All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Design & Construction of anything that's not a teardrop e.g. Grasshoppers or Sunspots

All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:33 pm

In an effort to put off a larger project, I've started a tiny trailer! The purpose is two-fold. First, the project will keep me busy and happy while the company I work for runs out of money. Second, the finished trailer, assuming it doesn't crumble into a pile of pieces, will be a cozy place within which me and my girlfriend can escape the weather during some of our many outings. I'll tow it behind my '98 Wrangler Sahara across terrible terrain in bad weather. (In good weather, we'll be usually backpacking in the wilderness around Seattle.)

I've already benefitted greatly from the expertise on this board, so I have decided to give back - with comedic entertainment in the form of me trying to stick a trailer together.

Basic criteria:
1. Lots of ground clearance and durable undercarriage
2. Warm, comfortable bed
3. Lots of windows
4. Not too heavy
5. Sink, faucet, stove, and USB plugins
6. Lots of insulation
7. Street legal. Probably.
8. Pass-through galley to prepare food in nasty weather

The what-the-heck list (in case I don't run out of money):
1. Furnace
2. 12v cooler
3. AC inverter
4. Solar charging
5. Extra lights
6. Can carry my WR250R
7. Water pressure
8. Crude leveling jacks
9. No leaks (one can dream)

I have:
1. A long shopping list
2. A tilting flatbed trailer - 4.5' x 9' - with a title, plate, and current registration
3. Plenty of tools
4. Some crappy drawings and a crappy wiring diagram
5. Three wheels (don't loan wheels to friends) that match the Jeep wheels enough to share a spare
6. Some recent success with solar power

I have already done a lot of shopping - $800 worth. The sum on the shopping list is $3200, but overruns are already the name of the game. The way I look at it, this is cheaper than the other project I'd be doing, both in terms of money and garage space. I've also darn-near finished my house remodel, so there's that void.

I also now have:
1. An obvious penchant for making lists
2. 30 square feet of diamond plate
3. Way too much square tube steel (I've just learned) - maybe I'll subtract that from the total budget
4. Wheel spacer/adapters to accept the Jeep wheels. They're good quality, and the wheel offset is such that I don't think there will be any additional stress on the torsion suspension.
5. Wrong-size lugnuts (d'oh) - I already had plenty in that size too - and I just ordered the correct set
6. A 100ah deep-cycle battery on the way
7. A small inverter on the way
8. A bunch of wire, all sized correctly for the loads expected
9. A stove that a friend gave me and which I thought I'd never use

So this should be fun! It's already been fun doing research and planning. Last weekend, I used the Jeep's winch to lift the trailer onto its side and then wire-wheeled the minor surface rust off the frame. Then I treated it with rust reformer and put on a layer of undercarriage coating.

Next is expanding out the trailer about eight inches to the sides and up. I made some good templates for that today and cut all of the square tube steel that I'll weld onto the frame for that. The next step is to weld those on. When I was cutting the old side bars off the trailer, I learned that two of them had been filled with water for who knows how long. I know a lot of vehicle frames have drain holes, so I think I'll connect the new side pieces to the trailer frame with small holes and then put some small drain holes in the bottom of the frame.

That's it for now. Thanks for tuning in.
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rsz_trailer_tilting.jpg
rsz_trailer_tilting.jpg (42.7 KiB) Viewed 4647 times
rsz_1rsz_trailer_drawing_small.jpg
rsz_1rsz_trailer_drawing_small.jpg (40.89 KiB) Viewed 4647 times
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby 39Ratrod » Thu Jun 30, 2016 7:18 am

I like your sketch. It has a nice profile. Make sure your balance is corrected for when you enter the trailer from behind the axle. Would hate to have it lift off the trailer jack in the front. Suppose you could always put stands in the rear.

Can't wait to see some build pics!
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:10 am

Thanks for the input. I do agree that it looks a little back-heavy. I'm uncertain about the effect of having a ~260lb motorcycle on the front sometimes. (The tentative plan is to have it as close to the trailer body as possible.) The batteries, electrical stuff, and propane will all be up there too, but I think the water will be in the back. So I'm on the lookout for things that can be moved forward or back depending on weight distribution on a given trip.

Oh, and I'm planning stands for the rear, but it would suck to have imbalance while towing. Maybe a temporary holder to keep the water up there during towing on those motorcycle-free trips?
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby dogscats » Thu Jun 30, 2016 1:33 pm

Nice. Did you do any planing on the air flow? If you have things in the basket.
TODAY IS THE OLDEST YOU'VE EVER BEEN,
YET AT THE SAME TIME, THE YOUNGEST YOU'LL EVER BE,,, SO MAKE THE BEST OF IT WHILE YOU CAN, AND ENJOY THIS DAY WHILE IT LASTS
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:06 pm

I'm sort-of hoping to have no traditional roof vent so that I have the option of laying a big solar panel flat there. You know, somehow ignoring the problem of the rack. To get air flow, I'm hoping the multiple windows (on all four sides) and the furnace (Propex 2000) will be enough. For what it's worth, we very rarely have problems with heat where we hang out. But cold and moisture are potential issues.

Do you think that will work?
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:12 pm

By the way, another recent change to the plan is to use a futon that transforms into a couch at one side or the other versus a fold-up couch that would go to the front of the trailer. The idea is that we'd decide which side door we want to use at the location and put the couch opposite to that. I wasn't able to find many examples of beds-to-couches in the archives, so let me know if you think it's a dumb idea. The purpose will be to get extra moving-around space as needed.

The old product:
http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/LU ... 3&recidx=0

The new product:
http://www.walmart.com/ip/46723702?wmls ... 48&veh=sem
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:31 pm

I just finished working on the trailer for a few hours. I finished grinding the new steel supports to get them ready to weld. Then I cut off the old brake lights. This was a bummer, partly because I had just welded them on a couple of trips ago, and partly because they were welded on so well. I was in denial about having to remove them, but finally I just did it.

Now all 10 of the 45 degree supports are welded onto the frame, making the sides ready to accept siding and diamond plate. A few welds still need to be finished up.

And a bunch of parts came in! Lots of lights. A battery charger. Fire extinguishers (for the garage). Winning!
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Trailer New Supports.jpg
Trailer New Supports.jpg (63.96 KiB) Viewed 4545 times
Trailer Lights Gone.jpg
Trailer Lights Gone.jpg (83.59 KiB) Viewed 4545 times
Trailer Half Apart.jpg
Trailer Half Apart.jpg (65.16 KiB) Viewed 4545 times
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Thu Jun 30, 2016 9:33 pm

Holy crap, 39ratrod! I just noticed your username and checked out your photos. Is your rat 4wd? I've been dreaming about making one someday.
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby 39Ratrod » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:08 am

artquixotic wrote:Holy crap, 39ratrod! I just noticed your username and checked out your photos. Is your rat 4wd? I've been dreaming about making one someday.


Yup, it is 4wd. I am running different gear ratios to compensate for the tire sizes. The rear tires are have been blistered by the 500 caddy, so they need replaced, badly!

I highly recommend you build one. It is very gratifying. Lots of compliments, waves, weird looks, thumbs up etc.

Thanks for digging it!
The biggest difference between a dreamer and a doer is the follow through.
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby 39Ratrod » Fri Jul 01, 2016 7:10 am

You are moving right along! Can't wait to see more progress pics, keep it up :thumbsup:
The biggest difference between a dreamer and a doer is the follow through.
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:21 pm

I worked on the trailer for about 6 hours today. I started by making a template for the rear frame extensions out of drywall. I thought it would be amusing, and it ended up working pretty well. Now that those are welded on, the back flexes a little bit. I think it'll be rigid enough after I add some supports for tow points a little higher than the deck.

I cut a piece of diamond plate and was sad to realize that each of the three pieces I bought will only cover one piece. I paid $2.50/lb for the diamond plate at a metal recycler. There is lots of waste, but maybe I'll use some of those pieces for trim (drawer fronts, etc.). On that note, I understand that slow-close drawers hold themselves closed pretty well, so I'm thinking of ordering some of those. Anyway, I found an old sheet of diamond plate that I found next to the dumpster at my old office. I thought that it was another diamond pattern, so I had written it off, but it turns out that I'd used that for another project already. The new sheet is oxidized and old looking, but I hit it with WD-40 and it looks good enough that most people won't notice it isn't as shiny as the other stuff.

I also welded on the steel flat bar that will hold up the walls and then drilled holes for hex bolts. (Reminder to self: drill some holes for cabin light wiring too.) I'm still finishing up some welds, cleaning those up, priming, and painting. The bottom, back corner was a little difficult to cobble together, but it worked alright. The other corner will probably be easier now that I've done it.

I'm not 100% sure I want to keep the old subfloor. It's not perfectly flat (having some swelling around the edges), and I don't know if my power planer will make it better or worse. I think it's called particle board, but with giant particles. I can even pull many of the chips off. I do have a sheet of 1/2" plywood of some sort hanging around, but I was hoping to leave the old one alone in the interest of time. Plus I don't know if I could pull the carriage bolts flush like they are now into a better material. The plan is to put a panel of 1.5" insulation, 1.5x1.5" studs/spacers, and 1/2" plywood on top of the subfloor. If you have an opinion about that not laying flat, speak up.

The project will get stuck after another 5 hours or so due to me not having a trailer - the lug nuts still haven't arrived. But I have a long list of materials I need to fetch. It'll be pretty cool to see the shape come together - I erected a 4' level on one corner just to get an idea of the proportions, and it looked huge.

In other news, the three giant skylights that I ordered for the house finally shipped after a couple of months, so I will probably install them before the trailer is done, lest the Seattle rains start and delay that for 8 months. On the other hand, I'm also definitely going to be sort-of losing my job in a week or so, so I should have more time for projects. :NC

39Ratrod, I did manage to build a rat bike, but then I ruined it by going over the matte black tank with a nice, shiny paint job. It was downhill from there, and so I ended up selling it and buying the WR250R, which I don't have to worry about scratching. I did make a good profit though, and the new owner is absolutely in love with the bike.
Attachments
Trailer Frame Addition.jpg
Trailer Frame Addition.jpg (64.02 KiB) Viewed 4378 times
Trailer Corner.jpg
Trailer Corner.jpg (62.26 KiB) Viewed 4378 times
Trailer Corner 2.jpg
Trailer Corner 2.jpg (75.11 KiB) Viewed 4378 times
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Sat Jul 02, 2016 8:37 pm

Also, I'm wondering what I should put inside the fender wells. I don't have any sheet metal hanging around, and the stuff at my metal place was pretty heavy. At first, I was thinking of just using paint or that canvas/paint mix. But I do have a habit of playing in the gravel, mud, and water a lot, so I'm rethinking that. Maybe I could cut up the old fenders and use that material? Thick bedliner from rattle cans?
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Sat Jul 02, 2016 9:32 pm

Ooh, I have a ton of thick pond liner rubber too. Maybe I can trim the inside of the fenders with that somehow.
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby 39Ratrod » Sun Jul 03, 2016 9:35 am

Dude! It's looking good!
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Wed Jul 06, 2016 11:55 am

I got outside to work on the trailer for a couple of hours yesterday. I finished some welds, plugged some holes that used to hold tie-downs, and drilled more holes for wall supports and wires. I also found some heavy steel in my scrap pile that I'll weld into tow points. I really need the lug nuts to arrive via the big brown truck so I can use the trailer to pick up supplies. And I need a run to the used RV stuff place to get, among other things, rear jacks or supports so that I can finish up the structural steel in the back. Hopefully that'll happen on Saturday (the day my semi-unemployment begins!). The big brown truck did, however, just drop off a big battery! I did my parts dance.

I've also been doing a bunch of online research and general planning. That'll probably work out as taking as much time as actual work, but at least it's fun.
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