Introduction: Pop-Up Sheep Wagon

I've always loved camping, but unfortunately, having to sleep in a tent on the hard ground started making it less enjoyable. Then I started looking for other options, finding myself inspired by pictures of caravans and sheep wagons. While more than excited to make my own wagon, things like limited experience building and funds weighed a bit on my mind.

Though I did gave an old 5x10 utility trailer laying around the back field for the better part of fifteen years...

Upon discovering (and hopelessly falling in love with), I looked up directions on how to perhaps build my own wagon. Another problem arose, in that all the ones I found were for full-sized wagons, and my SUV had a 1500 lb (680.38 kg) limit...

So, I came up with my own solution, planning it out with a model and using my trailer as a base.

Step 1: Step One: Prepping Your Trailer Base

Before you start you need to look at the condition of your trailer. (Mine, for example, was in absolutely pitiful condition.)

First, you need to inspect the framing of your trailer. (Is it still intact? How rusted is it? And so on.) Painting, rust removal, and other sprucing up might be needed here (was very much the case for me). Either way, you need to be sure that the trailer's frame can (literally) pull its weight.

Next up, the tires. You need to make absolutely sure your tires are ready for the job; everything from the tread to the axles.

Finally, if you're in a situation like I was where your trailer was at the mercy of the elements, you might need to take out any wood bases. (The ones on my trailer were rotted enough to be mistaken for a zombie.)

Which leads us to our next step-

Step 2: Step Two: Your Flooring

In addition to removing any rotting wood/potential safety hazards, you can also use this step to lessen the overall weight of your wagon by utilizing joists. (For our new carpenters out there, "joists" are spaced-out parallel boards meant to help support horizontal planes such as floors and roofs. There's a picture of it above it you prefer a visual example.)

Next up, we need to choose our flooring to lay on our joists. The wood I strongly recommend is 3/4 in marine-grade plywood. Only one layer is needed for the floor; your joists will help support it here.

Step 3: Step Three: the Ledges and Sides

Cut 5/8 inch plywood for lower sides, then bolt it to the left and right side of the frame. For the horizontal ledge, use two 10x12 in boards, then secure them in place with shelving brackets to achieve 90 degrees.

Next come the side walls. I cut 3/8 inch plywood into 10x2 feet, then framed with 2x2 boards. Attach to ledges. (Every edge of this wagon is secured with wood glue and screws, respectively.)

Step 4: Step Four: Back and Front Walls

The back and front walls are actually two parts; a top portion that folds down while the wagon is being moved, and a static bottom part. I drew out the pattern for these parts in cardboard, to ensure accurate fit. I traced these onto 3/8 in plywood then cut the parts.

I attached the lower part of the walls to the wagon's sides/bottom using 2x2 boards where the edges meet.

For the upper part of the wall, I needed to solve its folding mechanism. I did this by 2x2 boards on top of two edges of the parts that meet (lower edge of top part, top edge of bottom part), installing large cotter pins to pass through two holes I made into the boards. I stabilized the upper parts to 90 degrees using shelving brackets on the interior edges.

Step 5: Step Five: the Roof

I cut notches into the upper edge of the top part of the front and back walls in order to accept twelve foot support slats; they were sized to keep the bars/beams snug and level to curve line. All the slats can be the same size, but I made the middle board a bigger than the other (4x12 in my case) to help better support the roof.

Next we have to add in brackets to put in tent poles that will help support the roof's (fabric) layers. On the left and right sides, place five brackets, each pair parallel to each other.

Next we have to add the (fabric) layers of the roof itself. In my wagon's case, I have three layers; the "fabric wallpaper"/innermost layer, insulation/reflective/reflectix layer, and silicon/rip-stop layer, respectively. I applied the first two layers directly onto the wood slats. Over these layers, slip the tent poles into the brackets we put onto the side, creating a secondary support layer over the roof. Over this layer, we'll lay on our final roof layer.

Step 6: Step Six: the Interior

Platform with middle support in usual place to accept twin-size mattress. Side couch expands to second bed.

Came in weighing at 1100 lbs and cost about $1000 to build.

Special thanks to PaleoTool, Rockin'7Pottery, handsomejim314, and Timothy Lemke for the tips!

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