M116A3 - First Trailer for Overland Travels!

unleashd

New member
Folks
This is my first post on this forum

I have made several road trips with friends and family. But these were destination trips to visit touristy locations, staying in hotels, eating outside etc. But, over the next couple of years, I’d like to start making some over land trips across the US, Canada, and eventually South America. I live in the Norther Virginia - Washington DC suburbs. Trips will be taken either alone, with the wife, or with a small group of like minded friends. I currently own a 2003 Ford Excursion 7.3 Powerstroke Diesel Ltd. The EX is very capable to be a self contained overland vehicle for 1 or 2 people, but I’m looking to possibly add a small trailer to carry cooking supplies, water, fuel, camping, and recovery equipment primarily. I’d also like to retain the area of the 2nd row of seats as either seating or other lockable storage area. In looking at pre-built trailers, I got a pretty good sticker shock. So, I am thinking of building an offroad trailer using a military surplus M1101/M1102 - 3/4 ton trailer. The other option would be a M105 1-1/2 ton trailer, which may be an overkill for the intended usage.

Does anybody else here use these trailers with an Excursion? I’d appreciate if you could provide your experiences, build sheet, etc. I found this Build thread of another EX owner from this Portal. Picture of my rig for your attention



Picture/Specs of intended trailer

 
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LilKJ

Adventurer
The M105 will be too big on tire size alone. The 3/4T trailers will be much better for what you want.
 

high-and-dry

Active member
I would bet you can get a better final project by making your own frame and building something like the thread below. If you dont want a RTT you can just put a big gear basket on the top, with or with out a lid. That way you can build the box to what you want or need.

If you can weld his frame and box framing with the axle is only about 1200 bucks of steel and axle, granted he started with a pump trailer.
 

Ozarker

Explorer
Welcome to the forum! Check out the trailer builds here, I agree, I don't think you'd be happy with an Army tub behind that nice Ford. If I had your rig (instead of my F 150) I'd consider an extension out of my trailer hitch with a 45 degree riser to a big basket, adjust side mirrors. Consider how much fuel and water you really need and attach to the bumpers first, IMO. A rack on top should hold all the gear you need for the western hemisphere ! BTW, I use plastic water and fuel cans as they are lighter.

Just a thought, a slide out bed out the back with an SUV tent set up or a canvas wrap would keep you off the ground, secure the back for kids or dogs and could save you a grand on an RTT, no ladder needed (LOL).

Go build, but go soon!
 

unleashd

New member
I have never seen one of these military trailers in person. So, I reached out to a few different sellers and took a 200+ mile round trip to see a few M1101, 02, and M116A3 trailers today up in rural PA and MD. OMG, the M1101 & 2 were just enormous. They just look HEAVY sitting there in front of you :O But the specs are otherwise. 90% of the weight seems to come from the steel frame and the HMMV tires alone :D

The last stop was to look at a M116A3 at the house of one of the members of my off roading club. I am pretty much sold on this trailer. Though it is rated as a 1ton with heavy duty leaf springs etc., I think it gives me the best options to design a completely custom solution for my overlanding trailer since it is pretty much just a flat bed. This particular trailer was built in 2010 (newest of all the trailers I saw today) as a generator trailer. My friend said that when he got this 2 years ago from GA, it had 2 hours on the generator. Which means this trailer has seen almost '0' service miles. He did replace the new tires with an older set from his M1102 that still has a lot of life left in it. The price is $750. He is also going to get it converted to 12V if I buy it full price. Thoughts & opinions. Pictures of the said trailer that's been sitting in this same spot for over 2 years now :)





 

billiebob

Well-known member
I got a pretty good sticker shock.
yes....... fringe market, the thing to do..... yes sticker price, Expo trailer builders are in it for the profit..... and they offer the world, way more than you need. Think function first. Separating food from sleeping is a best practice.

I think you made a great choice. Lord knows your Excursion will not know you are towing it. 900# dry is pretty light. 2200# payload gives plenty of capacity. And those long leaf springs might be pretty compliant even lighter.

For me the number one consideration is can I see it in both mirrors when backing up and will the factory mirrors keep me legal without buying trailer mirrors, 81" wide and the Excursion is 80"..... PERFECT !!

All I'd do is cut off the silly pintle hitch.... and plunge brake system.... 3100# behind an Excursion, rip out the entire brake system, strip the axle, run it as an idler and love the simplicity, plus the 100# diet...... and run a 2" ball. The industry standard today and if you ever need to tow it with something else...... you will have much better options.

Nice truck too. The Power Stroke Excursion might be one of the worlds best SUVs.
 
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unleashd

New member
For me the number one consideration is can I see it in both mirrors when backing up and will the factory mirrors keep me legal without buying trailer mirrors, 81" wide and the Excursion is 80"..... PERFECT !!

All I'd do is cut off the silly pintle hitch.... and plunge brake system.... 3100# behind an Excursion, rip out the entire brake system, strip the axle, run it as an idler and love the simplicity, plus the 100# diet...... and run a 2" ball. The industry standard today and if you ever need to tow it with something else...... you will have much better options.

Nice truck too. The Power Stroke Excursion might be one of the worlds best SUVs.
Yes. I liked the fact that the trailer is just as wide as the truck. I do have the elephant ear trailer mirrors - they are amazing IMHO.

Are you saying that I do not need any trailer brakes? And the Excursion brakes are sufficient?

Actually, I like the pintle hook setup since it will prevent any trailer disengagement when the truck and trailer may not be level when i am off the main roads. I know they are quite noisy since there is quite a bit of metal to metal contact. I was reading up on the Loc-kn-roll and Max coupler hitches too.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
Are you saying that I do not need any trailer brakes? And the Excursion brakes are sufficient?
check your state laws, they all differ, in CA you need brakes at 1500#.... legally, in Alaska you need brakes at 5500#....legally.

Where I live in BC I need brakes at 2950#.... I tow a 2000# trailer behind a TJR, I do that in the mountains, towing 6,000 miles a year, year round, no trailer brakes. This is my work vehicle, no issues 60.000 miles later.

But check your local regulations, they often vary according to the size of the tow vehicle. Lots of Class A motor homes tow SUVs as big as your Excursion without brakes.

IMG_0442.jpeg
 

unleashd

New member
check your state laws, they all differ, in CA you need brakes at 1500#.... legally, in Alaska you need brakes at 5500#....legally.

Where I live in BC I need brakes at 2950#.... I tow a 2000# trailer behind a TJR, I do that in the mountains, towing 6,000 miles a year, year round, no trailer brakes. This is my work vehicle, no issues 60.000 miles later.

But check your local regulations, they often vary according to the size of the tow vehicle. Lots of Class A motor homes tow SUVs as big as your Excursion without brakes.
I was planning to register in Maine, instead of my home state of VA. Well, both states require trailer brakes when over 3000 lbs GVWR. The trailer is rated for 3150 lbs. So, Yeah, the brakes will stay. I have never pulled a trailer without brakes before. Surge/Electrical - I'll have to decide after making a few trips.
 

high-and-dry

Active member
Remember one thing when thinking about the cost, your gonna want to change the axle and wheels. What there now is way to heavily sprung for a camper.

edit double check on the maine thing they have clamped down on that in a few states. In maryland its now a fine if you dont have in state tags.

Edit again, if your trailer is 80 inches or wider the lighting requirements change, you need clearance lights on the widest parts, front and rear.
 
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unleashd

New member
Remember one thing when thinking about the cost, your gonna want to change the axle and wheels. What there now is way to heavily sprung for a camper.

edit double check on the maine thing they have clamped down on that in a few states. In maryland its now a fine if you dont have in state tags.

Edit again, if your trailer is 80 inches or wider the lighting requirements change, you need clearance lights on the widest parts, front and rear.

Good pointers. I will keep these in my notes.
 

unleashd

New member
UPDATE: Late last night, I made a deal on the M116A3 with my friend. For now, he has graciously agreed to keep the trailer on his yard for a some more time until the weather gets better and I can safely bring the trailer home to park in my backyard without damaging it. He is also gathering all the required items for the initial updates.

Exciting times begin!!
 

axlesandantennas

Approved Vendor
All I'd do is cut off the silly pintle hitch....
See, this is how internet fights start, lol.

I personally really like the pintle & Lunette. It makes hooking up really easy. With a ball hitch, there is just too much close alignment needed and then you have to fight with trying make it match and then lock down. With the pintle, you just get near it and basically kick it into place! If you wanted to cover both options, I suppose you can get the pintle hitch that has the integrated 2 inch ball...
 

old_CWO

Well-known member
It's a good platform to start a build especially since you have a full size tow rig. Some people are okay with the surge brakes and pintle, others are not. I would spend some time towing it loaded up and see what camp you're in. I had an M101A2 and did a ball hitch, civilian axle with 12" electric brakes and spring under conversion. It worked better for my application and wasn't terribly expensive or difficult. I seem to remember the COTS 6K axle was the same diameter as the military so it bolted right in using original u-bolts and spring plates. The military axle and brake system went to a guy converting an older M101 to 8 lug so we were both happy. My father always says that truck brakes stop the truck and trailer brakes are for stopping the trailer. This is good advice I usually follow with anything that nets out over 1K lbs.

I think I would get rid of the humvee wheels either way - huge and heavy.
 
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