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Thread: Cargo trailer conversion (somewhat)

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Cargo trailer conversion (somewhat)

    New (old) project (re)starting. Got willed a Pace American trailer about 17 years ago. 8'X12', 1995, single axle. Had electric brakes but they're shot and since removed. Started fixing it up a little back in 2000-2001 but then life got in the way. It got plenty of use helping us move to our new house in 2006, then sat with the last load of crap it hauled still inside for the last 10 years.

    The previous owner (before my Father) had installed a 1kw electric heater and a couple 115v lights (plus a junction box with a couple outlets and switches), but no outside shore power hook-up. I had a couple Trojan batteries in it for a while before they got re-purposed and died long ago. I had a plan initially to set it up for hauling a dirtbike or snowmobile out to the woods, then on arrival pull out the toy and use it to live in for a day or two of camping. That purpose isn't high on my list any longer.

    But, I've passed up on a couple overnight/weekend excursions in the past few years not wanting to stay in the home of some good, but not-so-close, friends. Kind of a self-sufficient loner (wife and dog excluded) and not comfortable with the wife and I putting people out staying in their guest bedroom, with our dog. Family and close friends are different, no problem mooching off them for a weekend lol. I love being a host (bring the kids and pets!), but really hate being a guest for some reason. The last straw was us driving 800 miles to visit family last year, too long a drive for me without sleep so did the pet-friendly hotel thing (both ways) but what a costly PITA that was.

    Decided on that last trip I needed a new plan. Here's the very start of it:



    Started cleaning it out of junk last year before the weather turned crappy, just finished with the last of it this weekend. If anything good can be said of the trailer at least it's not leaking (the floor stains are oil) and the floor boards are solid with no weak spots. Lots of rust at the door seals, and the tires are dry-rotted. Plan A for it is just to be able to pull over and get a few hours sleep at a rest area on our next 800 mile trip visiting family in a month or two (staying in their house while there). Not sure where it falls into the survival plan, if at all. I'd like to still be able to use it for cargo/toys, so a full blown tiny-house/camper thing is out.

    After getting it emptied, started brushing/sanding the rust off and sealed the front right side cargo door permanently closed, the left front will be the entry door and the back doors left openable for cargo loading. Need to get a roof vent, maybe two, on order along with new tires. Still need to figure out a good solution for the entry door (left-front) lock/hasp/knob and get it installed, no ability now to open the door from the inside now, and want a solution that doesn't allow someone to lock us in from the outside either. Have a futon that will be the couch/bed for this first trip, haven't decided if that'll be the long term sleeping solution or not. Might not get deep-cycle batteries and the 12v power re-worked before the first trip either, but it's on the list for sure, the overall power solution (truck alternator only, solar, small genny, or some combination of all) is still up in the air though. Permanently closing that right-front door has left some usable space over the tongue so thinking about putting a box there to house our small 1kw genny, or maybe a BBQ propane tank for heat/cooking/lighting instead?. Will have to work out some temporary solution for the Mrs to have a bathroom before our first trip, at least for #1, but #2 will require more thought and work that I might not have time for yet.

    Anyway, any thoughts or suggestions appreciated. I'm not even sure where I want to go with this except maybe a three-season, long weekend, place of our own to rest our heads in semi-comfort, while still having the option of just using it for cargo hauling. Everything at this point is still up for discussion/debate.
    Last edited by marked; 04-02-2017 at 06:27 PM.
    Everything marked, everything 'membered. You wait, you'll see.

  2. #2
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    Go to a junk yard and scavenge the campers, there should be enough room for a battery and propane tank on the tongue..........check out the brackets on said campers. Have fun
    Don't bring skittles to a gun fight.

  3. #3
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    Go Marked! Nothing like a good project to get your juices flowing. One thought is windows for ventillation and light. I haven't installed any RV windows but I'm sure they can be had.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  4. #4
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    Jun 2013
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    AZ
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    I helped a brother turn one of these into a toy hauler with amenities inside. He bought a junk tent trailer and we used most of the stuff from that. Simple folding cots are very easy and cheap to build and install and are mostly out of the way when using the trailer for the intended purpose. As far as preventing anyone from locking you in he used a bike lock/gun lock to lock back the outside locking handle and had a simple sliding bolt for the inside.

  5. #5
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    Oct 2009
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    East TN Smokey Mountains
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    might already have one, but if not you could add a rack on the roof to increase storage.
    would increase your height, but you wouldn't (or shouldn't LOL) be taking it thru any drive thru windows or parking garages.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2014
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    Thanks for the ideas guys. Still looking around for the door hardware, was thinking the same thing about locking the outer side open while we were inside. Having a hard time finding a slide bolt with enough length/throw online, would like to have about a 4" throw to be sure I have enough room to mount it. Going to check out the local Amish hardware store this week to try to find something (even if just an idea what would work if they don't have what I need). Hadn't thought of putting the batteries on the tongue, that'd have some advantages and requires more thought. Thinking about a roof rack too, want to put a coat of rubber sealant (or similar) on it first.

    Built a list of all the auto salvage/junkyards within 50 miles and need to give them a call today to see if any might have camper/RV parts. Was pricing stuff online and it'd get really expensive real fast buying everything new. Was thinking of a smallish window on one side, but maybe also a couple small vent-type windows near the ceiling too. 4 inches high by 2 ft long or something close to that for a little more light and ceiling ventilation. Thinking what I end up doing will largely be decided on what parts I can acquire inexpensively.

    Got the new tires ordered anyway, and supposed to be nice weather again this weekend so hoping to get it up on blocks and get the tires off and hopefully get the door figured out if not installed/working.
    Everything marked, everything 'membered. You wait, you'll see.

  7. #7
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    Roof vents that you commonly see on Rvs are usually less than $50 with exhaust fans (12v) and a light. That will give you fresh air, natural light, and electric light.
    Don't bring skittles to a gun fight.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2014
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    Tires arrived today, Maxxis M8008 (ST205 / 75R14) steel belted radials. Calling for 5-6 inches of snow tomorrow, then sunny and 50's-60's for the weekend so hoping it's not too muddy getting the wheels off and into the shop for tire mounting. Worst case I move to foul-weather Plan B and build a small tabletop with fold out legs on one side, for attaching with hinges to the wall so it folds down for storage when not in use. Wait til you see this Bruss, you'll cringe for sure when you see my linoleum covered OSB tabletop (or something equally as ugly) lol.

    Also ordered today:

    - Roof vent with a 12v exhaust fan. Says it's reversible by reversing the positive/negative leads, once I get a look at it might add a DPDT switch to make reversing the polarity for drawing outside air in easier. Vent opens with a knob instead of the usual crank so nothing hanging down to constantly be hitting my head on. Inside ceiling height is about 5' 10" and I'm 5' 11" so it's already a bit of a PITA walking around inside as it is. No light, but got that covered (for 12vdc and 120vac).

    - Travel toilet (5.2 gallon holding tank) and some toilet deordorant packs. The bathroom will be in the right front area behind the permanently closed cargo door, thinking of making the walls structural/load bearing for a future cargo rack on the roof later.

    - 15 amp shore power connector, standard plug/wall socket type, for plugging into the 1kw generator / house power with an extention cord.

    Zero luck finding any junkyards nearby, the market for this might have moved to eBay for parts and recycling/salvage for the rest? No idea, but nothing I can find even spreading the search out to 100 miles. Nada for mobile home salvage either. Tried Craigslist, nothing much there but will be checking it regularly. Was hoping to at least find a cheap opening window for cross ventilation (with the roof vent), but think I'm going to install a register vent (residential forced air heating type) with a lever for opening/closing it, and cut a hole near the floor for ventilation for now. Even a window from a truck topper would work with a little creativity on the framing for it so will be watching for junk toppers locally too. Need something semi-quick for the upcoming trip though so a register vent might be it... Will add a screen to keep the bugs out anyway.

    Anyway, lots of plans but no real progress yet.
    Everything marked, everything 'membered. You wait, you'll see.

  9. #9
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    What's sad is that there are thousands of campers, brand spanking new sitting in fields just rotting away and some of them high end.........someone some day will charge a huge amount to demolish them and the gov will pay it.
    Don't bring skittles to a gun fight.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by flock6 View Post
    What's sad is that there are thousands of campers, brand spanking new sitting in fields just rotting away and some of them high end.........someone some day will charge a huge amount to demolish them and the gov will pay it.
    LOL!

    Great thread, BTW

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