2013 Mirage XPO 6x12- Mt Air Express

Converting Cargo Trailers into TTTs

2013 Mirage XPO 6x12- Mt Air Express

Postby Rainier70 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:19 pm

We have picked up our trailer and are starting our conversion. Mirage trailers are made in Nampa, Idaho, and I have been really impressed with most of the trailer's construction. There are a few issues though, at least that I have found so far.

It looks pretty good outside

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and inside. The base of the walls were well sealed against dust. The doors are solid, and they fit well with good weather stripping.

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The floor has some rough spots, so I will probably be filling and then painting it with epoxy.

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Last edited by Rainier70 on Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby Rainier70 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:39 pm

The biggest problem I have found so far is that the interior plywood is nailed into place. I thought that the plywood was screwed on. The heads look like phillips screws, but they are not.

I talked to the factory, and they explained the design of these nails. In theory there is a screw in the head of the nail that you are supposed to be able to unscrew. "With the small screw out the nail, the head is easy to collapse and pull the plywood over." Don't believe it....It doesn't work! You can't unscrew anything because the whole nail turns. Like wise you can't drill the heads off, because the whole nail turns. Most of the nails are sunk into the plywood far enough that you can't grind them off either. So you pry the plywood off, with considerable damage to the wood. I got it off. I will be able to reuse the pieces, but I will be filling spots with Fixall and painting the walls also. Pain in the posterior!

This sure looks like a screw....
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Here is one left in rib. Notice the lack of paint on the middle section of ribs. (problem #2) I am buffing the unpainted sections with steel wool to remove the slight rust that is already beginning and painting them.

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Some of the damage done to the plywood. This first one is the worst so far. (I don't quite have all of it off yet)

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The nasty little pneumatic ring nails:

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edit: edit: I see that I didn't mention in my build that part of the solution to getting my panels off was to use 2 or 3 pry bars to lever most of a full edge up at a time. With more of an even pressure across a larger area, I had better luck on getting the panels to pop off with little damage.
Last edited by Rainier70 on Sat Feb 08, 2014 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby Rainier70 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:33 pm

Factory Wiring:

Most junctions have crimp caps. Also most of the wire runs in a channel that is the base of the roof ribs.

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Grommets were used to run the wire through the channel where needed.

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There are some Scotch locks and the wires were run through washers at the back above the door. I will be putting some tubing and silicone in the washers. You can also see that the ceiling is now insulated.

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Wiring loom bringing the wires in. It is kind of blurry, but you can see the sealant used behind the corner piece to seal out the dust. The finger width gap at the front is from where the plywood fits between the ribs and the siding. Dust would come in there, but with the bottom of the interior plywood sealed it might not have gotten to the interior. I may seal some of that gap, but not all of it. I think it is probably a good thing to have some ventilation for condensation behind the siding.

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At least the corner plywood pieces by the back door were screwed in to allow access to the back lights.

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More about the structure:

The front face has a stout piece of plywood backing all of the siding. Notice the newly painted ribs.

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The wheel well bracing is a solid metal brace. The rib tubing is thicker than I expected.

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I am very impressed by how stout the metal frame is in this trailer. The ribs are 1 inch wide by 1 1/4 inch deep, and the metal is fairly thick. The 1 1/4 inch deep ribs combined with 3/8th inch plywood give me a wall thickness of 1 1/2 inches.
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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby dustboy » Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:35 pm

Wow, those nails really are a cheap fake-out. What a PITA. They probably save 5 minutes on the interior panel installation.
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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby Rainier70 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:40 pm

The nails are a pita! It can't have saved them that much. It is the same thing with the lack of paint on the middle of the ribs. Both the tops and the bottoms of the ribs are painted, but not the middles. How much did that save them?
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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby Rainier70 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 2:44 pm

I must say though, that over all I think that the trailer is a good buy. The nails have been the only real problem.

Especially since it was $2299 new, and I couldn't find anything in our area used for less than that.
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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby OverTheTopCargoTrailer » Sat Apr 06, 2013 3:05 pm

Congrats On the new trailer

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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby Pinkeye » Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:29 am

I have a 6X14 TNT brand Titan Model built by Mirage! I have just started my build. I have found the fasteners holding the plywood on a pain also. I live just 6 miles from the factory and have visited it several times. I also was there at mid point of the build of my trailer and got to see it! I believe they have a very good trailer! They work very hard to make sure the customer is pleased! :D
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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby dustboy » Sun Apr 07, 2013 10:15 am

I'm sure the Mirage will serve you well. I've yet to see a CT that had the steel studs painted behind the plywood. If you're getting water in the walls you have worse problems than a little surface rust on the studs.

It's pretty clear that trailer manufacturers are operating on a very slim margin. The price of steel goes up every day, aluminum is never cheap, not to mention the ever rising cost of labor. Then there's overhead, sales staff gets a commission, I wouldn't be surprised if their profit on your trailer was well under 10%.
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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby crumvoc » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:03 pm

I have a 2011 model from Mirage. They were using actual screws, not ringnails then... and I'm glad! Generally the trailer seems well built, especially structurally. Mine is a 6x10. I wish I would have gotten a 12' or 14' long model now. The length is worth it as it makes the interior options much more flexible. Enjoy your trailer!

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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby Rainier70 » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:33 am

If all I have to complain about is the nails and a little paint, then I have a really great trailer. The Mirage is built much better structurally than any other brand that we looked at. I am really impressed with the inch by inch and a quarter ribs. They are heavier steel than I would have thought. They are a bit of a bugger to drill into.

I got the trailer to convert, so the details on the interior are minor. I like what you all have done with yours. Mine will be pretty bare boned for awhile, but I am excited by the possibilities ahead!

My steps will be: (not necessarily in this exact order)
Insulation and vapor barrier--partially finished
Door holdbacks - one installed already on the side door. Our wind here slams things around, if they aren't leashed.
Ceiling vent
RV handle
Cam lock holdbacks
Finish DC wiring--- including battery box, truck connection, and solar panel connectors
Paint the roof with reflective paint
Fill, prime, and paint the floor
Put in two windows
Reinstall, fill, prime, and paint the walls
Put up ceiling covering and stain or paint
Put in interior slide locks on the back doors
Do spare tire mount

That should cover the basics to start with. If I need to use it before I get further along, I can use camp chairs and an air mattress or hang my hammock. I already have a lot of my camp set up including:
A new propane stove and Coleman Camp Oven
A Coleman on demand water heater (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baP-wcEGrHw) that is set up for showers as shown in this Youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1be1X9i-oDU
And outside shower set up ( I will be setting up to shower inside later on)

I haven't used the On Demand water heater camping yet or the Camp Oven......more new toys!


Anyone have any other suggestions of essentials that I am forgetting?
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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby Rainier70 » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:40 am

Crumvoc, for a 6X10, yours looks very roomy. I like what you have done with the interior. :thumbsup: Thanks so much for posting your pictures.

What did you use on your side ceiling curves? And what did you use for your side door latch? Thanks!
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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby crumvoc » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:33 pm

Rainier70 wrote:Crumvoc, for a 6X10, yours looks very roomy. I like what you have done with the interior. :thumbsup: Thanks so much for posting your pictures.

What did you use on your side ceiling curves? And what did you use for your side door latch? Thanks!


On ceiling curve I used fiberglass panels from home depot. The center part of the roof is sheathed with the same paneling that I used on the walls. That was a mistake because on the roof the paneling is not supported nearly as much as it is on the walls and the paneling tends to warp up there. I might change it to something else later. The fiberglass panels were actually pretty easy to work with.

For the side door, I used a "slam latch" that I got from Grant at Lil' Bear Teardrops (http://www.lilbear.teardrops.net/parts.html). Grant is a very nice guy and provides excellent customer service, in my experience.
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I actually have installed the jam latch three different times, having difficulty getting it aligned so that the handles spring back to neutral freely. I think I finally got it this time. Because this type of latch sits on the interior of the door, it can be difficult to get enough "purchase" on the latch strike plate. The latch has to be extremely close to the edge of the door for this to work. I think that if I had been more brave, I might have tried to install a RV type door latch which others have done successfully. It involves a fairly extensive "surgery" however.

From the same supplier, got these crank out windows that I really like.
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I leave them open almost all the time and have never had any problems with water infiltration into the trailer, even in severe rainstorms. Really helps with ventilation.

I have used the e-track/beam method of building a bed in the trailer. It folds back into a "couch", which really opens up the floor space. If I had a 12' or 14' trailer, I might be tempted to leave it in bed mode all the time. I built it high enough so that I have a lot of storage under it, in either mode. Here is a photo of it stowed against the wall.
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Have fun with your build. Oh, by the way, as far as the trailer looking "roomy," short, wide-angle lenses can do miracles!

Lastly, you mentioned that you found some "Scotch-lok" connectors. I did too. I am fairly certain that the devil himself invented those to creat short circuits where there would otherwise be none... I got rid of all that I could find.... Many years ago, I worked at a marina and one of my jobs was to fix trailer lights. Whenever a trailer would come in with problems, the first thing I would look for was scotch-lock connectors.
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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12 - The Escape Pod

Postby Rainier70 » Sun May 05, 2013 11:52 am

Ok, moving on with the build. I know the title is boring, but I wanted others who have or might purchase a Mirage trailer to be able to find info on one. Plus I like having the size and brand in the title of others' posts so I can refresh my memory about their trailer

I think I will have to name my trailer The Mountain Aire Express or The Escape Pod, as that is what it will be used for. Not only do I enjoy going camping and fishing, but when there is smoke etc where I live, I have to leave and go to higher ground. So the CT will be my "bug out" or "escape pod" trailer. We will have to see which name sticks. Right now I kind of think it will be The Escape Pod. :lol:

This will be kind of long and same ole type of construction pictures as most of you have already seen. Many of them seem to be of poor quality and on a slant. Sorry about that! :oops:

For the wiring through the washers I cut two inch sections of some clear tubing that I had. I split one side of it, slid it over the wires and used a little caulking to hold it in place.

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I got the sidewall insulation and vapor barrier on and the walls back up.

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While at Harbor Freight I picked up a roll of aluminum tape that worked great for holding and sealing the odd cuts in the insulation for the end caps and side curves of the roof. Good stuff!
Rear end wall insulation
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Front cap insulation
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My plywood interior was factory nailed on and after pulling it off there was some damage to the plywood. A good bit of the time the nails ripped right through and left a round hole. With care the overall the damage wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, so I was able to reuse the original plywood. I used one inch long screws with small washers to overlap the nail damage. They worked great.

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Next I swallowed hard and started cutting holes in the roof and sides for the vent and windows. While I was at Harbor Freight I also picked up some of their blue painters' tape since I didn't want to go back to Home Depot. It was a mistake. The stuff has very weak paper super sticky glue and won't come off even minutes after you put it on. I spent more time getting the tape and glue off than it took to cut the holes! :cry:

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My hubby welded in frames around the vent and above and below the windows. We used some one inch square tubing. so on the windows I cut some quarter inch wood spacers to finish filling in. I also did some half inch blocks next to the ribs. We could have used an all wood frame, but the metal cross pieces will be nice and stiff for the backwoods roads I frequent. Sorry that I don't have any pictures of the window framing. The weather was icky, and we were in a hurry to close things up.

Vent framing

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The windows were 21"x14" from Frank Bear and Vintage Technologies. They have a rubber seal, and the trim ring I ordered fit my 1 1/2" thick walls perfectly. One thing I did that made putting them in easier was to predrill the trim ring on to the window with the short 1/2" screws that came with it. That way the holes were prepped for the install. Unfortunately the window screens don't come out so the install is easier with two people. I did have to get longer screws to use in the actual installation. I picked up two sizes, some one inchers and some 3/4" screws. I used three of the too long one inchers to temporarily pull the window in then, I started setting the trim ring in with the 3/4 inch screws. It actually worked very well using the three screw sizes for the different steps.

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Outside view of window

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Inside view of trim ring

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All in all I am very pleased with the windows. They were just right in size to fit between my ribs. Mr Bear was nice to work with, and the windows were a fair price. I like the rubber gasket, and it was especially good to find the right sized trim rings for my walls.

I have started on the rough in wiring, but haven't finished it yet. Clothes pins work great to tame unruly wires until they get tied in.

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I put in an anti-lockin ring next to the cargo latch.

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I also put in a temporary handle and interior lock on the side door. I need to have something now as I don't have time yet to put in a rv latch. I burned holes through the webbing just large enough to force it over the cargo latch interior bolts. I looked for an old leather belt to use, but I found the webbing first. :FNP

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There were a lot of rough areas in the plywood floor so it is going to get painted instead of stained. First step toward that was to fill and sand the rough seams. ---I used Fix All and then a belt sander.

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I have already had to leave for two days as fields and weeds are burned for the spring cleanup. So I haven't had time to do my fold up beds yet. I can just use pads and mattresses on the floor, but instead I put in tie points for my hammock diagonally across the trailer.

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I like a hammock better, and it may be what I will use for days when I am on my own anyway.

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Thanks for looking!
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Re: 2013 Mirage XPO 6x12

Postby roadinspector » Sun May 05, 2013 11:01 pm

:applause: LOOKS GOOD! :thumbsup:

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