Keeping it Simple - A First Build

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Keeping it Simple - A First Build

Postby Glenn Butcher » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:06 pm

Firstly, I want to thank all who participate here; I've engaged similar forums in the past, but none have had the wealth of information, documented experiences, and ready constructive feedback that I've seen here.

I previously had plans to procure one of the HF/NT 40x48 trailers to haul bikes. I now have that trailer and am in the middle of constructing a bike carrier on which we can load up to six bikes (three of 'em child's bikes) to haul them to the park. But, in the back of my mind I've wanted to use that platform to host a proof-of-concept teardrop build.

Simple is the watchword; no galley, solid ply walls, FRP skin. We'd try it out next spring, and if we both liked the concept I'd build a more complete TD: 5x8, galley, etc. I used my profiletool and Sketchup to get to this point:

Image

If you find the gif animation annoying, let me know and I'll stop posting them, and replace the above with the single images. Start with the trailer, build a floor frame to cantilever past the trailer 1-foot front and back, and extend over the fenders to get 4 feet of interior width (idea from Ladybug-Out http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=55602; Thanks!), profile is from angib's Pico, and finally, full-width skylight (thanks to Bob Henry for the inspiration: http://www.tnttt.com/gallery/image.php?album_id=1521&image_id=36412 and dbuettner: http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=57658 for some construction details).

Interior furnishings would just be a shelf, and a foam mattress. Still debating how far to go with electrical; I think at least a couple of LED lights and a vent fan on a 12v battery, but I'm not sure where to put the battery. I'll have to extend the tongue.

I wrestled quite a bit with build-or-buy doors. I'm now on the "buy" track, which meets the "Simple" mantra. Good thing "Cheap" wasn't in that chant; they'll easily be half the cost of the build, not counting the trailer. The 26x32 doors at about $250 each will be what I do. I fully appreciate the "time is part of the cost" assertion some have made, I use it in all my home remodel decisions. Probably the biggest draw to these particular doors is the large window, which I don't think I could do well myself at any cost.

Anyway, that's my plan so far. If you follow along, progress will slow down when we get to the doors, because they're not in the budget yet. Also, need to clean out a bit of garage in which to work...
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Re: Keeping it Simple - A First Build

Postby clermont cubby » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:19 pm

Glen

Good luck with the build. Look forward to seeing your progress.

Larry
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Re: Keeping it Simple - A First Build

Postby Junkboy999 » Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:59 pm

Glenn there been a few nice little “ Sleepers only “ built. They are nice and simple, but a galley make them so much more fun and useful.

GL and Keep us posted.
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Re: Keeping it Simple - A First Build: Trailer Travails

Postby Glenn Butcher » Sat Dec 14, 2013 11:12 am

I have just finished the trailer registration and titling, so I thought I'd post some of my experiences. It's a Northern Tool 40"x48". Here's my sequence of 'visits' to the various officials (Colorado, El Paso County, YMMV):
  • DMV: There, they gave me a few blank forms (more on that later), and the number and directions to the State Patrol office where they do VIN inspections. Told me to make an appointment there, and then come back to DMV inside of 10 days before that date to get a temporary tag. Also, bring $20 cash to the VIN inspection, as state policemen don't have credit card swipes hanging from their belts...
  • State Patrol (Call): They have two afternoons a week where they do this. Made the appointment for right at the start of the Monday session.
  • DMV: Got my temp tag and registration, cost ~$6.50
  • State Patrol: Arrived precisely upon the agreed time to find a short line. Okay, so next time (?) arrive a little early. Officer did the inspection (lights work? yep...), commented that he'd never seen anything so small before, and completed and printed two forms on his printer (didn't need the DMV blank copies). Cost: $20.00
  • DMV: Received the license and a Colorado-issued VIN plate (The "VIN" on the official-looking certificate supplied by Northern Tool isn't compliant; the clerk called it a "part number") I'll need to rivet it to the left-hand side. Oh, I'd better not put it on the tounge, as I'm going to replace that with something longer... Turns out I was supposed to receive a bill of sale in the mail separately from NT, and the bill of lading that came with the boxes of parts didn't give the clerk enough information (sale price, any tax paid), to do the registration, so I had to call NT. They promptly filled out and faxed a bill of sale to the DMV, (10min response). Cost to DMV: ~$72.00

On the VIN inspection day, I towed the trailer all day as I went about my bizness and learned a few things:
  • My receiver and hitch shank are a loose fit, and the clunking was disconcerting. I searched around the internet and found a few 'hitch silencers' that pull the shank tight inside a wall of the receiver, for quite a bit of cash. Searching more last night, I found a "u-bolt beam clamp" at Lowes for ~$3.50 that I think will do the same thing; I'll report on that later when I get one.
  • Those four-conductor rubber electric plugs are a PITA. I had to snip off a burnished edge of the female plug to get them to fit, and I was never able to get them fully seated. It was about 5F outside, which didn't help
  • That trailer is so small, I can't see any of it while driving. I kept worrying about losing it and not knowing, but actually the clunking from the loose shank helped suppress that worry. The tear structure will help that eventually, and the bike rack I'm going to build first thing will also help.

With all that, a couple of other lessons:
  • When installing the lights, just run a ground wire to each. Just do it. Otherwise, you'll spend hours scratching your head about the interesting behavior of your lights.
  • Don't torque the bolts on the hitch attached to the tounge too tight, it'll keep the hitch cup from settling properly on the ball.
  • I wanted to tow the trailer level, so I didn't buy the hitch shank until the trailer was assembled. I ended up buying a 6" drop shank and turning it over to get the required rise, ~3"
  • Still need to get a tongue jack and a spare tire.

Now, my next project is to build the bike rack, because the weather is improving and the grand-kids want to ride. If the time I spent designing that is any indication, I'll have a simple teardrop finished in about 2020...
:D
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Re: Keeping it Simple - A First Build: Bike Rack

Postby Glenn Butcher » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:54 pm

So, the original purpose for the trailer was to haul grand-kid's bikes to the park. Here's the outcome of that endeavor:

115249

It's still missing the fourth rack, and the tie bars to stabilize the racks.

It's amazing how something so simple can take so many brain cells to execute: dimensions, placement, structural integrity. I've been considering all sorts of options for building it, and the simplest turned out to be the best. Too bad (or maybe, good thing) I don't know how to weld... :D

The longest trip this configuration will see is about 7 miles, to the downtown Colorado Springs parks, so this will give me some experience with the trailer before I go and start the teardrop build on it. Oh, and I have to make room in the garage to build... sigh.
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Re: Keeping it Simple - A First Build

Postby paul.luna » Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:32 am

I have one of those 40x48 trailers Check my signature below the the base camp trailer is it. I have yet to complete it since my brother wanted me to build a 4x8. I thought abot extending it to 4' wide but kept it at 40" I should have widened it. I went with 5' long and extended the tongue. check the build thread for more.

good luckon your build, looks like you have some reat plans started!
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Re: Keeping it Simple - A First Build: Trailer Tongue Extens

Postby Glenn Butcher » Sat Oct 11, 2014 6:09 pm

So, here I go...

First things first, extend the tongue of the 40x48 NT trailer. My current design has a 2' cantilever off the front, 1' off the back. So, I procured a 6' length of 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" 3/16g steel channel for about $38 from a local steel supply, which will extend the tongue 2 feet if attached onto the front and middle cross-members. Bob Henry pointed out recently that having an extra 2' and attaching to all three cross-members is a more sturdy assembly, and it takes stress off of the center member. I decided to try my original piece, given that the cabin will be attached to the middle cross-member, providing it additional support. I'm going to put this piece on and step back for a few days; if the extra attachment looks to be a better solution, I'll go get a new piece and use the old one to take up space in the garage...
:lol:

This whole trailer thing has exposed the focus of my current toolset on woodworking; for the tongue, I had to spend about $15 on a 7/16" drill bit (5 drill bit sets, and I didn't have that one), a center punch set, and some oil for drilling (3-in-1, HD doesn't have cutting oil). I used my carpenter's hammer with the punch instead of a ball-peen, so come and get me, all you licensed machinists. Two holes for the center crossmember bolts, and two holes fore the hitch, easy-peasy.

Here's the tongue loose-attached to the trailer:
125172

It's loose-attached, I'm going to remove it for my dear wife to paint it before I attach it permanently. Painting, wallpapering and spackling are her specialties, all geared toward covering up my so-called 'rough' carpentry.

This is the center cross-member attachment. I'm reusing the OEM tongue's bolts and nuts, and the end of the channel is about 2" past these holes:
125175


Here's the front attachment. No, the clamp is not my final solution; I'm going to get a square U-bolt made at a suspension shop to attach the channel to this cross-member.
125174

I've looked high and low, and I can't find a ready-made U-bolt to fit around 2 1/2" tubing. The good guys at e-Trailer recommended the suspension shop.

So, at this point, the jury is still out on the two-point attachment. One additional thing I've noticed is that the tongue weight went from about 4 pounds to 23 pounds; I'm going to have to re-assess my 2' front cantilever to make sure I don't make the tongue weight too heavy. That's another thing the three-point attachment would do - put some weight behind the axle to counter-balance the long, heavy steel running out to the trailer hitch.

I've bounced around with a design, but the common thread to all my musings is a 4' wide box, extended over the fenders. My current profile is mostly Benroy, 7' long, with a small galley. I'm going to get the trailer towable with the 4' x 7' floor in the next couple of weeks, then sit back for a bit and consider the possibilities...
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Re: Keeping it Simple - A First Build

Postby pchast » Sat Oct 11, 2014 9:14 pm

Good Plan. :thumbsup:
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Re: Keeping it Simple - A First Build

Postby Glenn Butcher » Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:32 pm

I took Bob Henry's observation to heart, that attaching the tongue to all three cross-members takes stress off the center cross-member. So, I went and bought another piece of 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" 3/16 gauge steel square tube, 8' in length this time, $45. Anyone want a 6' length of the same?

Here's the installation, loose-fit so I can remove it for the wife to paint:

125955

It's attached to the front and middle cross-members with 1/2" square U-bolts, braced on top with 1 1/4" steel L-angle:

125951

The rear is attached with through-hole bolts, re-used from the old tongue:

125952

I couldn't find 1/2" square U-bolts in any hardware concern. While lamenting this, I received an email from e-trailer asking if I'd update my review of the hitch I'd bought a year ago (been that long since I started), so I decided to email them for advice. They suggested getting a suspension shop to make U-bolts to fit; turned out to be a while-u-wait job at a place just 5 minutes away.

The installation was straightforward, but I spent about $20 on drill bits, and I bent a 9/16" bit drilling through the 1/8" steel of a cross-member. I think woodworking is more to my taste... :)

I think this build is going to be accomplished at a "fits and starts" pace, interleaved with household projects and doling out the funds in small amounts. I'm hoping to have it camp-able by spring.

Next, the floor...
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Re: Keeping it Simple - A First Build

Postby KCStudly » Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:40 pm

I like your techniques for 'no weld' solutions. :thumbsup:

The double thru bolts at the back, keeping the bolts close to the side walls of the tube so that it doesn't crush is a lot better than just one bolt in the middle. :thumbsup:

Using the angle backers for the U-bolts is also a good method to make sure they don't fold the way flat bars might over time.

Looking good. :thumbsup:
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Re: Keeping it Simple - A First Build

Postby Glenn Butcher » Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:53 pm

Thanks, KC. I follow your progress, looking forward to getting to where you are...

"No-weld" is a funny one, I'm from a family of welders. In south-central Louisiana, that's what folks do. The joke goes, "Look honey, I build you a house, out of welding! Oh look, she's so happy she's crying!!"

My dad is laughing his a** off at me in Heaven right now... :lol:
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Re: Keeping it Simple - A First Build: Trailer Travails

Postby Franco Novo » Mon Jul 06, 2015 7:15 pm

Great information
thanks so much for sharing it

Franco......newbie
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Re: Keeping it Simple - A First Build

Postby Glenn Butcher » Mon Jul 06, 2015 9:22 pm

Franco,

Thanks for pinging my build thread...

Work travel hijacked me early this year, and we've also just finished recovering from basement flooding. I did rethink my design, going to build the dis-assemble-able sleeping box with the single door in the rear. I'll put together an update post with sketchup drawings in a week or so.

I did order my door and two windows from Frank Bear, and looking at how they work, am glad I did. The door especially solves a lot of challenges so I can concentrate on the bolt-together design.
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