wires just to cut a big hole in the side where you have to look at it forever anyhow. Put a gland on the roof and keep it sealed. FLARE any holes edges UPWARD before capping it to help keep leaks at bay. When it comes to tank venting, the RV vent covers are junk anyhow, so why butch a hole for them ? Use a Stainless MARINE vent instead. I put one in a side wall and it is almost invisible. Fridge Vents thru the floor... one screened hole in, one out with a teeny little fan. Solar mounts can be made by SPANNING the trailer with aluminum, physically tieing only into the EDGES and not thru the thin sheet. It can be done. Just think long and hard about what your goal is before you leap.

C. Get the largest tire diameter you can for your size trailer. Small diameter tires do not tend to last as long and usually give you more grief on the road. Don't get a 14" tire on a trailer that should have a 15"... if you get my drift. Any comparable size trailer, where one brand gives you a 15" and the other a 14"..... the 14" guy is cutting his bottom line.... that's it. And YOU get the shaft in that regard. Axles should simply be one of the two common brands off the shelf so parts are available anywhere.

5.) Any places you recommend to get a trailer ? (Brands and dealers)


Not really.... Your on your own. Look under, over, inside, outside... realize that there are many different brand names all manufactured by a few sources. Realize from moment one that it is a leaky old box INTENDED to haul things. They ALL look good with their fancy walls smacked in there from the factory, but I am here to tell you, THEY DO THE WALLS TO HIDE THE GAPS AND HOLES. I knew that going in. You should know that going in.There will be more concerns than you think there would be once you remove their walls. And their walls are HEAVY (usually) swap them for Luan.

But do not let that scare you away. I knew what I needed... a small toy hauler, something not really available out there. And, I full well knew that if I could get a decent aluminum framed (my desire) box, it would blow the doors off the construction of any "Travel Trailer" out there as while they are equally made as cheap as possible, they are made worse, often out of nothing more than "dust holding hands" covered up with smooth attractive vinyl skim sheets and aluminum skin that is so thin, they have to put bends in it to hold some kind of shape. They only toss in the fancy aluminum rims to take your eye away from the incredible lack of quality elsewhere (not to mention the absolute SOAKING you will get financially the moment you drive off the lot with it)

The last thing I will mention is ALWAYS WATCH YOUR WEIGHT. It adds up VERY quickly. If you intend to build a fairly complicated interior, you can not just start screwing in full size 2x4's. You must focus on light builds that are structurally sound... along the lines of Luan panel boxes with solid strips glued and stapled in the corners. I felt I was being conservative and still ended up heavier than I thought I would be. It does not hurt to get scaled when you have most of your interior and exterior build in place, document EVERYTHING included in that general weight, then you can weigh everything going in from that point on.

On your smaller single axle trailers, WEIGHT is a really big battle. If for example you look at three trailers, all with a single 2990 rating (and 3500lb axle), the 6x10 can HAUL the most weight, the 6x12 a little less, and a 6x14 can almost become unwieldy impossible to have any real structure inside simply because of the initial weight of the trailer itself. It was made for HAULING things, not a "camper" per say.

I opted for a 6x12. It is what I desired. With my interior build (which has more Oak trim than it should), I come in right at the 2900 mark fully loaded for a weekend trip (2 2 days worth of cooking, food, water, clothing, entertainment stuff) and a single 400lb toy. My TV must take the duty of any additional Coolers/Gear lawn chairs Etc.

I WILL BE adding brakes next spring without any doubt.

Now See... told you I am opinionated. LOL !
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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby Carolina_coast99 » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:17 pm

Modstock wrote:I thought maybe we could use a thread (possibly a sticky) about getting ready to convert a cargo trailer.
Things that need to be done such as...

1.) Removing walls and sealing seams.
What works best ?

2.) Side wall vents. Do we need them ? vs roof vents.

3.) Insulation.
What works and what to avoid ?

4.) Picking out the right cargo.
Things to look out for ?
Bracing widths, trim, axles, wheel tire combos, doors (ramp, single, barn doors).

5.) Any places you recommend to get a trailer ?
(Brands and dealers)

These are some of the questions I'll soon be looking at when I make the cargo conversion.


Sent from my H1611 using Tapatalk


So glad you started this conversation!! I hope it gets a lot of opinions.
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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby Carolina_coast99 » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:28 pm

Grummy wrote:Just getting ready to head out for a week with my 6x12, but figured I'd contribute to this "opinions" post.... I'm full of opinions !

1.) Removing walls and sealing seams. What works best ?


A. I'd never buy a cargo trailer with intent to convert without fully removing the interior walls AND floor. You never know exactly what is there, and when you do get there, you can address the many "build quality" gaps you WILL find. You will also be able to triple check the frame weld quality, realize that you probably want to swap out the childish and poorly executed trailer wiring, and with equal importance, check for galvanic barrier between any aluminum frame and whatever they cobbled together to attach a steel suspension system. From the top down, you can let some Fluid-Film soak in between those joints to avoid premature corrosion that will render your trailer useless in a shorter time than it should if you do not do it. This works well regardless of whether they actually put a protective barrier in between or not.

B. "Sealing" properly requires any absolute seal to be done from the OUTSIDE first. You do not want water trapped in any cavity or seam. I had water leak into those "screwless" wall seams from the open seam side... as if they did not get a full strip of adhesive in them. This was only noticeable when the tongue was left purposely low for water to run off the front instead of pool on the roof. In normal/level position, one would only find this with a driving rain going the right direction or driving in reverse in the rain. One should however consider caulking the interior of each VERTICAL stud/tube/beam as well as the bottom gap between the outer wall so that any leaks from the outside will not allow water to run down and get trapped between the frame rails and the side wall aluminum.

The goal here is to always leave a safe path for water to drain somewhere, where it will not lay and corrode, rust or stain.

C. While you will find opinion after opinion on what is the "best" caulks for any situation, I opted for one I trust that has an affordable cost. I used OSI QUAD. I clean the surface with alcohol, tape each side of the joint with painters tape and get a perfect bead. I watched two guys vinyl side my house in the middle of winter with this stuff in great disbelief that it would do the job..... now 7 years later, I am still impressed with how incredibly it sticks.

2.) Side wall vents. Do we need them ? vs roof vents.


A. Whatever "Vents" they sell to you with the trailer are likely going to be plain garbage. If you remove them from whatever they are mounted to, it will be immediately obvious. They NEED what they are screwed to to even hold shape.

To levels unimaginable just a few short years ago, design and engineering departments have been ordered to make things as thin as possible, with the least amount of material as possible with only the goal that it "retains shape" to the visible eye. It seems just fine if it wobbles and flexes when put to use. Plan on them being garbage. The parts added to every single high volume trailer, be it cargo or camping are as cheap as they can possibly be made.

B. With that said, plan on adding aftermarket vents that fit your personal needs and hopefully only after you see good recommendations on them. We are all familiar with the main brand of roof vent(s) that DO work well. Knowing your brands history also means an easier time finding a replacement cover for example when the sun finally does take its toll.

Do not forget the potential for FLOOR vents to allow cooler air from under the rig to move upwards and out. No one actually makes such a purposeful thing, but if your handy and innovative, you can configure some decent round floor vents from various plastic or stainless drain parts such that you can recess them flush into the floor and screen them....even close them if only by simple screw in plug.

I opted to NOT have those silly sidewall "crossvent" plastic thingies cut into my sides... IF your are just hauling gas powered toys in a stock trailer, they are somewhat important, but for conversion frankly, I WILL cut holes worth cutting into my trailer where I WANT them and in the shape I need them. SImple. Nothing worse than finding a solution to fit in an existing botched up hole where you probably did not want one anyway.

3.) Insulation. What works and what to avoid ?


A. Tough one... and controversial. Much of this comes down to the end use of the trailer. If your spending your winter nights on the Canadian border, ONE INCH insulated walls are not going to accomplish much. But for most users... those building a weekend summer get away rig, we just live with the ONE INCH of insulation in order to control condensation and provide some comfort.

B. Poly-ISO is the most common I guess, but when you consider the use of a get away rig, ANY rigid foam will probably get you by. Will it really matter if you have an R3 or an R6 when you only have one inch of space and your only real goal should be condensation management ? It wont.

C. If you are doing it, DO THE FLOOR too. It is silly to "insulate" the walls and ceiling but not the floor, especially when there are some perfectly sized cavities underneath that accept rigid foam very well. Just do not "Seal" things up such that moisture can get trapped.

D. If possible, do not just use the rigid foam by itself. The WIDTH of your trailer and the finished width desired has everything to do with this... If you can steal the space to get an inch and a half or even two inches of insulation, DO IT! It will not cost much more, and really be desirable in the end. BUT, this is a problem when your talking only a 6 foot wide common trailer.

I have a 6 wide by choice. Sure, I wanted lots of insulation, but it is not practical, nor necessary for what I do with it. Still, I did and am doing more than just the one inch. First, I did not want the rigid foam to rub directly on the exterior aluminum walls. So, I bought "pool liner" foam. Look it up. It is the same type of closed cell foam used to wrap packages for shipments, but at an affordable cost... thicker too. I put 1/8" pool liner foam up against the aluminum walls, letting it also come out towards the inside of the trailer on each wall stud. I cut the rigid foam 1/4" narrower and shorter than the cavity and pressed it into the pool liner lined opening. The pool liner SEALS the edges all the way around the rigid, so you do not need to bother with spray foam to fill any gaps.

I only have 1" vertical studs, so I double stick TAPED 1/8" strips of paneling material to the verticals to add the space I needed for flush walls. So, I have one and an eighth inch of insulation, then 1/4" LUAN ply walls. OVER THAT will be 3/8" or 1/2" OPEN cell foam and upholstery material. Unlike painted walls or god forbid, freezing cold aluminum lined walls, the upholstered walls are NOT COLD feeling and they also add some insulative value without stealing too much dimension.

E. FINALLY, if you have the room to use a combination of insulation materials do so. I once had a box truck. I used good old Pink Fiberglass. It was SUPER QUIET inside. I sold (rotated) that truck and bought another, exactly the same... brand, size, dimension..... and used nothing but rigid foam in the same cavities. It was NOT super quiet inside. Rigid foam is a BOARD. Knock on it with your fist. You HEAR that ????? Now knock on Fiberglass.... yes. Quieter !!!!

Where possible, I would use rigid foam to be my outer layer, and at least 1" of fiberglass as an inner layer under a 1/4" luan ply. It will be warmer and quieter than just a rigid installation BY FAR. Again though.... not everyone is going to have the space to do this, and not everyone needs it either.

[quote4.) Picking out the right cargo. Things to look out for ? Bracing widths, trim, axles, wheel tire combos, doors (ramp, single, barn doors).]


A. "RIGHT" trailer is very personal. There are no wrongs between Barn or Ramp, Door placement, Door types, Axle Configs.... those all fall into personal desires. But lets look at some of the rest...

FRAME construction is very important. First, whether Steel or Aluminum, the build quality must be there. And there is some really poor workmanship out there. (just search the web for "Trailer Fails" and you will likely see some welding not worthy of a bird feeder).

Tongue Construction is equally or perhaps more important, perhaps ESPECIALLY on aluminum trailers. I will say I have seen many, many a manufacturer INCREASE rigidity on their tongues in subsequent designs and that is a good thing.

Ride height.... What is your DESIRE here ? Keep in mid the OTHER related issues though..... Approach angles..... Integrated Tongue..... Can you get the trailer in and out of your yard or practically any city driveway approaches ? I know I could NOT do an "under frame" tongue without routinely dragging in and out of my yard (that ruled out Legend which was my first choice). And, having had numerous trailers and various lowered trucks over the years, the LAST THING I wanted is to fiddle with blocking or any other related garbage trying to simply drive in and out of my driveway. SO, draw up your worst case scenario in CAD, then go trailer hunting !

B. ROOF Construction. Personally, I am not a fan of the mixed materials... like fiberglass end caps and sheet roof.... It's just more joints to leak. I'm also not a fan of SPLICED roof sheets when one piece width and length materials are available. When they do such it is only to cut costs. I am not a fan of "galvalume".... something named to sound like it lasts forever when it doesn't.

I DO like the concept of a one piece Aluminum Sheet roof, though even there you will likely have to suck it up and compromise. It is the ONE shortcoming to the trailer I ended up with (Amerilite/Forest River ATTX). Other than that, I really like my trailer. You would think a company could unroll a sheet of flat, straight aluminum, and successfully fasten it down on top of a welded square box without too much trouble, but I guess not. My roof looks like the interior pressure at some point may have stretched the roof all to hell. The PRICE was awesome... the LOOK was there.... The FRAME and TONGUE fit my approval.... but the roofs were wobbly on every one of them. SO I compromised.

And, the worst part is, I have no idea if they actually folded the wall down over the side walls before they screwed on their trim mouldings and gooped it full of sealant. Oh well, not everything can be perfect. One day down the road, I just might need to re-roof this thing and I will do perhaps better than they did, but in the meantime, if it does not leak... I'm good.

It was so "baggy" up there... when I insulated, I pushed the middle up with foam fillers above the roof rafters. So, now it does have a bit of a curve up there, but water gets trapped by their goop and trim anyhow.

Yes, ROOF !!!! Learn what you can about the ROOF you choose or end up with. Which ever you choose, just realize YOU will be the one dealing with whatever evil you decided at some point. For me, it was easier to deal with all FLAT and not have to also deal with sun smoked, "already too thin" when made new fiberglass end caps.

Finally, Think logically about the things you just might have to mount up there, and HOW you intend to do it. I am not afraid of having holes in the roof with todays modenr sealing products, but I sure am going to LIMIT how many holes it will get. I'm not a fan of cobble jobs.. for example, something along the likes of dangling wires unecessarily down the sides for Solar inbound wires just to cut a big hole in the side where you have to look at it forever anyhow. Put a gland on the roof and keep it sealed. FLARE any holes edges UPWARD before capping it to help keep leaks at bay. When it comes to tank venting, the RV vent covers are junk anyhow, so why butch a hole for them ? Use a Stainless MARINE vent instead. I put one in a side wall and it is almost invisible. Fridge Vents thru the floor... one screened hole in, one out with a teeny little fan. Solar mounts can be made by SPANNING the trailer with aluminum, physically tieing only into the EDGES and not thru the thin sheet. It can be done. Just think long and hard about what your goal is before you leap.

C. Get the largest tire diameter you can for your size trailer. Small diameter tires do not tend to last as long and usually give you more grief on the road. Don't get a 14" tire on a trailer that should have a 15"... if you get my drift. Any comparable size trailer, where one brand gives you a 15" and the other a 14"..... the 14" guy is cutting his bottom line.... that's it. And YOU get the shaft in that regard. Axles should simply be one of the two common brands off the shelf so parts are available anywhere.

5.) Any places you recommend to get a trailer ? (Brands and dealers)


Not really.... Your on your own. Look under, over, inside, outside... realize that there are many different brand names all manufactured by a few sources. Realize from moment one that it is a leaky old box INTENDED to haul things. They ALL look good with their fancy walls smacked in there from the factory, but I am here to tell you, THEY DO THE WALLS TO HIDE THE GAPS AND HOLES. I knew that going in. You should know that going in.There will be more concerns than you think there would be once you remove their walls. And their walls are HEAVY (usually) swap them for Luan.

But do not let that scare you away. I knew what I needed... a small toy hauler, something not really available out there. And, I full well knew that if I could get a decent aluminum framed (my desire) box, it would blow the doors off the construction of any "Travel Trailer" out there as while they are equally made as cheap as possible, they are made worse, often out of nothing more than "dust holding hands" covered up with smooth attractive vinyl skim sheets and aluminum skin that is so thin, they have to put bends in it to hold some kind of shape. They only toss in the fancy aluminum rims to take your eye away from the incredible lack of quality elsewhere (not to mention the absolute SOAKING you will get financially the moment you drive off the lot with it)

The last thing I will mention is ALWAYS WATCH YOUR WEIGHT. It adds up VERY quickly. If you intend to build a fairly complicated interior, you can not just start screwing in full size 2x4's. You must focus on light builds that are structurally sound... along the lines of Luan panel boxes with solid strips glued and stapled in the corners. I felt I was being conservative and still ended up heavier than I thought I would be. It does not hurt to get scaled when you have most of your interior and exterior build in place, document EVERYTHING included in that general weight, then you can weigh everything going in from that point on.

On your smaller single axle trailers, WEIGHT is a really big battle. If for example you look at three trailers, all with a single 2990 rating (and 3500lb axle), the 6x10 can HAUL the most weight, the 6x12 a little less, and a 6x14 can almost become unwieldy impossible to have any real structure inside simply because of the initial weight of the trailer itself. It was made for HAULING things, not a "camper" per say.

I opted for a 6x12. It is what I desired. With my interior build (which has more Oak trim than it should), I come in right at the 2900 mark fully loaded for a weekend trip (2 2 days worth of cooking, food, water, clothing, entertainment stuff) and a single 400lb toy. My TV must take the duty of any additional Coolers/Gear lawn chairs Etc.

I WILL BE adding brakes next spring without any doubt.

Now See... told you I am opinionated. LOL ![/quote]

Excellent excellent write up. I am in the begining phase of a conversion, and straight to the point opinions are well appreciated.
It seems every time I read more on this website I realize how much I don't know- haha.

After more than a year and a half of reading, deciding trailer size and specifications, manufacturer, how much money I can spend- I finally put a deposit down on a custom build. I hope to create a thread on this once I begin.
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Carolina_coast99
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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby Carolina_coast99 » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:29 pm

Carolina_coast99 wrote:
Grummy wrote:Just getting ready to head out for a week with my 6x12, but figured I'd contribute to this "opinions" post.... I'm full of opinions !

1.) Removing walls and sealing seams. What works best ?


A. I'd never buy a cargo trailer with intent to convert without fully removing the interior walls AND floor. You never know exactly what is there, and when you do get there, you can address the many "build quality" gaps you WILL find. You will also be able to triple check the frame weld quality, realize that you probably want to swap out the childish and poorly executed trailer wiring, and with equal importance, check for galvanic barrier between any aluminum frame and whatever they cobbled together to attach a steel suspension system. From the top down, you can let some Fluid-Film soak in between those joints to avoid premature corrosion that will render your trailer useless in a shorter time than it should if you do not do it. This works well regardless of whether they actually put a protective barrier in between or not.

B. "Sealing" properly requires any absolute seal to be done from the OUTSIDE first. You do not want water trapped in any cavity or seam. I had water leak into those "screwless" wall seams from the open seam side... as if they did not get a full strip of adhesive in them. This was only noticeable when the tongue was left purposely low for water to run off the front instead of pool on the roof. In normal/level position, one would only find this with a driving rain going the right direction or driving in reverse in the rain. One should however consider caulking the interior of each VERTICAL stud/tube/beam as well as the bottom gap between the outer wall so that any leaks from the outside will not allow water to run down and get trapped between the frame rails and the side wall aluminum.

The goal here is to always leave a safe path for water to drain somewhere, where it will not lay and corrode, rust or stain.

C. While you will find opinion after opinion on what is the "best" caulks for any situation, I opted for one I trust that has an affordable cost. I used OSI QUAD. I clean the surface with alcohol, tape each side of the joint with painters tape and get a perfect bead. I watched two guys vinyl side my house in the middle of winter with this stuff in great disbelief that it would do the job..... now 7 years later, I am still impressed with how incredibly it sticks.

2.) Side wall vents. Do we need them ? vs roof vents.


A. Whatever "Vents" they sell to you with the trailer are likely going to be plain garbage. If you remove them from whatever they are mounted to, it will be immediately obvious. They NEED what they are screwed to to even hold shape.

To levels unimaginable just a few short years ago, design and engineering departments have been ordered to make things as thin as possible, with the least amount of material as possible with only the goal that it "retains shape" to the visible eye. It seems just fine if it wobbles and flexes when put to use. Plan on them being garbage. The parts added to every single high volume trailer, be it cargo or camping are as cheap as they can possibly be made.

B. With that said, plan on adding aftermarket vents that fit your personal needs and hopefully only after you see good recommendations on them. We are all familiar with the main brand of roof vent(s) that DO work well. Knowing your brands history also means an easier time finding a replacement cover for example when the sun finally does take its toll.

Do not forget the potential for FLOOR vents to allow cooler air from under the rig to move upwards and out. No one actually makes such a purposeful thing, but if your handy and innovative, you can configure some decent round floor vents from various plastic or stainless drain parts such that you can recess them flush into the floor and screen them....even close them if only by simple screw in plug.

I opted to NOT have those silly sidewall "crossvent" plastic thingies cut into my sides... IF your are just hauling gas powered toys in a stock trailer, they are somewhat important, but for conversion frankly, I WILL cut holes worth cutting into my trailer where I WANT them and in the shape I need them. SImple. Nothing worse than finding a solution to fit in an existing botched up hole where you probably did not want one anyway.

3.) Insulation. What works and what to avoid ?


A. Tough one... and controversial. Much of this comes down to the end use of the trailer. If your spending your winter nights on the Canadian border, ONE INCH insulated walls are not going to accomplish much. But for most users... those building a weekend summer get away rig, we just live with the ONE INCH of insulation in order to control condensation and provide some comfort.

B. Poly-ISO is the most common I guess, but when you consider the use of a get away rig, ANY rigid foam will probably get you by. Will it really matter if you have an R3 or an R6 when you only have one inch of space and your only real goal should be condensation management ? It wont.

C. If you are doing it, DO THE FLOOR too. It is silly to "insulate" the walls and ceiling but not the floor, especially when there are some perfectly sized cavities underneath that accept rigid foam very well. Just do not "Seal" things up such that moisture can get trapped.

D. If possible, do not just use the rigid foam by itself. The WIDTH of your trailer and the finished width desired has everything to do with this... If you can steal the space to get an inch and a half or even two inches of insulation, DO IT! It will not cost much more, and really be desirable in the end. BUT, this is a problem when your talking only a 6 foot wide common trailer.

I have a 6 wide by choice. Sure, I wanted lots of insulation, but it is not practical, nor necessary for what I do with it. Still, I did and am doing more than just the one inch. First, I did not want the rigid foam to rub directly on the exterior aluminum walls. So, I bought "pool liner" foam. Look it up. It is the same type of closed cell foam used to wrap packages for shipments, but at an affordable cost... thicker too. I put 1/8" pool liner foam up against the aluminum walls, letting it also come out towards the inside of the trailer on each wall stud. I cut the rigid foam 1/4" narrower and shorter than the cavity and pressed it into the pool liner lined opening. The pool liner SEALS the edges all the way around the rigid, so you do not need to bother with spray foam to fill any gaps.

I only have 1" vertical studs, so I double stick TAPED 1/8" strips of paneling material to the verticals to add the space I needed for flush walls. So, I have one and an eighth inch of insulation, then 1/4" LUAN ply walls. OVER THAT will be 3/8" or 1/2" OPEN cell foam and upholstery material. Unlike painted walls or god forbid, freezing cold aluminum lined walls, the upholstered walls are NOT COLD feeling and they also add some insulative value without stealing too much dimension.

E. FINALLY, if you have the room to use a combination of insulation materials do so. I once had a box truck. I used good old Pink Fiberglass. It was SUPER QUIET inside. I sold (rotated) that truck and bought another, exactly the same... brand, size, dimension..... and used nothing but rigid foam in the same cavities. It was NOT super quiet inside. Rigid foam is a BOARD. Knock on it with your fist. You HEAR that ????? Now knock on Fiberglass.... yes. Quieter !!!!

Where possible, I would use rigid foam to be my outer layer, and at least 1" of fiberglass as an inner layer under a 1/4" luan ply. It will be warmer and quieter than just a rigid installation BY FAR. Again though.... not everyone is going to have the space to do this, and not everyone needs it either.

[quote4.) Picking out the right cargo. Things to look out for ? Bracing widths, trim, axles, wheel tire combos, doors (ramp, single, barn doors).]


A. "RIGHT" trailer is very personal. There are no wrongs between Barn or Ramp, Door placement, Door types, Axle Configs.... those all fall into personal desires. But lets look at some of the rest...

FRAME construction is very important. First, whether Steel or Aluminum, the build quality must be there. And there is some really poor workmanship out there. (just search the web for "Trailer Fails" and you will likely see some welding not worthy of a bird feeder).

Tongue Construction is equally or perhaps more important, perhaps ESPECIALLY on aluminum trailers. I will say I have seen many, many a manufacturer INCREASE rigidity on their tongues in subsequent designs and that is a good thing.

Ride height.... What is your DESIRE here ? Keep in mid the OTHER related issues though..... Approach angles..... Integrated Tongue..... Can you get the trailer in and out of your yard or practically any city driveway approaches ? I know I could NOT do an "under frame" tongue without routinely dragging in and out of my yard (that ruled out Legend which was my first choice). And, having had numerous trailers and various lowered trucks over the years, the LAST THING I wanted is to fiddle with blocking or any other related garbage trying to simply drive in and out of my driveway. SO, draw up your worst case scenario in CAD, then go trailer hunting !

B. ROOF Construction. Personally, I am not a fan of the mixed materials... like fiberglass end caps and sheet roof.... It's just more joints to leak. I'm also not a fan of SPLICED roof sheets when one piece width and length materials are available. When they do such it is only to cut costs. I am not a fan of "galvalume".... something named to sound like it lasts forever when it doesn't.

I DO like the concept of a one piece Aluminum Sheet roof, though even there you will likely have to suck it up and compromise. It is the ONE shortcoming to the trailer I ended up with (Amerilite/Forest River ATTX). Other than that, I really like my trailer. You would think a company could unroll a sheet of flat, straight aluminum, and successfully fasten it down on top of a welded square box without too much trouble, but I guess not. My roof looks like the interior pressure at some point may have stretched the roof all to hell. The PRICE was awesome... the LOOK was there.... The FRAME and TONGUE fit my approval.... but the roofs were wobbly on every one of them. SO I compromised.

And, the worst part is, I have no idea if they actually folded the wall down over the side walls before they screwed on their trim mouldings and gooped it full of sealant. Oh well, not everything can be perfect. One day down the road, I just might need to re-roof this thing and I will do perhaps better than they did, but in the meantime, if it does not leak... I'm good.

It was so "baggy" up there... when I insulated, I pushed the middle up with foam fillers above the roof rafters. So, now it does have a bit of a curve up there, but water gets trapped by their goop and trim anyhow.

Yes, ROOF !!!! Learn what you can about the ROOF you choose or end up with. Which ever you choose, just realize YOU will be the one dealing with whatever evil you decided at some point. For me, it was easier to deal with all FLAT and not have to also deal with sun smoked, "already too thin" when made new fiberglass end caps.

Finally, Think logically about the things you just might have to mount up there, and HOW you intend to do it. I am not afraid of having holes in the roof with todays modenr sealing products, but I sure am going to LIMIT how many holes it will get. I'm not a fan of cobble jobs.. for example, something along the likes of dangling wires unecessarily down the sides for Solar inbound wires just to cut a big hole in the side where you have to look at it forever anyhow. Put a gland on the roof and keep it sealed. FLARE any holes edges UPWARD before capping it to help keep leaks at bay. When it comes to tank venting, the RV vent covers are junk anyhow, so why butch a hole for them ? Use a Stainless MARINE vent instead. I put one in a side wall and it is almost invisible. Fridge Vents thru the floor... one screened hole in, one out with a teeny little fan. Solar mounts can be made by SPANNING the trailer with aluminum, physically tieing only into the EDGES and not thru the thin sheet. It can be done. Just think long and hard about what your goal is before you leap.

C. Get the largest tire diameter you can for your size trailer. Small diameter tires do not tend to last as long and usually give you more grief on the road. Don't get a 14" tire on a trailer that should have a 15"... if you get my drift. Any comparable size trailer, where one brand gives you a 15" and the other a 14"..... the 14" guy is cutting his bottom line.... that's it. And YOU get the shaft in that regard. Axles should simply be one of the two common brands off the shelf so parts are available anywhere.

5.) Any places you recommend to get a trailer ? (Brands and dealers)


Not really.... Your on your own. Look under, over, inside, outside... realize that there are many different brand names all manufactured by a few sources. Realize from moment one that it is a leaky old box INTENDED to haul things. They ALL look good with their fancy walls smacked in there from the factory, but I am here to tell you, THEY DO THE WALLS TO HIDE THE GAPS AND HOLES. I knew that going in. You should know that going in.There will be more concerns than you think there would be once you remove their walls. And their walls are HEAVY (usually) swap them for Luan.

But do not let that scare you away. I knew what I needed... a small toy hauler, something not really available out there. And, I full well knew that if I could get a decent aluminum framed (my desire) box, it would blow the doors off the construction of any "Travel Trailer" out there as while they are equally made as cheap as possible, they are made worse, often out of nothing more than "dust holding hands" covered up with smooth attractive vinyl skim sheets and aluminum skin that is so thin, they have to put bends in it to hold some kind of shape. They only toss in the fancy aluminum rims to take your eye away from the incredible lack of quality elsewhere (not to mention the absolute SOAKING you will get financially the moment you drive off the lot with it)

The last thing I will mention is ALWAYS WATCH YOUR WEIGHT. It adds up VERY quickly. If you intend to build a fairly complicated interior, you can not just start screwing in full size 2x4's. You must focus on light builds that are structurally sound... along the lines of Luan panel boxes with solid strips glued and stapled in the corners. I felt I was being conservative and still ended up heavier than I thought I would be. It does not hurt to get scaled when you have most of your interior and exterior build in place, document EVERYTHING included in that general weight, then you can weigh everything going in from that point on.

On your smaller single axle trailers, WEIGHT is a really big battle. If for example you look at three trailers, all with a single 2990 rating (and 3500lb axle), the 6x10 can HAUL the most weight, the 6x12 a little less, and a 6x14 can almost become unwieldy impossible to have any real structure inside simply because of the initial weight of the trailer itself. It was made for HAULING things, not a "camper" per say.

I opted for a 6x12. It is what I desired. With my interior build (which has more Oak trim than it should), I come in right at the 2900 mark fully loaded for a weekend trip (2 2 days worth of cooking, food, water, clothing, entertainment stuff) and a single 400lb toy. My TV must take the duty of any additional Coolers/Gear lawn chairs Etc.

I WILL BE adding brakes next spring without any doubt.

Now See... told you I am opinionated. LOL !




Excellent excellent write up. I am in the begining phase of a conversion, and straight to the point opinions are well appreciated.
It seems every time I read more on this website I realize how much I don't know- haha.

After more than a year and a half of reading, deciding trailer size and specifications, manufacturer, how much money I can spend- I finally put a deposit down on a custom build. I hope to create a thread on this once I begin.[/quote]
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Carolina_coast99
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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby Carolina_coast99 » Sun Jul 21, 2019 1:43 pm

Carolina_coast99 wrote:
Carolina_coast99 wrote:
Grummy wrote:Just getting ready to head out for a week with my 6x12, but figured I'd contribute to this "opinions" post.... I'm full of opinions !

1.) Removing walls and sealing seams. What works best ?


A. I'd never buy a cargo trailer with intent to convert without fully removing the interior walls AND floor. You never know exactly what is there, and when you do get there, you can address the many "build quality" gaps you WILL find. You will also be able to triple check the frame weld quality, realize that you probably want to swap out the childish and poorly executed trailer wiring, and with equal importance, check for galvanic barrier between any aluminum frame and whatever they cobbled together to attach a steel suspension system. From the top down, you can let some Fluid-Film soak in between those joints to avoid premature corrosion that will render your trailer useless in a shorter time than it should if you do not do it. This works well regardless of whether they actually put a protective barrier in between or not.

B. "Sealing" properly requires any absolute seal to be done from the OUTSIDE first. You do not want water trapped in any cavity or seam. I had water leak into those "screwless" wall seams from the open seam side... as if they did not get a full strip of adhesive in them. This was only noticeable when the tongue was left purposely low for water to run off the front instead of pool on the roof. In normal/level position, one would only find this with a driving rain going the right direction or driving in reverse in the rain. One should however consider caulking the interior of each VERTICAL stud/tube/beam as well as the bottom gap between the outer wall so that any leaks from the outside will not allow water to run down and get trapped between the frame rails and the side wall aluminum.

The goal here is to always leave a safe path for water to drain somewhere, where it will not lay and corrode, rust or stain.

C. While you will find opinion after opinion on what is the "best" caulks for any situation, I opted for one I trust that has an affordable cost. I used OSI QUAD. I clean the surface with alcohol, tape each side of the joint with painters tape and get a perfect bead. I watched two guys vinyl side my house in the middle of winter with this stuff in great disbelief that it would do the job..... now 7 years later, I am still impressed with how incredibly it sticks.

2.) Side wall vents. Do we need them ? vs roof vents.


A. Whatever "Vents" they sell to you with the trailer are likely going to be plain garbage. If you remove them from whatever they are mounted to, it will be immediately obvious. They NEED what they are screwed to to even hold shape.

To levels unimaginable just a few short years ago, design and engineering departments have been ordered to make things as thin as possible, with the least amount of material as possible with only the goal that it "retains shape" to the visible eye. It seems just fine if it wobbles and flexes when put to use. Plan on them being garbage. The parts added to every single high volume trailer, be it cargo or camping are as cheap as they can possibly be made.

B. With that said, plan on adding aftermarket vents that fit your personal needs and hopefully only after you see good recommendations on them. We are all familiar with the main brand of roof vent(s) that DO work well. Knowing your brands history also means an easier time finding a replacement cover for example when the sun finally does take its toll.

Do not forget the potential for FLOOR vents to allow cooler air from under the rig to move upwards and out. No one actually makes such a purposeful thing, but if your handy and innovative, you can configure some decent round floor vents from various plastic or stainless drain parts such that you can recess them flush into the floor and screen them....even close them if only by simple screw in plug.

I opted to NOT have those silly sidewall "crossvent" plastic thingies cut into my sides... IF your are just hauling gas powered toys in a stock trailer, they are somewhat important, but for conversion frankly, I WILL cut holes worth cutting into my trailer where I WANT them and in the shape I need them. SImple. Nothing worse than finding a solution to fit in an existing botched up hole where you probably did not want one anyway.

3.) Insulation. What works and what to avoid ?


A. Tough one... and controversial. Much of this comes down to the end use of the trailer. If your spending your winter nights on the Canadian border, ONE INCH insulated walls are not going to accomplish much. But for most users... those building a weekend summer get away rig, we just live with the ONE INCH of insulation in order to control condensation and provide some comfort.

B. Poly-ISO is the most common I guess, but when you consider the use of a get away rig, ANY rigid foam will probably get you by. Will it really matter if you have an R3 or an R6 when you only have one inch of space and your only real goal should be condensation management ? It wont.

C. If you are doing it, DO THE FLOOR too. It is silly to "insulate" the walls and ceiling but not the floor, especially when there are some perfectly sized cavities underneath that accept rigid foam very well. Just do not "Seal" things up such that moisture can get trapped.

D. If possible, do not just use the rigid foam by itself. The WIDTH of your trailer and the finished width desired has everything to do with this... If you can steal the space to get an inch and a half or even two inches of insulation, DO IT! It will not cost much more, and really be desirable in the end. BUT, this is a problem when your talking only a 6 foot wide common trailer.

I have a 6 wide by choice. Sure, I wanted lots of insulation, but it is not practical, nor necessary for what I do with it. Still, I did and am doing more than just the one inch. First, I did not want the rigid foam to rub directly on the exterior aluminum walls. So, I bought "pool liner" foam. Look it up. It is the same type of closed cell foam used to wrap packages for shipments, but at an affordable cost... thicker too. I put 1/8" pool liner foam up against the aluminum walls, letting it also come out towards the inside of the trailer on each wall stud. I cut the rigid foam 1/4" narrower and shorter than the cavity and pressed it into the pool liner lined opening. The pool liner SEALS the edges all the way around the rigid, so you do not need to bother with spray foam to fill any gaps.

I only have 1" vertical studs, so I double stick TAPED 1/8" strips of paneling material to the verticals to add the space I needed for flush walls. So, I have one and an eighth inch of insulation, then 1/4" LUAN ply walls. OVER THAT will be 3/8" or 1/2" OPEN cell foam and upholstery material. Unlike painted walls or god forbid, freezing cold aluminum lined walls, the upholstered walls are NOT COLD feeling and they also add some insulative value without stealing too much dimension.

E. FINALLY, if you have the room to use a combination of insulation materials do so. I once had a box truck. I used good old Pink Fiberglass. It was SUPER QUIET inside. I sold (rotated) that truck and bought another, exactly the same... brand, size, dimension..... and used nothing but rigid foam in the same cavities. It was NOT super quiet inside. Rigid foam is a BOARD. Knock on it with your fist. You HEAR that ????? Now knock on Fiberglass.... yes. Quieter !!!!

Where possible, I would use rigid foam to be my outer layer, and at least 1" of fiberglass as an inner layer under a 1/4" luan ply. It will be warmer and quieter than just a rigid installation BY FAR. Again though.... not everyone is going to have the space to do this, and not everyone needs it either.

[quote4.) Picking out the right cargo. Things to look out for ? Bracing widths, trim, axles, wheel tire combos, doors (ramp, single, barn doors).]


A. "RIGHT" trailer is very personal. There are no wrongs between Barn or Ramp, Door placement, Door types, Axle Configs.... those all fall into personal desires. But lets look at some of the rest...

FRAME construction is very important. First, whether Steel or Aluminum, the build quality must be there. And there is some really poor workmanship out there. (just search the web for "Trailer Fails" and you will likely see some welding not worthy of a bird feeder).

Tongue Construction is equally or perhaps more important, perhaps ESPECIALLY on aluminum trailers. I will say I have seen many, many a manufacturer INCREASE rigidity on their tongues in subsequent designs and that is a good thing.

Ride height.... What is your DESIRE here ? Keep in mid the OTHER related issues though..... Approach angles..... Integrated Tongue..... Can you get the trailer in and out of your yard or practically any city driveway approaches ? I know I could NOT do an "under frame" tongue without routinely dragging in and out of my yard (that ruled out Legend which was my first choice). And, having had numerous trailers and various lowered trucks over the years, the LAST THING I wanted is to fiddle with blocking or any other related garbage trying to simply drive in and out of my driveway. SO, draw up your worst case scenario in CAD, then go trailer hunting !

B. ROOF Construction. Personally, I am not a fan of the mixed materials... like fiberglass end caps and sheet roof.... It's just more joints to leak. I'm also not a fan of SPLICED roof sheets when one piece width and length materials are available. When they do such it is only to cut costs. I am not a fan of "galvalume".... something named to sound like it lasts forever when it doesn't.

I DO like the concept of a one piece Aluminum Sheet roof, though even there you will likely have to suck it up and compromise. It is the ONE shortcoming to the trailer I ended up with (Amerilite/Forest River ATTX). Other than that, I really like my trailer. You would think a company could unroll a sheet of flat, straight aluminum, and successfully fasten it down on top of a welded square box without too much trouble, but I guess not. My roof looks like the interior pressure at some point may have stretched the roof all to hell. The PRICE was awesome... the LOOK was there.... The FRAME and TONGUE fit my approval.... but the roofs were wobbly on every one of them. SO I compromised.

And, the worst part is, I have no idea if they actually folded the wall down over the side walls before they screwed on their trim mouldings and gooped it full of sealant. Oh well, not everything can be perfect. One day down the road, I just might need to re-roof this thing and I will do perhaps better than they did, but in the meantime, if it does not leak... I'm good.

It was so "baggy" up there... when I insulated, I pushed the middle up with foam fillers above the roof rafters. So, now it does have a bit of a curve up there, but water gets trapped by their goop and trim anyhow.

Yes, ROOF !!!! Learn what you can about the ROOF you choose or end up with. Which ever you choose, just realize YOU will be the one dealing with whatever evil you decided at some point. For me, it was easier to deal with all FLAT and not have to also deal with sun smoked, "already too thin" when made new fiberglass end caps.

Finally, Think logically about the things you just might have to mount up there, and HOW you intend to do it. I am not afraid of having holes in the roof with todays modenr sealing products, but I sure am going to LIMIT how many holes it will get. I'm not a fan of cobble jobs.. for example, something along the likes of dangling wires unecessarily down the sides for Solar inbound wires just to cut a big hole in the side where you have to look at it forever anyhow. Put a gland on the roof and keep it sealed. FLARE any holes edges UPWARD before capping it to help keep leaks at bay. When it comes to tank venting, the RV vent covers are junk anyhow, so why butch a hole for them ? Use a Stainless MARINE vent instead. I put one in a side wall and it is almost invisible. Fridge Vents thru the floor... one screened hole in, one out with a teeny little fan. Solar mounts can be made by SPANNING the trailer with aluminum, physically tieing only into the EDGES and not thru the thin sheet. It can be done. Just think long and hard about what your goal is before you leap.

C. Get the largest tire diameter you can for your size trailer. Small diameter tires do not tend to last as long and usually give you more grief on the road. Don't get a 14" tire on a trailer that should have a 15"... if you get my drift. Any comparable size trailer, where one brand gives you a 15" and the other a 14"..... the 14" guy is cutting his bottom line.... that's it. And YOU get the shaft in that regard. Axles should simply be one of the two common brands off the shelf so parts are available anywhere.

5.) Any places you recommend to get a trailer ? (Brands and dealers)


Not really.... Your on your own. Look under, over, inside, outside... realize that there are many different brand names all manufactured by a few sources. Realize from moment one that it is a leaky old box INTENDED to haul things. They ALL look good with their fancy walls smacked in there from the factory, but I am here to tell you, THEY DO THE WALLS TO HIDE THE GAPS AND HOLES. I knew that going in. You should know that going in.There will be more concerns than you think there would be once you remove their walls. And their walls are HEAVY (usually) swap them for Luan.

But do not let that scare you away. I knew what I needed... a small toy hauler, something not really available out there. And, I full well knew that if I could get a decent aluminum framed (my desire) box, it would blow the doors off the construction of any "Travel Trailer" out there as while they are equally made as cheap as possible, they are made worse, often out of nothing more than "dust holding hands" covered up with smooth attractive vinyl skim sheets and aluminum skin that is so thin, they have to put bends in it to hold some kind of shape. They only toss in the fancy aluminum rims to take your eye away from the incredible lack of quality elsewhere (not to mention the absolute SOAKING you will get financially the moment you drive off the lot with it)

The last thing I will mention is ALWAYS WATCH YOUR WEIGHT. It adds up VERY quickly. If you intend to build a fairly complicated interior, you can not just start screwing in full size 2x4's. You must focus on light builds that are structurally sound... along the lines of Luan panel boxes with solid strips glued and stapled in the corners. I felt I was being conservative and still ended up heavier than I thought I would be. It does not hurt to get scaled when you have most of your interior and exterior build in place, document EVERYTHING included in that general weight, then you can weigh everything going in from that point on.

On your smaller single axle trailers, WEIGHT is a really big battle. If for example you look at three trailers, all with a single 2990 rating (and 3500lb axle), the 6x10 can HAUL the most weight, the 6x12 a little less, and a 6x14 can almost become unwieldy impossible to have any real structure inside simply because of the initial weight of the trailer itself. It was made for HAULING things, not a "camper" per say.

I opted for a 6x12. It is what I desired. With my interior build (which has more Oak trim than it should), I come in right at the 2900 mark fully loaded for a weekend trip (2 2 days worth of cooking, food, water, clothing, entertainment stuff) and a single 400lb toy. My TV must take the duty of any additional Coolers/Gear lawn chairs Etc.

I WILL BE adding brakes next spring without any doubt.

Now See... told you I am opinionated. LOL !




Duplicate reply and I can't delete. Sorry
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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby Modstock » Sun Jul 21, 2019 5:42 pm

Wow. Some great info in here already. Keep it coming guys.

I was looking at some YouTube vids.
One was using eterna-bond tape on the wall seams from the inside.
Anything about eternabond I should know about ???

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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby Rainier70 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:51 am

I think it would be a big mistake to completely seal your outer walls. Very little rain etc will ever seep in, but inevitably moisture from the inside will condense on the inside surface of the outer skin, and it will need to find a way out.
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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby Modstock » Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:04 pm

Good point.
That's why I was wondering about the sidewall vents they come with ?
Have people kept those or ordered them without.

My teardrop is garaged most of the year but if I go bigger, I may need to put it outside for short periods of time.

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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby Iconfabul8 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 2:39 pm

You know, it is really easy to get bogged down with everybody's "OPINIONS". I see you are in Salt Lake, Unless you are planning to spend a lot of time in more humid climates I would pretty much ignore most of what you read about frames and studs rusting out, sealing everything till you go nuts. Throw some insulation in a trailer and get building. It's what I did, so if mine rusts all apart , you can say I told you so, but i'm betting my uninsulated bare wood underside will outlast me. Especially in this Ut climate. My opinion of course! :D
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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby Rainier70 » Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:19 pm

The sidewall vents are designed to draw air in at the front and out the back when you are hauling machines with gas that off vapors.

I didn't have side vents put in mine as I don't carry gas etc. I do have two ceiling vents. They still wouldn't completely eliminate condensation from inside the walls. That is just a function of warm interior air and cold exterior metal in some seasons and climates.
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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby flboy » Mon Jul 22, 2019 7:38 pm

Rainier70 wrote:I think it would be a big mistake to completely seal your outer walls. Very little rain etc will ever seep in, but inevitably moisture from the inside will condense on the inside surface of the outer skin, and it will need to find a way out.


Very good point... the walls need to breath some . I left mine open at the bottom between insulation and aluminum sidewall just for that reason... Moisture in the walls is an issue where I live.
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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby McDave » Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:26 am

Lots of good stuff here. Information is power, but there can be a point where it becomes overwhelming and even counter productive. Icon just laid a little jewel of wisdom on us. His "Just Do It" approach and the K.I.S.S. theory can help to drive these projects from ideas and dreams to the finish line and into actual use. Perhaps you should define your requirements and goals and priorities and then seek out the appropriate information. Narrow your search and focus on those areas that apply to your specific project. Learning is always good, but at some point you'll have to commit and engage or face the "Failure to Launch" syndrome. That is the place where dreams go to die.
Good luck and Godspeed

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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby Grummy » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:08 pm

The comments about not fully sealing the exterior of a CT should really be under scrutiny. One should not confuse the absolute need for ventilation with the expectation that cracks, seams, or even aluminum sheet can do any "breathing" for you.

One thing a CT is NOT is a well built home, but they should share at least this one construction technique: DO NOT leave cracks, gaps or seams for water to run in... with the thought that these same voids are acceptable because the water also may need to run out. While a traditional home CAN breath to some extent, a CT is far, far from using the same construction techniques.

One should NEVER allow exterior water to enter your trailer conversion from ANYWHERE. It is just asking for trouble. Inside, one needs to focus on the condensation and moisture produce from the life living in it. That must be done with vents, not any existing cracks. And as I pointed out earlier, vents YOU should decide on quality, function and intended use, not the flimsy garbage you will find on your brand new trailer.

Have you looked at empty cargo trailer walls and floors when they get a few years old ? Full of water stains on the walls and floors, especially around the leading edge of the trailer and wheel well areas.... areas where wind pressure and tire rotation drives water UP into the trailer. The reason is because they were never sealed or intended to be a "camper" or "conversion". My own brand new 2018 trailer had 1/2" gaps right out to the open road in the front edges of the "V", gaps you would not see if you did not pull the walls. There was no shortage of light coming in around the wheel wells either... 1/8" to 1/4" gaps in the lower edges where the skin overlaps the frame rails. (not to mention the fender screws that MISSED the studs)

Was I disappointed ? NO. Not really... I have been in and around RV's and their repair my whole life. It's always been a flimsy environment and gaps like these are simply what the term "Fine Amish Craftsmanship" has become. You have to either pull your walls and floor, fix, repair, seal, or roll the dice. I don't have to live with your choice, but I know I can not buy a few trailers in what is left of my lifetime to get it as right as possible.

On my trailer, they even had caulked the entire lower edge, between the walls and floor with clear caulk. I'm sure this slows the leakage process until after warranty, though with this new "Dry-Deck" material, it probably does not show the water marks as much because of it's sealed up nature. I reused the Dry Deck for the floor, but the 3/8" sidewalls were way too heavy.

Back to moisture, yes, you have to decide, sometimes based on your particular climate, where your largest source will come from. Cooking, Showering, even Breathing.. all sources you must VENT to get rid of. Heating ?? If you want moisture, those un-vented Propane "catalytics" will give you BUCKETS of the stuff. Make sure you choose wisely on your heating source. Don't forget to that proper venting gets a lot harder when it is cold outside.

If you leave uninsulated areas here and there, they will sweat no matter what your climate. All it takes is a temperature change and the right dew point. That is why most people become meticulous in APPLYING insulation in COVERAGE over the need for high r-value numbers. In an quick temperature change event (or just about any morning where I live) will show you quickly that all the insulation in the world in one place and none in another is a path for excessive interior moisture. At the very least, cover exposed metallics with 1/8" sticky backed ductwork foam to avoid sweating.

Thermal Contact channels have to addressed... things as simple as screw heads on the warm inside holding your walls in, and attached screw threads to the cold outer beams will introduce unwanted water. And again, in a CT, Box Truck, Step Van, Etc..... there is only so much space you can steal for your moisture and insulative protections. Too, there are only so many things you can do around roll up doors and even sealing regular doors. It is a CT... can't change that.

But frankly.. the thought of not fully sealing the exterior of a CT to keep water from running thru it ....just so it can drain or breath a little would give me the willies... and some water spots for mold breeding I'm sure. Anyone who has pulled all the walls and floors out of your typical cargo trailer will attest,..... you will find PLENTY of holes for water to spray UP from the bottom, especially around the wheel wells. The "quality" was never designed in in this regard.

Just an opinion... get lost in it, ignore it or learn from it.
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Re: Getting ready to convert.

Postby flboy » Wed Jul 24, 2019 8:30 pm

I think the discussion was about letting moisture out, not water in. Not sealing where water may get in would be silly, but but not caulking/sealing the aluminum skin where it meets the frame at the bottom is allowing it to breathe as that is not a place for water to run in. Who wouldn't seal gaps and etc. where water may get in?

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