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Old 04-17-2019, 10:07 AM   #1
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Guesses on gutted weight?

Hello all, i hope you can help....
first, let me say that opinions are fine, if anyone has facts to back them up that's even better, but lets just see what's out there....

I need to haul furniture and household stuff 650 miles, 3 times in the next few years. i am considering gutting a cheap/nearly free 16-20 foot camper, reinforcing as needed, installing a door in the back and using it as an enclosed cargo hauler.

the question - What kind of weight reduction can i expect with gutting an old travel trailer? lets figure that an old 16 footer starts at 3000 and a 20 footer at 4000 dry weight?

just to clear up some issues...
i can handle the carpentry
i can dispose of the garbage for free
i will sell anything salvageable, or scrap metals
i am towing with ram 1500 360v8
i can do math
i CANNOT afford to "just buy an enclosed trailer" or "just rent a UHaul"

thanks in advance.
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Old 04-17-2019, 10:20 AM   #2
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I would think the interior of a 20' trailer would be less than 500 pounds and if you plan on mounting a cargo door like a toy hauler has it may be less than 200 pounds of cargo weight you will gain since cargo doors are pretty heavy.

If you change the axles you will gain much
more capacity although the frame will then be the weak point. Maybe start out with an old toy hauler.
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Old 04-17-2019, 10:32 AM   #3
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Trailer conversion

I would weigh the entire trailer and then tongue weight separately before gutting the interior , including holding tanks . Then run it across the scales after your conversion and do the same weight evaluation. That will tell you your load capacity based on the manufacturers capacities.
You might consider an interior shear wall to stiffen the structure for side to side forces.
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Old 04-17-2019, 10:47 AM   #4
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Seriously, you're wanting to do a Jed Clampett journey with a Cousin Eddy TT conversion?


The question about capacity should be addressed with the trailer frame builder (dirty little secret is a lot of them are made by a division of Lippert). Changing axles and all that other stuff will absolutely negate any assurances that the frame will support the load.


Ask your insurance agent if your extensively modified camper would negatively affect your coverage. You might be fine and you might not be, but having something go wrong that involves spewing trailer parts or cargo on the road could lead to unpleasant insurance discoveries...


Now the off-topic part: if you "can't afford" to rent a trailer or truck 3 times over 5 years or so you have an income issue, not an expense issue, in that your time and efforts are not being sufficiently compensated for the expenses and efforts involved. Also I think you significantly discount the value of your time in doing this conversion and the modifications that may be necessary to make the rig road-worthy. If this is a volunteer charity gig, you should be compensated for the expenses of relocating even if you're freely giving your labor to "the cause."


Finally, you might find it more productive to rent furniture and thrift-shop for simple household items like a microwave, toaster or even appliances. Why haul what you don't have to?
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:19 PM   #5
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more clarification....
i do not intend to change any axles or modify anything other than making it lighter....
i do not intend to exceed the gvw of the trailer as established by the original manufacturer.
i assume that a 4k trailer has a gvw or 5k to account for stuff/liquids....so if i can cut 1000lbs out then i can safely (without any hlilbillyness) haul 2000lb of couches, tables and mattresses.
i do not own a trailer yet. i am asking the question so i can plan which size will keep me in allowed towing range.
i misstated the time frame ... a year or 2.
Wow... income issue? wow. that's cold bro. due to the trip details the cost to rent a trailer that is half the size would be about 2500 after taxes, about 3500 of my income. the cost of the conversion would be around 500 and i get to keep the trailer and it is bigger and way more convenient... since some of you don't have a "problem" with an extra 3500$ out of your pocket, i will include my paypal account number and you can fix my problem without causing yourself any "problem" by forwarding me the money..... hmmmm. waiting....no funds showing up...... hmmmmm, seems like money is a problem for most of us..... plus i would rather work for myself and build some sweat equity rather than get a second job....
any more thoughts on weight? i saw a post somewhere where a guy said he pulled 1600lb in waste (weighed at dump) and 400lbs of sold items and scrap metal out of a 21 footer.... could this really be true? if so, my payload is up to 3k ish...
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Old 04-17-2019, 05:59 PM   #6
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I just don't see you removing that much weight from the trailer. They build them super light to start with so not a lot of weight inside. Like I said, start with a toy hauler. It is already pretty gutted and has a rear loading door already installed and more load capacity than the average trailer.
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Old 04-17-2019, 07:26 PM   #7
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Toy haulers are pretty pricey around here. I could get a used enclosed trailer for a lot less.
Hopefully someone will chime in who has actually gutted a camper. I think I will try searching scrap metal chats and see if some knows what they weigh on the scales for scrap...
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Old 04-17-2019, 10:41 PM   #8
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What are you going to do about a door, most travel trailers have a narrow door on the side, not too conductive to big cargo. I would guess trying to enlarge the door opening would be a major undertaking.
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Old 04-17-2019, 11:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaeagle2 View Post
What are you going to do about a door, most travel trailers have a narrow door on the side, not too conductive to big cargo. I would guess trying to enlarge the door opening would be a major undertaking.
That was my first thought too.
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Old 04-17-2019, 11:14 PM   #10
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Never gutted and weight a trailer, interesting question. I get what you want to do. I don't think insurance would be an issue provided you stay within the GVWR of the trailer and the truck can handle that load.

Older trailers may have been built on somewhat heavier frames than some of the ultralights made today. I'd look at something pre 2000, perhaps as a starting point, no real data for that. Try to get the GVWR and dry weight ratings for each unit. The difference is the starting cargo weight. Everything you pull out makes that difference bigger. I'd really start looking at the 20 ft end since they would have a larger GVWR over 16 footers. The frame, axles, rim and tires will be the limiting factors.

To keep the rear cargo door simple and lighter. I'd look at just a bolt-in door that comes totally off while loading. Use some 2 x 12 lumber for the loading ramp. Cheap enough. That way you avoid hinges, cam type latches, etc. You just need something that closes the back end and is water tight.

If the subject unit came with an AC on the roof, that's heavy as are propane tanks, heaters etc. You will still need some small battery to operate the break-away switch and brakes. But it could be much smaller than a regular RV battery. Take out the vinyl flooring, its also heavy. I'd add some rope tie down points of some kind. Could be simple made from wood even.

Watch out for trailers that were totaled by an insurance company. Cheap for sure but they may be very difficult to register in some states. Make sure it has a clean title.

Keep us posted as your project advances, interesting idea. Good luck...
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Old 04-18-2019, 10:04 AM   #11
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Thought about this a little more, no real data but you said guesses were OK. All weights are guesses based on some experience with the stuff.

Strip propane system, cylinders, brackets and piping 75
Strip roof AC and heater plus duct work 100
Strip Frig, stove, stove hood 100
Strip water system and waste tanks, pump, pipes 100
Strip battery, 120 v & 12 v main components 100
Strip all cushions 75
Strip all cabinets 100
Strip vinyl flooring 75

Total weight gain from stripping down 725 lbs maybe

If it had a rated cargo capacity of say 700 lbs dry weight you get in the range of 1400-1500 lbs you could use. Is that enough to hold your stuff you want to move?
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Old 04-18-2019, 10:31 AM   #12
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Crafty way to think about saving money, but I don't think this will work because of the construction of camper trailers.

Even if you could pack all your stuff in the camper trailer, how could it be secured? Tie off to the studs in wall? Even that I wouldn't trust because of the design intent of the wall studs. They aren't strong enough. You could rip parts of the floor up and use backing of the frame rails. Then water would get in and I think the point of converting a camper to haul cargo would be to keep the furniture dry.
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Old 04-18-2019, 10:49 AM   #13
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In many modern lighter trailers wall construction would present problems in tie downs. However in many older trailers the walls are wood frame and should allow attachment of light weight anchor points. If you pack the trailer well and tight should not need many tie downs in the first place.

I don't see why this can't work. The big question is finding the right type and length of trailer and how much his stuff weighs. I think he's already made it clear that renting is not really an option to him. We all have different budget limits and he's just trying to work within his. I highly respect his effort and there's nothing slightly wrong with that.
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Old 04-18-2019, 03:49 PM   #14
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Rent a U-Haul truck. I rented a U-Haul box truck that could pull a U-Haul rented trailer with a 2500lb car on it from Branson, MO to Columbus, OH for about $400 total, I think less. It was an overnight trip. I know the cost of repairing the CVC on the 1965 AC Cobra replica was less than the U-Haul bill. That was less than $200.

$2500 to rent a U-Haul trailer for 650 miles, get real.
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