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Space and water capacities - what I did!

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Space and water capacities - what I did!

Unread postby PrivatePilot on Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:19 pm

(Warning, long post, lots of pics. Crack open a cold one before reading. :D )

One of the things that bothered me when we moved up to a fifth wheel was not being able to (easily) bring our bicycles with us anymore because of the loss of the truck bed. Putting them inside the trailer was a hassle and made using the trailer for a quick meal break on the road impossible. I didn't like the idea of hanging 100+ Lbs off the back bumper using a bike rack, and putting them in front of the truck on some sort of rack was equally unappetizing.

So, this season, I decided to take advantage of my commercial license and double tow - I wanted a small trailer to go behind our fifth wheel. I went on the hunt for a decently priced utility trailer and was pretty irritated - a small flatbed utility trailer new was $1000 for something decent, and even used people wanted a fortune for old beat up junk. Eventually I found a trailer in Toronto that fit the bill and I ended up picking up for $200. The deck was garbage, the electrical system was a nightmare, and it was rusty as hell, but it was cheap and had potential.

So, after stripping it down of the deck and electrical system (I yanked it completely off, wasn't even worth salvaging), I ended up with this:

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I stripped as much of the rust off as I could, pulled out my compressor and spray gun, and it progressed:

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Paint done, electrical work now - full new set of lights and all wiring @ Princess auto: $18!

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Starting the deck. I chose not to use pressure treated ply due to cost - I could replace the deck 4 times for what it would cost for a single sheet of pressure treated ply of the same size.

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Test fitting the bikes to add tethers.

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I screwed this to the deck at the front to hold misc junk. Works great to hold all my wood blocks, cords, wheel chocks, etc.

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The end result:

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So, next up, the hitch. Again, a trip to princess auto to pickup the receiver tube ($9 on special) and I happened to bump into my brother in law who happens to be a pro welder. I gave him an ideal what I wanted (clamp to the factory bumper, removable, etc. The rest is history:

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I did the electrical wiring from the 5th wheel to the new hitch and everything worked perfectly and looks professional. I had a shop in Colbourne Ontario make up the diamond plate bumper cover for me a few weeks ago for $40, deal!

So, in the end, here's what the whole setup looks like:

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We towed it this past weekend to Orillia and back and discovered that although the trailer itself was great and towed well, my choice of methods to mount the bikes was lacking - they wouldn't stay in place and the straps kept loosening and allowing the bikes to lean precariously. So this week I set out to make some sort of bracket or something for the bikes to lean against to secure them better, again trying to avoid any expensive prefab stuff. I messed around with a few ideas and then had a thought - we are doing more and more boondock camping (this weekend we are at a 3 day motocross event in Colborne where we will be without any services the entire time) and I thought it would be nice to have some extra water - our standard capacity on the trailer is only 175 liters and although we can make that last 3-4 days, it's not without skimping on showers, etc - something that is quite a nicety when you've been out in the dust and mud all day.

So, I went to a customer of mine in Pickering and picked up a 200 liter water jug for $30. It's a "second" so it's a bit blemished and has some imperfections (an incomplete "cook", so it has some thin spots" but it's sound and is OK for water, but not it's intended commercial use.

I incorporated it into the trailer yesterday. I was careful to place it where it it remains balanced on the trailers CofG even when it's full, important considering the amount of weight. Around it I built a small wooden rack to lean the bikes up against and it serves a double purpose now - extra water, and a frame to lean the bikes against. I decided (at least for the meantime) to strap the kids bikes to the rear tailgate for simplicities sake, but I think I'll add another wooden "brace" around the back of the tank and that will allow me to put the kids bikes in-line.

Disregard the stack of wood on the front of the trailer in these shots - I just had to get it off the driveway last night and temporarily stacked it there.

The end result is this:

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I test towed the utility trailer with the truck last night and did some evasive maneuvers/weaving/quick stops etc to test it's stability and it's rock solid now - the trailer axle is within it's weight limit and it's all very steady - I have no concern about putting it behind the fiver this way.

I'll post pics of our boondocking this weekend. It'll be nice having the bikes and 200 liters of extra water. ;-)
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Re: Space and water capacities - what I did!

Unread postby catmom on Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:41 pm

Very cool. Wish we were handy!
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Re: Space and water capacities - what I did!

Unread postby Limey on Fri Jun 12, 2009 12:27 am

Nice work on the trailer - welcome to the world of double towing! Now we know why you have been so quiet recently :)

I take it that the trailer weight is very light and that your rear bumper is made of more sturdy stuff than the run of the mill hose carriers? If it is real chequer plate (like it looks) then that is sturdier than most I have ever seen, and will do quite nicely. I certainly wouldn't bolt a hitch to the regular hose carrier type of bumper. :)

Very impressed with your work - I have a hay trailer here in Colorado - can you pop down and work your magic for me?

Funny how we have had a couple of posts on double towing in the last few days! Did you see the description of my setup in the 'Lost a tire ' topic?
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Re: Space and water capacities - what I did!

Unread postby PrivatePilot on Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:54 am

Limey wrote:Nice work on the trailer - welcome to the world of double towing!


Not really new for me, this is what I was driving in 1998. ;-)

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I'll take a look at your other post in a bit.
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Re: Space and water capacities - what I did!

Unread postby Big Rig Guy on Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:28 am

Come's in handy when your handy eh/, thats using the ole noodle, like what you did, only one concern and that is the bumper mount. Did your welder brother in law, take a look up underneath and inspect how the bumper is mounted to the trailer frame. Concerned due to the weight of the water tank when full, 400 plus pounds. Especially on a single axle, bouncing on rough roads shocking the hitch assembly.

I'd throw some tremclad on the wood portion of the trailer, black, give it a complete finished look.

Like the water tank idea, using a rv pump to pump over to the fiver?? I do the same thing and works very well, if you run out of water, you can take the tank and refill.
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Re: Space and water capacities - what I did!

Unread postby PrivatePilot on Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:21 pm

Big Rig Guy wrote:Come's in handy when your handy eh/, thats using the ole noodle, like what you did, only one concern and that is the bumper mount. Did your welder brother in law, take a look up underneath and inspect how the bumper is mounted to the trailer frame. Concerned due to the weight of the water tank when full, 400 plus pounds. Especially on a single axle, bouncing on rough roads shocking the hitch assembly. .


It's not reenforced, no, but it is mounted directly to the trailer frame quite sturdily. With the load on the trailer now (and minimal tongue weight due to the way I've setup the CofG on the pup) it's really only the deadweight draw that is providing any stress on it, and it seems to have no issues - I stood on the hitch last night and jumped up and down on it as hard as I could (and I weigh 250#) and not even any flex to be seen.

With the weight of the trailer with the tank full it really goes glide over pretty much everything - very little bounce at all - it does have the leafs sprung down pretty good, so there's probably not much shock loading going on at all.

That aside, I don't intend to pull it with the water tank full unless we are in a situation like our camping location this weekend - a motocross track - true boondocking. :-) I'm actually here now (about 100K from home) and the trailer pulled beautifully despite all the extra weight. It's nice knowing that I have 400L of water for the weekend now. :-)

Big Rig Guy wrote:Like the water tank idea, using a rv pump to pump over to the fiver?? I do the same thing and works very well, if you run out of water, you can take the tank and refill.


I stopped on the way here and bought 20' of water line. I passed it out through the trailers hydro hookup hatch (the water pump is right beside the hatch) and plumbed it straight to the fivers water pump with the other end hooked up to the tank. Despite it being long (the Canadian Tire guy actually cut it to about 25') it primed just fine and it's now drawing from the rear tank. When it's empty I'll switch to the fivers onboard tank. Eventually I'm going to setup a "T" style valve so I can switch from the external draw to the internal tank with just the flip of a handle inside the trailer. I'll post pics as my internet connection here allows - I am in the middle of a field after all so I'm just glad to have a net connection to begin with. :-)
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Re: Space and water capacities - what I did!

Unread postby Big Rig Guy on Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:57 am

Bud, I sure like what your doing there. Net out in a field, I'm on the Bell stick up here in our seasonal campground in Acton, as I type this I.m surfing.
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Re: Space and water capacities - what I did!

Unread postby jp rver on Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:35 pm

Very nice!
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Re: Space and water capacities - what I did!

Unread postby JQSpree on Tue Jun 23, 2009 12:54 pm

Nice job, PP. I saw several double tows on our just completed trip to Yellowstone. As I watched them, I wondered what you have to do when you have states that don't allow it? Or does commercial license allow it everwhere? I'll bet you don't get hung out pulling into a gas station or fastfood place w/o an out? .Maybe that comes with more experience! I only had to stop cars and go out the in of the drive-up window once so far. Oh yeah, and used the loading ramp of an adjacent store to escape once again! With another trailer, I would be unhooking a lot!
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Re: Space and water capacities - what I did!

Unread postby leadm55 on Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:36 pm

Nice job on the trailer. What size rims are you using? I have a 2 wheel trailer that at first had 8" rims on it and experienced alot of blow outs pulling a golf cart. I changed to a 12" rim and it helped but still changing tires once a year with minimum miles on them.
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Re: Space and water capacities - what I did!

Unread postby PrivatePilot on Sat Aug 22, 2009 10:01 am

leadm55 wrote:Nice job on the trailer. What size rims are you using? I have a 2 wheel trailer that at first had 8" rims on it and experienced alot of blow outs pulling a golf cart. I changed to a 12" rim and it helped but still changing tires once a year with minimum miles on them.


It is the small 8" rims and the tires that came with the trailer were vintage 80's. ;-)

I didn't expect them to last very long on our first long trip this summer but their saving grace was that they were tube tires - despite the tires themselves being in a bit of rough shape the tubes were clearly in good condition as the trailer made it all the way to the east coast and 50% of the way back before I had an issue - one tire suffered some road debris damage and put a slow leak in a tube. I just replaced it with a whole new tubeless rim/tire assembly in Quebec city on the way home, and the other tire (which I thought was even in worse shape then the one that went) is still humming along even after 3000 miles.
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