What we are working with today:
- Used trailer from Facebook Marketplace (here is a similar one)
I love my Jeep but there is one thing that Jeeps lack and that is storage space. That little 3 foot by 3 foot storage area behind the back seats fills up incredibly fast. Put a cooler back there and you are pretty much done.
Enter The Camping Trailer
To deal with by little dilemma, I decided to get a camping trailer.
You can buy pre-built camping trailers but they can easily exceed 5000 dollars in cost. Not in my budget, so home built is where it is at for me.
So, I began searching for a suitable trailer to build. I do not weld, and currently do not have the facilities to take up welding, so a pre-built trailer is what I need In addition, if I am just going to thrash it offroad, used would be ideal.
I searched for almost a month online, looking for a suitable trailer. Most of what I found were overpriced light duty trailer. Those little expanded metal and angle iron light duty trailers. Not what I had in mine.
I almost gave up and went with a Harbor Freight kit trailer when I found this.
It is a 4 foot by 4 foot trailer with a 1500 pound capacity axle, 14 inch tires and a removable trailer tongue.
The guy selling it was in East Texas, about a 100 mile drive, each way, but I wasn’t finding anything local. Plus, he only wanted $350 for it so I was in.
I texted my seller and told them I was on my way and set out to get it. Didn’t get a response back but not everyone responds to texts so on the road I went. Of course when I got to the address and tried to call, no response. I had an address but no lot number. It was a trailer community with about 40 lots so, kind of a tough situation.
After a bit of asking around I found the right lot and knocked on the door. Luckily he was home, groggy but home. He of course, thought I was coming out on Thursday and I then informed it that it was indeed currently Thursday.
Anyway, he hadn’t installed the lights yet so he knocked another 50 bucks off the price. For 300 dollars, sold. I would rather wire the lights myself anyway. Got a bill of sale signed, which is all you need in Texas to register, and off I went.
Here is the underside of the trailer. Pretty beefy for a 300 buck trailer. Notice the safety orange? It started life as one of those portable electronic highway signs.
Offroad Trailer Plans
The plan is going to be to build a box for the top and change out the wheels and tires to match the Jeep. Worse case scenario, that would give me two additional spares.
On the ride home, the trailer drove great and the hubs never got hot. I assume it was a well taken care of axle but I wanted to change the bearings for peace of mind. After pricing parts and wheel adapters, I decided it would not cost much more to just upgrade the axle.
Here is my initial parts order:
3500 pound axle.
Found this on Amazon for $149 shipped. It has a straight tube, 5 on 5 bolt pattern and EZ lube hubs. The straight tube is great because this little trailer would never weigh enough for proper camber on a 3500 pound axle. EZ lube hubs are nice as well and should save me a lot of trouble after wheeling trips if I get into a bit of water. The 5 on 5 pattern matches the Jeep JK wheels but you can get it in 5 on 4.5 as well.
I do not need a 3500 pound axle for capacity. The heavier duty axle should be more durable offroad though, especially since I will be running the same wheel/tire combo as the Jeep. 35’s on 15×8 steel wheels, which weigh 100 pounds each. Wouldn’t feel comfortable with them on a 1500 pound axle.
The 3500 pound axle has a much thicker tube which necessitates larger ubolts. I chose etrailer for this. You can save a few bucks with Amazon or eBay but I have found that for things like this, hardware, it is best to go with a major retailer.
Trailer Light Kit
Same as with the Ubolts, this stuff is so easy to cheap out on that it is best to go with a major retailer. Otherwise, you might get cheap lights with cheap wiring.
For now, I am going with a basic wiring and light kit, no LED’s. I will probably upgrade at some point but for now, I am sticking with basic lighting from etrailer.
I want to run the same wheel that I use on the Jeep. That is a 15×8 with 3.75 inches of backspacing. Hopefully, that much backspacing will allow me to not have to use a space on the axles.
I got my wheels from 4 Wheel Parts. Shipped them to the store to avoid shipping charges.
Once again, I wanted to run the same size tire as was on the Jeep. This would give me 2 additional spares in the case of a catastrophe. If the worse were to happen, I could always just cannibalize the trailer and then come back for it later.
With a solid axle, like is on the Jeep, you need to have not only the same bolt pattern on the wheel, but also the same height tire. Otherwise you could do some damage.
Here She Is
Still a lot to go, but here is the trailer after the first round of mods.
Here she is with the 3500 pound axle installed and the 35 inch tires mounted. It has only about 3/4 of an inch between the tires and the fame so I will be needing to get some spacers for some comfort room. Luckily 5 on 5 spacers are pretty common in the Jeep world, so I should just be looking at $50 or so
Now I need to build a simple box and then wire the lights up.
I am hoping to get this all wrapped up by early March so that I can do a little trial run camping trip.