Hello and some questions.

Converting Cargo Trailers into TTTs

Hello and some questions.

Postby FR CTC » Thu Nov 16, 2023 12:47 am

I’m so glad I found this site. I have been searching for some answers on ctc and either finding YouTube or misc blogs.

While I have done a bit of research I am still unsure about a few things. But first let me tell you what I am interested in doing.

I’d like to make a conversion that will allow me to: sleep in it, store my gear, hold one or two motorcycles depending on configuration, or allow me to store a motorcycle and my paramotor (basically a giant fan). Use would be for weekend trips or an occasional 1k mile trip to a gathering. I would like to be able to use the conversion for a night on the road and however many at the destination. Because I am not exactly sure of what I want to do with it 100% I think extra e-track or seat track so I can reconfigure as needed for various purposes.

So here are some things I am not sure about.
- brands to get or brands to avoid
- screwless exterior seems to be the preferred way to go , but it seems that without screws I am at the mercy of manufacturers adhesive tape
- is it worth buying a trailer to custom specs, such as extra supports for windows or other items
- some of our gatherings are off the beaten path. Not exactly hard core off road. Do I need off road package? Does the trailer need beefing up?
- what spacing and minimum tube sizes should be used for walls roof and floor to have a proper leakproof box?
- by the time I put it all together would it just be cheaper to get a premade ctc like the ones Colorado off-road trailers sells?
- pro and cons of doors vs ramps?
- are there walk on roofs? It would be fun to have a roof top deck

Thank you for your advice and time.
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Re: Hello and some questions.

Postby PaulC » Thu Nov 16, 2023 3:07 am

This post looks a bit sus to me :thinking:

PaulC :thumbsup:
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Re: Hello and some questions.

Postby FR CTC » Thu Nov 16, 2023 8:15 am

What is suspicious about it?
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Re: Hello and some questions.

Postby Obsolete » Fri Nov 17, 2023 4:31 pm

Looks like a legitimate post to me.
I am frankly surprised that no one else has responded..
I’ll attempt to give you my 2 cents.
Brands…. Basically you get what you pay for. You have found the right place to start learning about the various manufacturers
Screwless exterior of course looks great and lots of premium brands employ this technique.
I have to think that if the adhesive fails you could always come back with screws.
If I were doing it again, I would special order unless I ran across a smoking deal already out there,.
Specifically special order will allow you to get straight axles instead of drop axles and such for your “off road” usage.
My trailer has 2x6 tubing for the main frame.floor joists are 6 inch members on 16 inch center. Wall and roof is one inch square tubing on 24 inch center. Seems adequate.
I can’t speak to question of a walkable roof. I have been on mine to install vent cover but wouldn’t want to use it as a deck.
I’d recommend some type of roof rack for that.
I like my ‘barn doors’ as opposed to a ramp door. My inside latch system allows me to have the rear door as an emergency egress.
Concerning the Colorado trailers, a DIY project would save $$$$ but I don’t know how much time you wish to spend on the project.
I’m proud of the fact that I know every single aspect of my build.
Hope this helps.
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Re: Hello and some questions.

Postby Grummy » Sat Nov 18, 2023 2:11 pm

>> I have been searching for some answers
Great ! Welcome ! A whole lot of answers are already buried in this Cargo Conversion forum, so it is well worth your time to dig back thru old posts. There are a LOT of great ideas that fit across all sorts of budgets. It is also worth the look to dig thru the other sections of the forum, because even in the sections where people are building entire trailers from frame up have incredible ideas.

>> sleep in it, store my gear, hold one or two motorcycles.......
PLANNING is key ! Spend plenty of time initially with pencil and paper, exploring possibilities. SIZE of your trailer is something you did not mention here, but it goes without saying that the smaller it is, the more creative you might need to be to make it all fit. And, when I say "Fit", it all has to fit within the gross weight ratings of the trailer you chose. This is often overlooked until your too far into it.

>> to use the conversion for a night on the road
This is also a key issue. I solved mine by designing a FRONT bed area because 1), I was not going to have a trailer tall enough to have a bed above my typically rear loaded gear (like your cycles or Fan thingy), and I sure as heck was not going to UNLOAD in a parking lot en-route just to get a couple of winks.

>> e-track or seat track so I can reconfigure as needed for various purposes.
Again, crucial for a lot of pre-planning. CAD drawing certainly if your capable. E-Track has it's place, but it can also end up in places you do not need it. I'd rather have specifically made brackets to hold a particular item, that can be quick released from the floor or wall, but only you can figure out what works for you.

>> brands to get or brands to avoid
SO many "Brands" are just private labels from the very same factory. Sure, various brands can dictate THEIR desires in design, but we have to realize that it is the same type of company that slams out "Amish Craftsmanship" RV's. FAST, Fast Fast.... Quality appearances made from the thinnest materials known to man. The best thing you can do is find a trailer your interested in and crawl under and around it. Look at the welds comparing them from side to side (seldom is it the same guy welding both sides).

With ANY brand, you will not see the whole picture until you gut it out. I would never build a cargo without pulling all the walls and floors because frankly, they are not made as weather tight as they look and again, no matter what the brand, only by removing the interior, will you see how many screws missed the studs and how many gaps of light shine thru. I feel my trailer was very well built, but there would have been plenty of water damage inside had I just built it out without gutting it and doing a good water test. Also, one fender would have never stayed on because they missed the wall studs with two screws.

>> at the mercy of manufacturers adhesive tape
Not always... some of them do not flat lap the seam, but rather, capture the seams in a fold over much like HVAC ductwork. And, in this case, the first layer down is screwed and the second hooked into place.

>> is it worth buying a trailer to custom specs, such as extra supports for windows or other items
Kind of comes down to your building skills. Frankly, from what I have read over and over, it wouldn't be for me. You can easily find discussions where the buyer wanted something... like the trailer insulated, but when they pulled their walls, they didn't exactly feel they received what they paid for. Same for wiring (they usually do some really crap work). It is very clear that a custom order adds a LOT of extra cost, and if they really do not deliver, well, lets just say if I do what I want, I know what I got when I am done. But there again, I am fully equipped from CNC routers, Plasma cutters, full weld capabilities and a lifetime of woodworking and interior upholstery work. Again, it comes back to your current abilities and resources, but also time frames and wallet size.

>> off the beaten path. Not exactly hard core off road. Do I need off road package? Does the trailer need beefing up?
Great question. As others have advised, by custom ordering (and waiting and waiting), you can get straight axles instead of drops. Why does this matter ? Because your trailer will look just great when you buy it and drag it home. But, once you get your fixed weights put in it (thing that dont move like cabinets, bed frames, kitchenettes, A/C, Holding tanks, wiring etc., it WILL be much lower than it was new.

So what can you do about it ? Either buy it taller with straight axles and maybe heavier springs, or buy it and swap them when you need to. Frankly, trailer springs and axles are not the most costly parts these days. My own trailer got a little soft spring wise, and I simply jacked her up and put on a set of heavier springs for about $25 per spring. Just have to shop around.

>> what spacing and minimum tube sizes should be used for walls roof
You certainly do not want any less than your standard 16" on center, but there are other things to watch for, especially if your going steel/aluminum trailers. There some cheat the wall studs with "Z" channel instead of tubing. While not the end of the world, when you compare trailers, always get the empty weight. It will tell you a lot about the trailer. A lighter trailer than a comparable sized alternative might indicate tubing vse "Z" channel, or wider stud gaps.

One thing you have to also remember... your buying a BOX. A box is always going to be stronger by nature than just a flat open trailer even when using lighter weight components because it is pretty much a bridge, using upper and lower components to carry the load.

>> to have a proper leakproof box?
Well, I don't think that happens... unless you really lay out some serious cash to some of the top, top trailer builders. If I was a betting man, I'd bet on leaks (some only come in via a 75MPH Highway driving wind) in every typical CT you find on a lot for sale. It's not a problem really if you just expect it and gut it and be done with it, checking it yourself. For me, I dont really want that heavy-ish 3/8" chip board crap on the walls anyhow (I prefer a lightweight Luan with backside reinforcements where things will be mounted). Oh, BTW these new floor materials seem to be fine though. Like a wax embedded wood, they seem to shed water very well.

>> would it just be cheaper to get a premade ctc like the ones Colorado off-road trailers sells?
Not speaking about Colorado specifically, but every on the lot ready to go thing like that is just fine if you enjoy the thinnest of everything. It is a typical RV in most cases. Crap for cabinet doors, crap for hinges, crap for vents...and on 90% +, leaky roofs and walls within 3 years. Sorry, not a fan. But we all get it... if you got the money, and aint got the time, you have to do what YOU have to do. And that's fine. I'm not going to hate you for it :-)

>> Pro and cons of doors vs ramps?
Ooooohhh boy. Here we go. You'll get 42,567 different and boastful opinions on that one. Only YOU can decide. Myself, I fully see advantages in both, disadvantages in neither ! I can make both work... But..... I do like my RAMP because I can (and have on more than one build) turn it into a DECK, and even enclose it such to gain exactly one additional "Room" in the trailer, meaning I get extra space in a smaller footprint that I have to drag around. Sure, people can do an "add a room" concept on double doors as well, but I tend to like mine off the ground, out of the bud, dirt and mud zone. But like I said, I could do either... I just prefer Ramp. Others prefer Doors.

>> walk on roofs? It would be fun to have a roof top deck
Fun ? Sure. Always had that option on one of my truck builds, but it comes with some issues... Like first, most cargo's do not have the necessary structure... well, unless you do have it built, to which they certainly can accommodate that at the addition of a substantial amount of additional weight and cost to you.

That alone is not the only issue though as there are these other things: People or kids falling off (depending on your situation). Sure. your all "Adults" right ? And what do you want to do on that roof ? Let your friends have a beer or two and then maybe just one leg of that lawn chair slide over that edge and see ya ! So, now you have to do some kind of railing ? Easy enough with more weight and cost.

Then there is power. You'll never want solar ? I WANT solar... I love solar on a trailer. I can go days and days and days (usually) with heat, light, TV, fridge, radio etc. never plugged into anything, I guess because I dont have a roof deck and I value that space for solar (and vents). Another decision only you can make, and here too, kind of depends on what size trailer you want and what tow vehicle you have to pull it with. In other words, you can have both !

>> Thank you for your advice and time.
No problem ! Get at it ! Send photos ! Start a Gallery here to show off your progress !
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Re: Hello and some questions.

Postby Wrecit » Mon Nov 27, 2023 10:09 pm

Welcome FR CTC. One question that is rarely if ever asked when new to forum people make a post like yours that I believe is extremely important to ask is…….

What is your hands on/handyman/fabricating experience. Don’t get me wrong, imo just about anyone can succeed no matter their experience but for example, as a 30 year union carpenter I have “special” abilities that the average joe does. (Let’s overlook that my cycle build is approaching 3 years without completion. Murphy of Murphy law fame REALLY likes me lol)

I would first ask what your expectation of final product appearance is. There are some amazing builds by members here that are very utilitarian in look that I really love. There have also been some builds that make me question my ability to come close to their quality despite being a 30 year tradesman. My personal build consists of a full reskinning of a trailer inside and out, full fabrication and enclosing the rear of the trailer, custom cabinets, pho stone epoxy counters, full 12v as well as 110v hybrid power system, and the list goes on.

With teardrops and ctc the sky can be the limit but for example if you do not have the experience and the skill in welding or a friend with said experience you may not want to tackle installing windows yourself (especially windows that would require cutting wall stud ribs)

Again, I believe just about anyone can turn out a product as good or better than I can so please don’t think I am knocking on the less than professional tradesmen. I am saying however is most people, including myself, don’t know what they don’t know when they take on a project like a ctc. This site and its members are a great resource to help you but in the end your hand are what will build your trailer.
You hide your conversion and call it stealth. I put mine out in the open and give it a beer.

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