Overland Trailer Build - Documentation (2 Viewers)

Joined
Sep 27, 2020
Messages
205
Location
The Woodlands, TX
Been wanting a small overland trailer for a while. I want something that I can leave in the garage loaded and ready to go (moving to CO in June and will have the opportunity to spend a whole lot more ducking the office and running to the mountains). I want to mount my RTT on it, have a decent amount of interior lockable storage, and have some somewhat-self-sustaining power systems onboard.

I'm also ballin on a budget and a big fan of jumping in the deep end, so I'm going to build it myself. Figured I'd document here, because I'm sure I'll make some mistakes that others will be able to avoid in future.

I'm starting with a mostly 2x2 11ga steel lower frame. The tongue will be 2x3 11ga. I expect that this should be plenty strong for my purposes. Looking to go with Timbren axles with electronic brakes, and some decent-sized tires. Most components above the lower frame are going to get hammered out "on the fly"... kind of working on one piece at a time, as I've got a good couple months before it needs to be wrapped up.

Couple notes: I've only welded a few times before and not anything that needs to be as structurally sound as this, so I'll be spending a while welding scrap metal as practice before I dive in on the frame. Also, my product design skillset is deep, but limited to SolidWorks and 3D printing, so this should be fun. Hence, if yall have any advice on common practices in welding/frame building/design principles in this realm, I'm all ears.
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2020
Messages
205
Location
The Woodlands, TX
Picked up steel today, and saved the cost of the steel itself in shipping.

IMG_1451.jpg


The sheet is just to make a make-shift welding table. Question though: I'm set on steel for the frame, but whats the deal with walls? Im leaning toward going with really thin steel for a couple reasons, but was curious what the options are for fitting aluminum walls to a steel frame?
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2020
Messages
205
Location
The Woodlands, TX
Well, dicked it. Not horribly, but we'll see if it's a deal breaker.

Couple notes:

(1) Opting for a 2000lb torsion axle instead of the Timbrens. Just too expensive to justify for a first shot at this. I'll save that move for a second iteration when I've got some actionable take-aways from this one.

(2) I got impatient waiting for the Fireball Tool Square to arrive after they'd sold out, so I effectively just eyeballed everything on a wildly non-level garage floor, as far as aligning the main frame went, so it's probably a half-inch out of level. The front left corner of the frame is about a half-inch off the floor when I make the other three corners planar. I'm not too concerned with aesthetics (I'm always going to know that this was just a fun project), I'm mostly just concerned about it tracking well down the road.

(3) My welding is definitely sub-pro. What do you want from someone who has never FCAW'd before. Flat butt-welds and lap joints are fine, but I'm struggling with welding the vertical T-joints. Basically, the "lower" half of the weld turns out fine, but struggling with penetration/fusion on the "upper" half of weld. Also, it's taking a lot of focus to keep from burning through the 1/8in steel tubing in places. Strong rookie moves right here.

(4) Given my constraints in workspace (enclosed garage), I rigged up a VERY makeshift ventilation system, with a $40 shopvac, some flexible ducting and a big-a** clamp. It's loud but works alright, so I think that's probably a good thing as far as my future respiratory health is concerned.

E1BA20C6-3A39-4610-A83F-4D5BFB933F91_1_105_c.jpeg


F0C8256A-1056-4823-8042-35ABAB5384A4_1_105_c.jpeg


56682148-FBDA-4E0F-B86C-1DFB86DC619F_1_105_c.jpeg


Oh well. These were not unforeseen bumps in the road, and were in some sense the whole point of this. Hoping to get a floor and axle installed and an upper frame built out ready for siding and installation onto the frame I have so far, over the holidays... If I don't wind up adding a 100 Series to the stable.

Cost to date: $260
 
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
690
Location
in the woods
no shame in cutting $h!t apart to get to closer tolerances. i.e. flat, square. it will make your life a lot easier going forward in the fabbin'.
just an idea, make a flat frame work on your jack stands n work on top of that. regarding your welds, best i can give you is practice, use some scrap drops. don't be afraid of doing some destructive testing on the practice pcs.
got any weldors in your circle of contacts, have them critique your work.
keep at it man
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2020
Messages
205
Location
The Woodlands, TX
no shame in cutting $h!t apart to get to closer tolerances. i.e. flat, square. it will make your life a lot easier going forward in the fabbin'.
just an idea, make a flat frame work on your jack stands n work on top of that. regarding your welds, best i can give you is practice, use some scrap drops. don't be afraid of doing some destructive testing on the practice pcs.
got any weldors in your circle of contacts, have them critique your work.
keep at it man
Thanks man. Ya I feel like I can make it work but between my OCD and the principle of building it right, I’m leaning toward chopping it at the welds, salvaging what I can, and working on the welds. The vertical T-joints are awful... FCAW settings are hard to set up. I feel like I’m either blasting through the 0.125 steel, or struggling with fusion. All good though, part of the whole objective with this project so all is well.
 
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
690
Location
in the woods
Thanks man. Ya I feel like I can make it work but between my OCD and the principle of building it right, I’m leaning toward chopping it at the welds, salvaging what I can, and working on the welds. The vertical T-joints are awful... FCAW settings are hard to set up. I feel like I’m either blasting through the 0.125 steel, or struggling with fusion. All good though, part of the whole objective with this project so all is well.
that frame can't weigh too much, flip it on edge n all your welds will be on the flat
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2020
Messages
205
Location
The Woodlands, TX
Before you, lies my ego.

A97EA297-E599-4CB5-B624-B218E8F24627.jpeg


Went ahead and chopped up my first iteration. A little out of level and front-most segments jointing side rails to the tongue segment were cut rather poorly by the supplier and left me with a bigger gap to fill than my welding skills would confidently permit.

Actually kind of stoked on this, blank slate will be fun to work with, and everything I have is still well usable.

No major changes planned for second iteration, I just have the tools required to do it properly this time. I’ll also spend a couple days refining welding skills before I move past the tacking phase. Will also follow @kirvesmies input and do my tee joints on horizontal. Lower frame doesn’t weigh much at all so no real good explanation why I didn’t give that a shot first time around. Thanks for the advice.
 
Joined
Aug 24, 2020
Messages
33
Location
PNW
I hope you keep updating this. I'm in the same boat as you with wanting to build from scratch with about the same amount of experience. Looking forward to learning from your successes/mistakes.
 
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
690
Location
in the woods
Before you, lies my ego.

View attachment 2532884

Went ahead and chopped up my first iteration. A little out of level and front-most segments jointing side rails to the tongue segment were cut rather poorly by the supplier and left me with a bigger gap to fill than my welding skills would confidently permit.

Actually kind of stoked on this, blank slate will be fun to work with, and everything I have is still well usable.

No major changes planned for second iteration, I just have the tools required to do it properly this time. I’ll also spend a couple days refining welding skills before I move past the tacking phase. Will also follow @kirvesmies input and do my tee joints on horizontal. Lower frame doesn’t weigh much at all so no real good explanation why I didn’t give that a shot first time around. Thanks for the advice.
@GOLIGHTLY , hey bud, have you got 4 jack stands? if so, pick up up half a dozen 2x4 n make a frame 6" wider n 6" shorter than trailer frame. basically replicate your trailer frame out of wood. set it on the jack stands, shim as required to achieve level in both directions. oh yeah, secure it square before leveling.

now start fabbin', clamp one main rail to the jig n work everything off that.
for holding crossmembers flush to main rails, clamp scraps under main rails as per lay out.
just tack all junctions with 2 tacks on opposing corners.
check for square corner to corner before starting to burn joints
don't burn the whole joint at once, literally jump around. it'll help keep it from moving around from a crazy build up of heat.

the above should make your fabbin' a little easier.
i've seen racecar chassis' built on 3/4" plywood jigs so your trailer will be fine.
any ?s , just ask, l'll answer best as i can. good luck
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2020
Messages
205
Location
The Woodlands, TX
@Dagtwo Thanks man, ya I’m happy to blaze the trail lol. I’ll keep this thread updated as I progress through the project.

@kirvesmies Dude you’re the man. Heading to Home Depot tomorrow to work this route. Thank you so much for the guidance on that. I only have two jacks but I can pretty easily jerry-rig/shim two additional supports to get that structure built out.
 
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
690
Location
in the woods
@Dagtwo Thanks man, ya I’m happy to blaze the trail lol. I’ll keep this thread updated as I progress through the project.

@kirvesmies Dude you’re the man. Heading to Home Depot tomorrow to work this route. Thank you so much for the guidance on that. I only have two jacks but I can pretty easily jerry-rig/shim two additional supports to get that structure built out.
you can never have too many floor jacks, just go buy another pair....only not harbor fright :flipoff2:
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2020
Messages
205
Location
The Woodlands, TX
Got the lower frame boxed up just about perfectly this time. Doesn't LOOK anything special yet but, but very happy with this as a starting point, compared to the first iteration. Lens makes some of the segments look bent, but they're all straight. Fireball tool was unbelievably helpful (as the below-linked video will make TOO clear... I'm really not fishing for a "sponsorship" lol). It is level, square, flat across all tubes, and solidly welded first time around. Nothing is ground down or anything, still needs a third crossmember, tongue and tongue supports. Left two inches behind the rear crossmember, thinking that it might be worthwhile to have some sort of bolt-on bumper, or perhaps just recovery hooks. Not sure what will go there yet, but I'll want two rear leveling jacks and perhaps having some additional rear length will help with that too. Ya, ya, I know... departure angle. I'll live.

@Dagtwo I'm linking a video below for you or anyone else looking for some intel. I've been making shorter videos for myself as a way of keeping notes, as I've found it's a little easier to point out what I'm talking about as opposed to writing them. In light of my success this time around, I made an extra video to share here, in case it helps out down the road. I've got an awful monotone, my fingers look ENORMOUS, and I probably still wasn't terribly clear with everything but holler at me if you need any additional clarification. I am absolutely NOT a video/public speaking guy, but I'm going to try and keep up with these as it's a lot easier for me to get my thoughts out.

Video: Notes on Lower Frame

@kirvesmies Thanks a ton for the advice on rotating the frame for welding. Almost embarrassing how obvious that solution should have been, but worked out way better than going vertical for me, given my welding skills. I didn't build out that entire frame you suggested, only because I didn't want to get sucked down the rabbit-hole of f*cking up woodwork on my way to f*cking up METAL work, BUT... I AM planning to do so for the upper frame/box. There will be more parts to that and I'm already seeing that your method will be a solid way of keeping all four cross members aligned. Two more stands on the way.

Below is where I'm at right now. Nothing special, just a hell of a lot better than the first iteration, and wanted to share some lessons-learned.

E8AC34B4-8D2E-42E7-ACAE-CC38D838C2E1_1_105_c.jpeg


8EB495CA-1D04-467C-A703-19AD0B7666D7_1_105_c.jpeg
 
Joined
Sep 27, 2020
Messages
205
Location
The Woodlands, TX
@kirvesmies Meant to ask:

I'm leaning toward notching the 2"x3" tongue segment to witness with the 2"x2" crossmembers on the frame so that I have a perfectly flat surface on the top side and minimal protrusion on the underside, as opposed to just butting it up to the forward-most crossmember in the above photo. Any wisdom on that particular point? By my estimation, it may actually be a little stronger than the butted-up orientation (additional fused edges).
 
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
690
Location
in the woods
@kirvesmies Meant to ask:

I'm leaning toward notching the 2"x3" tongue segment to witness with the 2"x2" crossmembers on the frame so that I have a perfectly flat surface on the top side and minimal protrusion on the underside, as opposed to just butting it up to the forward-most crossmember in the above photo. Any wisdom on that particular point? By my estimation, it may actually be a little stronger than the butted-up orientation (additional fused edges).
a good start bud. for the tongue i'd start just ahead of where the front spring perch will be with a "V" under the main frame out to about 12" shy of coupler. run the main portion of the tongue from the 2nd crossmember back from the front, also under main frame. think peace symbol under the frame. that way it gives 3 points of what i think is called "moments".
i believe you are correct with your thinking of additional fused edges.
when you go to set your axle, keep in mind you want weight bias towards the front by aprox 10-15%.
oh yeah, don't worry about f#*kin' up the lumber, that way you've got firewood ready for your first campin' trip with the trailer :flipoff2: as for building a jig for the rest of the parts, you're working on it right now. no need for the 2xs
hope this helps
 
Joined
May 28, 2017
Messages
690
Location
in the woods
oh yeah, for tongue length, go about 12" longer than the 1/2 width of your primary tow vehicle. it'll save corners when you happen to jack knife the trailer backing up
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom