Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

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Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby Pmullen503 » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:17 pm

Hi!

I've decided to build a trailer. Several things came together to force the decision. First, I fly radio control airplanes and the planes were getting more numerous and larger, so much so that I had trouble fitting all my gear into the mini van. Second, my other hobbies are canoeing and wilderness camping. Lately, I've taken up cold weather camping. Now I used to go camping with my buddy who had a large extended Dodge van. We could fit all our gear and several boats on top. The van (AKA"the mothership") was also important as an emergency shelter when winter camping and was always snow shoeing distance away if something bad happened. The old dodge van finally died and was replaced with a small car. With mileage in the single digits, I can't blame him. So I decided it was time to act.

I had these requirements: 1.Be able to securely carry my larger aircraft. 2. Have racks on top for carrying several canoes and Kayaks. 3. Be able to function as a shelter when tent camping got too real. Here's what I came up with. I had an old HF 4x8 trailer that used to be my boat trailer for a wooden sailboat. Since the sailboat finally rotted past the point of fixing, the trailer was available. The camper will be 4'x4'x9 1/2'. I'll mount my Yakima racks on top for boat hauling. Inside I'll have two long sliding shelves for holding aircraft. The front will have a sealed compartment for gear and fuel. When the shelves are removed the inside will be available for sleeping. Drawing below.

I started by removing the bunks and platform for the sailboat and treated any rusty spots with rust converter. I'm building a new torsion box platform with 2x4 framing with 3/8" ply glued and screwed down. The cross members were half lapped into the side rails. The laps dont go all the way to the ends to prevent water from getting into the joints. I got the cross members in and I'll add another 2x4 down the middle. 1 1/2" EPS will fill the voids. Once the top is glued down the platform should be fairly rigid.

Comments, suggestions, and criticisms will be greatly appreciated. I have an Idea of what I want to build but the details are still a little hazy.
Attachments
outline.jpg
General idea
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IMG_2521.JPG
building the platform
IMG_2521.JPG (232.6 KiB) Viewed 3260 times
IMG_2520.JPG
trailer cleaned up
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby GPW » Sun Dec 07, 2014 6:38 am

PM ....as we’ve found over the years four feet wide inside is a little narrow in reality .. Fine for single occupant .. :thinking:
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby Pmullen503 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:29 am

Agreed.

I had purchased an old 6 x 10 pop up for a good price with the idea of using that a the basis of a teardrop camper that could also function as a toy hauler. But the weight, cost and ease of towing were significantly higher. I figured that the smaller trailer would better fit my immediate needs.

Most of the camping I do requires a canoe, snowshoes or skis to get there anyway. I'm getting older though, so maybe "car camping" as I call it will appeal to me more in the future. I can always build a second, larger camper later.

I have some immediate questions about this build. I plan to cover the foam with canvas and TB II, wrapping the canvas around the bottom of the platform for strength and to cover the edges of the plywood base. My question is what, when, and how to cover the bottom. Plan A is to paint elastomeric roof coating on the bottom except for a few inches around the perimeter. Then after the canvas is on, paint those last few inches. I figured I could block it up on the trailer frame with 2 x 6s to access the edges, then bolt it to the trailer when it was finished. Is there an easier, smarter way to accomplish the same thing?
Last edited by Pmullen503 on Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby ghcoe » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:01 am

Not sure how you are planning to mount your Yakima roof racks. Make sure you have good support in your mounting locations. A canoe can really work on a weak mount point in foam.
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby KCStudly » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:23 am

Right, so save those 2x4's for the four vertical supports that will support your roof rack and shelf rails. In fact 2x2's would probably be plenty.

You could have built your floor framing much lighter (2x2 perimeter with 1x2's on edge) and still have been very strong, so keep that in mind as you go forward, otherwise you will end up much heavier than you want.

Another thing to consider that many people have learned, lifting hatches can be hard or impossible to open with a boat on the roof, so consider barn style doors instead. Rowerwet will likely pipe up and comment that he much prefers to have his boats on the roof of the TV, because the launch location is seldom ever in camp. Arrive, set up camp, drive to adventure point, launch, return, sleep, set out to new boating location for the next day's adventure, repeat; this way you can have a curvy hatch and still get into the galley or storage area.
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby rowerwet » Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:08 pm

KCStudly wrote: Rowerwet will likely pipe up and comment that he much prefers to have his boats on the roof of the TV, because the launch location is seldom ever in camp. Arrive, set up camp, drive to adventure point, launch, return, sleep, set out to new boating location for the next day's adventure, repeat; this way you can have a curvy hatch and still get into the galley or storage area.

:lol: :lol: :applause: :thumbsup:
What he said I would say. :lol: :lol:
Uven for the vertical members you could go lighter, my door frames are a laminated beam with an inner and outer skin of 1\4" ply and the center being a 1\2 stick, with all joints fully glued. Between the vertical members I have a 1\2 spar on edge, also fully glued on each end and along the roof joint, that way I just throw the boats on the roof with foam blocks. No extra rack hardware. For my planned foamie I will have laminated beam verticals that have ears that stick up above the roof. Holes bored into the ears will take a pole to form a cheap strong roof rack/ be the supports for side mounted changing tents. ( the new foamie will have room for all six of us, with two rooms, and a hard side roof tent) I'll need the roof space on the foamie to haul all of our boats.
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby rowerwet » Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:27 pm

While many people build a wood frame for the floor, it is redundant, your trailer will do all the floor supporting you need, the only reason I can think of doing it that way for is if you plan on an insulated floor, even then 2\4s are super overkill for any tear, you could rip them down to 1x lumber where you need it.
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby Pmullen503 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:05 pm

ghcoe wrote:Not sure how you are planning to mount your Yakima roof racks. Make sure you have good support in your mounting locations. A canoe can really work on a weak mount point in foam.



I plan to laminate 2x6 with 1/2 ply to get 2" thick, then rip to around 5" for Yakima side mounts and to get nice square edges. http://www.yakima.com/shop/racksystems/permanent-installation/side-loader

Those will be vertical, carrying the weight down to the frame. If I need to I'll section in some wood right to left to make them more sturdy but the rack itself adds a lot of strength. For years I had them on a pickup with a flimsy ABS topper and the rack stiffened up the topper. There are lighter ways to do this but this is easy. I can glue the foam to the edges to get my 9 1/2' for the sides.
Last edited by Pmullen503 on Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:25 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby Pmullen503 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:14 pm

KCStudly wrote:...........

Another thing to consider that many people have learned, lifting hatches can be hard or impossible to open with a boat on the roof, so consider barn style doors instead. ..........................


True, I may still do that, at least in the rear. I like the look of rounded ends and I wondered about the aerodynamics of the flat end. The curved hatch in back will provide some shade for the slide out panel when it's open. I may add a third shelf for a slide out work table. I'll do the front hatch first and see how that goes. I may decide to go to the barn door style, it's got to be easier to weather proof.
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby Pmullen503 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:24 pm

rowerwet wrote:While many people build a wood frame for the floor, it is redundant, your trailer will do all the floor supporting you need, the only reason I can think of doing it that way for is if you plan on an insulated floor, even then 2\4s are super overkill for any tear, you could rip them down to 1x lumber where you need it.


The 2x4 frame is to get some insulation, plus I had that 3/8" plywood sitting around for years. Nice to finally use it.

I also made it heavy to have the option of carrying a small motorcycle in the trailer for solo river trips. I'll have solid wood for attaching tie down rings and a center track. (You need the motorcycle to get back to your car.)
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby Pmullen503 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 4:58 pm

Got the center member in, half lapped, glued and screwed. After the foam fill was added, I glued and screwed the top down. I spent some time with the level, jacking up a corner of the frame to make sure the platform was truly flat.

I'll flip it over and paint the bottom with the roof coating.

I was wondering if it would make sense to cover the edges first with a strip of canvas, coat the bottom and then flip it over. When I cover the sides I wouldn't go around the bottom, just trim the canvas at the edge. Maybe add an aluminum molding strip around the bottom edge. That would mean a layer of glued down canvas between the foam and the wood deck. That would allow me to bolt the platform to the frame instead of having to build the top of the 2x6 spacers as I originally planned. Any thoughts?

Oh, the rails extend past the back so I could add some kind of bumper/tie down points.
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center support.JPG
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Top glued on
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby Pmullen503 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 5:15 pm

Tongue weight. I planned to mount the camper on the frame so that about 63% of the camper is in front of the wheels (back end flush with the frame). Worst case, the greatest load I can think of would be centered at or somewhat ahead of the wheels. Sound OK?
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby Pmullen503 » Tue Dec 09, 2014 6:30 pm

Here the perimeter of the platform is covered with a 6" wide strip of canvas and TB II wrapped around the top and bottom. The platform is up on a couple 2x4s so I could wrap the canvas strip around the edges. I gave the wood a good coat of glue, then the canvas, and placed the canvas srtip in place. The glue tacks up enough so that the strip stays in place. The canvas was given another coat of glue and rubbed down to make sure it was saturated and in contact with the wood.

Now I can coat the entire bottom with my roof coating, flip the platform back right side up and bolt it to the frame. I'll still have 2" on the sides of the platform to adhere the body canvas to.
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edges covered
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby kudzu » Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:14 am

You have an excellent idea. It's rather similar to the design I had finally settled on for my build. (Though I made a hard right when I found locally & purchased a super affordable Aliner.) Originally I wanted a standy that was like a foamie cargo trailer turned toy hauler. Finally realized it would just be too big. Since I don't mind tent camping & we have folding kayaks that could go inside the trailer, I had finally decided instead on a largish teardrop with toys inside and a trailer tent on top. If necessary or desired we could take shelter in the trailer rather than the tent. Still haven't sold my trailer frame because I cannot let go of the idea yet.

Will be watching you build with great interest.
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Re: Newbie builds a foam toy hauler/camper

Postby Pmullen503 » Wed Dec 10, 2014 2:03 pm

kudzu wrote:You have an excellent idea. It's rather similar to the design I had finally settled on for my build. (Though I made a hard right when I found locally & purchased a super affordable Aliner.) Originally I wanted a standy that was like a foamie cargo trailer turned toy hauler. Finally realized it would just be too big. Since I don't mind tent camping & we have folding kayaks that could go inside the trailer, I had finally decided instead on a largish teardrop with toys inside and a trailer tent on top. If necessary or desired we could take shelter in the trailer rather than the tent. Still haven't sold my trailer frame because I cannot let go of the idea yet.

Will be watching you build with great interest.


I started with a list of what I needed, what I wanted, and what I might want in the future. That design was too large and complex, as well as too expensive. So I thought about the minimum size that would do the 80% I needed well, and the other things I wanted OK but not perfectly.

This is my first enclosed trailer, and my first foamy. I view it as learning experience. I may prefer camping in a solid structure rather than a tent (heaven knows I've spent some pretty rough nights in a tent.) Then again, there are a lot of places you can't get to with a trailer.
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