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Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 01/21/22 08:16am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

dedmiston wrote:

I've seen a few good examples in the Toy Hauler forum over the years.

I've never believed in the practicality of those builds, but at least the guys had fun projects to work on and they were happy with their final results.


^This. A great project and maybe not totally cost prohibitive IF you do all the work yourself AND know how to do it as economically as possible.

However, the price of cargo trailers is equally as inflated as everything else and the vast selection of little travel trailers (new and lightly used) decidedly tips the scales towards a TT cost wise.

You'll spend $10-15k easy just on a cargo trailer by the time you add all the "options" like windows, insulation, wall covering, etc and still have to build all the real amenities.
And in the end, you'll probably not have all the features of a commercially built TT and spend more to get there.

The fact that you're not 100% diy is the first non-starter though.

If you are intent on doing this though, look at MTI trailers. I feel they are a good value vs price point.


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GrandpaKip

Flat Rock

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Posted: 01/21/22 08:20am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I did a plain 14’ vee nose several years ago. Put in windows, A/C, electric, plumbing, etc. for about half the cost of a comparable trailer. But I did all the labor myself. If you have to farm out a lot of stuff, you’ll probably spend as much or more than a new trailer.
Will it be be better than store bought? Depends on your skill and that of anyone you hire.
I really enjoyed building ours.


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Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 01/21/22 08:20am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yes, I have seen "cargo" trailers converted and used for camping and not just on ones own property.. I have seen them being used in campgrounds.

I see a couple of problems with the idea.

If you don't already have one laying around not being used, buying new or even used will cost you more upfront than a purpose built travel trailer..

Cargo trailers because of the nature of it's "universal loads" use often results in a substantially much heavier body and frame than is what is needed for camping use.. You will end up with a rig that weighs 25%-40% more than the same size camping trailer and that is with nothing inside the trailer. Purpose built camping trailers are designed to be camping trailers and not cargo haulers.

It will ALWAYS look like a "cargo trailer" no matter what camouflage method you try, which can be an issue in some campgrounds which are touchy about looks.

I at one time had looked at the idea of converting a cargo trailer until I saw the price tags of the trailers, windows, doors along with the weight factor.. Wasn't worth the hassle and cost to me..

I ended up finding a old used travel trailer in the length I was looking for for a mere $700, gave me frame and box with title, windows, doors, furnace, a/c, water heater, full tub with integrated surround, all three tanks and more other useful parts. I would do it again in a heartbeat but instead of removing and replacing the rotted wood framing and such I would cut the bolts and remove the top , sides and floor and start from scratch, much cheaper and quicker.

For custom designed and built camping trailers, you could check with some of your local trailer builders that build custom horse trailers with living quarters.. They may be willing to adjust their designs a bit to expand the living quarters to the full length of the trailer..

Custom built no matter what you try, will result in a heavier and much, much more expensive RV.. For price and weight, it IS hard to beat the standardized assembly line of RV manufacturers. So if you were looking to do this on the cheap, you will be sadly disappointed unless you plan to string hammocks from wall to wall and have no windows or any other creature comforts.

Sandia Man

Rio Rancho, NM

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Posted: 01/21/22 09:03am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yeah, just seen a couple of them last week at the campgrounds we were at. I am pretty handy myself with tools and such but I would stick with getting an 18' TT as what you have planned is much too confining for us to enjoy RVing in.

Obviously, if you want to go for it, have fun building it, let us know how it goes along the way. As for RV pricing there are always deals to be had, market might soon be flooded with lightly used RVs hastily purchased due to covid-19.

ktmrfs

Portland, Oregon

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Posted: 01/21/22 09:19am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I bought a 14 ft cargo trailer spec'd like I wanted to convert to a mini toyhauler. Didn't want a full size toyhauler, but wanted something big enough to haul 3 bikes, , shower, etc. and small enough to use for day trips etc. and room to sleep for two. Mine has sleeping for two, dinette, hauls 3 bikes, fridge, stove, microwave, water heater, 20 gallon fresh tank, 40 gallon grey tank, shower, AC, toilet forced air heat, plenty of storage for food etc. outside awning. A single 5 gallon propane tank, two GC2 batteries on the tongue.

Was fun to build, has been in use since 2004. When I built mine it really wasn't any cheaper than buying a small trailer, shell trailer wasn't real expensive, but stuff like furnace, AC, stove, toilet etc. etc. adds up pretty quick even if you find used stuff. I knew that would be the case from the start, but it was a solution to what I needed.

As mentioned, cargo trailers are NOT lightweight. My 14ft is rated at 7,000 GVW, and is typically around 6,000 with two bikes in it. My 30ft TT with dual slides is 8500 loaded up. Unless you go real spendy, cargo trailer frames and wall framing is all steel, roof framing is steel, roof if galvanized sheet metal, outside walls thin aluminum. Makes them pretty heavy to start with. And the walls are usually only 1/2" or 3/4" thick so minimal insulation.

For years in addition to use as a toyhauler for motorcycles, we used it as our travel trailer as well.

Overall, if you want a fun project for a custom trailer and have the tools, skills and time, go for it. If you want it because it's the only solution to what you want for layout, go fo it. if you think it's an inexpensive way to get a trailer........ Your barking up the wrong tree. If you think it is a way to have a lightweight trailer.......... your barking up the wrong tree.

* This post was last edited 01/22/22 09:56pm by ktmrfs *   View edit history


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Harleybullet

Holbrook, NY

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Posted: 01/21/22 10:00am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Tanks guys you gave me some sound comment pro and con I will give it some more thought but it sounded good on paper... who

THANKS I WILL LET YOU KNOW

ajriding

st clair

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Posted: 01/22/22 02:51pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Actually, not all was sound...
Guys that have not built one don't really know any more than you do, probably less.

I would buy a used, useless camper that has working appliances, and gut it. You will save a lot of money getting the RV stuff out of a used camper than buying new. You can easily spend $10k buying individual parts otherwise. Less than $2k for a used trailer that has water damage, but perfect parts.

Dont bother letting the cargo trailer builder insulate it. Don't even have them put in plywood walls, they will only make a mess of it, better to do that yourself and do it right.

In the ceiling you want at least 2 inches if not 3 of insulation, the cargo co will put in 1.
You want to isolate the steel frame so it does not conduct heat across the wall into the interior.
Put in at least 2 inches of insulation in the walls, not 1 as the cargo co will do - now you see why pointless to have them put in walls.

Everything as light as possible. the ceiling would look great using tongue n groove flooring as many van builds do but will add a LOT of weight, just use 1/8 paneling and paint it. Lightweight is good.

Unless you plan to also use it as a cargo trailer, then reconsider doing a big rear ramp door. It seems like a good idea to open it and have a big opening to look out, but if it is warm enough to do that then it is warm enough to go outside and have unlimited views. You lose a lot of storage space when u put in big doors.


The size is up to you. Consider how small you can go if that matters at all. can you sleep sideways (wall to wall) in a 6 footer? a 6.5 footer? The more narrow will be better for towing and aerodynamics and using mirrors. I would go a few feet longer and a foot more narrow if that were the options. 8 foot is also really high and you get into clearance issues under branches and whatever. Do you really need an extra 2 feet above your head in a little trailer? Consider just 6.5 ft height.

SInce u are building it you can customize it. Look at installing an air cond window unit, so you do not have the loud, inefficient RV air/con on the roof, out in the wind.
You can get a 5200BTU window unit for about $99 that will cool down a cargo trailer in minutes and will run on a tiny generator too. Or spring for a mini-split that is very efficient.
You can build the window unit into the interior of camper since you are starting scratch.

Water tanks, go big if you plan to boondock.
Gray/black tanks? Depends. Boondocking you can dump gray on dirt, and there are other options for the toilet than a black tank.

The propane water heater will be hard to get away from. Other items might make sense to re-think.
A traditional water pump, or one at the sink that is a fauct/pump?
Do you want to build a shower and take up all that space or make a temporary shower that you deploy inside or outside and use the sink faucet... That is space you will not use 23:45 of the day.

For space heater look at the diesel heaters, they will not need a lot of battery like a propane furnace.

Solar? Yes.

Battery, maybe a li-ion makes sense, maybe just a couple of golf cart batteries, lots of discussion on this...

WIndows? small or big? big eats up storage space and loses heat faster than an insulated wall.

Be sure to plan your electrical so you run all the wiring, and run enough wiring for future needs.

Cooktop? Maybe use just a portable camping stove instead of a built-in. Maybe a built-in makes sense for you. The portable ones do not simmer well at all though.

Fridge? I would go DC chest fridge for sure. Dont waste time with propane fridge.

On that, if you go alternative on everything then you will not be using as much out of that used camper, but all the hardware and pieces might still make it worth it, just have to do the math.

JRscooby

Indepmo

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Posted: 01/22/22 04:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have had some thoughts about this. 8 foot inside height cargo trailer will be less than 10 ft outside. IMHO, not much of a issue. OTOH, a cargo trailer does not have ground clearance for tanks under floor. But mount tanks on top of factory floor, put a floor above them. Forethought on location off tanks, pull-outs at doorways, and you have storage in a location great for hauling heavy things. And removeable floor sections would be great to access thing that you only need to see rarely, like batteries.
If you have a water heater, I don't think a hand or foot pump would work.
Swing rear doors, rear kitchen. Mount stove, sink and or counter to door with some way to slide up/down. Up, use inside. Nice weather, open door slide down, stand on ground.
Dump waste water on the ground? Really? Give approval to that on RV site? Really? What is a better way to reduce the number of places to spend a night.

ktmrfs

Portland, Oregon

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Posted: 01/22/22 09:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JRscooby wrote:

I have had some thoughts about this. 8 foot inside height cargo trailer will be less than 10 ft outside. IMHO, not much of a issue. OTOH, a cargo trailer does not have ground clearance for tanks under floor. But mount tanks on top of factory floor, put a floor above them. Forethought on location off tanks, pull-outs at doorways, and you have storage in a location great for hauling heavy things. And removeable floor sections would be great to access thing that you only need to see rarely, like batteries.
If you have a water heater, I don't think a hand or foot pump would work.
Swing rear doors, rear kitchen. Mount stove, sink and or counter to door with some way to slide up/down. Up, use inside. Nice weather, open door slide down, stand on ground.
Dump waste water on the ground? Really? Give approval to that on RV site? Really? What is a better way to reduce the number of places to spend a night.

I have 40 gallons of grey tank under the floor of my Pace cargo trailer I converted. there IS room. I put the fresh tank (20 gallon) at the front behind the counter.

I agree on the ramp door. Mine has one because I use it as a toy hauler and use it to haul my motorcycles. Even then swing out doors are an option.

I did 6ft 6 inside, tall enough to have overhead lights and still not bump my head. Mine is 7ft wide. 14 long. If I ever do another it would be 8 x 16. Mostly for more bike room and storage room.

propane stove, propane forced air heat, water pump, but just a small dorm electric fridge running of an small inverter. And for toilet there are nice cassette toilets or a 5 gallon porta potty. No need for a black tank. No oven, but a 2 burner propane cooktop and a small microwave.

One bed is a fold down, and took the folding rear seat from my old van as a combo fold down bed or couch for use with pop in the floor dinette. Fold up against the wall to store the motorycles.

But all this take time and tools to do well. I did all the cabinets myself using cardboard templates, curved roof line makes store bought cabinets not very useful.

since I use it as a toyhauler, I had the floor rhino lined, and have a roll out indoor/outdoor carpet pad. Easy to clean.

* This post was edited 01/22/22 10:08pm by ktmrfs *

StirCrazy

Kamloops, BC, Canada

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Posted: 01/23/22 06:20am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

you dont want an "cargo trailer" you want an "enclosed car hauler" you may be calling them the same thing but there is a difference. the cargo trailer will be built a loght lighter and have a lower GVWR , the enclose car hauler will have a better heavier build and will be able to carry more weight. I have seen a few of thease kinds of builds and if done right they can look pretty nice.

Steve


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