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    Thread: Custom camper trailer build

    1. Member GruuvenNorth's Avatar
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      02-03-2017 04:09 PM #26
      Hell yeah man, that's awesome!
      Easy like Sunday Morning.

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      02-03-2017 04:16 PM #27
      Awesome.
      I was going to do a 16' fiberglass Scamp at one point but ended up throwing the whole thing away, so I hope to see you finish (eventually).
      A few thoughts...
      If you put a bolt in the nut while you weld it, and wait until it cools to remove it, you usually don't have to re-tap the threads, but it never hurts.
      I like the water tank frame, but I'd add 2 nuts to each all thread rod, on the inside of the tubular mount, so you can snug it up to the tank, then jamb the inner nuts outward.
      If you have a hacksaw, one of the small sawzalls, a long floppy metal cutting bit actually does amazing at chipping the flux core slag off, you can just ride along the tip with light pressure zipping all the big flux wads, then go straight to the wire wheel, and not have to go crazy with the cutoff/grinding wheels.
      Wear ear plugs or ear buds if you weld laying down, slag burning a hole in your ear drum isn't fun.

    3. Member Rob Cote's Avatar
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      02-06-2017 07:05 AM #28
      SO. If you look back at the drawings, you can see this circular thing that moves around quite a bit in the different layouts. I designed each to accommodate a 30lb. propane tank. I knew that this would be a TON (not literally) of propane, but I wanted to see if it was doable without being too constricting, and then install something smaller. Something about having more than enough space for it appealed to me. But by the time we were ready to buy a tank, we had been talking about 30lbs. for so long that we just figured to go with it, and that's what we ordered. But then we talked more on it, and changed the layout a bit, and decided a smaller tank would be better. But by then we had to wait for the tank we had ordered to arrive, so we could return it for a 20lb. tank. Except when I took it to UPS to return it to Amazon, they refused to touch it. DOT regulations and blah blah blah. I explained that they had just sent it to me in the same exact state the previous day, but that didn't matter. I explained the situation to Amazon, who just told me to keep it and they refunded me the full amount. So we're just gonna roll with it. Probably never have to fill the tank. Here you can see the tanks next to each other:



      It's not a behemoth, but it's pretty big. We found a home for it anyway, just behind the water tank.



      The intent was to keep the tops of the tanks relatively flush, so we could keep the bed as low as possible. That meant the base of the propane tank would have to sit a few inches below the frame. So I just incorporated that offset into the mounting skid plate, like so:



      And I made a model out of cardstock to make sure my drawing was right before cutting metal:



      I couldn't justify the cost of buying a sheet metal brake for this one part. Unfortunately, it's one of the few tools I don't already have. So I found a local shop willing to make the bends for $10/ea. so I said sure. After a little notching around the receiver tube and drilling some holes, we had the rough idea of a mount for the tank.



      So I have to backup just a moment to show you what I did with the frame. I maybe could have just blasted holes in it and bolted through it like you see up there ^^. But I was concerned about getting a good clamp load on the fasteners. In that fastening arrangement, tightening the bolts would tend to crush the frame crossmember tube. Over time, that could cause a tendency for the bolts to come loose, which would be disastrous. So I drilled holes through the frame, and then sleeved them, like so:





      So this arrangement would have only the sleeve welds in shear supporting the propane tank. It would maybe be fine, but I wanted a little extra security and convenience. So I got some oversized washers and welded nuts to them like so:



      Once everything is in its final location and the tank is secured to the skid plate, the washers will get tacked to the crossmember. This will allow me to install and remove the skid plate with only one wrench on the bottom side.

      Okay okay so now you see how we fasten the tank. Let's just add a little more rigidity and some side-protection to the skid plate:











      There you have it. Ignore the threaded rods, it was the only 3/8 hardware I had on hand at the time
      Last edited by Rob Cote; 02-06-2017 at 07:08 AM.
      Quote Originally Posted by Hudsone View Post
      No one knows what and where I have to go to them?

    4. Member Crispyfritter's Avatar
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      02-06-2017 09:33 AM #29
      I love that you're not just trying to put it together and make it work, but you're thinking about the future and what it will be like to work on. Sometimes I wonder if the OEM automotive engineers think about that.

      Chris
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      02-06-2017 09:41 AM #30
      In!

      awesome project and work looks great.

      Two questions

      what are you using for a metal brake? buy one or build one? (nevermind it was loading slow just saw that part )

      and wtf is up with the flux core? your fab skills are well beyond normal backyard, please get a bottle of gas

    6. Member zeewhiz's Avatar
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      02-06-2017 10:06 AM #31
      In for updates! Awesome project!
      Quote Originally Posted by Gitcha Sum View Post
      Don't quit now. All it takes is one bolt a day and it's still becoming something.
      #FREEPATRIKMAN

    7. Member Rob Cote's Avatar
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      02-06-2017 10:10 AM #32
      Quote Originally Posted by Crispyfritter View Post
      I love that you're not just trying to put it together and make it work, but you're thinking about the future and what it will be like to work on. Sometimes I wonder if the OEM automotive engineers think about that.

      Chris
      I think they do. Sometimes it seems like it's ignored, I will grant you that. But there are a LOT of considerations in a mechanical design, and serviceability is only one. Everything is a compromise in some way or another.

      Quote Originally Posted by chris86vw View Post
      In!

      awesome project and work looks great.

      and wtf is up with the flux core? your fab skills are well beyond normal backyard, please get a bottle of gas
      You're very kind to say so. I have a can of CO2/Ar and solid core wire. I found it was a little too cold for this heavy stuff, with the welder maxed out. The little bit of extra heat from the flux core is worth the extra clean up to me. Full disclosure- it's not even my welder. It's a long term borrow situation, from a friend who doesn't need it for a while. I make it work with what I can get my hands on.
      Quote Originally Posted by Hudsone View Post
      No one knows what and where I have to go to them?

    8. Member Rob Cote's Avatar
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      02-07-2017 07:37 AM #33
      Quote Originally Posted by Crispyfritter View Post
      I love that you're not just trying to put it together and make it work, but you're thinking about the future and what it will be like to work on. Sometimes I wonder if the OEM automotive engineers think about that.

      Chris
      I thought more about this comment. I wanted to explain the reasoning for this a bit more. We have long term/long distance plans for the trailer. As I said above, serviceability is just one aspect of design and it's a compromise with things like cost, time, aesthetic, ability to fabricate, etc. But I'm weighting serviceability maybe a little more heavily than in a different application, because this trailer will be used in remote areas. We will most definitely be using it locally to us; we often camp in the White Mountains area of NH, places in MA and all over New England. But that will really just be the "break-in" period. Testing to make sure everything is sound and we like the layout and whatnot. Once it is all sorted and we are "ready" in other areas of our lives, we will be making a road trip to Patagonia with the trailer. We expect it to take about a year, and this will be our home during that time. So when something breaks in middle-of-nowhere, South America, I need to be able to get it repaired as quickly and easily as possible. We have allotted storage space inside the trailer for tools, and the tow rig will also have storage space I am sure. But I'm not going to have ALL my tools available. I need to work out what will be kept within the trailer still, but of course the fewer tools I need, the better.
      Quote Originally Posted by Hudsone View Post
      No one knows what and where I have to go to them?

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      02-07-2017 08:17 AM #34
      In for more, looks like some good progress

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      02-09-2017 01:18 PM #35
      Bump for updates plz...
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    11. Member Rob Cote's Avatar
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      02-10-2017 08:15 AM #36
      So the rear of the trailer has a couple stabilizer jacks. They have to be tall, due to the height of the trailer. This makes them long, when collapsed. Since it's such a small trailer, this was a little tricky to deal with. I wanted to tuck them up "into" the frame as much as possible, to minimize the possibility of getting them hung up on stuff and/or ripped off. So I mocked up a few different options.

      This one has the jacks flush with the top of the frame. Keep in mind that as the legs swing down, the feet get closer and closer to the nut end of the jacks.



      I didn't like this because both the feet would be near the middle of the trailer, near each other, when deployed. It didn't seem like it would be very stable, thus defeating its very purpose.

      This one was just dumb:



      I looked at mounting them in this orientation and flush with the top of the frame:



      This would have meant drilling and sleeving the frame to allow access to the jacking nuts. Which was an option, however it was rather close to the bottom of the frame tube, which I didn't like.

      In the end, I decided to lower them about a half inch or so, which put the drive nuts fully below the frame tube, and required no drilling into the frame. I think the sacrifice of clearance was worth not having to modify the frame in this manner. We got some U-channel and cut it to length to fit between the crossmembers. Using the jacks to locate the sections of channel, I welded them in place.



      Drilling the mounting holes was a simple matter. I still need to get matching hardware for it; for now it's just assembled with stuff from my miscellaneous bucket that was approximately similarly-sized.



      Dang, I just realized I don't have a good picture of the jacks collapsed. They hang down very little from the frame, though.
      Quote Originally Posted by Hudsone View Post
      No one knows what and where I have to go to them?

    12. Member Rob Cote's Avatar
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      02-14-2017 12:26 PM #37
      The trailer of course needs something to roll on. We acquired a set of old Jeep wheels for free from a friend that were in need of some TLC. But, hey, the price was right! So the first thing I did was make sure the bolt pattern was right:



      And that the offset was in the right ballpark:



      Bingo! So we got to work cleaning them up. A quick shower gave us a better idea of what we were up against.





      They were not great, but they were not awful either. We agreed we don't really need a show-car kind of finish. We ain't about that hellastance whatever flush tite thing for a trailer we're going to drag through the woods. But we wanted them to at least be a solid color on each side. So a simple once-over with one of those green scrubbies (scotch brite or whatever?) knocked down the rust and texture. I primed them with a rusty-metal-compliant primer. Then, they got a coat of black on the inside and silver on the outside, like original.

      Then we found some tires. I knew the size required, so I just shopped for something cheap-ish, but hopefully not junk, that was available in the right size. I came across Falken Wildpeak A/Ts in 30x9.5x15 for a reasonable price and we ordered 3 (one's a spare). To save a few bucks, I was like, "Lemme try and mount these myself."



      Don't even bother. It's not worth it. I admitted defeat at this point and took it to our awesome neighbors' for some assistance. It's way easier if you actually mount the tire from the correct side of the wheel, I'm told. Whatever, in the end we maybe saved a few dollars but wasted an evening. They look pretty great though, so it's all good:



      Quote Originally Posted by Hudsone View Post
      No one knows what and where I have to go to them?

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      02-14-2017 01:25 PM #38
      Awesome I love me a good trailer build.

    14. Member boraIV's Avatar
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      02-17-2017 10:51 AM #39
      Nice work. I just picked up a trailer that needs to be completed for a song. Came with an alum. tub, brand new 35s and an RTT. I may have missed it but are you going to go for hot water and electrical?

    15. Member Rob Cote's Avatar
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      02-17-2017 11:17 AM #40
      Quote Originally Posted by boraIV View Post
      I may have missed it but are you going to go for hot water and electrical?
      Yes. Stay tuned!
      Quote Originally Posted by Hudsone View Post
      No one knows what and where I have to go to them?

    16. Member boraIV's Avatar
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      02-17-2017 11:29 AM #41
      Nice! Here's what I picked up this weekend:

    17. Member Rob Cote's Avatar
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      02-17-2017 12:20 PM #42
      Nice! It doesn't look like it has much flex, is it on a solid axle or independent? Do you wheel at all? I would be slightly concerned about the ball hitch popping off. Are you going to swap to a 3-axis?
      Quote Originally Posted by Hudsone View Post
      No one knows what and where I have to go to them?

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      02-17-2017 12:50 PM #43
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    19. 02-17-2017 01:51 PM #44
      Quote Originally Posted by Rob Cote View Post
      Once it is all sorted and we are "ready" in other areas of our lives, we will be making a road trip to Patagonia with the trailer. We expect it to take about a year, and this will be our home during that time.

      That sounds AMAZING. Do you intend to do any kind of "trip log," or do you just plan on un-plugging and enjoying yourselves? If it's the former, let us know where we can read about your travels!

      Looks like a very cool project.

    20. Member Rob Cote's Avatar
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      02-17-2017 02:12 PM #45
      Quote Originally Posted by rtmeikle View Post
      That sounds AMAZING. Do you intend to do any kind of "trip log," or do you just plan on un-plugging and enjoying yourselves? If it's the former, let us know where we can read about your travels!

      Looks like a very cool project.
      Yeah you can follow along with us here! Likely on the way to Patagonia, it'll be a little of both (trip updates when service is available, but a good amount of being unplugged as well), but there will be at least a few trips between now and then, if you care to read about non-overland travel.
      Quote Originally Posted by Hudsone View Post
      No one knows what and where I have to go to them?

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      02-17-2017 02:44 PM #46
      Quote Originally Posted by MontoyaF1 View Post
      I came in for the VigorousZX content? What's going on?

      I came to post the same thing. http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthrea...-yacht-Concept
      Quote Originally Posted by cockerpunk View Post
      yes, i am bored by FWD driving dynamics, and anyone who doesn't drive there cars to the limits and the beyond.

    22. Member DeeJoker's Avatar
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      02-17-2017 03:18 PM #47
      Quote Originally Posted by Rob Cote View Post
      Yeah you can follow along with us here! Likely on the way to Patagonia, it'll be a little of both (trip updates when service is available, but a good amount of being unplugged as well), but there will be at least a few trips between now and then, if you care to read about non-overland travel.
      Very cool build so far!

      I have an M416 and M100 surplus trailers i picked up last year to become an off-road tent trailer setup. If I had the welding skills you did I'd have built from scratch instead of starting with old Army steel.

      Question, though:

      If you're planning on serious over landing down into Sudo America, why a beam instead of Timbren axles?
      The above post may contain opinions, coarse language, offensive terms, spelling mistakes, and/or improper grammar. You have been warned.

    23. Member Rob Cote's Avatar
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      02-17-2017 07:51 PM #48
      Quote Originally Posted by DeeJoker View Post
      Question, though:

      If you're planning on serious over landing down into Sudo America, why a beam instead of Timbren axles?
      Thanks for the kind words, you and everyone!

      Good question about the axle choice. We have a couple friends with off-road trailers, one has a solid axle, one is independent. We went on a trip with both of them (trip report is in our blog, linked above). While we encountered issues with both setups along the way, we feel that any issues that might arise with a solid axle would likely be easier to resolve, parts are easier to get or carry with us, etc. The independent axles are not as serviceable, though they do offer significant additional ground clearance. We don't expect to be doing extreme wheeling with the trailer attached (though dropping the trailer to do some daily wheeling is definitely an aspiration). We'll see if it becomes an issue, and we'll deal with it as it comes!
      Quote Originally Posted by Hudsone View Post
      No one knows what and where I have to go to them?

    24. Member DeeJoker's Avatar
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      02-18-2017 10:34 AM #49
      That makes complete and total sense. I have so many questions. (I'm actually headed to the RV show this afternoon for... 'research.' )

      I cannot quite tell from your drawings: is your galley going to be in the aft of the teardrop with a cover like most of the ones we've seen on the market?

      Have you given thought to welding a 2" receiver on the back of your trailer for bike racks, etc? Perhaps reinforced points along the frame to assist in winching out a stuck trailer?
      The above post may contain opinions, coarse language, offensive terms, spelling mistakes, and/or improper grammar. You have been warned.

    25. Member boraIV's Avatar
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      02-19-2017 09:57 AM #50
      Quote Originally Posted by Rob Cote View Post
      Nice! It doesn't look like it has much flex, is it on a solid axle or independent? Do you wheel at all? I would be slightly concerned about the ball hitch popping off. Are you going to swap to a 3-axis?
      It's a solid axle. It doesn't seem to flex a whole hell of a lot but that's with it empty and I haven't taken it out yet. I literally just got it last weekend. I do wheel quite a bit but I don't plan on dragging this with me when I'm doing the harder stuff so it shouldn't really be an issue. I will be replacing the hitch with a max coupler eventually, however. Just in case.

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