After having a 16' Cargo Craft enclosed trailer sitting in my backyard for 7 years doing nothing but storing extra wood we decided it was time to repurpose it and use it for what we wanted- A Toy Hauler for the Harley's. After looking for what other people have done, we found not too much was documented from start to finish. We hope to be able to complete that task. So far the time frame is about one year of weekends and summer evenings after work but the intent is to pull out in it next spring and test her out.
After being "drug" home with no brakes and axles needing replacement, this tandem axle used for our now defunct construction business needed some structural improvements
Step 1: Axle Replacement
First step was to work on the axles. So, to learn exactly what we needed we found www.etrailer.com. This website provided a great deal of information to help enlighten us about what axle was necessary, needed, etc. Not endorsing any website or company here just letting you know how it was made easier for us. After learning what we needed, we went to Big Tex Trailers and found out exactly how to measure for new replacement axles - which really does matter if you are not precise! Purchased 2 3500 lb axles with electric brakes and UBolt kits for about 800.00 total.
The trailer wiring was pretty much jacked as you can imagine from sitting unused for so long. Along with the rewiring of the outside lighting and swapping the axles we also added in the break away box for the trailer. I wasn't very familiar with this item but basically if the trailer leaves the truck, the clip is pulled out of the small box with the silver wire and it sends a message thru the break away box sitting on the tongue that has reserve power that applies the breaks of the trailer. Picked this up from Northern Tool for around 50.00.
Step 2: Sheet Metal Repair
To repair the nose we visited a local Metal erector company who had some extra 18 gauge metal lying around from an old job. Picked this up for about 200.00 along with some jacked up caulk and King Kong sized caulk gun. They were able to "break" the metal where we needed the bend on the nose and two sides also. Removed old metal, replaced with new metal and metal screws. Re-purposed the diamond plate that originally wrapped around the nose to add a decorative touch to the bottom. Painted the tongue and considered it done for now.
Step 3: Kitchen Cabinetry
Here is where the cost gets a little fuzzy. Remember when I said the trailer housed extra lumber before we decided to re-purpose it? well, that's why the cost is fuzzy. We had a pretty good collection of nice Oak for cabinetry and were all too happy to use it. We decided to spend the extra money on the hinges and drawer mechanisms so that they will stay closed en route - well, that's the hope anyway. So we ordered the self closing hinges and drawer mechanisms from Home Depot and I believe this was worth the extra spent. These cabs are nicer than the ones in the house! Stained them and they are ready to go in. The upper cabinet is going to be held in place with a wall cleat.Wallcleat
Step 4: Countertop
Again, can't really estimate the price here we have some left over solid surface materials from said defunct business. I'm sure Laminate is much cheaper but this was completely free.
Step 5: Placement
I know, terrible picture BUT, we took a chalkline out to the driveway and laid out what we knew we HAD to have such as the kitchen and the fold away bed. By drawing out the layout on the driveway we were able to drive the Harley's right up onto our pseudo toy hauler drawn onto the driveway. If everyone drives exactly perfect in perfect conditions with no wind factor two sportsters and a deluxe can ride safely and snugly in the trailer. With the ages of our boys we don't truly expect that to ever be necessary but it is an option if they decide to do a fun trip with us.
Step 6: Windows
Cutting out for the windows. We decided on two, one for the "living room" and one in the kitchen. I admit the purchase of the metal band saw was not necessary but it sure made life easier. Welding a frame for the inside and purchasing butyl tape from Camping World because it wasn't to be found at Home Depot or Lowes, we installed both windows without too much fuss. Because we didn't have predetermined sizes we were able to purchase one at 100.00 from a local RV dealership service center. This had already been installed and removed. There was no problem with the window and it had been sitting there for about 6 months that we knew of so they made us a deal for $100.00 instead of the $125.00 they had on it. The other smaller one we purchased form Ebay for $125.00 total. The problem we found when we went to install it was we hadn't paid much attention to the depth of the windows. The smaller one was the perfect depth to go in the walls but the larger one from the RV Center had to be adjusted with more structure for installation. Basically we beefed up the frame to make the window snug which later caused an issue with the paneling. You can see the curve of the paneling inside the trailer where it slopes up to the window. Retrospectively I probably would have kept looking for a window had I realized the depth of the window was too large.
Made the window treatments with pressed board - don't do that! The pressed board nearly didn't take the staples. maybe I needed different staples, don't know - again, used what I had and they worked fine on the sections made out of wood. covered them in cloth and some batting had laying around from a quilt making jaunt. Made the curtains and hung them up with a small tension rod.
Step 7: Inside Framing, Wiring and Insulation
At a cost of around 300.00 we used white pine for the light weight to frame the inside so we wouldn't be working with metal all around. Glued and screwed everywhere we might need a header board, frame etc.for. We used 1/2" insulation board at 10.00 a sheet then ran the wiring throughout to get a mix of 12v lights and 115 v. for appliances. After all the wires had been run we added an additional layer of insulation in the form of the rolled up Reflectix - essentially silver bubble wrap. It's easy to install and cuts with scissors. Placed with staples on top of the sheet insulation. Cost was about 130.00. This just added another layer without the added weight.
Step 8: AC Unit
Purchased an AC unit from Adventure RV A Dometic DuoTherm Brisk with a heat strip. Very easy to install. Because the Trailer already had a vent on the top the cutout was exactly the same. Because we bought this off of their clearance rack, the total cost was less than 550.00. We are not adding a bathroom to the trailer and the only running water we need is going to the sink so another vent is not necessary.
Step 9: Flooring and Seating/Bed
Took us a minute to decide on the flooring also. Didn't want it to look like the utility trailer that it is but still need to drive the bikes up in for transport too. Found this vinyl flooring that comes in strips like planks that sticks just like the 12 x 12 squares you can stick down on the flooring. Because it's vinyl it can take moisture. It sits like a floating floor as it is attached to nothing but itself. Found this one on sale at Home Depot as a slow mover. It was originally 2.29 per square in a box covering 26 squares and picked it up for 1.44 per sqaure.
Typical RV jacknife bed. Purchased this onine and with shipping it almost cost $900. We just couldn't find a better option. There are several sites where we could have made them but the weight added with the amount of wood necessary would have limited the number of motorcycles we could have carried. Again, really don't believe we will run with all three bikes but on the off chance both kids want to go - not gonna say no to that!
Step 10: Base Moulding
Lucked out and found some commercial grade base mouldingat a garage sale for 5.00. Works good here. Installed with liquid nails.
Step 12: More Cutouts and Checking the Electrician
These pics show the outside of the trailer at the electrical unit. The cover for the plug in we purchased thru adventure RV.net along with the plumbing inlet cover but the cable is a generic cover purchased at Home Depot/Lowes. Even if we are not at a campground we have a digital air antennae that will still allow us to have reception for local news anyway.
After re-wiring an old 220 volt 3 wire "extension cord" we had and attached a 10.00 adapter from Home Depot, we were able to plug into the trailer at the 30 amp shown above and the other end with the adapter into our 110 volt plug in at our workshop and check to electricians ability. Success! We slowly added in power with each breaker - well, basically because we just knew something would go wrong so we flipped one by one but it was all good. Actually, we were expecting some issues with the reduction in amps going from the 30 amp with the 15 adapter.
The AC unit worked correctly and the heater strip inside was blowing as well. The AC unit is LOUD and it is way to big for our 16' trailer. On the upside, we won't have to run it very often as it will cool it down quickly.
Step 13: Ceiling
Biggest pain of the entire build! Had to change products after purchasing 1/8" solid whit panels. Too flimsy, went back and purchased some more of the 3/16" paneling in a different style as the paneling on the walls. Have to admit we are not that all together pleased with the look of these. Just visited Lowe's and saw some oak paneling that would have worked so much better, but hey - it's done.
Step 14: Outside Door Replacements
FRONT DOOR: The original door was a big square door locking only from the outside. Searched forever and finally found a place on EBay that had exactly what we needed. Replaced the outside door (front door if you will) with an RV door of the same opening for about $215.00. You can see in the pic that the utility trailer had the old bar style closure with handle. The old door was just a shell - inside was rotten and even the enlarged kick plate added some time ago still didn't help with the doors stability. The new/used door is 72 x 30 with our opening of 74 x 30 some modifications needed to be made. And, the new door has a curve at the top too.
REAR DOOR: We fully expect this to be the challenge of the build. The idea is to add another layer to the back of the trailer that will work as a ramp for the bikes while still keeping the back doors. The rear door opens in the middle, again with a bar style closure. The existing rear doors has their own version of rotting wood but not quite as bad as the front door. You can see where we had to correct some of the internal wiring of the trailer and have now bandaged for the moment the areas we used for access to the outside trailer wires that ran thru the doors. ****UPDATE*** see step labeled back door and ramp for the successful change to the rear door.
Step 15: Front Door Swap
Purchased a used RV door from Ebay for $130.00 plus shipping for a total of 215.00. Had to do some fancy metal work and trim, but was able to install the door without much fanfare. The important part was making sure the size was exactly what we needed.
Step 16: Ramp and Back Porch
The back doors are not set for a toy hauler but a double door. A ramp was needed to allow the motorcycles and 4 wheelers up into the back. We designed a grid style base for the ramp to be mounted on hinges to make it fold up for travel and down for use. Since the ramp would be movable, we also decided to turn it into our back porch. This will give us more sitting room outside/inside.
The base of the ramp was welded into grids and covered with plywood. The plywood was then covered with indoor/outdoor carpeting held down by glue and edged with molding. The ramp is placed so that it folds up inside the trailer when the doors are closed.
The ramp had to be secured while en route so a few options were looked at. We decided on a screw type of fastener that created a clamp that essentially squeezes the ramp between the screw in handle and the threaded L bracket with a welded nut on the back.
When in use, two levelers are used to raise the ramp to make the back porch.
Step 17: Back Door Screen
Back porch is great but bugs are awful so we needed a screen between the trailer and back porch. Started with a tarp but is was not only too thick, it was stiff and coarse, we just didn't like the feeling of it so, we ditched the 26.00 tarp. The As Seen on TV magnetic screen is working great, It was only enough for one people door. We needed to cover the entire back 8' door. We purchased three of the screens from Ollie's at 5.00 each and sewed them together. Because the trailer is surrounded with metal the magnets worked great. We sewed additional magnets to the top edge inside of little pouches to place around the top of the opening and used the existing magnets on the screens for the sides. We hemmed the bottom to just graze the floor with about 1/2" extra and can literally just throw it up and it sticks where it lands. The openings really do work and come back together after you walk thru with the magnets. I think this was our cheapest and easiest fix. The dogs don't quite get the whole snap back closed part though.
Step 18: Countertops Installed
We were able to build our own cabinets cheaper than reworking used ones. As you can imagine, the size needed was very specific and not standard. We were able to use some left over solid surface material for the countertop. We also had a left over sink from the old business that worked perfectly.
Step 19: Plumbing Works!
Purchased a 10 gallon fresh water tank for about 90.00 came with a 12v pump. Placed under the sink section of the cabinets. The sink was a left over from the old business as well. Purchased an additional inline filter and the outlet for the side of the trailer. More holes to cut!
The plumbing (as always) was a bit of a challenge because we were working with an RV 12v water pump and water tank with a regular sized faucet. We did special order the water hoses from the hot and cold water up to the faucet as they were both 1/2" OD connectors. Home Depot stores only carries the hoses that are two different sizes like in your home. Ordered them online from Home Depot for 20.00. As for the rest of the plumbing, it's just the normal stuff except for the inlet and outlet hose going to the water panel on the outside of the trailer. If you look in the picture you can see a clear hose that goes into the filter. There is also a blue collapsible hose we used with a clamp that goes from the drain out the bottom of the trailer for waste removal. Underneath the trailer is the hose for allowing water from the sink to go out. We decided against a hot water heater as the sink is expected to be used for cooking and cleaning only. No shower in our toy hauler.
I've included a very rudimentary drawing that shows how we ran the water. If we are running off of the tank we use the cold water faucet with the automatic pump. If we are at a camping site we will use the hot water that is plugged into the water from the site. The only additional item that might be required is a regulator. Because we are going straight to the faucet with the campsite water I really don't see why we would need it, but again, we'll see.
Step 20: Adding the Outside Battery Shelf.
To hold the two batteries for our DC side we had to employ or younger son and his welding skills. The tray folds up while en route but holds two batteries that will eventually be attached to soar panelsin the future.
Step 21: Awning
Didn't think we would ever find an awning. All over the internet looking for used, abused any type of awning from an RV. We looked at box awnings for pop ups and had almost decided that could be an add on if we decided we needed it then walked into a Garden Ridge that was being bought out by another company and BAM found something that would work for $180.00. The question is how well does it travel? don't know yet, hope we didn't just blow that money. It appears to be well attached. We reinforced with a metal header bar on the outside.
Step 22: Solar Power
We are learning about solar power. Appears very simple if you don't try to figure out HOW it works. Northern Tools is a favorite go to place because every day you can get 10% off at minimum. Just google Northern Tool Coupon and select the retail me not selection. You'll find the price/coupon breakdown - $50.00 off a $250.00 purchase. With that in mind, We purchased the Npower solar panel at around $130.00. It gives 18 watts of power and can be chained together to produce more power. We decided to "try solar" to learn by using it to trickle charge the battery used for the interior 12v lighting in the toy hauler. In addition to the panel which came with all connectors we had to purchase a $25.00 controller that handles up to 127 watts. The controller protects against over charging and indicates when the battery is fully charged or in process of charging. The picture shows where it is mounted inside the cabinet near the outside battery with the cables going out thru the electrical panel with the light showing as charging. The wires coming out look a hot mess but will be wrangled eventually. Not to mention our ground is not the best just yet, but it too will find it's permanent home.
Affixing the panel to the trailer was not what I would recommend for the next time. We purchased a Sunforce universal solar panel mounting system for $50.00. The edge of the solar panel we purchased was beveled so "tweeking" was required to make it actually hold itself in. I wouldn't recommend buying a universal mounting bracket it didn't work. We decided to put in on the front of the trailer and we are not too sure about the intelligence of that positioning; we'll see how it works out. We really didn't want to put holes in the roof of the trailer to mount it, so we decided to put it on the thicker metal panel we installed in the beginning. We are hoping that it is far enough up so that road trash won't hit the panel and ti's above the storage boxes.
Step 23: Table
The table is made out of the same corian material used for the countertop. it's large and maybe too heavy but works great. To solve the age old question of the table wiggle we added a metal channel permanently attached to the wall. A board matching the cabinets fits perfectly inside the channel and attaches the table to the wall with a bracket. It stabilizes the table when in use and is easily removed when it's time to lay the bed down. Will add break down pics later. The legs were purchased from camping world for around 45.00. we wanted something lightweight fit the legs and these were pre fit with the screw in base so we took the easy way out. I found another idea online where a guy bought a small plastic table and added D-rings under the table. He straped down the table with bungie cords. I thought that was brilliant but I need something more stable for our use.
Step 24: Storage Boxes
It's a strange location but it works. We debated over the location of the storage bins but finally relented to the fact that convenience was more important than aesthetics. We purchased these two boxes off of ebay for $150.00 each. The frame was made based on the size of the boxes and metal studs on the trailer. It makes for easy installation when you just weld up what you need. The boxes are held in the bracket with a bungee cord on top - the choice of all rednecks (right next to duct tape).