My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

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My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby JohnRock » Tue Oct 03, 2023 9:08 pm

Hi!

After a ton of reading, I started planning my first trailer build and before going into another level of details, I think this is a good time to get some feedback!

Here's a summary:

1. 5x8 utility trailer has been purchased (https://www.westbrooktrailers.com/produ ... 0-096-K012)
2. Designed to fit a queen size mattress
3. Planning to use 2x3 framing as necessary with XPS to fill voids (current stud placement is WIP and some have been omitted for now, like in storage area)
4. Planning to use PMF as skin
5. Whole floor will be storage with 3 large drawers, about 12" inch high. One upfront will slide side to side, two that will slide from the back.
6. Doors currently in ideal position, but will need to move forward to clear wheels. Still not sure if the axle can easily be moved backwards.
7. Planning star gazer in front. Was also planning to windows each side towards the back, but wonder if it's worth it?
8. Galley doors will have removable shelves to support gas stove (green box) and electric cooler (white box). You can see them in transport vs in-use locations.
9. 5# propane tanks will be stored on tongue when traveling, hung on the back door when in use. Battery will be on the tongue as well.
10. Centered sink will have straight drain and water feed pipes. Jugs will be used to capture grey water, 5 gallon water tank will hold clean water, attached under floor.
11. Grey box on the side will be a removable/optional window AC, with dedicated door/opening.
12. Planning to have a mainly foam bulkhead that could be removed, say to replace mattress, so things like galley shelving will need to be anchored to side wall studs for support.
13. Walls will need to support a roof rack.

I think that pretty much explains it for now. What do you think?

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Side view
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Top view
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Front view
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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby JohnRock » Tue Oct 03, 2023 9:12 pm

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Back view
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Back angle view
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Attachments
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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby tony.latham » Tue Oct 03, 2023 9:32 pm

The one thing that jumps at me is the axle placement. If you leave it there, the trailer is likely to have stability issues. 60/40 on the chassis frame is where it should be. (And in your case, 60/40 on the trailer base including the overhang.)

And I fall in the no-sink camp. To me, they take up too much counter space and the plumbing eats storage.

Image

Tony
Last edited by tony.latham on Wed Oct 04, 2023 10:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby Hubert » Tue Oct 03, 2023 10:55 pm

tony.latham wrote:60/40 on the chassis frame is where it should be.

Might want to go even further with the rear overhang?

You've obviously put a lot of work into this, I'm still working on basic 2D sketches... Are you planning to use the 45"x9" star gazer window from Vintage Tech? That looks pretty good on their website on a square drop.

The rear door with the cooler shelf would have to be pretty beefy, and you would have to lift a pretty heavy cooler up there every time you set up your kitchen. I'd go for a lighter door and use the shelf for prep space. You could put the cooler on the tongue, maybe with a custom tongue box with slide out drawer. Would help with weight distribution and maybe put the cooler at a more comfortable height.

Personally, lugging the propane cylinder back and forth sounds like a chore, even if it's a 5lb tank. I'd want the stove plumbed, but short of that, you could hang it on the wall and put an RV quick disconnect near where you want the stove (if the stove you plan to use is low pressure).

Do you have an estimate what the trailer will weigh? The load capacity on that trailer is 1,250lb. I looked at building slide-out storage drawers, and I think the drawer slides alone were over 100 pounds. The plywood for the drawers and the second floor add up to a good bit more than that, depending on what thickness you choose. And then there's this huge amount of storage space that wants to be filled with gear (weight), so I abandoned the idea. Maybe I'm a bit paranoid about weight.
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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby Pmullen503 » Wed Oct 04, 2023 6:53 am

The cabin door sill looks quite high off the ground. You might want to mock up something at that height just to make sure you're happy with that. Same thing with the galley. Those were very good points about lifting a heavy cooler and lugging propane tanks around.

Also, you say you want roof racks but it looks like your roof is around 75" tall already. I can tell you from experience that loading and canoes on top of a vehicle that high is PIA.

There are reasons you don't see tears with under floor storage like that.
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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby tony.latham » Wed Oct 04, 2023 9:45 am

There are reasons you don't see tears with underfloor storage like that.


Spot on. I was toying with addressing that subject but struggled with how to point it out.

Tony

p.s. I too think you'll be over-grossed on the trailer when it's loaded. Perhaps even empty.
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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby JohnRock » Wed Oct 04, 2023 6:18 pm

Thank you so much for the feedback so far!

- Axle: definitely something on the to-do list, to check how easily it can be placed closer to the rear without too much effort.

- Sink: I see it as a luxury without too much penalty. I'm not concerned about the counter space because with this design it can be covered when not in use. It does however remove about a 12x24x6 space that could be used for a drawer, so that's a minus. It may also add too much weight in the back when traveling, but I currently own a pop-up and I've always traveled with it empty to minimize towing weight. I don't even drink from it, it's really to wash hands and maybe light dishes.

- Sketching: I used Sketchup for a long time but since they stopped the free version, I've switched to Fusion 360. The learning curve is steeper but if you put in the time, it becomes almost as easy as Sketchup. It's also useful for 3D printing. Given I've used software to plan anything for a least a decade, I'd have a hard time going back to 2D.

- Star Gazer: Yes, it took off Vintage Tech, as well as the doors! It seemed like a good way to bring light in the space. Now I'm wondering if with that window and the two doors is enough, or if extra windows would be necessary to brighten the cabin. It's not like if they will be used to "look outside" that much.

- Rear doors: yes, they would need to be very beefy. My plan is to use doubled 2x3 studs in each corner, 3/4 ply for the doors, and 3 heavy duty hinges for each that allow the doors to be rotated 270 degrees if desired, so parallel to the walls. The movement of the cooler from counter to door would actually be minimal in this case, so not worried about that. (not so much lifting but lateral movement)

- Cooler on tongue: that was my plan after realizing I could not fit the cooler into the rear floor drawer. Then I was questioning if I should make the box integral to the trailer or separate. The approach was annoying to me because I needed to make sure the box would be big enough for future cooler sizes, I needed to reinforce the tongue design, etc. I'm trying to avoid design choices that either add too much complication (for me) or limit future options/changes. When I saw that I could fit the cooler on the galley counter and that I could move it to a door shelf, it seemed like an easy way to simplify the design without closing the door to building a tongue box later if this approach isn't working. So I'm calling this the Minimum Viable Approach for the cooler.

- Propane tank: stupid question... is the full weight 5# or is that just the empty tank? I was trying to avoid a gas line across the trailer, but perhaps this is minimal effort and cost? To confirm, once hung on the door at the campsite, you could close the door with the tank sill on it. It's during traveling that the tank would be on the tongue. The other benefit of a portable design is that if you want to cook on the camping table or whatever, you can easily put the tank and stove anywhere (it's a classic Coleman 2 burner stove).

- Weight: this is concerning me now because I wasn't thinking about it that much, assuming I would be well below the trailer limits. Now I'll start crunching the numbers to see if I need to scale down the design. It's clear that the floor storage is creating weight concerns I need to verify. I was paranoind when I bought my 10 foot pop-up, knowing I had an Outback as my TV, so I weighted everything!

- Drawer slides: I'm not planning to use them because I'm concerned they will fail at some point and be relatively expensive. I wasn't even thinking about the weight! My plan is to use slick surfaces and elbow grease. Foamie drawers? :thinking:

- Trailer height: I did create a block figure to see hip and head height. Adding a new picture to show (bottom blue is my leg height, green is hips/bum and top blue is upper body). It seems like I would be able to sit with maybe a little hop if at all, and for galley head room looks perfect and I placed the counter height based on the ground, at 38", just a bit higher than the ideal 36".

- Rack height: to help with that, I planned a little 45 degree angle at the back top edge to lay the kayak or canoe on the edge and push it on the racks. I would add a layer of material on that edge to protect the PMF. Maybe that angle should be flatter... :thinking:

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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby Pmullen503 » Wed Oct 04, 2023 9:34 pm

JohnRock wrote:
- Rack height: to help with that, I planned a little 45 degree angle at the back top edge to lay the kayak or canoe on the edge and push it on the racks. I would add a layer of material on that edge to protect the PMF. Maybe that angle should be flatter... :thinking:

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Put a roller on the back top corner for loading boats.

Did that on a friend's pick up truck rack. It worked well. Just a section of PVC pipe slipped over the metal pipe rack.
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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby tony.latham » Wed Oct 04, 2023 10:04 pm

stupid question... is the full weight 5# or is that just the empty tank? I was trying to avoid a gas line across the trailer, but perhaps this is minimal effort and cost?


The stupid questions are the ones you don't ask.

I think a five-pound propane bottle holds five pounds of propane.

I went with flexible propane hoses for my two propane appliances (that needed different regulators/pressures). I did this at the advice of a propane professional with thirty years in the biz. It works great.

Image

There may be something in my galley tour that might help:

https://youtu.be/sXoW2NlgVRk?si=D0UYw8RXDz8pIcho

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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby JohnRock » Sun Oct 08, 2023 11:31 am

That's a really well designed galley Tony and that flexible propane hose sure makes you setup quick and easy.

I've ran the numbers and when estimating the weight so far I'm just over 700 pounds VS the 1250 max payload.

This includes/assumes:
- 3x2 studs
- 3/4 plywood for floor panels, galley doors and galley counter and shelf
- 30 pounds for dual propane tanks
- 50 pounds for battery
- 40 pounds for mattress
- 50 pounds for the 2 doors + 10 pounds for the star gazer? (just guessing here... could I be way off?)
- Stove

What is not included so far:
- Roof construction + rack + pair of kayaks or a canoe
- Cooler
- Water
- Cooking supplies
- Tongue box
- Optional AC
- Storage drawers + anything in them
- Skin (thin ply + PMF)
- Ceiling vent
- Screws and glue
- Electrical
- Foam in wall
- Etc.

Given everything not included, should I already be thinking "much lighter" in my current construction so I can work within the payload limits?
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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby Pmullen503 » Sun Oct 08, 2023 1:43 pm

JohnRock wrote:
Given everything not included, should I already be thinking "much lighter" in my current construction so I can work within the payload limits?


The short answer is yes. Weight creeps up in unexpected ways. It's easier to save a pound in 50 places than to try to save 50lbs in one place.
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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby pchast » Sun Oct 08, 2023 7:30 pm

What he said! :thumbsup:
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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby JohnRock » Tue Oct 10, 2023 7:28 pm

Ok, so I need to take a serious look at cutting weight anywhere I can.

The biggest culprit right now are the two plywood panels that make up the base and top of the floor storage section. If using 3/4 plywood for each, I estimate the combined weight at about 220 lbs.

Given that the sheet that will be directly on the trailer will only be supporting storage drawers, I think 3/4 is overkill and this might be a candidate for an alternate material that is lighter, water proof and perhaps smoother. Even the top sheet will only support the mattress and two people lying down.

I'll research what's on the market AND affordable.
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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby tony.latham » Tue Oct 10, 2023 8:20 pm

Ok, so I need to take a serious look at cutting weight anywhere I can.


There are a lot of reasons why the teardrop has survived and is still popular after nearly a century. An easy way to ditch weight is to get rid of your storage area. (Adding gear will definitely put you over gross weight.) It'll make for a camper that's easy to get in and out of and a more functional galley. (Think about a bed that's that high at zero-dark-thirty when it's time to pee.)

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Re: My Squaredrop Plans for Feedback

Postby JohnRock » Wed Oct 11, 2023 8:06 pm

Based on my camping history, I've never found I had too much storage so I'll do what I can to preserve it until I'm out of options. I don't necessarily plan to put heavy thing in there. Currently, I have two storage boxes on my pop-up trailer that hold an aluminum ladder, some tools, extension cord, tarps, helmets, fishing rods and gear, electric motor, aluminum table, chairs, extra shoes, beach things, etc. Many things are just bulky.

I'm now planning on using multiwall polycarbonate for the sheet that will be directly on the trailer instead of the 3/4 ply. Given it's waterproof, tough and won't need hold a lot of weight for the drawers (the trailer cross members will be doing that), I can shed 85 pounds there. And if I use 1/2 Spruce plywood for the real floor, that's another 65 pounds of savings, so 68 pounds vs 218.

Now checking on how to cut weight from the sidewalls! :twisted:
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