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Thread: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

  1. #1
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    Default Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    I'm looking at building a small travel trailer on a utility trailer of the sort that landscapers haul their equipment on. I was thinking of building the trailer 7' x 12' and keeping the weight of the whole thing down around 2500 lbs. It seems in my mind like it will work. Is there any reason not to do this?
    Will

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Unless you would just like to have a project, trailers (travel or otherwise) are a dime a dozen, But I do understand the need to build the crap out of something. Considerations: Obviously Tare Weight. Welding perches for the new springs and body mounts. Axle length and Tongue weight. Wheel size? Will it be built out of wood?

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Every aspect of it will be better if you build your own. Get a good base (e.g. Wells Cargo). Already enclosed seems so much easier. And stealthier. 10 years from now, it will still be nice. Travel trailers/campers are made with sticks and staples. They are done after 10 years.

    And it can still haul stuff.


    4E396C89-FB33-4419-8263-397454442E26.jpg

    3C593C2F-716A-4391-8F81-6E6CDAC61542.jpg

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Lots of people build teardrop camping trailers on small utility trailers.

    Mine, long gone now, was a professional build

    DSCN1310 (1).jpg
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    No. Head on over to Teardrops N' Tiny Travel Trailers.

    It's the online forums for all the people who are doing that. One of the standard platforms is the cheap red 4x8 folding trailers you can get from Harbor Fright or Northern Tool.

    Some of the builds are pretty amazing.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. — P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluedog225 View Post
    Every aspect of it will be better if you build your own. Get a good base (e.g. Wells Cargo). Already enclosed seems so much easier. And stealthier. 10 years from now, it will still be nice. Travel trailers/campers are made with sticks and staples. They are done after 10 years.

    And it can still haul stuff.


    4E396C89-FB33-4419-8263-397454442E26.jpg

    3C593C2F-716A-4391-8F81-6E6CDAC61542.jpg
    what size trailer is that?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    I’m a little embarrassed I don’t recall exactly. It’s out at my place right now.

    Pretty sure it is 5’ across since I can’t lay out sideways. And 10’ long with a mildly pointy end.

    The bed platform is 6‘. And standing headroom.
    Last edited by bluedog225; 08-27-2020 at 09:57 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    i reckon its like building a boat.

    the life of the mind is maybe even better than the life of the consumer/body.

    i would do it just for fun.

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by bluedog225 View Post
    Every aspect of it will be better if you build your own. Get a good base (e.g. Wells Cargo). Already enclosed seems so much easier. And stealthier. 10 years from now, it will still be nice. Travel trailers/campers are made with sticks and staples. They are done after 10 years.


    The only small travel trailers worth having are the small glssfibre "egg" campers like the Scamp, Bolar, Trillium, and even the old Uhaul ones. The Uhaul ones were really built to take a beating
    "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito"

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    My brother got a Casita. Maybe 10 years old. I had it for a while. Everything needed replacing. The furnace water heater was junky and rusty. The converter/inverter/charger whatever thing was shot. It was wired like a house, sort of. But it was a mess. If you needed to replace the breaker panel or the charger, you had to buy more rv level custom junk to fit. Lots of proprietary stuff. The plumbing was light, junky rv stuff. Particle board everywhere.

    I guess it made an impression. Even using 1/2 and 1/4 ply in mine seemed like a huge improvement. My lighting needs are satisfied by a lantern and flashlight. Or a cheap 12 led light string if I want ambiance. A jug of water instead of plumbed in tanks I probably wouldn’t drink out of. Etc.

    It is pretty small though. If Ms. Bluedog ever comes on a trip, I’m sleeping on the floor.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Thanks for all the wonderful responses. I'm definitely leaning toward building. I really enjoy building stuff as some of you know. I'm planning on 7' wide by 12' long - probably Vardo style with the bed in front, head in the back corner, kitchen on the starboard side and dinette on the port. It would be suitable for two people.

    Of the manufactured trailers I like the fiberglass shell type campers the best so one alternative for me would be to get an older used fiberglass camper and refurbish it. I have seen a number of cargo trailer conversions and see that as a viable option but I would want to put several large windows in it like the Casita has.

    Teardrops are awesome but I want something I can stand up in at 5'11". The T@B 320S almost fit my requirements.




    I'll definitely be checking out the Tear Drops N' Tiny Travel Trailers forum.
    Will

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Check out Jim Tolpin's Instagram feed - he of many and multitudinous books over the years on furniture, built in furniture, classic kitchen cabinets, proportions in design etc.

    He's built several Gypsy Vardos (caravans), and even has an e-book out about the various models. And they look, predictably, like jewel boxes. IIRC he built them on things ranging from the back half of old pickup trucks through to utility trailers.
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    The cabin of a small trailer is truly a wonderful thing; not only will it shelter you from a tempest, but from the other troubles in life, it is a safe retreat. If you want to stand up - Go outside.

    Go small go now. Teardrops rock. If you are going to live for an extended period - rent a cabin/or larger RV.

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    I have toyed with the idea of building a fiberglass trailer. Fiberglass I-beam frame with a torsion axle. Foam cored fiberglass panels for walls/floor/roof. Then all marine fittings inside and an on-demand propane fired water heater. Should not be hard at all. The issues are keeping it light and finding a place to do the build - I am not allowed to do fiberglass layups in the garage since it is attached o the house. Keeping he unit light means lots of cored panels. Home glass construction also likely means LOTS of sanding unless you build sheets of finished glass to use for the actual construction with a smooth surface jig of some sort.

    I don't like the idea of buying a used fiberglass trailer. There are lots of YouTube videos about how those are built - think chopper gun with no actual fabrics. In other words the lowest quality fiberglass imaginable.

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    https://www.clcboats.com/shop/boats/...p-trailer.html

    CLCboats.com sells a 'kit' or plans. A consideration. LeeG can likely tell more.
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    The little butane cookers are brilliant for this application. Inside or outside and take up little space.

    6B95B217-133A-4C97-9016-935F2EEAC153.jpg

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    With a teardrop, you're really camping, which means you're outside unless you're in bed.

    That has both good and bad aspects.

    We sold our teardrop and bought a VW Camper van, which suited my family's needs at the time a lot better
    Elect a clown expect a circus

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Instead of a teardrop, I'd like to build a modern version of the canned ham style trailer. I'd aim for a length of 12' with 6' interior height.

    Aluma makes a 77.5" x 142" trailer that weighs 615 lbs. It isn't cheap, but it looks to be built very solidly.

    Jeff C

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    I think Glen-L had camper plans...
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Cool enough, I've been looking into cargo trailer conversions too!

    Here's one already done, that I like, just need to add a Happijac bed lift in the back...



    Happijac system...

    https://happijac.com/bed-lifts.html

    screen-capture-2.jpg
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”― Mark Twain,


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    The one above might be too expensive and fancy, but this one is cool too...

    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”― Mark Twain,


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?



    Double Dam, the CLC kit for the trailer above, minus kayaks and racks, is well over $5,000. And then you have to build it!
    Last edited by Jim Bow; 08-28-2020 at 08:33 PM.
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bow View Post


    Double Dam, the CLC kit for the trailer above, minus kayaks and racks, is well over $5,000. And then you have to build it!
    I have been in their demo. It's very nice.
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    The CLC teardrop looks very nice. Also very tempting because the parts have pretty much been identified so I know where and what to get. And at $5k it's still a fraction of what most finished tear drops are going for.

    I think my design is narrowing down to something similar to the T@b 320-S above. I'll be building a cardboard model to see if it works out.

    Just for fun I looked on Youtube under "stitch and glue trailers" and found the Hütto Hut.

    Will

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Way cool.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcat View Post
    ...
    We sold our teardrop and bought a VW Camper van, which suited my family's needs at the time a lot better
    This

    I love my van with it's little subaru motor. All the comforts of an efficiency apartment (or small cruising boat) and doubles as a daily driver. Easier to park than even the shortest car/trailer combo too.

    Doesn't even need to be a VW these days, plenty of cargo vans out there just waiting to get turned into getaway vehicles.
    Steve

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  27. #27
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Did you swap to a Subie engine? Can't hardly find VW campers anymore.
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Stromborg, I have a wife which means I would be towing a bathroom> had a 62 VW camper years ago, then a 2002 Eurocamper. The 2002 had to go.
    Got this 5 months ago.20200523_112906 (1).jpg

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by George Jung View Post
    Did you swap to a Subie engine? Can't hardly find VW campers anymore.
    The previous owner did the swap. I was looking to buy a van and possibly do it myself when this one popped up, this would be the early 2000s when the conversions were still a relatively fresh idea. Midwest road salt does limit the lifespan of vehicles. In my Chicago motorcycling days most of the guys put their bikes up around Halloween and brought them back out on Mother's Day. Lots of Vanagons and bay window vans out here, the number of splitties I see seems to be growing too. We have a lot more rain than snow here on the west side of the Salish Sea. (aka Puget Sound)

    Sonofswen, I totally get the appeal of those little trailers. But I love my van and really, I don't need more stuff cluttering up the woods around my place.
    Steve

    If you would have a good boat, be a good guy when you build her - honest, careful, patient, strong.
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Back when we had cable, there was a show about a couple who restored travel trailers. I was quite surprised to see a 1/4 inch plywood skin, studs that looked like lath, and an interior wall of door skin material.

    I recall a Car Talk episode in which a caller was from Elkhart Indiana. “Elkhart!,” Magliozzi screamed,”That’s where all the travel trailers come from!”
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    The advantage of a trailer for me was that I could park it in the garage and only use it when camping. We towed it with a Forester.

    The van turned out to be an upgrade, mostly because you could get out of the rain and it had heat. One year I camped everything month of the year in the van.
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Those tallish conversion vans look 'just the ticket' for a 'motorhome'. Park anywhere; good mileage. More difficult for the bears to get to ya!

    Adding one of those 'rear end' or 'side' tents looks good, as well.


    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    only, with this:
    There's a lot of things they didn't tell me when I signed on with this outfit....

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by George Jung;[URL="tel:6262960"
    6262960[/URL]]Did you swap to a Subie engine? Can't hardly find VW campers anymore.
    Recently saw an 88 Westfalia with a Subaru motor for sale in Tacoma. 30K on the motor, and 250K on the van itself. They were asking $40,000 !
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  35. #35
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    Default Build travel trailer on top of utility trailer - good idea or bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bow View Post
    Recently saw an 88 Westfalia with a Subaru motor for sale in Tacoma. 30K on the motor, and 250K on the van itself. They were asking $40,000 !

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bow View Post
    Recently saw an 88 Westfalia with a Subaru motor for sale in Tacoma. 30K on the motor, and 250K on the van itself. They were asking $40,000 !

    Those VW Eurovans (VW Transporter T4) are insane. They we $40,000 new in the late 90s- early 2000's.

    A beater goes for more than $20k, and ones in good shape for $30k plus!

    And since they started making them in 1992, the early model years are eligible for antique vehicle plates in most states (25+ years old).

    Reason is that nobody makes anything like that for the North American market. You'd think VW would bring the current edition back into North America: the VW California (there is a certain amount of irony implicit in not being able to by a VW California in... California. Be like not being able to buy a Toyota Tacoma in Washington State.)

    https://www.volkswagen-nutzfahrzeuge...california.app

    https://www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk/en...alifornia.html

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