My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

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My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby Camp4Life » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:48 am

This is my design phase. I wasn't sure if I should post this here or in the build journal forum because I haven't started building yet. If the mods think this should be in the other forum, feel free to move it. I'll be designing this and collecting all materials over the fall and winter, and will begin the build in the spring.

I've been contemplating getting a small camper for a while. Something that I can park anywhere, even in smaller tent sites. I'm not a fan of the areas in campgrounds where you can take a big camper because it's basically a big open field with lots and a few trees. The only privacy you get is staying between trailers... So, the big camper stays at the lake. I didn't feel like buying someone's used camper and possible problems, and I'm definitely not dropping cash for a new one.

I thought of building a teardrop for a while. Besides, I've been thinking of adding a new hobby to my list. But the reason I wanted a CAMPER was because I usually tent when I go to other campgrounds. And tenting is ok, but for a week it's a little annoying. No room to stand to get changed and whatnot. And I've had a few abdominal surgeries lately that make things more difficult at times. Plus, the wife gets annoyed early and late summer when it's really cold and damp at night.

Because of our climate in Alberta, we get some crazy weather that can change in an instant. We can be out enjoying the sun and then 5 minutes later we're getting rained on hard, which makes getting into the tent when you're soaking wet an annoyance because our bedspace gets soaked. So for this reason, the teardrop idea went out the window and I decided to build something a little bigger that we can stand in, and that we can get into with wet/dirty clothes without climbing directly onto the bed like a teardrop trailer.

I really like the design of the Expedition Cabin A, pictured below. But, I don't like when the table is also the bed and you have to change it up. I wanted a table AND bed. I also don't need anything inside for cooking or washing because we do all that outside.

Expedition Cabin A, the inspiration for my design.

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At work on a boring Friday afternoon, I made a little drawing using PowerPoint which I could do to scale using the shape properties (The blue cube under the bed is where the water tank will go:

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View from the top
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Then the next day I started doing the 3D designing. Yes, everything in the 3D model is to scale. The Expedition is 15' long, but since I have no need for a kitchen or bathroom, I was able to cut out 3 feet, still have tons of storage, and be able to fit it all on a 6x12 trailer.

I designed the walls. All made from 4x8 foot plywood sheets. The outside blue layer is 1/2" sheets. The green is 3/4" that I offset so the seams don't line up. I cut out holes to lighten the wall, and I'll be able to fill them with foam insulation. Then a thin 1/8" plywood will finish the interior. They will all be glued and fastened together, and the wiring will all run inside the walls for all the electrical. I made the 2 layers 2-tone so you can see how I laid out the different 4x8 panels.

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Here's the 2 side walls and the rear wall where the door will be. The rear wall is built the same as the side ones. The floor will be framed out and strong as well. But I'm not drafting that yet because it's pretty straightforward.

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Below is the rear-passenger side corner where the roof will sit. The roof have the same 3-layer design, but thinner and lighter. The inner 1/8" panelling and the middle hollowed-out structural panel will sit on top of the inner panels. The middle structural panel will be 1/2". The outer roof panel will sit on top of everything including the outside walls and will be 1/4".

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I then started framing out the roof. The smaller blue square will be a roof vent with a fan. The larger rectangle one will just be a window that we can see out of when we're in bed. The 3-layer roof will go from the rear of the trailer, to the 2x4 crossbeam that's above the front side windows. From that beam forward, and all the way down to the bottom-front of the trailer will be a few thin layers of plywood that I can curve down, topped off with a thin sheet of aluminum. There will be a solar panel on the roof just forward of the roof vent.

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One thing I question though is crossbeams. The ones around the rear roof vent in the pic above are all 2x2. The rest towards the front are 2x4's. Is that overkill? Keeping in mind, I may be driving on some rough roads and I want this to last. I'm not too concerned about weight because I'll be pulling it with my F-150, so it doesn't have to be super light... The roof won't be supporting any weight except for the solar panel.

More to come!
Last edited by Camp4Life on Tue Aug 09, 2016 11:07 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: My first build: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby Camp4Life » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:52 am

So here's a view from the top of the layout. We've got the queen-sized bed in the front with the water tank underneath it, as well as extra storage. A table with 2 chairs, and a large cabinet.

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This is what it'll look like on the 6x12 trailer. The rear wall is 6'4" tall.
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That big cabinet in the trailer is only mostly usable storage. A small part of the bottom of it will be reserved for a sink that slides outside. There will also be access panels to get under the bed as well. For balance, the axle will be pushed back to bring the wheel as close to the sink as I can.
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That's all for now. That's all I did for 3D design so far on Saturday, so I still have lots to do for the electrical and plumbing plans.

In the end, the box in front of the trailer will hold 3 12v batteries. Everything will be LED, and I'll be putting a large solar panel on the roof. I'm also adding a stereo system with speakers inside, and waterproof marine speakers outside. There will also be a flatscreen TV inside as well.
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Re: My first build: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby Camp4Life » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:59 am

Sizing it up to an F-150 to scale to make sure it's all lining up.

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The front flat part of the trailer is lined up nicely with the tailgate for aerodynamics.
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Trailer wheels track behind truck wheels.
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Starting to plan light placement and wiring
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I'll be making all the details on where all the wiring and plumbing will run. That will take a little longer to plan. The sink should be easy enough with flex hoses. And I just need to find a spot for the grey water tank. Likely it'll be a large shallow tank under the rear of the trailer.

I'll also be adding a hitch receiver to the rear of the trailer so I can put my hitch-mount bike rack on the trailer. The receiver will be on a swing-arm so I can access the trailer door without removing the rack.

Tell me what you think so far! I welcome all comments, criticisms and suggestions :beer:
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Re: My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby rustytoolss » Tue Aug 09, 2016 6:23 pm

Nice design. I have looked at Cabin A models online, and like what I see. Can you tell me the height of you front wall (low roof point) & and your middle roof point height ?
As I'm designing a 6x10 standee myself. Thanks
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Re: My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby Camp4Life » Mon Aug 15, 2016 12:08 pm

rustytoolss wrote:Nice design. I have looked at Cabin A models online, and like what I see. Can you tell me the height of you front wall (low roof point) & and your middle roof point height ?
As I'm designing a 6x10 standee myself. Thanks


Thanks! Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, I just got back from a camping trip last night. I'm at work right now but I'll post up the measurements tonight :thumbsup:
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Re: My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby Camp4Life » Tue Aug 16, 2016 9:13 am

Here's my current measurements.

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With transparent walls:
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However, I'm doing a bit of a redesign since I wanted to beef up the structural component anyways.

I'm just under 6'2" so I'd like the standing room to be overall more my height. The largest rear part of the roof is now 6'5" at the back, and 6'2" at the foot of the bed (the curve which was previously 5'4" has been moved back and raised), so the top roof has a bit less of a slope and it's shorter. It then curves down from there to the front of the trailer where I raised the 2'11" section to 3'1" just for a bit more headroom. I also had to push the 2 windows on each side of the bed towards the back a bit. Doing this also allows me to move the front over-bed window forward more as well.
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Re: My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby Camp4Life » Tue Aug 16, 2016 10:02 pm

I'm home now. Here is the new side profile with heights.

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I've only done the inner structural wall so far and still have to add the outer layer of 1/2", and then redo the roof.
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Re: My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby aggie79 » Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:13 pm

I like the looks of your design. Had I built something like your design instead of a teardrop, then I might not be looking to build a cargo trailer conversion.

May I offer one item for consideration? Because my wife and I are in the "get up at least twice a night for bathroom runs" age, I look at designs to see if they will minimize the gyrations that are necessary to accomplish nighttime nature breaks. Your design appears to have the sleeping arrangement "feet first" toward the front of the trailer with the lowest wall height. To get up at night, would require a 180-degree "spin". Perhaps you could increase the front wall height to allow a head first sleeping arrangement which make the getting to the back of the trailer easier.
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Re: My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby Camp4Life » Thu Aug 18, 2016 9:54 pm

aggie79 wrote:I like the looks of your design. Had I built something like your design instead of a teardrop, then I might not be looking to build a cargo trailer conversion.

May I offer one item for consideration? Because my wife and I are in the "get up at least twice a night for bathroom runs" age, I look at designs to see if they will minimize the gyrations that are necessary to accomplish nighttime nature breaks. Your design appears to have the sleeping arrangement "feet first" toward the front of the trailer with the lowest wall height. To get up at night, would require a 180-degree "spin". Perhaps you could increase the front wall height to allow a head first sleeping arrangement which make the getting to the back of the trailer easier.


Thanks! And actually it's gonna be head at the front of the trailer for sleeping. Flip blankets off of you and scoot down to get out. Luckily we use lots of blankets instead of sleeping bags :)
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Re: My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby rustytoolss » Fri Aug 19, 2016 1:31 am

Never did see the length of trailer. Three sections ? maybe 12 foot ?
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Re: My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby jnelson » Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:05 am

Very cool design, subscribed :thumbsup:
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Re: My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby Camp4Life » Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:44 am

rustytoolss wrote:Never did see the length of trailer. Three sections ? maybe 12 foot ?


Correct! It's a 12' long 6' wide deck on the trailer. You can see the individual panels on the side wall, three 4x8 sheets of plywood standing upright. Also, the axle on the trailer might have to be moved back closer to the sink for weight balance. Although with a 20lb propane tank on the trailer tongue, batteries in the box up front, and a water tank under the bed, I might just have enough weight in the front to balance it nicely.
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Re: My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby Camp4Life » Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:47 am

jnelson wrote:Very cool design, subscribed :thumbsup:


Thanks! I just added more last night that I'll post up after the weekend. A 5' slideout table that comes out the side from under the bed, similar to the sink design with fold-down legs on the end. That will be for my grill. Then a flip down hinged counter that will be between the sink and that slideout grill table. :thumbsup:
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Re: My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby Camp4Life » Tue Aug 23, 2016 12:58 pm

Plans may be changing again. I'm considering raising the trailer ride height. The ceiling will then be brought down to the 5'2" or 5'3" mark, basically right above the rear side window. Then the roof in the standing area will be a square popup that will lift straight up about a foot on scissor arms and be surrounded by canvas on all 4 sides.

I'm mulling this around and playing with my design... This will make it shorter for traveling, more aerodynamic, and a little lighter on the back end. I could then also lower the roof at night for warmth and to keep any possible nighttime rain off of the canvas.

Thoughts are rolling around my head now... :?
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Re: My first build design: Uno. (Pic heavy!)

Postby rustytoolss » Tue Aug 23, 2016 3:32 pm

I thought about a pop up top for my design. For the same reasons as you. But decided against the popup top. Made the build more complicated , added more weight, more possible water leaks. In the end , I felt that having a simple design. less weight, less chance for leaks was a better way to go. It may not be as aerodynamic ..can't win them all.
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