DIY Trailer Build

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Oct 27, 2021
Hey all, thought I might share my most current and pressing project with you.. updating it's progress here might even spur me to get it finished!

The wife and I gave some pretty serious consideration to purchasing a TrackAbout Explorer camper trailer last year, but in the end came to the conclusion that spending $40k+ (AUD) on a camper trailer was a little out of our budget! (Somewhat devastated, fantastic trailers and an even better lot of blokes building them! But I digress..)

So, as with most things I set about building something that would meet the basic needs of our camping trips:
1. somewhat lightweight.
2. off-road, hard-trail capable
3. quick to set up for camp
4. storage space for all of our junk!
5. ability to expand for future family additions

Easy right?

So, I previously had a Nissan D22 Navara (Frontier in the USA), and had a couple of wrecks laying around doing nothing. The plan was to build a chassis underneath a spare D22 tub, and have the chassis utilise the basic dimensions of the D22's chassis.

So I started with a bit of 3mm steel plate:

And a few lengths of 100mmx50mmx3mm RHS and 10mm plate:

Made my own basic bender to use in the press (did a surprisingly good job despite breaking the press a couple of times!)

Used the plasma cutter and bender to make up some fishplates for the chassis to tie it all together:


Next up made some forward spring mounts.

Originally it was going to be D22 springs under the trailer, but I was able to source some factory Ford Ranger springs which are significantly longer than the D22 items, which should provide a slightly better ride. I utilised the D22 rear mounts and shackles, after a bit of testing it proved to be a much easier fit, and the longer ranger shackles didn't make enough of an appreciable difference in travel and spring rate to warrant the extra work involved in making mounts. Don't judge my levels, its not about the size..

Some reinforcement for the front of the drawbar around the mounting plate and safety-chain attachment points. I used a combination of string-line, laser level and the good old-fashioned eye-chrometer to get things as straight as I could:

I'm using an Airbag Man airbag kit for a D22 between the springs and chassis a) to make carrying variable loads easier and more importantly b) making levelling at camp easier!

Shocks too of course, some Outback Armour adjustable I had here:

(yes, there is a crush tube through the chassis!)

Safety chain attachment points welded to the Drawbar.
These are an 8tonne kit for a heavy trailer/truck connection. Yes, substantial overkill for this trailer!
Welding is permitted (and very popular) here on trailers up to 3500kg, however having had to replace many worn-out and damaged safety chains over the years, I hate having to re-weld new ones on! And having a pin and split pin is sooo much easier when (hopefully never) it comes time to do that.
All of that, and having seen the failure of some trailer couplings/chassis/safety chains over the years in my job, I like to err on the side of over-kill.

Some recovery points for the rear of the trailer.

And a tray built for the front portion. Probably will act as a place to throw dirty stuff for a while, eventually I want to put an alloy canopy here to mount the 60L Engel in, and store some things in a more more waterproof way.


Starting to get there!
Got a handbrake sorted (service brakes will be electric - I hate over-run systems!).
Using the Cruisemaster DO35 hitch, it seems to have become the industry standard for off-road hitches here, keen to see how it goes!
Used 2x D22 handbrake cables that I modified to operate the trailer park brake. Not a requirement for registration here, but very handy for parking at camp!


Went to make a number-plate light mount on the tub, found heaps of filler.. oh well. More filler over the top of it won't matter!

That is pretty much where we are up to. Nearly time for some paint!
Then in theory, it will be a matter of sorting out the electrical, doing a soft install of the RTT and some basic kitchen needs and off for registration!

I'm sure that won't take long.... right? :p
Bit more progress, fully sealed and painted chassis. Done in an etch primer then black raptor laid on thick.




Also primed up the old Nav tub after a bit of sanding. Nothing fancy here, minimal prep work. Got another less bashed up tub laying about that might end up on it instead at some point, but this one will do for now.

Underside of the tray also done in raptor.. this area is likely to cop a few stone hits so hopefully this stuff will withstand it better than regular paint!
Well, I've been busy and the trailer is painted and assembled. There will be some additions to it in the future, but I am happy with the base product and can proceed to registration (as soon as I get the electric brake output on the cruiser working....hmmm)

Will be interesting to see how it tows, but I can jack-knife it in combination with Ollie and still have plenty of room. Probably won't be turning around on any hard trails with it, but for the beaches and dirt roads it should be perfect!



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