Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Converting Cargo Trailers into TTTs

Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby VegasBell » Sun Sep 06, 2020 10:36 pm

I've lurked on this forum for years with the intent of one day building a cargo conversion or a teardrop. Since I'm not working at the moment (due to COVID), I decided now might be a good time to take on a project like this. First of all, I would like to extend a HUGE note of thanks to all that participate and share their knowledge and experiences on TnTTT. I HAVE LEARNED A LOT! And I'm sure that I will learn more, especially now. Second, I'm terrible at keeping a consistent journal, so I'll make no promises.

So here's the skinny. I purchased an Interstate trailer (Trailer's Plus) a couple of weeks, 6X12', regular height, standard door, rear door ramp. It seems like a well built trailer. I realize that these are utility trailers banged out by the hundreds and not built for show. So far, I've only found a few gaps, but not a big deal to close up. BTW, we camped in a 13' Scamp for years, so I have a little bit of experience with small trailers.

Below is my concept for the layout. Maybe the biggest difference is putting the bed at the nose of the trailer. It'll take a full-size mattress that folds up to reveal a bench/couch for day use with drawers underneath. When folded down, should be just enough room to get out the door for midnight potty trips. I'm utilizing the pull down ramp as outdoor living/grilling space (weather permitting). There'll be a fold down dinette table, and what's not shown are a couple of folding chairs for sitting. I decided to forgo the expense of a 3-way fridge and try a couple of "Yeti" style ice chest. I use a Yeti for camping and can get five days of cold space if I'm mindful. If they don't work out, I'll pony up the money for a Dometic at a later date. We live in the Southwest, so as most of you may know, very few campgrounds have hookups, and I personally prefer boon docking, anyway.

Well, I've already started on the initial teardown and insulation. I'll post a few pics in a fews days. Maybe this will be fun! :D

Fred

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Last edited by VegasBell on Mon Sep 07, 2020 9:09 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby hankaye » Mon Sep 07, 2020 8:02 am

VegasBell, Howdy;

Welcome to the lighted side of life, as opposed to being a lurker in the shadows.
Looking forward to seeing what you do to the empty box.

hank
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Every day I beat my own previous record for number of consecutive days I've stayed alive.
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby Grummy » Tue Sep 08, 2020 9:10 am

I like your front bed setup... I too went with a front bed, though while I sleep across, it would look like your going to sleep front to back, right ? I happen to be just short of 6 foot tall. I decided to sleep crossways in order to not burn up so much floor space lengthwise. The trailer ended up around69 inches wide inside, and the area where the door (and my feet) is adds another 1/2". So, for me, it is just a little tight. But I have a secret future weapon for this........ I have always intended to put a acrylic roof skylight bubble horizontally in the door to get me that extra few inches. Painted to match the trailer, I don't think it will stand out objectionably, and I get to save more floor space for other things. If a person is over 6 foot, then I don't think it would be doable.

One piece of advise I can give is watch your selection of materials for WEIGHT, especially on a 6x12 single axle. It adds up quickly. I've kept a self totalling spreadsheet from the beginning, where I can enter a known base trailer weight, and weigh and list EVERYTHING I am adding. By doing this, I was also able to compare, or make adjustments when I swapped different things out, right down to camp gear. For example, not being able to buy the lightest of everything from day one, I used to haul a certain table for under the awning use. When I bought a newer and lighter one, I was able to quickly replace the weight of the old with the new, and instantly know my exact weight.

I also keep things in two columns such that some things not going to be on the trip are zero'd in one column while the known original weight is in the second so I always know what its weight was.

A second tip is to really give thought to where your weights are concentrated, thinking far ahead about where water, waste, batteries and heavy gear are going to end up in any combination of hauling.

Keep tnttt up to date and good luck !
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby VegasBell » Tue Sep 08, 2020 7:13 pm

Hi Grummy, Nice to hear from you.

That's a good idea to keep a tally on added weight. Home Depot is pretty good about including weights of the products they sell in their descriptions.

We wanted a full size mattress, so at 75" long, that wouldn't work crossways for our trailer where the interior width is 68". The drawing that I uploaded shows the bed folded up during the day and reveals a bench/couch for day use.

I'm trying to be mindful of weight and balance. I plugged in estimate numbers at the trailer balance website that I've seen multiple references to on this forum. That was a big reason why I moved the bed to the nose. My original plan was to put the galley at the nose, but couldn't get the balance right (according to their formula.) So at the moment, the plan is to place the fresh water tank and the ice chest very close to the axel, the battery and propane tank upfront, and the spare tire at the back. I think the tongue weight is going to be good at about 13-14% of total weight. Still working on getting the side-to-side balance. There's a little more weight on the driver's side, so it might list to that side.

So I've started out by insulating the floor. Built up some panels of 2" foam covered with PMF on the underside and edges and given a good coat of paint. I attached the panels with screws and fender washers. They feel pretty solid, but if they don't work out, then it'll be pretty easy to pull them out and try something else. From the picture below, you can see that I still have one small panel to install over the axel.

Fred
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby Grummy » Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:25 am

It is best to use a scale to weigh the things you can rather than rely on advertised weights just because some will be packaged weight. But, that said, you can always include a column in a spreadsheet for an estimated indication, certainly until you can get an absolute. That way, you also do not forget that you even have the item logged.

What I actually did one day was AFTER I had what I referred to as "Base Structure" built into the trailer.... the things that would pretty much always be attached forever to the trailer (Solar System, Cabinet Structure, Bed, Etc.), I removed everything else and went and got weighed. This lump sum total then is registered with the listing of what the lump sum includes. Then EVERYTHING you take in that is small enough to be weighed can easily be logged and registered.

Now, I did not have very good luck with using any of the load balancing web tools. I was very concerned about side to side weight given my floor plan where there are cabinets all along the drivers side, but very little along the passenger side when empty. I wanted to retain a 48" x 12' area along the passenger side for removable cargo like a motorcycle for example. Thus when loaded, I am fine, but if running without that balance, something else would need to compensate. Keep in mind that even the drain slant of waste and fresh tanks can be used in the calculations as liquid will not be weighted evenly across a tank when it has a pitch, thus the pitch can be used to counterbalance though at sometimes the cost of having drains or pickups not exactly where you would have preferred.

I am fortunate enough to have had access to a PAIR of scales that are right next to each other at a nearby factory that also needs to know side to side weights. So, I was quickly able to determine how much weight had to be added to compensate such problems. By using combinations of tongue on one scale, then the other,... tongue on neither Etc., you can get a pretty good report of situations. If you keep your eyes peeled and ask lots of people if they know of any dual scale in your area, you just might find one!

It helps to know the weight of things and simply pencil them in from a top view too... just have to use your head, then be cautious on those first tows.
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby VegasBell » Sat Sep 12, 2020 2:39 pm

An update:

This week I got the ceiling insulated, skinned with luan, then covered with burlap, and the recessed lights installed. The burlap doesn't look too bad, covers the seems of the luan and adds a nice texture to the ceiling. There's a few creases and wrinkles, but, hey.... those are character marks!
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1 1/2" foam with a layer of Reflectix slid between the roof skin and the rafters.
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Painted luan installed.
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The lights are on!
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby Modstock » Sun Sep 13, 2020 1:18 pm

Lookin good.

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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby VegasBell » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:47 pm

A progress report:

Still working on "foundation" stuff, insulation (and more insulation...), rough wiring, cabinet supports, cutting holes for windows and correcting manufacturer's issues. I'll post a few pics.

The first is a wide shot from the rear ramp. The jacks are holding up the ceiling in the back where there's no roof beams to attach to. Eventually I'll have a couple of cabinets on either side of the trailer supporting the ceiling along with a box built around the rear ramp spring. You may also notice the sagging ceiling treatment (burlap). I tried using spray adhesive, but the glue just doesn't hold in our 'Vegas heat. A friend (who is very competent in this kind of stuff) recommended that I pull the burlap down, roll PVA white glue (like Elmers) on the ceiling, reapply the burlap and then roll the burlap into the glue with a dry roller. I'll let you know how that works. Any suggestions?

It's interesting to see evidence of the manufacturing process. Like in a couple of places they didn't drill holes for wire passages. Looks like the welder just burned a hole through the steel, then they put a gob of silicone around the wire for protection. So I drilled the holes clean and installed rubber grommets. I closed a few gaps in various places that you don't see until the plywood is removed. Also, they used long metal screws to attach the running lights on the fenders. I guess that's ok until you forget about them and cut your hand on some very sharp screw points while changing a tire. I removed the screws and attached the lights with rivets.

Well, hopefully it won't be too much longer when I can start on the fun stuff. But I think it's going to be a pretty tight cargo conversion when it's all done.

Be safe, be well.

Fred
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby aggie79 » Tue Sep 29, 2020 3:35 pm

Looking good Fred! :applause: :thumbsup: :applause:

What are the purpose of the extended threaded bolts/studs?
Tom (& Linda)
For more on our Silver Beatle teardrop:
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby VegasBell » Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:21 pm

Hi Tom, Thanks for your encouragement. I've admired your build for a while, way beyond my skills!

The bolts are intended to be anchors for the cabinets and bed frame. They might be a little long for now, but a Dremel tool will cut 'em down pretty quick. Thanks for the question.

Fred
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby VegasBell » Tue Oct 20, 2020 6:37 pm

So it's been a while since my last post, but not due to the lack of activity on my conversion. Just didn't have much interesting to show. It's been a few weeks of insulating, rough wiring and addressing manufacturing issues. (Nothing serious, just the normal gaps, rough welds, etc.) But today was a good day. I got the awning mounted, so now that all of the insulation and rough wiring is finished, I can close up the walls and start building and mounting cabinets, aka "the fun part." While I was waiting for the brackets, a got a head start on the cabinets, so things might really start moving along.

Be Safe, Be Well

Fred
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An Aleko 10' awning, hand-crank style.
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IMG_0212.jpeg
A friend with welding skills made up these aluminum brackets to support the awning. There's also a set on the driver's side. A cross piece will connect the two sides to support the awning and to, eventually, serve as mounts for solar panels.
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IMG_0210.jpeg
Ready to close up the walls with 1/4" pre-finished birch plywood.
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby VegasBell » Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:41 pm

Here's a couple of pics of the added door latch. Super easy.... NOT! Like taking candy from a bulldog, LOL.

Fred
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby VegasBell » Sat Oct 24, 2020 6:34 pm

Things are finally rockin'! It's been a month of slow (but steady) progress, now it's getting fun.
The walls are closed up; the windows are installed, and some of the electrical is finished.
Next is some detail work on the inside and building a couple more cabinets.

Be Safe, Be Well.
Fred
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I'm liking the pre-finished birch, makes the going a little easier.
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The galley window
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The big window (well... sorta big.)
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby flboy » Tue Oct 27, 2020 7:08 am

Looking really nice. The awning mounts look great!


The door latch looks like it was quite the project. That is the one thing I ordered "pre-done" on my CTC. I had them install the RV door with Window and latch at the factory. I installed the latch and window in my first CTC and I remember the latch in particular being a pain.
Don (Flboy)


YouTube Video of Finished 7*18 with 2ft V-nose Trailer:

https://youtu.be/MUcMM86LA2g
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Re: Just A Noob's 6X12 Conversion

Postby rjgimp » Tue Oct 27, 2020 8:56 am

So I had been following along here but just read through again and your awesome floor insulation process must have slipped past me the first time. I am planning a standy PMF/foam build on a c.1970 popup frame but cargo conversions greatly interest me for the floorplan ideas because my frame is 7' by 14'. I don't think I have seen anyone else make PMF/foam panels to be inserted into cavities. Do I understand correctly that you just screwed up into the bottom of the floor decking with enough precision that the screws did not penetrate the floor?
-Rob


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just as soon as the steering committee gets around to scheduling one!
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