Build A Camp Kitchen and Camp Storage Trailer

The MOTHER EARTH NEWS camper design is a combination camp kitchen and camp storage locker, a pull trailer containing essentials you'll need for a camping trip into the wilderness.

| May/June 1986

Though part of the fun of camping is shucking the amenities of society, even the most dedicated Natty Bumppos among us would agree that the quicker you set up camp, the sooner you can get on with the business of enjoying yourself. Since this compact camping trailer, designed and built by MOTHER's research staffer Clarence Goosen, is already set up when it rolls into camp with a camp kitchen and camp storage, "roughing it" is made smoother than you'd ever imagine.

Build A Camp Kitchen and Camp Storage Trailer

The nearly four-foot cube is not a pop-out, sleep-in camper, but rather a combination storage locker and camp kitchen that'll hold everything necessary for a weekend (and maybe even a weeks-long) trek to anywhere you can pull the unique trailer. Five stowage compartments, three utensil and storage drawers, a cool box, a stove holder, and a food preparation counter complete with overhead and sidewall weather protection make it one of the handiest conveyances to hit the trail since the days of the Conestoga wagon.

To keep the project within the capabilities of a person with average workshop skills, Clarence purchased, rather than fabricated, the 40 inch by 48 inch tubular steel trailer frame upon which his plywood camper rests. Believe it or not, the cost of just buying the parts to make a trailer exceeded the $200 price we were quoted for a new, manufactured one at a local hardware store. (Since then, we've discovered a source of even less expensive, partially assembled kits: Northern Hydraulics, Inc., Burnsville, MN, sells an equivalent trailer for $139.95, plus $30 shipping to anywhere in the continental U.S.)

The camper body is a self-contained unit built of 1/2 inch AC plywood on a 3/4 inch plywood base. Internal rib members measuring 3/4 inch by 1-3/4 inch, and beveled to 45 degrees on each side, strengthen the comers and provide bolsters for the horizontal and vertical inner partitions. Furthermore, angle iron clips placed at each of the box's four lower corners bolt to the trailer frame and allow that chassis when the body is removed-to do double duty as a utility trailer! A 3/4 inch plywood platform mounted to the trailer itself serves as a subfloor for either configuration.

Although the camper project demands only patience and a moderate selection of common workshop tools, the use of a table saw is almost mandatory to keep the panel edges straight and the rib bevels true. The only other power tools you'll need are a drill with an assortment of bits and a countersink, a router, and perhaps a palm sander to prepare the wooden surface for a coat of paint.

Start off by collecting one sheet of 3/4 inch AC plywood, four sheets of the same material in 1/2 inch thickness, a section of 1/4 inch plywood measuring 18 inch by 52 inch, and a scrap of 3/4 inch by 18 inch by 40 inch ply. The project requires about 70 linear feet of 1 by 4 fir or pine, one gross of I inch, No.8 flathead wood screws, several feet of 3/4 inch by 3 inch hardwood (along with some larger hardwood scraps), a 40 inch by 42 inch piece of Formica or other plastic laminate, and a 6 inch by 45 inch PVC pipe with two end caps. You'll also need ten 3 inch by 3 inch butt hinges, two 2 inch by 30 inch continuous hinges, two 1-1/2 inch by 3 inch butt hinges, two window sash locks, a panel lock, six 3-3/4 inch draw pull catches, and three pairs of 18 inch heavy-duty drawer slides.

6/2/2014 4:18:54 PM

Thank you for this! We've been looking for something similar to what my husband's family used when growing up...a converted enclosed u-haul trailer customized by dad! Christine M.

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