Buying a basic camper trailer and adding all the luxuries.
If you have the right tools and some imagination, lots is possible. My 3D printing skills have made so many things possible.
How the project started
We became interested in doing a bit more exploring of Australia. We have traveled to lots of places over seas and do plenty of travel in Australia in hotels and Motels. My wife and I have camped when we were younger, So we want our daughter to experience something different.
I have a 7×4 box trailer and was thinking of rebuilding this. It actually was an old 70’s camper trailer I restored. When looking at the cost of materials and time required it may be cheaper to buy a used camper trailer. One problem is the trailer is only rated to 500kg had has not brakes. I have no issues in doing the work, there may be something second had already suitable.
Originally I was thinking for extending the side of my 70’s trailer and fitting a roof top tent on a frame. My wife didn’t like that idea very much of a roof top tent, it wasn’t what she imagined and still costly.
I started to look around on the internet for campers, soft floor variants that were in our price range but with limited accessories. The hard floors were way out of our budget. I though they wouldn’t be expensive (I was kidding my self). There was a camper that I liked just for the trailer.
Our first physical look at camper trailers and caravans was at a caravan and camping show. This was an eye opener, so many different brands and types, many configurations to suit your needs. Our biggest wake up call was the price again. Maybe just continue how we holiday by booking accomodation, fly or drive.
One local brand soft floor optioned was around $9000, its nicely built but too expensive for what we budgeted for.
We were a bit disappointed and ended up buying a Domenic 75L dual zone fridge. The show was mainly high end options that we would only consider once retired. Back to the idea of modifying the old trailer.
I think at the time we had no idea what the prices were going to be. campers now had lots of luxuries we never considered.
The second hand camper
Weeks go by while searching online at the second hand market just for fun. I saw plenty of camper trailers, they were either over our budget or looked in bad shape. I did see one that was advertised right from the start, a basic setup. This camper was locally made, a heavy duty off road trailer with a water tank, pump fitted and a big tent. After lots of thinking many weeks I rang thinking its already sold.
When we arrived the camper was set up, we were amazed how new and hardly used it looked. The trailer looked hardly used with original tyres and the paint work was very good. The only issue was the annex walls were missing. We purchased it at a bargain at price. I could not buy or make the trailer for the price we paid. So now I have a starting point.
LED tail light issue
I have a semi modern SUV, a 2008 VW Touareg. The trailer has modern LED lights, the car is too clever for it’s own good.
When hitching up the new camper trailer to tow home I got a fault warning “check trailer lights!”, got out the car to have a look, I see that the trailer lights are flashing like a disco. The brake light’s and indicators don’t work as they should. I had no choice but to drive home like this, lucky I wasn’t pulled over. I know the Touareg detects faulty light’s by measuring current. A old fashion light globe has resistance through the filament this draws more current that a LED lights. The trailer module controlling the trailer lights measures each light circuit, measuring for open or short circuit, if the current is not correct the controller shuts down that circuit. The controller will then try again and again, this gives a on off cycle, hence the lights flashing.
The fix I know is to place 8ohm 25watt load resistors across each light circuit on the trailer, this fools the system think everything is ok. This annoyed me as this increase power consumption, you lose the advantage of LED lights saving power. At the time it was cheaper replacing the LED lights with old fashion tail lights.
Since I did this I have purchases quite a few load resistors on Aliexpress. Doing the same modification to the bike carrier, this had LED lights too. I installed a switch to disables the resistors when not needed.
They hydraulic over ride brakes did not function and seized. The master cylinder had an issue so I just replaced it. Wheel bearing serviced while checking and adjusting the brake shoes. The brakes now work!
Let’s try the new fridge out for size. Its dose not fit, it’s too tall.
You must be joking, I didn’t even think of this when buying the trailer.
Well this has sort of killed this idea, with a few drinks and a good nights sleep I came up with an idea. Extend the side up, I only needed 45mm extra clearance, this included a fridge slide.
I though why not use some 75x75mm timber. Doing the would require the tent floor frame hinges to be extended 75mm also. Cutting off the old hinge pins and welding them on to a new longer and thicker steel bar, holes to match. The lock down catches had to be extended, can’t miss them as they are pink. I think it turned out quite good, the addition created a better seal.
The original idea of the side did not work when the fridge was loaded up, the fridge is too heavy. I ended up buying of eBay a pair of 1.5M slides, these are rated too 220kg. Using a L steel profile to mount the inside slide and the other to the trailer side. A draw was made to suit. This draw had a space for the fridge and a small BBQ, under the BBQ is a lift out floor to store the hot plates and cooking tools. The draw had tie dow points. The draw had to be set in 400mm to allow the tailgate kitchen to fit.
more to follow