The Base Camp Trailer




About: My goal with every instructable is to be short & sweet with lots of pictures.

As an engineering student I've been doing my summer internship with a small business that builds these base camp trailers. Since it's a new design, I've been able to play a major role in the manufacturing process.

Engineering is my passion and I've loved my experience here, therefore I'm excited share an overview of how it's all put together.

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Step 1: Equipment

1. Laser Cutter

2. Press-Break

3. Robot Welder

These are the major machines that are used in the shop. The laser cutter cuts up to 1/2 inch thick steel and is used to cut out parts from sheet metal with extremely high precision.

The press-break is used to bend and fold the parts creating the proper shapes needed for the base camp trailer.

The robot welder is then programmed to flawlessly weld many of the parts together.

Although much of the hard work is taken care of by the robot, a skilled welder is still needed to compensate for it's limitations.

Step 2: Jiggin It Up

This is a jig I designed and built to construct the frame of the base camp trailer. Typically 1 jig is used for each side but I was able to overlay 4 sides onto 1 jig. I used a color-coded system to mark out the different sides. In the engineering field there is a very technical term for this type of preparation... it's called "idiot proofing".

Note: You'll notice there are 3 colors, not 4. White is for both sides which are the same due to symmetry.

Step 3: Frame Assembly

Bringing the sides together, from the robot, produces the framework of the base camp trailer. Since the jig and robot held each side nice and square it takes very little effort to join them together with accuracy.

Step 4: Side Panels

These panels were cut out with the laser and then tacked onto the sides of the frame. They are cut from 14 gauge steel. Thicker steel adds to the weight but thinner steel tends to warp with welding and powder-coating.

Step 5: Sanding

Who the hell sands metal...right? Well, welding can burn through on the other side producing an imperfection. These need to be ground or sanded down to produce a smooth finish. All of the internal shelves are welding into place therefore a significant amount of sanding/grinding on the outside was needed. This is why you see all of the "patch marks" all around the trailer.

Step 6: Burn-Through

These are some examples of burn-through before and after sanding/grinding.

Step 7: Sand-Blasting

In order to create a good bonding surface for the paint, the entire trailer needs to be sand-blasted. This is a very dirty job. I normally don't condone violence but If you're ever offered a job as a sand-blaster, punch them in the face and run away!

Nonetheless, anyone wanting a quality finish will have to sand-blast the surface first. It removes rust, increases the lifespan of the paint which in turn protects against corrosion.

Step 8: Seam Sealer

This is a type of caulking that fills in the seams and reduces the chance of water seeping into the cabin. It can also be used to correct any minor imperfections. Once dried, it is sanded smooth.

Step 9: Primer

A primer powder is added to the shell and baked in a huge oven to create a better bonding surface for the paint to adhere to.

Step 10: Paint

Once cooled from baking the primer, paint is then blown on followed by a second round in the oven for a couple hours.

Step 11: Adding the Innerds

With a clean new color all the accessories are painstakingly added into the trailer. This part tends to take the most time since each feature requires "care" to maintain a finished touch.

Step 12: Adding Accessories

The firebox, tent, kitchen, water tank, water heater, and independent axle are added to this trailer as options chosen by the customer.

Step 13: The Finished Product

When fully loaded this trailer comes with

1. Tent

2. Solar panel

3. Rhino-rack

4. Canopy

5. LED floodlights

6. Power outlets

7. Shower

8. Water pump

9. Water heater

10. Water filter

11. Water tank (30 gal)

12. Battery pack

13. Kitchen

14. Wood box

15. Propane tanks

16. Gun box

17. Radio communications box

Additional customizations are also available but these are the major options offered.

Metal Contest 2016

Participated in the
Metal Contest 2016

Outside Contest 2016

Participated in the
Outside Contest 2016

Outdoor Structures Contest

Participated in the
Outdoor Structures Contest



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    13 Discussions


    I have seen mobile homes before and how much they cost at stores. I have thought of constructing one myself but the instructions could get pretty tedious at times. I guess to build an extensive layout, you would need at least some experience in the field as well as patience and dedication. Without these factors, your final unit could end up as a waste of resources.


    5 months ago on Introduction

    I imagine that you can create so many different things when you have an engineering background to support all of your calculations! I would be happy to build things, but I wouldn't think that they would be fit for use by anyone but myself. Heaven forbid I build some sort of structure that comes crashing down on people at the end of the day! I don't need that kind of pressure!

    Kink Jarfold

    11 months ago on Step 13

    Now that was interesting. So glad you are following what you like to do. KJ


    Reply 2 years ago

    If you are in the US, check out government liquidation sales. I've bought M101a1 trailers and out fitted them for sale with off the shelf camp items (including a roof top tent) for less than $5k rolling. Shower, toilet, solar, storage, etc. can all be had off the shelf these days. No real need for the advanced fabrication skills shown ion this "tut", although some bit of ability does come in handy.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Fully loaded they go for about $19,600


    3 years ago

    this is an impressive piece of engineering but really what you have produced here is not (imo) an instructable, but a slightly cheeky bit of advertising...

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Understandable!! But considering I am just an intern and don't profit, at all, from any advertising, this is more like a "look at the cool stuff I get to build!!" type thing. :)


    3 years ago

    What was the reason behind having the wheel arches outside? Wouldn't having them inside have given you an extra meter in width inside the trailer? It seems odd to not have that extra space in the design.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    There are a few reasons the wheels were designed to be on the outside; 1) It's much easier to bolt on a wheel-well on the outside than fabricate the frame around the wheel and adding more labor/costs. 2) The design was intended to be compact. Bigger isn't always better. Sure you could make it a meter wider or even a few meters longer but there is a trade off when doing all that. Larger is heavier, less mobile, more expensive, and so forth.


    3 years ago

    Amazing job I have been thinking to build something like this but i have no space to park it, what about the building ofyour susspension I see its an independent susspension,thats the part that worrie me in the design of my trailer

    It is nothing short of amazing that all this can fit inside of a small trailer. Great product design!


    3 years ago