PCO6's Trailer Build


About a year ago I started to make some rough sketches of what I wanted to build as an expedition style trailer. I built a utility trailer 3 or 4 years ago. It was a fun project and I wanted to build another one.

I bought some metal for the frame and started to cut it to size. I was literally about to start welding when I found a trailer for sale on a local Jeep forum. It was very close to what I planned to build and the price was more than right. I couldn't have bought the materials for what I paid for the trailer.

It was only a little more than an hour away. I drove down thinking I would have to repack the bearings, reconstruct the coupler, etc. but it was in perfect condition. I drove it away and was fully confident with it within 10 miles or so. Thanks “Just-lift-it” – good deal!

The overall specs are …
- length 12'
- width 5' 10”
- height 3' 5” (without lid)
- clearance 19.75 ” to frame
- clearance 15” to axle
- tongue platform 46” tapering to 32”
- weight not sure yet !!!
- axle 3,500 lb. (brakes to come)
- wheels 16” Jeep Moab
- tires 245 75R 16 – Goodyear Duratrac
- box length 60”
- box width 48”
- box height 19.25”
- box cubic ft. 32 ft(3)
- tongue jack 1,500 lbs. – 8”x4” wheel

Here's what I started with. This pic from the ad for it was either taken on the day it was painted or it was more likely raining. It looked shinier that it was.

The trailer was well constructed. I understand it was used by a welding company to trailer a mobile welder to job sites. The round fenders were well built and nicely tied to the frame with deck plate running boards. It had 14” wheels and tires that were in pretty good shape. I wanted square fenders though and 16” wheels and tires to match my Jeep TJ & XJ so I decided to tear everything off.

I sanded down a pair of 16” Jeep Moab wheels and painted them with Duplicolor wheel paint. I'll eventually get them powder coated. I went with “graphite” to distinguish them from the silver wheels on the tow vehicles. I found an almost new set of 245/75R/16 Goodyear Duratracs on Kijiji to match what I have on my TJ. I also needed a set of spacers to mount the wheels to the hubs. I may replace the axle so I can add brakes. Unlike a lot of axles the current one does not have the flanges to bolt the brake backing plates to. If I can fabricate something suitable I'll go that route. If not I'll build a new axle.

I cut off the trailer jack that came with the trailer and welded on brackets to attach a 1,500 lb. marine jack. I like the 8”x4” wheel/tire and hope it handles dirt surfaces better than the more common narrow tires.

The trailer bed was pretty rusty and had about 30 bolt, rivet and rust holes that needed to be filled.

Scraps from the old running boards came in handy.

The chassis was built by a company called “EZ Tow Trailers”. I like the curved side rails which is something I didn't plan for in my original sketches.

I spent a lot of time underneath it getting rid of the rust.

I eventually flipped it over and that seemed like the right time to add a 2”x2” receiver to the rear bumper for a bike rack, etc.

With a lot of the rust gone I painted the frame with POR15 and later with a few different types of cheap aerosol bed liners. I thought I'd try a different ones out and recoat everything with the one I finally like (no decision yet).



I finally started to build the box which is 5' long by 4' wide and 19.25” high. In this pic you can see the front gable in place.

Next up was the rear tailgate gable and this where the fun started. I had some 2”x6' tubing left over from when I fabricated new sills for my Jeep XJ. I had planned ahead and figured it would be a nice “visual” tie in to one of my tow vehicles (ha ha). To tie it in to my Jeep TJ I decided to use TJ hinges for the tail gate (thanks to “Moose” for the donated hinges!). I painted them graphite to match the wheels.

First I had to drill holes for the 4” LED lights. With the tail lights removed I can access most of the interior of the rear posts to get to any fasteners and run wiring.

I then capped the tops. I added an internal tapping plate for some thumb screws that will be added later.

The back end is starting to take shape in this pic. I store a lot of my small camping gear in a couple of 91 litre Action Packers and they kind of dictated the height of the box. In this pic you can see the removable rear cross brace. It will eventually be the surface on which the hinged top will rest. With the cross brace in place the Action Packers can slide out underneath it.

Here are some of the details on the removable cross brace. You can also see in these pics that I decide to use Uni-strut for the side rails. I wasn't sure about their strength at first but it will not be a problem. They are light weight, galvanized and I happened to have them in my metal scrap pile. The rails will allow me to attach various items to the box while camping.

I built a temporary tail gate out of scrap plywood just to get a sense of the size and how I might use it. I initially thought this would be the home for my kitchen but I've abandoned that idea and will use the side of the trailer instead. Alternate ideas are welcome!

I've had a few diversions along the way. I built these bike racks for my TJ out of a pair of roof top carriers. I wanted to be able to open my tail gate with the rack on and bikes off. The bikes come off in less than 10 seconds. I also wanted to be able to do that with the trailer. One rack slides into the other so I can go with one bike only which is what I often do.

Here the box is starting to take shape. You can see that there is a lot of tongue area for a utility box, a cooler, water cans, etc.

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Great start and nice fab skills. If you plan to use the strut to tie things down etc, I would consider rotating the strut 90 degrees towards the inside of trailer.


The box is skinned with 14 gauge aluminum. Here are the front and 2 sides. The 2 small pieces are for the license plate / mud guards. I’ll be skinning the tail gate in the same material.

The box panels are just sitting in place while I construct other parts of the trailer but theses pics give you an idea of how it will look.

The running boards and fenders came next. I decided to make all parts (3 per side) independent of each other so in the future I will be able to modify, replace, repair, paint, etc. any of the pieces without having to take everything off.

The running board frames are 1”x1” thin wall tubing that I salvaged from an old BBQ stand. The round leading edge seemed appropriate.

The rear one was pretty straight forward to build. This pic shows where the propane tank might go (not decided yet).

I didn’t want to get into heavy frames for the fenders so I bought ones from Princess Auto and changed the angle to get the wheel clearance I wanted. I made a couple of slits with a grinder & cut off disc. That made the fenders quite flexible. Welding them to close the slits will be pretty straight forward and will be the final step when everything else is in place.

I fabricated 4 tabs to attach each fender to the running boards. Each one has rubber washers to provide a bit of cushion. The fenders will be tied back into the box eventually. They will also be painted black and will have black hardware.

This pic shows an attachment to the Uni-strut … an aerial / flag pole for when traveling!



Here I am sizing up part of where the kitchen will be. Another portable counter will be at a right angle along the top of the fender. The kitchen canopy is a Coleman 5'x7' and will be independent of the trailer.

I built the tailgate “in situ” vs. on my welding table as it was a lot easier to get the correct gaps this way. It's often said that there are 3 things in life that you just can't get enough of … and 1 of them is clamps.

The tailgate latch / lock is a simple one that's used for utility boxes. Next up is to make the pin for the latch to lock to and to install the rubber weather sealer When this is complete I will purchase the aluminum sheets to skin both sides of the tailgate.

I'm about to start on the tongue box and racks for water tanks, coolers, etc. and do the electrical connections.

This is a driveway project and I'm just trying to get as much done on this job and others as I can before the snow flies. I won't likely get into building the top until the spring. I guess the good thing is that will give me more time to design it. I don't currently plan to put a roof top tent on it as I prefer a larger tent that I can stand up in. That could change though. I'll more likely use the top for bike and kayak storage.

There will be minor updates over the next month or so and I'll get back at it full tilt in the spring. I should be able to put it to use next summer!
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Great start and nice fab skills. If you plan to use the strut to tie things down etc, I would consider rotating the strut 90 degrees towards the inside of trailer.
Thanks RagnarD. I thought of that but wanted the rails to look like the 1.5" x 1.5" steel tube I used for other parts of the trailer and not stand out. With the basic frame painted black they fit in nicely. It's quite easy place a hook (ratchet strap for example) under the rail in any spot that I want to. With the oval holes being on the top face it's also easy to mount items there too. For example, in a few of the picks you can see a black rod going up on an angle. It has a hook at the top end for hanging a Coleman lantern.


Thanks for the comments guys.

I completed most of the tailgate today. I had to make a catch plate to bolt to the rear post for the latch to grab. I started with a piece of 1”x1.5” angle iron and basically cut away all but what I needed for the catch. I then bent the catch portion until it caught the latch pin. With the weather strip the tail gate is now water tight, rattle free and I can lock it.

Next up was to mount the licence plate. I started with an old backing plate from an MGB and a piece of 14 gauge sheet metal. Both came from my metal scrap pile. I also used an LED licence plate light from Princess Auto.

I cut the sheet metal to size with my modified metal shear ( http://www.garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=284652
). This thing is fast and works great for plate up to 3/16”.

I plug welded the pieces together and sanded them down for painting.

I then welded a couple of brackets to the tailgate frame so I could attach the licence backing plate.

I attached the aluminum skin to the outside of the tailgate and added a rubber hose to act as a conduit for the licence plate wiring on the back side of the tailgate. The back side will eventually be skinned with aluminum and this hose will be covered.

Here's how it turned out. Like the trailer box, the tailgate is skinned with 14 gauge aluminum. The trailer isn't on the road yet but it's already licensed. The laws for licensing a home made trailer in Ontario are WAY TOO EASY. All you have to do is tell the MTO what you made, or are even thinking of making, what colour it is and give them $25. No questions are asked about the design, the materials, the axle(s), tires, lighting, etc. It makes no sense ... and the licence is good for the life of the trailer.

Next up are the running boards … stay tuned.
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Thanks Rutdigger. I need to put a roof on it like yours! :bowdown: ... maybe on my NEXT build.


I finished the left side running boards today, although I'm not sure if that's the right name for them. They are strong enough to stand on. I don't plan to do that but I'm sure someone will!

This is the front one. As mentioned, the 1”x1” square tube is from an old BBQ stand. I like to repurpose things when I can … plus it beat having to bend the tube myself. The rest of the fame is 1”x1” and 1”x1.5” angle iron. The covering is 14 gauge sheet metal that I plug welded to the running board frame after spraying both pieces with weld through primer. The boards themselves are bolted to the trailer frame and the fender is then bolted to the boards. All 3 pieces can be removed quite easily.

This pic shows the rear running board which was constructed in the same manner. With the front and rear pieces in place I'll now be able to finish the fender. All that's required here is to weld the slits that allowed me to reshape the fenders closed. The fenders and running boards will be painted black and bolts will be replaced with ones that are also black. Note that I've moved the propane cylinder to the front running board. Now that I've figured out the kitchen layout this is likely where it will stay.

The welding magnet shows where I have to add a small extension to the bumper.

I'll probably tackle the utility box, and other things that will be mounted on the tongue next … so more to follow.
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