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Old 10-06-2014, 09:49 PM   #1
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Cargo Trailer Conversion Questions

Hello all. My question is about a good design for converting a cargo trailer to a BASIC travel trailer. I watched a few Youtube videos, but like most of the stuff uploaded there, they were pretty much useless.
I'm sure that this has been discussed many times before, but I am starting a new thread because I have some particular (possibly peculiar) wants/needs/ideas. I am considering a cargo trailer as a base because it allows me almost complete variety in how I can set it up.
Specific points below:
1. I expect to use it for only a few years, convert it back, and then sell it. I think the market for cargo vans is probably larger than campers.
2. It's just for me. I will attach a channel at the rear to carry my dirt bike. The main use will be to go to different events and special locations around the US (like National Parks, etc.)
3. On the front I will mount a Honda EU 3000 genny to run the A/C, space heater, small water heater, battery charger, etc. I will not carry propane, except possibly a small camping stove that runs on 1 pound bottles.
4. I will install 6 inch rigid foam insulation on the inside roof and sides with some kind of covering, then 4 inch on the inside floor (with 5/8" ply or OSB over it).
5. I am considering a 6X12 trailer size. This gives me a 5X8 area for the "Bedroom" , and an available 3 X 5 for a possible bath/shower area if I feel that I need it for extended dry camping (Walmart, etc.) on longer trips. Most of my "gear" will be carried inside the SUV in plastic storage containers, since this has worked well for me in the past.
This is early brain storming, and I would like input from anyone on the plan, as well as any actual experiences of those of you who have actually done this.
Thanks in advance,
BP
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Old 10-07-2014, 11:39 AM   #2
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I have a 6x12 cargo trailer I used before I got my toy hauler, and I use it whenever I don't want to tow the 27' toy hauler. Most RV shops will have an RV type door handle to put on the side door (allows you to lock and open from the inside) a window is recommended for light, and an access door for the left side of the trailer for the power cord to pass through. My friends did cabinets ,but I didn't. Insulation isn't needed except maybe the roof as a/c worked hard on days above 90. A small forced air heater works to the 30s for me. I use a HD cord with a 3 way splitter. 1 for heat or a/c, another for lights, and the last to charge phones. I use a stand up room a/c and run the discharge tube out the access door and wrap an old rag for insulation and to keep bugs out. I use plywood for a bed stand and use notched plywood laced together - standing on edge, cut for the height I wanted. A 2 X2 brace on each wall supports the ends. I set my bed up against the ramp door after taking out my bike . While traveling, the bed is ratcheted to the wall for space. I use a real mattress, not an air one. Camping chairs ,a folding table and a quick shade canopy for camp. A tabletop grill and a box of cooking/dining stuff stores easy. I stay in campgrounds with bath houses and use their facilities with this trailer. I use a cooler for food ,but had a small refrigerator before it died.
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Old 10-07-2014, 05:41 PM   #3
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I have done a 6x14 Haulmark Transport. If I was to do it over I would consider doing a 6.5 or 7 wide so the bed could be acrossed the width
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Old 10-08-2014, 09:03 AM   #4
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I've seen a few crude variations on this idea, but I seems easier to just buy a cheap old travel trailer in rough shape that has the basics in place (holding tanks, head, galley, water heater,etc.) gut it out and build what you want.
It should be easier and you will be able to sell it some day.
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Old 10-08-2014, 08:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Intothewild View Post
I have done a 6x14 Haulmark Transport. If I was to do it over I would consider doing a 6.5 or 7 wide so the bed could be acrossed the width
I agree that wider would be nicer, but I recently pulled a U-Haul 6 X 12 about 1300 miles. I am guessing that the total width (tire sidewall-to-sidewall) was 8 feet. I had a few close calls because I was not used to all that width. When I drive the Motor Home, I never forget that it's wide. With a trailer (at least for me) it's easy to forget that it's back there. I almost took out a toll booth


Quote:
Originally Posted by NFlcamper View Post
I have a 6x12 cargo trailer I used before I got my toy hauler, and I use it whenever I don't want to tow the 27' toy hauler. Most RV shops will have an RV type door handle to put on the side door (allows you to lock and open from the inside) a window is recommended for light, and an access door for the left side of the trailer for the power cord to pass through. My friends did cabinets ,but I didn't. Insulation isn't needed except maybe the roof as a/c worked hard on days above 90. A small forced air heater works to the 30s for me. I use a HD cord with a 3 way splitter. 1 for heat or a/c, another for lights, and the last to charge phones. I use a stand up room a/c and run the discharge tube out the access door and wrap an old rag for insulation and to keep bugs out. I use plywood for a bed stand and use notched plywood laced together - standing on edge, cut for the height I wanted. A 2 X2 brace on each wall supports the ends. I set my bed up against the ramp door after taking out my bike . While traveling, the bed is ratcheted to the wall for space. I use a real mattress, not an air one. Camping chairs ,a folding table and a quick shade canopy for camp. A tabletop grill and a box of cooking/dining stuff stores easy. I stay in campgrounds with bath houses and use their facilities with this trailer. I use a cooler for food ,but had a small refrigerator before it died.
Bob - I like your ideas. 2 questions:

Is the A/C unit that you speak about one of the "Portable Room" units with the clothes dryer sized hose(s) that vent to the outside?

I am very sensitive to the smell of gasoline, so I was concerned about keeping the bike in the living space. Is that any issue for you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TDI-Minnie View Post
I've seen a few crude variations on this idea, but I seems easier to just buy a cheap old travel trailer in rough shape that has the basics in place (holding tanks, head, galley, water heater,etc.) gut it out and build what you want.
It should be easier and you will be able to sell it some day.
Interesting idea. I am a little worried about possible structural problems on an old unit with damage from water leaks, defects in the axle and brakes, etc. I will add the idea to my list, and maybe look at some local ad listings.



Thanks to all for your input - keep it coming.
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Old 10-09-2014, 03:18 AM   #6
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Fyi there is a cargo trailer conversion section at the teardrop and tiny travel trailer forum that I wished I knew about before I did mine. You might want to check it out lots of good ideas
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Old 10-09-2014, 08:42 AM   #7
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No gas smells, but mine is a street bike.

Yes to the a/c with the dryer size hose.
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Old 10-09-2014, 09:28 AM   #8
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Buy an old dog

The best advice you've gotten so far is to buy an old trailer and rebuild/restore it to meet your needs. One thing that is really handy about pre 80's trailers is radiant furnaces and gas lights. In other words light and heat without needing electric power of any kind. I couldn't begin to count the days I've spent hunting and fishing out of one of these old trailers. Most come with an ice box and a stove with an oven, a 25 pound block of ice will last for days to keep your perishables cool. Look foe something in the 14' to 15' range, they are lightweight. Rebuilding / replacing bearings, races, and seals will cost you less than $50.

Having said all that, among the various RV's I've owned was a 6X12 cargo trailer that had been converted to a camper. It had a refer, forced air furnace, AGM Battery cooktop, and sink. The guy I bought it from spent big bucks doing the conversion, I mean big bucks. It was really well done without Baltic birch cabinets, led lights.....the works. The down side was after installing all the high end equipment there was barely enough room to turn around inside....and at 6' 2" I hit my head on the ceiling lights every time I got near them.

So, to really put a plan together I suggest you get graph paper and do a "to scale" fit check on everything you think you need in your cargo trailer......or better yet, buy an old camping trailer to fix up.

Mike
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Old 10-09-2014, 10:04 AM   #9
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Interesting thread...

My goal next year is to purchase a cargo trailer and convert it to what I am calling "the Condo"... My idea is simple.. I want to have a space for company we may invite to come with us..

I would like to purchase a 7x12 aluminum trailer for my Harley. I would purchase a trailer with window's already cut in with an RV door with screen door.. I don't need the water, gas or bathroom facilities (although it would be nice). I want to have just the basics.. lights and climate control (roof top unit with heat pump).

I figure, once the bikes are out, we would use our RV for cooking, entertaining and bathroom facilities, but our guests would have a private place to sleep, get dressed or whatever.

If you're looking for idea's.. check out this company.. they have some pretty cool idea's (expensive I'm sure)... Sport | Becker Custom Trailers

Also.. if you haven't purchased your trailer yet, do a search for "cargo trailer with living quarters"... it may help with idea's and/or buying something pre-set-up for your needs..

Good Luck !! Please post pictures of your progress
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Old 10-12-2014, 07:59 AM   #10
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Cheaprvliving.com has some good articles on converting various trailers and vehicles
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Old 10-12-2014, 08:09 PM   #11
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Thanks for the ideas. On thing that I didn't mention in my original post is the ability to use the rig as a cargo trailer or temporary storage if needed. I would set up all the interior equipment (Bed and shelves, mainly) to be easy to remove. For a modest investment, I have a fairly versatile "vehicle".
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