Log in

No account? Create an account

DIY Trailer

For the past week wibble_puppy and I have been driving far and wide, scouring salvage yards for old reclaimed bricks that match those her house is built from. At two different places we bought a hundred and brought them back in her Honda Jazz (I worked out it was just about safe to carry that much weight, but the rear suspension was riding pretty low). At a third place we bought a palette of 150. There were already 100 bricks in the back of the car so we couldn't bring the 150 back with us that day.

Not wanting to risk breaking the Jazz by bringing them all back in one trip, we discussed a number of different options to retrieve them. Among the options were to make two trips in the Jazz (about three-four hours per round trip, including loading and unloading); bring them back in Wibble's Minor van (unsure if it would be a safe load because we think it has the rear springs from a car instead of a van); get me insured to drive G's big business van (expensive); or rent a suitably hefty trailer (very expensive). In the end I decided on the most illogical option: build a trailer and tow it with Lintilla!

Starting with the trailer tent chassis that I'm going to build my caravan on and a pile of scrap timber, we spent five and a half hours yesterday afternoon/evening (much of it in the rain) putting the brakes back together and then building a box on top of the chassis.

After grabbing a bite to eat, we headed over to the brick yard, picked up the 150 bricks, and brought them back. I had been a little concerned beforehand about how well Lintilla would cope with pulling that much weight - I estimate the gross weight of trailer and load probably came to about 500Kg. I could certainly feel her handling differently, and hill climbs were a bit slower, but she coped remarkably well overall. Overrun brakes on the trailer are certainly a good thing and I'm very glad the chassis I bought has them - they make braking with a heavy load not much harder than with a light empty trailer.

I'm pretty happy with it, particularly since it's nearly all made from stuff we already had lying around. I want to make a few small modifications (turn the back into a hinged tailgate, lower the height of the front, bolt the spare wheel on, maybe fit mudguards) and give it a lick of paint. We've discussed putting a wanted ad on the local Freegle for unwanted tins of exterior paint and using whatever colours we end up with! It's a bit of a shame that it will have to be dismantled in a few months to use the chassis for the caravan, but in the meantime we have a useful resource for moving building materials around (including caravan-building materials).


Thanks! Did you at least enjoy working on the pond? That's the main thing.
I presume you're aware of the problems of reversing a trailer with over-run brakes -- a guy I know in the States burned out his truck's automatic transmission trying to reverse a heavily-laden trailer with an over-run braking system up a ramp after he forgot to lock it out first.

Looking at your trailer (nice bit of improvisation and dead useful) I was thinking you could add a ridgepole to it running front to back, sling a tarp over the top and an airbed in the back and use it as is for summer camping trips.
It has the type of overrun brakes that only grip when the wheels are turning in a forwards direction, so you don't need to do anything before you reverse. The handbrake works in both directions, or at least it does now - when I bought it the component that makes the handbrake work in reverse was seized up, so the first time I unhitched it while facing up a slope it tried to roll back down!

Yes, it is certainly big enough to throw an airbed in and turn it into an improvised trailer-tent.
I love it! So practical.

Think the idea of free tins of paint, and taking whatever you get sounds like a lot of fun. You could do each panel a different shade and end up with a rainbow trailer!

Building onto a chassis is how my group of friends built our gypsy wagons about 7 years ago. I didn't do any of the building but helped with some of the painting and detail work. Good memories! We still have the wagons...
Would be interested to see some photos of them...
Will work on it over next couple of days. We have some existing pictures and I will photograph them as they are now (in need of restoration).
You can pick up unwanted paint at the local tip, at least where I live in East London. Worth a try, Alex? There's also a couple of green places which are recycling/reuse centres (I mean community run rather than council ones) which also have unwanted paint available for a small donation.

(Just in case Freegle doesn't produce anything.)
I don't think the tip here has a paint recycling area unfortunately. They are pretty good in other ways though - we've bought loads of useful stuff from them for next to nothing. I have a vague recollection of seeing a shop that sold recycled paint recently but I don't remember where it was.
Seeing you standing next to it makes me wonder how on earth you will be able to build a caravan that you will fit in to sleep, let alone cook! Is it tardis-like, somehow?
The floor area will be just about big enough for a standard double mattress, plus a space about 4'6" wide x 2' long at the back, which will contain a tiny kitchen unit either side and a well in the middle that will have 6' headroom. The trick was figuring out how to get enough headroom to stand up in the kitchen while keeping it under 4' tall when it's folded down. One problem I haven't been able to entirely solve is lack of internally-accessible storage space - there will be a fair bit of space under the bed, but you'll have to go outside and open a hatch in the wall to get to most of it.
Could you add a shute in the floor that leads to storage underneath? So, ok you will still need to go outside to get things out, but last thing at night you could just open the shute and get things out of the way (yesterday's clothes, or a rubbish bag, or whatever) before bed?
Nice idea but I don't think it will be possible unless the chute is outside the caravan - the mattress will take up nearly all the space inside. An idea I'm considering for clothes is some string netting 'shelves' hanging from the roof above the bed, a bit like the overhead luggage racks on trains.
Or like those toy stacking 'nets' that kids have sometimes.

On that topic, sometimes you can get chains that hang from the ceiling, for the purpose of hanging teddies and so on. Would that help for storage - maybe in your kitchen area? It's like having a row of cascading hooks attached to the wall on one end.
I don't think I've seen these chains.
How much will you want to store in the trailer other than food/cooking stuff? Are you talking about more than a backpack's worth of stuff? A whole summer's worth of clothes?

Lots of winter things?
Wash bags, towels, one or two changes of indoor clothes, outdoor clothes and shoes/wellies, a couple of books, camera(s) and phones, road atlas (to plan the next day's journey).
Is it necessary to have the mattress taking up all the room all the time? Some friends of mine have light foam mattressy things that are on individual boards- by day, they form banquette seating (with storage inside) and by night they lay out across the seat boxes to make a double bed.
Hrmmm. Or there are futon mattresses that roll up out of the way with a couple of straps (could be fixed to trailer wall @ one end).
One thing I don't want to compromise on is the comfort of the mattress, and (in my experience) the foam mattresses you normally find in caravans aren't as good as an inner sprung mattress. Also due to height constraints there wouldn't be much legroom below a bench seat (the space between the bottom of the mattress and the top of the chassis will be about 8" high, and there can't be a deep footwell there because the brake linkages run between the chassis rails). I also like the idea that when you arrive at camp the bed is already set up and ready to sleep in - you don't have to mess about turning seats into beds and digging bedding out of storage lockers, then doing the reverse when you get up in the morning. I don't think it will be a big problem to sit on the bed in the evening. It's just unfortunate that sprung mattresses are so heavy (and expensive!).