Neighbor wants to modify his popup...

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Aug 21, 2003
Tijeras, NM
I'd like to hear some thoughts on my neighbor's plans with his popup.

Neighbor just bought a very nice Starcraft popup (not the offroad kind) and it comes with a torsional axle. Surprisingly, the trailer is rather low and the plumbing in the rear of the trailer is in jeopardy of getting damaged while going over rough roads or driveway entrances, etc.

If you're familiar with torsional axles then you know that it's hard to install a lift on these things. You can order a torsional axle arm with varying degrees (10 deg down, 20 deg up, 0 deg flat, etc) for a proper lift and increased capacity. This axle came with a 10 degrees up which equates to a very small amount of axle arm movement. This trailer has a dry weight of 2900 pounds and a tongue weight about 300 pounds.

He has managed to install a 6"x2" rect tubing between the trailer frame and the torsional axle brackets. Effectively, this gave the popup about a 6" lift. His plan is to tow this thing with another SUV (coil sprung, 100" WB, V8 4.0L :D ). He is planning on installing a sway control thing between the trailer and one side of the hitch receiver. This is not a load leveler, only a sway controller. I guess I'll be welding a metal tab for a smaller hitch ball thing for the sway controller.

His next plan is to figure out a way to tow his Kawasaki 4 stroke dirt bike. He wants to add some extension on the back of the popup to accommodate the motorcycle. He claims that the bike weighs around 300 lbs.

So, my questions mainly deal with the towability and the safety aspect of his plans. What are some of your thoughts? The neighbor is very adept at towing all sorts of heavy equipment with his work truck so he is experienced in this area.
I guess it really depends on what he expects of the trailer?

I wouldn't think it would be chasing him on the Rubicon or in Moab, but does he need it to traverse a ditch, or climb over an occasional small log?

I would think that 6" of lift and dampening the sway would be a great start. Putting a 300lb bike out back may start to overlighten the tongue weight. Which would make the steering a bit scary.

Any pics?

Rezarf <><
I'm no expert but putting 300lbs of bike on the back of a pop up sounds scary. I have a small hitch haul I loaded on the back of mine and it doesn’t take much to lighten the tongue and throw everything out of wack. I've thought about extending the front and moving the tanks and batteries to the rear and possibly mounting the bike there. No mater what you do it would be a good idea to strengthen the frame.
Until then I have modified a receiver hitch to stack the bike higher and allow me to pull a trailer. He will need the right kind of carrier to make it work. I've been using this setup for 6 years now with no issues.
Hell it's a Starcraft and these things have strong lids. Tell him to build a ramp and park it on top!
As for the drain I have ripped mine off and added a rubber type coupler so that when it drags now it just pulls it out at that point instead of breaking plastic.
Here are some pics. Some day I need to get the camera back out and update a little.
I would suggest he gusset the bejebsus out of the frame. I had to repair my (SOA) 57 teardrop frame I don't know how many time after trips down dirt roads. I typicaly didn't do anything technical but did cover a lot of miles of washboard/potholed Nevada Mining roads. The little pop-ups aren't designed as tough as that trailer was, so I would expect the frame welds to go first.

Here are a few other things I learned from that trailer.

After the frame fails the cabinets will fall apart. They are probably partical board so about all he can do is add some pine blocking inside on the corners. Gorillia glue in place and screw through the cabinet into the blocking.

Then he should double up the propane tank hold downs and add jam nuts. Ditto on the battery hold down. I would also add strapping to the water and holding tank. Just get some of that plastic pallet strapping and fix it across the tanks and to the floor with wood blocks and screws.

Then he should caulk every place he can reach with flexable caulk, and add as much foam weather striping as he can and still close it up. Dust will still get inside but sealing helps.

When traveling keep the cabinets as full as possiable so stuff cant move around. I also used an extra bungee to hold the light /brake plug into the tow vehicle receptacle. They tend to shake loose on rough roads.

X2 on the thoughts already post about cantalevering 300# off the back end.
I'm not sure if the new popups these days have enough meet on the frame to accommodate additional welding and overhanging weight. Since everything is lighter to save weight and increase fuel mileage.
Trailer hitch with cycle storage

There is a trailer hitch extension where you can put a motorcycle on the hitch and then hook up the trailer. I can't remember the name of the hitch, but saw one about a year ago and then went on the web and found it.
This way he wouldn't have to beef up the camper frame.

The motorcycle or bike is on the hitch frame, then the ball extends out to connect to the trailer.

300 lbs on the back will kill the tongue weight and make that pop-up do the Hula. I'd weld a receiver hitch on the back of the pop-up and use a separate trailer for the bike or quad.


My Buddy took his little starcraft and welded in about 18" of additional frame railing in the center ahead of the cabin but before it tapered down to the ball, Then added a bi,e rack with tie down on it. worked very well.

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