Author Topic: Building a trailer setup for a little car.  (Read 3478 times)

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Offline CollectivismMustDie

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Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« on: January 01, 2014, 08:52:09 PM »
While we would love to do hotels when we travel, camping, like a little car, makes it frugal. We have the cookware, cookstoves, lanterns, grill/griddle, chairs, sleeping bags, tent, queen size air bed and a fold up platform for it , ice chest, plug in cooler, hot water on demand setup, and most the other things that make camping painless. We tend to use frozen 2 liter bottles of water for the ice chest and drinking water while we camp as well, for further frugality.

This last year however, we learned some lessons. We are driving a 2000 geo metro with 90-ish thousand on it, which works decently for us, but with all our gear packed into it, makes it less than viable/functional. We can't get into the cooler while on the road, without the co-pilot (wife) moving a bunch of stuff around. And she having arthritis and fibro myalgia has a hard time with it even when its easily accessed. So...
 
We've decided to build a small trailer with a carrier on it. We picked up a harbor freight trailer in a box kit, the 40" by 49" model, which is still in the box at the moment.

I picked up one of these at the local "you pull it" for a ten bucks in anticipation this last summer, to mount on it:



The carrier is re-keyed, and ready to mount once the trailer is together, and a deck put on it.

We're going to pull it behind the metro , which currently gets 42 mpg. We don't have the hitch yet, but curt makes one for the car and its on its way. We would love to just travel in the jimmy(2000 jimmy) but gas prices being what they are, travelling in the little car leaves more money in our pockets.

I have a set of "bearing buddies" for the trailer we picked up at a yard sale new in the package for 2 dollars lol. This trailer, completely assembled, weighs 130 pounds, which should be no trouble for the little metro. Our gear while taking up substantial volume, is all fairly light.

I was a hot rod/car guy growing up, so I know my way around mechanical things, but I've never been much of a trailering guy.

Do any of you have any experience building such a thing, or any insights into things I should look for/look out for?

I'll post pics at some point.



CMD












 
"Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice." - John Adams

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Offline Chris_

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2014, 09:03:48 PM »
Sounds like fun.  Good luck. :)

« Last Edit: January 01, 2014, 09:05:54 PM by Chris_ »
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Offline CollectivismMustDie

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2014, 07:34:00 AM »
So, BBQ earlier tonight, and afterward, some assembly and mockups.

Assembled:



Wired:




Loosely mocked up:



It is getting there.

CMD
"Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice." - John Adams

Hillary Clinton will never be the President of the United States.

Offline Big Dog

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2014, 08:16:38 AM »
I helped a friend build a Harbor Freight trailer to tow behind his motorcycle. Pretty much the same thing.

You may think abuut welding/bolting on a cooler rack in front of the cargo box. Looking at your pictures, you have three points to attach it- the tongue and both crosspieces.
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Offline Eupher

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2014, 10:06:13 AM »
The Sears carrier bottom section looks like it's made of plastic. Is it? If it is, attaching it by bolting to the trailer could be a little dicey, unless the holes are reinforced with bushings of some type. I can imagine cracks developing what with all the vibrations that will certainly occur.
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Offline Big Dog

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2014, 10:11:09 AM »
The Sears carrier bottom section looks like it's made of plastic. Is it? If it is, attaching it by bolting to the trailer could be a little dicey, unless the holes are reinforced with bushings of some type. I can imagine cracks developing what with all the vibrations that will certainly occur.

We used nylon washers.
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Offline CollectivismMustDie

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2014, 05:14:53 PM »
The Sears carrier bottom section looks like it's made of plastic. Is it? If it is, attaching it by bolting to the trailer could be a little dicey, unless the holes are reinforced with bushings of some type. I can imagine cracks developing what with all the vibrations that will certainly occur.

The carrier itself has 4 attachment locations, positioned in a roughly symmetrical pattern, on the underside.

Each location has 4 bolts in line with the carrier the long way, which go through a heavily molded area. Those bolts attach to mounting "tabs" which when attatched, are perpendicular to the front to rear centerline of the carrier. What they were designed for, is attachment straps, to a roofrack on an SUV for example. The "tabs" are made of decently heavy steel, and they have multiple strap locations, so you can run straps out to the side, or towards the front and back.

We had this particular carrier mounted on a larger trailer for a time, just to kind of try it out on one of our trips. When you lay the thing on a flat deck, the mounting tabs lay just right for bolting down snugly using carriage bolts with the "square" on the underside of the carriage bolts head mating perfectly inside the strap slot, with just a little bit of pretension - maybe 1/4 inch. So long as the deck is flat, it bolts down about perfect.

I am considering how to best use whatever extra space there is left, with a propane tank, or cooler, but with the tongue weight limit at 75 pounds, my primary concern is just getting the thing mounted and positioned right first. I want to have a sound foundation on this first and foremost.

CMD


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Hillary Clinton will never be the President of the United States.

Offline CollectivismMustDie

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2014, 06:57:16 AM »
It is done. Two of them are now, actually. When the trip was made to Harbor Freight in Salinas KS, I went with a friend of mine. His dad drove actually. We picked up two identical trailer kits, with my friend planning on doing the same thing as I'm doing, but using a slightly different carrier on his. Our families camp and travel together so it made sense.

Saturday, we finished up my trailer. Sunday we finished his. BBQ both nights.  :-) We applied thread locker to every fastner, and used weathertight heat-shrink connectors on all connections. We also added a redundant ground wire to the harness, routed to the internals of every light. These trailers are designed to be chassis grounded, but we figured in addition to that, that a redundant ground wire in the harness would head off any potential ground problems, at least for the life of the wiring harness. We also wrapped the harnesses in high grade electrical tape. My friend is an electrician, and has a ton of partial rolls of the stuff laying about here and there, so that came in handy. Once they were wrapped, we encased them inside plastic sleeving, the sort you normally see on a cars underhood or trunk wiring. We then fixed them in place with metal clips inside the frame. We went to put the bearing buddies on, and they're too small, so we tossed them back into the spare parts stash.

Overall, we're both really happy with how they turned out, and happy to have them done. We talked about building them for a long time before we got our pieces in place, so to speak.

Rough finished costs:

170 for mine, 160 for his, because he got his carrier free while I flipped out a ten spot for mine.  Regular price at the time was 179.99. Our purchase price of the trailers was 143 and change after using 20 percent off HF coupons. It will go up some with the purchase of bearing buddies, and when I put a new seal in the clamshell of the carrier. The one it has functions, but is clearly close to needing replacement. A few trunk weatherstrips from our local "you pull it", applied carefully, should do it cheaply.

Finished product minus paint on the deck (too cold) and a spare tire carrier:



If you look close, you can see the mounting tabs I mentioned in an earlier post.



CMD
"Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice." - John Adams

Hillary Clinton will never be the President of the United States.

Offline Eupher

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2014, 12:33:25 PM »
Great job! Very thorough!  :cheersmate:
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Offline CollectivismMustDie

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2014, 05:50:10 PM »
Great job! Very thorough!  :cheersmate:

Thank you.  :cheersmate:


Now if it will just warm up so we can use it. :mad:

CMD
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Offline Big Dog

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2014, 09:22:43 PM »
It is done. Two of them are now, actually. When the trip was made to Harbor Freight in Salinas KS, I went with a friend of mine.

What the ****, over?

You were a stone's throw from my house, and you didn't say anything about coming down.

BS for being unsociable.

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Offline CollectivismMustDie

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2014, 09:51:17 PM »
What the ****, over?

You were a stone's throw from my house, and you didn't say anything about coming down.

BS for being unsociable.

 :thor: :thor: :thor:

DOH. Well, if you should make it up to the Oxford locker, the wife would be happy to meet you for lunch or dinner at one of the local establishments! Besides, it was a little over two weeks before christmas that we went and got them, which was before I joined CC.  :tongue:

CMD
"Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice." - John Adams

Hillary Clinton will never be the President of the United States.

Offline Big Dog

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2014, 10:02:17 PM »
DOH. Well, if you should make it up to the Oxford locker, the wife would be happy to meet you for lunch or dinner at one of the local establishments!

Already planned the ride, just waiting for spring.


Quote
Besides, it was a little over two weeks before christmas that we went and got them, which was before I joined CC. :tongue:

OK, that's a good excuse.
Government is the negation of liberty.
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Offline CollectivismMustDie

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2014, 10:04:56 PM »
Already planned the ride, just waiting for spring.




Let us know. Like I say, we could meet at a local establishment, or we could hit the park and BBQ it up.

<<<backs up 500 feet for brunettes redheads and BBQ. Priorities, ya know.


CMD
"Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice." - John Adams

Hillary Clinton will never be the President of the United States.

Offline Dblhaul

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2014, 10:50:19 PM »
check the wheel bearings often and re-grease them. tire pressure needs to be checked often also!

Nice job!

Offline Big Dog

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2014, 07:12:03 AM »
Let us know. Like I say, we could meet at a local establishment, or we could hit the park and BBQ it up.

<<<backs up 500 feet for brunettes redheads and BBQ. Priorities, ya know.

CMD

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Offline CollectivismMustDie

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2015, 01:41:39 PM »
When I last posted about the trailer, it looked like this:



Though most of the changes are inside, it now looks like this:






When we first started car camping, it was before the age of cheap commonly available usb power packs, LEDs, and the like. Thus, we set ourselves up with 12 volt accessories/cords, and generally ran off the car whether it was 110 from an inverter, or 12v from the battery. Over the years, we aquired quite a number of 12v appliances, even a hair dryer lol. It is for this reason, along with the fact that the new car has a tiny battery, that I decided to add more to this module.

Added, was an 80AH 12v AGM deep cycle battery mounted on its side, a dell DPS-500CB 12 volt server power supply, a VMAX on board charger for AGM, power in/out ports, and fanned vents I made closable, front and rear. The server PSU puts out 41 amps of clean 12 volt power and was like 13 bucks on ebay. I wired all of the above, through a multi pole rotary switch like you see in some RVs. The switch is wired so that center position of the switch is dead (nothing to the sockets), Left position (pointed at the battery) connects battery power to the sockets, and right position (pointed at the PSU) turns the PSU on, connects PSU power to the sockets, turns on the charger, and powers on the vent fans.




The drip/leak shield was cut from a broken storage tub I had laying around, and the metal tape you see, is due to the fact that the lid seal sticks to painted surfaces, but not to the metal tape.


AC in, 12v DC out, and vent.

Finding a cheap simple lightweight way to make the vents closable probably took me the most time, but venting with the PSU running and/or battery charging is a must, and we live in a dusty area and have to pull the thing over 5 miles on dirt before we hit pavement, so it was necessary:



Closed.



Open.

The idea is that whenever and wherever we go, whether we are plugged in somewhere with electricity, or camped in the boondocks, we can always use the same accessories, wiring, have plenty of reserve power, and don't have to worry about the battery in the car. In fact, we no longer even have to be in close proximity to the car for access to 12v power at all.

The box under the cargo carrier, made out of wood scraps we had left over from another project. It isn't the prettiest thing in the world, but it functions well enough.


CMD
« Last Edit: August 18, 2015, 01:43:52 PM by CollectivismMustDie »
"Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice." - John Adams

Hillary Clinton will never be the President of the United States.

Offline Eupher

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2015, 04:43:17 PM »
H5, CMD.

I really like to see ingenuity at work and working through a problem.  :cheersmate:
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Offline CollectivismMustDie

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2015, 09:54:25 PM »
H5, CMD.

I really like to see ingenuity at work and working through a problem.  :cheersmate:

Thank you, Sir.

Its had some trips for stress testing and shakedown, and we are really pleased with how well it works.

The 4.80 x 8 tires on the other hand... :argh: We lost two tires on a trip to deadwood in june...one on the way up, and one on the way back. Thankfully we picked up a new spare after we lost the first tire.

CMD
"Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice." - John Adams

Hillary Clinton will never be the President of the United States.

Offline Chris_

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2015, 08:49:00 AM »
I like it. :cheersmate:

What's the speed rating on those tires?
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Offline CollectivismMustDie

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Re: Building a trailer setup for a little car.
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2015, 11:37:15 AM »
I like it. :cheersmate:

What's the speed rating on those tires?

The original HF chinese tires were rated for 55 mph IIRC, and they are 4 ply, load range b. I never went much above 60, maybe 65, when pulling. We got several thousand miles out of them. Reading on the goldwing forums (this particular trailer is a popular one with the goldwing folks) it appears there is a loose consensus that the chinese tires do not hold up well in heat, and it was very hot during the time that both tires failed.

We replaced them with 6 ply load range C highway rated carlisle tires, so we'll see how they work out.


CMD

"Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice." - John Adams

Hillary Clinton will never be the President of the United States.