My Camping / Rooftop Tent Trailer Build


Well, I've been lurking a little while and finally kicked off my camping trailer build. So, I figured I'd add to all the other great threads on here with what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. I want to start out by saying thank you to all you who have contributed threads and post on here. I've found a lot of great info and some very helpful people.

My trailer build/restoration project:
I recently aquired this trailer from my father. It was originally custom built by my grandfather, some 30+ years ago, and my father has been the keeper of it ever since my grandfather passed away. I started out with the simple idea of just wanting a nice Rooftop Tent to go on my Tahoe. My son is getting big enough now to be able to enjoy the outdoors a little and I've grown up camping with my family since I was a little kid. Once I got the ball rolling, AKA I purchased a RTT, the realities of having a RTT on your vehicle struck me. Having to break down the tent/camp every time I want to move my vehicle or go somewhere would not be ideal with family camping trips etc. So, i immediate shift course with the whole idea and started browsing the web for trailer idea's. I quickly nailed down that I wanted a small, reasonably lightweight and easy to maneuver trailer with a height adjustable RTT rack. Once I made up my mind an the major key points; size, usage needs, etc. I called my dad to have him help me start looking for a trailer, never once thinking he would give up my grandfathers old trailer. Long story, sorta, short; When he realized that the exact size trailer I was looking for what exactly what my grandfather built, he told me to come get it! He said he knows my grandfather would be happy to know it's going to be used for camping/family time. Only stipulation is he want's me to come up with some sort of way to pay respects to my grandfather, I've already got a great idea for this!

Picking up the trailer last week.

Trailer Specs:
The trailer is a simple 4' x 6.5' box with 17 3/4" tall sides. Overall length is around 9' with the tongue.

-frame: 2"x4"x.250" C channel steel, with a 2"x2"x.250" receiver tube. The corner vertical post for the side walls are also the 2"x4" C channel and the centers are 2"x3" C channel steel. The interior floor and side walls are .250" plate aluminum.
-Current suspension/axle: 1750lb oversprung sliding leaf with a 1750lb axles with 1" straight through spindles and 4 lug hubs.
This week I will be ordering a custom Dexter 3500lb axle with 6x5.5 lug hubs, flanges for electric brakes and optional parking brake. Doing a 6 lug to match my Tahoe.

-Current wheels/tires are the tiny 4 lug 8" wheels with 18" tall tires. I recently replaced the tires with new so I could go pick up the RTT.
I'm currently searching from some cheap 6 lug 16"-17" GM truck wheels to either match my tahoe or at least be swappable if the need ever arises. Going to run a 30"-31" tire.

I've already done a few maintenance items to make the trailer streetable and usable till the new axles/wheels/tires come together. I went ahead and replaced the inner bearing and cleaned/repacked the outers and, like I mentioned above, I replaced the tires with the original size to keep things simple. I plan to reuse these wheels and tires on another small trailer my dad has. I also bought a cheap LED taillight kit from amazon and rewired the trailer. Over the weekend, I got started on the rehab of the trailer. I've pulled all the vertical interior aluminum panels so I can start stripping the chassis down to repaint/coat. Next weekend I plan to completed the first phase of the strip down and get the trailer at least primered. I found, what seems to be, a decent self etching primer from Lowes. My dad has expressed interest in see the trailer frame coated with some sort of bedliner material. So, at this point, I will continue with that idea.

Picking up the RTT. I purchased a lightly used CVT Mt. Rainer Extended Pioneer w/annex from a local TN overland guy.

The guy I bought it from gave me a quick tour of the tent before we left. I can't wait to get the rack built!

here's the rehab progress as of yesterday, 2/19/2017

Boss man checking on me!

Caught the boss man taking a nap! He refused to go up to the house and nap in his pack&play. So nap time, in his wagon, close to dad and all the action was the only option!

Here's the current state. I've got the front tongue section and the frame sides stripped and ready to primer. Since I'm having the rack fabbed up this week, I held off on priming. I might get a little surface rust between now and next weekend, but it won't be an issue to knock off comparably to the 2 or 3 layers of paint and primer. lol..

Hopefully by this coming weekend. I'll have a functioning adjustable RTT rack. I also plan to go back out to my parents and tackle the underside of the frame and get everything in primer. Having access to a tractor with a front end loader makes for easy work versus laying on my back, under the trailer, for hours.

If you've made it this far, thanks for your time! I'll have more updated shortly. The Wife and I have our first weekend trip planned for April 8th weekend. I'm running a 5K trail run in Chattanooga, so we're just gonna make a fun weekend out of it. So, i'm shooting to have it camp ready by the end of March. Long term, i'll be adding an awning, onboard electric with solar charging, onboard water, and propane for cooking and/or heat.


This is awesome and very similar to my plans! I also picked up a 40 year old home made trailer that I am in the process of breaking down and building back up. Looking forward to how you are building your adjustable rack.


Just got back from meeting with the guy who's going to be building my rack. We came up with some solid ideas. The rack will be 3 pieces; tent rack w/4 upper vertical attachment points, upper vertical support bar, and lower vertical support bar. He's going to add some support braces from the rack to the rack upper support attachment point that will also function as lift points for suspending the rack/tent in my garage if/when I need to remove it. He's hoping to have it completed, structurally, in the next week or so. I will be finishing the rack with a bed liner product of some sort once he's done.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk


Craigslist find of the day! Nice Clarke 20 gallon pressurized media blaster. The guy I bought it from still had the original user manual, extra nozzles, and gave me an almost full 5 gallon bucket of the black diamond blasting media and a decent uvex full faced shield. All for the sweet price of $45! I grabbed 2 extra bags of media since I met him at a tractor supply to buy it.

I'm hoping I'll have a much better end product since I'll be able to get in all the nooks and crannies that my flap disc and wire brushed can't effectively get to. I'm most likely going to go the route of using the UPOL raptor liner for the majority of the trailer. May even use the tintable kit to have a little color, other than just black.



I think it's safe to say the trailer is gonna get quite the altitude adjustment. Just scored these 16" 6 lug Silverado wheels with 265/75/16 tires for $125. 2 of the tires are trash but 2 have plenty enough tread to be safe and functional.

Now, soon as the trailer gets back, I can get and accurate HF to HF measurement and order my axle.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk


Excited to say the build is moving along a little quicker than I expected. The fabrication shop called to let me know my rack was finished. Clint, the fab guy, did a great job! I can't wait to get the tent mounted!

Here's a few quick shots.

Rack in the low position.

Closer up

High position

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk


Little more progress today with the trailer. Got the old fenders cut off. Then, I Mocked up the new wheels and tires so I can get an accurate measurement for the new axle.

Looking like I be going with a 70" HF to HF axle with the spring perches set to 49.75" center. Was going to keep the leaf springs over the axle but I feel like it's going to set the box of the trailer up to high. So, I'll be ordering the spring perches undersprung to help keep the ride high of the rack low as it can.

Here's a quick mock up photo

Also, decided to work smart not hard and put the rack back on with the tractor. It's actually not to bad to remove by myself. However, I tend to find any reason to use my dad's tractor when I can. Lol, guess it's the kid in me. Lol.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk


Those rack pictures look like they were taken at the Kroger parking lot close to Maryland Farms. How are you planning to lift the rack? Electric actuators or pressurized struts?


Those rack pictures look like they were taken at the Kroger parking lot close to Maryland Farms. How are you planning to lift the rack? Electric actuators or pressurized struts?
That would be correct! The wifey requested chic-fil-a on my way home with the trailer.

For lift assistance, I will be using 21.75" stroke gas struts with a 60lb per corner lift capacity. I would love to go linear actuators but it doesn't make sense to do so untill I have a dedicated 12v system on the trailer. Plus, the struts should hopefully be a little more reliable. Also, I'm planning to, potentially, hide the strut inside the vertical tubes. My current guesstimations say it should work. Once I get them here, I'll know for sure.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk


Quick update:

Lift struts will be here Friday. So I'm hoping to have a functional, self lifting rack this weekend.

My axle has been order. R and P carriages really took care of me and answer all my questions. $301 plus shipping seemed like a really good deal for the electric brake with parking brake.
Axle specs:
-Dexter ez lube 3500# axle
-70" HF to HF measurement
-49.75", on center, under sprung spring perches
-10" electric brakes with manual parking brake

Only thing I'm a little iffy on is if the lug nuts size that works with the new axle studs, 1/2" - 20, will work with my wheels. I know my wheels use a 60° taper acorn open end with external threads. I have been able to locate the exact lug nuts. Just not sure if the external threads will match up with my center caps. The lugs that where most commonly used with the wheels I got are M14 60° tapered acorn open end with external threads.
Hope to have that all sorted out as soon as the axle shows up, hopefully by next weekend.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk


Enfant Terrible
I'm sure it's been posted but do you remember the part number for the 10 x21/2 electric brake with the parking brake? I just went through the Redneck Trailer catalog and can't seem to get the same number twice. 23-086-00, 23-087-00 maybe?