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#226343 - 06/21/11 09:35 PM Cargo Trailer Conversion
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1282
Looking at converting a new or used cargo trailer to a simple camping trailer and looking for some feedback and ideas.

The reasons I have for converting a cargo trailer instead of purchasing a new camper trailer are:

1) Cost: A new 7' x 14' cargo trailer starts at about $4800.00. A new 14' camper trailer up here starts around $14,000.00 depending on features.

2) Customization: When buying a new camper trailer, there are very few options that can be ordered and any customization is done at the factory and the costs can be prohibitive. With a cargo trailer conversion, the customization is endless to our needs and specs...more on this below.

3) Durability: Over the last 2 months, I have researched extensively and also looked first hand at so many new and used camper trailers and to quite frank, most are junk construction from the frame up to the shell and materials in the trailer itself and I cannot see these trailers lasting off-road based on my last experience with a regular camper trailer. Then again, maybe I am being too fussy...

As for the cargo trailers, there are a few local manufacturers and had the chance to visit 2 of them where I was invited into their shop to see trailers under construction. I was impressed with both the quality and workmanship on each visit. Even though the quality is much better, I know that even a cargo type trailer has it's limits but in my thinking will outlast a normal camper trailer regardless.

Based on the 3 above reasons, I have come to the tentative conclusion that for our requirements, a conversion is the way to proceed.

If we go ahead and order a cargo trailer it would be built with the following which adds roughly $700.00 to the base cost above: $700.00 + 4800.000 = $5500.00.

Customizations from the trailer manufacturer:

- Window in side access door
- 2 windows on each side of the trailer wall (depends on final interior plans but at least one wall will have a window.)
- Extra ceiling vent above side access door
- Dual propane tank mount on front bumper

- Canoe/Kayak rack on trailer roof (final cost has not been determined yet.)

Interior plans for the trailer has a $3000.00 to 4000.00 budget to start with for this year.

The idea of the trailer is to be used as a base for on and off-road traveling/camping/hiking/fishing (8 weeks vacation starting next year + weekends, stat holidays etc). We are not the type of people who like creature comforts so the interior does not need to be grandeur, rather simplistic and workable without us being fearful of anything being damaged.

- The trailer would be delivered stripped on the inside. Wiring for 12 volt lights would be installed along with any plumbing once we have a final idea of what the layout will be. The interior of the trailer will then be insulated with spray foam insulation (the same type as used in houses). After the foam insulation, fiberglass reinforced paneling instead of plywood will be in installed.

We have a few ideas that we have been kicking around for interior plans and I am looking for some feedback. Note that I have visited many trailer websites already to get some ideas but still have not come to a conclusion on much yet.

I plan to do as much work of the work myself(previous background in construction, mechanical, electrical.) However I am not adverse to farming work out to pros if means getting the work done correctly and right the first time.

Working with the confines of this budget, what ideas could you come up with for this trailer. Remember no grandeur (no TV, air conditioning etc,) rather functional and simple works best but this does not mean ugly unpainted wood, shoddy workmanship etc. That said, it does not preclude small propane fridge, potable propane stove (think bigger Coleman style), 12 volt wiring / lighting etc as mentioned above.

This short YouTube video gives you an idea of what we are thinking of. One note on this particular trailer, there is a lot of wasted space.


7'x14' trailer interior. Dimensions: 6'9 wide x 14'5 long x 6'8 high.



7'x14' trailer exterior
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#226345 - 06/21/11 09:56 PM Re: Cargo Trailer Conversion [Re: Teslinhiker]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1890
Loc: Washington, DC

Sounds like a great plan. A section of the Teardrops & Tiny Travel Trailers forum is devoted to cargo conversions:

http://www.mikenchell.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=42&sid=d1c1bd9f7933d6ebc7c743071cc6ab96


Good luck! Am looking forward to seeing pics of the final product.

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#226350 - 06/21/11 10:46 PM Re: Cargo Trailer Conversion [Re: Teslinhiker]
Ironwood Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/15/11
Posts: 87
FYI, there are some very NICELY made aluminum framed enclosed cargo trailers out there. I build furniture and have TONS of friends with cargo trailers and the aluminum ones last indefinitely, the other wear out fairly fast with constant use .

Ironwood

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#226368 - 06/22/11 01:19 AM Re: Cargo Trailer Conversion [Re: Teslinhiker]
Eugene Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/26/02
Posts: 2810
My cousin made one like that, you can see it a little here


They found out that they did need AC as it works like an oven in the sun, so you need to insulate it well.
They covered the inside in plywood like normal then hinged another sheet of plywood to fold up on the side so they could haul their 4 wheeler or fold it down for the bed.

It doesn't handle real well off paved roads though, not a lot of ground clearance, have to spot and go slot a lot to look for the hitch or rear to drag. Thats what steered me away from a trailer to a truck camper.

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#226372 - 06/22/11 01:47 AM Re: Cargo Trailer Conversion [Re: Dagny]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1282
Originally Posted By: Dagny

Sounds like a great plan. A section of the Teardrops & Tiny Travel Trailers forum is devoted to cargo conversions:

http://www.mikenchell.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=42&sid=d1c1bd9f7933d6ebc7c743071cc6ab96


Good luck! Am looking forward to seeing pics of the final product.


Thanks Dagny, I was on the Teardrops forum previously and did not notice this. I have also spent lot of time on the Expedition Portal forums lately. There are some nice trucks and trailers that range from home brew to the sky is the limit...
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#226375 - 06/22/11 02:08 AM Re: Cargo Trailer Conversion [Re: Eugene]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1282
Originally Posted By: Eugene
My cousin made one like that, you can see it a little here
They found out that they did need AC as it works like an oven in the sun, so you need to insulate it well.
They covered the inside in plywood like normal then hinged another sheet of plywood to fold up on the side so they could haul their 4 wheeler or fold it down for the bed.

It doesn't handle real well off paved roads though, not a lot of ground clearance, have to spot and go slot a lot to look for the hitch or rear to drag. Thats what steered me away from a trailer to a truck camper.


Where does your cousin generally live/travel? Up here in Canada we don't get the real hot temps like down there. Nonetheless it will be interesting to see how hot the interior can get even with the spray foam insulation.

As for the ground clearance. That is somewhat of a concern especially with the 7x14 trailers which are all dual axles. If we step down to a 6x12 sized trailer, most have a single axle which have several more inches of ground clearance depending on trailer model. Slightly bigger tires can also be added to help and the rear overhang is less.

The trade offs with a 6x12 is namely weight capacity which is generally around 1500 - 1600 lbs with a total 3000 lb GVW. Also the loss of the foot (7' vs 6') means that plans for a bed across the back of the trailer are gone as most trailers in the 6x12 size have interior width dimensions of 5'9" which is narrower in width then I am tall.
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

Top
#226376 - 06/22/11 02:13 AM Re: Cargo Trailer Conversion [Re: Teslinhiker]
Eastree Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 06/15/11
Posts: 62
I once knew someone with limited space for his family's mobile vacation getaway, so he found a way to secure a mattress to the ceiling, and lowered it (I think it was winched, but what about other methods?) for some floor sleeping.

I'm not saying it's a great idea, but it's better than a bed taking up the floor all the time, at least to some extent.

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#226378 - 06/22/11 02:22 AM Re: Cargo Trailer Conversion [Re: Teslinhiker]
jshannon Offline
Addict

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 575
Loc: North Texas

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#226379 - 06/22/11 02:25 AM Re: Cargo Trailer Conversion [Re: Eastree]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1282
Thought about that also. For 2 adults, a queen sized bed ("80x60") is needed as a double (75"x54") is just too small for more then 1 or 2 nights of crowded sleep.

With the queen mattress being that size, there is not a lot of maneuver room to be winching a mattress up/down from the ceiling etc. The original plan with the 7x14 trailer was to have the mattress across the back and 2' off the floor with the space underneath used as storage.

Anyone have any other ideas?
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

Top
#226381 - 06/22/11 02:28 AM Re: Cargo Trailer Conversion [Re: jshannon]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1282


Thanks, seen that website before. The interior design of the trailer is too "rustic" and made me feel claustrophobic as it is so crowded in there!
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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