Adventure trailer build thread. | Page 30 | 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 CVT 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 Solar charger
140 amp traveling vehicle charge, via smart charge isolater
Soon to come: 40 amp-500 watt DC-DC charger from alternator

Accessories:
4 season Ripstop CVT Mt Shasta Pioneer Stargazer RTT W/ 8'x6' Annex room - Cold weather hood, Secondary rain fly, telescopic ladder Open 56″wide x 132″long x 50″high.
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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Got busy today and did a little modification to the front cabins upper shelf. Needed to lift it 1.5" for a bit more room under it.

The shelf is a nice thick 14 ga, and doesn't need any center bracing, so lifting it on the sides made it easy (er).

It rests (bolted as well) on some 1.5" Angle that is welded to the box frame vertical posts. The easiest way I came up with changing the height, AND keeping the full length edge supports, was to simply add some full length 1.5" Sq Aluminum tubes.

Cut to length and clamped tight to the angles. Used the awesome Dewalt drill/tap/burr bits to make threaded bolt holes thru the shelf, into the 1/4" alum tubes. Stainless bolts to tighten it up. Same treatment underneath the angles, & thru the alum tubes, more SS bolts to secure it nicely.

Front shelf lifted.jpg


Had to relocate the LED pod under the shelf, to the front wall ( vert tube ), and relocate the 12v power acc outlet, to make more room underneath.

Front acc reworked.jpg


Came out very nice I think. Subtle change, and other than the paint scuff from the old light pod, can't even tell.
 




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Ok, this is part 2 to the last post.

The reason for the shelf lift, was to make room for the brand new, ICECO VL45 Fridge/Freezer.

I waited all year for the holiday sales to happen, and it paid off. I got this at a huge discount. Less than the smaller Whynter unit cost, after the savings were applied. Totally stoked over it. Merry frigging Ho Ho's.

This 12v/110v AC/DC unit uses the world famous DanFoss CECOP German made Compressor, it's used in ARB models, & other top performing units. 5 year full replacement warranty on it. It has 3 low level power cut off settings, to save a starting battery. Since I'm not worried about that on this trailer, I set it to the lowest, which is 11.1v. the amp draw is minimal, and the constant wattage is also very low consumption. The deep cycle 210 AH bank can run this fridge for days on end before needing any type of charge. The solar panel alone will keep it topped off while in use, so yeah, there's that. Of course that's all on paper, so we will see actual usage in the future. I am thinking of getting a small portable Lithium Jackery 500 charge box, for those days that the solar charge isn't an option, for a backup. One of those will run this fridge, for over 2 days (give or take outside temp fluctuations), on a single charge.

The slide out base was the perfect fit for this unit. I maxed it out, side to side, and in length. There is a nice gap between the strap tie down loops, that I'm comfortable with. If I went any bigger, those strap points would need removed, and fitted to the sides of the base table. so yes, there is still an option to go bigger if wanted in the future.

The soft shell cover (very nice cover at that), is kind of thick, and there is only a small gap between it and the shelf. W/o the cover, there is a 1/2" gap.

Iceco top clearing shelf.jpg


Pulled out

Iceco profile extended.jpg


Opened up

Iceco opened front.jpg

Iceco opened side.jpg


The rear protection wall still doing it's job

Iceco rear installed.jpg


Strapped up with HD straps, base slider closed up, and in stored travel position

Iceco final fit.jpg


With this additional unit, the other smaller 37L unit can stay in the tow rig, and between both units, no more Ice will be needed, the big Heavy 50 qt roto-mold cooler can stay at home, and not break my back anymore. I had to remove the 37 from the tow rig, swap it with the roto cooler in this trailer when setting camp. PITA!

With Old Man winter here, and full jugs of heating fuel, my focus will be shifting to a major mod over the the next few months time. I purchased 90% of the fab metal needed already. Now to save for the parts! lol

Happy Holidays Y'all!
 




gmanpaint

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Foo Foo Post...

When I took this trailer camping at an off road park, they had RV service. I waited to fill the water tank until I arrived for less travel weight. It was already dark out when I arrived, and there was no light at the water fill. People were filing behind me to fill up, and I was trying to hurry up. Well, it was so dark, and the trailer was packed with gear, making it difficult to find the inline vent valve (closed during travel in case of a roll over), to open it. I tried to fill the tank with it closed, and made a mess. It took maybe 5 gals before it burped back out the fill port. More people was getting in line, and I said screw it, and stopped trying. Frustrated over this, I decided to do something someday, to help me see the pump area better.

I forgot I had a couple of low output accent LED light strips. I stumbled upon them today while hunting down something else. Quickly jumped projects, and installed these. It's just crazy how some of these little jobs can eat time, like a black hole devours all life around it. Over 3 hours later, these simple little lights was finally installed. They are on the same circuit, as the rest of the interior led lights. They put out just enough light, to make it easy to see everything involved with the pump, at a glance.


LED pump lights.jpg



Happy Holidays, and Merry Foo Foo to all.
 




gmanpaint

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After the camping trip with this trailer, and using the 56" Four season CVT tent with the annex room for the first time, I quickly realized that the tent is too small for more than one person, unless your with a significant partner. It's plenty long when opened at 96", but it is only 56" wide. This means you can only lay one direction, and 2 people side by side that's only a little over 2 feet of space each. That's fine if If you rely on the annex room for another person with a cot, but not if you want to use the annex room for other things, like a couple chairs/table, etc...

So I met someone on that trip, which was actually an overlanding meet, and had around 50 others with different trailers and RTT's. they had just purchased a new RTT for them, and 2 kids. We was all checking each others setups, and I really liked the RTT they had. It was a 4+ person Four season 72" 23Zero Walkabout with light shade technology that kept the inside black as night, and had dimming LED lights, with a nice big annex room (sold separately). They had outfitted it with every optional accessory available. Total cost was a few hundred more than the CVT I bought.

Well, a few months later, and I seen a post they made, that they bought an even nicer unit, and was selling the 72" walkabout. I jumped on it, as they was only asking half the purchase price, and it was still in new condition being 6 months old, and hardly used.

Opened up, it has a California King 3" high dense mattress with built in anti condensation mat under it. (72" x 96") With this size, you can lay either direction, and gives plenty of room for 2 or 3 adults, plus room for clothing, bedding etc....
Annex room is huge compared to the current CVT room.
Comes with the telescoping/locking rung ladder, 2 hanging shoe bags, and the bigger cover to keep bedding inside when folded up/stowed.
Best part, it is the same weight as the smaller CVT unit. CVT units are bulky, but very well made with HD construction, and HD ripstop materials. Great units, this one was just too small for my liking. I will sell it for a loss. Someone will get one hell of a good RTT that was only used once, and still looks like it came out of the box.

I will swap them out in a couple of weeks. Heading to the Mexico / AZ border next week, to escape this brutal below zero cold wave currently upon me. Need to move the solar panel outward for this tent, and will take a bit of doing. Other than that, the roof rack is made for up to 72" without any overhang.

Couple of pics stolen from the 23Zero website. The ladder I have is not the same ladder shown, that's the slide style. The rain fly is removable, and has full size skylights that open with screens. Lot's of cool extras on the inside too.

72 walkabout w annex front view.jpg
72 walkabout wo annex underside view.jpg



Features​

  • California King Bed – 72” x 96” Sleeping Area
  • Fits any larger size vehicle with the appropriate roof rack
  • 280GSM Ripstop polycotton canvas
  • 3” Thick Sleep Comfort Rebound Mattress with a cotton top and waterproof base to provide maximum sleeping comfort, insulate the tent from the cold and eliminate the need for a condensation mat
  • Skyview panels allowing you to control the light that comes in and stargaze at night
  • Built for quick and easy set up and pack down
  • All metal moving parts delivers strength and durability while keeping weight down
  • Available Interior cold weather lining
 




BKennedy

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One of the few things to come out of this overlanding craze is all the cool new stuff being marketed. That's a class A RV of tents. There are Tacoma's and 4Runners all over this area with everything you could ever bolt onto them, including RTT's. They mostly look too clean to be actually used in the dirt though.

Without a trailer, those RTT's are not practical for me as I would have it on the roof of the Explorer and would have to completely pack up to leave base camp. However, I noticed while up in the Sierra's that sometimes there is not a lot of open ground for tents in places so a RTT would be handy at times.
 




gmanpaint

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Yeah, Becoming more popular by the day here in the states. I said a few years ago, that the overlanding thing would take off, and become very popular. Not many believed me, and couldn't see it. The equipment used for this has been popular in S Africa, and AUS for years, before it was here. It wasn't until a few small companies here, started to import and sell those products, paving the way for items to be made locally, reducing costs. This stuff became popular, and in demand, and the prices shot up, negating the savings intended in the first place. LOL The American way! Kind of like all the Dr's & Lawyers buying Harley's, and high end RV's, but now fancy stuff lower income consumers could afford. It's an in between thing of poor mans camping, and rich mans glamping. Huge gap to fill, and smart people seen that. Look at Smittybuilt, they took notice of it. A huge Chinese corporation manufacturing tons of cheaper gear dedicated to this market. That says something about this overlanding. Fad or here to stay? Time will tell, but I think it's here to stay.

As far as the RTT for the rig goes..... Once your used to operating them, they can be set up & put away in minutes. This 23Zero is known for fast times the way they made it, with 5 min setup and packing. The CVt takes me a bit longer, but not much. The annex takes the most time.

It's all the little extra stuff that takes additional time. The rear cargo setups are popular because of the set & pack times. Chairs, shower stalls, water heaters, and the likes are what eat up time, and make it a chore. The less you have the faster the times, or the better those items are incorporated into the rig, the easier/faster the times are for camping. There are people that live full time out of a fully equipped overlander, and move daily. Not for me, but it is doable with minimum effort, if....... you have the cash!! Main reason I make as much as I can myself. lol

I have tried (still trying) to set up my gear, so that I can camp comfortably with or without this trailer. I have a trip being planned the end of May in the Kentucky national forest trail system, that I can't use the trailer. The rig is pretty much setup for it as is, just have to use a ground tent. I could install the smaller CVT tent to the rig, but that means removing the new adventure rack. Not willing to do that, so it's going up for sale.
 




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Trailer has sat in the shop all winter. Hoping to get it out a few times before next winter. LOL

The larger 73" 23Zero RTT has been installed. Sits on 4 cross members, and bolted to 3 of them.

As mentioned before, the extra length of the RTT ( matches the length of the cabin) up front, made me remake the existing sliding solar panel setup.
I got that all done. Made a complete new frame, and longer HD Locking 250# slides. It now extends out far enough (a couple inches extra actually), to clear the RTT and tilt when in use. That took way longer than expected, but doesn't everything?

I also changed my mind on the rear cabin storage use, and setup. I removed the custom kitchen completely. Going to build a new box for it to reside in, and put it up for sale. It will be able to fit in the back of an SUV or another trailer. Trailer lost over 100 lbs of weight.

I had enough left over HD exterior carpet from the top shelf, and used it on the lower flooring. Added 6 single E-track mounts, and fit everything (and more) inside 2 IP65 storage bins. I gained a lot of cubic SF doing this. The walls for the tail lights are 7" wide each. The old kitchen box was as wide as the door opening, meaning I lost all that interior space. I have enough room for not only the 2 large bins, but also room for the Instant hot water heater case, all the small tool bags, and then some. That's only the lower section. I still have the upper shelf for tables, chairs, etc... I added more shelving brackets to the box frame for additional support, since the box walls are no longer there to help.

Was going to take it out this weekend for another wheeling trip, but the weather turned to crap on us. Rain to snow, snow to rain, rain to more snow, and temps in the 20's. Blech, not for me. I can do snow, I can do rain, I just can't do cold rain. (I'm old)

I will get pics of the new setup and share after the next outing. These shop pictures are just depressing. lol
 




gmanpaint

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Had to wait until my return from Moab UT, and after I got caught up at work, to work on this little project.

Remember the last post? No? Ok, a Recap...

I removed the rear custom chuck box from this trailer, to open it up for more room that was lost due to the rear wall / tail light design. Well, that left me what to do with the chuck box.

I decided to work on it some, so I can sell it. It didn't have a lid, as the top was a bolt on divider shelf in the cabin. It also didn't have a box of it's own, as it was affixed to 2 sidewalls with sliders. I made a Top for it, and removed the exterior slides. Now it is a usable chuck box, and the new owner can choose how to mount it. Either with bolts to the floorboard, install strap rings to affix it to floor mounted rings, or use some 2-3" angle and use slides to pull the entire box out, like it was in this trailer. Felt it best to do this, to give the new owner options.

Left side is the multi function slide out drawers, and a sold fixed top over it. Right side is the storage area, with a hinged lid for easy access. Used the same Red Mahogany stain as the drawer fronts, but came out a bit darker. Sealed, and 3 heavy coats of Satin Poly to finish it off. Metal corner guards on the front as a little fluff for it.

I know what I have in materials for it, I know how much time was spent on it, but haven't a clue what to ask for it yet. I will dress it up with the misc items, such as grill, utensils, sink, strainer, paper towel holder, tool basket, BBQ tool hangers, etc... and wait for the sun to return for sales ad pics.

Here it is in the garage, ready to be gussied up with the fluff items. Kind of sad to actually sell it, as I am pretty proud of it, but it should make the right person, very happy.


CB.jpg
CB 2.jpg
CB 3.jpg
CB 4.jpg
CB 5.jpg
CB 6.jpg
CB 7.jpg
CB 8.jpg
 




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Had to wait until my return from Moab UT, and after I got caught up at work, to work on this little project.

Remember the last post? No? Ok, a Recap...

I removed the rear custom chuck box from this trailer, to open it up for more room that was lost due to the rear wall / tail light design. Well, that left me what to do with the chuck box.

I decided to work on it some, so I can sell it. It didn't have a lid, as the top was a bolt on divider shelf in the cabin. It also didn't have a box of it's own, as it was affixed to 2 sidewalls with sliders. I made a Top for it, and removed the exterior slides. Now it is a usable chuck box, and the new owner can choose how to mount it. Either with bolts to the floorboard, install strap rings to affix it to floor mounted rings, or use some 2-3" angle and use slides to pull the entire box out, like it was in this trailer. Felt it best to do this, to give the new owner options.

Left side is the multi function slide out drawers, and a sold fixed top over it. Right side is the storage area, with a hinged lid for easy access. Used the same Red Mahogany stain as the drawer fronts, but came out a bit darker. Sealed, and 3 heavy coats of Satin Poly to finish it off. Metal corner guards on the front as a little fluff for it.

I know what I have in materials for it, I know how much time was spent on it, but haven't a clue what to ask for it yet. I will dress it up with the misc items, such as grill, utensils, sink, strainer, paper towel holder, tool basket, BBQ tool hangers, etc... and wait for the sun to return for sales ad pics.

Here it is in the garage, ready to be gussied up with the fluff items. Kind of sad to actually sell it, as I am pretty proud of it, but it should make the right person, very happy.


View attachment 331358View attachment 331359View attachment 331360View attachment 331361View attachment 331362View attachment 331364View attachment 331365View attachment 331366
That looks really nice G, too bad it has to go
 




gmanpaint

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Thanks J! I no longer have a need for it, and it is taking up much needed space.

Set it up over the weekend in the drive, for ad pics. Not the best place to do it, but it is, what it is.

Figured I would share it here just for memories sake down the road.

1st pull lid closed.

OS 3.jpg


Lid opened

OS 4.jpg


2nd pull open

OS 5.jpg

OS 6.jpg


3rd pull open

OS 7.jpg



112.00" Long!
OS 8.jpg


Silverware tray closed and opened

OS 9.jpg

OS 10.jpg



Besides the items in the utensil drawer, the collapsable sink, and the grill staying where they sit.....Everything else shown fits neatly inside the storage area on the right, with plenty of room left.

OS 2.jpg


I did add another Bear proof Yeti latch to the upper drawer face. Looked odd with just one on the lower drawer. These are used while in transport for added security, in case of a hard jarring hit, such as an accident that could force a lift/pull latch failure. Looks better now I think.
 




traveler

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Man, I'd like to have that IN my camper! LoL

Very nice
 








gmanpaint

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Had a Carling rocker switch fall apart on the main control panel. Had to remove the panel completely, to get the switch out.

It is a 10 gang panel, with 10 circuit breakers, aux cig socket, and a battery meter. It was also directly hard wired in. Clearly a builder error, doing it that way... Clearly.

After removing each power/ground wire off, and marking them as I went, it was freed from it's captor. Once on a work table, I found that half the switches was going to fail in the near future. These switches retaining tabs were crap, and once one (of 2) of them gives, the switch separates the back from the front under the pressure of 4 little internal springs.
Now I had no choice but to rebuild the entire panel with all new switches. OOOF!

Panel rear broken switches.jpg


A closer inspect of these switches revealed that 8 of them was traditional 5 pin. Both the main power switches was 6 pins. Well, let me tell you, finding a 6 pin single throw Carling rocker switch was impossible. All I could find in a 6 pin carliing, was On/Off/On double throws, and momentary at that. Great for an in-cab winch controller, but not for this application.

Decided to figure this wiring out, and come up with a solution to those 6 pins. These have dual lights, just like the 5 pins have. The 5 pins have two grounds, and 3 hots. These 6 pins have 5 hots, and 1 ground. The "running" lights are on full time (panel has a main disco switch), and the 2nd lower light comes on, when switch is on. OK, I don't need the running lights, so... lets eliminate that. That means only need 1 ground, 1 power in, and 1 power out. Bam! A 3 pin switch will work! Now what to do with the extra 3 hot wires? Turns out after figuring out what wire does what, and hooking up the 3 pin, those extra 3 hot wires are all inline, and don't matter if they stay or go. I just left them, and capped them all off. Never know, might need them down the road. (says every hoarding old man in the world)

Replaced all 8 blue led switches with new / better Rockers, and the 2 main Rockers, are now Green Led's.

To correct the builder error in hard wiring this spaghetti mess, Disconnect harness was made for everything. The entire thing was gone thru. Each wire removed/replaced and added onto. Using matching 10 AWG SAE connectors, each SAE runs 2 switches. 10 switches = 5 SAE connectors. 5- 2 wire SAE connectors = 20 ends to connect, 10 to the panel, 10 to the trailer box. The low voltage draw Battery meter and the V/A Meter both got 2 wire, 16 awg connectors of their own. Now the entire panel can be removed by simple discos. Each and every harness got numbered, and each wire got color coded, and numbered, on printed tags for each wire. No confusing what is what, and what goes where now.

Panel rebuilt.jpg


T Box panel harness.jpg


Installed and back to working order.

Panel rebuilt and installed.jpg


That was not fun for someone who has mental blocks when it comes to wiring. Having 72 wire connections all crammed up in a small space was daunting, and somewhat frightening to look at. Once again, after realizing the things I managed to accomplish in life once I put my silly fears aside, and just dig into it, I managed just fine. I mean, watching my 3 yr old grand daughter, work an Iphone as easy as breathing, and telling me I can do anything, I really had no choice but to agree with her. (no, I did not tell her how long it took me either)
 




gmanpaint

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Went wheeling over the weekend with @KurtECV & his son. 3 full days away from the daily stressful grind. I needed this in a bad way. I was feeling a mess, and had to step away from everything eating at me. This is my kind of therapy!

Just some chill wheeling time, with some camping, using the trailer. It ran 7 miles of washboard trail on the way there. Between the rigs incredible suspension made for this, and the trailers independent axles, along with nice big 35" MTR's, it felt like a normal road the entire time. Only real difference is that Six 35's, kick up way more dust than Four! 🤣

BH & LSX at Smorr.jpg


I Finally got to use the new 23Zero RTT. Set's up a bit different then the CVT did. Cover is a bit larger, so it made it easier to close up. I was able to leave the bedding inside, which is a bonus. The bad was the ladder. It has to be fully extended, or it will compress down as you stand on it. That's not a good thing, as it helps support half of the tent when opened. No choice but to fully deploy it, and kick it out further than I like. Other than that, it's 3" king size mattress is super comfy, and the black out lining is amazing. Pitch black inside at high noon, with windows/skylights zipped up. Had an LED light bar inside it thank goodness. Bonus was the two big shoe bags, that hold your stinky camp shoes and socks OUTSIDE. lol I used them both. Simple thing, that makes tent life easier.
For this trip, I didn't set up the annex room. I did use the dual power Ridgid shop fan. It started out as a warm 90* humid night, and it helped big time. By 2am, the temps dropped to 65, and I had to turn the fan off, and close the windows halfway.

Camp 8_07_21.jpg


Set up the instant hot shower system, and it works flawlessly.

Inst hot water setup.jpg


The big Cabella's shower stall is awesome. A bit hard to figure out setting up the first time, but once figured out, it will be cake next time. In the travel bag, it's about the size of a large camp chair in it's bag. Has a high hose zippered entry port, and two different shower head holders. Light hook, waterproof pockets for shower stuffs, a nice thick center pad to stand on, with drain mesh all around. Super heavy duty rain fly, that looks like it will outlast the entire stall. Exterior has a place to hang a bag for clothes, and a bath towel. Awesome purchase!

Camp Shower stall.jpg


After we was done wheeling, I emptied the water tank by washing the trail mud off the rig. Amazed at the pressure this pump kicks out. LOL

The new ICECO fridge worked killer too. I charged the battery bank fully before we left home. 12.7 volts was the readout at 10am Friday. I ran the fridge overnight to cool it off, and packed it FULL, with cold drinks and food. It ran until Sunday night around 7pm, and read 12.3 volts.
I only used the solar panel on Saturday, from 7am til 6pm. We used other powered sources off the 210ah bank all weekend long. Rock lights was always on at night, and others used during setup, etc... It has a high/med/low battery setting for auto shutoff.
It never came close to shutting down on the high setting. Low is 11.1 volts. I call that a big win.

After we broke camp, we decided to take a short video of the rig pulling the trailer over some offset flex n stuff bumps.
This is fully loaded, ready to hit the road when filmed.

 




gmanpaint

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Went down to New Orleans last weekend with @KurtECV to deliver some Hurricane relief supplies, to a family in dire need.
I was able to get a local Veterans charity to donate some goods, and one of the things they had, they gave me, for helping an Air Force Retiree.

I had a fundraiser that raised enough money to purchase a brand new 9000w whole house Generator. Kurt bought a new A/C window unit, and I purchased the many other items needed to repair the wind damaged home, clothing, emergency supplies, and more. We delivered these items and returned home in 35 hours. 1600 miles, over 100 gals of fuel, and 23 hours of driving. Was an adventure to say the least. To understand exactly what these people are going thru, you just have to see the extent of the damages first hand. The aftermath of the storm, is worse than the storm. No power, water fed by electric pumps, and very limited supplies to be found. Waiting in line for hours on end for anything, and limits on what you can buy, 100* temps and flooding waters, is making people drop like flies. Sad deal, and the lack of support they have right now, is heart wrenching.

Anyways.... This little Flashfish power supply is called a Portable Generator. Inside there is a 250w Lithium battery (800 x charge cycle), built in MPTT, with 40 amp hours. It has a pure sine wave output, and can be charged by Solar panels (60w+), 110v brick supply, and 12v feed from the vehicle or other 12v source. All encased in an impact resistant case. About half the costs of a Jackery / Blueti unit, and 1/4 the price of a Goal Zero. It is very light weight for a 40Ah battery. One of the dual House 105Ah MAGM batteries on the trailer, is around 70 lbs. This is around 7 lbs.

With 2 110v outs, 2 DC outs, 3 USB out ports, it will supply power to most of my AC or DC items on the trailer. it even comes with a USB light stick. I will use it to supply power inside the tent at night, to charge phones, laptops, & tablets. It will also serve as a backup to run the ICECO Fridge in the event the house batteries get to low. It is not strong enough to run anything higher than 250w, like something with a heat source. Need a 1500w, 2000w unit for that use. Big bucks!

I was wanting a portable folding suitcase solar panel to assist the mounted panel, but now I really need one to use for this thing. There are many out there, but I am still liking the Renogy Moncrystalline 100w portable setup. It's on the List! lol

250w portable Gen.jpg
 




kmack

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Went down to New Orleans last weekend with @KurtECV to deliver some Hurricane relief supplies, to a family in dire need.
I was able to get a local Veterans charity to donate some goods, and one of the things they had, they gave me, for helping an Air Force Retiree.
That's so awesome of you both. Thank you for your contributions to those in need!
 




gmanpaint

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After 2 years of waiting, it happened! Woo! 💪

To jog some memories, I wanted a certain high grade Medical grade LifePo4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery, made by Valence. These 40 Ah Valence RT series Units, are made for Demanding Hospitals used in Crash carts and the likes. They have the best of everything inside them, including an amazing BMS (Battery management system) built in. New, they are over $1,200.00 / Ea. Nope, can't do that! lol Someone on the upper East coast, had 100 of these, and made a simple listing on FB. It was on an overland page of all places. he was one himself, and wanted to share with that group. He sold them for $140/ea. (Still has some I think) I jumped on them!

These hospital units must be changed out for new units periodically, regardless if used or not. Even if they have been used, they are seldom used. They can be discharged down to 2.45V before self cut off, and fully charged fully in two hours, hundreds of times. They have a 94% charge capacity rate when changed out for new. This is rare in the Battery world. The contractors that are used to do these swaps, will do an entire hospital at once. This can be a dozen or hundreds of units. 90% of them get returned to the manufacturer. The 10% tend to sell them cheap, to make some side Cash. Pricing can be all over the place. I have been seeing them on Ebay now & then for $350. I have heard stories of them being sold as low as $75. I watched a video of a homesteader who used these for his massive solar system, and he had dozens of these, in four /ea banks. Said he got them for $10/ea!

The BMS ( circuit board with everything plus the sink) has 8 individual temp sensors around the cells. It regulates voltage in/out, and keeps these units cool, no matter the discharge rate. This also allows the voltage output to stay the same ( 13.4v ), until drained. Unlike an AGM, that loses voltage as it is being discharged. They can handle up to 550 Watts each, and 40 amps for 1 hour straight, and can give up to 80 amps for up to 30 seconds.

These batteries are small, and weigh in at 13 lbs, and are about the same size as a 6V golf cart battery. They can be ran in Parallel or series, and are link-able to each other, via the BMS cable connectors. These connectors can also be used to connect a PC/laptop for diagnostics, and for programming. Yep, they have a built in tuner. You can tweak the settings for power cut off's, temp cut off, charge intake, power out, put them to sleep, and more. Crazy! Built in Led light for Battery status viewing. Green=Normal, Yellow= an indication, Red=Fault, None=Severely over discharged. It blinks green every 5 seconds when is awake and active, and once every 20 seconds when in park and shelf mode. In shelf mode, it can sit for 12 months and stay fully charged. The BMS on these will allow them to be float charged. 20A or less is required (which is huge for this type of battery), Float charger has to stay between 13.8V -14.6V. and the BMS will continue to balance them when in series or parallel. This means a good high voltage AGM charger can be used. A normal Lithium Ion battery has to be shut off 100% once charged, and can't use a tender charger that continues to pulse charge, once full.

So anyways, if your still here..... I bought two of these, and received them in 3 days. Packed in a foam lined box, and in perfect condition. Seller emailed me a .pdf manual even.
I didn't wait long, I am about 90% done with a build project for these. ⚡😲⚡

Here they are connected in Parallel with the BMS hooked up to each other. They will sit like this until tomorrow. The BMS is Cell balancing them in sync with each other. Takes about 10-12 hours. One was a couple 10ths of a volt different then the other. Should be exactly the same by tomorrow morning. Once that is done, I will hook up the 14.6V charger, and read the charge status, of them. I will fully charge both separate. Once fully charged, they go back to the Parallel hookup, and ready for use.

Two of these are smaller than a group 27 battery, and half the weight of an AGM. These will provide 80Ah's of constant voltage, and can handle 1100 Watts at a constant.
The loose port cables will stay just like that, but I just found out that Valence sells a Led monitor that hooks up to these for a simple visual, of capacity monitoring. might get one, depending on price. I really do not have a want or need to buy the PC connector to tune them either. 😂

Valence RT syncing.jpg


I will share the build project, that these will be used to power soon!
 




CDW6212R

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Very nice, and what are the dimensions of them, also the width as you have two paired? Can they be used in an older car(1973) with a typical 50-75amp alternator, for the main 12v battery? I have my 73 Ranchero that takes a 24F battery, and it has an old Optima in it now, likely to die soon. I don't like the 24F size and I'd like to change that to a common group 65 etc, or something like the LiFePo4 batteries.

So can those be charged with a car alternator, and which kinds of battery chargers? I have an Optimate 7 charger that is made for both normal and AGM(14.7) batteries. Can they be trickle charged and are you charging them separately initially, or is that required always?
 


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gmanpaint

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Don, these are house batteries, that will be used to power accessories/appliances. They are not starting batteries with high CCA. There is only one brand that I know of that has a LifePo4 starting battery, and that is Dakota Lithium. They are new to the market, and are very expensive.

I am charging them individually to bring them both up to full status, before pairing them, so that the BMS can be brought out of shelf mode. After this, I will charge them both at the same time once installed. I mentioned in the last post that these units can be float charged, because of the BMS in it, can manage it properly. Not all Lithium's can be. There is Lithium Ion, and Lithium Iron Phosphate (LifePo4). They sound the same, but they aren't the same.

As far as size goes, they are 7.5"H x 7.5"D x 5"W. Two as I have them are 7.5"H x 7.5"D x 10"W

Here is a break down of these units from Will. This kid knows his stuff!

First time inspection and testing:


Tear down inspection:

 




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