Friday, December 10, 2010

Rolled the Trailer

We were camping near Vail, CO this past summer. I had just unloaded the trailer so it was completely empty. I was driving through a field that had been logged 20 years ago and there were stumps everywhere. The jeep goes over them like they weren't there, but my friends watched the whole thing and said that the trailer was just about to go over a stump when I gave it a little gas. It "popped" the trailer up and it went up on one wheel.. as I kept going forward since I didn't see what was happening, it just tipped and dragged the trailer right over. We just flipped the trailer back over and no harm was done. Very stout!




Lifted Tow Rig

My jeep has been built up since the completion of my trailer.  So, my final planned ride height of both rigs matches perfectly.  I have 6" lift and 37" tires on the jeep and the spring over and 33's on the trailer match perfectly.   I have an aftermarket Expedition One Bumper with a custom hitch welded into the bumper, which raises it about 4-6 inches from the stock location (which was a dropped hitch under the bumper).

Update on Paint

Last winter I took the trailer on its maiden voyage to Moab, UT.  On the way we drove through a massive blizzard.  Highway crews were laying down tons of magnesium chloride chemicals on the highway to keep lower the freezing point of water and keep ice off the road.  The chemicals did a number on the paint job.  By the end fo the trip, you could see rust on just about every surface area of the trailer!

Another thing that happend after a couple summers of camping, was I was consistently loading gear on top of the trailer in the rack.  The bouncing offroad of the gear (like plastic tubs of firewood) wore through the paint on the lid.  I realized that because I painted the bare metal I built the lid from without sand blasting it first, the paint peeled off easily.  When I would go through high pressure washes, the paint would just fly off. 

So, reluctantly, I sanded down most of the areas I could get to with a flap disk on a grider. 


I decided to try this product from Rust Bullet.  Its EXPENSIVE.. $167.00 a gallon.  Standard Rust Bullet is gray in color.  But "Black Shell" is black, so I decided to use that so I would not have to paint over the rust bullet.


Here is the finished trailer.  I'll report back in a few seasons of use to let you know if I see any rust.  This product is supposed to stop any existing rust and prevent any future rust.


Lastly, I put two coats of Duplicolor bedliner on the top of the lid.  I am hopiing that this will prevent the gear from wearing through the paint.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Trailer Completely Finished!!!!!!!!

Its completely finished and I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out! Everything works great and it pulls perfectly. I'll update the blog after I take it offroading to see how it performs.







New Tow Rig!

I bought a 2009 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. I'm selling my 2000 TJ to pay for upgrades to this new jeep. The jeep towes the trailer perfectly with the extra towing capacity Jeep added to the JK.

Follow the build-up on my new "Project Blue Bruin" blog!

Finished Trailer with Bikes

We loaded our bikes up today to bring them to the bike shop and to give the bike-trailer combo a test run before our Moab trip in June. The bikes were rock solid when driving. The lid opens under its own power even with the extra bike weight.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Solar Charger



To keep my Xantrex battery topped off, I added a cheapo solar panel from Harbor Freight on top of the tounge box. The directions stated you could add a bead of silicone on the top of the solar panel where the glass meets the plastic housing in order to water proof it. I ran the wiring inside the box and it plugs into the 12V cigarette lighter outlet in the Xantrex unit.




I bought a blocking diode on ebay to keep the solar panel from working in reverse at night and discharging the battery.

Safety Chains

I opted for cable type safety chains rather than linked metal chain that will bounce around on the trail making annoying clinks. These recoil nicely to prevent dragging. I bolted them to the stock 3/4" bolt that passes through the tounge.

Lunette Lock

I ordered this on ebay for $30. It locks the lunette so you can't tow off the trailer when its parked. The box on the bottom helps keep someone from getting to the pad lock with bolt cutters.

LED Interior Light



A long time ago Lowes had a bunch of lighting on a sales rack and I picked up a bunch of LED undercabinet lights. They are 120V that plug into a regular outlet. I mounted one inside the lid and then ran the wire into the tounge electrical box where it will plug into my Xantrex power plant. Its not very bright, but it will be fine when you are out camping in the pitch blackness. The nice thing is it takes VERY low wattage, is shock proof, and will last virtually forever.


Here's a look at where the wire comes in the tounge box. You can see the weather stripping I added around the box lip to keep water out.

Bike Rack - Rocky Mounts

I bought some locking rocky mounts and bolted them to the top of the lid near the edge. This way the rear tire will be able to be strapped to the 3/4" square tube of the rack to keep it from bouncing around on the trail. You just take your front tire off and put the fork on the mount and tighten it down.
I added a 1" square tube cross member ahead of time when I built the lid so that I could mount the bike mount after painting. Here's a look under the lid where the mount bolts come through.


Weather Stripping - Lid Seal

To help keep water out when driving in the rain, I've added weather stripping around the lid where it meets the tub lip. In addition to the adhesive backing on the weather stripping, I applied a bead of Gorilla Glue and closed the lid tight over night. The result seems like it will hold well. Here is what the weather stip looks like from the outside:



Here is the rubber weather stipping I got a home depot, I got the thickest I could find:



Sunday, May 10, 2009

Paint

Spring finally has come to the Rockies and it was warm enough this weekend to paint. The wind was too strong, so I tented the garage with plastic drop clothes, switched off the circuit breaker to the garage, and ran an extension cord into the house to run the compressor and a fan. I just left the garage door open and with a respirator, it worked no problems. I didn't have any lights set up so it was a little tough to see what I was doing so I missed a few spots. I'll have to go back and touch them up. Now its time for finally assembly and then wiring and lights, gas struts for the lid, and bike rack attachments. The end is in sight! I hope to finish soon since we have a trip to Moab planned in a few weeks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gas Spring Ordeal

I went back and forth with http://www.internationalgassprings.com/ about which size to order. After I finally settled on a size, they sent me this email:

"I have not been able to get back to you as our normal business has picked up. IGS is a wholesale operation which typically ships high volumes of springs at a time. We are not set up for small quantity orders. I had some spare time when you contacted me the first time and offerred some help but at this point cannot spend any more time on it. Your best bet is to buy the springs from Mcmaster-carr who will offer a similar size http://www.mcmaster.com/. "

So, save yourself the hassel and go to McMaster to start with. Their gas spring page here.

Ball ends and mounting brackets here.

I just completed my order. Based on the info from IGS, I picked the 9416K22 gas spring. It basically has the same specs as the one IGS recommended: 28" extended length, 12" stroke, 25o lbs force. Since its an M8 rod end instead of M10, its one third the cost, only $18.77 each! Hopefully it is not too wimpy to stand up to offroad use. Guess we'll see. I ordered some extra ball brackets to allow me to use multiple mounting positions. This should allow one position for lid empty, and one for lid rack loaded up. I plan to start with the mounting positions IGS gave me and see how they work.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hitch Extension/Riser

When I did the spring over lift on the trailer it really made it tall. The lunette is about 30" off the ground. When I get my Jeep Unlimited (4-door) with a 4" lift and 37" tires, it should sit level. For now, with my 2.5" lift and 33" tires, the trailer has to really lean down. I've seen the adjustable ball hitches that all those huge lifted pickup trucks have, so I thought why not make something like that for the pintle. I started with a 12" receiver hitch tube from harbor freight which was on sale for $6.99 and grinded the paint off and cut it down to size.

Using 2" square tube I measured out enough length to clear the spare tire.



Then I welded it all together and added a angled piece for extra strength.


It looks kinda funky, we'll see if I end up using it. Once the trailer is painted I'll do some test runs to see if I like pulling the trailer with or without the hitch extension.

Lid Bondo

This weekend I filled in some of the small pinholes and pitted surfaces left by my poor welding skills on the top of the lid. The two sheets of 22 gauge metal were pretty tough to get a nice welded seam. So, rather than battling with spot welding hundreds of spots, I decided to fill it in with body filler.



Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gas Springs

As I mentioned in a previous post, I found this company International Gas Springs on the internet. You fax them in the specifics of your project and they plug it into their computer program to figure out the correct strength, stroke, and mounting position of the gas springs for your lid. I'm not sure yet how I'll mount the springs since they have only a 1/2" long threaded stud on the end of the metal ball joints. They are pricey too! $215 with shipping. So, don't forget to budget that into your project.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bedliner

Today it was warm and sunny enough to tackle bedlining the inside of the trailer tub. I picked up a duplicolor bedliner kit at Advance Auto Parts on sale for $46. I wiped down the inside with a scuff pad and solvent based cleaner first. Then I put two coats of goop on with the special brush.



Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lid Mounted Trail Rack

After skinning the lid, I added a trail rack using 3/4" square tube. I went with 3/4" to reduce weight and make it easier to strap things to since most straps have a hook on the end that won't fit over 1"square tube. This is just extra storage in case I run out of room inside the tub on an extended trip. I purchased some "Clutch" fork mounts from Rocky Mounts to hold a couple bikes and bolt those to the lid.

Tail Lights


I've broken my TJ's tail lights on the trail before, and dented in the back of jeep quarter panel hitting them as well. I didn't think exposed tail lights would last long on this trailer, so I went for something flush mounted. The drawback is I am comprimising my water tight seal of the floating tub concept. However, the rubber bushing on the light does ok, and I'll add some silcone to seal it when everything's done. The lights are $15 each from Harbor Freight.



As seen from the inside picture, the light is pretty well tucked above the angled part of the tub, so I don't think it will interfere with packing gear. The light does have a small rectangular part that sticks out the back.






Cutting in the Lights

I ordered a nice hole saw set on ebay which made quick work of cutting the perfectly round holes for my LED marker lights. I wasn't too concerned about weakening the frame since mine has 1/4" thick plate of steel welded over the whole thing which increases its rigidity. After the hole was cut I popped in the light for a test fit. Works great.



Skinning the Lid

Above is a photo of the lid after I welded 22 gauge flat plate steel to the frame. This was a HUGE pain. I don't know if my welding skills are that bad (probably) or if I am missing a more obvious way to attach it and make a water tight seal.... The welder was on its lowest setting, but not burning holes in the thin metal was near impossible, as was getting a nice bead. Anyway, I finally finished after draining an entire 10lb tank of gas and then I grinded down my bumpy mess. This has left a pretty rounded edge, but I think its good enough. Here's a close up of some edges...


Here's a view of the underside. I tacked the skin to the frame on every cross member every 4 inches or so. I've heard drumming can be a problem on the highway, so hopefully not having more than 2.5ft x 2ft spans will keep noise to a minimum.


Unfortunately, the steel yard couldn't provide a single sheet big enough for the top. So, I had to use two pieces and weld it together.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Working Lid and Road Test

Here's a look at the lid in operation. I found a company called International Gas Springs who build custom struts. You fill out a worksheet with dimensions and desired operation and they make the size and strength you need to open the lid, keep it open, and close it easily. We'll see how that goes, hope they aren't too expensive. Here is another option at McMaster Carr

I took the trailer out for a highway test yesterday since it was warm and dry out. I got up to 70mph and there was no signs of swerving, fishtailing, or tracking problems. I was concerned the spare tire might add unbalanced load to the tail of the trailer. So far so good.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lid Frame Finished


Here's a look at the finished lid frame. All that's left to do is order 22 gauge plate steel cut to size and weld it onto the frame to make the skin. Its really coming along well!

Electrical Box

Today I welded on a lockable latch. But to keep the lid from rattling when on the trail, I welded a rubber strap to the lid, and stretched it over a L-shaped knob I welded onto the front of the box. Then I used caulk to seal all of the inside joints in the box to help keep it water tight.

License Plate Mount



The back end of the trailer is almost entirely taken up by the spare tire and tail lights. I didn't want to mount the plate hanging off the bottom of the frame since it would likely be ripped off four wheeling. So, I fabricated a mounting bracket that is welded to the spare tire mounting plate. Its small enough to allow the hub-hole in the wheel to slip over it and onto the studs.