Build a Homemade Camping Trailer

Homesteaders eager to travel but low on funds can build a homemade camping trailer, includes information on a frame camper, a detailed diagram and instructions.

| July/August 1982

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    Rather than shell out hard-earned cash for motel lodging on family jaunts, I figured I'd put a few bucks, and a bit of effort, into building a homemade camping trailer.
    ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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If you've got travel in your blood but only a little cash in your pocket, build a homemade camping trailer. 

I've been a fan of the great outdoors since my youth, but once I became a family man, I had to think about changing the manner in which I visited the wilds. You see, though all of the Pentecost clan enjoys camping, we don't all appreciate middle-of-the-night close encounters with wild critters . . . and needless to say, the prices of recreational trailers have gone far beyond the reach of many folks, including us.

I didn't, however, let a mere lack of funds prevent our traveling around and experiencing the thrill of new and distant places. Rather than shell out hard-earned cash for motel lodging on family jaunts, I figured I'd put a few bucks, and a bit of effort, into building a homemade camping trailer . . . and still have some money left over to spend on a trip. The result of my brainstorm is the "appropriate technology (or APT) camper" pictured here . . . a lightweight, four-berth tent trailer—built from both new and used components—which cost me less than $350!

BUILDING A CAMPING TRAILER: START AT THE BEGINNING

The heart of my APT Camper is a small, 750-pound-capacity fishing-boat trailer . . . which I picked up, in good condition, for $100. These tag-alongs are typically just under 4 feet wide at the rear and taper inward toward the front. To ready it for camper carrying, I simply welded two Lshaped pieces of 4 inch-broad lightweight channel iron to the trailer's nose, thus providing a 4-foot-wide structural base at the front of the tapered frame. Since the chassis wasn't quite 4 feet wide at the rear, I also had to weld some 1/8 inch by 2 inch by 2 inch by 3 inch angle iron brackets to its side rails in that area to support my trailer's 3/4 inch by 4 foot by 8 foot plywood floor.



After I'd drilled through the brackets and frame members and bored mounting holes in the wooden platform, I started work on the camper's walls. To make them, I first trimmed five 2 by 4's to 8-foot lengths, then cut four 41 inch-long sections. Seventeen 2 by 4's—measuring 15-3/4 inch each—served as vertical studs.

Then, using 1/4 inch by 3 inch lag screws, I fastened 13 of the studs to their respective top and bottom plates, forming three 19 inch-tall wall frames . . . which I went on to fasten to the front and side edges of the plywood floor with bolts run through the bottom plates, the wooden platform, and the trailer frame (or the angle iron brackets) beneath. To enclose the camper's tail end, I framed out two 12 inch-long walls at the rear corners, bolted them to the base as I had the others, and then fastened them to the side walls with lag screws. More screws, placed through the corner studs at the front, helped to make the entire "box" secure.

Mac
9/2/2015 12:00:25 PM

One could also start with a trailer made from an old pickup truck bed. They are not as common as they used to be but I do still see them on occasion.


bruce coletti_1
2/24/2010 12:57:37 PM

my dad built an almost identical camper as this 30 years ago. And i`ve been trying to find plans for it for years. I could probably build it just from memory, but this is perfect on giving me the minute details a 10 year old wouldn`t have thought about back then. Anyway, i just wanted to say thanx. You would be amazed at how hard it is to find the right item. I typed in do it yourself tent trailer plans and you-all were the only ones that seemed to know what it meant. So thanx again. Everyone elses site was just pop ups, i mean if that is what i`m looking for i would type pop up campers.







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