Trailer Build - Gear Hauler - TV = Toyota Solara Convertible

RandomAbstract

Adventurer
Decision have been made. Plywood has been cut!

I am headed out on a 3-4 week journey from Minnesota to the Pacific NorthWest (via Yellowstone/Tetons). The trip might be enjoyable with a new-to-us convertible. However, camping out of a convertible seems a little cramped.

I started out thinking about motorcycle type trailer, graduated to putting my Thule roof box on a Harbor Freight trailer, to a custom gear box on a HF trailer (and possibly my Thule box on top of it.



However, after reading many build stories on this forum, several factors arose.

  1. I don't know what I really want
  2. This is really a prototype
  3. Indecision
  4. I don't want too many surprises on a 5-6,000 mile trip
  5. My Dad has a reliable and proven 4' x 5.5' utility trailer
  6. Indecision
  7. I only have so much time and money before I leave
  8. Did I mention indecision? I'm not sure.

So, I have decided to build a gear box to put on my Dad's utility trailer. It ends up being a little higher than I would like it, but I get a free basement (in the trailer itself) for things like a folding table, chair, wet tent :Wow1:, etc.



I worked out all the dimensions based on measurements over the phone and this is what I designed. Tried using SketchUp but didn't have time to learn. Went back to my tried and true Visio.



Went to Home Depot and had them cut the major panels (they have a panel saw and I don't). I may have to adjust dimensions when I see what they really cut :(

Since this is a prototype and a learning experience, I will be happy if the box lasts a year or two. By then I will have changed my mind based on a few trips. Therefore, I am building it with 1/2" plywood glued and screwed, painting it with a good primer and some outdoor enamel.

Whatever happens I will learn a lot, I can teach my 9 and 14 year old boys some basic woodworking, and the bears will try to get my food out of a cheap plywood box instead of the convertible.
 

Titanpat57

Expedition Leader
Well, with indecision being the key component here.....don't let fear and common sense ever hold you back. :ylsmoke:

I think it's a great little design, I'd just "flip" the water and coolers to the bed of the trailer, and the lighter goodies (clothes, foodstuffs,etc) to the top. Makes the trip kind of boring though without the trailer flipping on a curve going about 55 mph and all your gear goes spilling out on a 2 lane road.....


Make sure to check your wheel bearings, tires, lights, and tongue....good luck and safe travels!
 

RandomAbstract

Adventurer
Well, with indecision being the key component here.....don't let fear and common sense ever hold you back. :ylsmoke:
Not having that problem, I have never let common sense hold me back!

I think it's a great little design, I'd just "flip" the water and coolers to the bed of the trailer, and the lighter goodies (clothes, foodstuffs,etc) to the top. Makes the trip kind of boring though without the trailer flipping on a curve going about 55 mph and all your gear goes spilling out on a 2 lane road.....
Thanks. That was one concern of mine, also. Hence, the original low-profile design. Unfortunately, the existing trailer box only has 12" of height. I am building the box so that it can be mounted on a 4' x whatever trailer. I could change my mind and mount the box right to a trailer frame providing a lower center of gravity. I will do some test runs before leaving on the long trip.

I did 'flip' a trailer once. Actually, it was more like a somersault with a double twist (forget what they call that in gymnastics.) The coupler popped off (my fault) doing 75 mph on an interstate in the frozen tundra of Minnesota. The chains held but the coupler dug into the pavement. Therefore, the tongue stopped dead in its tracks the the rest of the trailer wanted to keep going. It was kind of surreal watching (in the mirror) your trailer doing gymnastic tricks. The state trooper had pity on me and just let me clean up the mess.

The good news is that I am good for the first 1500 miles of the trip. I don't remember there being any curves in North Dakota and Eastern Montana. :D

Make sure to check your wheel bearings, tires, lights, and tongue....good luck and safe travels!
My Dad is extremely diligent with his equipment, having been a farmer, welder, mechanic, etc. all of his life. Once I decided what I really want, I will probably have him help me build a custom trailer chassis. (He built the one that I flipped and the frame survived just fine.)

Bearings get a fresh pack.

Thanks.
 

jeep-N-montero

Expedition Leader
Honestly, I would just built a box tall enough for the tallest heavy item with a hinged lid, then attach one of those clam shell cargo carriers to the lid to hold the lighter stuff.
 

Jnich77

Director of Adventure Management Operations
Honestly, I would just built a box tall enough for the tallest heavy item with a hinged lid, then attach one of those clam shell cargo carriers to the lid to hold the lighter stuff.
I would just carry less stuff...lol.
 

navigator

Adventurer
I always cross my chains on a tow trailer when I can, then if you have an issue with the coupler, the chains kind of hold the tongue up out of the pavement.
 

RandomAbstract

Adventurer
You guys actually have me rethinking the high center of gravity thing. It has concerned me. Nothing like a bump under one wheel on a high-speed freeway curve to ruin one's day.

I would just carry less stuff...lol.
I could. However,

  • My camera gear takes up half the trunk.
  • I will be in bear county. Don't want food in the car.
  • 5 day ice chest won't fit in the trunk
  • Not much room in a convertible trunk in the first place.

A big part of the joy of being outdoors for me is being able to capture the beauty.

www.MomentsInNature.net





I ran this idea by my wife but she wasn't too keen on welding support struts onto the car! :)



The sensible thing would be to take our minivan. However, that makes too much sense.

I am not quite as sissy as the car might appear. I like the freedom of being able to camp wherever I happen to be and not have to depend on restaurants for meals.

(Yes, I do carry a SIG P220 .45 ACP, wear boots and a Stetson.)

Maybe I need to buy a 4WD.
 

RandomAbstract

Adventurer
I always cross my chains on a tow trailer when I can, then if you have an issue with the coupler, the chains kind of hold the tongue up out of the pavement.
I could have just been smart enough to put a pin or lock on the coupler that day. DUH!

Great suggestion.
 

voodoojk

Adventurer
i would just take the mini van for the simple fact that a grizzly will shred that soft top in seconds!:Wow1:
 

RandomAbstract

Adventurer
i would just take the mini van for the simple fact that a grizzly will shred that soft top in seconds!:Wow1:
I have been considering that possibility too.

Maybe I could just put a Yeti sticker on all windows. Of course, there is a chance that not all grizzlies have watched the yeti videos! :rolleyes:
 

RandomAbstract

Adventurer
Update - Changed Trailer

After doing quite a bit of pondering, I decided to pick up a trailer kit and start from scratch to build this:



I much prefer the lower profile and easier attachment of the box to the trailer.

Northern Tool 4x8 Trailer

Although their web site quotes $429 for the trailer, it can be picked up at the store for $329. The extra $100 on the web site is apparently to cover the "free" shipping.

Minnesota residents please note that they will surprise you at the register with a $20 surcharge for the state government. Minnesota is raising fees so they can say they are not raising taxes!



I am only using the front half of the trailer for this build, but leaving the option open to use it as a 4x8 folding trailer in the future (or sell it as such).

Assembled the frame last night. My first "oh oh" was that the channels holding the springs wouldn't slide forward as far as I wanted them. The angle that is welded to the spring channel and bolted to the frame (green arrow) runs into the tongue support brackets (orange arrow).



After some loss of sleep and doing some math, I realized that the axle will be in a very good spot given my planned loading arrangement.



(Yes, I am putting a 4x5 box on a 4x4 trailer. Remember, this is an experiment.)

Wanting to make sure the tongue weight is okay, I used the bathroom scale method of weight distribution measurement. (Is that an official method?) With just the frame resting on the springs the tongue weight is about 25 pounds. Not bad.



I could do a bunch more math and figure out what the final tongue weight would be. However, sometimes the empirical method is easier and better (except when you are building something like an aircraft carrier.) So, I plan to load up the pre-cut box building materials, place the main camping gear in place and see what I come up with. I am thinking that 50-80 pounds should make for stable tracking.

Suggestions are welcome.

One final issue. Being the daring person that I am, I removed the "Do Not Remove" stickers from the tongue. I expect the mattress police (the ones that monitor the mattress tags) will be at my doorstep at any moment. :Wow1:

 

tclaremont

Observer
I can't believe you admitted to removing those stickers, with photographic evidence no less, on a public forum. Casey Anthony is no longer the most hated person in America.
 
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