Tag Archives: Trailer

Off Road (Overlander) Trailer Build

I was bitten by the overland trailer bug a couple of years ago.  After numerous visits to the surplus store to look at the surplus military trailers, and my absolute insistence that I would not pay for one of the overpriced trailers being sold on the Internet, I decided to just build one myself, for as little money as I possibly could, while meeting all of my expectations for use. (run-on sentence intentional)

I was able to obtain a large quantity of 2″x 2″ square steel tubing for free. This was a great start to my built. Also, the steel was plated in a rust resistant coating, so although I was going to paint the trailer, rust proofing it was the least of my worries.
I did a little mock-up with a Jerry can to see how much space I needed for the front platform.
Now it was time to cut the steel and tack it together. I didn’t want the trailer to be too big so I made it approximately the same size as a small bed pickup, like an S10. 
Once I got the box welded together I flipped it over and placed the pieces for the tongue. I did some calculations and placed the pieces so that they would fall right in front of where the suspension would be mounted.
Then I welded on the receiver adapter. I did it this way so that I could adapt the hitch to several different configurations.
At this point I needed to figure out exactly where to mount the tires to best distribute the load. I also wanted to ensure that the turn radius of the trailer was such that when pulling it with my Jeep, I could maneuver, but also would be far enough back to reduce any tendencies to bounce. I wanted a smooth ride.

 

I did a lot of research on different suspensions and even contemplated making my own. I ended up deciding on the Timbren axle-less suspension. It was pricey, but I am super happy with the decision. This product is fantastic and has performed better than expected. I bought it from etrailer.com. Timbren Axle-Less Suspension 3500lb.
I added some angle iron as recommended to strengthen the attachment point for the axle.
Here I have attached the other axle and am ready to mount the wheels and tires. I have a set of Jeep Rubicon wheels that I will use.
Hmmm, something doesn’t look right. Well shoot, the hub is gonna be too big for the wheel. Time to get creative.
After checking the hub size against the wheel, I decided a run to Lowes was necessary. Hope they have the right hole saw. Fortunately, they did. And it was on clearance! What a deal!

So here it is, not pretty but drilled out and ready to be mounted. I have to say, I was pretty happy that it all worked out. For a few minutes, I felt a little defeated. Not sure why I didn’t check that earlier on in the build?
OK, so now I need to beef up the receiver point. I expect to battle some fairly rough terrain on occasion and can’t afford for this to twist loose. After welding the plate to the center of the tongue, I used a torch to heat the steal plate so that I could bend it down on both sides to sit flush against the frame.
Then I ground off the rust and hooked it up to see how it would fit. As you can see here, I also added the safety chains.
Time for a little test drive to see how it handles and what sort of articulation I can get from the hitch. All went as expected. The trailer pulled straight and articulation was good. 
I drove over some hills and up some rock piles at a local oil well. 
BUT! I wasn’t happy with using a pintle hitch. I wanted something better. So it was time for a little research. 
I probably spent a week or so trying to figure out exactly what I wanted. I finally found this little gem, which is expensive, but just what I was looking for. It’s called Max Coupler and is manufactured by Kirby Enterprises and sold by Knight Offroad Trailers in Texas.
To be clear, I do not get anything for endorsing them here. If it were a piece of crap, I’d tell you and move on to something else. But it’s not, and I am happy as hell with it. It is smooth and articulates the way an off-road hitch is meant to articulate.
In this photo you can see that I prepped the frame with primer.
I decided to box in the trailer with diamond plate. And here’s a little $$$ saving tip… Do not buy new diamond plate unless you are looking to spend big $$$! Go to the scrap metal dealer and find old truck toolboxes. I paid pennies on the dollar and walked away with 3 truck toolboxes for under $60. This was enough diamond plate to cut up and use for the entire trailer.
I used pressure treated 1″x 6″ for the floor.
Here you can see me placing the fenders. I made these myself out of aluminum. It was too difficult (and expensive) to find aluminum fenders to accommodate the 32″ tires. 
After it was cut and bent, I welded the seems and then ground them flat. I used a random orbital sander to roughen up the surface and give it a nice sand blasted look.
I decided to build my own roof rack. I made it from Extruded aluminum t-slot and bolted it together with stainless steel bolts. 
The reason for using extruded framing is that I can customize it as needed to accommodate different setups.
The extruded is a little more expensive, but I am paying much less than if I bought a prefab roof rack. These extrusions are from 80/20. You can buy them online. Amazon and eBay also have them.
I purchased some compressed gas pistons to aid in lifting the roof rack under load. I will post pics once they are installed.

This is just a view of the tie-down points in the bed of the trailer.
Time for some stabilizers!
I decided to add these after testing out the support strength of the tailgate and having the trailer tip back on me. Since I am planning on mounting a roof top tent, I need the trailer to sit firmly on the ground.
I ordered these from Amazon. They support 2000lbs each and were easy to weld on. Took a little over an hour to weld on all 4 and paint them. It actually took me more time to figure out where I wanted to locate them!
And here is a finished view of the trailer. Finished for now.