All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

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

Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Thu Oct 06, 2016 9:48 am

AT, only one of the links you provided is working. Can you give me more info to get my online search pointed in the right direction? Is there something specific that you're worried about (e.g., twisting)? I showed the trailer some abuse in it's previous life as a flatbed with only the single tongue without failure, and my intention was to provide additional strength by adding the extra square tube and flat bar. My hope is that by adding more (e.g., maybe trying to connect the perpendicular square tubes without interfering with the space where the motorcycle tray slides in), you'll be more comfortable.
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby alaska teardrop » Thu Oct 06, 2016 12:21 pm

Only one of Andrew's tongue strength pages work from the Design Library under Design Resources at the top of the forum page because Andrew & his website have disappeared. For some reason the links to his original pages that I saved don't work in your thread. However, they work in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=26&t=66458&start=45 I've asked Mike to include them in the new Design Library. I'll ask again.

My concerns:
1. There is constant up & down vertical stress on tongue rails where they meet the front cross member, even on smooth road.
2. There is also horizontal stress, especially on a single rail.
3. In addition your bike rack will add a twisting stress.
4. Welding where the rails meet the front cross member sets up the likely potential for stress cracks next to the welds. If welding is needed it should be done longitudinally along the top corners of the rail as little as possible.

I recommend cutting off this tongue & starting over with an 'A' frame tongue that runs back under the chassis past the second cross member & out to the side rails. I'm willing to help determine the size & type of steel that would meet the Australian tongue strength rules. It would require getting your trailer weighed with gear aboard & deciding the tongue length.

You've expended a good deal of nice effort & money on your rig & I'd hate to see you loose it because the tongue broke.

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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby yrock87 » Thu Oct 06, 2016 5:29 pm

I'm going to have to second Alaska Teardrop on this one. That tongue looks bent where you welded on the two mounted pieces. I don't know if that was pre-existing or if it was overheated from your welding. (happens easily) adding the two diagonals as you have just done does nothing to make the tongue stronger. the weakest point of a tongue, where the forces are highest is were it connects to the first cross member. or in some cases it is weakest where you add loads to the tongue, like 300 lbs of rack and motorcycle. either way, adding those existing diagonals does nothing to solve either of those concerns.

IF your tongue was not bent, adding a full A frame front second cross member to hitch under your existing tongue would be an option to provide additional support without throwing away your previous work. but because it looks pretty knarly, I would strongly consider cutting it off and building an A Frame tongue from scratch. It is quick and easy and the time and steel spent is cheap insurance against your tongue snapping or buckling and your trailer rolling off down the road while on the highway.
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:21 am

I'm with you guys. For what it's worth, the tongue always had those two slight bends as part of the original design. I'm going to size it up and plot a solution based on my online research soon. Thanks.
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Sat Oct 08, 2016 9:40 am

I'm still sidelined about the tongue. The weather and other things have me sitting on my butt. Meanwhile, I'm making precious little progress on the countertop. I also finished the last light switch/USB unit. I think we're ready to go, minus the structural issue. Oh, and I could potentially build that table that will also function as a cover for the front window while in transit.
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Sun Oct 09, 2016 6:33 pm

I checked on the countertop today, and the polyurethane I had applied dried with a few bumps but otherwise looked good. And actually it was still a little soft. So I took advantage of the extra time provided by the tongue issue and applied a thicker coat this time. I hit the interior side counters too.

I'll probably get out of my funk and do something about the tongue in the next couple of days. Meanwhile, it's also an opportunity to finish the drywall in a bathroom I built in my basement about a year ago :roll:
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:31 pm

I'm about halfway done with the tongue overbuild/mods. The extra steel was $106, so that's (helpfully) a lot of extra weight on the tongue. The countertop looks bad, though, so that will take more time than I was expecting. And I stuck the last LED/USB unit on the wall.
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:34 pm

I finished the tongue upgrade today. I started with 2x2x1/4" steel square tube. I cut and notched the top of one tube to match the bends in the existing tongue and then sistered it up under that. It extends about 18" under the trailer, stitch-welded. I also welded the existing tongue to the angle steel that the tilt mechanism used to slide into. Then I added another length of square tube alongside the new length, this time without any cuts or bends, stitch-welding that too. I added a little support for the motorcycle tray to prevent rocking/twisting. I put everything all back together with a nice self-etching primer and a couple layers of paint. I'm satisfied about the strength of the tongue, and based on my research, it should be at least 3 times as strong as necessary.

I added a little plastic plant from IKEA, put four hooks up in the interior for wet gear or whatever, installed a couple of curtain supports, made a hook for the little lantern that hangs from the hatch, painted various parts black over overpaint/etc., painted the underside of the electrical box, riveted/bracketed the rubber down onto the electrical box lid so that won't leak, sealed the rivet holes with silicone, and siliconed a bunch of other little parts (e.g., the screws holding the drip rails). I also installed a CO detector. I think a smoke detector will be added too.

The trailer rides a little low in the front, something I foresaw. I'd like to find a 0" rise hitch, but I haven't seen one yet. The current one drops 2", I think.

I checked the lights and then took the trailer out for a ride around the neighborhood. It did just fine. I tested the turning angle with the motorcycle tray installed, and that looks good.

I jammed the "futon" into the front of the trailer in couch mode. It was harder than I expected - the mattress has springs and structure, so it's not very willing to be bent all out of shape. Nonetheless, we sat there comfortably with the trailer on the street and watched the neighbors be confused as they drove by.
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby MadMango » Thu Oct 13, 2016 9:58 am

I really like the shape of your camper, and the openness between the sleeping compartment and the kitchen. Looking good!
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:40 pm

Thanks for the support and feedback, everyone.

I wet-sanded the countertop down and am waiting for it to dry (the polyurethane turned a little white in wet spots). I think it'll look fine with maybe one thin layer over the top.

I'm also watching the siding during the ongoing rain showers, wondering if it'll need any additional protection. I'm pretty excited that it seems dry after several inches of rain and lots of wind, and maybe that'll be enough, particularly if I keep it under a cover.

We still haven't used this thing. Maybe snow in the mountains will be a catalyst.
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Thu Oct 20, 2016 10:58 pm

I worked on the trailer for an hour or two today. The "triple thick" polyurethane I had put on the counter dried with serious brush strokes in it, so I sanded the hell out of it with 1500 and then 2000 grit. Then I polished it up with car polish. It looks alright. My new standard: If I'd paid a pro to do it for me, I'd be a little disappointed by the quality but wouldn't demand my money back (and then enjoy it).

I installed the last of the cupboard handles (minus a tiny one that needs a door). I also installed these Jeep drawer stops at both ends of the drawers. Then I vacuumed the trailer, including the ceiling and walls, which were all dusty and dirty. Then I wiped the floor down and wiped up the spray from wet-sanding that had got all over everything.

I also installed the hooks for the future make-shift curtain rods.

I also ordered an SUV cover for the trailer on Amazon. Peace of mind.
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trailer_drawer_stops.jpg (20.99 KiB) Viewed 3535 times
trailer_tongue_finished.jpg
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby MatthewWorks » Thu Oct 20, 2016 11:00 pm

artquixotic wrote:I worked on the trailer for an hour or two today. The "triple thick" polyurethane I had put on the counter dried with serious brush strokes in it, so I sanded the hell out of it with 1500 and then 2000 grit. Then I polished it up with car polish. It looks alright. My new standard: If I'd paid a pro to do it for me, I'd be a little disappointed by the quality but wouldn't demand my money back (and then enjoy it).

I installed the last of the cupboard handles (minus a tiny one that needs a door). I also installed these Jeep drawer stops at both ends of the drawers. Then I vacuumed the trailer, including the ceiling and walls, which were all dusty and dirty. Then I wiped the floor down and wiped up the spray from wet-sanding that had got all over everything.

I also installed the hooks for the future make-shift curtain rods.

I also ordered an SUV cover for the trailer on Amazon. Peace of mind.

Ha! Love the drawer stop! Nice!


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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Mon Oct 31, 2016 12:51 pm

We finally took "The Sleeper" (short for Seattle Sleeper, a tentative name) camping! It did just fine. And we found plenty of problems to work on, which is the point of testing, I suppose. Rest assured TNTTT.com is already helping me research and solve the issues. They are:

1. Condensation. Duh; should have seen that coming. We picked the spot with an excellent view but couldn't see a thing for all the condensation. A candle and cracked windows helped a little, but the heavy rain and semi-wet inhabitants didn't help. I may install a cheaper, heavier furnace than planned, both to heat the trailer and to help with issue 2:
2. Speed wobble. As expected, I think the trailer has too much mass behind the axle. Mounting the motorcycle may help, as may adding another battery, furnace, and propane tank on the front of the trailer.
3. Small leak. At the front edge where some water leaked in while on the road with heavy rain and wind. I think a dab of silicone will fix that right up.
4. Mud splatter. The whole front of the trailer was covered in mud immediately after leaving the pavement. We also picked up a bunch of heavy grease somewhere on the freeway. I'll consider mud flaps and diamond plate or other siding. But the trailer handled lots of bumps just fine. 4wd was also required (for a turn around).
5. The brilliant water inlet cover that I installed brilliantly prevented me from screwing the hose attachment in. Brilliant. Easy fix.
6. The license plate light ($5) is faulty. I ordered another.
7. The front USB/lights are both switched improperly. One has both USB plugs always on, and the other switches both (I only wanted one switched). Maybe I'd been drinking when I wired those.
8. One of the windows doesn't open all the way. I think it's just sticky.

So there's a little more work to go!
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Tue Nov 22, 2016 1:30 pm

I did a little more work on the trailer. Bad news, though. The cover I bought leaked, apparently along a seam, and held water against the siding for a couple of weeks. There are now some small spots with serious wood delamination issues. Many layers of good-quality oil-based paint apparently aren't adequate protection against moisture. I'm looking into siding possibilities now, and am basically considering the trailer out of commission until that's done. As usual, TNTTT is a helpful source of information in my research this morning. For now, I put a tarp under the cover. I suspect more damage will happen until I install siding.

I sealed up the screw that I believe was causing the small water leak while the trailer was towed through a heavy rain storm. Also, the silicone that butted up against the side of the plexiglass roof separated from the plexiglass a little when the plexiglass shrank with the cold weather. I knew that was a possibility. I'm considering using adhesive silicone, but I understand that adhering to plexiglass is a challenge due to the characteristics of the material. I think the trustiest solution will be to install edging that overlaps the plexiglass and seals up against it over a larger surface area.

I installed a sway control kit, and the trailer tracked perfectly in a short test on the freeway.
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Re: All-Season Off-Road Tiny Trailer

Postby artquixotic » Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:01 pm

After slacking off for too long, I did some trailer work in the freezing weather today. I modified the inner fenders to not interfere with the suspension. I also cut away the 100% silicone that hadn't bonded to the plexiglass roof and applied adhesive silicone. If that sticks, unlike anything else supposedly will, great. If not, I'll have to seal the edges up with some tight trim. The siding still looks bad on one side, and I'm not comfortable trying to re-do the siding with the new material in these temperatures. However, it's nice to have the opportunity to apply the adhesive silicone when the plexiglass has shrunk about as much as it will. I'm pretty sure that at least some of the siding issues are from water coming around that seal and then delaminating the plywood from the inside. If I see that stop, then I'll feel more comfortable sealing up the siding from the outside.

Meanwhile, we may take the trailer out again in the next few weeks. Maybe we'll take it out on the beach!
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