Convert a camping trailer into a utility trailer? | Ford Explorer - Ford Ranger Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free! This box and some ads will disappear once registered!

Convert a camping trailer into a utility trailer?

DeRocha

NEX Vice President
Elite Explorer
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
July 5, 2003
Messages
6,671
Reaction score
42
City, State
Brockton, MA
Year, Model & Trim Level
'93 XLT 4x4
Converting a camping trailer into a utility trailer (pics).

I was wondering if an old pop up camping trailer would make a descent utility trailer? Frame Specs: 6'x9', GW 1500lbs, 5.70-8 tires (4 on 4 rims). The trailer has been sitting dormant for 20 yrs. The wheels spin freely, but need to be replaced as the tires have dry rotted and the rims have rusted through (they were buried under 3" of soil). Anyway the frame doesn't look too bad, and I would just be removing the camper part and junking it. The only real question I have is with the suspension system. Instead of an axle there is a spindle for each wheel (it Doesn't have any leaf springs). Is this setup ok?

If this is workable, I would then get some new wheels, tow it 2 miles to my house and then tear off the camper part. I would sandblast the entire frame and weld up additional support bracing. I would use some marine plywood for decking and add some new lighting...
 
<

Join the Elite Explorers $20 Gets rid of the ads!

Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links, can add their own profile photo, upload photo attachments in all forums, and Media Gallery, create and save more private conversations, and more. Join Today. Your support is greatly appreciated.




V8BoatBuilder

Transplanted Bostonian
Joined
November 4, 2002
Messages
3,413
Reaction score
3
City, State
East Brunswick, NJ
Year, Model & Trim Level
97 Mountaineer V8 4x4
If the frame is ok, it would work.... But, is it worth it? When you factor in tires/wheels ($30/ea), lights($20), deck and supports ($40), paint ($40); you could probubly just get a used, legit trailer for the same.
 
<



DeRocha

NEX Vice President
Elite Explorer
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
July 5, 2003
Messages
6,671
Reaction score
42
City, State
Brockton, MA
Year, Model & Trim Level
'93 XLT 4x4
You are correct Aaron. It'll take about $150 to get it back on it's feet. On the plus side the trailer is 6x9 instead of 4x8. And it will give me a chance to improve my welding skills.
 
<



Hokie

Hokius Maximus
Joined
December 14, 2002
Messages
5,494
Reaction score
3
City, State
Denver, CO
Year, Model & Trim Level
'98 TJ Sport
DeRocha said:
You are correct Aaron. It'll take about $150 to get it back on it's feet. On the plus side the trailer is 6x9 instead of 4x8. And it will give me a chance to improve my welding skills.

dad and i turned a wimpy garden dump trailer into a hoss that will haul 1.5 yards^3 of mulch without sagging the springs

cut out the old axle, widened a leaf sprung solid drop axle from a dodge '86 caravan that we got for peanuts at a junkyard, bought some 3500 trailer leaf springs and welded everything up.

The advantage, a strong automotive axle with 15" wheels (used or no name passenger car 15" tires can be bought for next to nothing from a junkyard) and parts (wheel bearings) that can be bought cheap at AutoZone and you can pick any load rated spring you want. Also, with full sized tires, we don't have to worry about tow speeds (the little donuts that were on the trailer would get really hot above 55mph) ~ we have hauled loads from Iowa to Virginia with this bad boy behind dad's Mounty
 
<



Eddie X

Active Member
Joined
May 30, 2002
Messages
70
Reaction score
0
City, State
Nebraska
Year, Model & Trim Level
'98 Sport
If you can get it cheap, sounds good. Remember that most utlity trailers with 5 bolt rims are the same pattern as explorer/rangers, so I used my stock rims and tires for the trailer after I got new rims. My was an old rusty boat trailer. $50 and I cut it down to 4x8.
 
<



DeRocha

NEX Vice President
Elite Explorer
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
July 5, 2003
Messages
6,671
Reaction score
42
City, State
Brockton, MA
Year, Model & Trim Level
'93 XLT 4x4
Thanks for the info guys. I really like Hokie's real axle swap, but since I need to pick up two 5.70-8 trailer wheels just to be able to tow this thing home I'll probably run the small tires for a while :eek:. BTW the trailer cost $50 and the recycle yard will take the camper part for $30...
 
<



DeRocha

NEX Vice President
Elite Explorer
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
July 5, 2003
Messages
6,671
Reaction score
42
City, State
Brockton, MA
Year, Model & Trim Level
'93 XLT 4x4
Time for an update and some pics. I slapped on some new wheels and towed it home. I would have thought the camper shell would have been bolted to the frame, but I was wrong. The plywood floor was secured to the frame with 50 self tapping screws. I tried to access them from inside the camper, but I would have had to remove the linoleum floor first (I tried but it was a pita). I ended up jacking the camper up and cut off the screws from underneath with an angle grinder. I then used my air hammer to pop the remaining screws back up through the plywood. Once separated I slid some planks under the camper shell and lifted the camper off the frame.

18205Camper_frame_WEB-med.jpg


Sandblasting the frame
18205Sandblasting_frame_WEB-med.jpg


The frame was ok, but I welded 1 1/4" angle inside both rear frame rails to help beef them up.
18205Frame_Rail_2_WEB-med.jpg
 
<



Maniak

Moderator-Stock 91-94
Elite Explorer
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
February 9, 1999
Messages
12,064
Reaction score
124
City, State
Vail, Arizona
Year, Model & Trim Level
1992 XLT 4x4
Thats what a Friend of mine did.. He put expanded metal on the bottom and sides to make it an ATV trailer (holds 3 plus stuff)..

the only thing he "hates" about it. is the small tires.. With small tires/rims the axle drags on the ground very easily (when he's not on the road.. which is possible when your going to play with ATVs).

Other than the small tires.. the thing has been great.. (we even moved a car on it a few miles in a pinch)..

~Mark
 
<



V8BoatBuilder

Transplanted Bostonian
Joined
November 4, 2002
Messages
3,413
Reaction score
3
City, State
East Brunswick, NJ
Year, Model & Trim Level
97 Mountaineer V8 4x4
You can easily upgrade to 12" tall tires for the trailer - I have them on my boat trailer and they make an amazing difference.
 
<



DeRocha

NEX Vice President
Elite Explorer
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
July 5, 2003
Messages
6,671
Reaction score
42
City, State
Brockton, MA
Year, Model & Trim Level
'93 XLT 4x4
I debated with myself for several days trying to decide if I should cut off the front outriggers and just make the bed 4'x9' bed. I decided to keep them and fab rear outriggers to keep a 6x9' bed. The following pics show the outriggers getting fabricated:
18205Outrigger_1_WEB-med.jpg


Outrigger support bracket.
18205Outrigger_support_WEB-med.jpg


18205Outrigger_support_2_WEB-med.jpg


Completed outrigger.
18205Outrigger_WEB-med.jpg
 
<



DeRocha

NEX Vice President
Elite Explorer
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
July 5, 2003
Messages
6,671
Reaction score
42
City, State
Brockton, MA
Year, Model & Trim Level
'93 XLT 4x4
V8BoatBuilder said:
You can easily upgrade to 12" tall tires for the trailer - I have them on my boat trailer and they make an amazing difference.

I never had a trailer before and don't really know what to expect. I'm thinking that if it becomes an issue then I would follow Hokie's advice and slap on a real car axle w/ leaf springs.

Maniak - I definitely won't be overloading it. I was at Home Depot the other day and saw 2 separate work vehicles towing small 4x8 trailers. Both of the trailers had severely bent frame rails from obvious overloading.

I plan on boxing in the whole trailer (2' high). This will require me to fab up wheel wells and other goodies.
 
<



99SportX

Explorer Addict
Joined
May 14, 2003
Messages
2,016
Reaction score
23
City, State
Duluth, MN
Year, Model & Trim Level
1999 Ex & Mounty
Looks like a fun project.
 
<



N7XME

Active Member
Joined
May 7, 2002
Messages
94
Reaction score
1
City, State
Vancouver, WA
Year, Model & Trim Level
94 LTD
Most of the popup camp trailers were rated for 1500-2000#. I have one and the axle is rated for 2200#. Good luck with your project.
 
<



DeRocha

NEX Vice President
Elite Explorer
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
July 5, 2003
Messages
6,671
Reaction score
42
City, State
Brockton, MA
Year, Model & Trim Level
'93 XLT 4x4
I want to use plywood for the decking and am thinking of using 3/4" pressure treated stuff ($33 / 4x8 sheet). Anyone have any better thoughts? A few people suggested exgterior plywood with heavy duty paint but I don't want to replace the deck after a few years. In any case I'm going to rip 2 sheets down to 3'x8' and install them left and right of the center line. To support this layout I added 1.5 x 1/8 channel down the center line with parallel 1 1/2 angle supports on the sides as pictured below:
18205Beefing_up_frame_WEB-med.jpg
 
<



Maniak

Moderator-Stock 91-94
Elite Explorer
Moderator Emeritus
Joined
February 9, 1999
Messages
12,064
Reaction score
124
City, State
Vail, Arizona
Year, Model & Trim Level
1992 XLT 4x4
Why not use 2x8's (or 2x12's) as planks instead of sheet wood?.. they will be stronger than plywood and if you do need to replace one, its only one or 2 pieces instead of an entire sheet.. They also won't expand when water sits on it (which happens on most sheet wood).

~Mark
 
<



Hokie

Hokius Maximus
Joined
December 14, 2002
Messages
5,494
Reaction score
3
City, State
Denver, CO
Year, Model & Trim Level
'98 TJ Sport
DeRocha said:
Thanks for the info guys. I really like Hokie's real axle swap, but since I need to pick up two 5.70-8 trailer wheels just to be able to tow this thing home I'll probably run the small tires for a while :eek:. BTW the trailer cost $50 and the recycle yard will take the camper part for $30...

Just a note of clarification on that rear axle dad and I used... It was of a FWD Caravan, so widening the axle was a piece of cake b/c we just welded a nice piece of 3" tube to make up the width that we needed
 
<



Broccoli1

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 7, 2002
Messages
890
Reaction score
0
City, State
Los Angeles CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
Explorer '93 xlt
DeRocha, you don't want to use any plywood for the deck if it's going to be exposed. As Maniak mentioned plywood will eventually start coming apart from all of the expanding and contracting it goes through. Get pressure treated 2x6,8 and then put on a good coat of marine varnish and it will last much longer.
 
<



Brian_B

Explorer Addict
Joined
January 6, 2005
Messages
2,258
Reaction score
1
City, State
Mountain Home, AR
Year, Model & Trim Level
2000 mounty / 56 f-100
We formed 10 ga into 3 inch "C" channels for the frame and used a rear axle from a front drive buick (century I think) for the axle on a lawnmower trailer. It had coil springs, shocks, trac-bar, and 14" car tires. We towed it for years, even on the highway at pretty high speeds. Dad finally sold it after we quit using it for a few years.

It had a marine plywood floor and metal ramps that slid underneath and pinned in place.

The guy he sold it to put low profile tires and some sort of aluminum wheels on it and run down the highway at 80+ with it loaded. :eek: :confused:
 
<



Top