Search and Research

After Sebring 2019, I immediately started looking for another travel trailer to replace the pop-up. They all looked so cheaply built. And I kept finding something wrong with the designs that wouldn't meet the needs of my wife and I. Mostly problems with the bed layout. Many of the beds are positioned horizontally in the back. If one needs to get up in the night, as I often do, I'll have to somehow climb over my partner to get out of bed. As you can imagine, now both partners are awake and not getting quality sleep.  At our age, we really require separate beds.

The wife commented that the interior look and feel of the mass-produced RVs reminded her of an extended stay motel. I agree. The internet is filled with stories and videos from folks who are constantly repairing their RVs or who have a brand new RV with multiple problems. Although I'm capable of doing repairs, I would prefer to spend my time camping instead of making repairs.

That's when I stumbled on videos of people who took an enclosed cargo trailer and converted them into RV campers. I was elated! I spent the next week, hours and hours, watching all the videos I could find. I was fascinated with the endless design ideas. The challenge of designing and building my own camper was super appealing. I didn't have to settle for poor build quality and a cookie-cutter design from an unknown guy in Indiana.

I thought this was the best idea I'd ever seen.  A trailer with a steel frame and aluminum exterior is so much more robust then any mass produced, wood-framed travel trailer.  And the building my own RV would be a real test of all my skills. Welding, carpentry, plumbing, electrical and others. That's when I decided to get a cargo trailer.  So, I did some research.

1999 Ford F-150
We wanted to get the largest trailer we could safely pull with our truck.  First I tried to learn how much weight our truck can pull. I was thinking the most we could safely pull would be a 6' by 12' single axle trailer at around 1200 pounds. We have a 1999 Ford F-150. It's got a 4.6L V-8, automatic transmission and 3.55:1 differential. Then I looked at this chart which told me my maximum loaded trailer weight is 6,900 pounds. Knowing this opened up some other possibilities. For my camper, I didn't want to come anywhere near the maximum allowed weight. It's an old truck with 300-thousand miles on it.

I stumbled upon a guys website who estimated his 6' X 12' cargo trailer build added between 1000 and 1500 pounds to the weight of the trailer.  I don't have any other documentation on how much weight the build adds but that just sounds about right. A 7' x 14' tandem axle trailer weighs around 2200 pounds. Add 1500 to that and you're coming in at 3700 pounds.  Adding additional height and an extended tongue adds a few hundred pounds. Fresh water weighs 8.3 pounds per gallon so 20 gallons would be 166 pounds. When you go camping you also bring a generator, food, other gear, and passengers that can be up to 800 additional pounds. All told we are still at around 4900-5000 pounds. Well under the 6,900-pound limit.  That's when I decided that the 7' X 14' tandem axle was the one to get.

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