Collapsible Covered Wagon

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Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby schwick » Sun Jan 31, 2021 6:46 pm

Long time listener, first time caller.

My plan is to make a collapsible covered wagon style camper. Something that looks like this:

(Borrowed from this youtube video: Covered Wagon

I've been wanting to build a camper on a harbor freight trailer for a while, but no designs really caught my eye until I found this one.

Big reasons why this design sounds great to me are:
- I'm 6'6" and would like to be able to A) fit at least a full size bed in the camper, and B) be able to stand up in it, if possible.
- My towing vehicle is a 4cyl Ford Ranger, so the towing capacity is equal to the max weight of a harbor freight trailer; 2,000 lbs.
- I'm also in SoCal for the next year, which means driving on a lot of big hills to get to the good campsites, so I'd rather not be anywhere near the 2,000 lbs.

The covered wagon solves these efficiently by not having to worry about the weight of the top half, and by allowing me to build wider than the tires due to the low center of gravity/low total weight.
It's also a nice bonus that the profile will be pretty small, making interstate driving much easier.

These are my first very crude MS Paint designs:


-I originally thought I'd make the walls 4ft total, but have since decided to knock that down to 3ft. The camper will still be 7ft high at the peak.
-We have an old couch that the cats tore up, so we're going to use the cushions for the camper.
-The canvas will be held up long-ways (not like the youtube video) using EMT in closet rod brackets.
-The front and back caps will fold down and lay flat against the walls during transport, just like the youtube video.
-The bed frame will be 2 27"x76" sheets of plywood. The top one will fold out on a hinge. This way we can inflate an air mattress at night to throw up there, but have counter space during the day. I have no idea how much I'll actually be in the camper during the day, but I'd like to be able to have a dry place to hang out during the cold/rain.

We got started this weekend with the floor, using r-6 foam insulation. The small garage gets messy in a hurry.


I was initially planning on making everything out of 1x2's, but now I'm not so sure if that'll be strong enough. Might have to throw some 2x4's in there.

My experience in this stuff is limited to mostly easy wood working projects growing up, and stuff like Adirondack chairs for my home now. Even just starting with the floor has made me rethink some of my plans, and I can tell it'll all be a great learning experience. I'm happy to hear everyone's thoughts/advice.
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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby tac422 » Sun Jan 31, 2021 8:08 pm

On a Utility trailer, I used PVC pipes and mounted fittings on both sides of the trailer.
I stuck one end in a fitting and gently bent the pipe until it was arched enough to fit into the fitting on the other side.
Once I bent them the fist time, they stayed bent and when i took them down they easily laid flat on the trailer floor for travel.
In my case, I draped a tarp over and tied it down tight on both sides. I did not have any need for support between the pipes.
It worked really well. My kids called it the "Conestoga"
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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby John61CT » Sun Jan 31, 2021 8:20 pm

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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby schwick » Sun Jan 31, 2021 9:06 pm

tac422 wrote:On a Utility trailer, I used PVC pipes and mounted fittings on both sides of the trailer.
I stuck one end in a fitting and gently bent the pipe until it was arched enough to fit into the fitting on the other side.
Once I bent them the fist time, they stayed bent and when i took them down they easily laid flat on the trailer floor for travel.
In my case, I draped a tarp over and tied it down tight on both sides. I did not have any need for support between the pipes.
It worked really well. My kids called it the "Conestoga"


That sounds like about what I'm going for.
I've seen a lot of names for the design I've chosen: Conestoga, covered wagon, sheep/shepherd hut, bow top wagon to name a few
Last edited by schwick on Thu Feb 11, 2021 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby schwick » Sun Jan 31, 2021 9:10 pm

John61CT wrote:http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?t=71531


This is another example of how I could fit my needs, but I didn't go with this type of design for a couple reasons.
-I'm not sure this is within my ability
- I probably won't be camping anywhere that I'd actually need a hard, insulated top, so having canvas that I can take down is a better option in terms of weight. And I don't mind the slightly more labor-intensive set up.

Thanks for the suggestion
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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby schwick » Thu Feb 11, 2021 9:59 pm

I got around to making some more progress this last weekend. It's been a pretty slow project but I'm in no rush.

This is the rear view as of right now:


and what the benches look like from underneath:


I'm using 2 shelf brackets tied to the trailer's brackets. The shelf brackets are rated to 500ish lbs as a pair, which I'm hoping will be enough. Once I have the walls up, I'll have a better idea if I need to replace them with something beefier.



Hoping to make some solid progress over this 3 day weekend, but we'll see if that lines up with the wife's plans.
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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby schwick » Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:36 pm

Made lots of progress this weekend.

Here's the back end:


And the inside from the front end:


Everything looks very rough. I'm excited to get some paint on it, and am planning on using angle aluminum on all the corners. I'm not sure if that's the best for the job, but it sounds good to me.

The rounded caps are also cut out. I've got some hinges on order and then those will go up too.
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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby schwick » Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:37 pm

I also learned that if I go wider than 80", I need extra lights. Luckily I'm sitting at 79" right now
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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby DaddyJeep » Tue Feb 16, 2021 7:50 am

It is looking like something now... good work
My big hybrid toy hauler with lots of curves build viewtopic.php?f=50&t=69618

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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby schwick » Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:52 am

I got a little bit done this weekend.

First, made the bench that the couch will sit on. We've been doing some brain storming, and we think that just having the bench on one side will be enough. The back will be where the bed folds out from, but we can throw the couch cushions on there during the day time. I feel like I'm not explaining it well, but once I make the fold-out bed I think it'll make more sense.

Anyway, this is how the couch cushions will basically fit in. We've got all the back rests too, just not in this picture.




Also threw the first coat of paint on one panel to make sure it looks good. More paint will go on when I find time.

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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby Gold5one » Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:13 am

You are making good progress. I appreciate the pictures, too. One advantage you have with the side overhangs is the ability to build in a couple side storage boxes. You will soon discover you need more room for your camping gear!
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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby schwick » Mon Feb 22, 2021 8:20 pm

Gold5one wrote:You are making good progress. I appreciate the pictures, too. One advantage you have with the side overhangs is the ability to build in a couple side storage boxes. You will soon discover you need more room for your camping gear!


I'm glad you're enjoying it! As of right now I don't plan on adding boxes, but my plans have already changed so much that I'm not going to rule it out
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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby QueticoBill » Tue Feb 23, 2021 10:52 am

Fun build to watch. Thanks fir sharing!
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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby bartek » Mon Mar 01, 2021 3:49 pm

Good progress! Looking forward to seeing it done.

One thing to think about - I can't tell from the photos how wide your build is, but if it's over 80 inches (kind of looks like it may be given the overhangs?), just make sure to check lighting requirements - they change slightly when you go wider than 80 inches (you need id light and side markers).
Not a big deal, but if you need them it may be good to run the wires ahead of time...
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Re: Collapsible Covered Wagon

Postby schwick » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:15 pm

bartek wrote:Good progress! Looking forward to seeing it done.

One thing to think about - I can't tell from the photos how wide your build is, but if it's over 80 inches (kind of looks like it may be given the overhangs?), just make sure to check lighting requirements - they change slightly when you go wider than 80 inches (you need id light and side markers).
Not a big deal, but if you need them it may be good to run the wires ahead of time...


Thanks for the heads up! Actually didn't know this until I had already built the body but I lucked out.

Currently sitting at 79" wide so I should be good. Just might have to keep a tape measure in the truck in case I get pulled over lol
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