{Ultimate Camping} Trailer - the mobile kitchen/power plant

Design & Construction of anything that's not a teardrop e.g. Grasshoppers or Sunspots

{Ultimate Camping} Trailer - the mobile kitchen/power plant

Postby AlienSKP » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:15 am

Hi there !

Here is my trailer building journal. I'll do my best to update it regularly. My goal is clear : build a trailer that ends up in the "Hall of Fame" :)

It's the first trailer I'm going to build, but I'm not a beginner in DIYs. I've been building electronic automated systems (based on Arduino) and I also know how to use wood tools.

I've searched online without success for buying a trailer that would suits my needs for camping, so I decided to build it myself.

Requirements
  • I'm a hammock camper. I love teardrop trailers, but I can't sleep inside a tiny box. I need to see the sky. I need some fresh air on my face.
  • It should be less than 1000 lbs because I'll tow it with my 2010 Ford Mustang V6 and this is the maximum I can tow
  • It should carry a little kitchen like teardrop trailers, because I'm a cook. I love cooking a lot. Every meal is a pleasure to cook, and I'm tired to pack/unpack my kitchen stuff. I'm getting old and I want comfort for cooking so I want a fridge, a sink, an lots of storage for pans and pots.
  • It should embed a little power plant, because I want a lot of energy (see previous point). And I don't want to have to hook anywhere to recharge. So I need big batteries and a decend size solar array to recharge them.
  • It should carry my camping gear so I don't have to load/unload my car when I want to go camping. Hook and go !
  • It should be good looking, because... who want to tow a piece of sh!t with a Mustang ?

That being said, here is the plan !
I'm going to build a stylish cargo box out of aluminium (frame) and wood, with a composite sandwich fiberglass shell.
It should look like something like this:
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Here is a little sketch with the car that will pull it
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Size will be 4 by 6 ft.
It will have 2x100 Amp batteries inside and 300W marine solar panel on top.
At the front, a large teardrop-style door will open on a little kitchen with a frigde at the center, long drawers on each side (40" to 48"), sink and faucet on the right on top of the drawer, another drawer (30") containing a camping gas stove on the top of the left drawer. And lot of LED lights around the countertop and integrated into the door.
At the back, some cargo space, and all I need to power the kitchen (12V pump, water tank, batteries and circuit board and breaker.
To make sure that the fridge doesn't heat too much, I'll install fans and they will be automated (switch on by themselves thanks to a sensor).
Pump will switch off the fridge automatically thanks to a SPDT relay.
Oh and for the stereo, I'm not sure. For the moment, I plan to design a holder for my Jawbone Jambox, then I can grab it and use anywhere else.
I would like to integrate two hammock stands too, one on each side, but I'm not sure too. I'm having hard time to make a proper design for it. I definitively want to be able to hook my hammock in any circumstance, sometimes there is no tree around and I should be able to make a stand out of aluminium that would allow me to leave my tent in the basement.
Oh and last thing I'll do will be to design and to sew a custom tarp out of lightweight nylon.

Construction steps [TO BE CONTINUED]
Here is the link to all the steps :
  • Overall design [ here ]
  • Interior design [ here ]
  • Electrical diagram design [ here ]
  • Building of the frame [ here ]
  • Building of the drawers [ here ]
  • Building of the interior [ here ]
  • Wiring the sh!t out of it [ here ]
  • Building of the fiberglass shell [link] [Please come back later]


Shall I also list here the parts I used ?
Or list them in each post when needed ?

List of the parts I bought to build it [TO BE CONTINUED]

Edits

Last edited by AlienSKP on Thu May 07, 2015 11:00 am, edited 20 times in total.
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{Ultimate Camping} Trailer - Overall Design

Postby AlienSKP » Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:06 pm

{Ultimate Camping} Trailer - Overall Design

I used traditional paper and pencil for sketching my design, as well as Google Sketchup.

The first design I did was way too big to be realistic. I didn't know at this point that I could only tow 1000 lbs with my car.
The second design I did is this one :
trailerV2_open.png
V2 - trailer open
trailerV2_open.png (136.23 KiB) Viewed 4028 times


We're getting close to the one I have now. It's smaller, covered with solar panel, and I have my little kitchen.
I could also add some features, so once it's closed and installed it could be like that :
trailerV2_tarpAndStand.png
V2 - trailer closed and hammock and tarp installed
trailerV2_tarpAndStand.png (84.48 KiB) Viewed 4028 times


Here is the V2 sketchup file of the second design:
V2 design Sketchup file (15 Mo)

After some search, I found out that I could save a lot weight by using different materials. Using an aluminium frame and building the shell out of foam+fiberglass would cost way more, take way more time to build, but the final result would be exactly what I needed.
So here we go: I came back to my pencil, draw a lot, played with Sketchup and designed a new frame.
This time, after playing with number I decided to go for a 4 by 6 ft aluminium base, but have it enlarged at the top to accomodate more solar power. It gives a little "plane" style.

I've spent some time designing the V3 exterior. Here is the result we'll try to achieve :

left side:
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top:
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front:
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back :
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perspective from the back:
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And finally, perspective from the front:
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Google sketchup file is here (450 Ko)

Your comments / questions / advice / critics are the welcome !
Last edited by AlienSKP on Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:17 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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{Ultimate Camping} Trailer - Building the frame

Postby AlienSKP » Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:45 pm

{Ultimate Camping} Trailer - Building the frame

As you probably already know, I chose to go for an aluminium frame instead of the typical steel one.
It took me a while to find a welder ! Several weeks before I could find someone with a lot of experience and also a great advisor.
We ended up using 2" square tubes for the main structure, and 1" for the secondary structure. bed frame is .125" aluminium sheet.

Here is the design and sketch of the structure

The base :
sketch1.jpg
sketch1.jpg (52.17 KiB) Viewed 4017 times


The base - part 2:
sketch2.jpg
sketch2.jpg (37.54 KiB) Viewed 4017 times


and the secondary structure :
sketch3.jpg
sketch3.jpg (41.05 KiB) Viewed 4017 times


The numbers you see are related to parts size that you will find here :
Excel spreadsheet (30,4 Ko)


Final result is here :
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And the frame is done !
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2015-01-26 : Yesterday I painted the frame with a dark grey spray paint. I used "graffiti grade" spray paint as they are engineered to sustain and last. I'll upload some pics very soon. The result is beautiful !
Last edited by AlienSKP on Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:14 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: {Ultimate Camping} Trailer - My mobile kitchen/power pla

Postby S. Heisley » Tue Jan 20, 2015 11:25 pm

.
It looks very interesting....The only thing that I wonder about is whether you will get enough power out of those solar panels if they are under that tarp, as they are in the previous picture, above. :thinking:
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Re: {Ultimate Camping} Trailer - My mobile kitchen/power pla

Postby 1firefly » Tue Jan 20, 2015 11:50 pm

Hopefully you'll be able to come to Turkey point(I posted info there for you) it'll be neat to see I've never seen a teardrop trailer made your way I usually just see all wood. Mine is a small teardrop 4X8 also with a low towing weight. I like your idea of the tarp design one of my biggest complaints with me is how hard it is to put mine up by myself. (I eventually took apart a tent and made a vestibule) Good point about the solar panels may be they are detachable and you can take them off & put them on the ground when you're camping?
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Re: {Ultimate Camping} Trailer - My mobile kitchen/power pla

Postby AlienSKP » Tue Jan 20, 2015 11:59 pm

S. Heisley wrote:.
It looks very interesting....The only thing that I wonder about is whether you will get enough power out of those solar panels if they are under that tarp, as they are in the previous picture, above. :thinking:


I use tarps when it rains, so if it rains solar panels are obviously useless - lol
Thanks for your comment by the way
I wand to design a tarp that would be easy to set-up or remove. But I'm still far far away from this point, let's firs buid the trailer :)
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Re: {Ultimate Camping} Trailer - My mobile kitchen/power pla

Postby AlienSKP » Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:17 am

1firefly wrote:Hopefully you'll be able to come to Turkey point(I posted info there for you) it'll be neat to see I've never seen a teardrop trailer made your way I usually just see all wood. Mine is a small teardrop 4X8 also with a low towing weight. I like your idea of the tarp design one of my biggest complaints with me is how hard it is to put mine up by myself. (I eventually took apart a tent and made a vestibule) Good point about the solar panels may be they are detachable and you can take them off & put them on the ground when you're camping?


I will be glad to join you at Turkey Point, but I don't think that the trailer will be ready at this time. Working with epoxy resin need a warm temperature for the resin to cure, so I think it will be more likely be ready in June. But who knows? a early and warm spring will increase the chance ;)
In any case, I can show you how to set up a tarp easily. Check this stuff I wrote some times ago. It's easy. If I can do it, everybody can.

About solar panels, I went for the option to integrate them in the trunk door. I won't be able to move them without moving the trailer itself, but as it's lightweight and easy to pack-n-go I will move it to the sun when it's necessary. With 200 Amp batteries, the fridge can run for at least 2 full days (it sucks around 40Amp/24h and you need to keep at least 50% of your battery so 100Amp). If the weather is bad, I can shut down the fridge so save some juice and survive 3 or 4 days :beer: and 300 W solar array can charge them in 4 hours at full sun.

cheers
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Re: {Ultimate Camping} Trailer - the mobile kitchen/power pl

Postby Socal Tom » Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:50 am

My only concern would be the location of the kitchen. The hitch will be a chin killer for sure, and the swing down doors will make it hard to reach stuff. A couple of suggestions if it's not too late...
Make the hitch removable ,similar to a receiver on a tow hitch for a car. And make the front doors swing out instead of down.
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Re: {Ultimate Camping} Trailer - the mobile kitchen/power pl

Postby AlienSKP » Wed Jan 21, 2015 9:04 am

Socal Tom wrote:My only concern would be the location of the kitchen. The hitch will be a chin killer for sure, and the swing down doors will make it hard to reach stuff. A couple of suggestions if it's not too late...
Make the hitch removable ,similar to a receiver on a tow hitch for a car. And make the front doors swing out instead of down.
Tom


Hi Tom !

I know it can be a real chin killer but I'm worrying about the trailer balance if the kitchen is at the back, as the weight would make it lift. I dunno. To be honest It's the main reason why I haven't installed the tongue and the axle yet. It's my first trailer, so I want to build the inside ans the shell, then study the trailer balance to decide where will they be.
You just gave me a very good idead, thanks !!! I'll try to integrate a removable hitch. I was thinking doing a composite tonge, so there might be a way to easily set it up and remove it. I like your suggestion but would it be strong enough ?

What do you mean by "make the front doors swing out instead of down" ? sorry I didn't get it, my mother tongue is French.
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{Ultimate Camping} Trailer - the mobile kitchen/power plant

Postby Socal Tom » Wed Jan 21, 2015 9:25 am

If the only reason for putting the kitchen in front is balance, the you shouldn't worry. If you put your batteries in the front, it will balance fine.
In your drawing you show kitchen doors? That swing down towards the tongue, I was recommending that they swing side ways like a car door.
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Re: {Ultimate Camping} Trailer - the mobile kitchen/power pl

Postby Socal Tom » Wed Jan 21, 2015 9:28 am

There is a weight balance spreadsheet on the site that you can use to help determine where to put things to balance the trailer.
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Re: {Ultimate Camping} Trailer - the mobile kitchen/power pl

Postby AlienSKP » Wed Jan 21, 2015 9:46 am

Socal Tom wrote:If the only reason for putting the kitchen in front is balance, the you shouldn't worry. If you put your batteries in the front, it will balance fine.
In your drawing you show kitchen doors? That swing down towards the tongue, I was recommending that they swing side ways like a car door.
Tom

But my batteries only weight 100 pounds total. fridge is 35lbs, water tank is 10 gal (but I should empty it before long drive for more stability). I also have 2 big wood drawers on each side of the fridge, containing all my cooking gear. The only balance would be the batteries and my camping gear which is very light (I'm a hammock camper, I only have hammocks, tarps, sleeping bags, ropes..)

I get the kitchen door now, but I prefer to open it like a classic teardrop because I want LED on top of my countertop and it also help to protect from light rain. Unless you convince me of the superiority of this sideways setup :)

Socal Tom wrote:There is a weight balance spreadsheet on the site that you can use to help determine where to put things to balance the trailer.
Tom

I found it ! But only the PDF version link works, not the Excel spreadsheet. I love this forum goddamit ! I also found a great tool for tongue lenght calculation. This is awesome. :applause:
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Re: {Ultimate Camping} Trailer - the mobile kitchen/power pl

Postby Socal Tom » Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:46 pm

Remember, the trailer will act as a see saw. if the frig is 500cm behind the axle, and the batteries are 2M in front of the axle, then the 100lbs of batteries would need something like 800lbs of food in the frig to make it balance. And, the weight of the metal/wood in the trailer body is also in front of the axle, so you can put a lot back there before its a problem. The excel link works, I just tested it ( it downloads a zip file that needs to be unzipped). Its slow, but it works.
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Re: {Ultimate Camping} Trailer - the mobile kitchen/power pl

Postby Socal Tom » Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:52 pm

open.jpg
open.jpg (45.29 KiB) Viewed 3788 times
The "door" I was talking about was this thing I pointed at with the arrow. What is that? it looks like it is in the way?
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Re: {Ultimate Camping} Trailer - the mobile kitchen/power pl

Postby Socal Tom » Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:05 pm

I plugged in the numbers you gave, and made a few guesses. Here is what it calculated
tb.jpg
tb.jpg (132.75 KiB) Viewed 3780 times
Basically you have 200lbs of tongue weight in this model, and any camping gear in front of the axle actually adds more weight. 200lbs is a lot for a trailer this small.

If you send me new numbers I can plug them in A=? etc.
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