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Old 01-11-2008, 05:48 AM   #1
braindead0 OP
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building small toy hauler from enclosed box trailer - anybody have experience?

I currently have a popup and we enjoy camping, but I got to thinking that it'd be nice to be able to haul the bikes along. In theory we can put them in the back of our truck (Nissan Frontier, just enough room for my KLR wifes XT) but our popup is very small and we end up with a lot of stuff in the truck bed. Sure, not the most adventerous but sometimes we have limited time for vacation and if we're going to be stuck on the highway for days to get to our destination I'd rather do it in the truck. Easier to make miles when you can switch sleeping and driving.

So I got to thinking that a small enclosed box trailer would be a good candidate. Fold up bed/seats and perhaps at most a fold up sink. We have no desire for a/c, built in water tanks, heaters, fridge just never had any interest in all that which leaves the only choice that I'm aware of is building my own.

I'm considering looking for a small used box trailer with at least 1,000 lb carrying capacity (bikes, gear, etc). I could repurpose the bits and peices (power converter, fittings, wiring, stabilizer jacks, propane, stove, sink, etc... ) from our popup.

I'm sure people have done this before, I saw one on ebay out of Alabama but it wasn't what I'm looking for. Maybe this is just a crazy idea and I'm better off buying a good ramp and wheel chocks for the truck bed and leaving it at that.

Thanks for any advice you could provide....
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Old 01-11-2008, 07:27 AM   #2
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Never mind, just found tons of info on thumpertalk...probably not sense starting another thread ;-)
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Old 01-11-2008, 07:28 AM   #3
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I am doing the same type of thing (in a somewhat different way). We haul our sport ATV's to the sand dunes with the kids and camp often, and for years pulled doubles--5th wheel camper with flatbed trailer behind that, carrying 4 ATV's. Pain in the butt.

Last year we got rid of the 5th wheel and bought a Haulmark 8x20 enclosed trailer. It was built with a finished interior, a white melamine type wall and ceiling surface, and has a couple of lights wired inside and a couple outside. I ordered it with a window on the non-door side so it's not a dark vault when you close the door.

The first thing I did was attack the plywood floor with my orbital DeWalt sander, and put about 4 coats of urethane to seal it. Makes it a bit slick when wet but no problems otherwise. We keep a rolled up piece of outdoor loop carpet in there and cover (most of) the floor while camping.

At this point, we just throw an inflatable mattress on the floor for sleeping. We keep a plastic K-Mart folding picnic table in there too. The rest we do out of plastic tubs for now.

This year, I'll attach a few Craftsman cabinets to the walls, they have fairly lightweight jobs for about a hunner bucks. That and some helmet hooks etc to get things off the floor.

It's not as comfy as a big tip-out 5th wheel, but most of the time we sit outside on camp chairs anyway. Water is not a problem, we carry jugs in the truck, and normally there's some where we camp anyway.

So far it's been great. The quads are out of the weather and secure while we travel, it's much more efficient on fuel, camp set-up is quick and easy. We will continue to develop this trailer and our camp system but so far it's been the right move.

When we get home, we pull the quads out and wash them, clean up the rest of the stuff, but for the most part it stays all in there ready to go. If I weren't doing this planning on hauling 4 to 5 atv's, I'd get me a 7x14 or so for just me and the wife so 2 atv's or the bikes fit comfortably and tows even easier.

Way cheaper than a camper too.
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Old 01-11-2008, 10:09 AM   #4
John E Davies
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I think building your own rig would be fun and rewarding... the only downside being low resale value. It might be hard to get your investment back later if the trailer is too oddball, meaning not mainstream design. Keeping that in mind, I suggest that you avoid major mods like built-in interior storage and beds, and instead stick with portable camping gear, like army cots and air matresses or pads. That way you have the option of moving it outside in good weather.

A bug screen at the entry and a small awning on the side of the trailer, with some exterior lights, would be great additions that wouldn't negatively affect resale value.

My recommendation would be for a trailer with a single 3500 pound axle and electric brakes - don't go too light on the payload.... 1000 is way too low IMHO. Box size is up to you, but 5x8 is a pretty good choice, giving decent volume without getting too bulky for narrow forest service roads and campgrounds.

Here's an excellent resource - it's really aimed at military/ offroad/ adventure trailers, but there is some talk about other types and these guys know their stuff. There are a lot of custom rigs and mods.

http://forum.ih8mud.com/trailer-tech/

Join there and post your questions - I am sure you'll get some help.

Good luck.
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Old 01-11-2008, 10:27 AM   #5
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After reading what I found and reviewing a lot of what's available, I think we've nixed the idea. We want seriously basic, and as small as possible. That seems to limit the interior height by a bunch. I think we're going to shelv this idea, and just put the bikes in the bed of the truck if we want to bring both.

Thanks for the info though, I'll be filing this away for future reference.
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Old 01-11-2008, 10:43 AM   #6
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LOTS of good ideas in this thread

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...ght=beemerchef

now tagged together for future reference.

FYI, H&H trailers will do office and living quarters in their cargo trailers if you want to go high end. www.hhtrailer.com
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Old 01-11-2008, 10:59 AM   #7
braindead0 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R_W
LOTS of good ideas in this thread

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...ght=beemerchef

now tagged together for future reference.

FYI, H&H trailers will do office and living quarters in their cargo trailers if you want to go high end. www.hhtrailer.com
That's the problem these days, everybody is trying to put everything into a trailer (AFAIK). These days an 'Ultralight' trailer weighs in at 4000lbs and are 20' long... seems silly to me. We just need a place to sleep, sit down and eat when the bugs get crazy and a sink is very nice for cleanup. Everything else is just extra weight for me. This is why if we want to do something like this, we'll have to do it ourselves.
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Old 01-11-2008, 12:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braindead0
That's the problem these days, everybody is trying to put everything into a trailer (AFAIK). These days an 'Ultralight' trailer weighs in at 4000lbs and are 20' long... seems silly to me. We just need a place to sleep, sit down and eat when the bugs get crazy and a sink is very nice for cleanup. Everything else is just extra weight for me. This is why if we want to do something like this, we'll have to do it ourselves.
I agree, more weight is just needs a bigger truck and more gas.

There are a few that are starting to build ultralight toyhaulers for small SUV's. The new airstream comes to mind.

But for that money, I would buy a small enclosed trailer (spend $$ to get one built well and lightweight but still strong). Add the screens over the doors as mentioned. Throw in a couple cots and the usual camping gear and go.
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Old 01-11-2008, 12:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R_W
I agree, more weight is just needs a bigger truck and more gas.

There are a few that are starting to build ultralight toyhaulers for small SUV's. The new airstream comes to mind.

But for that money, I would buy a small enclosed trailer (spend $$ to get one built well and lightweight but still strong). Add the screens over the doors as mentioned. Throw in a couple cots and the usual camping gear and go.
Yeahg, that's more like what I'd end up doing if I could even get one in the size I want with enough head room. Even the new Airstream Basecamp is porky by my standards, it has a 3,250GVWR but only 1,285 of net cargo.. So it weighs in dry at around 2,000. You can get aluminum fully enclosed trailers that way half of that.

Ramps and wheel chocks for my truck are much cheaper ;-)
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Old 01-11-2008, 12:13 PM   #10
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Here's my "Utility Hauler"

6x16, fold-down bunks and cabinets, a window and a screen door. Since these pics I've added some removable chocks and recessed tie downs. Hauls two good-sized road bikes ( I had a VFR and an FZ-1 in it), tows easily with my V6 4runner.



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Old 01-11-2008, 06:10 PM   #11
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Care to share some more info on that??
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Old 01-11-2008, 06:55 PM   #12
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Base camp on wheels man I like that
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Old 01-12-2008, 08:43 AM   #13
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RE: your Nissan Frontier setup

braindead0,

any chance you have a picture or two of your Frontier loaded with bikes (KLR and DRZ) and the popup on the back that you could post or send me? My wife and I are looking at Frontiers to do exactly this same setup right now but wondering how well it would work, bike fitment, towing, road comfort and all.

Hope you don't mind me asking.

john
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Old 01-12-2008, 09:28 AM   #14
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No.1, you need a bigger truck, the Nissan will not cut it.
I have a 16" wells cargo and do something similar.

We put 4 bikes, fire wood, water and all the camping gear in the trailer. When we get to camp, unload and either set up the tents or sleep in the trailer. Very simple, no conversion except for the used carpet.

FWIW, I have a dodge 2500 diesel, over kill yes, but great on fuel. 18mpg towing.
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Old 01-12-2008, 09:57 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yooperbikemike
Here's my "Utility Hauler"

6x16, fold-down bunks and cabinets, a window and a screen door. Since these pics I've added some removable chocks and recessed tie downs. Hauls two good-sized road bikes ( I had a VFR and an FZ-1 in it), tows easily with my V6 4runner.






That is a very nice trailer! Skinny and long is a good way to go IMHO.

I prefer a tandem setup, but occasionally chain the front axle off the ground to cut drag.
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