Really Big Adventure – M101A2 Build

ToRo13

Member
I started this project in July 2017 as my wife was 5 months pregnant. I had a lot of freetime on my hands as she was sleeping a lot. I bought a 1991 M101A2 from a guy on Craigslist. Before I got my hands dirty I designed the entire trailer in CAD and worked through a bunch of the design challenges.

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CHALLENGES:
  • We have 3 dogs so I knew I wanted to use the annex that came with the tent. I'm 6' so I needed the base of the tent to clear 6'5" to be comfortable in the annex.
  • I didn't want the top of the tent to be above the topper of my Toyota Tundra
  • I love cooking and wanted to have a legit backcountry kitchen
  • We had a baby on the way; we both love camping but I would be the one doing the entire set-up and tear down mostly solo.
  • Being able to secure everything when we leave the site for the day.
I put the tent on a racking system with telescoping square tubing that moves up and down on 12v linear actuators. This allowed me to travel with the cage down as low as possible providing a low center of gravity for off-roading and better dynamic flow at speed. When we get to our campsite I'm able to erect the entire tent at 5'6", then raise it to over 7'. The linear actuators are capable of lifting 1,250 lbs of combined weight.

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To make the kitchen ‘turn key’ I opted to chop the tailgate off and hinge it on the drivers side. This allowed me to build in a stove with propane that's always connected. As well as a fully functional 12v sink that pulls water from black Jerry cans that are attached to the tailgate. The material for the counters is a product called Skatelite. It's used on Super Pipes [skateboarding BMX etc.] and is an indestructible paper and resin based material that is designed to get thrashed.

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The electrical system can function off a 120v to 12v inverter at 120a, 100w solar, 12v battery and also the auxiliary line running from my truck through the 7 pin. All of the power options are selectable from the aluminum tongue box. I also added some over the top items like the 360º floodlights that can be switched manually or from remote control.

We're pretty big on heading out early for day adventures, so security was a big item. Anything of value can be locked up while we're gone for the day. The front fairing/cavity locks down as well as the weathertech storage drawer in the bed of the trailer.

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It took me about 6 month to complete the project from the day I bought it. We took it out for the first time this weekend and there are some definite changes I will be making. Specifically relating to how it tows off-road. I cant say I'm a huge fan of the pintle hitch and I'm on the fence about the surge brakes.

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SoDakSooner

Adventurer
Wow, looks great! Really like the front storage area. I have been toying with the idea of hinging my gate like that for exactly the same reason you did. Good execution there.

Have you thought about replacing the axle? I have a dexter sitting on my bench, just waiting on the time to do it. Also went with electric brakes as well. Only about $300 in that setup.

I also made up a new extended tongue so I can pull the pintle out and lock the tubing up, just to provide a bit more security.
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Great job!
 

ToRo13

Member
Wow, looks great! Really like the front storage area. I have been toying with the idea of hinging my gate like that for exactly the same reason you did. Good execution there.

Have you thought about replacing the axle? I have a dexter sitting on my bench, just waiting on the time to do it. Also went with electric brakes as well. Only about $300 in that setup.

I also made up a new extended tongue so I can pull the pintle out and lock the tubing up, just to provide a bit more security.
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Great job!
Thanks! For now I really like the surge brakes and I'm planning on leaving the axel as is. However, I'm in the process of fabing up a Max Coupler instead of the pintle and lunette. It will work with the existing M101A2 surge system. The Pintle sounds pretty violent on the trails I've taken it on, but that could be the combination surge brake system I'll have to experiment with the lockout functionality.

You've got a nice set up going! The longer tongue and jack are nice touches. I'm thinking I'll probably end up adding a jack sooner than later. I'm a burley guy and can manhandle the trailer, but it's not something I look forward to doing all summer. It may also get a little bit more tricky with the Max Coupler. The added security of locking up the hitch is great!

If you're going to hinge the gate, make sure you buy another stabilizer leg, the weight adds up quickly. I used the slots from the existing hinges to stabilize during transport
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SoDakSooner

Adventurer
Jack is just a cheap harbor freight weld on. I can manhandle pretty well too, but it is nice.

I am definitely stealing the swinging gate idea.

I am still running the pintle, but really like the idea of the lock and roll or similar type. I am just on the cheap right now. Still fabbing my telescoping rack. Have a fixed one right now that I build up in a few hours, but lots of stuff on my plate after I complete my move.

Ive got a build thread on here too if you are interested. Haven't done much lately except purchase parts.
 

ToRo13

Member
Cool, I'll check it out for sure! I have a garage full of "extra" parts I thought I was going to add at one point or another to the trailer. Online ordering and Amazon are dangerous tools to have access to.

Out of curiosity, I noticed you both don't have surge brakes, any particular reason? They seem to be an awesome feature, but a lot of the M101A2 guys have removed them. Is it because they didn't work?
 

RedM101A2

Member
Excellent build and design. They are great trailers.
I removed my non functioning surge brakes but tow with a 2500 HD.
I do wish I would have kept my parking brakes.
Have you had it on the scales yet to see the total weight?
I went simple with a 7 x 7 deck and poor Man's RTT.
It has worked well for the past six years.
 

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ToRo13

Member
Great set up!

We live in Colorado and tend to go on some really steep stuff. Both up and down. I’m pulling the trailer with my Tundra (5.7 V8) The surge works great on the trailer. I just haven’t seen anyone use a Max Coupler or Lock-n-roll hitch with the existing surge set up — So I came up with this tonight. I chopped off the Lunette with a sazall and welded a 2” hitch reliever to the bottom of where the lunette use to be.

The Max Coupler comes early next week so I’ll be anxious to see how it all works out.

Also trying to figure out something for the jack. I don’t have a lot of real estate up front with the electrical box, solar wiring and the surge brake.

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AFTER:
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shifty98

Observer
Looks great! I am very interested in the hitch idea, I hate the pintle hitch because there is so much play in it (which is why it is good for off-roading) but it drives me nuts. I am trying to do what you are doing on my M1101, keep surge brakes but change hitch style.
 

dstock

Explorer
Great build! I really like the swing away tailgate idea.

I didn't want to go the pintle route on mine, I just can't stand rattles. The Max-coupler is silent that if I do hear any noises I know something is wrong with something!
 

ToRo13

Member
Great build! I really like the swing away tailgate idea.

I didn't want to go the pintle route on mine, I just can't stand rattles. The Max-coupler is silent that if I do hear any noises I know something is wrong with something!
Good to hear! It should be here in a couple days. We’re going to be traveling the next couple weekends (not camping). But I’m looking forward to trying it out!
 

SoDakSooner

Adventurer
Cool, I'll check it out for sure! I have a garage full of "extra" parts I thought I was going to add at one point or another to the trailer. Online ordering and Amazon are dangerous tools to have access to.

Out of curiosity, I noticed you both don't have surge brakes, any particular reason? They seem to be an awesome feature, but a lot of the M101A2 guys have removed them. Is it because they didn't work?
Sorry, just getting back on this. busy couple of days. Regarding surge brakes, mine didn't work when I bought the trailer is the simple answer. My new axle is set up with electrics, but still have to run the harness in the Jeep. I figure pulling the factory axle and surge system and replacing with the 3500 lb axle will save almost 200 lbs too. With a low torque/hp jeep every bit helps...lol. I can replace that weight with something I can use. Also, from what I have read, (and I have no personal experience) most folks prefer electric to surge, because you have more control over when/how you brake the trailer. For instance if you are on a steep downhill going slow, the weight of the trailer will lock up the brakes, when you don't necessarily want them to.

My pintle is relatively tight and doesn't make that much noise. I'm ok with it for now.
 
Mine worked but surge brakes are heavy and you have no control. With electric brakes you can control from the cab while towing and adjust how they come on. Oh and did I mention they are lighter?
 
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