I had even bought a set of wheels off Thorshammer on this forum a year ago for this Until now they have made a really nice cocktail table for the man-cave, but time to put them to use!
My main objective is to have a 'camping support' trailer...i.e. a kit carrier...and then continue the build out until it becomes a full blown adventure trailer.
Due to budget constraints, I won't be able to do the full build (i.e. buying the fiberglass tub he designed) for some time, but plan on doing this in phases.
Since I want to ultimately put the "M72" tub on the trailer, I am starting with his (and Dinoot's) instructions for narrowing and strengthening a Harbor Freight heavy duty trailer so it'll be the right size when I get to that point.
Until then I will be building a wooden crate/box for it to make the trailer usable until I get the mad money for the tub.
The instructions JScherb and Dinoot publish are very good, but as I am diving in, I have found that some aspects of the HF trailer have changed; There are minor variations in the manufacture which have actually simplified the build rather than complicate it
The first challenge I had was actually buying the trailer! I was foolish enough to think I could simply walk in to my local HF after work on Friday and pull one off the shelf. I even called to make sure, and they told me the 'computer showed two in stock"...but when I got there, there was only one, and it was the 'mostly' assembled display one. The guy there was nice enough to check the other nearby locations and call for a 'physical check'....five stores later, there were none to be found.
I did some calling around when I got home and found one store, 45 minutes away, which had one, but one of the boxes was broken opened. So Saturday I took the chance...armed with a printout of the parts list I headed to North Palm Beach. Luckily all parts were accounted for and I was good to go!
I spent the rest of Saturday clearing out working space in the garage and running to Lowes for drill bits and extra bolts. Sunday I got started...which means I spent an hour re-reading the instrux and building up the nerve to start cutting up the shiny new frames with my hand grinder.....
After the first cut, my confidence grew and the rest of the cuts went pretty easily, albeit not perfectly square...but close enough By the end of Sunday I had gotten as far as bolting the frame and spring hanger together. I did manage to snap two $12 carbide bits in the process, but that's just me being overly aggressive with the hand drill.
One of the first differences about the (same) HF trailer I got is that the axle is different. Mine came with a square axle rather than a round one as shown in the other builds.
As far as quality or durability, I cannot comment on whether the round ones or the square ones are any different, but I would assume that since the trailers are rated for 1720#, the axles should be comparable.
BUT the good thing is that the square axle does NOT have a spring seat welded to the tube, (which would have to be cut off and re-welded inboard to compensate for the narrowing of the frame). Instead, the square axle has a hole bored into it for the lug on the spring seat. This simplifies the build since all I need to do is drill new holes at the new spacing and not have to worry about finding a welding shop
(I'll post pics to show this).
One other bonus is that the hubs have grease zerks on them Not sure if the other versions of this trailer did, but certainly a nice thing to have IMHO.
1. When putting together the side rails for the frame, the instrux from Dinoot say that the reinforced 'pocket' for the front stake slots needs to be removed...i.e. the metal box welded inside the frame rail to give a side-stake more structure. This is done by grinding out the welds and hitting it with a hammer to break it free.
I am not sure why the pocket would be removed, but I suspect it was to create clearance to the bolt on the spring hangers for the prescribed setback. I.e. the forward hanger bolt would be right where the stake pocket is located.
I found there is a pre-drilled hole about 2" back from the stake pocket in the rail, so I bolted the front of the spring hanger thru that. This saved me from cutting out the pocket, which may provide some extra stiffness to the frame; saved me from having to drill another hole, and also set the axle back an extra 2" to ensure greater tongue weight.
I did find it odd that only the front side rails have these pockets...none of the other slots for side stakes are reinforced like this.
2. When I was unclear about a step, I would refer to the OEM assembly manual. So when it came time to shorten the rear side rails to 24", I wasn't sure which half to use. I deferred to the manual for this, and used the half that had the factory end which would mate up with the rear end of the front rail.
Unfortunately, I realized after assembly that this way I have lost the rear-side stake pockets. Not a big deal if I was going straight to the tub, but may want them until I get the tub....so I guess I will disassemble the back rails and swap them. (luckily they are the same length )
Not to hi-jack your thread, but this is mine. I started with a Tractor Supply 5X8 Utility trailer as my base. I ended up using the axle, leaf springs, fenders, and the tongue. Building everything else myself.
'87 YJ, 4.2L built and bored, 8.5" of lift, 8.8 rear, AX15/NP 231, Tom Woods drive shafts, Flat fenders, 12,000LB winch, Custom bumpers, Rattle can paint job. Never completed...
My second solid evening of working on the trailer frame...my wife was nice enough to wrangle the kids while I sequestered myself into the man-cave.
I decided to take the time to swap out the rear side rails; not sure if I would ever need the stake pockets, but them not being there kept gnawing at me.
Next I put the tongue rails on; because of the changed geometry of the trailer, they were a little difficult to get lined up...it took one person to spread the two front ends apart while another bolted on the plate for the hitch. Took a bit of doing, but managed to get it on.
After that I started in on the back-bone. This uses all the excess pieces from reducing the frame. Simple enough...still have a few more holes to drill and bolts to crank, but plan on finishing the frame tonight and hanging the running gear. I haven't yet tried to drill into the add-on receiver or the bores for the spring seats on the axel...not sure if I will be able to do this with a hand drill or not, but my neighbor has a drill press and offered to let me do it on that if needed.
If all goes well, the rest of the weekend I plan on building the cargo box.
Thanks JScherb! again, your R&D, tips, and inspiration have absolutely facilitated this!
I added the strap-stock to the rear receiver as you pointed out...solid as a rock now!
I went with 2" spacer adapters...this sets the wheel track almost dead on to a JKU's 'stance'.
The only 'oops' so far is that I did not go with a receiver on the front end for interchangeable couplers.
I have a common 2" drop-3/4" rise drawbar; For the trailer to be level (and aesthetically pleasing), I flipped it so that it raises the ball which levels the trailer perfectly; unfortunately, now the spare tire hits the coupler's latch and I can't open the Jeep's tail gate
I think the solution to this will be to get an 18" drawbar from e-trailer
After two good solid evenings of work, the PFC is coming into focus!
I am now in the crate building phase.
Employing a modular approach, I am building the cargo crate so that it can be easily removed, should I decide to task the PFC with a different mission. Three cross members on the bottom act like 'skids' on a pallet, so when removed from the trailer frame, the crate will stand off the floor. These skids are what holds the crate to the frame, via six bolts through the trailer's x-members
For the box, I kinda goofed when I was drafting the plans and didn't realize until I had already cut the lumber. As it is now, the top of the box will be recessed/flush with the side panels. I should have built it so that the top will overlap the top of the side panels to make to more watertight For now I will just ensure I seal up the seams really good....or puckup some more 2x4s and ply and remake the end panels higher.....
The box sides are 24" tall. This is too deep to be able to load and unload easily from the top....on the frame the top of the box is at 52"...almost exactly the same height as the bottom edge of the Jeep's rear window vinyl.
As I was puzzling thru the direction I wanted to go with the tailgate, or access to the cargo area in general, I had a eureka moment and decided to go with a 'sideload' scheme.
I plan on rigidly attaching the passenger side panel to the top of the box; then by adding a piano hinge to the driver's side edge of the top, so that the whole top and side should open together 'gull wing' style. The front and back panels will be screwed down permanent. This will provide access to the entire length of the box from the side. This also means that I won't have to remove a bike rack or cargo basket from the rear receiver to open the tailgate.
To accomplish this I will have to attach the fender directly to the box, rather than on brackets to the frame. The fenders I got are a little too odd shaped....I don't like the geometry too much, so plan on cutting them down to resemble fender flares.
After a couple of late nights last week right up until Friday night, the “P.F.C.” was road ready, albeit not completely done. I still need to paint it, and accessorize it, but it was perfectly serviceable for our Labor Day weekend getaway.
Saturday am we loaded up and drove across Alligator Alley and up I-75 to Osprey, FL (about 200 miles) where we camped out in Oscar Scherer State Park.
I had made a bunch of home-made tent poles out of ½” & ¾” EMT, (two attached directly onto the crate) so that I can use an inexpensive Harbor Freight tarp as an awning….which proved very useful when we got to the campsite because before we could get the tent put up, the sky opened up for a good forty-five minutes.
After the storm passed, we finished setting up camp, and spent the rest of the weekend roasting hotdogs, making s’moors, and playing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Thanks Mr. Scherb! The trailer tows like a dream! I barely even feel it back there, and it tracks like a train on rails
I still need to install a cargo basket on the tongue so that I can put the cooler forward of the axle for better weight distribution; and add some leveling jacks to the back...but otherwise it is dialed in!
I find it really makes loading and unloading stuff a lot easier.
I have been toying with ideas for a built in or slide out galley, but not sure yet...at this point I may just stay with a separate camp-kitchen table and cooking gear instead of committing/losing space to a permanent installation....but ?
After a crazy busy end of the summer and fall, I finally got back to working on the PFC, then packed up and bugged out for another family camp out.
Every year, my wife's employer takes her department to Orlando for a weekend...and they do it up right! Over 750 employees went, not including family or spouses....there was close to 2k people in the group this year! They put us up at Loews Portofino Bay resort (5th time for us; Disney the other 4 times since my wife has been with the company); There was a major blowout welcome party Friday night (open bar, food, characters visits for the kids, etc), then park hopper passes for Universal on Sat.
This year, we decided to get a couple days of camping in before luxuriating at a resort...so I got busy putting some finishing touches on the trailer build.
The first task was to install the trailer jacks/levelers and the spare tire. Got the jacks from Trailerdepot.com and the spare carrier from a seller on E-bay. I still need to get an adapter for the third brake light...the trailer lights have common turn and brake wires in the common flat 4-way connector
Next, I scored a couple ALICE packs and a pair of Entrenching Tools (tri-fold shovels) from various surplus websites:
Next I added a 16" drawbar to the receiver so that the tailgate will open without hitting the hitch; Also bolted down the 120 quart cooler to the tongue:
After picking up a couple of dufflebags and storage boxes, we loaded and were ready to hit the road...our destination was Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, FL. There were over 110 manatees in the spring run over the weekend.
I have the camp set-up pretty dialed in for 'glamping'....since the FL State Parks have sites with water and electricity, I added some modern comforts to the 'kit'. Picked up a folding Camp Kitchen from Bass Pro/Outdoor World and added a Walmart convection-toaster-rotisserie oven ($50) and an electric two burner hotplate:
But of course still used the fire pit for roasting corn, burgers, and smoors!
These are the times that are priceless!
After a couple of awesome days 'roughing it', we headed to Orlando and totall chill-laxed. There is something to be said about sitting in your own private grotto between the pool and the hot tub, sipping mojitos
Now it's back to work...but definitely recharged!!!!
Next up: Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine between Xmas and NYE....
The PFC is really earning it's stripes! On a whim, we managed to get a reservation in the keys last Friday night, so threw some ice, food, bevs, the family, the dog and a neighbor kid in the rig and bugged-out to Long Key State Park for an overnighter.
The weather was mid 70's in the day and low 50's at night; the wind was blowing pretty good, but the campground is on the lee side of the Key..so wasn't bad.
The site was amazing! 20' of sand separated the campsite from the Atlantic. Much better way to spend Black Friday as far as I am concerned!
Plus my youngest caught her first fish~ Priceless!
Thanks Tanks! The PFC is really earning it's stripes! On a whim, we managed to get a reservation in the keys last Friday night, so threw some ice, food, bevs, the family, the dog and a neighbor kid in the rig and bugged-out to Long Key State Park for an overnighter. The weather was mid 70's in the day and low 50's at night; the wind was blowing pretty good, but the campground is on the lee side of the Key..so wasn't bad. The site was amazing! 20' of sand separated the campsite from the Atlantic. Much better way to spend Black Friday as far as I am concerned! Plus my youngest caught her first fish~ Priceless!
I love the keys. I lived in Key Largo for a bunch of years teaching SCUBA. Miss it terribly!
Americans sleep safely in their beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do them harm...
Happiness is a Barrett M82A1 .50 caliber and a target at least a click out........
I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you with tears in my eyes, if you f**k with me, I'll kill you all.....
Loaded the toys and headed back to Long Key State Park for three nights between Xmas and NYE. Had a great time and great weather; Campfires overlooking the ocean; the prerequisite hot dogs and S'mores; and spent an afternoon paddling out to Indian Key (the island in the background of the picture below) which is a really cool historic site that was the original Dade County seat before Miami was settled.
The 'yaks rode perfectly fine on the Congo Cage..the Yakima Mako Saddles and Hully Rollers make loading the 14', 70# yaks a snap.
With the trailer, the addition of the Congo Cage, the yaks on top and all the other gear loaded for three days of camping, my hwy mileage to a hit...I was averaging around 14-15mpg. Not too bad, but am certainly appreciating the lower fuel prices these days!
I hung a 2 bike carrier on the PFC's spare tire and carried my kids' new mountain bikes on it; however found that on the way back, with an empty cooler, this added too much weight aft of the axle; the trailer got very 'squirrely' and wanted to fish tail. I was able to strap them down on the front of the trailer and it pulled fine. Unfortunately, I realize that I should have built the trailer with the axle further back....the original plan did not include hanging a full size spare back there; but I like the look so will have to adapt!
I think I may simply put four bicycle brackets, (the kind that you take the front wheel off bike and clamp the forks on to the bracket), on the top of the trailer lid towards the front. That'll allow me to carry four bikes upright, with their weight forward of the trailer axle and in a fore/aft orientation rather than crosswise with the wheels sticking out wider than the rig.
Another thing I may add to my wish list is a rooftop awning system for the trailer and for the Jeep. I have been using a cheap HF tarp, and it works well, but it would be nice to have a quick and easy to deploy shade