"TrailTop" modular trailer building components

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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby jscherb » Fri Oct 17, 2014 2:45 pm

For some of the TrailTop concepts I've drawn, different radius corner pieces are needed. For example, the TrailDog concept uses both 60-degree and 30-degree corners:

Image

Until now, I haven't made any 30 or 60 degree molds or corners. The other day I was making a few fiberglass parts for another project, so since I was making the fiberglass mess anyway I molded two TrailTop 12" radius 90-degree corners to serve as the mold masters for a 30- and 60-degree parts. Clockwise from top left, here's the process for making a 60-degree corner:

1. The 90-degree part fresh out of the mold, just rough trimmed for now.

2. A 30-degree section to be cut out has been marked with tape.

3. The section is cut out and the halves are test-fit.

4. Once the joint has been cleaned up a bit for fit, the halves are taped together on the outside with masking tape, and joined on the inside with fiberglass. Also in this photo is a 30-degree corner which has already been bonded back together, but awaiting a little body filler to hide the joint.

Image

And here are both the new 30- and 60-degree corner masters:

Image

The next step for these parts would be to make a mold so more could be made, but instead of using these new parts to make a mold, for a one-off project the parts could be used as-is - after fiberglassing the two halves of a cut part back together it's plenty strong enough to be used as is, so custom angles or other one-off parts for a special TrailTop design could just be made by modifying stock parts like this.

Also, a curved outer skin would be needed to go around the radii, I've shown those parts in white in this drawing:

Image

I've already made a mold and molded a 90-degree radius skin piece, and that would be used with these shorter angles as well. The curved skin piece would be cut to match the angle, and to replace the joining tab that was be cut off, a piece of 1/4" plywood would be epoxied or bolted in place to form a new tab. In the photo below I've clamped a 60-degree corner to the curved skin piece and marked the cut line; the piece cut off would be 30 degrees, so it would be used to skin a 30-degree corner.

Image
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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby IamJerryP » Fri Oct 17, 2014 3:41 pm

Are there any aerodynamic advantages to the sawtooth design, compared to the more rounded teardrop design.
I like the sawtooth designs from a ease of construction, and even the looks, of some,
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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby jscherb » Fri Oct 17, 2014 3:47 pm

IamJerryP wrote:Are there any aerodynamic advantages to the sawtooth design, compared to the more rounded teardrop design.
I like the sawtooth designs from a ease of construction, and even the looks, of some,

I really don't know, I'm not that kind of engineer :).

I started this project with the idea of being able to assemble teardrop campers with the TrailTop parts system, and along the way the shape of the sawtooth-style was something people reading the threads on this subject asked for, so I did a few concept drawings, and now I've made test versions of the 30- and 60-degree corner parts.
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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby rowerwet » Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:45 am

Given how often FRP skin is mentioned as an option for finishing a build here, I think the diamond plate sheet would be popular here, and with the off road crowd. I know you consider shipping issues when you design, how would a 4x8 sheet be shipped?
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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby jscherb » Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:29 am

rowerwet wrote:Given how often FRP skin is mentioned as an option for finishing a build here, I think the diamond plate sheet would be popular here, and with the off road crowd. I know you consider shipping issues when you design, how would a 4x8 sheet be shipped?


It would have to be shipped the same way a 4x8 sheet of aluminum diamondplate would be shipped, like these sheets from RV Surplus: http://www.factoryrvsurplus.com/product ... ct_id=2090
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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby jscherb » Mon Oct 27, 2014 9:18 am

So far I'm very happy with the RescueIt coating I used on the TrailTop cover for my yellow trailer.

Image

But since the trailer lives most of the time in the garage, or when it is outside the tarp cover is on it, I won't get a good long-term test of the coating. A month or so ago when I applied the cover to the trailer top, I zip-tied a sample of it to a railing. I plan to leave it out all winter and I'll report back on it sometime in the spring.

The sample in this photo is fiberglass. The white part on the left side is bare, and most of the right side has been coated with primer before shooting the RescueIt. The chip on the left side is where I was able to scrape some of the RescueIt off the bare fiberglass several days after it was applied; I tried the same fingernail test on the RescueIt that was applied over the primer but was unable to scratch it. This photo was taken this morning, so about 30 days after it was strapped to the railing. Obviously not a long term test, so I'll post an update in the spring after the sample has been out all winter.

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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby Impish123 » Sat Dec 06, 2014 1:30 pm

jscherb wrote:For some of the TrailTop concepts I've drawn, different radius corner pieces are needed. For example, the TrailDog concept uses both 60-degree and 30-degree corners:

Image

Until now, I haven't made any 30 or 60 degree molds or corners. The other day I was making a few fiberglass parts for another project, so since I was making the fiberglass mess anyway I molded two TrailTop 12" radius 90-degree corners to serve as the mold masters for a 30- and 60-degree parts. Clockwise from top left, here's the process for making a 60-degree corner:

1. The 90-degree part fresh out of the mold, just rough trimmed for now.

2. A 30-degree section to be cut out has been marked with tape.

3. The section is cut out and the halves are test-fit.

4. Once the joint has been cleaned up a bit for fit, the halves are taped together on the outside with masking tape, and joined on the inside with fiberglass. Also in this photo is a 30-degree corner which has already been bonded back together, but awaiting a little body filler to hide the joint.

Image

And here are both the new 30- and 60-degree corner masters:

Image

The next step for these parts would be to make a mold so more could be made, but instead of using these new parts to make a mold, for a one-off project the parts could be used as-is - after fiberglassing the two halves of a cut part back together it's plenty strong enough to be used as is, so custom angles or other one-off parts for a special TrailTop design could just be made by modifying stock parts like this.

Also, a curved outer skin would be needed to go around the radii, I've shown those parts in white in this drawing:

Image

I've already made a mold and molded a 90-degree radius skin piece, and that would be used with these shorter angles as well. The curved skin piece would be cut to match the angle, and to replace the joining tab that was be cut off, a piece of 1/4" plywood would be epoxied or bolted in place to form a new tab. In the photo below I've clamped a 60-degree corner to the curved skin piece and marked the cut line; the piece cut off would be 30 degrees, so it would be used to skin a 30-degree corner.

Image



Jeff, I have followed your work since the very beginning of the Safari Cab over on JF. I have to tell you, your work and creativity is truly impressive. That said, the trail dog concept is absolutely amazing. The wife and I have been considering building or buying a camper on and off for a few years and while we love the teardrop, since we have a little one we're now looking at a teardrop style with a rooftop tent. This trailer with a rooftop tent would be just about perfect. I had been drawing out some (crappy) designs and this one matches closely with my ideal camper. We'd probably go with a pullout kitchen like in some of your drawings, and use the galley area as simply storage. My LJ could hold the rest of our gear without too much issue.

Do you currently have any companies interesting in bringing these products to the market?

On a side note, your trip up the Dalton was epic, the wife and I will duplicate that trip someday (hopefully in a nice little camper)!
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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby jscherb » Sat Dec 06, 2014 4:52 pm

Impish123 wrote:Jeff, I have followed your work since the very beginning of the Safari Cab over on JF. I have to tell you, your work and creativity is truly impressive. That said, the trail dog concept is absolutely amazing. The wife and I have been considering building or buying a camper on and off for a few years and while we love the teardrop, since we have a little one we're now looking at a teardrop style with a rooftop tent. This trailer with a rooftop tent would be just about perfect. I had been drawing out some (crappy) designs and this one matches closely with my ideal camper. We'd probably go with a pullout kitchen like in some of your drawings, and use the galley area as simply storage. My LJ could hold the rest of our gear without too much issue.

Do you currently have any companies interesting in bringing these products to the market?


Thank you.

I'm pretty busy with other projects right now, so I'm not focused on the TrailTop stuff anymore. Probably at this point I won't try to work with a company to turn it into a commercial product. In addition to my other projects, a company recently licensed a number of my Jeep accessory designs, so I'm spending some time helping them get the products to market - they introduced the products at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas last month and received great interest in them, it was a lot of fun to be there and see the reaction to the products.

Impish123 wrote:On a side note, your trip up the Dalton was epic, the wife and I will duplicate that trip someday (hopefully in a nice little camper)!


It was an amazing trip. And speaking of SEMA, Alex Debogorski, one of the Ice Road Truckers was there, he was putting on a snow driving exhibition and meeting people. Heather and I spent some time talking to Alex; we told him about our trip in the Jeep and showed him our photo book from the trip. I told him I had done something he hadn't done (swam in the Arctic Ocean) and his reply was that he had done something I hadn't - drive on it! I guess he's got me there :).

Image

He was very nice and signed our photo book on the page with the photos of the Jeep crossing Atigun Pass on the Dalton.

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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby jscherb » Fri Jan 09, 2015 9:43 am

Several months ago when I finished the TrailTop trailer cover with Olympic RescueIT, I put a sample piece outside for weather testing. It's been snowed on and rained on quite a bit over the months, and while it's way too early to call this a long-term test, the initial results are excellent - there's no deterioration of the sample whatsoever, and the finish is still very tightly bonded to the fiberglass sample. So far I'm very impressed with RescueIt as a coating for trailer covers and trailer beds. I'll report again in a few months.

Image

The trailer spends most of its time in the garage, or when I need the garage bay it's stored outside with the fitted tarp on it, so of course it still looks like it did in these photos I took right after I applied the RescueIt.

Image
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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby bc toys » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:24 am

Sorry we couldn't meet up at SEMA but they keep me up on the catwalk and hardly ever got down on the floor level Glad you and your wife had a good time here in Las Vegas Keep those post coming I still like the build of the trailer
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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby jscherb » Sat Mar 07, 2015 10:41 am

After 5 months of literally the worst winter on record since records started being kept over 100 years ago in my part of the country, today I ventured out to check on the RescueIt long term test panel. I'm happy to report there's no deterioration whatsoever; the finish is still very tightly adhered to the fiberglass and does not scratch off.

Image

I'll leave the panel strapped to the railing through the summer to see how it fares longer term, but so far I'm very impressed with RescueIt.
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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby kirkman » Sat Mar 07, 2015 11:41 am

Thanks for the up date Jeff!
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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby donrebyct » Mon Mar 23, 2015 3:30 pm

I just found this thread yesterday, and have read all of it since last night. You are a genius. To repeat what many people have been asking, when will these components be available? If I had these parts, I could build a small standup camper and head for Alaska this summer.

Please keep updates coming.

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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby jscherb » Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:01 pm

donrebyct wrote:I just found this thread yesterday, and have read all of it since last night. You are a genius. To repeat what many people have been asking, when will these components be available? If I had these parts, I could build a small standup camper and head for Alaska this summer.

Please keep updates coming.

Don


Don,

Thank you very much. Last year when I was developing the TrailTop parts and building the prototype teardrop and tilt-up proof-of-concept projects, there were several companies that seemed interested in picking up the system for production. For whatever reason, they haven't decided to proceed with that. So will the TrailTop parts ever go into production? I don't know, and since I'm not in the business of selling anything, if the parts are to go into production some company is going to have to come along and sign up for them. Am I trying hard to find such a company? I have to admit I'm not - I'm involved in new projects now, some of which have just gone into to production or are about to, and I'm also working on a very ambitious fiberglass project, so those are keeping me pretty busy at the moment.

But I do still have all of the TrailTop molds, so I can make more parts if I need to and someday will probably make another example or two using the parts - it's a lot of fun to assemble these parts and build something, kind of like Legos for grownups. I'm sure I'll build more with them someday - I've got two projects in mind that I'd like to build with TrailTop parts, maybe I'll get to at least one of them later this year.

Jeff
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Re: "TrailTop" modular trailer building components

Postby jscherb » Tue Apr 21, 2015 2:49 pm

Another TrailTop long-term test result...

The TrailTop components are fiberglass, and designed so that they provide a framework and nicely curved corners for the construction of the camper/trailer topper/etc., and plywood is used to span the flat areas inside the framework. This photo shows the unfinished tilt-up camper top after the plywood was bonded to the fiberglass with epoxy and secured with flathead machine screws. I used inexpensive 1/4" underlayment plywood from Lowes, which came from the store primed white on one side.

Image

After bonding + bolting the plywood to the TrailTop framework, I used ordinary automotive body filler to smooth the joint between the plywood and the fiberglass, and then finished it off with Olympic Rescue-It deck resurfacer, I picked up a gallon of it on the "mistint" table at Lowes for less than $20. I sealed the underside of the plywood with ordinary polyurethane varnish.

Image

The trailer has spent most of this winter in the unheated garage, and some of the time outside with the tarp cover on it when I needed the garage for other projects. It's been the coldest/dryest winter in 100 years here, so if there was going to be any shrinkage of the plywood I would have expected it to happen this winter.

I'm happy to report that the cover looks as good as the day I put the finish on it (well maybe it's a little dustier). There's been no shrinkage at the joints between the plywood and the fiberglass.

Image

And, as I reported a while back, the fiberglass sample I primed and coated with Rescue-It last fall and left out in the snow all winter is also as nice as the day I applied the finish.

Image
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