Keep It Simple 6X12

Converting Cargo Trailers into TTTs

Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby CampingCur » Mon Dec 04, 2023 6:12 pm

Took the plunge today after selling our beloved Pop-Up. Ordered a 6X12 SA. White with Barn doors. RV 32" door on the side. 6'3" inside height. V-Nose. Electric brakes. Manual roof vent. MIGHT get it in about 2 weeks.
The plan is to keep it really simple and on a tight budget. I will be putting in 4 small windows (14X21) and MAYBE a back side full wall with another window (larger). We don't plan to cook or wash inside...we set up a screen room for those chores. Just a good place to snooze and maybe eat inside on crummy or cool days. I have a brand-new portable AC that I hope to be able to make use of for those hot, sticky days down here in SW Fla. We seldom camp past May and don't start until October. We leave the State Parks to the families for the warmer months. Even today here it was mid-80's and humid. I ordered it in white to help keep it cool and plan to Kool-Seal the roof soon after we get it to help reflect the heat a bit. Between camping trips the build will be SLOWLY coming together. Insulation, painting and so on. Basic bed frames and lightweight storage cubbies will allow for stashing away camping equipment. I hope to install rudimentary electric service, so I am reading all the posts here and checking out YT videos. If any board members have input on things that I should overlook, I would greatly appreciate it! I have BASIC building skills and tools, and LIMITED experience in these matters. I marvel at the level of craftsmanship I see here and other forums. I hope not to make a mess of our brand-new CT as it represents a sizable investment for us seniors on a fixed income. Hopefully guidance from all you guys and gals that have turned your empty metal boxes into comfy, cozy home-away-from homes will assist us in this formidable project. Thanks in advance for any suggestions and please forgive any "dumb" questions. Will post pics when our "Blank Canvas" arrives.
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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby Pmullen503 » Mon Dec 04, 2023 9:24 pm

It's a good idea to use it a few times in it's "minimum" configuration to figure out what you really want and what things you can live without.
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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby CampingCur » Mon Dec 04, 2023 10:22 pm

That is what we are thinking. Maybe even use our folding cots and plastic tubs for the first couple of trips. I do want to think about window placement so we will have ventilation and maybe place them in such a way that they will work with whatever we end up with. If it is pleasant weather in January, maybe even clamp some screen to the open end and enjoy the breeze. Anyway, following the advice of many on here, I plan to draw out a few ideas, and maybe even make cardboard mock-ups that will approximate our layout. Thanks in advance for any tips that will help us avoid major mistakes.
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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby CampingCur » Wed Dec 13, 2023 11:46 am

Just got word that our trailer will be in this week! That is less than 2 weeks from ordering! I got in my windows, the stabilizer jacks, the mini-fridge, and some identical white screws to match the weirdo 8 point factory ones. Plus..an 8 point screw head tool kit. The screws also came with a nice 8 point tool included in the pack of 100 screws. I found a little cabinet that will work for smallish items. It has 3 drawers and a side cabinet. It is 32 high, 24 wide and 12 deep. 40 bucks! Couldn't build it for that. It will be handy to set our mini microwave on. I also ordered a queen foam mattress that I will cut into 2 sections 30" wide each. I plan to make simple bedframes from 2X2 stock. The portable 8500 BTU A/C unit should fit up front in the "V" and maybe I will build a cabinet up in that area too. LOTS of great ideas on here! Thanks again to all who took the time to write up an outline of their project, as well as the great pics to get a good idea on how to do the job. Will try and get some pics as I progress, that way those like me with limited skills and abilities can see if they want to tackle this kind of project. This camper will also be an evacuation trailer if another storm heads our way like Ian did. It was hard to get lodging during that hectic period. I hope the sidewall screws come out to remove the plywood as we plan on insulating with foam board before we get too far with our project. That is all for now!
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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby CampingCur » Wed Dec 13, 2023 9:27 pm

As promised, the trailer came in today! Ordered on 12/4...delivered on 12/13. (From Cargo United in Georgia). Amazing! It looks good, or as good as a budget cargo trailer can look! Fit and finish is certainly acceptable, and it seems like they put all the pieces together correctly. Of course, I have yet to remove any side wall plywood to inspect the build quality. The RV side door lock doesn't work very easily, so I lubed it and am hoping it will loosen up a bit. All the lights work, with the exception of the overhead LED ceiling light??, and it towed home easily. I stopped and had it weighed at a truck stop. 1200 pounds the scale said. I will weigh each item as it goes in. Want to add no more than 500 pounds if possible. That will be a challenge, but that is the goal. I ordered with trailer brakes and need to install my Tekonsha Prodigy brake controller. No cutting into the car wiring and transferable easily to another vehicle if needed. It worked well in my camper I just sold. I have had three of these and so far am pleased with the performance. The cargo trailer has a center beam on the hitch tongue and I think that would work well to mount it. The mini battery for the emergency brake stop is right in the way of where I would like to have put it.
On another subject, I was wondering if surface mount track would work well for the wiring I was planning to do? Anyone with experience with that I would appreciate your thoughts. And one other question before I go. Can I take off the top piece of wall plywood and slide the foam insulation down from the top?? That would save the hassle of removing the lower wall pieces.
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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby Pmullen503 » Wed Dec 13, 2023 10:02 pm

If you can tolerate the aesthetics, surface mount has the advantage of being easy to move or add outlets.
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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby wtcreaux » Thu Dec 14, 2023 9:45 pm

CampingCur wrote: Can I take off the top piece of wall plywood and slide the foam insulation down from the top?? That would save the hassle of removing the lower wall pieces.


In general yes, assuming there's no wires (trailer exterior lighting, etc).

You're already half-way there, I'd encourage you to pull the bottom half also and check for rust on your iron as well as floor fit. THAT is the time to replace, repair, repaint (I used a tar base to seal over metal that might have future exposure. It also allows you to form fit your foam then use metal duct tape to seal over the joints.
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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby bullchuck1 » Fri Dec 15, 2023 11:17 am

I would take all the plywood off. This will give you a nice tight fit. Also this will give you a chance to check for any gaps that need to be filled in. The front corners are usually a bad spot for gaps.
Thanks Mark
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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby CampingCur » Mon Dec 18, 2023 9:51 pm

Well, thanks in part to the insightful comments here, and, my own curiosity as to what really "lies beneath" I am taking off all the plywood. Very revealing!! Some good...some not so much. The welds and the spacing of the metal 1X1.5 studs looks good, but...there is VERY little paint on the parts that you can't see...just the paint on the top portion that you can see with the plywood on! So...once again I am glad I referred to the many voices of experience here. I have even decided that the 3/8" plywood with all it's lopsided placements will be replaced with some nice pre-finished wall paneling. A little pricey, but no priming and painting 2 coats to cover the rough surface. And...I can use the plywood for the bed tops...the shelves...and who knows what all else. HD has a paneling that looks like old barn boards. Will see it in person before deciding, but I really like the look. Now...if I can figure out what to put up as a ceiling??? Maybe just 1/4" plywood with ceiling paint...Nuthin' Fancy, but should do the trick.
I started on the window cut-outs today. I made my own top and bottom supports from some re-used 1" aluminum angle I had laying around. I will post a pic if I can figure out how. I am using very basic "shed" windows so please go easy on me. They fit exactly in between the studs. I will apply some butyl tape, use the white 8 point screws I found on Amazon, then trim off the excess. I will follow that up with a nice bead of white caulk just to be sure it is sealed. They are 14X21 and with 4 of them in, we should have enough air flow. I may do a 12X12 in the door, just to look out of, but I really would like to know how it is made before I get into that. It is white metal on the outside, shiny aluminum inside, and when you tap it it thuds like it is a foam core. Anyone have a similar door that they cut open to put in a window? Would sure like to know before I do.

Will (try) and post a pic of the windows after installing...be gentle, please. Between our budget and all, the 200 for all 4 seemed like a good idea. Hope so!!

Just tried to add the pics. Message says the file is too big. Any ideas on how to resize to fit?
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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby Pmullen503 » Tue Dec 19, 2023 9:20 am

I'm looking forward to seeing the photos. Just about any software that edits photos can resize them. I usually resize photos for posting so the longer side is 800 pixels or less. That's good enough for most purposes.

You can often set the size (resolution) of photos in the camera/phone you are using to take the photos.

I'm not crazy about the software that TNTTT runs on but setting up your gallery page to upload your photos and linking to them there in your posts works well.
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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby CampingCur » Fri Dec 22, 2023 10:10 pm

CTC window frame 1.jpg
CTC window frame 1.jpg (215.75 KiB) Viewed 1535 times
Well, here goes! Outside pics of the windows installed on Driver side and Passenger side. I just ordered a 12X12 non opening window (matching) for peeking out the front door. ALL the plywood is off down to the bare aluminum inside. I caulked all the places where the floor plywood meets (almost that is) the side metal studs. The factory guys did not run it all the way to the edges of the wall studs for some reason. And, in some places they missed the cut enough that I could look down and see the ground! So...needless to say that took some extra caulk!! The can of spray foam did not work (only 6 years old LOL) so I used up all the tubes of caulk I had laying around. I wish it had pressure-treated floor plywood as some use, but I guess I will buy a couple of cans of undercoating spray and do the bottom up real good. That way I will be able to coat the floor joists (nice and stout 2X2 box beams) at the same time. I am also going to try and post the simple top window frame supports I made out of 1X1 aluminum angle. Actually, I only did 2 of the windows with those, and for the other 2 I used some 1X1 square tube aluminum from an old awning I cut down to size. I cut 2 inch aluminum brackets in half to make the mounting clips for those. Worked fine. Too bad the metal 1X1.5" wall studs were not more accurately welded in. Some were OK, but 1 was so much wider I had to put a piece of aluminum bracket there so that my windows would have a solid mounting surface. PAIN! Anyway...on to the insulation, rough wiring, and the inside wall coverings including the ceiling. Then, a rudimentary shelf in the V-nose, and the bed frames. WHEW!! Will post more if I don't fall out first!! It is a little harder when you get past 70 to work a full day without a nap!! And...trying to keep this project on a budget!!
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Windows Dr Side.jpg
Windows Dr Side.jpg (142.41 KiB) Viewed 1535 times
CTC window frame 2.jpg
CTC window frame 2.jpg (177.93 KiB) Viewed 1535 times
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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby Modstock » Mon Dec 25, 2023 10:17 am

Looks good.
While your in there. Get rid of those scotch-lock fasteners and install some regular butt connectors in the wires. That'll keep the taillights from flickering (shorting out) down the road.

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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby CampingCur » Tue Dec 26, 2023 10:32 pm

Good advice on the wiring. There are DOZENS of those connectors!! Not sure I am up to that challenge. Anyway, I called the place where we bought the trailer, he says the RV side door is aluminum on both sides and foam in the middle. I will be cutting out a square (or a diamond) and putting in the mini window (12X12)to look out of. We picked up the barnboard look paneling and the foam insulation (pricey stuff!!) I have installed the shallow electric boxes, after deciding not to do surface wiring. Nothing too fancy, just 3 outlets for the 20 amp circuit and (for now) just will have one outlet on the 15 amp breaker. I assumed after reading here that the general order of building one of these is to do the wiring first, then add the insulation, then put your wall coverings on. This is how (in most cases) home construction progresses, and probably campers too. If that is not the case, someone please let me know. I put in the RV 30 amp outside plug in today, it has a length of heavy duty (8 gauge...they were out of 10 at HD) ready to go into the panel box. Then I will feed out the wire to the the outlets. These shallow boxes will be a challenge!! Especially with the 12 Ga. wire. But...easy does it and hope for the best. I have glued the boxes (Liquid Nails) to the studs and so far they are holding well. I clamped them in place. I tried to put a screw into one, but the crazy angle was a pain. I will see after a few days if the glue alone is working. I got a 6 pack (not that kind) of LED 12 volt recessed puck lights and will (hopefully) install them into the ceiling. Which brings me to another question. Of all the choices that there are, for budget..weight..paint holding..and ease of installation...I think the thin plywood (2.7 MM) at HD might be the best choice for the ceiling. I will have to prime and paint, but it looks like this might be the easiest for my DW and I to put up. I will put up 1X3 on the roof braces first, then follow with the ceiling material. So, does this sound like a reasonable plan? Will it have too much sag after a while on 24" spacing? Should I opt for the thicker panels? (5MM). Not too much difference in price (about 7 dollars) and since I am planning to cut it into 24" wideX8 foot long pieces (to make it easier to handle), the weight won't be terrible even with the thicker panels. Any thoughts?? That is all for now. Thanks for the previous help, and thanks in advance for any future advice.
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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby Modstock » Wed Dec 27, 2023 11:36 pm

It's pretty easy to do those. At the very least do the taillights. After vibrations those usually cut the wires leaving flickering lights.

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Re: Keep It Simple 6X12

Postby CampingCur » Thu Jan 04, 2024 10:13 pm

Making some progress, although somewhat slowly. The wiring (12 volt and 120) are both in. The insulation is completed. I am now just beginning to make the bed frames. I will set them in temporarily for our next camping trip (mid-month), then see how the other stuff like the fridge, some lightweight drawers, and some hanging storage containers do on a "real" trip. Should be revealing. I have a nice 45 AH lithium battery from our Prius that I will work in the mix, and a 10 amp charger that can keep it fully charged. We will have a plug-in site, but it will be nice to have the 12 volt available for emergencies and such. I did get a outside porch light installed, and after the ceiling is done (still trying to figure out what to use), I will install 5 recessed LED puck lights. Here is a pic of the insulation all installed and the edges all taped. I also ordered a kit that will let me install a fan in the vent without having to remove the existing one. I added a wire up there for when I get ready to hook it up. Hope it is as easy as some reviews say!! We'll see. It was 90 bucks, a lot less than a whole new unit. So...that's all for now. More pics when the beds are in and the wall paneling is up. Any ceiling suggestions are much appreciated. My present thinking is to get some 1/4" or 5MM paneling and have it cut in half to make it easy to get home and lighter to put up. But...I will have to paint it!! More work!!
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