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 > Converting a enclosed trailer to a RV TT

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mr_andyj

Georgia

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Joined: 11/13/2004

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Posted: 07/25/20 07:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have one. It is smaller than yours but I am usually going solo.
They are called Cargo Campers.
I have a big bed that fold up , so it is literally both cargo and a camper as I can still haul things with the bed up, much like the back of a Toy Hauler.

If you are handy this will be a great way to get exactly what you want. If you will be learning all the trades then you will learn a lot, make a lot of mistakes, but eveuntally get it done and be happy.

It does take a lot of time.

I have the #1 rule: Never use a 2x4.
#2 never use pre-built homedepot cabinets or counters. They are made for houses, not small spaces.
#3 everything you do needs to be space saving and preferably have dual-uses.

The cheapest and easiest thing to do to build up your cargo trailer is go buy a used camper that is super cheap, $500 or $1,500 even. If all the things work in it this will save you thousands of dollars!!!! I can't stress this enough. All the little things will add up.

I had the cargo trailer, and I had laying around about $2,000 worth of RV camper things (AC, Heater, Danfoss compressor Fridge, Water Pump, Water Tank, Electrical system, one solar panel (bought another), batteries, Ceiling Fans etc... I still spent about another $2,000 and counting.

Including trailer, what I had and what I spent the grand total is well over $6,500 (trailer counts for about 2,500).

I spent a lot of time insulating the ceiling. Just cutting the foam to fit in place is time-consuming, then I cut long strips of 1 inch boards and added another layer of 1 inch insulation, and more time to cut the foam panels. Remember to run the electrical wiring before so you have wires in place.

Do insulate the roof/ceiling and all the walls, the floor is optional.

Cutting out for the windows, adding in 1 inch thick blocks of wood in the hollow space also took a lot of time. You do not want to mess this up.

I welded in extra square tubing in the ceiling where the AC unit is to make it stronger. Planning took as much time as execution.

I am currently still pondering the best way to put propane in. Finding the right sizes and lengths of hoses, tubing, pipe, adapters etc is a big job. Easier to just take out of that junk camper you bought cheap and put in the new cargo camper.

Be sure that everything you build into it keeps the trailer balanced side to side, and also that there is not too much weight on the tongue or too much at the rear (rear weight will cause trailer sway).

Build everything light. Chose light over durable.
Do not use big plywood/ thick plywood. Use the lightest, flimsiest wood you can get away with. You will be amazed how it becomes strong when all bolted in and squared up with other things.

No nails. Glued and screwed is the motto.

You will use 500 screws.

Sheet metal screws are better than wood screws. #8 and #10 screws.

Tek screws are your friend for metal. also #10 or #8, well, your best friend will be the cordless impact wrench.

Use angle iron generously. It works better than using wood blocks to connect things at a right angle. The kind with the holes already all over it is super useful, but the blank ones can be drilled if you have a drill press.
Angle iron will take up less space than using weak wood.

Dicor Lap Sealant, self leveling. Choose your color.

Elmers wood glue is strong. The wood fibers will break before the glue bond will.

Consider what will be glued and what will be just screwed. Screws can be undone and redone for repairs, glue is much more difficult to take apart and you will likely break whatever is glued.

Showers and bathrooms are huge spaces that only get used minutes per day. Given you mentioned two females you likely have no choice, but for a man's RV you can have an outdoor shower, a bucket (for #2) and a laundry detergent gallon jug (for #1). There are ways to set up a temporary indoor shower and use the sink wand extension as your shower head. I have a folding dog bath tub, looks like a small pool, to stand in to shower and just set up a shower curtain.

Man's RV can also forego heating water. Man up and take a cold shower, you wash your hands in cold water.... but again, if females, then you are building an entirely different camper..

If you can make folding beds then that will give you a lot of room in the daytime for those cold or rainy days, otherwise you will be living on the beds.

mr_andyj

Georgia

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Joined: 11/13/2004

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Posted: 07/25/20 07:57pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

dbl post

* This post was edited 07/27/20 06:36am by mr_andyj *

Gdetrailer

PA

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Joined: 01/05/2007

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Posted: 07/25/20 09:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

mr_andyj wrote:

mr_andyj wrote:

I have one. It is smaller than yours but I am usually going solo.
They are called Cargo Campers.
I have a big bed that fold up , so it is literally both cargo and a camper as I can still haul things with the bed up, much like the back of a Toy Hauler.

If you are handy this will be a great way to get exactly what you want. If you will be learning all the trades then you will learn a lot, make a lot of mistakes, but eveuntally get it done and be happy.

It does take a lot of time.

I have the #1 rule: Never use a 2x4.
#2 never use pre-built homedepot cabinets or counters. They are made for houses, not small spaces.
#3 everything you do needs to be space saving and preferably have dual-uses.

The cheapest and easiest thing to do to build up your cargo trailer is go buy a used camper that is super cheap, $500 or $1,500 even. If all the things work in it this will save you thousands of dollars!!!! I can't stress this enough. All the little things will add up.

I had the cargo trailer, and I had laying around about $2,000 worth of RV camper things (AC, Heater, Danfoss compressor Fridge, Water Pump, Water Tank, Electrical system, one solar panel (bought another), batteries, Ceiling Fans etc... I still spent about another $2,000 and counting.

Including trailer, what I had and what I spent the grand total is well over $6,500 (trailer counts for about 2,500).

I spent a lot of time insulating the ceiling. Just cutting the foam to fit in place is time-consuming, then I cut long strips of 1 inch boards and added another layer of 1 inch insulation, and more time to cut the foam panels. Remember to run the electrical wiring before so you have wires in place.

Do insulate the roof/ceiling and all the walls, the floor is optional.

Cutting out for the windows, adding in 1 inch thick blocks of wood in the hollow space also took a lot of time. You do not want to mess this up.

I welded in extra square tubing in the ceiling where the AC unit is to make it stronger. Planning took as much time as execution.

I am currently still pondering the best way to put propane in. Finding the right sizes and lengths of hoses, tubing, pipe, adapters etc is a big job. Easier to just take out of that junk camper you bought cheap and put in the new cargo camper.

Be sure that everything you build into it keeps the trailer balanced side to side, and also that there is not too much weight on the tongue or too much at the rear (rear weight will cause trailer sway).

Build everything light. Chose light over durable.
Do not use big plywood/ thick plywood. Use the lightest, flimsiest wood you can get away with. You will be amazed how it becomes strong when all bolted in and squared up with other things.

No nails. Glued and screwed is the motto.

You will use 500 screws.

Sheet metal screws are better than wood screws. #8 and #10 screws.

Tek screws are your friend for metal. also #10 or #8, well, your best friend will be the cordless impact wrench.

Use angle iron generously - aluminum or steel, and thin steel when you can, or sometimes just an angle piece for a small thing. In homedepot decking section they have shaped metal for building decks that might be useful. Angled metal works better than using wood blocks to connect things at a right angle. The kind with the holes already all over it is super useful, but the blank ones can be drilled if you have a drill press.
Angle iron will take up less space than using weak wood.

Dicor Lap Sealant, self leveling. Choose your color.

Elmers wood glue is strong. The wood fibers will break before the glue bond will.

Consider what will be glued and what will be just screwed. Screws can be undone and redone for repairs, glue is much more difficult to take apart and you will likely break whatever is glued.

Showers and bathrooms are huge spaces that only get used minutes per day. Given you mentioned two females you likely have no choice, but for a man's RV you can have an outdoor shower, a bucket (for #2) and a laundry detergent gallon jug (for #1). There are ways to set up a temporary indoor shower and use the sink wand extension as your shower head. I have a folding dog bath tub, looks like a small pool, to stand in to shower and just set up a shower curtain.

Man's RV can also forego heating water. Man up and take a cold shower, you wash your hands in cold water.... but again, if females, then you are building an entirely different camper..

If you can make folding beds then that will give you a lot of room in the daytime for those cold or rainy days, otherwise you will be living on the beds.


[image]

Can't figure out if you are joking or for real but that is pretty over the top reaction..

Simply put, cargo trailers start put extremely heavy which makes them less than ideal.

I would agree with buying a junker, then use whatever good parts like windows and other items.

Think light weight construction, RVs typically use 1x2 construction and 1/8" paneling to save weight. Build your own cabinets, use 1x2 s for framing the cabinets and cover with your thin paneling.. IE make a "sandwich" for strength instead of 1/2" or 3/4" plywood.

If you design it well you can also use your trailer as a "toyhauler".

Personally though, it is very easy to dump a lot of time and money into this project and in the end when you decide to sell it, you will not recoop the time or money out of it and might even be a difficult sale..

mr_andyj

Georgia

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Joined: 11/13/2004

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Posted: 07/27/20 06:38am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

No joke. These are just the basics. I see people doing things so wrong on their first attempt.
Sometimes what seems right is the worst thing to do. Always seek advice from those who have traveled the road before you

JRscooby

Indepmo

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Joined: 06/10/2019

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Posted: 07/27/20 07:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

valhalla360 wrote:

JRscooby wrote:


The carpet is just 1 example. I prefer to cook and do dishes outside. If I was converting a cargo trailer, I would mount sink and stove to back door, at a height to be comfortable to use while standing on level ground. If needed, could bend or sit to use inside.
My point is, DIY, you can make it as simple as you want, in both construction and use.


Again, lots come with an outdoor kitchen or it would be easy to retrofit one on a an existing camper.

Sure you can put in far more effort and cost to get simple or you can buy a simple RV and make a few minor changes.

Again, if you just like projects, it makes sense. Otherwise, you would be hard pressed to come up with a reason to build.


Personally, I'm not going to do it. What I have will last the rest of my life.
But when you talk against a van because it is too much of a project, but buy a small RV and change this and that to make it like you want sounds like as much of a project.
And how often do you hear of a cargo trailer damaged by rain? Fact is the cargo trailer is better built.

trail-explorer

NM

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Joined: 07/31/2008

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Posted: 07/27/20 12:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There are several large Facebook groups about Cargo Trailer Conversions.

Search FB groups for that phrase and you can join the groups.

There's hundreds of pics and ideas. Aeesome stuff for sure.


Bob

Gdetrailer

PA

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Joined: 01/05/2007

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Posted: 07/27/20 04:11pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

mr_andyj wrote:

No joke. These are just the basics. I see people doing things so wrong on their first attempt.
Sometimes what seems right is the worst thing to do. Always seek advice from those who have traveled the road before you


There is no "right" or "wrong" when it come to custom building to your own liking even if the OP decided to use 2x4s.

OP has a blank canvas and they can choose what to do and what to use.

In the case of starting with a cargo trailer the OP is already starting out with a extremely heavy trailer when compared to the construction of a travel trailer frame and shell. Starting out heavy does not equal "better" either.

As an average a 7x16ft enclosed 7,000 lb GVWR cargo trailer has a starting empty weight of 2,200 lbs giving them 4,800 lbs of cargo to work with. That is a lot of dead weight to start with.

I did briefly look at cargo trailers to custom build on but due to the expense and weight I ruled that out. Better yet is to simply have a custom trailer frame built, then build you own box on top, far cheaper and far lighter.

7X16 is not very big to start with, typically only Lite weight trailers will be only 7ft wide, OP will need to fir in the walls to insulate taking space from the inside.. Moving from a 35ft 5vr to 7x16 is quite a large downsize change..

I ended up buying a junker for $700, stripped the outside siding, resided it, gutted interior and fully rebuilt it. Reusing a lot of the stuff that came with the trailer. All told only cost $5K for a rebuilt trailer custom designed to my liking.

I have no expectations of ever getting a dime above the scrap value of the frame (that is from prior experience of rehabbing a previous TT).

OP is looking at using the cargo trailer for a short time, then what?

Sell it?

Yeah, they would get more out of it as a cargo trailer than a converted RV.. In my area a used 4 yr old 7x16 cargo trailer easily fetches $5K-$7K.. Rv owners are total cheapskates and will not pay much for a rebuilt or custom on off trailer unless it was to the buyers specifications.

Cargo trailers also DO and CAN leak, folks think they do not, but they do.

If you are going to do a custom on off like this, you better either make it 100% reversible to a cargo trailer or plan to NEVER sell it. Otherwise the OP will take a major bath on all of that labor and materials.

OP isn't wanting it to be a "forever" trailer and plans to buy another 5vr..

Mine however IS a "forever" trailer, I have zero plans to buy another trailer, period.. They are money pits, just open wallet and insert $100 bills at a time down the toilet. The mistakes I made on my first rebuild, I did not make on my second one..

Personally, The OP is better off to sell the cargo trailer and take the proceeds from that sale and use for a down payment on their new 5vr..

TomG2

Central Illinois

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Joined: 03/07/2004

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Posted: 07/27/20 05:57pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Like my buddy says, "You do you and I do me".

The fact is that actual 3/4 inch plywood is heavier and stronger than some 1/2 inch cardboard sandwich. Your choice.

The fact is that people can be camping in a cargo trailer the first weekend as most folks already own coolers and cots.

The fact is, 7,000 pounds gvwr in a cargo trailer is the same as 7,000 pounds gvwr in a travel trailer. The difference is that "you" get to decide what is in that 7,000 pounds.

The fact is, cargo trailers have great resale value. Travel trailers don't.

The fact is, all RV's have a huge appetite for hundred dollar bills.

The fact is, we are all free to spend our time and money as we see fit.

TomG2

Central Illinois

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Posted: 07/31/20 04:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A couple of options for those who do not want to do all the conversion are the WeeRoll and RunAway offerings. They can be optioned out with various furnishings. Quite a cult following of both on the Internet. Mostly for those who plan on a lot of miles. Not many amenities, more of a bedroom on wheels approach.

ajriding

st clair

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Posted: 08/01/20 09:12am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

lol, those are opinions not facts, but that's you being you.

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