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Soweto Off-Road Trailer Project

Discussion in 'Trailer Tech' started by Shahram, Aug 24, 2006.

  1. Shahram

    Shahram I ain't got herpes no more.

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    There are loads of fancy adventure trailers out there, with names that conjure images of the plains of Kenya, or the game preserves of Tanzania. Well, they also come with hefty price tags that conjure bankruptcy. I had a choice between building the ultimate off-road trailer and taking my wife to Cabo...so I've decided to compromise. Instead of throwing caution (and loads of money) to the wind, and saying "I don't care how much it costs, install it", I will attempt to do something....different. In tune with the African theme and a penchant for "ghetto fab" mods, I'm dubbing it the "Soweto Project".

    I recently acquired a very modestly priced Mombasa tent. Using this as a launch point, I will purchase a used utility trailer with which I will build an adventure trailer using the cheapest means and materials available.

    Scrap parts, craig's list, garage sale items, home-grown, improvised and otherwise jury-rigged items will be welded, bolted, zip-tied or lovingly duct-taped onto this support vehicle, with the ultimate goal of function, low maintenance, and reliability--at minimal cost.

    I have access to power/air tools, a mig 125 welder, various grinders, sledgehammers, beer, and whatever else I might need to get me to my goal. The off-road ready trailer will eventually be configured with:

    --Roof top tent (purchased)
    --Awning/Screen Room
    --Weatherproof main storage compartment
    --Side access cargo boxes
    --2 outside mounted 5-gallon jerry cans
    --Auxiliary battery
    --Small generator (I actually already have that)
    --Camp kitchen, inc. 10 gal. fresh water storage/pump, stove and prep area/cutting board
    --Auxiliary lighting
    --Power inverter with at least 2 outlets
    --I can't think of anything else

    I'd like to stay within a $1,500 range. I've already spent $400 on the roof tent, and the generator was free. That leaves me with around $1,100 to do the rest. I've got a trailer lined up that might set me back $400.

    Here we go!!!
     
  2. NorCalDoug

    NorCalDoug problems solved daily...

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    I'm lovin' the name...and am looking forward to seeing the build up.
     
  3. REZARF

    REZARF

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    I spent time in Soweto when I lived in South Africa for a summer... wild place, cool people, but a wild place.

    5 million folks in a township...

    Look forward to the build.

    Pics, we want pics! :D

    Rezarf <><
     
  4. Shahram

    Shahram I ain't got herpes no more.

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    Okay, so playing with various ideas for the trailer platform itself, I came across a gentleman in Santa Monica selling this short utility bed for $150-$300:

    [​IMG]

    Before purchasing, I needed to call someone who could tell me the viability of building a trailer underneath the bed. I called Bruce at Heacock Trailers in Glendale, California, and he told me that fabbing a high clearance, solid, stable trailer underneath such a heavy piece of equipment would require a lot longer tongue, to balance the weight fore and aft, otherwise the thing would want to do a wheelie all day long. This would be great if I wanted to park a bike or ATV on a platform up front, but for a short four wheeling trailer, it was too top heavy. Upon further consideration, the bed probably weighed as much as 1,000 lbs. anyway, and may be too heavy to use as a platform.

    The other factor was price. Fabbing the trailer up underneath it, with lunette and pintle, heavy duty shocks and springs, etc. would cost me upwards of $1500, well out of my project budget. I don't have a sufficient welder for such thick steel, plus I don't know crap about building trailers from scratch, so I'd have to hire the work out.

    Back to the drawing board...
     
  5. Rockrawler

    Rockrawler

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    Grabbing that sucker for $50-$100 & salvaging the boxes/storage compartments would be handy to bolt/weld on to the flat trailer you're looking for - cut off the unwanted weight & use the storage areas only
     
  6. Snook

    Snook

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  7. slickrock

    slickrock

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  8. Cube Dweller

    Cube Dweller Moderator

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    Keep checking the parts section of Craigslist for someone parting out a datsun or toyota pickup. Buy the frame, bed and axle. I had a guy in Norcal that was willing to sell me the complete mid 80's truck for $100 with a clean bed. Some parts were already scavenged.
     
  9. Shahram

    Shahram I ain't got herpes no more.

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    Thanks for all the advice, links, and support...


    I think I may have found a platform for which to build the Soweto. There is an Aerotow 7' trailer for sale at a local used trailer dealer for $885, but they said they'd come down on the price. I'll offer $400-$500 and go from there. Here is a couple of pics:


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    The dimensions are 7' long x 4' wide x 3' deep. It weighs 400 lbs. dry. There are two compartments, a main bucket and a nose cone locker. According to the seller, it is of all-steel construction. There is some rust on the bucket floor, and according to the seller, it is all the way through, so the floor may have to be rebuilt. The bucket also needs re-sealing, and so does the main compartment door.

    Of course, I still have to put larger wheels, tires, and beefier springs, install a lunette or 2" receiver, pintle or multi-axis, then kit it out, and that could get costly. On the other hand, the bucket and nose cone are very close to what I was planning on building, so that may save a lot of the hassle and expense of building my own.

    I'm going tomorrow to check it out in person. Hope my low-ball offer flies!
     
  10. davegonz

    davegonz Keeping it Weird SILVER Star

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    That little Aerotow trailer looks pretty cool...I hope he takes your offer.
     
  11. REZARF

    REZARF

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    Cool platform, I hope you snag it cheap!

    Rezarf <><
     
  12. brownbear

    brownbear Mod in Hibernation Moderator

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    kinda coffin looking.... but definately will make a good platform.
     
  13. brownbear

    brownbear Mod in Hibernation Moderator

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  14. loquito

    loquito

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    your dimentions are real close to a CAN M101. 6x4' tub. but the one you found weighs alot less. My Can M101 weighed 770 pounds stock.

     
  15. Shahram

    Shahram I ain't got herpes no more.

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    Drove out to the desert yesterday afternoon to check out the trailer at the dealership. Turns out the thing was a former Santa Monica Fire Dept. first aid response trailer for their beach patrols. The thing was perfect--a lightweight, steel trailer with huge payload area and high clearance, purpose-built to be pulled through sand by a small 4x4.

    Only one thing wrong, though. Ten years of beachside service has rendered the poor trailer with chocolate bar rust at a lot of key points: lid hinges, bucket corners, the drawbar at the front jack, the frame at the axles, and a lot more places too. I stuck my finger in one of the smaller holes and pulled away a 3"x3" section of the main bucket with no effort. Places where the paint was bubbled peeled away to reveal rust all the way through. No dice.

    Back, once again, to the drawing board.
     
  16. sfsloop

    sfsloop

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  17. corsair23

    corsair23 SILVER Star

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    Goes to show how deceiving pictures can be even if the owner isn't trying to be deceiving at all... :eek:

    Good luck with the search!
     
  18. Rockrawler

    Rockrawler

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    E-Mailed the guy about that trailer & mentioned the rust, he responded & offered it to me for $500 right off the bat. Do you think its saveable for like $300-$350 or is it too far gone? Make him a lower offer...
     
  19. Shahram

    Shahram I ain't got herpes no more.

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    He did mention that the trailer was rusty when I spoke to him on the phone, he certainly wasn't dishonest about it, and it made me more tempted to go out and see the thing. If it was salvageable, I'd have given a low-ball offer, if only for the work I'd have to put into restoring it. However, the rust problem was well beyond the surface. If all I needed was a serviceable trailer to haul some light stuff in, it might be worth a couple hundred dollars, but as a platform to build an off-road trailer to handle miles of bumpy, corrugated desert tracks, I'd worry that the trailer wasn't structurally sound.

    To get it up to off-road snuff, I'd have to strip the paint, assess the rust damage, grind out the rust, patch weld steel plate, and then repaint. That would be expensive, and expensive isn't on the menu.
     
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