My first Adventure Trailer Build

Charley

New member
Five years ago I got back into tent camping after owning several travel trailers and pop-up campers over many years prior. My wife talked me into buying a “tiny camper” this past winter...I had been talking about building a camping trailer of some sort to haul my kayak and the rest of my gear. Well, I kept the lil camper for a few months, uncertainties with contracts at work and I just sold it about a month ago. Honestly, not heart broken about it, I had missed sleeping in a tent and I was still having to load up the truck as well with the rest of my camping gear. OK, not gonna lie, the ground can be hard. So, I talked my wife into letting me have a tiny bit of the proceeds from the sell of the lil camper in order to build my own version of something similar to a Nuthouse Hickory or the EH-2 the 410 Expedition built. I’ve already ordered the RTT and I’m planning on building a 4W x 6L x 3H box with rear access door and a passenger side door for a cooler slide out. I would love to have the ability to raise the RTT rack in order to store my kayak between the RTT and trailer box, and then lower it for times when I don’t bring my kayak. I do not plan on doing any off-roading, just forest service roads and such.

I bought a used carry-on 4 by 6 trailer. Well...as you can see in the pic the previous owner added 2 feet to the tail end, moved the axle back a bit, and flipped the axle (yeah he mounted it upside down). Anyway, as you can see, I have removed the expanded metal decking and cut off the previous owners add-on. I am planning on leaving the axle in the position it is now (approx 43 inches back from the front of the box...60%?) I am at a point where I need some help. In the two drawings below, the original has the straight tongue and the planned changes are in red on the second drawing. I would really like to remove the raised side on the trailer but am uncertain if doing so would make it weaker than expected. I am hoping that the rigidity of the 2by2 framed, ¾ inch walled box would stiffen the frame enough. And I am hoping that the strengthening of the tongue would be sufficient as well. I do not expect this trailer to weigh more than 1000-1200 pounds once completed and loaded. What do you think?
 

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Charley

New member
Thanks for the input. I'll probably bite the bullet and just keep the bottom frame without the side rails. The 3/4 plywood box, framed with 2 by's and secured to the frame every 12 inches with stainless carriage bolts should be strong enough for my needs.

The next question I have pertains to wheel size. I have would like to increase the wheel size to 15 inch but do not know what size tire would be too wide. My trailer is actually 49 inches to the outside of the frame and my axle is 60 inches hub face to hub face... 11 inches/2= 5.5 inches clearance on each side. I will be using trailer wheels but am wondering if 225/75's are gonna be too wide. How do I determine this?
 

borison

Adventurer
tiresize.com has a size comparison calculator to compare the size you want with your current tire size.
 

jagular7

Adventurer
You have a trailer that is built with an axle so wide to run specific wheels/tires on that axle. Most to all trailer wheels have a 'zero' offset, meaning the mounting surface is 1/2 the width of the wheel.

To add, any height gained by tire difference will be see in tongue height.

Recommend that you find a set of wheels/tires you are wanting to run, use the back of the stock tire as a dimension virtual point to be with the new wheels/tires. You may have to either use wheel spacers (conversion or straight, and a lot of people have pro/cons for spacer use) or look to get a new wider axle. Issue then will come down to capacity of the axle (most run 3500# to use 5on4.5, 5on5, 6on5.5 wheels with no spacer use. Most axle manufacturers will have an axle but the leaf perch location will have to be noted specific to bolt to your trailer.
 

old_CWO

Active member
The next question I have pertains to wheel size. I have would like to increase the wheel size to 15 inch but do not know what size tire would be too wide. My trailer is actually 49 inches to the outside of the frame and my axle is 60 inches hub face to hub face... 11 inches/2= 5.5 inches clearance on each side. I will be using trailer wheels but am wondering if 225/75's are gonna be too wide. How do I determine this?
Trailer wheels are typically zero offset so your tire will be centered over the hub face; all you need to know is sidewall width and divide by 2. I like to leave close to 1.25 inch clearance from the widest point of the trailer to the tire sidewall. With your stated measurements a 215 or 225 mm wide tire seems about right. A 235/75 would technically fit but the gap between the sidewall and trailer is less than 1".

I think tall and skinny tires look perfect on off-road trailers so old school 7.00-15 bias ply mud tires would be on my list to consider. Specifically thinking those STA Super Traxions at 30" tall and 7.9 inches wide. You would have 1.5" clearance from tire to trailer and fit easily under a standard trailer fender.
 

Charley

New member
Thanks for the info folks. A couple of days after posting the tire/wheel question and getting a better understanding of what offset is versus back spacing, I pulled the trigger and ordered 14 x 6 wheels and Carlisle Radial Trail HD tires- 205/75R14. I do not have the new wheels on the trailer yet but should have 1.5 inches of clearance between tire sidewall and trailer frame (am I figuring right?). I do plan to get some type of all terrain tire down the road at some point (Grabber A/Tx 27x8.5R14LT) but they are a little over twice the price I paid for the trailer tires. So when researching the wheels/tires I discovered I could actually save some money by going with the 14's vs 15's and only lose .5 inches of axle ground clearance by going with the 14's. I've been really busy with other projects around the house but plan to get back on the trailer when I return home from offshore in a couple of weeks. Weather is finally cooling off down south and I need some tent time!
 

old_CWO

Active member
Thanks for the info folks. A couple of days after posting the tire/wheel question and getting a better understanding of what offset is versus back spacing, I pulled the trigger and ordered 14 x 6 wheels and Carlisle Radial Trail HD tires- 205/75R14. I do not have the new wheels on the trailer yet but should have 1.5 inches of clearance between tire sidewall and trailer frame (am I figuring right?). I do plan to get some type of all terrain tire down the road at some point (Grabber A/Tx 27x8.5R14LT) but they are a little over twice the price I paid for the trailer tires. So when researching the wheels/tires I discovered I could actually save some money by going with the 14's vs 15's and only lose .5 inches of axle ground clearance by going with the 14's. I've been really busy with other projects around the house but plan to get back on the trailer when I return home from offshore in a couple of weeks. Weather is finally cooling off down south and I need some tent time!
I think that is a fine choice to balance cost, complexity and functionality. You shouldn't have any fitment problems with those and they will tuck under common 9" wide trailer fenders without issue. Running the big tires is often a rig matching/looks cool thing (which I like), but there is certainly nothing wrong with good old fashioned 26" tall trailer tires.

Sounds like you're going to have a nice little trailer - looking forward to seeing your progress.
 
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Charley

New member
So, an update. I got home a couple of weeks ago and jumped right into it. I removed the 2x3 tilting tongue and replaced it with a 2x2x3/16” square tubing. Welded it in to the factory hanger (that’s what I’m callin it). Grabbed my two “A-frame” pieces of 2”x3/16” angle and began measuring for length… uh, yup. Houston, we have a problem. Why oh why didn’t I measure all of this first? So back up for a second. I “assumed” this trailer was “square”… see where I’m going with this? Well, it wasn’t, the trailer frame was about ¾” out of square and to make things even worse… the “factory hanger” for the tilting tongue was welded another ½ inch out of square from the factory. What to do now? Well, thoroughly discouraged, I decided to bite the bullet and pretty much start from scratch. See, I had already removed the axle and welded on the new spring perches so that the axle would be right side up and still “flipped”. I had taken the slipper springs apart, cleaned them up, and repainted them. There was some wear but nothing I was overly concerned about. So, back to the predicament. Quickly decided to just scrap the original frame but keep the original cross members and factory tongue hanger. So, I cut the new tongue from the frame but left it attached to the first 2 cross members that the “hanger” was welded to. I ran to town and bought some 2”x3/16” angle to rebuild the base frame. Welded it up “SQUARE”. Grabbed the whole “tongue assembly” that I had cut free from the other frame and “squared” the front of the tongue to the new frame, welded it in place. Of course the cross members were not quite squared with the new frame but it is barely noticeable and will be beneath the trailer. Happy now with a square trailer frame that has a straight tongue that won’t be running down the highway like a lil bull dog.

Now, on to the axle. Since I had to rebuild the frame, I decided to build it to a 47.5 inch width. I did not want to go over 48 inches (thinking of the aluminum sheeting that comes in 48 inch widths). With that said, I had to move the spring perches yet again. So I just cut off the other two sets and welded the new ones at the proper width and still in a “spring-over” position. Well, since I’m at it, I decided to just go ahead and put new double eye springs on as well. The frame is now sitting at 20 inches from the ground and the axle ground clearance is just over 11.5 inches.

So, as you can see from the pics, I have moved on to the box. I painted the underside of the box floor with Black-Beauty asphalt fence post paint. I’ve got all of my door hinges and latches. All of my aluminum trim pieces and screws, and my drawer slide for the cooler door. My fenders showed up the day before I left for work and I think they’re gonna look great. Only thing is… How much clearance should I allow for the tire? Keep in mind, as I stated in a previous post, I will change out the tires later on to some 27” by 8.5 LT tires. The fenders are 10 inches wide and cover the tire perfectly width wise.
 

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Charley

New member
Oh, 1 other question for you guys. I started out planning to skin the box with .040 aluminum. A few months back during the planning stage the price was $70 per 4 by 8 sheet painted grey. Today's price... $92 per sheet ouch! So, i'm now looking at $368 to skin it in aluminum. Or I could go with some 26 ga "flat" metal roofing sheets, painted grey, 10 foot sheets at $38 per sheet. I would save $254 to use elsewhere on the trailer. Drawbacks that I see, probably double the weight of aluminum. And... they come in 41-9/16" width. Which means I would have a seam on the roof, well, probably 2 seams. I have a buddy who is donating a set of yakima roof bars and I will be buying the roof tracks so I could easily cover the 2 seams with like a 2 inch wide aluminum flat bar and mount the tracks over these. Thoughts? I'm also considering how much easier it is to work with the aluminum vs the metal sheet.
 

PCO6

Adventurer
How much clearance should I allow for the tire?
I have 4.5" between the top of the tire and the underside of my fenders and it seems to work fine. You're not going to need as much for the angled sides of the fenders and it's quite easy to adjust them to your liking. I made small cuts in the steel, spread them to where I thought was good and rewelded them.

EXP34.jpgEXP35.jpgEXP62.jpg
 

Charley

New member
Wow, I didn't realize it's been this long since I've updated this build. So, I've built the box and attached it to the trailer. I added my removable hitch coupler. Ordered and installed my drawer slides for the cooler slide-out. Currently I am determining how I want to add my chuck box that I used previously for truck/car camping with my tents. I will be cutting the box ontop down to a height of 10 inches and that should give me clearance when I add another slide out the back for the kitchen. Also, planning another slide for the gear box and other equipment. Between the cold and the rain and Thanksgiving and Christmas, I haven't been making the progress I'd hoped for.
 

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Coaltrain

New member
Looking great so far...What did you decide to do for the skin? I'm still in the planing stages and have also considered FRP wall panels that are available from Lowes/Menards/Home depot and RV molding(aluminum with vinyl insert) on the seams. I'm just not sure about the impact resistance of the FRP while pulling down the road, might even use diamond plate on the front to minimize the possibility of damage.
 

Charley

New member
Looking great so far...What did you decide to do for the skin? I'm still in the planing stages and have also considered FRP wall panels that are available from Lowes/Menards/Home depot and RV molding(aluminum with vinyl insert) on the seams. I'm just not sure about the impact resistance of the FRP while pulling down the road, might even use diamond plate on the front to minimize the possibility of damage.
I'll be going with the 26 ga flats. If you plan on using the FRP sheets do a little more research. I don't think they'll hold up to the UV rays. Check out some of the teardrop forums for different skinning methods and the pros and cons of each.
 
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