Adventure trailer build thread. | Page 28 | Ford Explorer - Ford Ranger Forums - Serious Explorations
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Intro:
This is not a common build here on this forum, but this build is part of another long term build, that has been going on for 10 years now. I feel it is fitting to share this build here, since so much of it's companion is documented on EF. This thread is as detailed as my patience has allowed. I want to be able to help others that might be searching for methods/ideas, and "how to" for much of the build. I do belong to other Overland forums, and will link this thread from them, to share with others.

About:
This trailer is a short compact, stout, capable, high clearance, Swiss army knife of a camper. It is not a popup camper, nor is it a sleep in hard shell camper. It will offer all the creature comforts those do, but in a little different fashion. This style trailer, makes you enjoy the outdoors. You cook/dine, lounge & hot shower outside, but you sleep inside a roomy insulated roof top tent, 78" off the ground.

The tow rig:

The Black Hole

The entire build for the tow rig, has always been with this build in mind, and it has been extremely difficult to keep that to myself, and why it was built the way it was. It is a purpose build, with a specific objective.

The Objective:
To be the living quarters and storage, for off the beaten path journeys yet to come.
To have everything needed to sustain myself, and a few others, out in the middle of nowhere, only accessible by unpaved trails, such as old mining roads. Hauling all the boondocking gear behind, instead of overloading the vehicle's suspension. To minimize setup and tear down times for camping, and have camping items readily accessible, whenever needed.

The trailer needs to be capable of following wherever the tow rig goes. Matching tires, axle width, and the same, if not more height clearance as the tow rig. Sleeping & shelter for 4 comfortably, sustainable cold food storage, food prep space, gas powered cooking, AC/DC power supply, and hot showers for days at a time, are all the requirements for this build.

Goal:

This is the other half of that long term build plan. I am slow at the building and fabricating process, and this will take about a year to complete. Updates will happen as the build progresses. I have entered the 7th month of the build, and expect another 3-4 months left to get it road worthy at the least. Just like anything I have done, it never ends, and improvements will happen, as I gain experience & knowledge with what works best for me.

Baby steps:

This is the first time I have ever attempted anything like this. I am bound to make mistakes, and corrections/improvements are all but a guarantee. I do have a final vision for what I want this to be, as it has been a thought process for many many years now. Please bear with me as this thread goes. Some items won't make sense until it comes to be. I am not going to tell you how things should be done. I am just sharing how I did things on this build. Agree/disagree, like it or leave it, it's mostly a learning experience by mixing what I know, and what I had to learn, to get things as I want them. Definitely not for everybody. Heck, I know I will change things down the road, as I find ways to improve on it. That is part of the fun!



Why am I building this?
I'm Tired of ground tent camping all my life. Tired of the time it takes to set up & tear down. Tired of all the tedious packing, unpacking, moving things from place to place after every trip. Plus, I don't want a motor home that can't leave the roads.
I plan on getting lost a few times, venturing out to places unknown and unseen. We live in a large, beautifully gifted geographical location on the planet. Our own back yard is filled with amazing spectacles. Places that can only be seen on dirt trails, off the beaten paths, not by roads covered in pavement, and delivery trucks. Exploring into the dark hours of the night, and setting camp in the middle of nowhere, instead of heading back. We can traverse a lot of ground this way.

Kudos:

A few friends helped with this build, and I couldn't have got as far as it is without them. Special thanks to James, Matt, Kurt, Ryan, & Jacob. You guys rock!

A warning from the author:

This thread contains: Long drawn out boring tedious explanations, Dry humor, embarrassing anecdotes, speech in the 3rd person, countless pictures, and some content is for Mature audiences. There is a little for everybody here, but be warned, this is not your typical build thread, and not from your typical builder. I am not responsible for your emotional mood swings, due to reading this material. ;)

Edit: Progress pics as of 10/15/18. Getting closer every day!

Dr washed.jpg

RTT on front pass side full view.jpg


First real use!

Camp set 1.jpg

Camp set 2.jpg

Bat wing awning up.jpg



Current specs:
Main Frame- 12'.5"L x 48"W
Whopping 25" of ground clearance with 35" tires
Fenders- 72" Long x 14.00" Wide tapered to 0.00" in front
Cabin- 48"W x 72"L x 36"H
Overall Width - 76"
Overall Height - 68" Roof Rack lowered - 78" Roof Rack lifted
Overall Height- 80" With RTT stowed - 140" RTT open & rack lifted
Dry weight- 2300#'s

2"x3"x3/16" Steel Tube Frame, with 1 pc center tongue beam from front to rear.
3500 Lb Timbren Axleless Independent suspension
10" Electric brakes
35"x12.5" Goodyear MTR's w/kevlar & matching spare
15"x10" Mickey Thompson black satin aluminum wheels
Lock N Roll off road articulating Hitch
14 Ga steel cabin walls & roof
3/4" Ply floor, stained, sealed, & 5 topcoats of acrylic gloss clear
Commercial 60 Mil Waterproof TPO membrane under belly skin
12 Ga steel Fenders on Sq frame & 2" x 3/16" Round slider tubes
Spare tire mount on cabin front
16 Ga swing out 4'W x 2'D x 24"H Tapered Tongue box
16 Ga Side boxes with Tapered front compartments
Telescoping Roof rack (12") with scissor jack actuation
Two rear 31" BAL C leveling jacks & swivel plate base
Dual 5K swivel weld ring flat plate base Tongue jacks
ARK dual wheel offroad 750 HD Tongue jack
Slider system for hidden Solar panel storage
Dual 11 lb Propane tank storage mounts
Quick Disconnect Water supply
All Stainless & Aluminum hardware, where applicable

Interior:
Front compartment 48"Wx24"Lx36"H
Two side doors, and upper 12 ga shelf with expanded metal rear wall
Rear Compartment 48"Wx48"Lx36"H
3/4" PT wood flooring, custom finish, clear satin marine topcoats.
Tie downs on frame tubes
1-60W Led rear cabin, 3-10w Led front cabin
Wiring plumbed with flex and hard conduit
Split cabin with full rear cabin deck, tie down racks

Power:
Dual Group 31 MAGM deep cycle 110 AH batteries
110 shore
100W Renogy Solar
Charge:
NOCO Marine 110v 20 amp onboard Dual smart charger
30 amp Renogy MPPT Solar charger
140 amp traveling vehicle charge, via smart charger
Soon to come: 40 amp-500 watt DC-DC charger from alternator
Portable Valence 80Ah Lifepo4 Solar Gen w/inverter

Accessories:
4 season 23Zero 73" Walkabout RTT W/ large Annex room - telescopic ladder w/rung pads- Ext shoe bags-Led lights- 3" thick x Ca King mattress w/anti condensation mat.
Oversized high density 3" thick 56" x 96" mattress. Cold weather cover, additional secondary rain fly.
Rhino Rack 8.5' Bat Wing 270* Wrap around Awning (2019 version)
5Liter - 1.5 gpm - On demand instant hot water heater
ARB/ViAir 150 psi onboard air system
Ready Welder II
Slide out Kitchen/storage- 1/2" Baltic Birch, sealed/stained/clear coats 350# slides
ICECO VL45 portable fridge/freezer - AC/DC
Custom powder coated locking Fridge slide out.
Wireless controlled winch (upper roof rack storage, rear bumper hitch receiver)
Rear door interior fold down table
Dual 11 lb propane tanks (rear fender mounted)
Marine control panel, rocker switches w/circuit breakers, 12v battery meter, Aux outlets
30 gallon fresh water tank & 3.0 gpm instant on pump w/ inline filter
Trailer Harness Connection lock box
First Aid field kit (large)
Dual Fire Extinguisher's

LED Lighting:
Front- 2-45w dual pods w/amber fogs
Sides- 4-18w pods
Rock- 4-10w blue IP 67
Cabin- 1-60w 3 setting round rear compartment ceiling fixture, 3-10w pods front compartment
Tails/brakes/turns- 30w 6" oval
Reverse- 30w 6" oval
Markers- 3w red & amber
7 pin RV trailer harness & J box

Tongue box build:
Full box tube frame & 16 ga sheet, w/plate and tube gussets
Dual battery mount tray
Red oak Shelf for Noco dual 20 amp charger, 20amp solar charger, 12v systems (3) circuit breakers, fuse panel, main power cutoff switch
3 space divider walls & front storage shelf
Gas lift struts, 2"x 3/16" thick Aluminum lid hinge
Dual SS locking paddle latch handles
Dual 4" SS louvered vents w/bug screens
Pass thru power cord outlet with weatherproof door hatch
NOCO 110v wall power plug w/ weatherproof cover
2k locking latch to frame, & dual 7/16" clevis pins to frame
5/8" spindle for swivel action, for spare tire removal/security

Paint:
Frame- Chassis saver gloss black
Cabin Exterior- Acid etch primer & Single stage Gloss Black automotive 2k urethane
Cabin Interior- SW DTM Gloss White
Side & T boxes, All doors- Urethane Epoxy primer & Single stage Gloss Black 2k Urethane
Roof rack- Chassis saver gloss black
Fenders-Acid etch primer underneath & Urethane base topside, Black Raptor liner w/grip additive

Trim: Aluminum



Lots to add to that list up there, and I will as the build progresses. :)

I hope you enjoy the thread, as much as I have enjoyed the build itself.
 



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gmanpaint

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The CVT Roof top tent's ladder it came with is only 6'-8" tall fully extended. With the tent rack raised to the highest position, the ladder is straight up & down, and barely touches the ground. That's just not going to work. I knew this from the very first time I set it up, and planned on ordering the 2'-6" extension they sell someday.

Well, the time has come, and I almost forgot about it. CVT website lists the extension for $80, plus shipping from OR. I have ordered from them a couple times now, and they charge crazy high shipping fees, no matter what it is. So that put this stupid thing at way over $100. Hmm...

So I notice they have an upgraded HD telescoping ladder listed. It comes in two sizes. 8'-6" & 10'-6" fully extended. They was sold out of the 8'-6" and no idea when it would be available. The price on the longer unit was $180, two arms, a leg, and all your kids to ship. Hmm....

I started searching the webs, found a telescoping ladder with more weight capacity (ya know, you get fat when eating camp food), and for half the costs. That will Chooch.

Took 3 days to get it, and couldn't be happier. So the CVT ladders come with the mounting tabs already on them. They are thin aluminum tabs, and held on with small rivets. I just had to fabricate my own mount for this new ladder to make it bolt onto the tent, be able to swing from storage to usage.

I needed to match the mounting tabs on the CVT ladder to bolt it on, and use it the same way they have it set up. Stared at the scrap pile of steel, picked out some materials, and got to work.

CVT ladder tabs. These bolt on to another set of tabs on the tents underside when in use, and the top for storage when folded. Pretty weak sauce set up, and a pretty weak ladder for us bigger peoples (me). I'm not impressed with it at all for strength or longevity at all.

CVT ladder tabs.jpg


Couple pcs of 2" angle cut and welded together to make one pc that fits on the top rung. Added 2 pcs of 1/4" flat to make a C channel. Trimmed up the angle to fit around the locking tabs and rivets on it. Cut & welded two small 1.5" angle to the top of the channel, then cut/grind the verticals into bolt tabs. Drilled some bolt holes, self etch primer, & gloss black paint to finish it up.

Test fitment

pre weld test fit.jpg


Front

ladder mount front.jpg


Rear

ladder mount rear.jpg




1/4"-20 x 2.5" Stainless bolts and 1/4" SS fender washers, ran thru the top rung to secure it nicely to the ladder. I will drill the bolt tab holes after I place it on the tent and mark them. Can't right now as the tent is hung 8' high under the garage rafters currently. Took it off so I can clean & wax the trailer, but it's been raining here for what seems like weeks now.

ladder mount on.jpg



The CVT slide ladder collapsed, is longer than the new telescoping ladder is collapsed.

CVT vs fully collapsed.jpg


The new ladder extended is, well..... yeah.....

CVT vs collapse full extension.jpg


Can set the ladder as I want it. Angle & height, plus it's stronger when used as a leverage arm to open & close the tent up.

I call it a win. :)
 



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toypaseo

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I have a telescoping ladder of that style made by Xtend & Climb. Fairly light in weight. So much more convenient to deal with it's compact size when collapsed.
 






gmanpaint

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Trailer got deep cleaning, and it's first coat of wax. Thought about using the orbital, but ended up hand waxing it.

Talked to a McGuire's rep on what to use on the single stage paint for the first coat. He said the hybrid ceramic liquid wax would work perfectly for it. Partly because of all the trim on it. It doesn't stain or affect any of it. Only took 1/4 of a 16 oz bottle.

With that done, the roof tent went back on. That was an ordeal for me alone. Had it suspended from the rafters with ratchet straps. Had it lifted higher than the rack raises. Ended up stacking lumber under it, so when the ratchet was released, it didn't drop violently. Won't lift it so high next time. Lol

I can now season the tent fabric, with it opened up in place.

One big mod left on it for the trip, and a couple small items to install next week.
 






gmanpaint

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Tow rig plans for work being done got pushed back a week, so I had some time to mess with this thing today.

Decided to hook up the DC power port for the Fridge/Freezer. I wanted to keep the DC plug (Cigg lighter style) the fridges come with, and not cut and hard wire it.

The fridge 16 ga DC cable is 8 foot long. The power port I installed is a 12 ga. The port is connected to bolt on post terminals, via a set of 3/8" ring terminals. The terminals use 8 ga. One to a circuit breaker, then to battery, & one to the frame for ground. It has back up redundancy built into the wiring. Circuit breaker at the battery, a 15a fuse on the power port, and the fridge has it's own 15a fuse.

+/- 3/8" post terminals

cable posts.jpg


Used my handy dandy hammer crimper for the 8 ga ring terminals. Man I love this thing. Makes a solid crimp so easily.

Hammer crimped terminal rings.jpg


To mount the bolt on post terminals I used a Dewalt Drill & Tap bit. Another amazing investment was a set of these bits. Have been incredibly useful to bolt items to metal tubing. Takes all of 30 seconds to drill & tap for a bolt. Crazy cool. Used them all over this thing, including the VIN tag.

I bought a power port with 12' length cable, and it's held in place with a small Quick Fist clamp. I can remove the fridge from the trailer, and set on a table outside this way. Also another reason for the heavier ga cables used. Everything is tucked out of the way next to where the fridge sits on the slide. If wanted, I can grab 12v power from the posts easily.

The small fuse holder down low is for the water pump, not this setup.

20200809_123558.jpg


To test it, I stole the brand new Fridge/Freezer from the Tow pig. Yes, the reveal for this fridge is in the wrong thread. Oh well! lol

This is a smaller fridge than what will be used in the trailer, but works perfectly for testing purposes. Everything works as it should, no goofs, good to go!

20200809_131056.jpg


The fridge was at 78* when I turned it on. Put it on normal cooling, and set to 28*. Took 10 mins to drop, and hold. I know there is ample power to it the way it is wired in. I'm happy with it.

I have an idea for the power cable from the fridge. Going to try to use a cable retracter key chain that will keep the cable slack taken up and away from the slide, as it is pulled in/out. If it works, cool beans. If not, no biggie.

Time to start on a new set of brackets for the next big mod. It's in transit, and is scheduled for delivery in 2 days. More to come with that install. Stay tuned kids. :)
 






gmanpaint

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Took a trip to Ouray Colorado and tried to take this trailer there. Unfortunately the tow rig had some issues that prevented it.

About half way there, I had to drop the trailer, and leave it behind at a service shop in Colby Kansas. Brian at Pro Tech was the man. He fixed the rig, and gave us a loaner car to get around in for a couple of days. He let the trailer be stored indoors in his very large shop for over a week, free of charge. If your ever in need of a mechanic, a tow, late night or weekends, he is the guy to call. Completely trust worthy, and got high regards at every parts store in town. (720) 899-8858

So I'm cleaning out the trailer today, and air drying the tent from one day of use in the rain. Got to the cooler and figured I would share a product I tested.
The fridge was used in the tow rig, and my large yeti type cooler was in this. Instead of using ice, I used these ice packs instead. They are called cooler shock. You freeze them solid after filling with proper amount of water. The chemicals inside react, and turn to gel. They are colder than ice, and give off an 18 degree temp. Bags say 24-48 hours, but in this cooler much longer. They lasted for 4 days and they was still frozen cooling off the cooler. This cooler works very well, and in a normal cooler, they might not last as long. I have no idea how long they actually lasted as I left this cooler behind on the trip. What I do know, is not having sloshing melt water to deal with is awesome. To refreeze, I would put in the fridge/freezer overnight in the rig, or at home.

They come in a few sizes and in groups of 2-4. I got 8 of the Medium Qt size, and used 6 packs in the large cooler. 1 med qt pack is equal to 3#'s of ice. You mix them up with the contents, and not directly on the floor or sides for max use. Love em for my use, and you might too.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0773FVRZY/?tag=serious-20

This is after all the leftover contents are removed, and 2 fit side by side in this cooler. (2 stacks of 3 shown)

Cooler shock packs.jpg
 






gmanpaint

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Trailer getting some love from the owner of Pro Tech in Colby Kansas.

trailer hub brake worked on in KS.jpg
Trailer brake work.jpg


The self adjust pin was upside down from the factory, and I didn't catch it. Caused some weird uneven wear in one of the shoes. All better now. Wheels spin super easy with no resistance, and spins for a long time. Made a difference getting this thing home I'm sure.
 






410Fortune

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hes like a brother from another mother! Good to see there are dudes like Pro Tech around......
I have ordered and installed so many of those trailer brake setups, we just take them out of the box and bolt them on.... not anymore! Now I am going to have to check them out. Thanks for the heads up!
 






gmanpaint

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So after this Co trip, I decided to go ahead and replace the Timbren axle units with the bigger beefier 6000# spindle versions. These just handle the bigger tires better with larger spindles, longer trailing arms, and bigger bushings. To make this happen, I had to call Timbren and work out the specifics between whats already on, and these bigger units.

My problem to overcome is the wheel centering. They can't move, as the fenders are integrated with the frame, and can't be moved. This means the spindle centers have to be located exactly where they reside now. The bigger units are 2-9/16" longer at the frame rail, and will have to be moved that distance forward to locate the spindle correctly. The 3 bolt holes are also spaced further apart. Sounds like no big deal at first, but there is a tube cross member in the way of the very most forward bolt to frame for these bigger units. I would have to change that bolt location on them, and possibly weld too.

The height change is only 1/16", so I'm good there, but the deflection is increased by 1". I'm cutting it close with the gap between the fenders and the tires as is under full compression already. Another 1/2" upswing might rub.

The added expense is the hard pill to swallow as the hubs, bigger brakes, and such are almost as much as these units cost. Then I either have to run conversion adapters for the current wheels, or buy all new wheels. Talking a couple grand here overall. Ouch.

Well, after explaining all this to Timbren, they said the units I currently have should handle it no problem, and I shouldn't have to change units. They said this last time, and sent me shims to correct the negative camber, and said if that doesn't work call them back. OK, so now after this inaugural trip was done, the negative camber is back. I told them that I just don't think the main pivot bushing can handle it, and adding more shims to longer bolts, is not the answer. They agreed, and gave me an alternative answer.

Free of charge, they are sending me the latest and greatest trailing arms, with improved Red poly pivot bushings. They admitted that the orange poly units are crap, and is why they changed them. So with the complete arm assembly, I just have to swap them out. As wonderful as this news is, there is a kicker tho.... They have to be torqued to 475 lbs!! Ooof! How the heck am I going to measure that out with a 6 foot cheater bar? LOL Not complaining, & a small price to pay for free replacements. I will figure it out somehow.

If these new bushings do not work, then I will upgrade to the bigger units. They also said that down the road, the black compression bags aren't enough, those too can be swapped for heavier units. so.. might be working on these same existing axles for some time to come still.

Overall this is good news to my back, and my wallet, but time will tell. It might just be delaying the inevitable.
 






Rick

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475ft lbs? How big is the freakin' bolt??:eek:
 






gmanpaint

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475ft lbs? How big is the freakin' bolt??:eek:

1" diameter! I don't even have a socket, or wrench big enough for them yet. lol

The big bolt that goes horizontal thru the trailing arms and pivot bushing. The three smaller bolts below, are 1/2" bolts with a 3/4" head.


Timbren ASR3500S06 install to frame.jpg


Pivot bushing.jpg
 






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That's great that they are working with you. I am going to remember that if I ever need trailer axles/parts. My RV wheel lugs have that same torque setting, 475 foot pounds. I tried to remove the lugs with a breaker bar and a long piece of pipe, jumping up and down on the pipe. All that happened is I bent the pipe, and the breaker bar at the stud.

A few months later, I purchased a Rigid 1/2" 18 volt cordless impact. Took about 10 seconds of full power to break each lug loose. I had to give the impact a break after half the lugs, but I got them off. The impact is rated at 620 foot pounds for loosening, 485 tightening. The tech who worked on the RV last must have air impacted the lugs on until the air gun stopped, well over the torque specs. I figured 485 was close enough, so I used the impact to tighten the lugs. Tightened until impact stopped, then bumped it a few times for good measure. Also means I can remove them with the same impact. I think you mentioned previously that you carry a cordless impact. Use that to install, then you won't have to worry about removing them in the future.
 






gmanpaint

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Yes, Timbren has been very good to deal with. Canadians are friendlier than we are when it comes to bizz. lol

I have done what your saying in the past trying to break free stuff. Torches come out eventually.

I have the Ridgid gen 4 18v 1/2" impact, and it only has 325 lbs tightening. I have been eyeballing the new octane units, but since the current one has done everything I need of it, and is still in perfect working order, I haven't replaced it.

I have air impacts that are much stronger, and should handle removal of a 475 lb nut, but it's getting the right spec out of them that I can't do. I guess like my uncle says, two grunts and a fart gets it close. :)
 






BKennedy

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I think your uncle is correct. When you get to those very high torque values, I am not sure how much it matters. My Dad always responded to me asking about torque setting with "Good-N-tight".
 






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Glad you were able to get some kind help and great service on the Colorado trip. But I am sure it was nothing you would have not done for someone else.

This trailer build looks fantastic. Mechanics and artistry combined.

Awesome!
 






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gmanpaint

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New trailing arms arrived last week. Been busy working on other projects and haven't got to this job yet. Looks like a full weekend job to do it. Well, for me at least. I tend to walk away and do other things and before I know it, time slipped away. :D

I can fit a soda can inside these pivot bushings. They are huge.

new timbren arms 1.jpg

new timbren arms 2.jpg


The Lock N Roll hitch decided make me work o it after the trip. On the trailer side, it has a horizontal pivot bolt on the end. Well, it was sticking pretty good, and didn't swivel freely like it did before the trip. I called the company on a Saturday, not really expecting anybody to answer, but by chance, the owner picked up. Was doing some catch up he said. Explained to him what was up, and he figured out I have the model before the latest. Mine doesn't have a grease zerk for the pivot bolt. so he mailed me a brand new bolt, and the machined steel bushing collar that goes with it. FREE! Said just to use anti seize on it, and if it sticks again, remove, clean, and slop it up again.

I also lost the 3/8" x 5" hitch pin somehow. I mean it just vanished into thin air. I asked him if he could sell me another, and he sent it with the bolt. FREE! I replaced it in about 5 mins.

New lock n roll pivot bolt.jpg


Trailer did all right last week, scoring all that shwag!
 






Rick

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Mechanics always seem to find wormholes into other dimensions. That's where all the 10mm sockets go.
 






CDW6212R

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Mechanics always seem to find wormholes into other dimensions. That's where all the 10mm sockets go.
My 10's took the 8's with them. Now I have several 8mm and 5/16" sockets, I bought half a dozen the last time I was at Sears.

That picture of the hitch pin is interesting. I'll have to get that kind, my new 73 Ranchero the prior owner installed a hitch, through the back bumper(where the license plate goes). Now I've bought a Cort hitch accessory, made for a plate. But the location of the pin hole is tight next to the bumper, a nice locking pin I got is too large for the clearance. So I have the plate just setting in the back window against the seat back.
 






410Fortune

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CDW6212R

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Did you know of this case Jamie? This fits that impact, and a 60v battery with it, I put it in my wish list;
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FY1Z3JQ/?tag=serious-20

I think I have "Hanks" little brother, 20v and brushless, but maybe 350lbft. I forgot, it's better than my other two prior C3 impacts. I like that the Dewalt slows the rpm's once the nut is loosened, that's nice.
 






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