My Caravan design

Member designs created in Sketchup or other cad program

My Caravan design

Postby bbrider » Sat Jul 16, 2016 10:08 am

So a couple of days ago I downloaded sketchup and started trying to figure out how to use it. I am retired so I spent several late nights working with it. I am a retired carpenter/foreman and I am planning on building a tiny trailer to pull behind my 2 door jeep to Alaska in a couple of years when the wife retires. We still tent camp and love it, but she said no tent where there are bears!

My jeep can tow 2000# with 200# of tongue weight, but I want to keep it light for the mountains and am hoping I can bring this in below 800#. I would be happy with anything below a 1000#. Anyway I digress. Here is my final drawing of my Caravan. I plan to have the mattress towards the front so we will have a small floor space at the door for the port-a-potty and shoes. I don't show the angle braces for the tongue in the drawing, but plan on adding them in the final build. It will be 3/4" ply walls and floor with 1/2" ply roof covered in .040 aluminum skin. We don't cook so we will not need a galley. We plan to use my ez-up over the back with curtain walls for added room on long stays.

I welcome all opinions and thanks for any advice. I am not sure I know what I am doing when it comes to pictures in a post either.........LOL.
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Re: My Caravan design

Postby KCStudly » Sun Jul 17, 2016 9:35 am

I like the rear entry designs for that added space at the rear, but, for me personally I'm not sure I like the idea of climbing into bed over the covers or pillows; I prefer to get into bed from the side. Still, I'm considering something similar for a potential 2nd build (if ever).

So just plywood with no additional stick framing, even in the roof? My first reaction is that 1/2 inch roof ply is overkill (assuming spars are used), and that it may still sag just from its own weight if unsupported (w/ no spars).

Alaska with no insulation? Building with simple ply walls does go quickly and there are a lot fewer things to engineer/design/buy/build, but it is a heavy way to go. Using thinner material and stick building affords the benefit of insulation with hardly any weight penalty, maybe even stronger and lighter at the same time. (Don't think that 3/4 ply will stop a bear, it won't. They can rip just about anything apart if they think there is food inside... good argument for no galley, but you have to think about other fragrant items, too, like your toothpaste and other toiletries, snack food, etc.)

My other thought is when I picture Alaska I picture vast areas of wilderness with few restaurants in between, unless you plan on staying near civilization the whole time for your meals, I would want at least some rudimentary form of preparing food for those in between times; even if it is just a cooler and a way to make a cheese sandwich, or heat a can of something.

All intended as constructive thoughts. Good luck with your build journey! :thumbsup:
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Re: My Caravan design

Postby yrock87 » Mon Jul 18, 2016 2:15 pm

it is an amazing trip up the Alcan highway. beautiful and stunning in the scale of what is around you (or in many ways, the lack of man around you). There are places the eat on the way up, but they are few and far between, and most of the food available is either fast food, or greasy pub food. keep that in mind as you plan your trip.

with a trip like that being the goal, I would recommend planning for a slightly stronger frame than you would otherwise consider. if you go single tongue like your pics, make sure it is strong enough for rough road conditions. also plan in your road trip "spares". spare tires (yes, plural) spare tools, and spare bearing/axel grease ext. how in depth you get on that is up to you, and how handy you are. but full size spares for both car and trailer are a must on the Alcan. trailers in particular seem to take a beating on that road. maybe it is the lower quality construction of most trailers, or the high pressure of the tires, but you see a trailer pulled over, or hear stories from people daily. in any case, it can be 150-200 miles between service stations on that highway, and many are not full service... so plan on at least driving 100+ miles on any fixes you do on the road.

if you are doing the trip in the summer, plywood construction should be fine for temperature management, but keep in mind that "summer" that far north is about 2 months long, and it still gets cold at night in june and august. some insulation would keep you two warmer and reduce condensation in your trailer on the wooden walls. KC is right, some light framing with foam insulation may take a bit longer to build, but the weight is lower than straight ply and the strength is arguably better as well. if you have two years to work on it, insulated walls may be something to consider, especially if you are shooting for a light weight build. having said all that, if I was to build a basic trailer knowing what I know now, It would like about 1/3 the time with straight ply, vs. insulated structural panel walls.

I look forward to watching your build.
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Re: My Caravan design

Postby bbrider » Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:56 am

Thanks for the comments. Maybe a little about me is in order. 40 years in residential and commercial construction with the last 20 being the man with the plans.....LOL. I grew up on a farm so I can weld and mechanic as well. I do lots of service work now that I am retired on mine and my friends motorcycles. I am a tool guy. I have several sets of mechanics tools and all of the carpentry tools you could ever want. Oh and I was stationed in Alaska in the Air Force where I was a helicopter mechanic for a year although that was back in 1076-77 and I am certain it has changed a lot since then. At least according to what I see on Google earth.

All the stick framing and insulation comments are great points and done right would add to the durability of the trailer over the ply construction, but at the time I started this I was thinking on doing this in the next couple of months to use this fall in Colorado. I don't have very much patience and like to dive head long into my projects. I love the work and the design of building things even if it is something for my jeep or Harley and I always want it to look factory even though it is home made. I love saying "I made that".

That being said I ran across a picture of a 5x8 cargo trailer a member converted into a TT. I loved it and I am now thinking of going in that direction. I have looked at trailers and am learning about the different construction techniques that trailer manufacturers use. What makes a good trailer and what makes a great trailer. I am now thinking I can buy a 5x8 in a charcoal color with double rear doors on it and convert it into a well insulated rear access camper. The ones I have been looking at have a 5'8" ceiling as well. It would be pretty easy to remove the interior plywood to add framing for two windows and to insulate. I would be able to add wiring for electrical as well. My thought it with the double doors I could add pin locks at the top and bottom of the left side door to lock it closed from the inside giving me that corner for a storage cabinet of some sort and a place for a port-a-potty. I could then add an rv type latch to the right hand door for use as my entrance door. I could add a lock to the arm to lock it in the open position so we couldn't be locked in by someone on the outside too. Also a place to store my single burner stove and a water jug. I am looking at the portable AC units for cooling in the summer here in Louisiana. With one of those I could vent it through the floor for the exhaust pretty easy and I could build a raised platform with a drain to drain the moisture out near the front. Maybe weld something of a frame that could be bolted in before the walls were reinstalled.

Now I have to take a breath, step back and don't rush into it. I have time and like you say do it right the first time. Oh and about the food thing. We always have our electric cook top and our single burner stove with us when we go camping. We carry can foods that can be warmed in a pinch, but can't spill and we buy food along the way when we want to cook a big meal for the one night usually cooked on a folding charcoal grill. We do like to eat....LOL. We just don't pack much in the way of food depending on where we are going to be camping, backwoods or near towns. My wife isn't a backwoods type camper, unlike me, and prefers camping where there are people around. I on the other hand growing up in the country can camp in the woods with a blanket and be happy most times. Depending on the weather that is! I ain't as young as I used to be.

So now that being said I am in full research mode for the right trailer and what to do to it when I get it. If you have any links of builds for cargo trailers I would love to see them. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them. I can be stubborn, but I know good advice when I hear it. Thanks all.

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Re: My Caravan design

Postby Greg M » Fri Jul 22, 2016 8:43 pm

Don't worry; if you like a different construction technique, you can always build another, and another, and another...
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