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Unread 09-20-2009, 04:32 PM   #1
AlexJet
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Default Off-Road Trailer custom build (write-up)

After a long time thinking of getting one and compare all the facts, I finally decided to build one myself.

First of all I looked at buying. This is difficult as we all have our preferences and sometimes there is nothing exists of what exactly we want. I looked everywhere and found a few places who do build off-road trailers. Some of them are Adventure Trailers, Bob (FJCruiserForums) and one company from East cost, but I can't remember their name and the link was in my old browser favorites which are gone.

I liked AT Chaser out of all the options as it was quality and most of the features I have in my list. I talked to them and found that trailer I want would run me ~$10'000 + delivery + brokerage and taxes and conversion (Canada). So by the end it will be over $15'000. I don't have such cash in my budget, but I really like it.

Solution - build one myself.

Action:
Please note that this is my personal build and I tried to stay on budget with parts and build something capable at the same time. If you want to build one yourself you may go different in some steps, but I thought I'd share my experience with members anyway.

STEP1
INVESTIGATION

You have to start with something.
In my case my original intention was to buy a trailer or flatbed from HomeDepot or Lowes (they run $900 for 4x8 or sometimes $700 on sale). Checking out those options I found that they mostly use angles for frame and 2'0000 lb axle hubs welded to square 2" tube. Another down point was that they start to switch to galvanized steel which is not that easy to work with welding and painting.
I checked a few local adds and was shocked as 10+ years old used trailers are selling at $600+ and none of them was in good shape for me, most were modified by plywooding everything they can.
I also checked the price for the metal if I'd start from scratch and it comes to ~$800 just for the frame.
When I was nearly at the point that I thought I'd go and get some metal I run into the small add of a company selling scratch and dent trailers. They advertise that they had dent 4x8 for $400. I drove down there (120km or 75mi one way) and look at that trailer. The salesman was great and while talking to him he asked what I need it for. So I told that I want to build one myself. He asked a few extra questions and then told me that if I'd follow him to the far end of the yard, he might have something for me. I did and this was right decision. He showed me frame which had miswelded spring hangars. This was really a good frame as it was boxed and made out 0.120 wall rectangular tubes. We talked a little bit more and at the end I got myself a 4x6 frame and 3'500 lbs axle from double-axle trailers for $250 cash. It was a good deal.
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'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"

Last edited by AlexJet; 09-21-2009 at 03:31 AM.
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Unread 09-20-2009, 04:32 PM   #2
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STEP 2
FRAME

As I mentioned earlier I used boxed 4x6 frame.



First was to size it to what I need. Read - cut all unwanted pieces.



And welded back together



When I had a basic shape, that was the time to add a nose piece and reinforce the frame overall





I'm dropping the stage of calculating the approximate weight and size of the future trailer and then calculating the weight distribution. If anyone want it, I can post it up.
So now I build and welded leaf spring brackets





"Basic" frame is done.
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'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"

Last edited by AlexJet; 09-21-2009 at 03:32 AM.
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Unread 09-20-2009, 04:33 PM   #3
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STEP 3
SUSPENSION

I have done some research and based on the data I had and simplicity & availability of the parts I decided to go with leaf springs. I didn't wanted to go with regular trailer springs as they are small, gives little articulation and heavy in rate. Instead I choose YJ springs. I checked different options from stock to lifted springs and got myself a set of front Superlift SoftRide 1.5" leaf springs (01538F6) for $145 each. I got myself bushing kit from Energy suspension (22107R) for $40, RubiconExpress spring perches (RE1935) for $35 and Warrior shackles (122) $66.

Test fitting the springs



First try-out of the axle I have



Welded floor and primed:



Cut the axle and give it a try. I didn't want to finish having axle either too narrow or too wide. It always better 7 times to measure and once to cut :



As I decided that I'll run shocks with my suspension I needed to do the shock mounts. Here are the one on the frame:





The axle was welded up, weld spring perches, and shock mounts (you can also see my u-bolts and plates, I've made):



Getting ready for install:



Install the springs and axle:





Mounted Rancho 9000XL shocks:



__________________
'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"

Last edited by AlexJet; 10-04-2009 at 04:41 PM.
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Unread 09-20-2009, 04:33 PM   #4
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STEP 4
TIRES / WHEELS

I've decided to go with the same wheels as I have on my truck. Luckily for me we start working on FJ and rims/tires become available. So I picked a couple of them for my trailer.
Having axle designed for 5x4.5 bolt patter, which is identical to Jeep Wrangler and wheels with 6x5.5, were require additional parts. Thanks to this forum, I found adapters which can convert one bolt pattern to another.

Adapters installed on the axle:



Close look at the adapter:



Wheels are mounted on the frame:





Installed nose support wheel, primed the bed and painted the frame:



__________________
'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"

Last edited by AlexJet; 10-04-2009 at 04:43 PM.
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Unread 09-20-2009, 04:33 PM   #5
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STEP 5

BOX

I wanted my box looks good and be effective. I, personally, don't like trailers with sticking out wheels like most of the trailers from the shelf. I had a few ideas before and browsing Internet just make it a little sharpie.

So first of all I had started with basic frame. I used 1x1 square tubing with .100 wall to keep weight down and be able to support steel sides.






Then I used thinner wall square tubbing (1x1 with .65) to make the upper portion of the frame and added side walls. I used 14ga steel checker plate as it gives enough structural support as well as protection for the cargo. Plus using the checker plate vs. flat panel gives an advantage of hiding small scratches will definitely will appear after driving the trailer off-road.

Side walls are in:





Front and rear wall:



At the back I decided to get the hatch door, for easy loading/unloading, plus this will give an option of transporting large loads such as wood or any other long items.



At the front of the trailer I made small storage for the water cans. It actually can be used for gas cans as well or any other liquids I'd need:



__________________
'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"

Last edited by AlexJet; 11-01-2009 at 06:15 PM.
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Unread 09-20-2009, 04:34 PM   #6
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STEP 6

FENDERS

First I was thinking of using pre-made fenders, so I found some square in PrincessAuto. They were 9x32. As my tires are 35s, they would of need to be largen. The issue there was as they press made of 18 or 20ga steel and welding an extension both to width and length would of make it a bit difficult and time consuming, plus they are not that rigid to begin with for off-road nature. So I decided to make myself ones.
First, I used 3/16 1-1/2x1-1/2 steel angle to make a form of the future fender. Reinforce it with 1" .100 DOM tube and weld on 1x1 .100 square base.



I also added "sliders" for the fenders in case there will be something on the way, so they will slide off.



Here you can see the result primed:





Painted:





For the fender material I optioned 1/8" thick aluminum checker plate



Here you can see them mounted:



__________________
'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"

Last edited by AlexJet; 11-21-2009 at 04:24 PM.
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Unread 09-20-2009, 04:34 PM   #7
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STEP 7
TONGUE BOX

At first I was thinking of building a box myself, but then found one for decent price of $279. With current aluminum pricing and all work need to be done for building it woiuld run about the same amount, so I bought UWS 34 Tongue Box



I welded attachment points to the triangulated tongue



Here is the box placed for measuring purposes:





P.S. When I put box on the trailer to see how would it looks I found that it has dented one side, so I called the store and ask them to find me a replacement one. I was told it may take a week or so.

Then drilled matched holes in the box and installed it

[picture]

With my fenders made out of checker plate aluminum the box does looks good, at least from my perspective.
__________________
'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"

Last edited by AlexJet; 11-21-2009 at 04:40 PM.
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Unread 09-20-2009, 04:35 PM   #8
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STEP 8
ELECTRICAL

Last night I start working on electrical. Few things to pay attention to (from my perspective they are important).
- Groomets. Everywhere you going through any type of material, especially conductive one like steel or aluminum, you need to use non conductive groomets, like plastic or rubber. This will benefit you in a long run as it will protect wiring from being teared to the edge of the hole and shorted. In my case I found a set of 70 different size groomets for $4.99 at my local trailer store.
- LEDs. LEDs are very good solution for trailer lighting. Now they become very affordable and cost only slightly more then traditional bulb type lights. Yes, they still cost mor, but there are benefits of using them. Like regular oval clearance light at my local store priced at $3.99 while same LED version is $9.99. Another thing is how many lights you need, in my case I spend about $200 on LED lights not counting some special options I'm ordering now. I think they were worth additional $100-120. LEDs have longer life cycle and probablyt last the life of your trailer. Most LED lights are sealed, so they can be used under water and in our case it's good because of the enviroment most off-road trailers are used. LEDs provide fastre responce on power-on, so they light up at full power a few milisecond earler then traditional bulb and this may give a few extra feet for someone driving behind you in case of emergency. In my opinion LEDs have better visibility in general (of course if they done right). One of the important features of the LEDs that they draw little power compare to classic bulb which means you can use more lights with same load or use lighter wiring. Basically you benefiting on low current in your system.

As I mentioned earlier, I started with placing groomets in every hole I planned wiring will go through







Here are some examples of LED lights I used:





For Tail Lights I decided to use steel guards as they are important for trailer use and crashing light on the trail doesn't seems to be a good option if you need to drive trailer home without lights. I'm not even thinking of possible getting a ticket for missing light (in Ontario they give tickets even for cracked tail light on the trailer).



I mounted clearance lights on the corners of the trailer





I also used small lights to mark-up the fender corners for security reasons. It's not mandatory for trailers less then 80" wide, but my fenders are sticks out from the box size, plus it easier to operate the trailer in the dark when you can actually see you furtherst points.



As my trailer has pretty long tongue, I've decided to add lights there as well



Wiring part is the most important and the most time consuming in all electrical section of the build. I'm an aerospace engineer and we deal with wiring aircrafts all the time, so it wasn't that "crazy" for me. It just would need some time to work things out nicely.

First of all my all connectors are weatherproof and shrinked to prevent oxidation of the contacts:



Then I used tubes to cover all exposed wiring (both inside and outside) to prevent from damaging the wires:



A little controllable "mess" of wiring inside (I put some wiring in, but this is not all as I'm working the process through:





Some wiring is done:



Some finished electrical shots:



I used switch and relay to operate interior lights from (+) wire in the trailer harness:



__________________
'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"

Last edited by AlexJet; 12-14-2009 at 11:55 AM.
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Unread 09-20-2009, 04:36 PM   #9
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STEP 9
ACCESSORIES

I will most likely be updating this portin for some time as the work will continue with time.

1. BACK-UP LIGHTS

As the begining I started with optional back-up lights. I looked at different solutions from halogen flood lights to trailer back-up light, to LED auxiliary lights. The trailer harnes in the vehicle has back-up circuit. After doing some research I come-up with that using halogen flood lights will overload the circuit. Adding LED H3 bulbs will possibly solve the overloading issue. Using dedicated trailer back-up lights didn't actually bought me. I bought a set, tried and didn't like it much, so they were returned. Then I looked at auxiliary LED lights and this kind of grabed my attention. I like this idea allot.

So I bought 18W LED Work lights which will perfect fit back-up function:



2. INTERIOR LIGHTS

As the trailer is dedicated "Expedition" it need to light up the cargo during the night in remote areas. So I decided to add some interior lights.






3. MAX COUPLER

To be able to have trailer independent from the vehicle I went with MaxCoupler from Adventure Trailers:



Installed:



Operational with 4" drop (in reverse) ball mount:



4. TAIL GATE

As my need to transport long items and for easy to use I added a full tailgate to the trailer. In open position it supported by 5/16 chain with safe load of 1'400 lbs.



__________________
'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"

Last edited by AlexJet; 12-14-2009 at 12:01 PM.
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Unread 09-20-2009, 04:36 PM   #10
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STEP 10
FINISHED VIEWs

Roll-out December 2009:






First road-test December 13th:



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'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"

Last edited by AlexJet; 12-14-2009 at 12:04 PM.
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Unread 09-20-2009, 05:23 PM   #11
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looking good!!
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Unread 09-20-2009, 06:01 PM   #12
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Very cool build thread, can't wait to see how it progresses.
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Unread 09-20-2009, 07:19 PM   #13
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Sweet. I'm looking forward to this build.

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Unread 09-21-2009, 03:27 AM   #14
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At the moment I stucked. I did wanted to use the same rims I have on my truck, and ordered adapters from AdaptItUSA over a week ago. The lead time is suppose to be 2 weeks to get them. It more look like it will take up to a month to receive them as it will be 2 weeks shipping (regular Post) and my card wasn't even billed (I was told that it will be build when the adapters will be manufactured and ready to ship). I'm guessing they are still in manufacturing process. I need to shortern that axle, but I don't want it to do without mounting wheels, so I can see their articulation. I have the metal for the floor and box size in my garage and I need it on wheels before I start building a box.
I hope to get those adapters soon and continue build...
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'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"
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Unread 09-21-2009, 10:23 AM   #15
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Tease
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Unread 09-21-2009, 12:03 PM   #16
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Very nice Alex!
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Unread 09-21-2009, 12:22 PM   #17
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will you have shocks on the axle?
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Unread 09-21-2009, 12:43 PM   #18
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Sweet!!! U gonna put 35"s on it like the teardrop trailer???
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Unread 09-21-2009, 02:07 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teotwaki View Post
will you have shocks on the axle?
Yes I would.
__________________
'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"
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Unread 09-21-2009, 02:08 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by medic83 View Post
Sweet!!! U gonna put 35"s on it like the teardrop trailer???
Yes, I'm putting 35s on it.
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'05 4Runner V6 Limited --- Custom 5" LT; 35"; ARB, CBI; Snorkel; etc...
'16 4Runner Limited --- Daily Driver; 3"; 33", Snorkel
'74 FJ40 --- 5"; 35", Snorkel, etc...
'09 Custom Expedition Trailer --- 35"
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