New camper trailer restoration

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New camper trailer restoration

Postby Dan Gary » Fri Sep 10, 2021 6:44 am

Starting a new camper build for either a 5x10 or 6x12. Presently this boat trailer I recently purchased is a 5x10 but could widen around the wheels and extend the rear to a 6x12. Since it measures 60” between the wheels, I’ll end up losing interior width with the wall thickness for a queen size mattress, I thought widening it would help from losing any bed width and having to trim it down. Adding 2ft at the rear for the galley would give be 12ft for an overall length. Just concerned though about the balance of the trailer relative to the axle location? Have a question about using a 1974 axle and springs? I plan to replace wheel bearings but is it prudent to replace such an old axle and springs with new? I think the GVW rating on this trailer is about #2500 pounds which should be adequate for my build.167161
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Re: New camper trailer restoration

Postby saltydawg » Fri Sep 10, 2021 7:13 am

First for axle location we need pics or measurements.

Next age of springs are probably fine, but they are cheap to replace. Dont replace them yet, build your camper then get it weighed and then get new springs 10-20% more than your loaded weight.

The width, its 60 inches for a reason, most fenders are 9 inches. So 60 + 9 + 9 = 78, that keeps the lighting requirements simpler. As soon as you get over 80 you need more lighting. The mattress wont care if you squish it a little
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Re: New camper trailer restoration

Postby KCStudly » Fri Sep 10, 2021 1:43 pm

... and be careful. On a UT of mine, the state inspector measured 79-3/4 inches.... and rounded up to 80 inches on the inspection form, making me have to add the extra 3-lamp clearance lights. What a dork.
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Re: New camper trailer restoration

Postby Dan Gary » Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:17 am

saltydawg wrote:First for axle location we need pics or measurements.


From the axle to the rear frame it’s 48” and from the axle to the apex at the frame at the front is 84”. I plan to square off the frame at the front. I could come back a foot to 6 ft at the front to get that perfect 40/60 ratio. I’m also planning on a front storage box for battery/electrical and will add some tongue weight. I can also probably project my rear galley back a foot if I choose the 11 ft. length? As for 5 or 6ft. width, I’m leaning towards 6ft. but worried about weight as I’m also planning on standing height inside. My Dilly Trailer’s GVWR is 2060 pounds on 8” tires which obviously I won’t be running. I think the present tires are 12” and will probably increase to 15” which should help my GVWR?
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Re: New camper trailer restoration

Postby KCStudly » Mon Sep 13, 2021 7:42 am

Gross vehicle weight rating is based on the weakest link, be it tire rating, wheel rating, spring rating, axle rating, hitch rating or trailer frame design. Increasing one does not necessarily increase them all.
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Re: New camper trailer restoration

Postby Dan Gary » Mon Sep 13, 2021 8:47 am

Curious, is there a reason why most camper builds are usually no more than 5ft. I understand this may be primarily weight savings but is it also because aluminum comes in 60” stock to get a seamless roof?
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Re: New camper trailer restoration

Postby DrewsBrews » Mon Sep 13, 2021 9:26 am

Probably because most standard trailer frames people use come in 4ft and 5ft deck widths. People seem to like having the fenders rather than building over the wheels for aesthetics and ease of build. You can find 5ft wide plywood but I don't think 6ft wide is much of a thing unless special ordered. Though most folks get around dimension limitations by joining pieces together.

Beyond that there are aerodynamic issues the wider the trailer gets as it is not hiding as much behind the slip stream of the tow vehicle, adding extra MPG penalty which can really hurt on long trips. Then you have the additional light requirements, as noted previously, if the very outside dimensions are 80" or greater (including fenders, ect) but I doubt that is much of an obstacle.
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Re: New camper trailer restoration

Postby Dan Gary » Mon Sep 13, 2021 12:33 pm

DrewsBrews wrote:Beyond that there are aerodynamic issues the wider the trailer gets as it is not hiding as much behind the slip stream of the tow vehicle, adding extra MPG penalty which can really hurt on long trips. Then you have the additional light requirements, as noted previously, if the very outside dimensions are 80" or greater (including fenders, ect) but I doubt that is much of an obstacle.


Good point about the wind drag with increasing width to 6ft. Since this will be a long distance rig, as our 6 kids and 13 grandchildren live far away, we need enhanced aerodynamics. Everything so far seems to point to staying with our 5ft width.
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Re: New camper trailer restoration

Postby DrewsBrews » Mon Sep 13, 2021 12:51 pm

Going taller can probably hurt as much too. My build is going to have a 5ft tall cabin which puts the total height roughly 6.5ft on a trailer shaped like a brick. Current tow vehicle is a 5.4l f150 with open bed. Not looking forward to the MPG that combo will get...

Unless I get around to fixing my manual trans Saturn Vue that has had a replacement engine sitting next to it for a year and a half :roll:
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Re: New camper trailer restoration

Postby Dan Gary » Mon Sep 13, 2021 6:52 pm

DrewsBrews wrote:Going taller can probably hurt as much too. My build is going to have a 5ft tall cabin which puts the total height roughly 6.5ft on a trailer shaped like a brick. Current tow vehicle is a 5.4l f150 with open bed. Not looking forward to the MPG that combo will get...

Unless I get around to fixing my manual trans Saturn Vue that has had a replacement engine sitting next to it for a year and a half :roll:


Originally, I tried talking my wife into buying a tear drop trailer however she doesn’t like the low height and the inability to stand up. I realize it will cost me with wind drag. Compared through to a 20 ft/3000 pound + UL travel trailer, that we had considered purchasing, my 5x10 will be a fly weight. Perhaps this is more reason to cut my camper down to a 5x10. We got 18mpg pulling our popup camper (12 ft. box/2500 pounds) on our last trip to Utah/Colorado towing with a Honda Ridgeline. I realize the popup had a low profile so I expect my numbers my go down with a standee. It would be cool to do a simulated wind tunnel test of various camper shapes and sizes, particularly for taller rigs to find the most efficient shape for the front.
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Re: New camper trailer restoration

Postby Dan Gary » Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:31 am

Working on frame prep and restoration and wondered; what is the benefit to building a floor frame sandwiched with plywood top and bottom. Is this just for insulating or is there a structural purpose? Reason I ask, is that we live in a mild climate and seldom snows in Texas. Summer heat is our nemesis.
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Re: New camper trailer restoration

Postby DrewsBrews » Tue Sep 14, 2021 10:06 am

I just built a floor on top of my frame. A skeleton with perimeter of 1x4s with 1x3 ribs (all laid flat). Filled in between with 3/4" foam board and sandwiched by 1/2" and 1/4" ply. Though I wont be standing up in it so 1/2" should suffice for me.

Encapsulating the frame might potentially gain some small bit of drag reduction by preventing air from catching on all the frame bits. Or I suppose for some sort of protection for any delicate items installed underneath. But I suspect it is most practically used to create some hidden storage in the floor.

Pretty sure I've seen some folks just glue foam board insulation to the underside of the floor within the frame and coat the insulation and any exposed portions of the floor with tar or bed liner to seal moisture from wicking up into the floor... omitting any skin on the underside of the frame. As long as the frame itself has sufficient support for floor underlayment that could save some weight and additional height by not needing additional wood framing to support it.

A big reason for insulation in campers is moisture reduction. It is a small space and the human body expels alot of moisture. It will condense on the walls and floor typically overnight due to the temp difference. Not fun to wake up in being dripped on or in a soggy mattress. vent fans do help, though I imagine it is an uphill battle with no insulation. You obviously wouldn't need to go overboard on insulation due to your climate and comfort level, but some is helpful.
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Re: New camper trailer restoration

Postby Dan Gary » Tue Sep 14, 2021 12:56 pm

DrewsBrews wrote:
A big reason for insulation in campers is moisture reduction. It is a small space and the human body expels alot of moisture. It will condense on the walls and floor typically overnight due to the temp difference. Not fun to wake up in being dripped on or in a soggy mattress. vent fans do help, though I imagine it is an uphill battle with no insulation. You obviously wouldn't need to go overboard on insulation due to your climate and comfort level, but some is helpful.


I recall reading about moisture relative to tent camping. It comes from the ground and not from above like dew or rain. Therefore insulating the camper from below sounds about right. Wonder if Tyvek might work well as a moisture barrier too. Since I’m on my frame restoration these things need to be considered now.
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