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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
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    Tasmania
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    Default Camper Trailer Build

    About 10 years ago I built us a camper trailer.

    I wont bore everyone with the build pics but this is the finished product.





    Actually that was a few years ago, I painted it white to match our 4wd and made a few other small changes. It actually started life being black!!



    It has a basic slide out kitchen. Hot and cold water, a diesel heater and of course all the other mod cons you would need to keep the wife happy



    A couple of the actual build pics.....Independant suspension which I built myself .....and managed to brake on an outback trip!! It is on version 2 of the suspension now....slightly better engineered. For the most part the trailer was folded sheet steel.





    We still use the camper regularly. In fact we love it. Very easy to set up and pack up. We have taken it on some great trips.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Ningi Qld Australia
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    59

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    Nicely done, just out of curiosity, what part of your suspension broke, why, and also what did you change in the V2 model?

    Cheers
    Ed.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed.. View Post
    Nicely done, just out of curiosity, what part of your suspension broke, why, and also what did you change in the V2 model?

    Cheers
    Ed.

    Thanks. I built trailing arm independent suspension, it bent where the stub axle attached to the A arm. The reason it happened was because 1, I didnt use heavy enough steel for the A arms, and 2, my stub axles were out a little too far and gave a lot of leverage on the A arms, and 3, I probably wasnt driving to the conditions as best as I could given our location, which was in the middle of no where out past the simpson desert.

    Heres some more pics......... we were very lucky to find a cattle station that allowed me to use their workshop and dodgy the arms up to get us home.








    Attached Images Attached Images

  4. #4
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    Mar 2013
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    Ningi Qld Australia
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    I can imagine what you said when you first saw your issue and realized where you were at the time!! What thickness steel did you make it out of? So from the looks it seems that you added a piece of thick angle? A whole lot of nothing out where you broke down, how many hours to the nearest farm?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed.. View Post
    I can imagine what you said when you first saw your issue and realized where you were at the time!! What thickness steel did you make it out of? So from the looks it seems that you added a piece of thick angle? A whole lot of nothing out where you broke down, how many hours to the nearest farm?

    I originally used 3mm. I since rebuilt the arms using 5mm and changed the geometry a little to put less load on the arms.

    It was kind of ironic that my wife was videoing the really rough road we had been on for a couple of days, and in the video I said to her this would the worst place on earth to break down as we are virtually a days drive back to any civilisation in all directions..............and about 20 minutes after that I noticed a flat tyre.

    The wheel had a lot of negative camber so it didnt take long to realise the A arm had cracked. And in fact the other side one was just starting to bend as well.

    I took both arms off the camper, wrote on the dust on the tent cover "please dont touch, be back soon" LOL and thought we were going to drive several hours to Oodnadatta. It wasnt far up the road I noticed a little obscure driveway with a cattle station name on it so I thought id try my luck and see how far in the homestead is. We struck gold, the owners were the nicest people and allowed me to use anything I needed in thier workshop to get myself back on the road.
    And yes I welded a bit of angle to the bent arm (after heating it up and straightening it as best as I could). Did the repair, got back to the camper and fitted it all back up and were on the road after about 4 hours of messing around.

    Another thing that happened as we were pulled over looking at the broken suspension, I noticed coolant leaking from the Patrols radiator!! I thought we are &*^%$. This is going to be expensive to get both vehicles out of here!!
    Again as luck would have it, I kept some stop leak and pepper in my kit of spares and that actually fixed the radiator! In fact I didnt even repair it when I got home and about 1-2 years later when I sold the patrol it was still like it, I had forgot all about it.

    The adventure had more to it. Up around the tennant creek area 5th gear broke in the gearbox as well LOL I was really familiar with these gearboxes and knew exactly what it was so I was confident to push on for the rest of the trip only being able to tow in 4th, which was fine anyway.

    But certainly a holiday to remember!!

    This is what a dirty, but happy me looks like once putting the camper back together and getting back on the road



    And this is what a double whammy looks like.....


  6. #6
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    Mar 2013
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    Ningi Qld Australia
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    Well that is epic stuff you will remember for the rest of your life, and your wife will probably never let you forget it either! . In my younger years I once worked for a mining company and we were based on a huge property north of Rawlinna, W.A.,over a million acres plus. The truck I was driving broke the mounts holding the gearbox so after I radioed in, it was a six hour drive for the rescue driver to pick me up, nearest person was several hundred kilometers from me, (interesting feeling that), but even where I was there was at least some scrub not like where you had broken down! You have to admire the resilience of the people who by choice live in those parts!

    Reason I asked how you built it is that I had a similar intention to do the same a few years back and travel with my wife but as I got older I realized that we would like some creature comforts such as aircon etc., especially in places like that so looks like my wife and I will do the grey nomad thing in a full sized caravan, otherwise I would leave with my wife and arrive without one . I take it she didn't divorce you?

    3mm is definitively too thin, but what's that saying, you live and learn! and a V2 is always better. I still wouldn't mind building a camper such as yours whilst waiting to sell our place so we could do short trips mainly up and down the coast but I think that I am running out of time to do it. Might have to get a ready made one.

    How did you work out what size springs and shockies to put on the suspension, stock parts or customized?

    Complete difference in the countryside to what your used to, I am assuming your from Tassie based on your rego plates?

    Cheers
    Ed.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed.. View Post

    How did you work out what size springs and shockies to put on the suspension, stock parts or customized?

    Complete difference in the countryside to what your used to, I am assuming your from Tassie based on your rego plates?

    Cheers
    Ed.
    Yeh we are from Tassie. This camper has hot/cold water, diesel heater, shower gizmo, full sized proper queen mattress and is nice and fast to set up, so plenty of creature comforts. Oh and we use a chemical loo for little girls wee's

    In regards to the springs and shockies. I bought them from Huntsman products in Melbourne. They actually make the same suspension, so I bought every thing off them except the A arms. It is rated to 1650kgs, it rides really nice.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2013
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    Ningi Qld Australia
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    Are you still traveling in Oz or are you back home now? You should have put up your build step by step on this forum as most here probably are welders or do welding so would have an interest in what you did. Apart from the "A frame" steel thickness, anything else you would change if starting from scratch?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed.. View Post
    Are you still traveling in Oz or are you back home now? You should have put up your build step by step on this forum as most here probably are welders or do welding so would have an interest in what you did. Apart from the "A frame" steel thickness, anything else you would change if starting from scratch?
    Nah all that was from a trip we did about 7 or so years ago when the kids were still young enough to want to camp with us!

    I do have a step by step of the build floating around, I didnt think the guys on here would be overly interested lol

    Overall we are really happy with it. We did make some changes in regards to the kitchen but as for the actual build or engineering of it, no I think I got it pretty close. I might use a slightly smaller material for some the 'body' framework that makes up the structural integrity of the sheet metal.

    And the drawbar I would have rolled into shape like I originally requested, not kinked into shape like Rollfab misread the plans and did. I had to weld some pretty heavy gussets into place where the muppets kinked it, I should have made them do it again but I took a day off work to go and pick it up from the other end of the state so I just went with it. It has obviously stood the test of time. It uses a shared drawbar chassis.

    IMG_0220ss.jpgIMG_0218ss.jpg

  10. #10
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    Default

    I think most of us welders would be interested as everyone has different ideas on how to make something and so we gain different perspectives on doing things, some ideas/methods may not appeal to us and others will be filed away in our brains as potentials, if you know what I mean?

    For example, where you welded that plate on the inside of the first bend, I had a similar issue with my last trailer I built, it was a 3.5T and made from 100x50x4mm RHS, I cut the RHS on an angle at the first vee, joined it and welded it together then welded another cross member at the same joint, thinking it would be strong enough but should have added some gussets but didn't, it was strong enough, however I noticed that the front part of the frame was bending a bit in the joint area when I used the winch to drag the boat up so got a bit of 100x400x10mm FB put a bend in it to match the outside of the V joint and welded it up all around on the outside of the frame and solved that problem, no more bend. You did it on the inside as you built it I had to do it on the outside after I built it. The first pic was my problem area, the second pic is completed trailer with walkway and toolbox added and also painted, so too too late to cut apart, the simplest solution was to add on the outside, tried to find a pic of the repair but seem to be lost on my hard drive somewhere, but added the bent FB to the corner next to the toolbox, anyway it worked well, a V2 is always better!
    1.Frame V joint.jpg2.Trailer tool box IMG_0974.jpg

    So lots of different methods to solve a problem or to skin the same proverbial cat so to speak! I can't speak for everyone but I always look at something that has been built to see how it has been done, some ideas from others I will incorporate in future projects and some I will think my way works for me better. From talking to other welders I know they all do the same.

  11. #11
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    Speaking of different methods, rather than using a doubler, you probably could have extended that truss element underneath so it spanned the area that was bending.

  12. #12
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    I had thought about it at the time but it was simpler and stronger just to bend a bit of flat bar in the hydraulic press and then just cover the bend. The extending the truss method wouldn't work as it is on a corner, so the only other method I thought of was bending a smaller width and longer thicker piece of Flat bar and welding it on the bottom or the top of the RHS over both pieces but the outside corner was the best and simplest option.

  13. #13
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    One thing I have noticed over the years when I see failed drawbars on trailers or caravans etc is that they nearly always have one thing in common.

    And that is that they are welded along the top of the drawbar. All the large chassis manufacturers in the caravan industry for instance will never weld across the top of the draw bar to attach it to the chassis. They generally use a large bracket that allows them to weld along the drawbar...never across the top.

    Ill try and copy and paste my build into here at some stage.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by danshell View Post
    One thing I have noticed over the years when I see failed drawbars on trailers or caravans etc is that they nearly always have one thing in common.

    And that is that they are welded along the top of the drawbar. All the large chassis manufacturers in the caravan industry for instance will never weld across the top of the draw bar to attach it to the chassis. They generally use a large bracket that allows them to weld along the drawbar...never across the top.

    Ill try and copy and paste my build into here at some stage.
    That would be interesting to have a look at.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by danshell View Post
    One thing I have noticed over the years when I see failed drawbars on trailers or caravans etc is that they nearly always have one thing in common.

    And that is that they are welded along the top of the drawbar. All the large chassis manufacturers in the caravan industry for instance will never weld across the top of the draw bar to attach it to the chassis. They generally use a large bracket that allows them to weld along the drawbar...never across the top.
    I also have noticed a common problem in that the quality of the welds on a lot of trailers and caravans leave a lot to be desired, actually it's not just those two types, it's pretty much across the board no matter what is manufactured. My brand name 18 ft boat trailer has the welds across the top and bottom of the drawbar with a plate welded on both sides to tie it all in together, the welds on that part I don't have a problem with., however the rest of the trailers design is quite dodgy to me, I have spent quite a few hours on it, repairing cracked welds and also reinforcing it with added supports because of design flaws which were the major factor in those welds cracking.

    My wife and myself have been looking at caravans over the last year or two to see what we like and want in our future caravan, she goes inside and checks out the inside, whilst first thing I do is see how the chassis frame is welded and to be honest some of them have been shockingly welded, so would not surprise me that they have failures. I pointed out a few faults I saw to the salesmen and their attitude is, don't worry, it has an "x" number of years warranty so if breaks down it will be fixed under warranty. They didn't seem to understand that if you are broken down in the middle of nowhere then fixing it might be a big costly issue and could stuff up your road trip or cause major injury.

    If I build something and if it should break then I have no one to blame but myself, however if you are paying $70-80K for a caravan, I want it welded properly by some one who knows how to weld. I suppose I am funny like that!

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