Long time coming M416 build

JCMatthews

Tour Guide
This story and build had taken place over the last 8 years. I have never felt like it was complete enough until this spring to share my progress.

I had been looking for an off-road trailer for several years. In the February of 2007, I purchased a Coleman Versa Trailer to try to make into what I was looking for. In April right after Easter Jeep Safari, I found an M416 here in town. It had been parked out along the highway hoping that someone headed to Moab would want it. I purchased it to resell it and make a little money thinking that I would keep the Versa Trailer. After using the M416 once, I knew it was the trailer I would be keeping. One of its previous owners had done a rebuild which included a tailgate. It looked to be in great shape. I used it just how I bought it for about a year, and then added some Thule rain gutters and cross bars so that I could carry bikes and take my Varsity Scout Team camping. Then I added a receiver so that I could even haul even more bikes. Here are a few shots of it in 2008.
 

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JCMatthews

Tour Guide
You can see by the pictures that it had quite a bit of rust on it. This was surface rust that came from using it during the winter and getting road salt on it. During this time I was camping monthly with my scouts. I was busy figuring out how to take all of these boys and their bikes and gear in my Cherokee and trailer, and be able to camp comfortably. It was at this time I decided I needed a counter top. I started out using a piece of counter top that came out of my mother's kitchen. I bent two of the tie down hooks closer to the trailer, and the counter fit snugly on top of the fender, without a need to further secure it. This worked for a while, but I decided to make my own out of 1/2" Baltic birch plywood. You can see in one of the pictures I also made a cutting board. This has worked out very well, and is still how I cook on the side of my trailer.
 

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JCMatthews

Tour Guide
I use my trailer a lot. It is great for hauling dirt, gravel, wood, and running to the dump. I am always trying to slow the rust. Some day maybe it will be sand blasted and painted correctly. Here are shots of me cleaning off rust, priming and then I replaced the hinges on the tailgate. I don't weld, but feel that my engineering is alright. I cut off the home made hinges that always bound up. You can see that I used gate hinges from the hardware store. The hinge slipped inside the tailgate, and then I cut a second hinge to put on the outside, sandwiching the tailgate between them. Looking at the picture its hard to even tell.
 

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JCMatthews

Tour Guide
We used the trailer like this a long time. We took it to Glacier NP, Teton NP, Yellowstone NP, Great Basin NP, Canyonlands NP, and all over southeastern Utah. The only thing I did to it along the way was change out its worn out non-directional tires for some cheap used tires.

A few years ago, I decided that I wanted a rectangular tailgate, and convinced a friend of mine that welds to help me build my tailgate design. We had to remove the existing tailgate, which was the rear panel, cut it rectangular and weld the corners back to the trailer. Then, using Angle iron we made a place for the new tailgate to sit when closed. We reinforce the tailgate panel with square tubing. It looked good, but for some reason after welding the hinges on it the tailgate sat about a 1/4" higher than the rest of the the trailers top rail. I used gate latches that are for a wooden gate, and they are great.
 

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JCMatthews

Tour Guide
Now this gets me caught up to this year. We decided to go to Alaska and knowing that we would need more room for gear than just our '05 Tundra, my wife and I decided to invest a little money in the trailer to make it easier to use. It was easy to see behind our Cherokee, but impossible to see behind the Tundra. We figured that if we lengthened the tongue we might see it better, and that it would not break tail lights if we were to jack knife it. I asked a different friend one with a degree in engineering if he would help me and he jumped at the chance. He works for his father, and they have a shop with plenty of room, so we could completely disassemble the trailer. During disassembly I realized that I was going to need new springs. They literally fell out in rusty chunks. So at the end of the first couple of afternoons, I had a pile of trailer pars. For the springs I ordered new ones from Vintage Jeep. The springs are the same ones used in the front of '48 - '53 Willy's Jeeps.
 

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JCMatthews

Tour Guide
To lengthen the tongue, I followed the build by dieselcruiserhead a member here on the portal. A big thanks goes out to Dre for his build. I have been waiting for years to copy what he did. we removed the tongue from the trailer, and then added a tube up front to create a new cross member. To this cross member we welded the tongue. We decided to remove about the last four inches of the tongue that was just C channel so that we would have a complete tube to weld to the cross member. We were thinking it might be stronger. After welding the tongue in place, we then welded plates on the bottom to make it much more difficult for the tongue to bend upward under heavy load breaking the welds and pulling the tongue off. We then added a piece of tube further out in the tongue to keep it from twisting along with some expanded metal to make a deck. When we finished, the tongue was 17.5" longer.
 

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JCMatthews

Tour Guide
I really wanted to have some steps / platforms in front and behind the fender flares, but I was feeling the pinch of time and money. I wanted to have the trailer rolling for our Easter trip to Canyonlands. I was buying some metal at the local store and explained about the steps and my predicament when one of the employees produced some steps they had in their scrap pile. They looked to be almost a perfect fit, and for $.75 each I gave it a try. You can see in the pictures that they did line up quite well with the fenders, and gave me a place to mount my tail lights. After the steps were added it was wire wheel time chassis paint and assemble. My wife and I really like the look of the non-directional tires, so we bought new Goodyear NDTs. You can see them in these pictures.
 

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JCMatthews

Tour Guide
I also went to town on the outside of the tub with a wire wheel. I could not afford a good paint job, so I stuck with rattle can primer and flat sand tan from the Krylon camo line. The paint job is a five foot job at best. In the pictures the fenders are not yet painted. I assembled it for Easter, and when I got back, I took the fenders and tub back off, applied undercoating to the tub, and painted the fenders. I also figured out why the tailgate sat high. I replaced the hinges and fixed the problem. I am very pleased with how good it turned out.
 

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JCMatthews

Tour Guide
For seven years we have been using this trailer for all kinds of duties. When camping we have just covered it with a tarp and a cargo net. However, when the trail is dusty or it rains things get dirty and wet. We knew for Alaska that we wanted a lid. Being on a budget, I built my simple lid out of wood. I used 1/4" baltic birch plywood for the top. I chose the balitic birch because it comes in 5'x5' sheets. The sheet reached all the way across the trailer and I only had to seem the top towards the rear. I made sure that I placed a 2x2 cross member directly under the seam, and sealed the seam with calk before coating the lid. Under the ply I cut 2"x2"s to rest on the trailers round lip and 2 2x2 vertical cross members to support the lid. On the out side of the 2x2 I attached 1"x4" as a drip edge and to keep the lid on the trailer and to keep rain and dirt out. Every thing I do to the trailer needs to be removable for the most part. I still use it as a utility trailer. So when I designed the lid it had to not be permanently mounted. The hinge is simple. I added a 1x4 on the inside left of the lid. This keeps the lid from sliding off when it is opened. I will be adding one to the right side also so that it can be opened from either side. I used 8" rubber t handles to hold the lid to the trailer. I coated the outside with Rust-Oleum roll on bed liner. I would not want this product in the bed of my truck, it feels like 80 grit sand paper, however it is great for this application and held up well on our Alaska trip. I painted the inside of the lid with exterior latex white paint. I chose white paint to reflect as much light at possible into the trailer to help me see better. I put basic foam camper weather striping on the 2x2s that contact the lip of the trailer as well as around the C channel where the tailgate closes. This worked wonderfully on our trip as well. We had 17 km of dirt road out on the Yukon where the Alcan was under construction. We could barely see the vehicles in front of us and no dirt got into the trailer. When it rained things stayed dry as well.
 

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JCMatthews

Tour Guide
Finally there were a few last things that I needed to do. I have not decided what to do with the inside of the tub. Our things do get some rash from rubbing on the floor of the trailer, so I found a great foam pad in the exercise department at Wal-Mart. It is textured like diamond plate aluminium. I trimmed it to size and it worked great. We also wanted to haul gasoline for emergencies for us or others. I bought small gas cans and held them to the front steps with a simple rubber strap. They were needed, and rode there with out any trouble for over 8000 miles. I also never like to be without my own water, so I had a friend help me build a rack for my water cans. We used angle iron, strap, and a hinge. you can see by the pictures how it is designed. (Sorry, it is a little dirty from our trip.) I hate how fragile the nylon water valves are, so I took my jug cap to the local hardware store and bought a real tap that fit the threads and diameter of the hole. The final thing that had to be made was a spare tire carrier. Even with new tires, it would be fool hardy to head out on such a journey without back up. I used a pivoting RV spare mount that is designed to bolt around the frame or rear bumper. I modified to fit into my receiver hitch by welding it onto a tube and cutting off the spare plate that was not needed. I was exhausted when this build was done, but everything worked very well on our month long trip to Alaska, and I expect we will get many good years out of all of it.
 

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/dev/m416

/dev/yj tow vehicle
Love how it evolved over time to fit your needs - and you used it the entire time, not having to spend a lot of money to start enjoying it. Looks great and functional too!
 
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