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Old 03-15-2010, 01:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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converting a camper to a car hauler?

I've got an interesting dilemma. I have been offered a 24' tandem axle camper for basically nothing. It's old, and needs a roof and interior stuff and needs to be hauled out of it's storage space ASAP. My intention is to make a new trailer out of it. I want to build either a flatbed hauler to haul my jeep and/or my old tractor to steam shows, or a utility trailer for hauling supplies and chit to the dump. My issue is I want to make sure the frame and axles are good.
I figure I can tear the camper body off and renforce the frame, put a wooden bed on it with d-rings for tie-downs, nice LED lights and loading lights.
Either that, or tear the body off and shorten the frame, and build a wooden bed and stake sides for it. A tilting box would be sweet. Either way, I figure it would be a cheap project.....

thoughts?
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Old 03-15-2010, 01:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've seen lots of bare camper frames for sale on craigslist and other places... it seems like it'd be pretty easy to just bolt plywood to it and have a deck, the braces extend all the way to the width of the wheels.

On the other hand they don't look like they're built for much weight. The construction just kind of seems thin, if that makes sense, like maybe the body was supposed to provide some strength too. If it were me I probably wouldn't want to put more than like 4,000 pounds total on the trailer.
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Old 03-15-2010, 01:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I've thought of that. If I went car trailer route, I'd definatly throw some braces on it to make it stiffer and stronger....
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Old 03-15-2010, 02:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The travel trailer frames are usually pretty narrow from my experience, with usually 60" between the frame rails and there for the axles are pretty narrow as well. Considering a car trailer is at 72" wide and usually 80" wide this is something to consider.
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Old 03-15-2010, 03:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The travel trailer frames are usually pretty narrow from my experience, with usually 60" between the frame rails and there for the axles are pretty narrow as well. Considering a car trailer is at 72" wide and usually 80" wide this is something to consider.
hmmm....I didn't consider that....it might be easier to go the utility trailer route....
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Old 03-15-2010, 04:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The travel trailer frames are usually pretty narrow from my experience, with usually 60" between the frame rails and there for the axles are pretty narrow as well. Considering a car trailer is at 72" wide and usually 80" wide this is something to consider.
its been mostly my experience that they are alittle wider than that... ive built a couple trailers out of camper frames and only had to add 12 inches or so to the outside of the frame rails to get a 91" width.

its not too big a deal you just need to build driveover fenders. depending on the trailer its might even be possible to build a deckover with a perfectly flat deck.

here are a couple ive built:

18' bumper pull from a 6" box tube camper frame:


toyhauler,from a 5" box tube 5th wheel camper frame.


36 foot deck,from a 10" I beam mobile home frame


the first 2 are both 91" wide. the toyhauler has a deckover for the flat deck section. the gooseneck is a full 8 foot wide. both it and the bumper pull have the deck atop the main frame rails with outriggers on the outsides of the main rails to support the deck.

let me know if you have any other camper or mobile home frame trailer building questions
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Old 03-15-2010, 04:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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First look at the GVWR for the trailer. If thats not there, how many lug nuts does it have. I was offered some circa 1960 travel trailer that had bolts holding the rims on. I said no thanks.

If its not too old, like less than 20 years or so. Then the axle are most likey Dexter and you can get new part for them. My only concern would be the axles, are they big enough for your purpose.

Does it have I beam or box frame? In the end you will have some steel framing and axles. Thats worth something right there with the price of steel these days. FWIW I would only run 6 or 8 lug axles and 16" load range E tires for a car/jeep hauler.
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Old 03-25-2016, 12:03 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Hi, I happened upon a cheap trailer and was hoping to accomplish the same thing that you have done with others, just looking for advice, thanks.
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Old 03-25-2016, 07:05 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Yes

1. Start researching
2. Research more
3. If its a camper trailer, get building
4. If its a mobile home, say "no thanks"
5. ??
6. Profit!!
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Old 03-25-2016, 09:11 AM   #10 (permalink)
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One of my campers came with dexter torflex axles and a genuine 4" channel frame. It just needed real crossties and decking to make it a real trailer. Another one was made of 4" stringer channel and all stamped gauge crossmembers.


Moral of the story, you gotta crawl under each one.


Most of them, i suggest doubling up under the existing frame with a second piece of channel that runs from hitch to forward leaf spring eye. Thats where the bulk of the load is on a car hauler.
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Old 03-25-2016, 05:18 PM   #11 (permalink)
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If I got a camper frame, after looking at a few, I'd pull axles and springs and coupler and etc and scrap the rest or repurpose it, and just buy new channel for the frame. Travel trailers typically have cheesy thin stamped crossmembers, weird frame width, and poor axle placement for a car trailer. And steel is pretty cheap right now.

Edit: and working with old steel sucks ass and takes three times as long as new.
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Old 03-25-2016, 08:42 PM   #12 (permalink)
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First and foremost, I have never undertaken anything like this before. For now I'd like to make it into a flat bed allowing me and my wife to move wherever we choose, I'd like to go to college and with the price if a uhaul, I figured I could just build something. So for $260 bucks I picked this up today. I figure that even if it never gets done, I could easily flip it for about the same price, if not more if I just put a decent deck on it. I am an okay welder, I just don't get the chance to do many long beads at my job. My father has about every tool you could imagine and then some, but I'm trying to be independent. Adding to that, most of any project time is finding where he put his tools etc. I don't mind investing in my own stuff, but I also only make so much money. Eventually I'd like to make it an enclosed trailer, but for now I'd be content with just a flat bed and tying everything down. The trailer frame itself is 70.5"x261". Just surface rust, really clean. I decided to invest in some nice LED lights since I plan on keeping it around. Thoughts?
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Old 03-25-2016, 08:46 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Looks narrow and flimsy. What is that frame made out of? Is it even square right now, with all of 4 crossmembers holding it together.
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Old 03-26-2016, 04:14 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Either move the axles back or cut off a few feet of tail. Its gonna wag, bobble on the hitch when empty, and scrape tail like a MF'er on grade changes where driveway meets road.

It appears the tongue A frame is buttwelded and pierced thru the header. Good chance its gonna twist up. Easy sllution: Clamp some 3" C channel under each leg of the A frame and piecut/bend the slack in where it bisects the outer frame rail so that the slack runs down toward the front leaf mount and turns your 4" frame into a 7" frame from hitch to spring. Clamp that all up into a stack and put 3 or 4" of weld every foot. Youll have a pretty strong chassis at that point.


I would buy new perches from etrailer or northern and go to a spring over, then set 98" long 3" channels @ 24"center down the whole length and plank it in 1-1/2" rough cut oak from cheapest sawyer to create a deckover flatbed. If its a car trailer you could go thinner in the center or even plywood, as long as the wheel strips are sufficient. I would also weld a 1/4" x 3 flat strip down the butts of the channels and leave a small gap against the wood. This gives you a rub rail for tie down points along the whole trailer, and it also adds a stout connecting member between the channels in the vertical plane. Basically its a very cheap way to make sure your main rails dont fold. Youd be building a rigid platform ontop of them then bonding it all together. 4" main rails + 3" vertical rubs and an extra 3" under the tongue. It would be a 12k chassis at that point, and when the axles bend, worthy of heavier replacements.
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Old 03-26-2016, 04:17 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Looks narrow


Its got no outriggers yet. Any set of main rails sitting atop the spring pads is gonna look narror till it gets all the deck joists laid over. He could make that 102" if he wanted
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Old 03-26-2016, 04:54 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Car haulers don't have outriggers. Lol

Youre building a 12k deck over car hauler? What cars are you hauling?
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Old 03-26-2016, 05:06 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I built this from an old camper. Got it for free.....









There are 2 things to consider when doing this.....the frames on some of these are sort of flimsy. I had to add a bunch of cross members. Also, they are narrower than a regular car trailer. 72 inches between the fenders on mine. A minivan fits on mine. I bet a 4x4 with big tires wouldnt.
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Old 03-26-2016, 05:54 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Car haulers don't have outriggers. Lol

Youre building a 12k deck over car hauler? What cars are you hauling?


Pick pick pick pick. Everything everyone else does is stupid, hacky, a waste of time, a waste of money or otherwise unsuitable for hasteranger. Except when its his junk pile, then its completely intelligent, sensible and justified. Beyond reproach actually. I never notice you attempt to help anyone, just criticize ad nauseum and remind us youve seen and done it all.


Newsflash:


Quote:
Originally Posted by GONRACIN View Post
. I want to build either a flatbed hauler to haul my jeep and/or my old tractor...

Go ahead, break down the semantics of the term "car hauler" so you can salvage your image of being technically correct in all things. You know what else "looks really narrow?" The frame rails between a set of tandems duals. Found under every 102" airbrake semi trailer ever built.
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Old 03-26-2016, 10:45 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Youre quoting a post from 2003. Iasoldier bumped this and wants a car hauler, now.

And I think you're being a little dramatic and whiny.
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Old 03-26-2016, 11:01 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I started to do this a few years ago. It ended up being too flimsy for my liking. I sold it to a guy who works for me. He cut it in half and mounted his saw mill to it. Seems to work okay at 14'.
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Old 03-26-2016, 04:32 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Youre right, i quoted the wrong guy.


Quote:
Originally Posted by IAsoldier View Post
For now I'd like to make it into a flat bed
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Old 03-28-2016, 01:20 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the input so far gents, I will keep ya'll posted on how it all goes. I work at a factory and talked to the head honchos and can get 2x2"x24' 11ga steel tubing for ~40 bucks a piece. 33 dollars later this afternoon I have plates and registration. Apparently rust is not an acceptable color haha. So now, I'm the proud owner of a "2016 special construction small regular trailer". Never thought I'd get something this new this soon lol
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Old 03-28-2016, 01:59 PM   #23 (permalink)
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The square tube will do a fine job as well. Dont neglect creating a stout rub rail.. Itll do a lot to prevent the deck from bending into an accidental dovetail in the event that your main rails arent up to the task.

Even if you use 2" crossmembers, still go with a 3" rail IMO, a lot stronger than a 2" rail. Edge standing proud of the wood or flush doesnt matter.
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Old 03-29-2016, 08:13 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Every tube on every trailer I've ever worked on here in wv, which is starting to add up at this point, has been rusty on the inside. Tube is stronger but water and rust always seem to find their way inside. Check prices on stuff, though, steel is pretty cheap right now, for all kinds.
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Old 03-29-2016, 11:04 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LCexplorer View Post
The travel trailer frames are usually pretty narrow from my experience, with usually 60" between the frame rails and there for the axles are pretty narrow as well. Considering a car trailer is at 72" wide and usually 80" wide this is something to consider.
that was the problem i had, someone gave me a camper and thought about the same thing, the frame was actually bigger then my car trailer but used thinner metal. but the axles were narrower also since im running fullsize axles and 14 inch wide tires all the weight of the truck was going to be on the outside of the tires

i scratched the idea and just stole the trailer brakes off it for my current trailer
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