Toy-Drop Camper

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Intro: Toy-Drop Camper

Tiny is the rage right now. People want to live in tiny houses and then escape them in their tiny teardrop campers. But what do you do if you want to take your not-so-tiny Harley with you on vacation?! Then of course you need one of these: A tiny toyhauler! Or as I like to call it, my Toy-Drop camper.

In Dec 2016 I posted an instructible of my 7x14 toyhauler that I had built from a cargo trailer (Search Instructables for "Mini Toyhauler Camper" to find it). I still have it and we still love it, but I couldn't help wondering how I could do more, by doing LESS! That's right, I wanted to build an even smaller camper that would still carry a full sized motorcycle and let 2 people camp in comfort. This instructible outlines that effort.

My goals were pretty simple... To take a smaller trailer (6x10 in this case) and turn it into the nicest little toyhauler I could for the least amount of money. The emphasis was to be on simple and cheap, but all the while trying to make it as nice and functional as possible.

My earlier Instructable covered many of the decisions one has to make when undertaking a project like this. For a full discussion on the options and features of a project like this, please refer to that Instructable. I won't duplicate all that discussion here. For this one, I will just talk about what I did.

Let me know if you find this valuable by liking it and making comments. Thanks, and enjoy!

Step 1: Bought a Trailer!

I found this 6x10 V-nosed trailer on Craigslist at a great price. Finding it is what really sparked this project. I added the spare tire on the front to get it out of the trailer. It has a side door and a rear ramp door, which makes it much easier to load a bike or other toys.

Step 2: Installed a Window

I wanted a window, so I found this RV window on Craigslist for about $60. The worst part is you have to cut a hole in the side of your trailer! I just cut the hole to size (being careful to put it between the metal "studs"). They basically sandwich the trailer wall between the inner and outer part of the window. Add wooden spacers between the trailer skin and the inside paneling so that you can tighten the window without just pulling the skin too close to the inner wall. (Won't include a detailed tutorial on installing the window. I am sure there are a hundred of them on Youtube you can find).

Step 3: Painted the Walls and Installed Flooring

I painted the existing walls and then put down a piece of vinyl flooring that I bought in the remnant bin at a local discount flooring store. The trailer already had metal tie-down rings in the floor, so I had to remove those before laying down the vinyl. Once the floor was in, I simply reinstalled them. I used vinyl flooring adhesive to stick the floor to the trailer subfloor.

Step 4: Built the Bed

I used the same method as on my other DIY Toy Hauler. I welded up a frame of lightweight thin-walled steel tubing and covered it with relatively thin (3/8" I believe) plywood. The mattress was purchased from Craigslist from a guy who was parting out a popup camper. I got the mattress first and then built the bed around the dimensions of the mattress. Oh, the zip-off cover came off easily, which allowed me to run it through the laundry before putting it in the camper. One nice feature of this bed design is that it keeps the mattress clean until you need it.

Step 5: Added the "Kitchen"

I made the kitchen functional but simple. The sink and "water system" are identical to my earlier Instructable DIY Toyhauler article. I used a plastic picnic jug with spigot mounted over the small stainless sink. I wasn't able to find an inexpensive RV sink so I improvised by cutting a drain hole in the bottom of a suitably sized stainless salad bowl! The sink drains onto the ground via a flexible line. If the campground prohibits this, a plastic bucket or tub can catch the water for "proper" disposal.

As for cooking, we find that if we have a microwave, we can cook about anything we want. I bought a $35 microwave from Meijers and custom made the cabinet and shelves from pre-finished shelf boards from Menards. The counter top is some old tile-look laminate flooring I had laying around the garage. A dorm sized refrigerator is mounted under the cabinet, held down by a ratchet strap over the top to keep it from moving.

Step 6: Insulated the Ceiling

After camping in the trailer in the Texas sun for a couple of days, I decided to insulate the ceiling. The sun heated the metal to the point where it was like having a radiator inside the trailer, and the AC unit had no chance of overcoming the heated roof.

I chose the cheapest and simplest solution I could find. I bought 1" thick styrofoam sheeting ($5.99 a sheet from the local home center) and cut the pieces on a table saw to snugly fit between the steel rafters. They are glued in place with construction adhesive. That's it! No painting. No finishing. No nothing! The foam looks fine, it insulates well, and if I damage a piece it's a simple matter to replace it.

Update: The construction adhesive did not bond well to the foam panels, so that obviously didn't work. A commenter suggested using expanding foam crack sealer. I tried that and it seemed to bond the foam panels up VERY well. Thanks for the tip. I now have a ceiling that looks decent, insulates well, AND stays in place!

Step 7: Added Electricity.....

On my other toy hauler project I went all out on the electricity, installing a breaker/distribution box and then running three separate circuits. On this one, I opted for a much simpler approach. I bought a very heavy duty (12 ga wire) extension cord rated at 20 amps and connected it to three outlets (in a series), all connected by 12 ga wire. Thus, I have a single circuit capable of delivering up to 20 amps of electricity to the three outlets. I did not install a breaker because every campground I have stayed at has a 110v outlet to plug into protected by a 20 amp breaker. Thus, if I would ever happen to exceed 20 amps, the campground breaker would trip. I placed one outlet where the portable air conditioner can plug into it, another outlet under the cabinets for the mini-fridge, and the 3rd outlet above the counter for the microwave and whatever else. All the lights are battery powered LED for simplicity.

I installed a small door for the electrical cord to exit the camper (available online or at your local camper dealer), and then created a small "box" for it to coil up in just under the bed. This area also houses an exhaust port for the portable air conditioner (so I made it with a removable cover held on by velcro strips. Any time the AC is being used, the cord will be pulled out of that area and plugged in so there will be no interference.

Also be sure to install a smoke detector since you do have electricity and will be cooking, heating, etc in the camper.

Step 8: Added Finishing Touches!

The last step is where you really turn it from a "trailer" into a "camper". Adding some small accents like rugs, a mirror, etc make a big difference. You can see in the pictures that I also added some additional shelving that we determined was needed after we camped the first time. A spare tire holder allows us to carry the spare with us, but not take up valuable camper space. Anchors were added to the wall to keep the portable AC unit in place while traveling. Also, I added anchors for a motorcycle wheel chock, allowing me to bring a bike along. Other things I plan to add include screen cloth for the back and side doors, and some sort of window shades. Again, once you get to this point, everything you do just makes it seem more "homey".

Would love your comments and feedback!

Step 9: Re-home It...

This step is being added as an update to the original article, and is being added several months after the completion of the trailer. If you might have noticed, I had built two of these tiny toyhauler trailers (both are featured in Instructables articles). The other is a 7x14 dual axle trailer. Since we really didn't need two similar types of trailers, we decided to sell this one and keep the larger version. It was a difficult decision, as the smaller size of this trailer made it easier to tow, park, and move around the driveway by hand.

Anyway, this trailer has found a new home in the Louisville, KY area and will be used to haul paramotor flying equipment to fly ins, where the new owner (who was tired of sleeping in tents) will enjoy the luxury of a real bed!

My next project? I am really thinking that a 6x12 trailer could be the ideal size!

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    28 Discussions

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    BruceP28

    Tip 6 months ago

    Comment on JULIEB265's tip: Thanks for the tip. I did consider adding more outlets. However, since I didn't pull any of the paneling off the walls for the build, installing outlets isn't super easy. The trailer does have 3 outlets. One right next to the AC unit near the floor. One is above the kitchen counter. The third is under the cabinets and powers the refrigerator. Since phone chargers and the like don't pull very many amps, it's really easy to buy a device that plugs into an outlet and provides USB ports as well as additional AC outlets. This was determined to be an easier way to "add outlets" than actually adding more outlets.

    Regarding the induction cooktop, I actually have one and love it. We took it on our first trip with us in the camper and used it a couple times, but kept wishing we had a microwave (mostly to heat things up). So I installed the microwave but we kept the induction cooktop in the trailer with us as well. Thanks for the comment/tip. I am sure I will build another one sometime.

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    JULIEB265

    Tip 7 months ago on Step 7

    You've obviously sold this trailer already, but I was wondering if you had thought of installing one or two more outlets. I know that some people enjoy watching TV even when camping or on vacation. Also, it's the tech era. Will you put outlets with USB capability in your next build so as to charge phones, tablets, and cameras? Those were just a couple of things I would have added. One other thing, I only have a microwave too, except for a wonderful appliance called a NuWave Precision Induction Cooktop (PIC). It uses induction to cook with precision because you can set the PIC to the temp you want. There's a timer too. It only uses pots and pans that are magnetic. It would be a great addition to any tiny home. You just plug it into an outlet and can put it away when not in use. Thanks for the great pics and ideas!

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    TomA116

    11 months ago

    say thank you Bruce, I have been trying to talk my wife into letting me do something like this for quite a while. There is times we don't take the boat with us and really don't want to take the motor home so with your very good and precise article I will be able to show her what it could look like, you did great!

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    BruceP28TomA116

    Reply 11 months ago

    Thanks, Tom. My other article has a little more detail in it and a lot more discussion on all the decisions I made and why I made them. If you haven't already looked it it, you might find it helpful. Right now we have BOTH trailers! The larger one is needed because my powered parachute fits in it, but the smaller one is just so darn hand to move and around and use for hauling stuff.

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    TerryN4

    1 year ago

    Sorry, but #12 wire is only good for 20 amperes of current, not 30. It would have to be #10 to do 30 amps. Nice outfit though and you have thought it through thoroughly and done it up very nicely. I auctioneer part-time and have thought about doing something similar for a mobile office/clerk station, with ability to sleep in it when necessary.

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    TomA116TerryN4

    Reply 11 months ago

    We camp all the time in a 30' motor home most camp sites we go to have 20 and 30 amp plug ins, to this day I have never used the 30 amp as my MH does not draw over 17 amps with air on full blast, just grab your cord if it is hot then you might consider going heaver

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    BruceP28TerryN4

    Reply 12 months ago

    You are probably right. I do know that every campground I've stayed at has a 20 amp breaker on the electrical box I plug into. I will make the edit. THanks.

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    msloan3

    1 year ago

    I've used large Gap insulfoam spray for Adhesive with Insulboard...Once attached you'd have to use Acetone to get it off... Just fit your board and Spray then immediately seat the section in place. Also, Foam board can be cut and shaped easily with a Box cutter or Razor just like drywall... Run a cut through sufficiently deep on it then snap it... Quick no saws and mess from foam dots flying everywhere...

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    BruceP28msloan3

    Reply 12 months ago

    Got some foam as you suggested and glued one piece on today to try it. Seems to bond very well. I do have to figure out how to hold it in place awhile, though. The bond isn't instantaneous.

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    DavidE341msloan3

    Reply 12 months ago

    Best tip I've found for cutting foam board is to get a 6" drywall taping knife and sharpen one (curved) edge. Then use it as a draw knife to cut the foam. Much larger and stronger sharpened edge. Most of the polyurethane adhesives should work (as well as the foam-in-a-can) as long as the metal roof is clean first (use acetone or TSP).

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    BruceP28msloan3

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks. I will have to get some and try it! The construction adhesive sure didn't bond to it!

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    seamster

    1 year ago

    This is such a great idea, but still pretty simple and approachable. Thanks!

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    BruceP28seamster

    Reply 12 months ago

    Thanks. I am a big fan of "simple".

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    Pa1963

    1 year ago

    Awesome build. My only issue is with storing the potty so near to your kitchen area. Kind of icky.

    2 replies
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    BruceP28Pa1963

    Reply 12 months ago

    Its only there when transporting. It's also completely sealed.

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    BruceP28BruceP28

    Reply 12 months ago

    When we use the trailer, we put it in the back corner.

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    wrsexton

    12 months ago

    Excellent conversion! Do agree the wiring is inadequate gauge. Just run one thing at a time!

    Should you decide to rewire, add a fourth outlet for your electronics chargers and you're all set! Good job!

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    BruceP28wrsexton

    Reply 12 months ago

    As long as the campground has a 20 amp breaker on the box, the wiring should be completely adequate. If I were to make a change, it would be to add a 20 amp breaker inside the trailer, but it would be redundant. (and honestly, with what I have, I won't be pulling over 20 amps.)

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    vettebob

    1 year ago

    This is a really nice unit, and well done. I think I would have made the front addition slighly larger. I also would have added a 12 volt electrical system, had a charging connection to the tow vehicle, and used some efficient and cheap LED lighting inside. But yeah, I like it! Might have to make something like it to haul my giant scale R/C planes around and take my daughter camping.

    How much did the trailer itself cost you to buy?

    Nice job!

    Vettebob

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    BruceP28vettebob

    Reply 12 months ago

    I considered all the things you are talking about but decided to forego the onboard battery because basically all I'd be using it for is powering LED lights, and today's AA and AAA battery powered LED lights are cheap and easy. I couldn't justify the cost of the converter and battery, as well as the work to install it all for something we honestly will probably use a couple times a year to camp in.